Stay cool: Two new businesses bring specialty coolers to the streets

Amy Pickett of Sugar & Snow Gelato Max Cooper
Amy Pickett of Sugar & Snow Gelato Max Cooper

When Amy Pickett was in the eighth grade, her father took a job in Italy. His assignment got Pickett thinking about her future. She and her sister would visit a cheerful gelato stand just down the street from their house as often as they could. Pickett decided one scoop would not be enough — she wanted a stand of her own.

Until a year ago, Pickett worked at a bank, but gelato remained a part of her plans, or dreams, for the future. “I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to do food and desserts,” she says. “I actually went to a pastry program at Johnson & Wales a couple of years ago.”

This summer, Pickett launches Sugar & Snow Gelato. She's building on four wheels and four flavors. She sells her creations from a pushcart outside the Grove Arcade and at the West Asheville tailgate market. She creates the gelato in a Italian batch freezer that she keeps at Blue Ridge Food ventures test kitchen.

Pickett focuses on classic flavors, like chocolate and pistachio. This time of year, she's got strawberry, too, since the berries abound at farmers markets. She also makes a vegan sorbet.

As the summer progresses, she hopes to rotate more surprising flavors through her freezer. “I'm using a lot of fruit that's seasonal,” she says. “I've got some creative recipes that I want to try, like ginger and salted caramel.”

Pickett parks her cart across the street from the Grove Arcade on Battery Park Avenue Thursday through Saturday, from 12:30 to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 12:30 to 6 p.m. She sells her creations by the cup. On Tuesdays, she's at the West Asheville market on Haywood Road from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. with cups and pints. For more information about Sugar & Snow, visit sugarandsnowgelato.com.

Still looking to cool down? Try a refreshing homemade soda from Blue Blaze Soda.

Husband and wife syrup makers, Jackson Anderson and Zanne Garland, cook down fruit and honey in the Black Mountain kitchen they share with Lookout Brewing.Customers pick their syrup for an on-the-pot soda — flavors include ginger ale, orange dreamsicle, strawberry lemongrass and elderberry-hibiscus-lemon.

If you're watching your sugar, Anderson says not to worry. “One of our 12-ounce sodas only has about a tablespoon of sugar in it,” he says. “In moderation, I don't think [sugar]'s a bad thing.”

The elderberry-hibiscus-lemon drink is sweetened exclusively with honey.

In addition to single-serving sodas, Blue Blaze sells “growlers,” 32-ounce Nalgene bottles that keep the drink fizzy for about three days unopened, Anderson says. Take them hiking or bring one home for dinner, he suggests.

Look for Blue Blaze at the French Broad Food Co-op tailgate market on Wednesdays from 2 to 6 p.m. or at the Black Mountain market on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Anderson hopes to wholesale his syrups to bars in the future.

For more information, search for Blue Blaze Soda Company on Facebook.

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