The Ice Cream Fair and Grilled Nopales

Grilled nopales

The picture above might not strike as an ice cream fair kind of picture. But there’s a story behind it, just wait for it. I’ve known of the annual ice cream fair in Tulyehualco (a rural town inside Mexico City) for years. Last year when I visited the Alegria and Olive fair in the same town I made a mental note to go back to this very famous ice cream fair.

When I asked Jon if he wanted to go to the ice cream fair his face lit up. We both love ice cream, but I think for him ice cream is the most wonderful thing on earth. I also posted on facebook I wanted to go and my friend Liz, another expat living in Mexico City, immediately responded saying she also wanted to go. We picked up a date, made arrangements and waited patiently for Sunday to arrive.

We left the “city” (although Tulyehualco is part of Mexico City, going there always feels like going to the country) around 10 am and almost an hour and a half later we arrived to the center of town. It was already buzzing with activity. People were sitting and standing around stands having brunch. Kids were running around with balloons and ice cream cups. Vendors were selling all kinds of stuff and musicians (some of them really bad) were playing folk music for coins. That early in the morning it already felt like a Mexican fair.

After having breakfast we walked to where the ice cream vendors were. I’ve heard about the legendary flavors some of the vendors prepare for the fair. But I never imagined the array would be that extensive and even bizarre. We had a lot of samples before deciding on a particular flavor. I probably tasted about 30 different flavors that included rose petals, mango, beer, cajeta, mole, tierra de osos (bearland), snake and skunk. Yup, I was feeling adventurous.

However, I only had 3 small full cups: amaranth with chocolate, mint and cheese. I filled up with little samples. As always, pictures tell a better story than words. Take a close look at all the different flavors available (click on a picture to enlarge and start a slideshow):

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We walked around the fair grounds for a while and I had the chance to take some great pictures of the local people, churches and ingredients. Please enjoy these pictures:

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I knew I was going to be eating a lot of ice cream so the week before going to Tulyehualco I tried to go on a “diet”. My diets involve eating more fruit and vegetable salads instead of heavier dishes. My breakfasts involved a big bowl of fruit salad with honey, amaranth and cheese. Comida (lunch) is my biggest meal of the day and I only eat smaller amounts of whatever I’m having for that meal. And for dinners I would eat salads or a dish with a lot of fiber.

Grilled nopales

One of my favorite ingredients for salads is nopales (cactus paddies). A great way to eat them is grilled. This salad got inspired by a caprese salad I had at a pizzeria last week. In an iron cast skillet I grilled 4 cactus parties that had been drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper. When I turned them over I added a slice of asadero cheese (a mild Mexican cheese that is chewy and perfect for grilling) and served it with a slice of tomato. It was an amazing combination of flavors and a great way to get ready for the ice cream indulgence that was to come.

The ice cream fair is held in Plaza Quirino Mendoza in Tulyehualco, part of the Xochimilco borough, from March 30th to April 10th, 2012. Website in Spanish.

¬°Buen provecho!


  • I’d love to taste nopales! This dish looks so scrumptious.

    My BF would have loved this fair. Thanks for sharing your lovely pictures with us.



  • I have a question :) For me, nieve is more like a slushy, icy concoction whereas helado is what we know in the US as ice cream. Was it nieve or helados or both at this fair?
    No matter what it was, it looks incredible and I would love to experience it someday.


    • It was both. A lot of them were nieves, but many of them were helados, although the consistency is not quite as the ice cream we all know. It’s a lot more artisanal, therefore it resembles more a slushy.

  • Wow! You’re so good for taking easy before the big splurge on this ice cream. I would have no self control. None. That “little ice cream vendor” is too much – talk about Mr. Personality.

  • who would not want to go to an ice cream fair? only crazy people!!!

  • An ice cream. Fair. I’m still not sure why I haven’t moved in with you yet.

  • don’t think there is a country in the world that has more flavors of ice cream than you can find in Mexico. Always so inviting…well, there was the shrimp with tequila ice cream that I just HAD to try…
    Love the Mexican Caprese Salad–I always appreciate new ways to prepare nopales. (I may have just posted this on Flickr…yikes!)

  • LOL at the semen and Pikachu ice creams. How on earth is the first one legal, let alone… Made? They must have quiiiite a few donkeys.

    Lovely post, I wish I could have gone – I’ve never even heard of an ice cream fair!

    – Eve

  • Ice cream fair?? This is my kind of fair! Sounds great!

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