Fruta: Michoacan Ice Cream in Santa Rosa
Chocolate smockololate. When it comes to hot licks this summer, Mexican ice cream is the coolest. In flavors like corn, queso (yeah, cheese), sweet potato, and walnut as well as more traditional strawberry, mango and vanilla, Michoacan neverias (ice cream stores) are 31-flavors like you’ve never seen.
Or maybe you have. “Everybody, when they come in they say, ‘It’s just like home. It’s just like Mexico’,” said Carolina Cruz, co owner of Santa Rosa’s Fru-ta, a Michoacana paleteria y neveria. Cruz and her husband, Salvador, who hail from Guadalaraja opened the tiny shop on Stony Point Road with veteran Michoacan ice cream maker Alberto Medina heading up the kitchen. “He makes everything Michoacan style, pure 100% fruit. When people see that name, they don’t care how long they have to drive to get it,” said Cruz.
Among the specialties are elote (corn), that tastes like the sweetest, ripest corn you’ve ever eaten, and is surprisingly delish; mamey, a Mexican fruit like papaya, changunga, a small sweet fruit found in Michoacan and a sort of fresh ricotta-like cheese (queso) made into ice cream. Also unique: Mangonada, a puree of mangos with a sour “salsa” of chamoy (a sweet/hot condiment), lemon juice, salt and pepper that devotees swear is addictive.
For the less adventurous, there are more accessible sorbets of lime, mango and strawberry; frozen yogurt, chocolate covered bananas and strawberries, and smoothies with every fruit under the sun, along with horchata, pina coladas and fruit popsicles (paletas) in dozens of hues and flavors.
Nestled deep in the heart of Roseland, it’s a welcoming spot, but not always staffed with English-speakers — so you may need to do a bit of pointing and smiling if your question’s getting lost in translation. BiteClub resorted to some rather embarrassing pantomime, but ended up with the goods.
Window shopping and tastes are, of course, free, so there’s no harm in taking baby steps, should neverias be new to your vocabulary. Chances are, however, you’ll be fluent in the universal language of Michoacan ice cream treats before you know it.
Fru-ta, 2770 Stony Point Road, Santa Rosa, 542-6026. In the Bellvue Shopping Center, Open M-F 11am to 9pm, Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 9pm.
(Also of interest: La Michoacano, in Sonoma. Exotic flavors are made onsite, and are amazingly creamy and rich, often with fruit or other tidbits (nuts, candy) mixed in. Flavors are usually on the board, but its worth asking for a few samples just to, you know, make sure you’re making the right choice. Top bet: Pinenut and Mexican caramel. Don’t miss the paletas, frozen bars made with fresh fruit. 18495 Highway 12, Sonoma)