If you’ve driven on D Street in Encinitas just west of Coast Highway 101, there is a good chance you have seen the colorful, 20-foot-long school bus that has been delightfully repurposed as an Old School Shave Ice bus. And just to be clear, it’s shave ice, not shaved ice … and definitely not a snow cone!
Encinitas residents Jeff Anshel and his partner Ginnie Mathews were visiting Jeff’s son in Hawaii when they discovered the difference between an ordinary “snow cone” and true Hawaiian shave ice. As mentioned, there is a difference and it is based on the method of how the icy treat is created. Snow cones are made by simply crushing ordinary ice cubes. Shave ice is a very fine and fluffy ice that looks more like snow and the ice holds the flavor syrup better. Got it?
It was in Hawaii that the shave ice seed was planted with Jeff and Ginnie. Dr. Jeff, who is an optometrist at E Street Eyes in Encinitas, purchased an old 20-foot-long, 1982 school bus from a Northern California high school district and had it renovated to take one back to “Woodstock days” hence the Old School name. They customized it with Peter Max-like artistry that is easily recognizable as the look of that time courtesy of a local artist in Vista designed the retro-looking logo. Music from the era completes the scene and plays as you wait for your shave ice treats.
When it’s not parked outside of Concept Surf Shop on D Street, the unique, Old School Shave Ice bus travels to school events, farmers markets, birthday parties, sporting events, and even weddings. It’s a killer touch to just about any kind of event virtually anywhere in San Diego County where a group is gathering to have fun. And speaking of fun, the standard flavor choices are available for everyone but Old School also caters to adults with shave ice cocktails such as margaritas or a tequila sunrise intended for weddings and other adult social gatherings. I’m thinking that would make for a very fun party and may have to book them soon for that!
OK, let’s get into some of the details now. Making it the authentic Hawaiian has an Old School team member operating a special machine that shaves the block of ice into the bowl, producing an ice is fluffy and fine. Guests can choose between 31 natural and organic flavors that are tasty without using corn syrup, food dyes or artificial ingredients. Their menu includes the following flavor combinations:
Ba-Nah-Nah: peanut butter, chocolate, and banana. Grateful Red: strawberry, cherry, and raspberry. Joplin Jubilee: mango papaya, and passion fruit. Kiwi Hendrix: kiwi, lime, and pineapple. Pink Froid: bubble gum, cotton candy, and watermelon. Sargent Peppermint: cotton candy, candy cane, and cherry. And finally, Three POG Night: passionfruit, orange and guava (a Hawaiian classic). It should be noted that any of these flavors can be served on their own also.
Besides putting in the effort to replicate the “authentic Hawaiian” tradition of creating a refreshing treat that is satisfying, healthy and fun, they have included “Pitaya” inside the combinations, which is made from dragonfruit, similar to açaí that has a dose of antioxidants. They are also maintaining a sense of environmental responsibility by using eco-friendly materials such as compostable cups, recycled paper napkins, cornstarch spoons and bamboo paper straws. heir on-board freezers will hold up to 50 blocks of ice at maximum capacity so they have the capacity to serve up a large gathering. They offer a 4-ounce “short board,” and an 8-ounce that of course, the “long board,” and you can choose a specialty combination that includes Pitaya and snow cap.
When I met Jeff and Ginnie outside of Concept Surf Shop they had a line of eager kids and adults the entire time I was there. They have definitely tapped into a cool thing with their killer Old School Shave Ice bus.
For more information about the Old School Shave Ice offerings and their availability, call (949) 370-1245 or send an e-mail to [email protected] or www.oldschoolshaveice.com for updates and locations to find the Old School Shave Ice bus.
Top: Jeff Anshel and Ginnie Mathews and their Old School Shave Ice bus. Photo David Boylan