You might wonder what the owner of an ice cream shop looks for in an ice cream. For Eric Wold, who has owned The Neighborhood Ice Cream Shoppe for the past three years, texture is key. “It should be smooth, not grainy. If it’s grainy, then it has either frozen too quickly or thawed and refrozen some time after it’s been made.” He also notes that higher quality ice cream has less air mixed into it, making it denser and creamier than an average quality brand.
Before taking ownership of the store, Wold gained insight into the ice cream business by working with a franchise owner to open several Ben & Jerry’s stores across the Twin Cities. (He’s even a proud graduate of Ben & Jerry’s Scoop University in Vermont.) These days, he’s scooping up Cedar Crest Dairy ice cream, out of Cedarburg, WI, because it’s locally produced and it’s a “very high quality, creamy ice cream.” It’s also one of few partners that can support the 44 choices of flavors offered at his store. Here is Wold’s roundup of the best scoops to be had in the Twin Cities, from his own store, the grocery store and a couple of other shops in town.
1. Monster Cookie Dough
Wold has always been a fan of the good old-fashioned chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, but last year he added a variation, Cedar Crest Dairy’s Monster Cookie Dough, which has not only the chocolate chip variety, but also oatmeal cookie dough and M&Ms added to the mix. He finds those nice, chewy chunks of oatmeal cookie dough tough to resist. Available at The Neighborhood Ice Cream Shoppe, 137 Kellogg Ave.; 952.922.9597
2. Zanzibar Chocolate
A recent favorite for Wold, Cedar Crest Dairy’s Zanzibar Chocolate is made from dark chocolate, but has a hint of a brownie batter taste. Available at The Neighborhood Ice Cream Shoppe, 137 Kellogg Ave.; 952.922.9597
Whenever Wold is in the Linden Hills neighborhood, he stops by Sebastian Joe’s for a scoop of Pavarotti—caramel ice cream with bananas and chocolate chips. Available at Sebastian Joe’s, 4321 Upton Ave. S., Mpls.; 612.926.7916
4. Sea Salt Caramel
If you haven’t noticed, salted caramel is having a bit of a moment. Wold says the Sea Salt Caramel at Pumphouse Creamery in South Minneapolis is one of the best ice creams he’s ever had. “The mix of sweet and salty is an incredible taste experience and they do it very well!” Available at Pumphouse Creamery, 4754 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls.; 612.825.2021
5. Mexican Chocolate Fiesta
Izzy’s in St. Paul has a sure hand when it comes to doing unique concoctions, like the Mexican Chocolate Fiesta, a mixture of chocolate, orange and cinnamon. Wold likes that the store has struck a balance between traditional flavors and others that are a bit on the edge. Available in some grocery stores, and at Izzy’s Ice Cream Café, 2034 Marshall Ave., St. Paul; 651.603.1458
6. Chubby Hubby
When Wold and his wife, Meredith, are picking up a pint from the grocery store, they almost always choose Ben & Jerry’s (not surprising, given his history with the company). A signature flavor that Wold considers to be one of the best is Chubby Hubby, vanilla malt ice cream with swirls of fudge and peanut butter, and fudge-covered peanut butter pretzels. According to the company, this flavor was the result of an office prank, but when it turned out to be too delicious to be a joke, it was added to the flavor roster. Available in most grocery stores.
7. Crème Brulee
If you can’t get the real thing, try the Ben & Jerry’s take on this classic French dessert. It’s sweet, custard-flavored ice cream with swirls of caramelized sugar. “It’s the perfect frozen version of the dessert favorite!” Available in most grocery stores.