Close Shave

A new source for a summery Mexican treat

The Spanish verb raspar means "to scrape." And this is exactly what Rene Lemus does at his new Pilsen storefront, The Jam House.

His specialty is raspados ($2.25), shave ices common throughout Jalisco, Mexico, and a childhood fixture made by his aunts. Working with a 40-pound ice block and a handheld ice scraper bequeathed by his mother, he fills plastic cups with flakes of ice and bright layers of jams, plus sugary nut- and fruit-based syrups.

Flavors are meant to be combined. Mix candied-mango jam with chamoy, a red sweet-spicy syrup, or blackberry with lechera, sweetened condensed milk. For coconut lovers, there's a translucent jam, or an opaque coco leche, cooked with milk until caramel-hued. The latter is excellent with a simple fruit pairing, like strawberry.

Before eating, the raspados' artful layers should be forcefully destroyed with a spoon: jab and stir until the flavors are fully mixed.

There's fresh juice and fruit salad on the menu too, as well as a selection of simple tortas and a savory mollete ($4.50), sweet bread layered with mashed beans and queso fresco and broiled, then scattered with impeccably fresh pico de gallo.

The Jam House, 1854 W. 18th St.; facebook.com