Big Sky Country – Part 1

You learn the best stuff from strangers. I’m serous. On my flight to Missoula, Montana, I started a conversation with the woman next to me. Turns out she was traveling to see her son in Montana and was going to stay a week. As we got to talking, she started giving me tips on what to see and eat. Ah yes… the eating part really perked my ears.

I asked her if I could eat just one thing in Missoula, what would it be? Without hesitation, she said, “Huckleberry ice cream from The Big Dipper.” Then suddenly a woman and man from across the aisle nodded their heads in agreement and chimed in about how good the ice cream was. I was sold.

To be honest, I never had huckleberry before. Apparently, they are not as common as blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Huckleberries grow in a few places in North and South America. And over 10 years ago, they were in short supply. They say the berry is almost like a blueberry but it’s a bit more tart. And so, I went on my way in search of huckleberry ice cream in my free time.

On a Friday evening, I took a walk with colleagues who tried to help me find this place. And on a quiet street corner, this little ice cream stand was illuminated by the neon signs – it was The Big Dipper.

On of my favorite signs was on the window that said, “Great Cones Oh Boy!” There was something really nostalgic and innocent about that sign that made me realize why ice cream is like a comfort food for me. Here’s a closer shot of it.

But you’re wondering about the actual ice cream… huckleberry ice cream. I ordered a scoop of it in a cup and had it right before I went to dinner. I know that’s not a good thing but when you’re in Missoula, Montana and you stumble upon the food gem all the locals talk about, you throw caution to the wind and order up. Here’s what I got:

The ice cream is super creamy but not overly sweet. At first you get that sweet blueberry flavor but immediately after that sets in, there’s a tart flavor that washes over it. It’s actually nice that the flavor of the cream then takes over at the end just leaving your mouth salivating for more.

So for those taking a trip, be sure to talk to those around you because they may very well have a tip that will take you to unexpected places and flavors.

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