Every Thursday at 4:30pm, your Sarasota Foodies are guests on The Nilon Report; WSRQ Radio 1220 AM/106.9 FM. During our segment we talk with host Sue Nilon and co-host Kirsten Sponseller about the foodie scene in Sarasota, covering subjects like where to find great barbeque, what’s happening at Sarasota’s top restaurants, or promoting a local event like the recent Trash Fish Dinner and the annual Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week. It’s always a lot of fun, but never was it as fun as yesterday, when Sue and Kirsten totally lost themselves to the heavenly cool summer treats of S’macks’ custard and PopCraft Pops.
We try to bring in food samples to the radio show whenever possible, and since it was August in Sarasota, we decided what better time to chill out with some cold, refreshing desserts? And while there are hundreds of places to grab ice cold refreshments, (. . . put down that beer! We’re talking desserts here!) as always, we put the spotlight on tastes that are 100% unique to our beloved Sarasota.
Both Susan and Kirsten are health conscious, and usually take nice, reserved bites from the food samples. . . but not THIS day! Like kids in a candy store, it was “diets be damned” and the two ladies became absolutely giddy, in fact totally enraptured with the creamy, cold, wonderful dessert samples. We were worried that the custard and popsicles would melt while we were on air . . . NOT A CHANCE! I guess it’s true what they say — no one is in a bad mood eating a popsicle!
Our first recommendation on this cool adventure is the delicious, homemade custards from S’macks on Bee Ridge Road, where M’anaging partner, Alex Floethe, knows a thing or two about custard . . . after all, he’s a graduate of the Frozen Dessert Institute in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. That’s right. There is such a place. Go ahead, look it up.
Although it’s quite technical, making custard is truly a creative venture, showcased on S’macks’ monthly “custard schedule” where the only limit to the flavors is Alex’s imagination. We got there on “Fluffernutter Thursday.” Yup. Fluffernutter . . . peanut butter and marshmallow crème in a custard. And while the thermostat read 96F outside, one spoonful of the creamy, cold custard dropped the cool factor by a good 10-15 degrees! Seriously, if Elvis was still alive, he’d ditch Graceland and live at S’macks on Fluffernutter Thursday!
S’Macks’ custards come in cups, cones, shakes and floats, with a few standout flavors combinations, like the Siesta Key Lime custard, featuring Mike’s Killer Key Lime Pie and vanilla custard. Then there’s the Ringling Zinger – a vanilla custard with animal crackers, (freshly caught from the circus) strawberries and blueberries. Jill’s a big fan of the “Concrete” Custards . . . where you take the dense, frozen custard and blend it with your choice of toppings, whether that’s a famous candy bar, cookie dough, nuts, marshmallow, or fresh fruit like bananas, blackberries or strawberry puree.
S’macks just celebrated their one year anniversary, and may I personally say “Happy Anniversary! And, thanks, S’macks, for making Sarasota even cooler with your creamy, chillin’ custard!” For more information, just go there in person, or visit www.smacksburgers.com. 2407 Bee Ridge Road Sarasota FL 34239. (941) 922-7673
From S’macks’ frozen custard, we move on – inspired by the immortal words of Monty Python’s Flying Circus: “And Now For Something Completely Different!”
Just a block or so west on Bee Ridge Road, in the midst of a small strip mall next to Video Renaissance, sits the tiny niche-market gem known as Pop Craft Pops, home to the region’s only artisan gourmet popsicles. POP Craft Pops is the “baby” of owner Donna Tortorice, with a big nudge from her babies; three boys, two of whom are chefs by trade, and the other an accredited Sommelier.
Although Donna has a culinary degree, it was a career path of food sales, and for 20+ years, Director of Catering at the locally iconic Morton’s Food Market. It wasn’t until her boys pointed out that the popsicle business was about to go mainstream. . . meaning popsicle flavors that aren’t just for kids anymore, that Pop Craft became a reality. “That’s crazy talk,” she thought at first blush. And yet, here she is, 5 years later, with what might be the best idea since ice cream was invented in 2000 B.C.
Now, growing up, I’m pretty sure that the word “popsicle” and “locally sourced, whole foods that are both organic and fresh”, as well as “count on several non-dairy and gluten-free alternatives” would have to be considered as two different languages. Seriously, weren’t popsicles just sugar-laden, frozen flavored water on a stick? You know — popsicles that leave artificial color on your kid’s face and clothes? Think again, my friend. Not so at Pop Craft.
There’s magic taking place at Pop Craft. Seasonal fresh fruit, herbs, and vegetables (not a typo) combine in an endless kaleidoscopic, cornucopia of flavors that bring the humble popsicle to a heretofore unimagined and, dare I say, exalted place in today’s culinary world. Forget the cupcake! These babies are as close to healthy as a sweet treat can get! French Pear (with Herb de Provence), Ginger Cream and Chocolate, Peach Garam Masala, Mexican Chocolate dip with Macadamia, Blueberry Lemon Basil…the list is long, and life is too short.
Face it. It’s summer. It’s hot. And trust us on this. . . You really
should NEED to get over to Pop Craft and rediscover popsicles. Promos and more info are available at http://www.popcraftpops.com.
Once you check these places out, I think you can safely say that no one is cooler than you!