Archive | Ice Cream RSS feed for this section

The Hyppo Gourmet Popsicles Keeps Things Cool in Historic St. Augustine, FL

14 Apr

Hypo1

Look for this sign (above) when touring historic St. Augustine, Florida. It should prove to be especially welcoming on a hot summer’s day. But don’t let the season of the year or weather dictate your decision to stop in at The Hyppo Gourmet Pops. Anytime is right for these delicious and surprisingly heathful frozen treats. The name Hyppo is obviously a play on the name of the street (Hypolito Street) on which the flagship shop (opened in 2010) is located.  

We dropped in this last March — following a tasty dinner at a nearby restaurant called The Floridian (more on that in a later post). It had been a particularly busy Saturday at The Hyppo. The young man working the counter proudly informed me that more than 500 pops had been sold that day. It helped that it was Easter weekend — and Spring Break — and in the midst of St. Augustine’s 500th anniversary celebration. But don’t be fooled … this joint is always pretty, well, POPular. (INSERT GROAN HERE)

I ordered a coconut popsicle dipped in dark chocolate and I did not regret my decision. My only regret was that we did not have more time to stick around and experiment just a bit more. Eccentric flavor marriages such as Watermelon Elvis, Honeydew Avocado, and Cream Cucumber Lemon sound tempting, to say the least. They may sound like shotgun weddings to you, but I assure you these tastes do somehow live happily ever after.

So many pops, so little time. But don’t worry … we’ll be back.

Drop by The Hyppo sometime and let us know what you think.

We think the folks at Hyppo are very cool, indeed! 

Hypo2

Pop Art? A very cool wall hanging (above) at Hyppo Gourmet Pops.

hypo3

Only the freshest fruit is used — like Plant City (FL) Strawberries!

hypo4

This dreamy mural (seen above) adds to the shop’s whimsical feel.

hypo5

This simple process (shown above) produces delicious results.

hypo6

Ingredients like Mamey & Jackfruit can make choices tough.

hypo7

An intriguing flavor combination … and very appealing to me.

hypo8

What is DATIL, you ask? Well, the Datil is a pepper that produces a good deal of heat to the palate. It is especially popular in and around St. Augustine. In fact, the city hosts the annual Datil Pepper Festival each October. It is billed as “The Hottest Festival in Florida.”

The Hyppo Gourmet Pops – 15 Hypolito Street, St Augustine, FL 32084

(904) 217-7853; www.thehyppo.com

My Top 10 Bites & Top 5 Sips from our 2012 Trip to the Island of Oahu, Hawaii

27 Dec

TOP TEN MEMORABLE BITES

Please keep in mind that this is in no way a complete list. Many delectable treats were devoured. And many refreshing beverages were consumed. Narrowing down the list to 10 food items and 5 drinks was decidedly difficult. Enjoying Hawaii’s delicious bounty was not. Special mention should go out to the Diamond Head Deli and Bakery.

bbscone

Everything we ate there was top shelf. That included their memorable ginger spiked grilled tuna steaks and the gargantuan (almost as big as Diamond Head) blueberry scones (seen above) they serve up each morning for breakfast. If I could move any restaurant we visited on Oahu back to the mainland with me, the Diamond Head would probably be the one.

1) FRIED BANANAS @ KAHUKU LAND FARMS, KAHUKU (NORTH SHORE)
fried banana
2) SPAM MUSUBI (“SPAM SUSHI”) @ CHING’S GROCERY, KULA
spamwich
3) GARLIC SHRIMP @ BIG WAVE SHRIMP, HALEIWA
garlic shrimp
4) MALASADAS @ LEONARD’S BAKERY (NEAR DIAMOND HEAD)
malasada
5) MACADAMIA PINK SNAPPER @ BLUE WATER SHRIMP
bluewater
6) PORK DUMPLINGS @ LEGEND SEAFOOD, HONOLULU
dumplings
7) SWEET PINEAPPLE BREAD, YUMMY LAND BAKERY, KALIHI
sweet roll
8) BOWL AT CRISPY GRINDZ FOOD TRUCK (NORTH SHORE)
acai bowl
9) HAUPIA (COCONUT PUDDING) ICE CREAM @ HU LA LA’S
hu la
10) HAWAIIAN PIZZA (KALUA PORK & PINEAPPLE) @ DUKE’S WAIKIKI
hawaii pizza

