Big Mall, Little Sweets

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                Recent exploits led me down to the Mall of America yesterday, my first visit since before Christmas I believe, where I ran across one of Cupcake’s small, vibrantly orange and blue cafes/stores. So I thought it’d be fun to explore and take a few pics!

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                There’s quite the large display case of 35 different (I’m guessing standard) cupcakes to purchase, MUCH more than what we can get from the little car, and another 4 on the side. I’m assuming their seasonal, as opposed to a highlight of their winning group of cakes during one of their many Cupcake Wars spotlights, which they showcase on a flatscreen (at all times I guess) in the back.

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                Everything looked just as smooth and delicious as always, if not better; I certainly wish I was able to enjoy one of the many styles I haven’t had yet, but my money was already set on a different traditional street-based sweet treat.

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                That’s right, Gelato!! I discovered Paciugo on my last trip out here; situated in the South-Western corner (I’m pretty sure) on the 3rd floor, actually very close to Cupcake, I have to say this is easily one of the Mall’s newest and best-kept secrets. I absolutely LOVE this place! Their selection of Gelato is huge, and filled with all highly different flavors than the norm (and I’m including many a modern ice cream place in here). From vanilla and mint chocolate to traditional Italian stracciatella, hazelnut, and tiramisu; uniquely pure Italian flavors like rose(or other flowers) and black sesame to tasty sorbet mixes (cantaloupe pear, mango peach); awesome combos like chocolate-jalapeno to the completely wacky, unthinkable flavors like goldfish or durian. Everything about Paciugo’s fully embodies the feeling and elements of a TRUE Italian Gelateria, while bringing in a Modern American palette and sense of playfulness.

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                Then you get to actually ordering; for those completely stuck on the many flavors they want, they give the perfect options! Just ordering a small, one can get 3 different flavors; larger sizes can bring in 4 or 5. I decided to grab a small consisting of Hazelnut-Chocolate, Chocolate-Jalapeno, and Caramel Apple. Though what’s a really fun option, and a great tie-in to the Italian espresso tradition, is the “Cappucino con Gelato”… which is just as it sounds. A scoop of any delicious frozen goods top with a bit of hot espresso; I had it on my first trip and it was DELICIOUS!! I think I got it with the Pana Cotta, which is one I would certainly suggest, along with any sort of hazelnut, chocolate, cream-based, spiced, or other gelato (you know what would be really good? Their “Malt” flavored gelato).

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                End of the day, either of these places are a Must-go for anyone, local or tourist, visiting our well-known Mall, especially those street-food lovers among us. For those visiting the MOA sometime soon, particularly in the upcoming cold holidays, then I hope you get the chance to enjoy this fully. Good Luck and Good Eating in your travels my friends!

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