10 spots for frozen treats this side of the Rocky Mountains
— by Wanda Baker
We all like to scream for locally sourced ice cream and fortunately the small-batch food movement guarantees some of the best ice cream and gelato in Southern Alberta. The weather here is known to change as quickly as our moods, however with 333 days of annual sunshine in Calgary and area, there are many reasons to enjoy a frozen treat. From Banff, to Canmore and Calgary, we’ve toured some of the funkiest frozen treats parlours who are using local ingredients, producing wild, unusual flavours and each offering their own twist on everyone’s favourite summer time treat.
The Scoopin’ Moose
When the Scoopin’ Moose first opened in Canmore, it immediately became a favourite Mountain destination for sweet treats and a cool place to hang out in the evenings. Located right on Main Street in Canmore, tourists and locals wandering by first learn about the shop by the wafting aroma of in house made waffle cones filling the street. Ice cream is supplied by The Foothills Creamery and the menu offers sundaes, traditional milkshakes, classic floats and of course as many scoops of ice cream as you can handle. Those who are up for an adventure can get their photo, with or without their ice cream taken with the store mascot, a large stuffed moose.
Old School Bus Ice Cream
When Blue Falconer came up with the idea 14 years ago to sell ice cream out of an old bus, many locals thought he was crazy. What they didn’t realize was his vision to be part of the community he loved was really the beginning of what we know now as the Food Truck era. The Old School Bus Ice Cream truck provides a unique experience with a walk-up window offering ice cream, shaved ice and milkshakes. Take your ice cream for a stroll through Canmore or find yourself a seat near the bus. This little gem is cash only so be sure to hit up the ATM before finding the big yellow bus.
Skoki’s Waffle and Frozen Yogurt
This family-owned waffles, crepes and froyo shop is pleasantly nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains right in downtown Banff. Everything here is made in house or locally sourced. The menu boasts a variety of crepes, acai bowls, fruit cups, yogurt parfaits and even hot chocolate. Skoki’s offers a fun variety of frozen yogurt, with gluten-free and sugar-free options, and over 40 toppings. Get creative with fresh fruit and candy in the self-serve frozen yogurt section of this shop. You can even request frozen yogurt on your waffles. Eat in or take it to go.
Since 1983, COWS has been a Canadian institution delighting customer across Canada with catchy ice cream creations including Cownadian Maple, Wowie Cowie and Fluff N’ Udder. While their interesting names and tasty ice cream creations may draw you in, their bright and colourful stores offer original COWs clothing plus related merchandise to pique your interest. All their ice cream is hand made using high quality local ingredients including 16% butter fat ensuring creamy goodness. A definite must stop so you can say been there, done that, ate the ice cream and even bought the COWS t-shirt.
The Italian Store
Currently celebrating 60 years in business, this family owned and operated Calgary Italian Store offers up Gelato 55, an in house made creamy and rich gelato using both locally sourced items and ingredients from Italy. Each week gelato Chefs at The Italian Store create seasonal gelato favourites and offer traditional classics like Nutella, Zabaglione, Nocciola, Pistachio and Italian Amarena Cherry. Drop in and enjoy gelato on the patio or in the café, served in a cup, cone or by the pint with an espresso on the side. Closed Sundays.
Come for gelato, stay for a coffee. Fiasco Gelato offers small batch gelato and sorbetto in regular or dairy free options. With limited-edition flavours inspired by holidays, seasons, people and places, you’re guaranteed something new every time you visit. Expand your palates and go beyond predictable standards with their delicious and sometimes seasonal creations like blueberry basil or frozen hot chocolate. Not sure what to order? Try a tasting flight of gelato or join the Gelato Club and have gelato delivered right to your door step. Closed Mondays.
Village Ice Cream
In terms of popularity alone, Village Ice Cream quite possibly remains Calgary’s ice cream shop to beat.
This favourite amongst Calgarians almost always has a line up on hot Summer or Fall days and fortunately the line moves fast. With three locations currently around town, their freshly-churned, small-batch ice cream and sorbets are available in a variety of flavours including Phil & Sebastian Coffee, Guide’s Mint, Cardamom and Salted Caramel. Try it scooped into a freshly-made waffle cone or in a cup.
Just when you thought you’ve heard of every kind of ice cream, enter liquid nitrogen ice cream. This locally owned ice cream shop creates silky ice cream by freezing the cream or milk as quickly as possible, right at the counter, so the ice crystals are not able to build, leaving you with a smooth tasting ice cream. To start your order simply pick a flavour, choose a cone or cup, select toppings and then watch the science begin. Made using -200c liquid nitrogen, this new style of ice cream brings out the Mad Scientist in all of us.
Sweet Tooth Ice Cream
One of the first Thai inspired rolled ice cream shops to hit Calgary, Sweet Tooth Ice Cream offers a unique made to order ice cream experience. Watch ice cream liquid poured onto special cold metal plates and expertly spread with a scraper into a thin pancake. It is then gently scraped into curls and packed in a bowl to be finished with your favourite toppings liked gummy bears, marshmallows or hot fudge. The entire process takes about two minutes from start to finish and is an incredibly fun treat to eat.
Made by Markus
You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone more passionate about ice cream than Markus Purtzki, the owner of Made by Markus. With a bachelor’s degree in food science and nutrition at UBC, Markus took his knowledge of science and turned it into ice cream using scientific methods and processes to create each batch. It takes 3 days to make their ice cream, a process outlined on the wall in their shop. Beyond ice cream they offer sundaes, soft serve and ice cream cakes. With flavours like Lemon Curd Blueberry, Whisky Hazelnut Praline and Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk, this ice cream shop is a must stop on your next ice cream crawl.
Anytime is a great time to enjoy ice cream as less line ups in the cooler months allow for quicker service and less mess, while the warmer months offer frozen treat lovers more reasons to cool down. Get your frozen fix at any of these top ice cream, gelato and frozen treat shops East of the Rocky Mountains.
— Wanda Baker