With record breaking heat in the South, we are all looking for ways to stay cool. My new favorite is visiting one of Birmingham's newest mobile food businesses — Nola Ice. Opened last month by New Orleans native Kelli Caulfield, this food truck offers more than 40 flavors of sno-balls like the kind you get in The Big Easy.
Kelli travels all over the Birmingham area with the truck, Tweeting her location to eager followers (@NolaIceBham).
"One of my fondest memories growing up was my Dad taking me to get a sno-ball on Friday's when he got out of work," Kelli says. "I remember always going to Pandora's – located on Carrollton Avenue in New Orleans. I just felt that this city had a need and should experience the greatness that I knew as a kid – sitting on the lake with a sno-ball as big as my head, eating that Blue Bubblegum greatness in a cup, and chatting it up with my Dad about anything and everything."
She calls it her "passion project," and it shows. Kelli uses block ice and a special machine called a "sno-wizard," to create the "sno-balls." She mixes all of her own flavors — from pina colada to red velvet to wedding cake.
"In June I held a tasting where friends, family and a lot of our Twitter followers came and tested the product. All of my New Orleans people got onto me about softening the ice and making the syrups 'Kool-Aid sweet,'" she says. "I took the next two weeks to perfect both. Lets just say they are happy with the end result."
(Click here for more of her story of how she grew her business with the help and inspiration of family and friends.)
I've tried two flavors — "The Ross Boss" (grape, blueberry, pineapple and granny smith apple) and "The Politician" (coconut and pineapple). And they are delicious. Sitting in the cool air of my car the other day with a friend, we laughed as our tongues turned blue. Now that's summer.
Kelli has plans to eventually expand Nola Ice. For now, she says she loves to see the smiles on the face of her customers, who are transported to a different time — and place — through her cool treats.
"I think for adults it reminds them of their youth," Kelly says. "Being able to eat that sugary syrup covered over soft ice. It takes you back to a simpler time. Another reason is that they cool you off. This summer has been extremely hot. To have something so tasty in this heat is a beautiful thing."