TOP FIVE SIPS

1) MAI TAI @ ROYAL HAWAIIAN RESORT
mai
2) KONA COFFEE @ HONOLULU COFFEE COMPANY
newlogo
3) BIG WAVE GOLDEN ALE FROM KONA BREWERY
big wave close
4) PASSION FRUIT LILIKOI PUNCH @ LA MARIANA TIKI BAR
fruit
5) HAWAIIAN SUN PASS-O-GUAVA NECTAR DRINK
pass o

The Pumpkin Milkshake is Smashing at Cammie’s Old Dutch Ice Cream

6 Nov

Cammie’s is a pretty cool spot (pun totally intended). Every town should have a little scoop shop like this one. Looks a bit like an old filling station from the outside. They make their own ice cream too. Cammie’s doesn’t offer a gazillion flavors — this place is more about quality, not quantity. That being said, the flavors they do offer change on a semi-regular basis and do provide local ice cream junkies like yours truly with plenty of choices – both traditional and daring.

Seasonal flavors  are always popular here. And their Pumpkin milkshake, sold only during the Fall months, is a personal favorite of mine. Now, Chick Fil A has carved out a nice little niche with their specialty shakes. Their Peppermint, Banana Pudding, and Peach shakes are always welcome in my belly. But most fast food shakes tend to leave me cold. And I do mean that in a bad way. They are often far too sweet, artificially colored, and they taste, well, very unnatural. Cammie’s Pumpkin shake is exactly the opposite — and I would expect nothing less from them. Let’s just be thankful they don’t offer a Candy Corn shake (gross!).

The Pumpkin shake (above) I sucked down today was not too sweet. It wasn’t a hideous bright orange color either. You might say it had something of a light tan/peachy hue. The obviously natural pumpkin flavor was enhanced with the addition of nutmeg and perhaps a few other seasonal spices.  It was a special mid-afternoon treat that I attempted to savor. The problem was it was simply too good. And it was gone in a flash.

The atmosphere at Cammie’s is quaint — sort of a Pennsylvania Dutch theme. Makes sense given the name. They were obviously going for a bit of a retro vibe inside. That meshes perfectly with the whole “making our own ice cream in small batches” theme.

Tips??? Try the Creole Praline and the Rum Raisin

The weather here in Mobile is just starting to turn a little more Winter-like and I’ll be returning to Cammie’s before too long. Not necessarily for a holiday-themed (egg nog?) shake — but more likely for a crunchy cone topped off with a heaping scoop of Cammie’s fine Coconut ice cream. Come to think of it, I guess that is holiday-themed — Caribbean holiday, that is. My kind of vacation … even if it only lasts a few brief yet glorious moments.

And I’ll get 50 cents off next time too — smashing, baby!

Cammie’s Old Dutch Ice Cream – 2511 Old Shell Road, Mobile, AL 36607

(251) 471-1710; http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cammies-Old-Dutch-Ice-Cream-Shoppe/109587249076821

The Tin Top Restaurant & Oyster Bar – Bon Secour, Alabama

18 Jun

The Tin Top Restaurant & Oyster Bar is something of an Alabama tradition (they also have a location in Tuscaloosa). It takes a while for tourists to find it. Even locals are often late in discovering its many delicious charms. This is due in part to the eatery’s remote location off Alabama State Highway 10 in the historic fishing village of Bon Secour, Alabama. The Tin Top does indeed have a tin roof — but it is not rusted (that’s a B-52’s reference, friends).

