It's no secret that Phoenix is hot. This I knew, but no amount of psyching myself up could prepare me for the reality of a 110 degree day. As a former Canadian (and current wussy Californian), walking around during the hottest part of the day in Phoenix was like hanging out in a sauna with a high-powered hairdryer blowing in my face. Ok, that's a slight exaggeration, but even so, the best relief (and tastiest treat I ate during my trip) was a cup of shaved ice from New Orleans Sno Ball.
The small shop, tucked away in a nondescript strip mall, stocks 57 different flavor syrups, from almond to egg custard. Fruit flavors dominate, but there are also some weirder options, including #10: hot buttered popcorn, and #46: wedding cake.
I scooped up two small cups ($1.75 each), each with two flavors: black cherry and orchid cream vanilla in one, and silver fox (almond and vanilla) mixed with tiger's blood (berries with a hint of coconut) in the other.
The black cherry had a bold fruity flavor, and tasted like sweet cherry preserves. It mixed nicely with the orchid vanilla, a mild vanilla flavor that was slightly floral. The tiger's blood was fairly tasty, but the coconut element was a bit too sharp, and obviously artificial. If you want something fruity and tropical, try the pina colada mixed with a berry flavor instead. The nutty, vanilla flavor of the silver fox was tasty, but didn't jibe with the berry and coconut. My instincts tell me it would be great with the root beer or coffee flavors.
The color of the syrups start off vibrant, then get a bit muted as the sweet flavoring sinks deeper into the cone. There's plenty of it to coat every bite, and the ice is so finely shaved that it's practically creamy. To beat the heat, I'd choose one of these over gelato, fro yo, or ice cream any day.
New Orleans Sno Ball
5809 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85014 (map)