Slice & Ice – Seems Like Old Times

When we heard that Ed Irving, one of the founders of  eegee’s, was opening a new place that was loosely modeled on the  eegee’s original concept we knew we had to make a visit. eegee’s is a Tucson original and the story of how two young guys from Rhode Island created an empire based on lemon Italian ice is legendary.

The name of the new venture is Slice and Ice.

I interviewed Ed for my book, ‘Historic Restaurants of Tucson’ and I have to say the hour and a half I spent with him was one of the best interviews I’ve ever done.

Ed and his partner, Bob Greenburg opened eegee’s in 1971 and grew their business by selling the lemon eegee’s out of a truck. The rest, as they say, is history.

I have to say my last trip to an eegee’s was disappointing, The sandwich was soggy and bland. The fries were also lacking. The only thing that came close to what eegee’s became famous for was the eegee’e ice, but even that was missing something. Plus the place was a mess. Sticky floors, unbussed tables, crabby servers. So disappointing that I decided I’d probably not go back.

Located on West Grant,Slice and Ice, features a half dozen or so ‘hero’ sandwiches, salads, fries (fancy and plain), Italian ices (of course) and pizza. Yes, pizza and while we didn’t order one, plenty of other people did. They looked great and we’re planning on ordering the next time we eat there.

We ordered the three meat and cheese hero, a ham and cheese hero, plain fries and two lime Italian ices.

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The sandwiches, in spite of the fact that they were served on toasted rolls, were so like the original grinders that eegee’s used to serve that it was nearly a flashback moment. The lime slush held plenty of lime pieces and was so icy cold my teeth tingled.IMG_0052

 

 

 

 

What made my sandwich so good was the abundance of thinly sliced pepperoncini tossed in with lettuce, tomatoes, olives, onion and a dressing that sang with oregano and other herbs. It tasted so much like the original eegee’s; I couldn’t believe it.

John’s sandwich was simpler but equally as good.

The fries were good as long as they stayed hot.

What a welcome come back. Thank you, Ed Irving.

UPDATE – Flying Apron Classes 2/20

 

Here is the class schedule for February:

 

Flying Aprons Tucson February Classes

All classes held at Cook Tucson, 1702 N. Stone Ave.

Register online: www.FlyingApronsTucson.com

 

 

Family Sunday Funday: Valentine Cookie Decorating, Sunday, February 912:30-2:30 pm

Come as a family and decorate Valentine cookies! No experience needed. Chef Annie Berube of CopCake Cakery will teach you the basics of sugar cookie making and decorating – baking basics, royal icing basics, piping, tipless bags, outline/flooding and wet on wet icing.

In addition to the cookies you’ll decorate in class, you’ll leave with undecorated cookies to make at home.

Fun for ages 7-12. All children must be accompanied by at least one adult participating in the class. All adults must be accompanied by at least one child.

Tuition includes 1 adult and 1 child. (Discount for additional participants.)

Cost: $130 for adult/child; additional kids: $50 each.

 

Bake with Your Teen: Valentine Cookie Decorating, Sunday, February 93-5 pm

Teens will love creating their own Valentine cookies! Chef Annie Berube of CopCake Cakery will guide the class through preparing a pastry bag, color choices and design, piping techniques and more. Final creative touches will put your teen’s cookies over the top! In addition to the cookies you’ll decorate in class, you’ll leave with undecorated cookies to make at home.

All teens ages 13-17 must be accompanied by an adult over 18. All adults must be accompanied by a teen. Tuition includes 1 adult and 1 teen.

Cost: $130 for adult/teen; additional teens: $50 each.

 

Couple’s Cooking: Romantic Valentine’s Day – Love is in the Kitchen, Tuesday, February 11 – 6-8:30 pm

The romantic language of food is what’s on the menu when Executive Chef Ryan Clark of Casino Del Sol, guides you through the perfect Valentine’s Day menu. Instead of a box of chocolates, this hands-on class is the perfect way to stir up the passion between you and your sweetie.

Cost: $130 per couple.

 

Celebrating Fat Tuesday, Wednesday, February 196-8:30 pm

As they say in New Orleans, laissez les bons temps rouler, which means let the good times roll before the 40 days of Lent begins. Fat Tuesday is a time for feasting and we’ve got the ideas covered. Chef Jim “Murph” Murphy and Pastry Chef Marianne Banes know how to let the good times roll – they’ve been celebrating Fat Tuesday for 26 years at Kingfisher Bar & Grill. Yes, including King Cake. In this hands-on class, you’ll learn everything you need to know to create your own celebration on February 25.  

 

Cowboy Up! Steak Your Claim, Thursday, February 206-8:30 pm

It’s Rodeo Week in Tucson! And that means mesquite grilled steak, BBQ, ribs and more. Make your steak with the flavors and spices that recall the Old West. From cowboy caviar, cornbread to fruit crisps, learn to create the authentic recipes in your own kitchen that evoke bygone wild west days. This is a hands-on class.

