Souflima is so popular at Jim's Place Restaurant & Bar that it's featured as an appetizer and as an entree, said Costa Taras, co-owner of the restaurant with his son, Bill.
The first time I tried souflima was at a Taste of Collierville. James Taras, Costa's nephew and co-owner of Jim's Place Grille in Collierville, enunciated the name "soo-flee-MAH" when he offered me a slice.
I ordered the appetizer portion for $8.95 (the entree is $17.95) at Jim's Place Restaurant & Bar, the new location for the old Jim's Place East. I miss the azaleas and the 1960s feel of the old restaurant, but I love the hip new place with its spacious bar. Costa Taras sat down and told me the history of souflima. It's pork tenderloin cooked on a rotisserie. It's a family recipe based on a dish "from the old country in Greece," he said. The name refers to the cooking method, which is Greek for cooking meat on a soufli or skewer.
Costa's dad, the late Bill Taras, used to cook souflima at home in the 1950s. "That was his concoction." The marinade basically consists of oregano, salt, pepper and oil, he said. His dad cooked the meat on a grill equipped with a special skewer.
Jim's Place began in 1921 in the basement of the old William Len Hotel at Main and Monroe and then moved to Union across from The Peabody before opening on Second Street in 1963. That was when Costa's dad had an open pit built with five skewers and began selling souflima, which became "one of the best sellers."
Along with the souflima, I ordered my all-time favorite Jim's Place item: asparagus mousse. It's available at lunch for $3 and, if there is any left, at dinner.
Costa's mother, the late Bessie Taras, was responsible for asparagus mousse. She submitted the recipe when they were planning the menu for the Second Street location, Costa said. "She thought that would be good for ladies' luncheons and things like that."
The dish, made of lemon gelatin, mayonnaise, cream cheese, canned asparagus, almond extract and sometimes slivers of almonds, still is popular, said Costa, who likes congealed salads. He remembers eating tomato aspic as a child at The Little Tea Shoppe.
Costa doesn't know where his mother got the recipe, but I think I do. I make the same thing at Easter. I got the recipe out of a 1960 Old Southern Tea Room recipe booklet. The recipe from the old Vicksburg, Miss., restaurant contains the same ingredients, but it's called "Asparagus Salad."
Like Girl Scout Cookies, King Cake and the Calvary Episcopal Church Waffle Shop Salad Plate, asparagus mousse is one of my tastes of spring.
Jim's Place Restaurant & Bar is at 518 Perkins Ext.; 766-2030
-- Michael Donahue: 529-2797; email@example.com