These summertime treats are full of local fruit and other Northwest ingredients.
WERE WILL LEMKE and Vanessa Resler destined to make happiness together in the form of quiescently frozen treats? Their story is so sweet, it seems like it. Their Six Strawberries ice-pops are full of local fruit and other Northwest ingredients; they’re so local themselves, they met working at the Market Theater in Pike Place Market after college. Before they knew each other, Will’s mom was Vanessa’s fourth-grade teacher at View Ridge Elementary.
Will and Vanessa started selling Six Strawberries from one cute bicycle-powered cart in 2012. As of this hot summer of 2015, they’ve got two bike carts and an adorably refurbished vintage van, which they take to farmers markets full of their signature strawberry and nine other flavors.
Vanessa’s favorite at the moment is birthday cake, with cake frozen right into it: “Crazy-good,” she says. Will says his depends on the time of day, but then settles on strawberry-rhubarb pie with its graham-cracker dusting. He’s lactose-intolerant, so their pops are dairy free; they decided to make them vegan, too, mostly because it wasn’t hard to do. They aren’t at all holier-than-thou about it. They recommend enjoying their fruit flavors dipped in a glass of sparkling wine for an extra-chilled mimosa effect. (Try it with mixed melon — cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon — and have the best day of the season on a stick.)
Find out where to get Six Strawberries ice-pops at sixstrawberries.com.
They recently moved their ice-pop-making operation to its own Georgetown spot with a charming window for sales. And they’ve now got a weekend stand on the cobblestones of Pike Place Market, taking them back to where they met and also making Vanessa a fourth-generation Marketer — her great-grandparents ran a produce stand that her grandma worked at, too, and her mom ran the event space Top of the Market.
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Vanessa describes herself as a recovering certified public accountant, and she was in it big-time, working for Deloitte. “It was truly depressing,” she says, laughing. She’s also a two-time Washington state karaoke champion and hosts Friday karaoke at Madison Park’s The Attic. Karaoke, she firmly believes, should be done under the influence and with abandon. But at the U.S. championship in Las Vegas in 2011, judge Carnie Wilson hated both her singing and her outfit, which she describes as “robot underwear.” The way she smeared red lipstick all over her face during her rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” didn’t go over well, either. She didn’t win, and she doesn’t care.
Will used to be in film production — documentaries, commercials — but he also always loved to cook. While walking their dog, he and Vanessa would talk about wanting to run away. The grass, he says, was looking greener pretty much everywhere. The ice-pop thing “was kind of this romantic idea,” he says.
There’s a sadness at the center of Six Strawberries’ sweet story. Will and Vanessa brought their idea of running away to the land of frozen treats to Alex Goldberg, her cousin and their dear friend, for help. He was in the hospital. They talked for hours about flavor ideas and how to make the dream come true, the three of them.
A week later, at age 27, Alex passed away. Vanessa and Will decided to forge forth, honoring him as their third founder. “This was the first time we’d ever lost somebody close,” Vanessa says. “And you just kind of don’t know what to do with yourself . . . how do I move on, or not move on? This was a nice way to distract, but to keep him in the forefront of our thoughts at the same time.”
“It’s been fun to make sure that literally ideas he put on paper that day have come to fruition. Like the birthday cake one,” Will says.
“At the beginning, it wasn’t that easy,” Vanessa says. “But now it is. It’s easier.”
Six Strawberries Roasted Pear Ice-Pops
Will and Vanessa suggest heading to a farmers market and asking fruit farmers about their varieties of pears and which will work best for your intentions (ice-pops!).
Yield: 20 to 30 pops, depending on size
4 pounds Washington state pears (halved and cored)
½ cup brown sugar
2½ cups simple syrup
4 cups water
1 lemon (juiced)
Ice-pop molds or small paper cups
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Arrange pear halves on baking sheet, skin down, and sprinkle brown sugar over them. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until fruit is browned and sugar caramelized.
3. Taking care to not burn yourself, flip pears over and lift off skin; if it does not separate easily, roast a little longer.
4. Put pears and remaining ingredients into blender and blend thoroughly. Strain resulting purée.
5. Fill ice-pop molds a tad below the rim. Insert sticks if molds have tops to hold them in place; if not, insert after one hour of freezing. Freeze for roughly 8 hours.
Note: For easy extraction, dip molds/cups in lukewarm water (room temperature water for stainless-steel molds); return extracted pops to the freezer so they can harden back up, or serve immediately.