Usually when I discover something stunningly delicious in the far suburbs, I start rending my garments and gnashing my teeth about how much better my life would be if said delicious thing was closer to my house. Adele’s Custard, Satay 2 Go, King’s Fine Korean—you have all suffered this treatment and so you know what I am talking about. However, while recently racing around Eagan, I encountered a new-ish place offering such a surpassingly delicious thing that my only thought was: “Thank God this is so far from Minneapolis. Thank God in His heaven with His infinite wisdom who has, by positioning Ring Mountain Creamery in the distant fields of Eagan, kept my bathroom scale from smiting me with vengeance and mockery.”
What’s Ring Mountain Creamery? It’s a homegrown, mom-and-pop gelato, ice cream, and coffee shop near where I-35E and I-35W start getting close, south of the river, by the Eagan Target. Gelato, of course, is the Italian ice cream-like creation that’s richer, denser, and more potently flavored than plain old ice cream. Ring Mountain has dozens of flavors of gelato, all made on site, including a vanilla that tastes like just-opened vanilla beans, a traditional Italian version flavored, hauntingly so, with Marsala wine, and a caramel so dark that it’s almost bitter; it actually tastes savory, like sweet bacon or something similar.
So, homemade gelato—that’s a great thing. But to this critic, the thing that drove me past admiring and into ecstatic was this: Ring Mountain’s affogato al caffè.
Now, an affogato is a simple thing, just a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of gelato, usually vanilla, but it’s an iconic Italian dessert and just stunningly delicious. But we haven’t had too many around here – in fact, have we had any? I’m guessing some Italian restaurants have put them together now and then, but as far as I can remember even our last gelato place, Calhoun Square’s Caruso’s Gelato, never had espresso. (Is that true? I don’t remember espresso there, but I can’t think of who to call to verify what a closed restaurant didn’t have. Also, is “what a closed restaurant didn’t have,” is that a triple negative? Feel free to chime in.)
Anyhoo, the affogato at Ring Mountain is staggeringly good, and a welcome addition to the local dining scene. But their dolci latte shake, in which your choice of gelato is blended with espresso? Get outta here!
I had one made with Ring Mountain’s wonderfully ultra-dark chocolate gelato and it was just gob-smackingly great: Ultra chocolaty, perfectly coffee-y, dark as a blackout in an underwater cave but much more pleasant. I actually had to stop at a gas station and throw it out because I was in such danger of slurping down the whole thing, which never happens to me (I had six other places to check out that afternoon).
So that’s it. Drive to Eagan if you want to know more. They’ve got free wi-fi, you could spend the day! It’s a stay-cation in Eagan! Or not. Anyway, they also sell it wholesale. I first encountered the stuff in the freezer case of Buon Giorno Italia. And if you’re a chef reading this and wanting to bring affogato al caffè to the cities, check out this round-up of New York City affogato’s that New York magazine did last summer.
Till then I’m going to stay the heck out of Eagan. It’s that dangerous.
Ring Mountain Creamery – Café
1965 Cliff Lake Rd., Eagan