A wrecked shrimp boat along the shores of the Bon Secour Bay

It was a very hot, steamy Saturday, but the outdoor patio seemed like a comfortable place to drop anchor for a few minutes. Fans circled rapidly overhead. That helped prevent things from getting too stifling. We settled at a well ventilated table with a good view of the TV and the massive daily menu chalk board. So many choices — so little room in my belly. 

The “Coco Loco Shrimp” appetizer looked tempting and it did not disappoint. In fact, it disappeared so quickly that I couldn’t get a picture of the dish. You might call it the culinary equivalent to the Bigfoot monster. The “coco” is due to an obvious infusion of coconut milk/shredded coconut. The “loco’ is likely used to describe the subtle, but noticeable spicy kick the dish delivers. The shrimp are fat and mega-fresh. It was all bowl licking good — and I’m not exaggerating, folks.   

Tin Top serves a retro Iceberg salad with ranch or blue cheese

I wasted no time in ordering the Tuna Steak Po-Boy topped with freshly sliced cucumber and a Wasabi ranch dressing. I couldn’t believe how much fresh-caught tuna came with this sandwich. And they only charged me $8.99! Now Tin Top is not often heralded as an inexpensive restaurant, but this was truly an amazing value. Tasted great too. The tuna was not overcooked (still a little pink inside). The veggies were crisp and farm fresh. The bread (buttered and grilled before serving) was authentic as well — New Orleans-style!

A closer look at one incredible Tuna Steak Po-Boy sandwich – YUM! 

When ordering sides at Tin Top, please don’t overlook their famous lima beans and andouille sausage combo. It’s a match made in culinary heaven. Trust me  … it’s really tasty … even if you are not a fan of lima beans. This dish may just convert you.  Tin Top owners Bob and Patty Hallmark have spent a lot of time in New Orleans and those influences show up in many of the restaurant’s offerings (including this one).

The Tin Top does collard greens right too. First and foremost, they are fresh — not canned. Please don’t ever serve me canned greens at a restaurant. I can eat those at home — and I NEVER do. There’s a reason for that, people. Tin Top’s collards, on the other hand, were rough chopped & smoky with a tiny hint of sweetness. That is definitely more my style.

All told, a strong first visit to the Tin Top. 

They get the little things right — and don’t miss on the big things either.

www.tintoprestaurant.com

Along the way back home to Fairhope, we took a brief detour for some homemade ice cream @ Joe’s Fabulicious in Foley. They are in a new roadside location this summer. But thankfully the quality and value remain sky high. I’d tried their homemade peach ice cream the weekend before and found it to be, well, fabulicious. Today I had a hankering for some old fashioned chocolate ice cream (sans cone).

Not sure about the Amish Maid, but the product speaks for itself

Joe’s Ice Cream in a cup — just $1.39 for one crazy good scoop!

Queen G’s Fries ‘Em Up Fresh

9 Apr

State-of-the-art fried oysters can be hard to find — even here on the Gulf Coast. We found them this week at Queen G’s Cafe on Mobile’s Old Shell Road. They open at 11 am. I arrived about 11:40 am. Just in time to beat the lunch rush. It’s a tiny little place with a limited indoor seating capacity. There are some additional seats outside, but that can be hit or miss depending on our rather fickle coastal weather patterns. I grabbed a small indoor table and shared the dining room with a single middle-aged couple. Their conversation was spirited and their food looked appealing.

Queen G’s is housed in an old circa 1950s drive-in. It used to be called “The Rebel Queen” back in the day and they have the photos inside to prove it. The bright teal paint job would have looked right at home on a 1957 Chevy. The black and white exterior awning preserved some of the retro vibe.  

I was tempted when I read about the Chicken & Dumplings special, but ultimately stayed strong and ordered a small plate of fried local oysters. I say small only because they call it that at Queen G’s. It’s actually pretty substantial with about 10 meaty cornmeal-coated oysters on each platter. The market price for this dish (with 2 sides) was $12. Order the large oyster plate and you may be ready for a mid-day siesta. Be forewarned.

