BEST ICE CREAM PARLOR - 2004
It was just a few weeks from the end of the summer last year when, enjoying a Crema cone after a particularly zealous playground session, the nickel dropped. Here we were, in the middle of an impossibly bucolic afternoon, in once-pedestrian southwest Minneapolis, enjoying ethereally delicious ice cream on a tiny alleyway of a patio that might as well have been in Tuscany. We pinched ourselves several times in quick succession and are compelled to report that, yes, Virginia, our neighborhood ice cream parlor does indeed flavor its sorbets and ice creams with balsamic vinegar, Cabernet Sauvignon, lavender, cardamom and black pepper (our personal favorite), rosewater, and the highest-quality chocolates and real vanilla, of course. And someone, either one of the owners, Ron Siron and Carrie Gustafson, or Ron's dad Sonny, was probably behind the lovely hand-plastered wall against which we leaned, cranking out small batches of these exotic ice creams by hand. And later, after we'd gone home, someone would close the door to the freezer, come outside and tend to the plants that graced that lovely little wrought-iron-enclosed terrace. And later still, someone would be serving grown-ups on dates fancy pastries from the case inside and frothing milk for their cappuccinos and changing the concerto tinkling out of the hidden speakers. That this was our neighborhood ice cream parlor was one big reason why it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood, indeed.