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The ultimate MEAT-Up: StickBall

Meatball. Pop-up.

Jamie Trent, creator of StickBall, had her first pop-up in the summer of 2013. She was playing around with recipes for meatballs, feeding friends regularly. She had grown up around her mother’s Italian restaurant and knew the brick-and-mortar experience was not for her. So Trent is now a kindergarten teacher by day, meatball creator by night.

StickBall options: From left, These Balls Ain't Got No Meat, Lasagna Balls, Mac & Cheese Burger Balls, and Notty's Balls

Trent's earliest meatball memories are with her Italian grandfather. Growing up in an Italian family, the men predominately ruled the kitchen. To bring a little bit of home with her to NOLA, she stood her ground and began making meatballs.

She believes one can do anything with a meatball ... like Shepherd’s Pie! Each meatball sends a different flavorful warmth into the mouth.

I recently tried several of Trent's creations. First up were the Notty’s Balls (named after her grandfather), which are traditional meatballs with pork, veal, beef and some Italian flavoring, just the way Trent learned to make them in Jersey. Next came the delicious Mac & Cheeseburger Balls, which are filled with mac-n-cheese and topped with savory BBQ sauce (no, you are not dreaming). The special was a lasagna ball, which combines a lovely creaminess with lasagna (ricotta and pasta) filling, topped with tomato au jus.

Trent gathers her ingredients from a multitude of sources: herbs from the Edible Schoolyard, eggs and vegetables from Hollygrove, and the rest from Restaurant Depot. Other than her own, Trent's vote for best meatballs in New Orleans are those at Irene’s Cuisine; she also loves Lola’s.

The biggest challenge in the meatball business, Trent says, is being tired -- it isn't easy going from teaching to the labor of love of meatball making.

When she first started making meatballs, Trent didn’t use a commercial kitchen, but prepared everything at home. Her house remains a giant StickBall arena, but there are hopes for StickBall to grow into its own truck. To that end, she's hosting a fundraiser on June 21; for $30 you get unlimited meatballs, salad, garlic bread, and Sangria. You can also catch StickBall all summer from 6 to 10 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday nights at Pal’s Lounge (http://palslounge.com/) in Mid-City.

Check back Thursday for an original StickBall recipe.

This series of stories about New Orleans food trucks, pop-ups and culinary entrepreneurs is made possible through a partnership with My House Nola, a production planning company for culinary events in New Orleans.