Artist Nadia Roden started making gourmet artisan ice lollies in the summer of 2011 in New York City. She began selling her ice lollies at the High Line Park, and was soon joined by her nephew Cesar to help her keep up with demand. When Cesar brought the business back to London in 2013, Ice Kitchen was born.
To coincide with the release of their first recipe book, Ice Kitchen: 50 Lolly Recipes, the creative duo will be treating customers to ice lolly tastings from their popular ice lolly cart at The Conran Shop in Marylebone on Wednesday 13th August.
Ahead of this mouth-watering event, we chat to Nadia about what goes into the perfect ice lolly, favourite flavours and her plans for the future.
What kick-started your passion for ice lollies?
I’ve always had a passion for ices and in 2009 I came across a photo of a leaf frozen inside a transparent ice lolly, my mind filled with all sorts of combinations that could be frozen on a stick, it was exciting and playful and I was unstoppable. My nephew Cesar came to help and then he became unstoppable.
What processes do you go through before arriving at the perfect ice lolly?
I imagine how flavours may complement each other, I especially love how opposites attract, like citrus and cream or sweet and sour and it’s intriguing how a spice or herb can bring out an aspect of a fruit that we wouldn’t otherwise notice, like pairing star anise and grapefruit or tarragon and peach, the combinations are endless. Sometimes Cesar and I are inspired by classics from around the world and try to reconstruct them as a lolly, such as the pistachio and rose combination from Egypt or the cassata from Sicily. A lot of teamwork!
How much do you draw on your background as an award-winning artist when creating an ice lolly?
Playing with colour is quite similar to playing with flavour. If you mix too many together it turns to brown, but if you respect the uniqueness of each and allow some magic to happen when you combine, there is alchemy in the mouth. As an artist I draw very much on intuition and I think cooking is also very intuitive. I think all arts are interrelated, music, cooking, painting, science and even the art of business, that’s also intuitive and inspired when it’s at its best.
What are your favourite flavours from your new book Ice Kitchen: 50 Lolly Recipes?
Ruby Grapefruit & Campari for its amazing zing, Pistachio & Rose as it’s inspired by an old family pudding and the Peach & Tarragon reminds me of Provence. I also love the Spanish Sherry & Raisin for its dark complexity – when we gave one to the US Poet Laureate Mark Strand, he told us that it was the best dessert he had ever tasted – pure poetry to our ears.
Why do you think there is growing demand for artisan street food?
Many years ago I travelled alone through South Korea and what I found most exciting was the street food, people sat outside at communal tables, there were so many different delights to choose from and I tried as many as possible, it felt like an endless party, a very sociable experience. Apart from bringing strangers together around food and adding to the pleasures of life, it’s often more affordable for both the customer and the chef who isn’t tied to a set place and a high rent.
Cesar’s Ice Kitchen street carts are hugely popular, he’s also part of a group called KERB that pop up at locations all around London. People are surprised and delighted to be able to buy something that is homemade with fresh pure ingredients and so delicious – he gets instant feedback from customers.
What are your plans for the future?
I would like to create a range of ice lollies for the Opera in New York City, with flavours inspired by each opera. Cesar is having a lot of fun with Ice Kitchen in London – there’ll be a range a cocktail ice lollies available this Christmas and he plans to sell to movie theatres.
In November, I’m doing an ‘Ice Show’ in New York City, collaborating with a scientist and a musician; we’re putting on a show that will involve shaved ice, patterns in ice formation and musical instruments made of ice. Of course the audience will get to taste everything.
Ice Kitchen: 50 Lolly Recipes by Nadia and Cesar Roden is available to buy in store. For more details on the Ice Kitchen event at our Marylebone store click here.