Photo: Kind Ice Cream

The Inside Scoop to Alberta’s Top Ice Cream Spots

By Joanne Elves

SWEET SPOTS

On a sizzling summer day, who can resist the pull of ice cream? Triple-chocolate caramel, cotton candy or classic strawberry are drool-worthy flavours, but what the heck is River Valley Road or Barn Floor? Alberta’s small-batch, from-scratch ice cream parlours concoct daringly different flavours. And every corner of the province has a purveyor in a quaint shop—or bus or food truck. In Edmonton, River Valley Road is Kind Ice Cream’s take on classic rocky road, but with brownies and candied walnuts. And Barn Floor is a chocolate-packed treat dreamed up by MacKay’s Ice Cream. Since 1948, the Cochrane ice creamery has had a line out the door. “I love hearing the memories of customers who came to MacKay’s for ice cream when they were young,” says third-generation owner Meghan Tayfel. “Now they bring their kids and grandkids.” Her favourite flavour is one her grandpa, Jimmy, scooped when she was a youngster: peanut butter and grape jelly.

Shops like Made By Marcus use healthy and locally sourced ingredients. The fresh milk and cream are rich in calcium, berries are full of vitamins, and chunky dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants. Proprietor Marcus Purtzki and ice cream aficionado use his nutrition and food science background to experiment with flavour profiles—think lemon saffron coconut  or sea salt and goat milk caramel.

ROAD TRIPPIN’

Need a jolt of caffeine with your ice cream? Yelo’d in Edmonton offers the Affogato: a swirl of your favourite ice cream melting in a shot of espresso.

Stop in at The Scoop by Jeffrey’s Café in Grande Prairie for some oh-so-delicious concoctions like Mexican Vanilla Bean or Carrot Cake.

Medicine Hat’s Camp Ice Cream uses local ingredients to craft tasty treats. And a dollar from every pint sold goes to summer camps in Southern Alberta.

DISH IT OUT

Since 1982, Leavitt’s Ice Cream Shop (or LICS to locals) in Calgary has been serving hand-rolled waffle cones jammed full of flavour. The Parkdale store now offers homemade ice cream cookies to munch while you stroll the path along the Bow River.

Those in the know, know to stop on the south side of High River for an order of deep-fried mushrooms and a thick frosty milkshake at the Hitchin Post. Over the past five decades, the only change to the menu has been the list of milkshake flavours.

Revel in la dolce vita at La Carraia Gelato in downtown Edmonton on 109 Street near Jasper Avenue. Though La Carraia’s flagship gelato shop is located in Florence, Italy, the charming Edmonton branch offers the same authentic taste in 24 delectable flavours.

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The Cherry on Top

Something extraordinary happens when sauce meets ice cream. Sundaes are the ultimate crowd-pleasers—and they can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like. Try these insider tips for preparing this perfect dessert at home

Add two to three scoops of ice cream to a parfait glass or dessert dish. Vanilla is the typical base but chocolate, cookies and cream, or strawberry are good options.

Top with sauce. For hot fudge, warm up chocolate sauce in a microwave; cool slightly before pouring on ice cream.

In place of chocolate, try fruit. Natural fruit sauce ups the flavour ante, but herbs like basil and mint add unexpected zing. 

Add something crunchy: chopped nuts, granola, sweet cereals like Froot Loops or even candied bacon.

Finish with a fresh cherry on top. Or think outside the icebox and try a peanut butter cup or cookie.