Izzy’s Ice Cream
My sister-in-law has long known that I love ice cream. I don’t care the time of year, the day of the week, the time of day or even the weather outside. If you’re going to offer up ice cream to me, I’ll never say no. There’s almost no such thing as bad ice cream. Although, there is a difference between your run-of-the-mill ice cream, and great ice cream. Prior to arriving in Minnesota, my sister-in-law and I had discussed a couple of times visiting a local ice cream parlor when I was in town so that I could try some of the Twin Cities finest ice cream. I don’t care that we just had a big, filling, delicious dinner, as soon as I walked out of the restaurant, I was game when my sister-in-law asked if I wanted some ice cream. After taking it over with her husband and trying to decide which of the local ice cream parlors we should go to, they decided to take my husband and I to one of Saint Paul’s most famous ice cream parlors, at the store that started it all.
Izzy’s Ice Cream, now with a location in both Saint Paul and Minneapolis, opened its doors more than a decade and a half ago in 2000. Owned and operated by a husband and wife team that met while in college in Saint Paul decided somewhere along the lines of their successful careers that they wanted to be entrepreneurial and own their own business. Somehow, ice cream was chosen, and the owners immersed themselves in the art of ice cream and gelato making, how to make the best, most flavorful ice cream, how to use the best, and freshest ingredients in season, and how to use modern technology to become more environmentally friendly in their process of making ice cream and operating their stores. Today, Izzy’s ice cream offers up more than 150 different homemade, small batch ice cream flavors. In 2005, they were named Reader’s Digest Best Ice Cream Shop in America. In 2006, they were featured on an episode of Food Network’s Throwdown with Bobby Flay.
When we arrived at Izzy’s on a Thursday evening, we were surprised to find that there was a line that snaked around inside the store and all the way out to the front door. I guess I shouldn’t have been a surprise because Izzy’s wouldn’t be as well known and highly acclaimed as it is if it didn’t live up to its billing and therefore attracting crowds no matter the day and time. As we walked through the front door and joined the line, we were greeted by the wafting scent of fresh baked waffle cones that permeated the air. And there the waffle cones were stacked in containers right near the front door – chocolate waffle cones or waffle cones with chocolate and nuts. I was sold as soon as I smelled it, and saw it!
As you wait in line to step up to the ice cream counter and order, you pass several refrigerators full of pre-packed and pre-made goodies featuring Izzy’s ice cream. Those ice cream cakes looked mighty tasty. If I lived in Saint Paul or the surrounding area, I might have to make my husband order me one of those cakes for my birthday. There were pre-packed pints of many of Izzy’s Ice Creams most popular flavors, including pre-packed cups of dog ice cream. You could even get Izzy’s ice cream sandwiches, which came in regular and mini size or even something called and Izzy pop, which looked just like a cake pop, but I imagine it’s filled with Izzy’s ice cream inside.
But, I wasn’t about to be distracted. I came for the ice cream and I was going to leave with ice cream in hand. While Izzy’s has over 150 different flavors they make, they serve 32 different flavors in-store at any one time. As you’re waiting in line, you can consult their flavor board for the current in-store flavor selections. This flavor board is part of Izzy’s inventive Flavor Up! system. This system updates the flavor board inside the store every 3 minutes with exactly what flavors are being offered at that very minute. As Izzy’s creates ice cream in small batches, it could be that a flavor that was up on the board when you walked into the store could be sold out and replaced by another flavor by the time its your turn to order. That’s how popular some of their flavors are. Additionally, Izzy’s has a system where you can tell them what your favorite of their 150 flavors are and you’ll get sent an email the minute that flavor goes on sale and is available in-store. But, don’t wait too long to head to Izzy’s after you receive that notification that your flavor is available or it could be long gone by the time you arrive.
As Izzy’s ice cream flavors are often created using only fresh, seasonal ingredients, you can’t always find the flavor you crave. But what you are guaranteed to find is the fresh possible ice cream made using ingredients that are current in season and found locally. This combination of factors can lead to some very different, and creative ice cream flavors that are produced. The day I visited, there were options such as Norwegian chai made with Wuolett Bakery’s cardamom toast and Teasource’s togo chai tea. Non-dairy lime sorbet and mango sorbet were on offer. There was cinnamon, another bold flavor. More non-dairy sorbets such as blackberry and passion fruit. And then there were some familiar, but well down choices such as Cookies n’ cream using real Oreo cookies and mint chocolate chip.
