BEST PALETAS (FROZEN FRUIT BARS) Phoenix 2005 - La Michoacana
You've seen those steadfast guys in the dead of summer pushing colorfully painted, four-wheeled refrigerated carts full of exotic frozen fruit bars through deserted streets and you've always wanted to stop one and sample his wares. You don't really have to go cruising for one of those heat-seeking vendedores when you get the urge to splurge your daily carb allotment. Just hightail it to La Michoacana, where a lovely young woman behind the store's immaculate counter offers paletas, those very same frozen fruit bars, in a rainbow of juicy, archetypically Mexican flavors. We got adventuresome and tried the sweet-tart tamarind and the smooth cantaloupe flavors, both of which were exceptionally refreshing on a scorching day. We're really intrigued by the sound of mango con chile, arroz (rice), piña colada, sandia (watermelon), ciruela pasa (prune) and the inscrutable nanche (we're told this mystery fruit is a sweet, deep yellow, olive-size tropical fruit common in regions like Veracruz and Nayarit), so we'll be going back to La Michoacana very soon for further research tastings.