Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ice Queen

I have had some bad Mexican ice cream. Atop a pasty cone sits a heap of soupy, boxed milk goop, flavored with sno cone syrup. It’s raunchy and liable to make you ill. If this has been your experience, it’s time to do something for society… Get off your bike and make some life changing choices! There’s a new ice cream name in town that’s shattering stereotypes of south-of-the-border dairy; an ice cream lady to be reckoned with on Belmont: La Reina de Michoacan.

Banking on a truly exceptional product, La Reina had the balls to open its doors to the public in a seemingly ungodly time of year: November. The unveiling ceremony was complete with mini paleta samples and a giant pink popsicle mascot- a bite out of one corner of its head and a cockeyed crown on the other. She was the queen no doubt, standing outside a transformed Belmont storefront, her name spanning the top, “La Reina de Michoacan” in perfect shadowed script. Windows painted with large mangos, coconuts, iced drinks and popsicles. A list of flavors, “Nescafe, Coco, Mamey, Fresas…” lettered neatly on the exterior.

Upon entry you are greeted by a sparking clean interior, reminiscent of some distant, Latino, Willy Wonka fantasy. It smells like an ice cream store should- waffle cones, a hint of bubble gum, and a little Soilent Green. On any given day there are over thirty choices of ice cream and paleta flavors gleaming under plate glass freezers.

Owners Gabriel and Amalia Alvarez have brought something truly exceptional to Fresno: the Michoacan style of ice cream making. The state of Michoacan in Mexico is famous for its paletas and creamy, soft ice cream made with top quality, fresh ingredients. Michoacan ice cream is made in small batches on site, so quality is exceptional, flavors seasonal, and cost minimal.

La Reina boasts a menu of all natural ice creams, paletas, augua frescas, sundaes, and fruits to entice. You’ll find classics like strawberry, peach, and pistachio along with new innovations like walnut, coconut, corn and dried fruit. For $1.75 try a generous scoop of cajeta: goat’s milk that has been sweetened and caramelized to a soft brown. Cookies and cream is faintly sweetened, reminiscent of dipping a cookie in a glass of cold milk. The avocado ice cream is smooth and nutty, with diced green fruit in sweetened cream. A personal favorite, chongos zamoranos, is a custard similar to cheesecake that is flavored with cinnamon. La Reina’s cappuccino is almost bitter at first taste, rich and full-bodied. Tropical fruit flavors such as mamey, guanabana, and arrallan, are also featured on the menu. All fruit, non-dairy paletas set you back 75 cents and range from kiwi to guava, cucumber to pineapple. If this were not enough, you can scoop up a glass of fresh made auga fresca in flavors that vary daily. Get royal and go have some ice cream at La Reina de Michoacan.

Open daily from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM. 720 E. Belmont 559-485-3013

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Still Life

Sometimes I am just to full to write about ingesting something... So why not gather a little beauty from the morsels we put in our mouths? Props to the artists who spend their time capturing it (and I love the theory behind one-a-day artists).

Check out www.justinspaintings.com

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Thai Time

“If you knew what I know about the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way.”
~ Buddha (563 BC - 483 BC)

I had two lady friends who recently came back from original stomping ground for Buddha. What they brought back for me was not a typical tchotchke - no a snow-globe of Thailand or an Angkor Wat diorama. Packed in their suitcase was a little baggie of green curry paste and recipes. They brought me back a meal.

They showed up at my doorstep with bags of groceries and started in. Green papaya salad with pummeled raw green beans and chunky peanuts. Rich and decedent curry with tight green eggplant and kaffir lime leaves. Sticky rice with sweet and salty coconut milk and mango. Pure delight.

This was by far one of the best gifts I have ever received. Consider this next time you travel to a far off place… or even your grandmother’s house.