Serious Eats: Sweets
Sugar Rush: Seasonal Popsicles at Sweet Clementine's, Los Angeles, CA
Gourmet popsicles can be found all over Los Angeles during these hot summer months, but it's worth a trek downtown to the Grand Central Market to catch Layne Eiler standing by her brand-new Sweet Clementine's popsicle cart filled with seasonal frozen creations.
These pops are refreshingly icy thanks to their lack of stabilizers like pectin, corn syrup, or glucose, and their thick cylindric shape offers a bigger bite than the thin rectangular prototype you'll find around town at other pop shops. The resulting texture is chunky and chewable, which gives them a unique fruit bar-meets-shaved ice appeal.
Her fruit juice-based menu rotates often, and each day features a special flavor. Watermelon Cayenne was the guest-star when I ventured down.The most popular flavor—and my personal favorite—is the Strawberry-Basil, although the Lemon-Buttermilk is a close second. The former is filled with roughly chopped basil and strawberry seeds and is sweeter than the other varieties, and the latter is a mix of tangy, sour, and creamy. Pineapple-ginger is another refreshing combination, and not too cloying despite the juice's high sugar content.
Because these pops are on the smaller side, 1.5 ounces, you can easily sample (and finish) more than one—I certainly did. I suggest ending with the Watermelon-Cayenne as it packs a spicy punch.
The pops are $2.50 each and hand-made daily. Eiler will be manning her cart at the downtown market from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through the end of September, and then she's back to doing private events and special orders, so if you've got a hankering for her artisanal treats, head over soon. She will continue to pop up outside of Handsome Coffee every Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m.
About the author: Tracy Chabala is a nascent food writer, sugar addict, and pastry cook at Lucques in West Hollywood, CA. She is freelance contributor to LA Weekly's food blog Squid Ink. Find her work here.