This week, I set out to find comfort food: banana chocolate chip pancakes for dinner (paired with red wine) on Friday, Indian takeout on Saturday and gelato on Monday to top it all off.
The gelato took the cake, ironically. A few weeks ago, Heavy Table featured Cow Bella Gelato in St. Paul, a brand new venture for owners KaTrina and Paul Wentzel, who run Wine Thief. It quickly earned a spot on my list of ideal food adventures.
Upon entering the shop, my mind traveled back to February, to a dark alley not far from the Trevi fountain. It is home to “the best gelato in Rome” according to my friend Nick, who studied abroad in Rome this spring. Cow Bella holds their gelato in pozzetti, metal canisters, just as the authentic Italian shop. The pozzetti hold ensure a consistently cool temperature, but their appeal extends beyond function. The pozzetti almost make picking a flavor more exciting, as if you had to trust your instincts about what sounded best rather than judge by sight. I have no recollection of the name of the little, pretentious gelato shop in Italy, but Cow Bella is reminiscent of what I heard nearly every time I exited a gelateria: “Ciao, Bella!”
Cow Bella is certainly not Italian gelato, but worthy of words all the same. Two flavors are served daily: Vanilla and Sea Salt Caramel, along with a list of featured flavors. On our visit, I tried the Gianduja, chocolate infused with hazelnut flavor. The only improvement would be a dark chocolate base, but only in the opinion of a dark chocoholic. The Goat Cheese and Fig intertwines appetizer with dessert, and Rush River Oatmeal Stout is ideal for anyone who digs IPAs and ales. My favorite, Sea Salt Caramel tickles both sweet and savory taste buds, though seems to both favor and spoil the savory side. Anyone who appreciates pretzels and Nutella can understand this delicate balance, but it remains one that is quite simply hard to get wrong.
On the way out, we heard the workers describe the European hot chocolate, allegedly made with a base of dark chocolate gelato. Needless to say, I’ll be back soon.