As if sucked into the gravitational pull of another nearby mobile vendor, I Dream of Weenie, siblings Philip Becker and Liz Stuhlreyer have parked a pushcart in front of Art & Invention Gallery in East Nashville. There they scoop up "Sneaux Balls," a Cajun play on Louisiana State University's "Geaux Tigers" cheer. Having lost everything in Hurricane Katrina and a subsequent fire, Becker moved to be with Stuhlreyer, a music-industry veteran and longtime Nashvillian.
In the long run, the pair hope to expand their seasonal business to a year-round storefront with coffee and beignets. For now, they're pretty much responsible for the East Nashville Sound--a constant click-click-click of plastic spoons on shaved ice, heard as folks wander the sidewalks of Five Points stirring their jewel-toned frosty confections.
The process starts with a Brico Block-sized portion of ice, which gets slotted into the stainless-steel ice shaver. Becker gins up the machine, which spits out an airy drift of snow into a Styrofoam cup. He then drizzles the snow with any of 50 sugar-based syrups. The straightforward recipes cost $2, $3 or $4, depending on size. For a dollar more, the signature Sneaux Balls incorporate sweetened condensed milk or evaporated milk to create flavors such as Orange Julius (orange, vanilla and evaporated milk), Frog in a Blender (kiwi, watermelon and condensed milk) and the decadent Pink Flamingo (coconut, evaporated milk and "nectar"--a traditional flavor from the bygone New Orleans-based K&B Drug Store).
Or tell Becker you want what Art & Invention gallery owner Meg McFadyen is having. The diminutive artist can be found chatting with the Jolly Rogue just outside her front door while she sips on a dark concoction of shaved ice, chicory coffee and her own dreaded protein drink. "He makes what once tasted like chalk into a treat," she says.
Located at 1106-A Woodland St., The Jolly Rogue is open noon to 7 p.m. daily.