Neveria Again

by James Boo on December 9, 2011 · 11 comments

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I have never seen a Michoacan ice cream parlor off of Interstate 5. Now that I know of one that sits in the shadow of US-101, I see little reason to drive along the 5 again.

There are, of course, other reasons for choosing US-101 over I-5 if a trip calls for traversing the 400 miles between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay. While I have fond memories of blazing along the speedy yet desolate 5 during my college years – stopping for lunch at Kettleman City’s mirage-like In-N-Out and sealing every inch of the vehicle moments before breezing by the cattle concentration camp at Coalinga pass – I’ve since learned that a leisurely crawl along the 101 is undeniably more pleasurable.

Beyond bearing the advantages of traveling on a highway with more than two lanes and more to look at than absolutely nothing, US-101 is a wonderful route for the hungry. Just a couple of hours out of Los Angeles, a stop at La Super Rica is good enough to warrant its own trip. Closer to the Bay, the 101 passes through Gilroy, whose status as “garlic capital of the world” is assured by the confident scent that seeps into every car rolling on by. The banners of In-N-Out dot the highway from end to end. And in the central coast farming town of Santa Maria, Paleteria Neveria Linda Michoacan Numero Dos makes a compelling case for taking the long way as often as possible.

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This roomy ice cream parlor in downtown Santa Maria, bearing the mark of Michoac√°n, was the highlight of my summer road trip to the central coast, where Boykji, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Zakhar and I were tearing through tri-tip, steak, scotch, and board games in the spirit of summer. We found our way to Paleteria Neveria Linda Michoacana No. 2 on a Chowhound tip from the indomitable Melanie Wong and were immediately dumbfounded by the variety of paletas stocked in just one of the palor’s freezer cases. After plenty of gawking, followed by the awkward shuffle between two dancers whose left feet are each other’s native tongues, Boykji and I chose eight paletas for the crew to sample.

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We didn’t touch any of the hundred-plus other frosty confections available – not because we doubted a Michoacana’s skill with ice cream, but because a freezer full of paletas is enough to keep one’s palate enchanted for days. Whereas American popsicles tend to be little more than icy vessels for sugar and food coloring, their Mexican counterparts embody a rich variety of flavors and textures, turning every good paleta into a distinctly refreshing memory.

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At Paleteria Neveria Linda Michoacana No. 2, fresa (strawberry) is entirely different from fresa y crema (strawberry ice cream), though both contain frozen chunks of ripe strawberry. A nuez (walnut) paleta is nothing like a pistachio paleta in flavor or in texture; the former has a deep, bourbon-like taste and a layer of grit, while the latter – in the classically unfortunate terms of pistachio ice cream – retains the artificial taste of a gumball dropped in salted nuts.

Rompopo con pasas (eggnog with raisins) is a different beast altogether: entirely unmitigated in its use of rum, studded with frozen, taffy-like raisins, and altogether heartier than any of the other flavors we sampled. Arroz resembles an iced rice pudding more than a frozen horchata, with a distinctly dense and and chewy texture. These two paletas struck me as mas lindas, transcribing hallmark concoctions into a treat more satisfying than its source material.

I still wonder how the mixed fruit paleta earned the name “tutti frutti.” Whether or not I find out, I’ve decided “tutti frutti” will be the name of my Mexican-ice-cream-themed ranchera band’s first record. Expect a debut tour along US-101.

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Paleteria Neveria Linda Michoacana No. 2
917 N. Broadway
Santa Maria, CA 93454
805.928.8225

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Comments

Stephen December 9, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Wow!! That looks amazing, and will now give me a reason to appreciate driving through Santa Maria. Also, “tutti frutti” does mean “all the fruit” in Italian, so I guess it makes sense to call mixed fruit that.

James Boo December 9, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Haha — I’m not sure why “tutti” sounds so unusual to me. I thought the mixed fruit paleta would have a name like “mixta” or something. And yes, Santa Maria is a great pit stop for food. I’ve got two columns in the works for Serious Eats to report on steakhouse and barbecue options in the area.

lau@corridorkitchen December 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm

That looks delicious! I never knew such a treat existed!

James Boo December 23, 2011 at 9:16 pm

I hope you get the chance to try it someday :)

Mai January 10, 2012 at 12:52 am

This feels so close and yet so far away. I wonder if there’s any chance for me to find it in my neck of the woods.

James Boo January 10, 2012 at 1:39 am

May – you should try searching for paletas in Fruitvale or the Mission. There’s also a gourmet Mexican ice cream pop-up dude in Fruitvale; I believe he calls his stand “Neveria Cinco de Mayo.” I’ve heard great things.

Mai January 10, 2012 at 1:56 am

Hmm, I’ve had Nieves Cinco de Mayo in Fruitvale, but not Neveria, and it’s just normal ice cream.
Thanks, James! As long as there’s hope.

James Boo January 10, 2012 at 2:06 am

Ah, you’re right – it’s Nieves Cinco de Mayo. I’ve heard that he breaks out some really creative flavors, but not sure how frequently. In any case, not a paleta. But you’re bound to find a good one sooner or later :]

Kolaci Poslasticarnica January 19, 2012 at 7:30 am

Looks like ice cream treasure chest.

Roger Moore February 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm

You should of went to La Picosita the taco shop two doors down, it has the best carne asada burrittos in Santa Maria. We always get burritos there after a night of drinking. It’s open till 3 am on the weekends….

James Boo February 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Brilliant tip, Roger. I’ll try it next time. I was doing lot of steakhouse+bbq eating since this was a writing weekend, but late-night carne asada in Santa Maria sounds even better.

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