If your knowledge of frozen treats ends with Bi-Rite's salted caramel, you're missing out.
The culinary calling card of Baltimore, the snowball, has reached the Bay Area. Skylite Snowballs, run by Maryland-born Katie Baum (pictured), is dispensing syrup-topped shaved ice from an adorable powder-blue truck.
Though they're traditionally made with neon-colored, artificially flavored syrups ("Skylite" refers to a blue syrup especially popular back East), Baum enlisted Chez Panisse pastry chef Stacie Pierce's help in creating a kinder, gentler snowball.
Her syrups are flavored with Tcho chocolate, Four Barrel coffee, Jasmine tea, Moroccan mint, puckeringly tart grapefruit and a half-dozen other flavors ($3 to $7) that, naturally, change with the seasons.
The truck debuted last fall, then took a winter hiatus. It's returned for the season, parking weekly at Oakland's Star Grocery and at Berkeley's Wednesday-night Off the Grid food-truck gathering. Skylite is also available for private parties.
To get the full experience, Baum encourages topping your snowball with a cloud of homemade marshmallow creme, a creation dubbed the "hard-time sundae" during the Depression, when the popularity of snowballs skyrocketed.
It seems improbable--the fusion of flavored ice and marshmallow--but it turns out to be improbably good.