Chef Tim Says...

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Chef Tim Says....

Popsicle Time

I am writing to all of the folks in New Orleans who follow Dr. Gourmet. This past weekend I was wandering around the French Quarter taking in the beautiful day and stumbled across the most fantastic place: Meltdown Popsicles. This shop is a cute little place at 508 Dumaine Street and is run by Michelle Weaver. The sign outside promising "gourmet popsicles" drew me right in. Wowser! This place is great!

There's a wide array of frozen choices nestled in the freezer underneath sliding glass doors. I was standing wide eyed while Michelle rattled off all of the flavors so quickly that I had to ask her to go back through her descriptions. Lovely combinations like lemon-ginger, strawberry-basil, honey rosemary, chocolate-mint-cookie and blueberry-lemonade. Amazing!

I settled on the blackberry-lavender and it was truly sublime. The bright berry flavor combined with the subtle herbaceous lavender was just perfect on a warm spring New Orleans afternoon. Just fantastic.

In talking with Ms. Weaver she told me that her popsicles are all natural, and that she hand makes every single one at her shop with no artificial ingredients. She says that she was inspired by the Mexican tradition of creating ice pops known throughout Mexico as paletas but with her own spin on the tradition by adding other global influences and by melding herbaceous and floral combinations. She says that the inspiration for flavors comes from a variety of places. Sometimes from a meal or a drink that she may have when dining out at a restaurant. She said, "I love ethnic food and usually find a way to incorporate varying ethnic flavors into my popsicles. I put a lot of love and care into the popsicles that I create." It shows!

Her formula? Simple. Fresh fruit, organic cane sugar, and a squeeze of citrus. She might then add an herbaceous, floral spin using fresh herbs or dried organic flowers. She says that she is currently using local strawberries for her pops and when blueberries come into season she'll go out and pick them herself.

The fruit pops are totally vegan but the cream pops are (obviously) not. The cream pops are made with local milk and cream from a small, locally owned, family dairy. Cows are treated humanely and are NOT treated with growth hormones or antibiotics. She says, "it's important for me to use high quality ingredients and local products when available. I don't always use organic fruits, but I do when they are available at a fair price. I DO use organic cane sugar in all of my pops. All of my herbs and flowers that I use are organic as well."

I asked her, "Why popsicles?" (I will admit to being somewhat jealous of her very cool business.) She replied that she chose popsicles because "I knew they would be an easy way to deliver natural, healthy, and complex flavors to the masses. It's so gratifying to hear a person say, 'Wow, that tastes just like a slice of watermelon.'" She went on to say that she feels people "are accustomed to artificial flavors. It's nice to be able to communicate how exquisite natural flavors, their textures, and their colors can be."

I chatted with her about the ingredients. She doesn't run a nutrition breakdown for folks, but I estimate the fruit pops to be around 100 calories and the cream pops around 150 calories. The perfect snack (so much so that I went back for another one - a mango-pomegranate - and I almost never do that).

So get on the streetcar, walk, ride your bike (and for those of you coming in from out of town, take a cab) to Meltdown Popsicles. You won't be disappointed.

Meltdown Popsicles
508 Dumaine Street
New Orleans, LA

Timothy S. Harlan, M.D.
Dr. Gourmet
April 19, 2010