A thought occurred to me the other day: Every city I have ever lived in has had phenomenal ice cream. The kind of ice cream that people are willing to stand in half hour lines for. Each with it’s own quirks and flavors, I’ve been lucky to try an assortment of treats from them all (although of course I have my own favorites). And with this realization, a brief tribute to each of them:
Big Dipper, Missoula MT
I think my love for Big Dipper was solidified when they parked their ice cream truck outside my dorm freshman year and offered free scoops to everyone packing their cramped 9th floor dorm room in the 80-degree heat. There’s a chance they offered others this same treat, but for the top floorers, it was especially welcomed. I remember packing up with my mom and grandma and every time one of us took a load to the car, we’d stop by the truck for a new flavor to share between the three of us.
The Dipper was there for me rain or shine throughout my four years in Missoula: After sorority functions, dates, letdowns, and celebrations. In 28 degrees or 101 degrees, I never grew tired of standing outside their small ice cream stand to sample new flavors, pretending I might get something other than yellow cake in a plain cone with rainbow sprinkles.
With plenty of classics to go around and a rotating variety of specials, you can’t go wrong. The ice cream feels fuller on your tongue and creamier than most and you can smell their homemade waffle cones from around the corner. If you’re really feeling up to the challenge bring a friend (or 4) and take on the super nova. It’s basically 6 huge scoops of ice cream (maybe more?) over what feels like a hub cap sized plate of brownies, hot fudge, whipped cream, nuts and cherries. It may kill you, but at least you’ll die happy.
Mora Iced Creamery, Poulsbo WA
I’ve never been to another ice cream establishment with as many flavors as Mora. And the issue is all of them are good. Basically even the flavors I didn’t like there are still enjoyable. Mora has some of the richest, most flavorful ice cream I’ve ever tasted. They boast all natural ingredients and less butterfat than other ice creams and it really makes a difference. After having worked there for almost two years I think I developed a low-key addiction. I wish I were kidding. But with such variety and quality, how could I not. If you find yourself in Kitsap County, get some raspberry sorbet for me, will you? Or chocolate peanut butter moreo. I’m not picky.
I have some wonderful memories from Mora, and some less than wonderful memories from Mora, but the fact remains- they know their ice cream. I miss having a constant supply of it in my fridge. I also miss the arm strength I gained while working there. RIP almost-not-really-but-kind-of-muscular-at-least-not-pudding-like arms. I met some pretty amazing people and had some good fun, but I also grew a lot. I think your early post grad years can be some of the most challenging (or at least I hope they are) in your life and having that little bit of sweetness definitely helped me muddle my way through a few of them. It was at Mora I learned to love chocolate ice cream. It will probably be the only place I’ll order it.
Salt and Straw, Portland OR
I don’t want to tell you how many times I’ve been to Salt and Straw since I’ve moved here. Frankly it’s embarrassing. But before we get judgy you’ve gotta hear me out: the flavors change every month. The ever changing menu of high quality ice cream makes it a brand new experience every time. I’ve tasted flavors inspired by berry season, Halloween, thanksgiving, and local farmers market vendors, and ice cream created by kids to support local elementary schools. They have some solid staples, but I always find myself trying their new flavors.
Maybe that’s another reason I like it so much- it’s basically the one place I frequent where I don’t have a “go-to.” Anyone can tell you, I’m a creature of habit. Yes, I’ll try new things, but then I’ll end up with my favorite (see declaration of love for yellow cake on a plain cone with rainbow sprinkles above). With no true loyalty to one of their regular flavors, I branch out. I’ve tasted ramen ice cream, blood pudding ice cream, dill pickle sorbet, thanksgiving turkey ice cream, zucchini bread ice cream, and ice cream made with crickets and mealworms in it… just to name a few.
My favorite series so far has been thanksgiving with notable mention going out to goat cheese pumpkin pie, maple and pecan sweet potato, mashed potato (yes they used real mashed potatoes and gravy in it) and cranberry challah bread stuffing. I don’t know how they do it.
Would I describe myself as an ice cream connoisseur?
Just kidding!! (ish) But I will admit that I’ve been a little spoiled and have become accustomed to a certain level of quality when it comes to frozen dairy products. When I move again, it will have to be somewhere with quality ice cream: that’s non negotiable.