Cost: $69 per person.

 

Breakfast and Brunches, Tuesday, February 256-8:30 pm 

What’s not to love about brunch? Chef Kyle Nottingham of Prep & Pastry, August Rhodes and Commoner & Co. Besides champagne in the morning, brunch brings sweet and savory together for everyone’s ideal mid-morning meal. In this hands-on class, you’ll learn to prepare your favorites at home with easy recipes like fluffy buttermilk pancakes and eggs benedict (yes, you can poach an egg!).

Cost: $69 per person.

 

Parma: Home to Italy’s Food Gems Wednesday, February 266-8:30 pm

From its meats and cheeses to balsamic vinegar, the cuisine and food products from Parma are legendary the world over. Executive Chef Brian Smith of Maynards Market & Kitchen will take you a hands-on culinary journey using the famous Parmigiano-Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma. In 2017 he was chosen to represent Tucson in Parma by a local board representing UNESCO — the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — which designated Tucson a City of Gastronomy.

Cost: $69 per person

 

A Pinch of This….

With a name like Flying Aprons Tucson, our city’s newest cooking school promises some creative culinary experiences for foodies of all ages.

The brainchild of Michele Schulze and Miriam Nickerson, Flying Aprons Tucson aims to bring some of Tucson’s best and most popular chefs to teach classes in what they know best. And one of the neatest parts about the offerings is that there will be classes for kids, families and couples. Breakfasts, BBQ, tapas, tartes, soup and snacks are all on the roster.

Chefs include: Carlotta Flores of El Charro fame, Maria Mazon from Boca Tacos y Tequila, Kyle Nottingham from Commoner & Co/Prep & Pastry and August Rhodes Market and the crew from Kingfisher – Jim Murphy and Marianne Banes. The eclectic mix shows off why Tucson was named America’s First City of Gastronomy by UNESCO.

Located in a midtown community kitchen, Flying Aprons will also host private parties where you and your friends can learn to cook together.

Check out the website for a full list of classes and events.

I just haven’t figured which classes I’ll be taking.

Classes begin at $69.IMG_0022

Tastes of El Salvador

Pupusas are new to me; well, new in the sense that I’ve never eaten one.

But today that all changed. I went to Selena’s Salvadorian Restaurant.

This tiny, Campbell Avenue spot is an outgrowth of one of Tucson’s most popular food trucks. Early this year they went brick and mortar. The space has been the home of several really good restaurants but none seem to last. I hope Selena’s succeeds; the food here is truly good and definitely different. The owner seems like a truly nice guy, who cares about the food and his customers.papusa

I kept it simple, which seems pretty easy to do with the small menu, but choices are plentiful, including vegan and veggie offerings. There is even one with lorocom a ntive Salvadorian flower.

A pupusa, in case you’ve never had one either, is a griddle cake made with cornmeal and filled with a variety of meats, cheeses and veggies. They’re thin and crispy, but at the same time creamy and savory,

I opted for the chicharron, tender, seasoned pork (and lots of gooey mozzarella.)

I didn’t order one of the specialty drinks or a side of plantains, those are for next time. And there is going to be a next time.

The pupusa’s texture is slightly coarse, slightly creamy and punched up with the griddle marks that add a toastiness. The meat was there, but in a low-key mellow way. The cheese added a soft goo. I topped it with the tangy slaw from the condiment table and a thin, but flavorful “salsa”. I may have a new addiction.

I can’t wait to go back.

Ryan Clark is Going Loco(l)

Local chef, Ryan Clark, has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to creating a great dining experience.MpPC6GuA

For the past several years, Clark has been the Executive Chef at Casino del Sol and while there he has developed deep relationships with local farmers and producers. These partnerships inspired Clark to create Dinner with the Chefs, a series of dinners where he works with other local chefs and farmers that feature local foods.

 

Dinners are held at PYSteakhouse, the casino’s elegant steak restaurant.

This year’s series (the fourth annual) starts on Tuesday, January 28, 2020 at 6:30 pm. Working with Erik Stanford of Pivot Produce, Chef Clark has created a tasty menu complete with a wine pairing for each course.

