Sunday, August 31, 2014

Minneapolis: Ice Cream Indoors

Worth braving the elements for.
This post is part of a series celebrating my new favorite ice cream destination, Minneapolis.

• • •

What happens for dessert-seekers in Minneapolis after the cold settles in, when the desire to be outdoors ranks about as high as the Minnesota Twins so far this season? For those months there is a dessert worthy of bundling up and trekking to: Sweet Science Ice Cream. You can't take the Skyway to get there, but all you need to do is walk a short block-and-a-half west of the Franklin Avenue Metro stop. When you see the sign that says “Verdant Tea,” you’ve arrived at your destination.

Imagine yourself inside here...
...and snow out here.
Once you enter the cozy teashop, you’ll feel warmed by the wooden tables and accents as well as the light green/sage toned walls. Though it reminds you of the interior of a lodge-y coffee shop, it more closely resembles a boutique stationary store, card shop or florist. You smile, unravel your scarf and know that this is an excellent place to steal away for a wintry evening. All that’s missing from the scene is a fireplace, but that might lean too far into the category of those ubiquitous ski lodge coffee shops. Not that it wouldn’t be nice. Still, you can thaw out by picking your poison of hot drink. After all, there’s ice cream to be eaten.

Sated (and having regained the feeling in your toes), you approach the counter, looking at the display of ice cream options, each flavor represented by a colored periodic table square and scientific abbreviation. The person at the counter tells you that though Sweet Science is a separate entity from Verdant Tea, all of the ice cream is made in-house in their backroom. Small batches—maybe ten pints each—and fresh ingredients. None of that corn syrup garbage. You weigh your options, knowing you’ll want two of the $3 minis they sell…and at least one pint you’ll buy later to take home. But all of the flavors sound good. How will you ever decide?

When was this lesson in chemistry class?
You settle on Dark Chocolate Sorbet—the staff person said she preferred this to the chocolate ice cream—and Rhubarb Cinnamon Almond. You’re presented with two plastic cups on a plate with two tiny spoons. You find a seat that looks out huge windows onto the snow-covered scene outside. You laugh a little to yourself about the pleasant absurdity of eating ice cream in this weather. And then you open the lids.

The Dark Chocolate Sorbet hits you like a gelato, packing in a concentrated flavor. It is neither creamy nor watery and tastes more like dark chocolate—actual dark chocolate—than ice cream does. Cold chocolate with mildly rough textural notes, like stone ground Mexican chocolate. Sweet rhapsody.

A few bites in, you switch to the Rhubarb Cinnamon Almond. It tastes all the more creamy following the sorbet. You recognize that the primary flavor is the cinnamon base, which creeps along the line of not quite spicy and not quite sweet. In bursts, the rhubarb jelly swirls punch out. The almond, it seems, functions primarily as a garnish, resting only on the surface layer, but is a welcome addition. It adds to the overall concept of a rhubarb crisp a la mode.

Ignore the nose prints.
After finishing, you consider trying another flavor before cursing your stomach for not being larger! But then you lean back, gazing out the window realizing you don’t have anywhere else to be. You might just hang out here until closing. Looking around, you realize this must be a great place in the warmer months, too. Big windows, some space for a few outdoor tables. So why ever go home, you think? Why not just hibernate here until the summer comes?

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