WALLINGFORD — A good Mexican popsicle is all about the fresh fruit and how you prepare it, Hilaris Martinez says.
Sometimes the co-owner of Paleteria Rey Azteca blends the fruit with a good concentration of flavoring (fresh blended mangos, for example). But when Martinez really wants the fresh fruit taste to come through, she makes the popsicles with chunks of fruit instead of blending it. Fresh pineapples, mangos, strawberries — the approach is the same. Her store offers both popsicles with blended fruit or with big fruit chunks frozen into the mix.
“We use a lot of fruit rather than a lot of flavoring because we want it to taste natural,” Martinez said. “We blend the fruit and mix it with the water or the ice cream base so it tastes more like the fruit. I think you can taste the difference if you use natural fruit...”
The ice cream and popsicle store she and her husband, co-owner Martin Barranco, opened about a month ago is off to a good start. Located next door to their other store — Azteca Bakery at 23 S. Colony Road — the two shops are meant to complement each other.
Joining the Mexican-owned Rivas Taqueria and adjoining Rivas Meat Market at Wallingford Center Plaza, the bakery and ice cream shop are part of the influx of Latin American businesses in downtown, which has a sizeable Mexican and Central American population.
Paleteria Rey Azteca is the next-to-last storefront to be filled at the plaza and adds to the collection of bars, cafes, restaurants and other businesses downtown, said Carl Davia, CEO of Davia Investments, LLC., which owns the plaza.
The former Stella Pizza storefront in the plaza is totally renovated under new ownership as Natalie’s Apizza, said Davia, whose son Michael owns the restaurant. That restaurant opened this week.
The recent hot weather gave the ice cream and popsicle shop a boost, but the biggest help might have come from Carmen Ochoa, a web entrepreneur from Arizona who helped Barranco and Martinez learn how to make ice cream and popsicles when the foodmaking machinery arrived weeks late.
Ochoa did several videos featuring the business on her youtube channel, which has 1.51 million subscribers — enough to bring people to Rey Azteca from as far away as Delaware, Martinez said.
“She’s a lady from Mexico who gave us a course, showed us how to make all the ice creams and popsicles,” Martinez said. “We had no idea how to. We just knew we wanted to do it.”
The next step for the couple: packaging the ice cream and popsicles for sale at retail food stores and other outlets.