7 Excellent Frozen Treats on Sticks
An ice pop by any other name is just as frozen (and enjoyable). Have one before summer's gone.
In recent years the rest of the country has been tripping on the nostalgic kick of popsicles—the fancy artisan kind, not the mass-produced blue-tongue ones. Seattle has caught on, too—but before you dive into this list, a word on nomenclature. Turns out, you can't really call popsicles "popsicles," not legally at least. Thankfully you've got a range of other names to pick from: ice pop, freezer pop, ice lolly, ice cream bars, or paletas (which is what they're called south of the border). Whatever you call them, there's no better way to finish out your summer.
When the all-organic, made from scratch ice cream truck-turned-shop devised a grownup version of the classic push pop, out went the artificial colors, stabilizers, corn syrup and cardboard tubes. In their place: organic dairy, fair trade sugar, recyclable translucent tubes and local organic produce like blueberries from Alm Hill farms or cherries from Tonnemaker. The results taste unbelievably fresh and creamy, in seasonal flavors like nectarines and cream, raspberry sherbet, and cherry cacao nib (via Theo). Parfait's truck doesn't carry the push pops, but stop by the elegant Ballard store anytime, all year round to press your face into the glass display and buy a few. Or a dozen. You can also place orders.
$3.25 each, www.Parfait-icecream.com
Vanessa Resler and Will Lemke are trailblazers of sorts. They were first in Seattle to start an ice-pop-only venture—in 2012. Then first in Seattle to sell food from a bicycle cart. Now, in October they’ll be first to start an ice pop CSA. List of firsts aside, Six Strawberries' ice pops are pretty amazing, with fresh seasonal ingredients from local farms. And did we mention, dairy-free? Yup, even flavors like Caffe Vita latte. “We use what we call Coco-fu,” quips Ressler, “a mix of coconut milk and a tofu pudding sourced from International District.” For now, the pops are available across farmers markets—check the Facebook page—and also at Central Co-op and Marination Ma Kai. But come next year, there'll be a brick-and-mortar store in either Fremont or Ballard selling awesome flavors like blueberry lemonade, matcha green tea and PB&J, “and hopefully, boozy popsicles.”
$3 each, www.sixstrawberries.com
Paletas have been around for six years now, but if you've not managed to get your hands on one, don't take it personally. Handmade production was severly limited to 100 a day, and those would sell out instantly. This summer, Full Tilt finally bought a paleta machine, named it Boris, and put it to work turning out 300 paletas—in flavors like strawberry basil, cucumber lime, salted caramel, and dark chocolate—every half hour. Sometimes there's seasonal stuff too, like blackberry cinnamon or rum raisin plus offbeat flavors like bacon or Mudhoney. All four Full Tilt locations as well as the truck and the POP UP bike cart are now well stocked with paletas, which will also soon show up at stores like PCC, QFC and Whole Foods. Plans for next summer include six roving ice cream trucks.
$3 each, www.fulltilticecream.com
Being the newest kid on the block—it started selling just this summer in farmer's markets—Seattle Pops doesn't have everything figured out. Like winter plans. Or whether to wholesale or not. What it does have figured out are pops, thanks to the 100 hours or so owner Megan Janes and her father spent getting the formula right. "We tested things like how texture would change if we used sugar syrup versus raw sugar." The result: a lineup you'll want to stock in your freezer (um, in case winter plans don't pan out). You can find it across farmers markets from Bellevue to Madrona to Columbia City, and via bulk orders. Fruity versions like strawberry basil, zesty lime—made with fresh local-farm ingredients—are all vegan, while the creamy ones use an all-natural, hormone-free-dairy ice cream base. Megan's tip: Try the Kona coffee one. People go nuts about it.
$3.50 each, www.seattlepops.com
The paletas at this Mexican restaurant-bar started out as ice-cube-tray popsicles that bar manager Sydney Simon would hand out to customers waiting outside in the sun. This summer, they launched as full-sized, adventurously flavored paletas: cucumber lime with chile, roasted plantain with condensed milk and cinnamon, guava, even tamarind, all made with fresh ingredients. Simon's personal favorite is the horchata espresso. "It's a Seattle take on something Mexican." Three to six flavors are usually on the menu and they're, of course, available only at the restaurant—and only as a summer, possibly fall, feature. But you can take them to go. Though you definitely want to eat-in if you like your popsicles with a boozy punch. Ask nicely and Simon will pair your chosen flavor with a tequila shot—"it's almost like a tequila slushy."
Important stuff first—This Capitol Hill Mexican food mecca is the only place, in our roundup, that makes 21-above paletas, inspired by its cocktail menu. So there's El Dude, which is vanilla-infused tequila, housemade kahlua, horchata and cream. Or the classic margarita with El Jimador Reposado, agave and fresh-squeezed lime. There's also the G-rated version, which can be anything from ginger-watermelon and citrus punch to apricot-orange and avocado. But really, let's stay focused. Chef Manny Arce first put the ice pops on the menu when the restaurant opened four years ago, as a way to serve a dessert that was Mexican, yet quick and simple to make. "We didn't have a pastry chef and paletas are kind of like a dessert on a stick," he says. Nonalcoholic ones are available to go, but then you wouldn't be able to have seconds.
$5 each for alcoholic paletas; $3-$4 each for the rest, www.vivapoquitos.com
This Bellingham gelateria whips up some pretty awesome handmade gelato popsicles: dense and silky gelato on a stick, encased in chocolate, like an ice cream bar. Flavors may hew a bit traditional —Oreo cookie, pistachio, hazelnut and pan dolce (cake batter). The gelato inside the popsicles is rich and satisfying, and made with carefully sourced ingredients (like the hazelnuts which are shipped directly from Turkey). The Bellingham location usually has popsicles in the freezer (since they're made in the kitchens out back), but the Fremont and Kirkland locations occasionally run out.
$3.99 each, www.sirenagelato.com