Such was the case when, after stopping by a nearby travel agency to update her “wish books” as she calls them, my dining partner saw that a new kind of ice cream shop had opened just across the road. A quick recon on her part brought the two of us back to La Michocana for some deliciously different cool treats.
La Michocana is tucked into a storefront on West Oakland Avenue. There is seating for about 30 patrons with restrooms nearby. The tidy dining area is compassed on two sides by several large refrigerated glass cases, four containing fresh made tubs of ice cream and sorbets.
The fifth, found near the cashier stations, displays a wide variety of frozen fruit and juice treats, each one on a stick. Though on the ground floor of their building, the interior of La Michocana is light, airy and inviting.
Fruit Cocktail: La Michocana is in the frozen treat business. Known as a heladeria south of the border, you’ll find that La Michocana follows a different path than your typical ice cream shop. For starters, there is the emphasis on freshness in everything they do.
The fruits and vegetables (yes, I know, keep reading) in the treat you choose will be of the highest quality, as I found out when I ordered a La Michocana fruit cocktail ($4.70). This is not the usual out-of-a-can diced fruit mixture in syrup served in a little bowl. My La Michocana fruit cocktail had strips of fresh pineapple, jicama, cucumber, wedges of orange and some diced apple on top.
With all the sweet pleasure in there, you need something savory, and maybe some pain to go with it. To that end, my server Jaylene suggested I get a squeeze of both Chamoy and Valentina, two sauces that I’d previously enjoyed only with Mexican and Tex-Mex entrees.
Surprisingly, the sharp saltiness of the Chamoy provided balance to the overall sweetness of the apple, orange and pineapple in the cocktail. Peppery Valentina offered a spicy counterpoint that got my attention whenever I encountered it. The effect was one of refreshment without the usual cloying sweetness you‘d expect from the typical fruit cocktail. Oh, and La Michocana makes talla media (Medium) and a talla grande (Large) sizes for those who want to enjoy their refreshment a bit (or a lot) longer.
Chopped Pecan Ice Cream in sugar cone: Well, I needed a counterpoint to go with my fruit cocktail, and asked Jaylene for a scoop of helado con nueces pacanas, or chopped pecan ice cream in a sugar cone ($2.99).
Jaylene handed me a sugar cone topped with a scoop of fresh-made vanilla-based ice cream shot through and through with chopped roasted pecans. The flavor of the vanilla ice cream with the roasted pecans were positive perfection in a single scoop sugar cone.
An unlooked for but very pleasant side effect of the vanilla ice cream was its damping effect on what lingering spiciness remained of the fruit cocktail’s Valentina sauce.
Strawberry Fresas & Chocolate Abuelita Ice Cream in waffle cone: While I was busy stamping out the last embers of Valentina sauce, my dining partner was waiting for La Michocana to mix up a fresh batch of helado de fresas (strawberry ice cream, Anglos).
Starting with fresh, heavy cream, crushed fresh strawberries were added next and the resultant pastel pink slurry sent through a commercial-grade ice cream mixer. Next, ladle this load of frozen bliss into its tub and put tub into the display case.
Motioning to our server Jaylene, my dining partner placed her order for two scoops of ice cream on a waffle cone ($5.70). The bottom scoop was a dark brown/black confection titled “Chocolate Abuelita,” (“Grandma’s Chocolate,” Anglos), the top scoop being helado de fresas.
My partner enjoyed the fresh strawberry taste of the top scoop. Her enjoyment was increased when the interface between the scoops was reached and the Grandma’s Chocolate blended its flavor with the creamy smoothness of the fresh-made strawberry ice cream. It got even better when the two scoops began to melt, the run-off filling my dining partner’s crunchy waffle cone. Scrumptious.
The bottom line: If you think you know ice cream, you’ll need to complete your education with a master’s degree from Johnson City’s La Michocana. I found that my knowledge of the frozen fruit bar, or “popsicle,” needed shoring up.
My examination of the paletas (popsicle) display case found it stacked to the top level with all manner of interesting artisanal fruit juice and cream frozen confections. Inside were such gourmet flavors as strawberries with condensed milk, pina colada, watermelon, mojito, soursop and, most interesting of all, chamoy sauce on a stick with a big slice of kiwi fruit frozen in it. All of the flavors as frozen-fresh as could be, and just the thing to give a lift to anyone’s busy day.
As usual, my dining partner had the last word.
“Next time, we bring the rest of the dine-around bunch for a real treat.”
Different? Deliciously. Refreshing? And how.
525 W. Oakland Avenue
Mon-Sat 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Sun 11 a.m.–8 p.m.
Available on Facebook & social media
Credit cards accepted