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Sarasota Thursday, Jul. 31, 2014 8 years ago

Ice Ice Baby

by: Harriet Sokmensuer Community Editor

Everybody loves something cold and sweet, especially on a hot summer day. Although most sweet-toothed Sarasotans love ice cream, some rely on the light iced-delights of shave ice, snow cones and smoothies. For those in the know, these ice-based treats are a great way to keep cool. With August just around the corner, now is the perfect time to get a “n-ice” pick me up.

Hukilau Hut
2253 Bee Ridge Road

After visiting Hawaii and falling in love with the islands and the culture, owner Juan Gutierrez decided to sell shave ice from a tropical truck he designed and built in 2007.

Shave ice is not crushed ice but ice gently shaved into light flakes that absorb the syrup. It is made with a special machine from Japan that Gutierrez learned how to use while in Hawaii and brought back with him on the plane.

Four years ago, Gutierrez opened the Hukilau Hut to offer his customers not only shave ice but also a variety of homemade meals.

His truck is still used today for parties and is parked outside his island-themed Bee Ridge restaurant.

Gutierrez serves shave ice with more than 30 flavors — all but five or six hand-made with natural ingredients — flavors range from classics such as strawberry to original flavors such as roasted banana. with cinnamon and mocha.

Gutierrez thinks the community’s appreciation for shave ice is its appeal to customers young and old, and the good that comes from all-natural ingredients.

“Its really different,” he says from behind the hut’s bamboo counter. “A lot of people come in and they think shave ice is just for kids, but when they try it then they realize its much more than just ice.”

Shave suggestions
Hukilau — fresh mango, banana, passion fruit and lime

Mora — a red raspberry from Colombia (Gutierrez is originally from Colombia and tries to incorporate native South American fruit is his flavors).

Caribbean Pirate — Lulo (a citrus fruit from Columbia) and strawberry

Baltimore Snowball Factory
14 S. Orange Ave.

Eric Garfield has brought Baltimore to Sarasota, or for him and his fellow native Baltimoreans — a little piece of heaven. The Snowball Factory serves 157 flavors of snow cones. However, it’s the egg custard, which is found in traditional snowballs, that is attracting Baltimore families from Sarasota and Manatee counties, as well as Florida natives, to his new shop on Orange Avenue.

Garfield says opening the Snowball Factory was not only for business but also for an appreciation of the classic summer snack.

“If you ask people about home and about a snowball they well up and smile,” he says. “It makes them remember what it was like to be a kid in the summertime.”

Although he’s only been open for a few weeks, Garfield has already had customers go through loyalty cards — 10 purchases get a free snowball— and visit twice a day.

Regardless of his success, it’s the moments where customers tell him they are brought back to their childhood and hometown that means the most.

“It makes me feel over-the-top great,” he says. “This is validating my decision of opening Snowball, it makes me very proud.”

What’s in a snowball?
Traditional snowballs from Baltimore include a layer of marshmallow between either egg custard or chocolate.

“A lot of people swear by chocolate,” says Garfield, who has created a compromise with the Baltimore Oriole Snowball that includes chocolate and egg custard flavored ice.

Siesta Key Beach Bites
217 Avenida Madera

New York native Jeff Madden opened his Siesta Key Village sandwich shop, Beach Bites, to offer guests a family-friendly place to grab a bite. While working on the interior before opening two years ago, Madden wanted a quick cool-off and combined a beer with some ice from his recently installed snow-cone machine to create a beer snowcone.

“It’s a novelty,” Madden says, pouring beer on tap over ice.

The beer snowcones aren’t the only unconventional iced-drink Beach Bites serves; the low-key Jersey-shore boardwalk-styled restaurant also serves wine smoothies. The smoothies are made with Keel and Curley wines from Plant City and Beach Bites’ smoothie flavors. Customers can mix and match the fruity wines, including Sweet Blueberry, with classic smoothie flavors like strawberry. The possibilities are endless.

“We try to make everything fun for everyone,” says Madden. “You can’t hit one you’re not going to like.”

TRY ...
Pinot Noir Strawberry

Key West Key Lime Colada


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