St. Croix Scoops

Stillwater Gazette editor Alicia Lebens and reporter Kim Schneider visited local spots for cold treats for the Gazette’s summer ice cream podcast, “St. Croix Scoops.”

They’re not experts on ice cream — but they do enjoy it, so they sampled a variety of scoops from the Stillwater area (tough job, we know). While the St. Croix Valley has many options, this podcast features just a few of the many great places to grab a scoop of ice cream.

Each episode also features an interview with an owner of the shop we visit.

This week’s episode is the final installment of “St. Croix Scoops” that features Minnesota Nice Cream, the newest ice cream addition to Stillwater with vegan options, edible glitter and Instagram-worthy cones.

Minnesota Nice Cream

Kim sat down with Minnesota Nice Cream owner Katie Romanski. We talked about how she makes vegan ice cream, her first summer in downtown Stillwater and why Instagram is such a large part of her business.

Q: How did Minnesota Nice Cream start?

A: I was working in restaurant industry jobs and just decided that it was time for a change and took out a loan and bought my first food truck. Then I sort of just went everywhere I could go in the city. I tried to make ice cream for people and luckily, people were following. I mean, the community in Minneapolis was a huge support. Everyone was really excited and they just thought it was cute and cool...They helped me gain a following on Instagram. That built up to be enough that I could open my first store and now we have Stillwater as well.

Q: How has your first summer in Stillwater been?

A: It’s been really good...I love it down here. It’s always booming with people. I hope that people enjoyed it as well. It was really good for me. It’s hard balancing two really busy stores so I think just expanding on staff again for next year. We pushed through and we’re really excited for winter. We’re like “winter’s coming!” you know, so that’s sort of what is exciting for us, to take a break because it is so crazy. It’s a good crazy. A lot of people down here were really excited for the vegan options. So, I can try to expand more on that next season as well. I just want to see what everyone would like. Apparently, everyone loves Blue Moon since it’s a Midwest thing. In Minneapolis, no one knows what Blue Moon is but all the Wisconsin people love Blue Moon because it originated in Milwaukee. More people know what it is down here. It’s a classic blue ice cream that originated in Milwaukee and growing up as a child, I’m from Wisconsin, all I got was Blue Moon. It’s a huge scoop classic. Down here, it sells more than anything.

Q: How do you make vegan ice cream?

A: I’ve shifted between what base I use. I take a lot from my Instagram followers and what they like. If I make it out of coconut milk, someone will be upset because they can’t have coconut. So then I try soy and more people are like “I don’t like soy.” So it’s hard for me to sort of please everyone. I use a dairy-free base and you can use soy, or almond or coconut. I was playing around trying to make vegan ice cream out of chickpeas. So there’s multiple sources you can use to make the base.

Then we shift between — you need some sort of sweetening agent. That’s what keeps it from freezing solid into an ice cube. We switch around what we use with that: honey, agave, sugar. Most people prefer agave, the more natural source. We try to stick with mostly natural, the almond extract. We try to stay as natural as possible for that because that’s what everyone wants. It’s difficult, but I really want to put something out there that everyone can have and that everyone appreciates, that I made the effort to do that. It’s important to me to have those options. Then we make our gluten-free tie dye cones too. They take forever to make. We make them with bananas but people love those.

This week’s picks

Listen to the podcast  to hear Kim and Alicia discuss their thoughts on Minnesota Nice Cream’s aesthetically pleasing treats. Here are this week’s selections:

Berry Nice: Seasonal berries, lemon confetti cake and sprinkles on chocolate and vanilla twist soft serve on a gluten-free, tie-dyed banana cone.

Sweet and Salty: Bacon, potato chips, Butterfinger pieces and caramel on chocolate soft service ice cream with gold, edible glitter.

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