By Jacki Mieler | Photo by Brendan Moore
Which came first: the sandwich or the ice cream? At Chaparral Homemade Ice Cream in Wickenburg, both sides of the argument are equally tempting, and the best way to make an educated decision is to indulge in both.
Until late 2009, the only people fortunate enough to sample Tony and Pam Rovidas' culinary experiments were their family and church friends. Fortunately for everyone else, their sense of adventure and a bit of fate led them east from California to Arizona, where they became the proud owners of the 30-year-old Chaparral Homemade Ice Cream.
The Rovidases set their sights on bringing their experiments out of the home kitchen and into their new business. First up was the star of the show: ice cream. They tweaked the recipe until it was just right, and started experimenting with new flavors. Their attention to detail shines through in the Chocolate Brownie Chunk, which contains bits of homemade frosted brownies. The Hassayampa Mud is a rich combination of chocolate and coffee, and is named for the often-dry river that runs through Wickenburg. And the bright-yellow Lemon and Purple Boysenberry is a tribute to the colors of the Wickenburg High School Wranglers.
The ice cream is deliciously decadent on its own, but add one of Chaparral's signature homemade sauces and you have an unforgettable sundae. The caramel sauce provides a sweet accent to the Maple Walnut, and the spicy cocoa sauce gives a tasty kick to any flavor.
While the sweet side of Chaparral is a must-do, the savory side of the business, known as the Jail Tree Sandwich Co., deserves equal billing. The actual Jail Tree sandwich is named for the neighboring 200-year-old mesquite tree where town criminals were once chained up. Today, you won't mind being locked up with this hot-beef sandwich, which is smothered in a tangy, homemade blue-cheese sauce. The Brawty Sandwich, inspired by the classic sausage and syrup breakfast combination, features a bratwurst topped with caramelized boysenberry onions.
On the side, who needs french fries when you can have Pam's famous cheese ball? Each sandwich is accompanied by a scoop of this treat, which pairs cream cheese and pineapple — it's an unexpected but wonderful combo. Whatever you order, you'll want to wash it all down with Chaparral's hand-muddled lemonade, which makes a perfect complement to any meal.
If you have any questions, take note of the sign above Chaparral's counter: "No Dinner Until You Eat All Your Ice Cream." It's sage advice from an establishment that does sweet and savory in mouthwatering fashion.
Chaparral Homemade Ice Cream is located at 472 E. Wickenburg Way in Wickenburg. For more information, call 928-684-3252 or visit www.chaparral-icecream.com.