This past week, La Michoacana Paleteria y Neveria owner Ana Ramos-Aguilera introduced me to several new creations that are unique to this local gem. Some words that came to mind as I walked through her newest inventions were ‘fresh” and “perfection.”
In my tasting at La Michoacana Paleteria y Neveria in Hollister last year, Ramos-Aguilera presented me with her most unusual flavors, her most popular flavors, and her personal favorites among the ice creams and ices. I was almost overwhelmed by the diversity of flavors, and some of the more off-the-wall flavors, like Guanabana and Chongos, became personal favorites.
The dedication to fresh ingredients makes the ice cream exceptional, and using as much local fruit as possible means you are also getting the best quality. Ramos-Aguilera says her customer base is growing steadily as the pandemic lifts, with people coming as far away as Los Banos just to get their favorites.
“It is exciting to see new people come in and bring their families,” she said. “People who are white, Hispanic, Indian, Black—it is wonderful to see that because I want my place to be a community of all the world. When they come here, the people and the kids are happy. They get so excited over all the flavors, little ones and big people, too.”
Deciding what to get is never easy, with the selection of over 35 flavors of milk and water-based ice creams available by the scoop or as frozen bars. And Ramos-Aguilera makes it even harder by introducing new flavors constantly. For this tasting, we tried some new flavors, along with some of the fruit waters, which will be the subject of a second article.
Later this month, from 11 a.m-3 p.m. on August 27, La Michoacana will be hosting its first-ever event, the third Latino Art show, sponsored by the San Benito County chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), with proceeds going to the LULAC Scholarship Fund. Details will be announced by LULAC next week.
The Ice Creams of La Michoacana Paleteria y Neveria
Nance – The build-up to this one was unexpected, with Ramos-Aguilera saying we were starting with Nance so I could wash my mouth afterward if I did not like the taste. “They call it yellow cherry,’” said Ramos-Aguilera, “but it is very pungent and grainy, and it does not taste like cherry at all. Some people taste it and say ‘yuck!’” Though refreshing, the flavor of this ice is hard to pin down. I got an oddly refreshing fruit-and-burned toast flavor, and Ramos-Aguilera described it as tasting like a strong hard cheese. People familiar with it, she said, order nothing but Nance, often adding lime and chile.
Fruta Seca – Vanilla ice cream with diced dried fruits, including banana, pineapple, figs, plums, dates, mango, kiwi, papaya, and coconut. All the fruit bits bring their textures and flavors, so you are never quite sure if you will get something soft or chewy, sweet or tart. This one is a lot of fun to eat, and the abundance of fruit guarantees that the flavors will change with each bite.
Gansito – Perhaps inspired by cookies and cream, this flavor blends the popular Mexican snack cake Gansito, a chocolate-covered cake with a strawberry and cream filling, with a vanilla ice cream base and a dash of cinnamon for good measure. There is a little crunch from the chocolate and a bit of fruit from the filling. I like it better than the cake on its own and would happily order it.
Fruity Pebbles – Ramos-Aguilera said she wanted to have the ice cream taste like the last bites of soggy breakfast cereal sitting in milk that has absorbed the flavor and sweetness of the fruit flavors. “You want to have that little slurp at the end when you eat your cereal,” she said. It is not quite the same–the cereal still had a little crunch, which I enjoyed. Kids will love this one; for me, she described that last-milk-in-the-bowl taste exactly.
Cherry – This ice cream was my favorite of this tasting. An abundance of chopped fresh organic cherries is mixed into the vanilla base, resulting in an intense flavor and an appealing chewiness. It is difficult to find a way to describe it beyond “perfection,” but this ice cream really showcases the approach that makes everything at La Michoacana so good: no stinting on ingredients or quality and always tasting just-made fresh. Grab this while fresh cherries are still in season.
Cotton Candy – This was less sweet than I thought it would be, which is a plus. You get the warm caramelized cotton candy flavor without being overwhelmed by the sugar you would get from just eating spun cotton candy. The presentation is also fun, with layers of cartoon colors. “Adults really go for this one,” Ramos-Aguilera said. “There are people who only order this, and I keep trying to offer other flavors, but they just want cotton candy.”
Abuelita – “In Mexico, everybody has Abuelita in their house,” Ramos-Aguilera said. “You will have it for hot chocolate in the morning or delicious milkshakes, which is how I like it.” Anybody who has had Abuelita hot chocolate will recognize that rich, deep flavor here, and a dash of cinnamon turns this from ice cream to comfort food. I get a little bit of the taste of Canelitas, the Mexican cinnamon cookie, here, making it even more appealing.
Smores – This is the newest flavor on the menu, with pieces of marshmallow and chocolate throughout. Like the cotton candy ice cream, this is a trip back to childhood. It tastes exactly like Smores without getting all that melted marshmallow all over your face. I would order this one again—it was delightful.
Coconut – Another seriously great ice cream, the shredded coconut is Ramos-Aguilera’s current favorite. While it is milk based, the flavor tastes like pure coconut cream. Another sign of the quality here is that they could have used half the amount of shredded coconut, which would still have been remarkable ice cream. This would mix well, I think, with some of the fruit ice creams, like cherry, lime, or strawberry. If you like coconut, this is a must-try.
La Michoacana is located at 195 Meridian St in Hollister and is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
BenitoLink thanks our underwriters, Hollister Super and Windmill Market, for helping to expand the Eat, Drink, Savor series and give our readers the stories that interest them about local food and food products. Hollister Super (two stores in Hollister) and Windmill Market (in San Juan Bautista) support our reporting on the inspired and creative people behind the many delicious food and drink products made in San Benito County. All editorial decisions are made by BenitoLink.