You can’t really offer ice cream without offering some of the standards such as vanilla bean and vanilla. Or chocolate and milk chocolate. What about chocolate mint? A little twist on the traditional mint chocolate chip. One flavor that seemed to intrigue both my husband and his sister was mini donut crunch. There was honey and there was salted caramel. Peanut was an option, which was different as I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a peanut ice cream, only peanut butter. Sugar cookie was a different flavor option. I liked the sound of Coffee Break, which is different than just saying your ice cream flavor is coffee. There was also Irish Moxie which contained Jameson’s Irish Whiskey and almonds. I think my sister-in-law grabbed the last small scoop of that flavor. Bubble gum was another flavor that seemed to be popular with kids. Combine the mint with the Oreo cookies and you get Peppermint Oreo. Cotton candy was another flavor that was a hit with the kids. There was your standard strawberry, but there was also green apple. There was maple nut and nougat nut. And there were a couple of candy-flavored ice cream flavors; M and M and Candy Bar.
I forgot to mention that one of the things that distinguishes Izzy’s from any other ice cream shop is their trademarked Izzy’s Scoop. Essentially, atop any ice cream order at Izzy’s you get an Izzy’s Scoop, which is a small 3/4 ounce soup of ice cream. You can choose any flavor you want to be your Izzy’s Scoop, and when you get your ice cream cone or cup, you see this cute, adorable tiny scoop of ice cream sitting atop the scoop of ice cream you ordered. It’s almost like getting a little extra with scoop you’re already buying. In a sense, you get an extra little taste, or an extra little sample of a completely different ice cream flavor. It gives you the freedom to try different flavors, or feel like you’re getting two different flavors even though you only ordered one flavor. So when it was my husband’s turn to order, he opted for a chocolate dipped waffle cone with a scoop of mini donut crunch with his Izzy Scoop being church elderberry. It turns out that while the mini donut batter crunch was delicious and different, after a whole scoop of it, it may have been a little too much sweetness. Apparently, the ice cream on first blush was really creamy and sweet with crunchy little bits of donut batter. The bits of donut batter added a great texture contrast to the creamy vanilla ice cream base. However, as the scoop of ice cream was consumed, the sweetness of the donut batter crunch was just a little to cloyingly sweet and a bit over the top. Luckily, the chocolate from the chocolate dipped waffle cone helped to break up the sweet vanilla and cinnamon flavor from the donut batter. We also, as a surprise discovered that at the bottom of each of the chocolate dipped waffle cones sat a chocolate malt ball. The malt ball had two purposes, it plugged up the hole at the bottom of the waffle cone that is created when you roll the flat waffle into a cone shape. Secondly, the chocolate malt ball is just a surprise, a delicious one to find at the bottom of the waffle cone, one that you’d never guess was there. However, my in contrast to the too sweet mini donut batter crunch ice cream, my husband loved his Izzy Scoop of church elderberry. He actually wished that he had gotten the ice creams in reverse and made Church Elderberry his main ice cream scoop as it was just so full of rich berry flavor without being overly sweet.
For my dessert choice, I asked for a chocolate dipped waffle cone as well with a scoop of latte ice cream and my Izzy Scoop being M and M, all of that topped with whipped cream. Talk about a decadent dessert, chocolate dipped waffle cone and homemade whipped cream on top of all of it. Unfortunately, the whipped cream covered up my M & M Izzy Scoop, so I could taste it, but I couldn’t see it. First off, the M & M Izzy Scoop was delicious. It used a vanilla ice cream base, but was packed with tons of chocolate M & M’s which were smashed to tiny bits and then swirled into the vanilla ice cream. This created, not only a colorful ice cream full of the signature red, green, brown, yellow M & M’s, but full of terrific chocolate flavor and some crunch from the crunchy chocolate shell of the M & M candy. The ice cream was sweet, but since I got it as an Izzy Scoop, it was just the perfect amount of sweetness. The latte ice cream was incredible. I went back and forth as to whether or not to order coffee break or latte, but I realized, that when I normally order coffee drinks, I get lattes because I like punch of the espresso flavor that’s then tamed by the sweet frothy milk. At Izzy’s the latte is made with a mild coffee based ice cream mixed with a latte macchiato paste that they import from Italy. The latte ice cream was incredible. It wasn’t too strong, but definitely had that coffee flavor, which I love and it had a sweetness to it from the latte macchiato paste. It was the perfect combination of strong coffee flavor with just a hint of sweetness. The ice cream went down so smoothly and easily, and of course, the added crunch of the chocolate dipped waffle cone and the surprise of the chocolate malt ball at the bottom of the waffle cone was just fantastic.
It’s no wonder that Izzy’s Ice Cream has become the success that it has. The quality of the ice cream shines through, and the creativity of the flavors is obvious. I’m so glad that my sister-in-law knew what I would like and brought me here to give Izzy’s Ice Cream a try. This was the perfect ending to a terrific day of eating local Saint Paul favorite foods. Who wouldn’t love to end their day with some sweet, delicious and creamy ice cream? This girl would never turn it down.