2012 Best Dessert Finalist: Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls

Feel like Sno-balls? As we told you yesterday, the finalists were announced in the 2012 Vendy Awards Best Dessert category, and two of the vendors we had not tried before. Last night on the way home from the office, we stopped by the Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls shop (IWSB) at 124 MacDougal St in the Village.

At this point you may be asking (as we did), how did a storefront get nominated for a Vendy Award? It turns out they started out as a cart at the Hester St Fair before opening the storefront.

IWSB are one of the beneficiaries of this year’s expansion to include some of the great market vendors around town. In fact, there is a whole new Vendy Award category this year for Best Market Vendor, although two market dessert vendors are included in the Best Dessert category.

IWSB serves New Orleans-style shaved ice. Is this different from Taiwanese-style shaved ice like Wooly’s Ice, who won the 2011 Vendy Award for Best Dessert? Let’s find out together.

(credit: NYSF)

When we were in the store, Taylor, who was working the counter, was on the phone with the owner, Neesa. She put us on the phone, and we asked Neesa which of the 46 flavors she recommended. Neesa suggested Sweet Lou’s Nectar Cream with condensed milk topping.

There were 4 sizes of sno-balls available, a cup for $4, and three different Chinese takeout container sizes for $5, $6 and $8. Cream flavors were $1 extra, as were toppings of sweetened condensed milk, marshmallow fluff or vanilla ice cream.

Taylor showed me how the sno-balls are made. First the ice is put into an ice shaving machine that was imported from New Orleans. Most of the supplies are brought in from New Orleans too. Check out the teeth on that baby.

(credit: NYSF)

Then the container is placed under the spout to catch the shaved ice. Not once, not twice, but three times the process was stopped so syrup could be added to the container. This assured the flavor you ordered was tasted throughout the dessert instead of just on top.

The sno-balls were served with both a spoon and a straw. The idea is to start eating it with a spoon, then finish it up with a  straw as it melts towards the end.

The menu was pretty crazy too. Among the 46 flavors were ones like Mojito, Margarita, Cotton Candy and Tutti Frutti, as well as New Orleans specialties such as Mardi Gras King Cake, Praline and Hurricane.

(credit: NYSF)

With such a heavy-duty ice shaving machine, the ice was fluffy. Sweet Lou’s Nectar Cream was delicious, especially with the sweetened condensed milk on top. The syrup flavored the ice, but it wasn’t overly thick or syrupy. The sno-ball was still pretty light.

This was a pretty sweet dessert, but if you want something less sweet, there are flavors like Granny Smith Apple, Grapefruit and Lemonade.

Congratulations to Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls for being a 2012 Vendy Awards Finalist in the Best Dessert category.

If you want more information, the Imperial Woodpecker twitter is here and their website is here.

(credit: NYSF)