The Food Column: I Scream for Ice Cream!

Food Column

What’s better on a hot day than some cool, fresh out of the fridge, juicy, sweet fruit?

Nieves de garrafa! That’s what!

As much as I love fruit, it’s the yummy creations made from it that really excite me, from aguas frescas to nieve de garrafa (Mexican style ice cream/sorbet), paletas (popsicles), smoothies and fruit cups. I just want to eat them all! 

My favorite nieve shop is in Oxnard; I was there recently with my friend Ben, (my husband Jeff was working so he missed out). We headed up to Jesse’s Taco De Mexico for some tasty tacos and, after a nice sidewalk picnic, we sauntered over to La Gloria Market for ice cream at Rico Tejuino Los Reyes. It’s a tiny, one way in, one way out, literal hole in the wall that serves the best darn nieves anywhere! All made from fresh fruit, nuts, flowers and seeds mixed with sugar and either water or milk. Ben got a medium cup—that’s four huge scoops. He started with chocolate, then pecan. At that point, I saw pistachio, got really excited and ordered it for him,  and finished with vanilla. For myself—as lactose and I don’t get along—it was a small (two scoops) guava and cantaloupe ice. Now, normally, it would have been guava and pineapple, but cantaloupe is my favorite agua fresca (besides pineapple and cucumber), so I thought I’d try it. 

The cashier rang us up and said something, but with her mask on I wasn’t sure I heard her right. I pulled out a $20 bill and asked how much: “$16.50?”

“No,” she said “$6.50.” 

Oh, what? Not believing my ears I asked, “$6.50 for both?” 

Yes, $6.50 for both. Best deal ever!

After putting my change away, we headed to the car to enjoy our dessert. It was a beautiful evening with birds singing, music playing from a restaurant’s patio, trains and busses passing by and people walking around, but we were so totally absorbed by our delicious desserts, we barely noticed the goings on around us. 

The guava was, as always, wonderful, sweet and tart at the same time. The cantaloupe was heaven, but next time I’ll stick with pineapple because guava’s a strong flavor and overpowered the milder melon. Ben’s ice cream was looking so good and he giggling and making yummy noises, so I realized I must try some! The chocolate was dark, amazingly rich, creamy bittersweet goodness; the nutty pistachio was full of nuts and super pistachio; the pecan—oh, the pecan, what is there to say? It’s perfection: a caramel-y, maple syrup dream with chewy bits of nuts mixed in. By the time he got to the bottom where the vanilla was located he was delirious! Vanilla was the sweetest—too sweet for me, kind of like a combo birthday cake/cookie dough. He was too full to finish it so I suggested he let what was left melt and drink it, or save it to use on his cereal in the morning.  He declined both suggestions. Oh, well. Rico Tejuino Los Reyes is located at 1353 West Channel Islands Boulevard, Oxnard.