Shaved ice is an old-school New York thing. In my neighborhood, when the weather gets hot, you still see the guys with the carts, handing out little paper cups of shaved ice topped with syrup in crazy-bright colors. But the mecca of shaved ice, in my opinion, is actually nowhere near New York (sorry, Corona Ice King): it’s in Hawaii. The north shore of the island of Oahu is leg- endary surf country, and the town of Haleiwa is right in the middle of the action. The heart of the action off the beach? That would be Matsumoto Shave Ice, an olden-days general store that just happens to have what Hawaiians call a “shave ice” machine in the back. The machine runs all day long, shaving ice off huge blocks; when you get to the front of the line, you pick your flavor, and the guy behind the counter pours it over some ice and hands you a cup of icy deliciousness. You can get all the regular flavors (lemon, vanilla), plus Asian-fusion stuff (red beans, li hing mui—salty red plum), and some Island flavors, like coconut cream and “Hawaiian special.” The place is almost as big an attraction as the beach; there’s always a long line of people snaking through the store, surfers and locals and tourists, all waiting patiently, jammed in between the racks of sunglasses and the potato chips. No sur- prise: shave ice is the perfect snack on a hot Hawaiian afternoon. So I figured: what’s good for Oahu must be good for a sticky-hot New York City summer, right? It’s fast and easy, and it’s got the kind of bright, intense flavors that cool you down fast: it’s a real flavor bomb of a frozen dessert.
- 1/2 medium-sized pineapple, trimmed, peeled, and cubed
- 1/4 cup sugar One 12-ounce bottle very gingery ginger beer (I like Fentimans)
Put the pineapple cubes in a blender. Starting on low and working your way up to high speed, blend for 30 seconds or so, until you have a thick puree.
Spoon the pineapple puree into a medium-sized mix- ing bowl. Whisk in the sugar; then slowly pour in the ginger beer. Whisk everything together.
Put the pineapple mixture in the freezer and let it freeze for at least 2 hours, until it’s pretty solid. If you want to speed up the freezing process, you can pour the puree into a pie pan or a rimmed baking sheet, but be careful: it will slosh around and things can get messy.
When the puree is frozen, use a bench scraper or a knife to break it into ice-cube-sized pieces. Put these in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and puree until there are no big chunks left.
You can serve the ice right away or store it in an air- tight container in the freezer. Scoop it out like ice cream. You can even serve it in little paper cups, if you’re feeling it.