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Welcome Wine

NV Nino Franco Prosecco Rustico, Italy

Roasted & Lacto Fermented Cauliflower

Whipped Arizona goat cheese, roasted grapes, marcona almonds, baby greens

2017 Truchard Roussanne, Carneros, California

Sauerkraut Braised Prime Short Rib

Wisconsin cheddar whipped potatoes, braised winter greens, radish slaw, jus

2016 Sokol Blosser Dundee Hills, Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Oregon

NOLA Beignets

Champurrado and hand-picked chiltepin

2017 Round Pond Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford, California

The others dinners in the line up include the following farmer guest/chefs:

The farmer/guest chef lineup for Dinner with Chefs 2020 includes:

  • Erik Stanford, Pivot Produce
  • Anne Loftfield, High Energy Agriculture
  • Cathy Lolwing, Felicia’s Farm
  • Iris Montaño-Madrigal, Covilli Brand Organics
  • Michael Chrisemer, Future Sprouts
  • Bill Shriver, Merchant’s Garden
  • Elizabeth Sparks and Becky Yim, Tucson Village Farm
  • Gabriel Vega, San Xavier Co-op Farm
  • Velvet Button, Ramona Farms
  • Clay Smith, Sleeping Frog Farms
  • Jill Madden, Aravaipa Farms Orchard and Inn
  • Barbara Eiswerth, Iskashitaa Refugee Harvesting Network

Dinner is $75 per person.

Menus, dates and times will be posted a month in advance of each eventTo make reservations, call PY Steakhouse at 520-324-9350 or email Jennifer.Aspery@casinodelsol.com. Visit www.casinodelsol.com/dining for more information.

 

Tiny and Tasty

My friend Mary Jo and I are developing a breakfast club and have been eating the morning meal at places around town. By club I mean a nice excuse to get together and nosh.

On Thursday we went to Fonda la Hermanita, a tiny spot located in the back of The Coronet (which recently moved into the old Cushing Street Bar & Restaurant.)

We had a little trouble finding the entry; signage was limited, but we persisted to find a cozy eatery that is only open from 8 am – 2 pm, Wednesdays through Sundays. Diner hours really, but this is no diner, no way.

We ate the one cafe table inside – it was a tad chilly out – but the cozy, secluded patio soon filled up with a mix of people.

Chef Erika Bostick and owner Sally Kane have created a menu that in spite of being really small still offers big tastes. I had the corn gorditas and Mary Jo went with the molletes, toasted bollilo bread topped with your choice of items: scrambled eggs, chicken, hibiscus flowers or a combination of the two of those items. A black bean spread and pickled onions are also a part of the mix. molitas

The gorditas have melted Oaxacan cheese inside; the molletos have queso fresco. And while there is a whole slate of coffee options, we stuck with simple brewed coffee, which was done well. Sides come with the platos – frijoles charro (in this case black beans, frijoles refrito, ensalata, fruit salad or rice. I did the charro beans which were dark and savory.

My gorditas were like tiny corn cakes, but they held up nicely even with all the goodies stuffed inside. The cheese was especially tasty.

MJ loved her molletos, as well.

You’ll also find greens, a fancy toast, a caldo de pollo. (Next time for sure.)

Truly a different approach to Mexican breakfast/brunch.

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Earlier this year, long-time Midtown fave, Club 21 closed after 70-plus years in business. The building stood empty. Perhaps another business would open there, but in usual Tucson fashion, the chances of that happening anytime soon were few and far between.

But then, about a month ago, word got out there was going to be a new Mexican restaurant, called El Chinito Gordo, opening in the space. And then in no time at all, El Chinito Gordoopened its doors.72811824_125318985559642_8564155399425490944_o

On the website the owners claimed they were “inspired by Central Mexican recipes passed down through generations, carefully refined in a way that preserves tradition and elevates Tucson’s Mexican culinary scene. We’ve melded flavors, textures, spices, and ingredients in meaningful ways that evoke a deep sense of true, Mexican homestyle cooking. We do this all for a simple reason: to bring together friends, families, and the Tucson community; nourishing panzas and souls alike.”

On our visit the other night, we found that claim to be pretty much right on.

You wouldn’t recognize the place. The booths are gone, the walls are lightened and the whole space seems more open and airy. What a welcome change. Not that Club 21 lacked in decor, but the change adds the owners signature, makingEl Chinito Gordo their space.

Here too, the Mexican fare was not your typical Sonoran options, although chimis, chile rellenos and soft or crispy tacos are available. But chiles en nogada are also on the menu and pescados Vera Cruz and a chorizo hamburger and nopalitos con chile rojo. A serious step away from the more familiar fare and had a tough time deciding which way to go.

I opted for the chicken breast mole and John ordered the ground beef chimichanga.

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My mole was great. Thick, dark and rich sauce generously covered a most tender and juicy chicken breast. Sopping up the sauce with the warm tortillas that are served along side was a treat. The rice and beans were also nicely done.

John thoroughly enjoyed his ground beef chimi. The beef was lightly seasoned and incredibly moist.

Service was friendly and professional showing how much the staff cares  (and that the owners care for their staff.)

Anyway, we’ll go back toEl Chinito Gordo. There are so many dishes I want to try.

PS – Photos are from the website.