Mita Shah makes her own trends at Mardi Gras ice cream.
Mita Shah doesn't give into trends.
She makes her own.
The owner of Mardi Gras ice cream on the Northwest Side has been making exotic, homemade flavors for 15 years -- and she has no plans to put down the heavy cream anytime soon.
The ice cream parlor is open for the season, offering an array of new flavors in its 48-flavor catalog.
An early 2015 favorite is the "sitafel," an ice cream made with cherimoya, also known as the custard apple. Shah said she sold 10 gallons in one week.
Customers can also look for strawberry rhubarb sorbet, Asian berry and "fire and ice," which combines chocolate and spicy Indian peppers for an immediate jolt smoothed out by the cool ice cream. She said she's also working on a spicy chai ice cream.
"Whatever I eat, I think in ice cream form," said Shah, a vegetarian.
Adult scoops are $2.99 and children's scoops are $2.65. Most children enjoy the "Blue Moon," also known as cotton candy at other stores.
Shah bought Mardi Gras 15 years ago from Jim Shaw. She said she started making ice cream for in-laws, who, like her, are vegetarians from India.
"I love cooking," she said. "Cooking is my thing."
When she bought the no-frills storefront at 1947 Hard Road, she started adding less traditional flavors, such as mango, pistachio and ginger.
Now, the 15 "international" ice creams account for more than 50 percent of all sales. The biggest seller, hands down, is the "kesar," made with saffron, almond, pistachios and a touch of cardamom.
Mardi Gras closes for the winter on Thanksgiving every year.
"She likes the snow, it means time off," said Dilip Shah, Mita's husband and a retired chemical engineer who now helps out in the store.
"I like snow anyway," Mrs. Shah said.
In the off season, she is experimenting at home, developing new combinations and flavor profiles.
"I like to introduce new flavors, add flavors every year," she said.
Of course, not every new flavor has been a smash hit. One customer talked her into making a combination with chocolate and orange.
"It's a British thing," she said. And, apparently, not an American thing because it never caught on with customers, she said.
Other times "it becomes a hit, two flavors become one flavor and people love it," she said.
Mardi Gras also offers fat-free and sugar-free ice creams, traditional parlor favorites such as banana splits and shakes, plus special-occasion cakes, both with and without ice cream.
The family had a second Mardi Gras store for a brief time in Muirfield, run by the Shahs' two sons, but they moved away and the store closed.
Mrs. Shah said she has no plans to expand again.
"This is it," she said.
Mardi Gras is open afternoon and early evening hours daily. For more information, call 614-766-2020...........................
Got mad hops?
Barley's Brewing Co. is looking for you.
The brewpub's 20th annual homebrew competition kicks off in just a few short weeks. Home-brewers are asked to submit three 12-ounce bottles between May 18 and 25 at Barley's, 467 N. High St. in the Short North.
Participants must fill out an entry form. A panel selected by Barley's will judge the various brews, which will be unveiled at Afternoon with the Brewers on June 7.
The winner of the competition will brew the favored beer on Barley's 10-barrel system in 2016...........................
Speaking of suds, Six One Pour: The Ohio Craft Beer Fest will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. May 9 at Brewmaster's Gate in the Brewery District.
The event, which will cap the Columbus Craft Beer Week, actually nine days of celebration at many local venues, will feature more than two dozen Ohio craft breweries.
General admission tickets are $40 in advance, $50 at the door. Tickets are limited and available online at beerfest-tickets.com/sixonepour.