Adding to the family-favourite shops attracting line-ups with popular options, an emerging group of ice creameries are making exciting ice creams and gelati on-site and wowing us with their palate-pushing flavours. Find out what unexpected and delicious combinations local artisans are creating and the ingredients that give their frozen cream game an edge. The eyebrow-raising flavours in this list aren’t just for the adventurous either! We’re confident purists will be pleased too–at least those who can handle vanilla with a little Manitoba rhubarb thrown in. Be it sour, salty, bitter or spicy, this list of Peg City standouts delivers innovative flavours that have us screaming for more.
Combos Worth Their Salt
Have you ever salted your ice cream? Though not as common as rainbow sprinkles or chocolate drizzle, a dusting of salt makes ice cream both creamier and sweeter. Sea salt, peanut butter, even soy sauce and feta are favoured by creative ice cream makers.
Peanut butter and chocolate demonstrate the irresistibility of sweet and salty combinations. Chaeban’s gourmet answer to Reese’s Pieces combines natural peanut butter with finely chopped peanuts and chocolate chips. Nutty flavour and pops of cocoa—both intensified by salt—hit the pleasure centre of the brain just right.
Another hallowed sweet-and-salty blend: salted caramel. In Fête’s salted caramel crunch, gooey sauce swirls through sumptuous cream. To amp up the extravagance and add texture, saltine crackers dipped in rich caramel are crumbled into the mix. Finally, a sea salt topping boosts decadent layers of flavour with every spoonful.
Refresh With Zest
There’s a reason summertime is associated with freshly squeezed lemonade or ice-cold mojitos: citrus fruits cool us off! By aiding digestion, citrus allows our bodies to produce less heat, ideal for a day in the sun. For a truly refreshing treat, add acidity to ice cream. Sour ingredients like berries or rhubarb brighten a rich cream base with tantalising tang.
Vanilla rhubarb ice cream from Decadence Chocolates packs all the flavours of rhubarb pie à la mode into a single scoop. Swirls of the tart, tangy vegetable, picked from owner Helen’s garden, provide a potent pucker effectively tempered by sweet vanilla.
Made with milk instead of cream, gelato’s lower fat content enables a higher intensity of flavour. Nucci’s Gelati’s grapefruit gelato replicates the delightful sensation of eating a segment of the zingy fruit with a generous sprinkling of sugar. Frozen pieces of pink pulp burst with extra-energizing zip.
Hard to Beat Bittersweet
Ice cream and bitterness may not seem symbiotic, but rich cream counteracts stringent notes while ingredients like coffee or beer balance overt sweetness. A match(a) made in heaven, bitter flavours bring out the complexity of frozen desserts.
Delivering the comforting indulgence of a creamy specialty coffee but for a summer day, a scoop of cappuccino gelato from Eva’s Gelato and Coffee Bar ups the ante by transferring espresso from mug to cone. Bold bitterness gains extra depth when paired with silky Argentinean gelato.
Made from premium, young-picked tea leaves from Japan, Prairie West’s green tea ice cream is steeped in full-bodied flavour. Robust matcha—the tea’s chlorophyll offers hints of freshly cut grass—adds a hit of enticing umami to 100% Canadian cream. This Manitoba-made brand is available widely in local grocery stores. If you don’t see it, show your local support and scream for this ice cream!
Keep It Cool
Dairy is an effective antidote to spicy foods, binding with oily capsaicin (the active component in chiles that generates heat) and helping to wash it down. When combined with ice cream, peppers and chiles—and even spices like cardamon or ginger—playfully offset ice-cold sweetness.
Dug and Betty’s Ice Creamery’s strawberry balsamic honey and black pepper ice cream (above) transforms in flavour as it meets the palate. Manitoban strawberries burst with sweetness, savoury balsamic syrup cuts through the cream and piquant cracked pepper blooms into a subtle warmth that lingers at the back of the throat.
The coconut milk-based vegan ice cream from Black Market Provisions acts as a velvety foundation for luxurious flavour. The Thai-phoon recalls a sunny beach getaway, with pieces of dried mango stirred into a lime- and lemongrass-infused base. Crystallized ginger supplies bright pops of heat.
Smoky, sour and certainly spicy, the grapefruit, rosemary and jalapeño Pop Cart popsicle tastes like an exquisitely pepped-up paloma. Cayenne contains more capsaicin than jalapeño, so just a sprinkling transforms the chocolate coconut sea salt pop). Earthy undertones support smooth chocolate and sweet, sultry heat to powerful effect. These local, artisanal pops are available at specialty food stores across the city or you can find their eponymous cart at a summer market.