Sticky summer air has seeped into our lives. Our gardens are flourishing and our appetites for cool treats are strong. Locopops (128 E. Franklin St. and 231 S. Elliott Road, Chapel Hill; 2600 Hillsborough Road, Durham; 1908 Hillsborough St., Raleigh; www.ilovelocopops.com) makes the most of these two seasonal phenomena by creating handcrafted popsicles using local herbs and fruit. Now the business with a kooky sense of self has rolled out ice cream, called Locopints.
Summer Bicknell, owner and self-proclaimed loca, left an unfulfilling corporate gig in 2004 and moved to Tlazazalca, Mexico. She spent three months as an apprentice in a paletera, learning how to handcraft popsicles from local, fresh ingredients. In January, she attended a seminar at Penn State University, which houses the country's oldest creamery, to learn to make the perfect ice cream.
"I'm offering really unique sorbets and more adult-centric ice creams that you won't find anywhere else," Bicknell says. " You can take them home and have a fantastic dessert without doing anything."
New flavors include Mexican chocolate ice cream and strawberry balsamic sorbet. With a spoonful of Mexican chocolate, cinnamon sneaks onto your taste buds, blending into a decadent shock of creamy chocolate and then curiously fading, leaving your palate demanding another bite. The strawberry balsamic stays sweet and slightly tart, sans any heavy vinegar taste. Top it with a fresh sprig of mint.
Bicknell uses all local ingredients when possible, including herbs from SEEDS in Durham.
Locopops sells its treats in its shops and a handful of markets and specialty food stores. "There's nothing like kids coming in and doing the Locopops dance in the middle of the store, that they just made up, because they're so excited," Bicknell says. "That is great payment."
If you're looking for some creative ways to use your herbs, Duke Gardens horticulturist Jan Watson has some ideas. She'll lead a talk next week on growing and using herbs, including preserving basil with parmesan and making chive dip, and will offer recipes for more obscure plants like summer savory. The event will include a walk through the garden and a tasting of dishes made with herbs and recipes to take home. The event is from 2 to 4 p.m., June 10, at Duke Gardens, (420 Anderson St., Durham, 668-1707, www.sarahpdukegardens.org). The cost is $25 for nonmembers, $20 for Garden members.
While we watch the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in horror, we can be thankful that North Carolina's coastline has been spared thus far. Fish lovers can take advantage of the coast's bounty beginning mid-June, when Core Sound Seafood (coresoundseafood.org, 926-9599) plans to open as Chapel Hill/ Carrboro's first community-supported fishery. The company will work like a CSA, offering weekly and biweekly shares of seafood caught along the Carteret County coast, near Morehead City. Currently, the pickup spot is Carrboro Plaza off N.C. 54 on Thursdays from 4 to 6 p.m. Call to sign up for your share.
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