Taylor Swift is a regular. Nicole Kidman and Kimberly Williams-Paisley like to stop by with their kids. And Lauren Alaina is planning to bring her whole band in this summer while recording her second album in Nashville. “I expect to Popsicle my way through the summer right here!” says Alaina. “There are so many flavors, you’ll never run out of different ones to try.” “Here” is Nashville’s popular Las Paletas, the gourmet Popsicle store run by sisters Irma and Norma Paz. Natives of Guadalajara, Mexico, the sisters opened Las Paletas in 2001, serving up an ever-changing menu of the freshly made frozen pops they’d loved growing up. “We find joy going to the local farmers’ market and finding what’s in season,” says Irma. “Every idea doesn’t work, but the fun is in trying. What we love ends up on the menu.”
The shop sells both fruity varieties and creamy ones and many in untraditional flavors like avocado, chocolate chile and sweet corn. “We really listen to our customers about things they think we should try,” says Norma. “And they are not shy with suggestions.”
Most of the pops are $3, but the store also sells mini versions, called chiquitas, for $2 each, which are sized for kids – and for Popsicle cocktails. “We actually got the idea from a regular customer who just tried it on a whim one night at a party he was having,” says Irma. “Put the chiquita in the glass, then pour the bubbly over it. It’s simple, delicious and pretty. Just be careful not to poke the stick in your eye when you drink it!”
Business has been so brisk at the tiny storefront in Nashville’s hip 12 South neighborhood that the shop is expanding to a larger space one block south. The only trick, say fans, is deciding which flavor to try. “It’s hard to choose, especially when you see how pretty they all look in the case,” says Alaina. “It’s like a rainbow in there.”
Make Your Own!
Enjoy Las Paletas’ famous Popsicle treats at home
Each recipe makes 6 to 8 (6-oz.) Popsicles
1. Follow prep directions (below) for your favorite flavor.
2. Divide mixture evenly among 6 plastic Popsicle molds or paper cups. Freeze pops 20 minutes or until mixture is slushy; insert Popsicle sticks into center of each. Freeze pops 3 hours or until frozen solid.
3. Run each mold under warm water. Gently pull pop from mold or peel paper away. Serve immediately.
Using a food processor or blender, finely chop 6 cups seedless watermelon (peeled and cubed); pour into a bowl and add ½ cup sugar. Cover and let stand 20 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Freeze as directed.
Using a food processor or blender, finely chop 4 cups strawberries; pour into a bowl and add 1 cup sugar. Cover and let stand 20 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Freeze as directed.
Using a food processor or blender, finely chop 4 cups fresh or frozen peaches; pour into a bowl and add 1 cup sugar. Cover and let stand 20 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Freeze as directed.
Soak ½ cup dried hibiscus flowers (available on amazon.com) in 4 cups water for 2 to 8 hours. Strain into a bowl and discard flowers. Add 1 cup sugar to hibiscus liquid, stirring until sugar dissolves. Freeze as directed.
In a large bowl, whisk together 1 large avocado (peeled, seeded and mashed), 2 cups half and half, 1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk and 2 tsp. vanilla. Freeze as directed.
Spicy Chocolate Cream
In a large bowl, combine 1¼ cups unsweetened cocoa and ½ tsp. ground red pepper. Heat 2 cups half and half in small saucepan over low heat until warm; remove from heat and whisk into cocoa mixture until smooth. Whisk in 1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk and 2 tsp. vanilla. Freeze as directed.
Combine 2 cups half and half, 1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk and 2 tsp. vanilla in a large bowl; cover and freeze 30 to 45 minutes until slushy. Mix in ½ cup chopped dried fruit and ½ cup toasted chopped nuts. Freeze as directed, stirring as molds are filled to distribute fruit and nuts.
Try a Popsicle Cocktail
Place a fruit Popsicle in a glass and top with champagne or sparkling wine. “Any of the sweeter fruits work,” says Norma. “My favorite is honeydew. It makes a very pretty drink and makes the champagne even more delicious!”