Lick heat with a frozen treat

CORRESPONDENTSeptember 15, 2010 

I scream, you scream, we all scream for - paletas? Also known as Mexican Popsicles, paletas are just one of the ice cream alternatives offered by a bumper crop of new shops specializing in frozen confections.

If you've patronized any of the area Locopops shops - and judging by how rapidly they're multiplying across the Triangle, chances are you have - then you're already familiar with the natural fruit treats known as paletas.

Now Locopops has competition. Mexican native Azucena Morales, who opened La Monarca (2000-P Avondale Drive, Durham; 491-1161) in June, makes more than 30 flavors, including raspberry-queso blanco, mango with chile, strawberry mint and dulce de leche. The shop also sells aguas frescas and two dozen flavors of house-made ice cream.

Another cool new attraction in Durham - but one without a fixed address - is the pushcart vendor Don's Classic Italian Ices (follow its location on twitter at twitter.com/donsclassicices). Owner Don Mazzia uses fresh fruit and other all-natural ingredients to create flavors ranging from cantaloupe to black plum to organic banana vanilla.

If it's frozen yogurt you're craving, new options abound. In Cary, Josh and Nicole Ligon have opened Marmalade Skies (280 Meeting St.; 859-7373; www.marmalade skiesfy.com ), a family-friendly shop that's as psychedelically colorful as its name. The rotating selection of 20-plus frozen yogurt flavors covers the spectrum from healthy (nonfat Dutch chocolate) to indulgent (red velvet cake), with topping options spanning a similarly wide range from fresh fruit to gummy worms.

Also in Cary, the first North Carolina location of The Skinny Dip (1369 Kildaire Farm Road; 467-5070; www. ilovetheskinnydip.com ), a Virginia-based chain of self-serve frozen yogurt bars, has opened in Shoppes of Kildaire. And in coming weeks, two more frozen yogurt chains are to open in the area: Tutti Frutti ( www.tfyogurt.com) in Durham's Hope Valley Square, and a second Raleigh location of FreshBerry ( www. freshberry.net ) at 2526 Hillsborough St.

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