The menu at Queen G’s is very cool looking. I’m a sucker for that old meets new look. Each meal (as you can see above) comes with a poofy square of cornbread and more than a couple of pats of real creamy butter. None of that greasy margarine or Country Crock crap. I notice these little things, so restaurateurs take note. The cornbread was just fine. Not really noteworthy in any way, but OK.

The fresh oysters are fried up to order at Queen G’s. Nice. A cornmeal coating really makes a difference. So much better than flour (if you ask me). They are prettied up on the plate with a few flecks of chopped green onion. I had my cocktail sauce and Tabasco at the ready and the oysters magically disappeared in just a matter of seconds. What a treat — especially on a weekday afternoon. For just a brief moment, I felt like royalty. I asked my server about the oysters point of origin. She informed me that they are farm raised in nearby Coden, AL. That explained their amazing sweetness. The local waters have been chilly due to some cool nights. That, from what I’ve been told, helps to deliver those sweet flavor notes.

My side of deviled eggs seemed like a good idea, but they could have been a little more devilish in my opinion. The presentation was nice – gussied up with paprika and parsley. The lime green serving bowl gave it a true elementary school cafeteria feel. I could tell the eggs had been sitting in the fridge for a while and the flavor was, well, just  a tad on the bland side. Nice effort, but they fell a little short this time. Not a big deal though.

My second side was rough chopped rutabagas. People love ‘em or hate ‘em. I dig ‘em. Really! They look unadorned in the above image, yet I am happy to report that they tasted fresh and well-seasoned. I only wish the portion size was larger. You don’t find rutabaga on many menues these days — even in the Heart of Dixie. They can be tedious to prepare and the canned variety just aren’t near as delicious.

Clean your plate at Queen G’s and you’ll be rewarded with a free scoop of ice cream. Pretty good incentive, for sure. But you probably won’t require any additional motivation here. The food is good and fresh and the surroundings cozy, yet comfy. I’ll be back and I hope to rub elbows with you at Queen G’s one day soon.

QUEEN G’S CAFE – 2518 Old Shell Road, Mobile, AL – 251 471 3361

Touring the Tabasco Hot Sauce Factory and Scenic Avery Island, Louisiana

15 Nov

Entry to the world famous Tabasco Plant on sleepy Avery Island, Louisiana.

Some of the stunning scenery we enjoyed on our recent visit to Avery Island.

The brick facade of the Tabasco plant — looks a bit like a military stockade.

We toured on a Saturday afternoon, so the bottling plant was not in operation.

Eileen and the boys enjoying the tour & learning more about Scoville Units.

The company store truly does offer all things Tabasco — bring lots of $$$!

These former oak bourbon barrels are used to age the spicy red pepper mash.

Interesting choice of bait, huh?

You can even try Tabasco ice cream — sweet & smooth with a fiery finish!

Avery Island is home to a massive salt dome — first discovered back in 1862.

www.tabasco.com

Another interesting tour nearby is the Konriko Rice Mill …

The Koriko (Conrad Rice Company) mill is technically in New Iberia, LA.

Konriko’s rice (stored in the above silo) has a fresh, nutty taste.

These rustic sacks of Konriko pecan rice make for great take-home gifts.

www.konriko.com

Crawfish Pie & More at Cafe Des Amis in Breaux Bridge, LA

29 Oct

Crawfish Pie – Cafe Des Amis style with accents of Green Onion

Our first real meal during our recent weekend trek thru Cajun Country took place in quaint Breaux Bridge, LA (just off I-10 near Lafayette). The name of the restaurant was Cafe Des Amis. We had visited once before, but they were sadly closed the last time we passed thru town. The Friday lunch business was fairly brisk as we settled in for our mid-day meal. For my main course, I opted for the crawfish pie. How can you not order this when in Cajun Country???

Yet I almost didn’t recognize it when it arrived at our table. The dish was fashioned with two flaky pillows of puff pastry — the bottom one hollowed out a bit to accomodate the buttery crawfish etoufee filling. Not your traditional presentation by any means. It did draw some serious attention, however. Four older gentlemen seated at the adjacent table commented that their meals looked “vanilla” in comparison. The pie was sensational — I would certainly recommend it highly. I guess I just have!

