Apr 15, 201012:00 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Meltdown Popsicles and Goings-On

The strawberry-basil popsicle uses berries from Ponchatoula. The store tries to use local ingredients whenever possible.

Photo courtesy of Robert Peyton

Michelle Weaver has been making handmade popsicles for several years. In Los Angeles, she started selling standard ice cream –– along with her own creations –– from a Good Humor truck. She and her husband, Paul Pitalo, moved to New Orleans two years ago and continued to sell from the truck as Meltdown Gourmet Popsicles on the streets and at local markets such as those on Freret Street and Bywater. They were selling so many of their own creations that Weaver started looking for a fixed location that would allow her to increase production. When they found the location at 508 Dumaine St., they decided to do retail, as well.

The shop, which is near Decatur Street, is a bare-bones affair, with a cooler holding the limited selection of popsicles and creamsicles. All of the popsicles are made with whole fresh fruit, which is locally sourced and organic when possible. The berries in the strawberry-basil popsicle, for example, are from Ponchatoula, and the cream and milk for the creamsicles are also local and organic. Weaver told me that when blueberry season arrives, she’ll be hand-picking the berries.

The selection of popsicles changes seasonally, as fruit becomes available, and you wouldn’t confuse the flavors with the stuff you’ll find in your local supermarket freezer. The current selection, in addition to the strawberry-basil, includes lemon-ginger, honey-cantaloupe-lavender, watermelon and grapefruit. Creamsicles (or “cream pops” as Meltdown calls them) are honey-rosemary and saffron-rosewater. The strawberry and cantaloupe popsicles were both delicious, each one perfectly exemplifying its fruit, with just a bit of push from the flavorings.

Now that the weather is getting warmer, Meltdown Popsicles is a perfect place to cool down after a day in the Quarter or wherever you can catch their truck. Call Meltdown at 301-0905 for more information.

The Oxford American is celebrating the 2010 Southern Food issue in New Orleans this weekend with a reception and dinner on Friday, April 16, and a symposium at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum on Saturday, April 17.

The reception is invitation-only, but it will be followed by a dinner at Domenica at 7:30 p.m., with food from chef Alon Shaya and wine by Republic National Distributing Co.  John T. Edge, the Oxford American’s editors and writers and other guests also will participate. Tickets for the dinner are limited, and the suggested tax-deductible donation to attend is $500 per person.  All proceeds will benefit the Oxford American, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

On Saturday, April 17th, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum will host a symposium on the Oxford American’s 2010 Southern Food issue.  The event begins at 1:30 p.m., and it will include talks by John T. Edge; the Oxford American’s editors; and Oxford American contributing writers Lolis Eric Elie, Sara Roahen and Jack Pendarvis. The event is free and open to the public, and it will conclude with a reception at 5 p.m..  For reservations, call (504) 569-0405 or visit southernfood.org.

This week, chef John Besh began taping a new cooking show, Chef John Besh’s New Orleans, at the WYES Studios located on Navarre Avenue in New Orleans. The half-hour episodes will be based on Besh’s cookbook My New Orleans, which was published not long ago and which is contending with Donald Link’s Real Cajun for a James Beard Award. The show, which will air next year on WYES and nationally, should be interesting. Besh is a very polished speaker, and I would think him a perfect fit for television. I don’t know about the rest of you,  but I have a lot of nostalgia for shows like Great Chefs of New Orleans, so I’m hoping Besh’s gig follows in that mold.

Also this weekend, the first International Champagne and Sparkling Wine Invitational will be held in New Orleans. The event is designed, in part, to get members of the public to interact with the folks who produce champagnes and sparkling wines. There will be dozens of producers in attendance, from large to small production ranges.

Events will include seminars, symposia, and of course tastings and paired dinners. You can see the complete list here.  Tickets, which can be purchased here run from $100 for one of the winemaker dinners to the Grand Cru, which includes both grand tastings, one seminar, winemakers dinners, Bubbles and Blues on Bourbon Street Welcome Reception and Bubbly Block Party on Rue Royal Farewell Party.

In the interest of disclosure –– and because I’m so self-important I feel the need to share –– I’ve been invited to the reception on Friday night. I’m hoping to attend some of the other events, as well. As always, if you see me, please do not spit on me.


 

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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

about

Robert D. Peyton was born at Ochsner Hospital and, apart from four years in Tennessee for college and three years in Baton Rouge for law school, has lived here his entire life. He is a strong believer in the importance of food to our local culture and in the importance of our local food culture, generally. He has practiced law since 1994, and began writing about food on his website, www.appetites.us, in 1999. He mainly wrote about partying that year, obviously.

In 2006, New Orleans Magazine named Appetites the best food blog in New Orleans. The choice was made relatively easy due to the fact that Appetites was, at the time, the only food blog in New Orleans.

He began writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine in 2007 and has been published in St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Life and New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazines. He is the only person he knows personally who has been interviewed in GQ magazine, albeit for calling Alan Richman a nasty name. He is not proud of that, incidentally. (Yes, he is.)

Robert’s maternal grandmother is responsible for his love of good food, and he has never since had fried chicken or homemade biscuits as good as hers. He developed his curiosity about restaurant cooking in part from the venerable PBS cooking show "Great Chefs" and has an extensive collection of cookbooks, many of which do not require coloring, and some of which have not been defaced.

Robert lives in Mid-City with his wife Eve and their three children, and is fond of receiving comments and emails. Please humor him.

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