Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cold Treats for Cooling Weather

The last two weeks haven’t felt much like fall. The mercury rising into the 80’s cities as far north as San Francisco and New York has meant one thing for food: the lines for ice cream vendors have remained mighty long.

Just as well for me, I tend to only get that ice cream itch when not even a glass of cold water can cool me down and nothing short of a sugar fix will get my electrolytes back into balance.

This was all the better for enjoying a few new fall flavors from some of the specialty purveyors around the country. Here are a two worth trying before the shorts and skirts get packed away and the scarves come out to stay.

People's Pops (New York, NY): I have been hearing about this gourmet frozen fruit pop company for sometime. To be honest, I couldn’t imagine frozen fruit puree on a stick meriting a $3.50 a pop price tag. After a long sweaty run on the Hudson River running trail, a stop by their Chelsea Market location seemed just the reward for my exercise efforts.

If I had come during the summer my guess is the flavors would have geared toward buxom fruits at their mid-summer peak- strawberries, nectarines, cherries. What I found on this early autumn day was a luscious purple remnant of end of summer: roasted plums. Unlike ice cream that hits you with the first bite, it can take a few licks to a get into the real flavor of a frozen pop. My patience was rewarded. As the frosty exterior gave way and frozen puree of roasted plum succumbed to the heat, what I found was the deep, rich flavor of late summer plums with a just a hint of the caramelization coming from roasting the fruit. Instead of the one note consistency of most commercial popsicles, a few licks of this pop revealed bits of pulp and skin remained suspended in the frozen treat, a welcome change of texture. People’s Pop’s season is almost over, so get in now before late summer frozen fruits pass you by.

Ciao Bella (San Francisco, CA): Nothing helps calm down nerves frayed by a long day taking outrageously expensive, inefficient cabs around San Francisco like a long walk home, ice cream in hand. The weather had stayed so nice for my week in SF that not only was a walk home in this often drizzly city possible, but cold ice cream actually seemed the perfect walking companion. Ciao Bella has been churning out sorbets and gelato for years in the Bay Area and in freezer sections of markets around the country (there are also three cafes in New York). A trip to their store in the Ferry Building is a rare treat for those of us who normally only get to taste their top sellers in the grocery aisle. Lucky for me, Ciao Bella has just rolled out with a few seasonal flavors- Pumpkin & Spice and Maple Ginger Snap. The taste was like fall- pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, maple, ginger- even if the weather felt more like summer.

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