Fellow foodies, I know it’s been awhile. In our recent post about being on the Birmingham Shines podcast, we explain that our month-long gap in restaurant-related posts isn’t because we’ve gotten lazy or run out of new places to try. It’s just that while we tried several new places, none of them were blogworthy. We have standards to uphold and won’t write a post about any old place just to bring in some views and clicks.
Thankfully, this weekend, our month-long drought ended in a big way. We have 3 or 4 blog posts just from these two days alone. So keep an eye out over the next few weeks!
On Saturday, we decided to check out Saturn, the new event space in Avondale. They were having an event called the Saturn Swap, an indoor flea market with food and beverages (Saturn has a coffee shop called Satellite and a very cool looking full service bar).
We were sitting at a table taking it all in, minding our own business when we realized that a food stand was being set up right next to us. Sometimes, just like dogs find dog people and cats find cat people, food finds food people. Our foodie luck was turning! Here is what we saw:
At that moment, a friend who’s usually “in the know” walked by. We stopped her and asked if she’d heard of this place before and she said, oh yes, of course! Ono Ice! They were at Sidewalk Film Festival last year, they were at Ruffner last week for Beer on the Back porch… Apparently other folks in town knew of this foodie secret. How had we missed this? Of course, we immediately went on Facebook to learn more and found that our friend was right- Ono has a strong following and has been around for a few years.
To be honest, maybe the reason why this wasn’t on our radar is that I’m not a huge fan of icy desserts. We spent 10 years in Philly where Italian ice is BIG, and even at the best places, the flavors taste like tropical high fructose corn syrup and chemicals. I’ve always had a policy of saving my dessert calories for something special, and ice just doesn’t usually make the cut. So despite our excitement, I was only cautiously optimistic.
A woman had set up to use this contraption:
Before I knew it, she had taken a giant ice cube, fed it into the top, and started cranking the wheel. Ice with the consistency of fluffy snow began to fall from the bottom. It was really a thing of beauty to watch this machine work.
Mr Foodie’s favorite food is watermelon, so I knew he would be ordering the watermelon mint, which also sounded good to me. Since I didn’t think I wanted very much, I just said I would have a bite of his.
Even though the sign says handmade with all natural flavors, I was still imagining a syrupy mess. Then this came out:
Made with fresh watermelon and fresh mint, including the mint that was sprinkled on top, this shave ice was a thing of beauty. I loved how it was served with both a spoon and a little straw, an obvious invitation to enjoy every bit of it.
It tasted like eating a frozen fresh watermelon infused and topped with delicious fresh mint. Mr Foodie and I shared it, and before I knew it, I had eaten half of it. We were both beside ourselves over this thing. As we took turns eating and sipping it, we gushed over how great it was to every passerby. We were having a moment, very publicly, with our shave ice.
Obviously, we had to try a second flavor. First of all, I had eaten half of poor Mr Foodie’s dessert, and plus, by that point we knew it would be a blog post and wanted to be able to tell you about at least two flavors. I walked back to the machine and asked what I should try next. Since I said I didn’t want a creamy flavor – I was too excited about the idea of a really icy dessert – she recommended the blueberry basil. I watched her closely this time. She explained that since the blueberry is a thick flavor, she layers the syrup and the ice. I watched as the little mound of ice turned a deep blue:
We had to know more. I learned that the woman behind the ice, Rebecca, has been slinging ice at Ono for a few years. Ono was born out of her childhood fascination with shave ice. Unable to get shave ice in Birmingham, she purchased this machine in Hawaii and decided to try her hand at some fancy flavors.
Much to our delight, she also explained that in a few weeks, she’s going to launch a kickstarter campaign to purchase a food truck. Not only would she be able to serve her ice more widely, she plans to combine the ice with ice cream to make even fancier desserts.
So foodie friends, here’s what I recommend. Go to Facebook RIGHT NOW and “like” Ono so that you get all their updates. Ono is going to be at Lucy’s Coffee and Tea this Thursday from 11a-3p. They’ll also be at Good People Brewery for Happenin’ fest this Saturday, which starts at 2p and goes till late. I’ll see you there. Their kickstarter is going to happen sometime mid-July. When they have an exact date, I’ll post it here. Let’s all help make Rebecca’s icy dreams come true, and make Birmingham the shave ice capital of the South.