Crab Cakes (fried and grilled) with a Smoked Vidalia Cream Sauce

My lunch had started with a terrific crab appetizer (seen above). The smokey cream sauce and strips of sweet onion made an excellent foil for the crab cake combo (one grilled, one fried). Both cakes were tasty, but I honestly preferred the grilled version. The crab meat to breading ratio was perfectly acceptable and the cakes were nicely seasoned. As for the sauce, it was truly “plate-licking good.”

A look at some of the cool local art on display at Cafe Des Amis

The Gateau de Syrop (Syrup Cake) was the best bite of the day

Our lunch reached its high point with dessert. I normally don’t order dessert in the middle of the day, but we simply couldn’t resist the traditional Gateau de Syrop made with Steen’s 100% Cane Syrup (made in nearby Abbeville, LA). It was a masterpiece of gooey, black goodness … topped with lots of local pecans and equal portions of whipped creme anglaise and vanilla ice cream. My wife and kids gave it a go, but I most admit that I put the biggest dent in this dark beauty.  

I don’t think I can wait for a return visit to Breaux Bridge to try this rich, delicious cake again. So it’s probably a good thing we found the restaurant’s recipe on the web. Here’s the real-deal recipe from Cafe Des Amis … soooo darn good!

GATEAU DE SYROP (SYRUP CAKE) WITH CREME ANGLAISE

This recipe makes about 3 dozen large muffins.

Cut it in half to make a smaller amount. They also freeze beautifully.

Makes 16 slices

2 cups canola or peanut oil

3 ½ cups 100% pure cane syrup (we prefer Steen’s)

2 cups raw sugar

2/3 cup dark molasses

2 cups boiling water

4 teaspoons baking soda

8 eggs

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 teaspoons ground cloves

4 teaspoons ground ginger

4 tablespoons vanilla extract

4 cups sifted flour

¾ cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the oil, cane syrup and molasses in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir baking soda into boiling water. Add to the oil, syrup and molasses mixture. Add all other remaining ingredients and beat well at medium to high speed with an electric mixer.

Fill large muffin tins, sprayed with nonstick vegetable spray, about three-fourths full. Bake at 350 degrees until they almost set, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped pecans on top and continue baking until the muffins are completely set.

Crème Anglaise

Makes about 2 cups

   1 cup whole milk

   1 cup heavy cream

   5 egg yolks

   ½ cup granulated sugar

   1 tablespoon bourbon

   Combine the milk and cream in a saucepan and bring just a boil.

Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and the sugar in a mixing bowl and beat well until light yellow and slightly thickened. Gradually pour the milk and cream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.

Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and stir over very low heat with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring, without boiling until the sauce coats the back of the spoon. Do not overcook or it will curdle. Stir in the bourbon. Serve warm or chilled.

www.cafedesamis.com

Joe’s Fabulicious Homemade Ice Cream in Fairhope, AL

5 Jun

We stumbled upon this new wonder on the way to the Fairhope Wal-Mart located near the intersection of Routes 104 and 181. Sadly, it was only 10 am on Saturday and Joe doesn’t start his day until 11:30. Not to be denied, we made a pact to return after lunch for our first taste.

Following lunch, I somehow decided it was a good idea to mow the lawn as well as take the weedeater around our entire property — in 90 degree heat and sweltering humidity. Yeah, I know, DUMB! Yet there was a method to my madness. I was working up an appetite  for something cool and creamy. Follow me?

We learned upon arrival that Joe’s has only been open about 3 days. In fact, they are so new they have not yet decided on their hours of operation. That will be determined after gauging business activity over the first week or two. Joe, an older gentleman originally from Ohio, makes all the ice cream using his mother’s own recipe. He hired a very friendly Alabama lady (a former manager at the Fairhope Burger King) to run the day to day operation.

