LOCAL Houston | The City Guide June 2017 - Page 39

FOOD | ARTS | COMMUNITY | STYLE+LEISURE TIME TO CHILL OUT “WE GET TO EAT POPSICLES ALL AFTERNOON AND THAT IS CONSIDERED WORK?” By Jason Korfhage | Photography by Jenn Duncan THIS WAS THE FIRST THING OUT OF MY DAUGHTER’S MOUTH AS I EXPLAINED TO HER THE ARDUOUS TASK FOR THE DAY. RILEY, MY 10 YEAR OLD, QUIRKY BALL OF ENERGY, HONESTY AND FUN, WOULD BE MY “CO-WORK- ER” FOR THE AFTERNOON, ALONG WITH MY WIFE AS OUR CHAPERONE, TASKED WITH THE ENVIABLE JOB OF SAMPLING FROZEN TREATS ALL OVER HOUSTON. I TRIED TO PITCH IT AS WORK, BUT SHE WASN’T BUYING IT. NEVERTHELESS, I EARNED SOME COOL POINTS WITH THIS ASSIGNMENT … PUN ABSOLUTELY INTENDED. SO WHY THE FROZEN STUFF? Well, as the early Houston spring enveloped “winter” and then skipped straight to early summer, Houstonians have been flocking to trendy new locales boasting an array of tasty frozen remedies. From artisanal ice pops and shaved ice to traditional snow cones and chilly fruit drinks, options abound throughout the city to quench, cool and satisfy. Most visible among the brisk bunch is the influx of ice pop shops glittering the city. The summertime appeal of ice pops (as they’re properly called — “POPSICLE ® ” is a trademarked word that’s become a default name) is easy to understand. They’re sweet, cold, colorful, lickable and a manageably small snack that oozes sunshine and sprinklers. They recall a simpler time, before the era of artisanal-gelato shops and, during the past couple of years, fancy ice pops have outpaced those hipster favorites – cupcakes – in the race to be America’s most popular nostalgia dessert. Unlike cupcakes, today’s ice pops are a healthy sweet, usually made from organic fruit picked at the height of the season. It’s the range of ingredients and flavors that sets contemporary ice pops apart from their mass-produced forebears. Ingredients such as cardamom, jicama and saffron are not unheard-of in artisan pops, although familiar fruits such as strawberries, peaches and raspberries are just as typical. Sometimes the familiar is paired with the unexpected, as in a mango-chile pop. SO WHERE TO START? First on the list was STEEL CITY POPS, a hip new ice pop shop predictably located in The Heights. After visually sorting through the expansive variety of flavors on the wall, we settled on a solid gaggle of pops to sample. Riley loved the classic flavors of the Strawberry Lemonade, while my wife absolutely adored the mildly spiced and sweet Pineapple Jalapeno. We all enjoyed the sunny fruitiness of the Passion Fruit, while I slowly settled in to the sneaky addictive Elderflower pop, which Riley thought tasted like “flowery perfume.” On the creamy end we tried a familiar-tasting Cookies and Cream pop as well as the deliciously creamy, chocolaty, crunchy Banana pop dipped in milk chocolate and dredged in graham cracker. Finally, a last minute addition thanks to the recommendation of an employee, was their signature Buttermilk pop, which turned out to be the favorite of the group. Creamy, tangy and succulent, reminiscent of fantastic cheesecake. “This is AMAZING. Can I have the rest?” Riley said wishfully as she coddled her newfound frozen prize. www.steelcitypops.com june 17 | L O C A L 39