1. Food

The Thai rolled ice cream trend has finally arrived in St. Petersburg and Tampa (w/video)

A cup of Thai rolled ice cream sits outside of Iceburg Frozen Yogurt in St. Petersburg. It's one of only three places in the Tampa Bay area making rolled ice cream. [Christopher Spata | Times]
Published Apr. 3, 2017

It started in Thailand about three years ago, then landed in New York's Chinatown where people lined up on the sidewalk to get it.

By fall 2016, it was an internet sensation that Buzzfeed hyperbolically headlined "insane," and caused a Forbes writer to proclaim "bubble tea is so over."

Now, Thai rolled ice cream, the frozen treat aiming to make the scoop obsolete, has arrived in Tampa Bay.

Iceburg Frozen Yogurt in downtown St. Petersburg began serving it this week. That shop follows two others across the bay in Tampa, Snobachi in Ybor City, and Icesmile near the University of South Florida, which both opened in the past four months.

Those shops follow behind the many others that have opened across the U.S. in the past year looking to get in on the action.

Iceburg has had a "coming soon" sign for Thai rolled ice cream in the shop's window along Central Avenue for months now. The shop's management said they'd been waiting for a special machine to arrive from Hong Kong, then the staff spent a couple weeks learning the technique.

In the meantime, Iceburg, which opened late last year, has been making due with a different dessert trend: self-serve frozen yogurt. But that seems oh-so-2011 compared to rolled ice cream.

Related: Snobachi brings rolled ice cream and 'dragon's breath' to Ybor

The process for making it involves pouring an ice cream base — the same cream, sugar and egg mixture that conventional ice cream is made of — onto a freezing-cold plate on the machine. The plate's temperature is tweaked with a foot pedal to get it just right.

Then the mix-ins, which could be taro syrup, thai tea, green tea, chocolate chips, or several other options at Iceburg, are added, and a worker chops up the concoction with metal spatulas. As the ice cream solidifies, it's smoothed out into a sheet, then scraped into rolls.

The empty space in the center of the rolls leaves a spot for more toppings to really get down in there.

It's easy to see how this stuff went viral. The rolling process is mesmerizing in an Instagram video, and every cup looks tailor made for a Snapchat close-up.

Snobachi offers rolls with names such as "The '90s," which features strawberry Pop-Tart, plus Froot Loops and Fruity Pebbles cereal. There's also a Get S'Mored combo with marshmallow, Hershey bar and graham cracker.

Aside from their rolls, Snobachi is pushing the limits of dessert manipulation with yet another trendy treat called Dragon's Breath, which involves infusing cut up brownie bites, doughnuts and marshmallows with liquid nitrogen, giving them a smoking effect.

Icesmile is serving up combos such as Beauty and the Beast (vanilla, fresh strawberry and nutella) and Minty Colada (mint ice cream with shredded coconut).


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