Hansen's Sno-Bliz in New Orleans

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[Photos: Chichi Wang]

Shaved ice in Louisiana is a simple affair of ice and flavored syrup, yet not just any shaved ice joint can produce a cone as fine as Hansen's on Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans. Hansen's stainless steel ice-shaving machine is the key to its success. This beast yields shavings of ice as light as snowflakes, finer than any I have tasted before.

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The shavings of ice are so delicate and uncompacted that as soon as you step outside into the muggy, warm Louisiana weather, you lose some of the airy quality of the cone. On a hot summer's day, it is perhaps wise to stay inside Hansen's to finish off your cone.

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Though more complicated "sno-bliz" cones can be ordered with marshmallow toppings and ice cream centers, there's a simple harmony between snowy ice and pure, uncomplicated flavor that makes the original concept so good.

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The only difficult part of visiting Hansen's is settling on just one or two flavors from their extensive menu. I ordered my cone with Satsuma orange and almond, but passed up banana, coconut, coffee, wild cherry, and peach, among other tempting flavors. Hansen's is without a doubt a place I would go out of my way to visit to have another cone of its peerless shaved ice - an airy, short-lived pleasure.

Hansen's Sno-Bliz

4801 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA (snobliz.com

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