Wander down William Street in Perth as the mercury hits 40C and you may think there's a mirage ahead. A shimmering sight of bunting, 50s styling and a flamingo flock. Take a second look. It's not your mind playing tricks. This is the new Delish Ice Pop Shop on the corner of William and Roe, which will be refreshing the folks of Northbridge until at least February.
Katie Earl is the ice pop purveyor giving the summer staple an artisanal reimagining since 2011. From a first batch of 100, sold from her vintage 50s Pop Van, things have taken off with events like the Hawkers Twilight Market, countless festivals and even the odd wedding.
With the original pop van in operation, another in restoration and a growing ensemble of mobile carts, it's a wonder that Earl has a moment to think about opening the pop shop. "I didn't think about having an actual shop but this opportunity came along and it just seemed like perfect timing," she tells Fresh.
A reputation has grown in Perth and the South West for flavour combinations that step beyond the traditional big smack of fruit and sugar. Regulars have their favourites, whether ginger beer, mint and lime, raspberry lemonade or lychee, pineapple and lime. But with the likes of basil and elderflower, Earl proves the artisanal tag isn't just a bit of marketing schtick. Inspired by a gin cocktail, she got her hands on the botanicals list of The West Winds Gin and produced a non-alcoholic gin syrup. Perhaps the only ice pop you'll have with bush tomato, wattleseed, cinnamon myrtle, coriander and juniper in the mix with elderflower, and an infusion of basil.
This inventive streak continues throughout the range with the creamy salted, malted caramel. In itself, the sweet-salty combination is enough to grab the interest of most but there's an added ingredient that pushes the pop to another level - malts from the brewing process in the form of wort, the liquid taken from the mashing process. Again it is non-alcoholic but adds an intense malt character.
"We've snaffled wort from all over - Bootleg, Colonial and up here from the Monk in Fremantle," she says.
The first taste reactions of those uninitiated are ones craved by any producer, no matter what the product. There's a chorus of primal "mmmms and ahhhhs", wide eyes and head nodding. "I think people like discovering something a little different, " she says.
Earl is still very much grounded. Perched behind the counter, flanked by flamingos, she says she sometimes has to stop and think.
"I still say to myself 'This is so cool'. I can't quite believe I've got a shop on William Street."
More than just the taste of summer, it's a taste of Perth's food scene, driven by great product, imagination and more than a little delicious charm.