I love to taste the local flavors of the places I travel.
I also love ice cream, so when I spent a few days in Anchorage last week, I bee-lined it – twice – to an ice cream shop that uses local plants to concoct its uniquely Alaskan scoops.
The first time I stopped at Wild Scoops, I ordered one scoop of wild blueberry and another of fireweed and honey. I knew I’d like the blueberry; here in Austin I’m known for whipping up blueberry pies all summer long. But I had no idea what fireweed would taste like. The plant, which gets its name because it’s one of the first plants to sprout on land that’s been burned, grows in tall purple-pink plumes all summer in Alaska.
It turns out it’s delicious. I caught a hint of cedar and a nice dollop of honey in the fireweed. The blueberry was wild and subtle – not overly sweet or dyed a freaky shade of blue.
But my favorite flavor was spruce tip, which I ordered on my return visit to the downtown ice cream shop, where a crowd is always gathered. I’ve never actually eaten a spruce tree, but it tasted like a hike in the woods or a cozy campfire.
As a side note, someone in Alaska told me that Alaskans eat more ice cream per capita than any other state, which seemed surprising. Turns out that’s not true. According to data from Zippia, Alaska actually ranks 47th out of all 50 states for per capita ice cream consumption.
Obviously not everyone up there has discovered Wild Scoops.