The manager seemed to be fretting a bit about how slow business had been all day. But the cars literally started pouring in shortly after our arrival. Not sure what that was all about. Anyway, we were happy to see the gravel lot filling and the line forming at the the front of the trailer. My two boys got a small chocolate cone, while I called for a small vanilla cone. Asking for a small cone turned out to be a mistake for me — I needed more. So without an ounce of guilt, I got back in line and ordered a small chocolate cone. Strictly for the blog write-up, I explained. The kind lady simply grinned, took my $2 (cash only here), and rendered another scoop of that homemade heaven on a cone.

I really hope they make a go of it here. The ice cream is really fine. No oils, no guar gum, no nasty aftertaste. Just good, fresh, wholesome All-American homemade ice cream like you remember from picnics and family reunions of days gone by.

So if you’re living in the Baldwin County area or just passing through on your way to the Gulf Coast, please stop in and order up a double scoop on a freshly made waffle cone. Or perhaps one of Joe’s highly touted shakes or sundaes. But eat fast, friends. It’s hot as the dickens down here and homemade ice cream has a way of melting quickly. It’s a race against the clock, but a race you can’t help but win!

Texas-Made Talenti Gelato is a Winner

24 Apr

The highlight to my Friday this week was not the arrival of the weekend. It was the arrival of 11 (count ‘em, eleven!) pints of delicious gelato from our new found friends at Talenti of Dallas, Texas. Yes, y’all — the Lone Star State is now in the gelato bizness. And as you know, Texas never does anything on a small scale.

The slick, clear packaging is very appealing to the eye, but the product contained inside is far more appealing to the taste buds. We started our gelato-fest with a taste of the Mediterranean Mint — sort of a Mint Chocolate Chip for the Riviera set, if you will.  This gelato has a very clean, fresh taste that is not overpowered by the smallish chocolate chunks. It is clear that Talenti is using fresh mint in this recipe — quite a difference from ice creams in a similar vein. You might even find yourself checking your dental work for greenery. It’s not there, but it will taste like it is.

The next flavors to hit our tongues were Carribean Coconut and Double Dark Chocolate. Once again, we were first taken by both product’s freshness. I can also add that all these gelatos are very light, a term not used very often when describing products in the ice cream family.  Next up was Dulce de Leche … and this one turned out to be my absolute favorite so far. It featured an incredibly rich, natural tasting caramel flavor not normally associated with mass produced ice creams and gelatos.

Exotic flavors like Black Cherry, Blood Orange, Roman Raspberry, Lisbon Lemon, Tahitian Vanilla, and Caramel Cookie Crunch are still lurking unopened in our deep freezer as I type this column. In fact … shhhhh, quiet … yes, they are calling my name. Gotta run … more on this later!

The company claims as its source of inspiration Bernando Buontalenti, a famed Florentine artist and architect with a penchant for fine food. “Talenti,” as his friends called him, delighted the court of the Duchess Catherine de Medici’s in the early 1500s with a frozen dessert he called “gelato.”

The current Talenti was the first gelato to appear in the famed holiday catalog of luxury retailer Neiman Marcus. It is notable for its attractive, clear plastic packaging and its use of its quality ingredients, including fresh fruit and nuts, imported flavorings, real blocks of Belgian chocolate, melted on the Talenti premises and freshly pasteurized milk that is free of the controversial growth hormones, rBGH and rBST. The company also avoids high fructose, levulose, and corn syrup, instead using extra-fine pure cane sugar. In addition, the company reports that all of its sorbettos contain three primary ingredients: water, pure cane sugar and fresh fruit.

 

Among the most popular of flavors in the Talenti line are: Tahitian Vanilla Bean, made with vanilla beans imported from Papua New Guinea; Belgium Milk Chocolate, made with Callebaut chocolate; Caribbean Coconut, using Coconuts shipped from the Philippines; Argentine Dulce de leche (“milk candy”), and Sicilian pistachio, which uses pistachios shipped from Sicily.

www.talentigelato.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 649 other followers