Staycations in Tucson (El Charro/Saigon Pho/Los Portales) and Phoenix (The Clarendon/Gallo Blanco), Hazelwoods First Place, The Stand, Essence, Cowboy Ciao and Piggly’s

6 Sep

It’s been a nice summer (actually with our weather it still feels like summer). We’re thankful to have been able to take some relaxing staycations right here in AZ.
The Clarendon, close to us in Central Phoenix, is my new favorite hotel/resort. What a relaxing time we had! They have an amazing pool, comfortable rooms and a great restaurant, Gallo Blanco. It has a very organic and simple environment. We started our staycation by eating there right away.
We enjoyed the ceviche, inca salad and tacos.
At The Clarendon, they have a saltwater pool, with cabanas and little shade “pagodas.”
My Dad and sister Fran showed up so we could all partake of strong/fruity drinks and the cool water.
And they have free snacks at the front desk. Candy bars, chips, sodas and water. You just have to ask. :) We are all about the “free.”
Just recently we made it to Cowboy Ciao’s for lunch. I love that area in Scottsdale next to Barrio Queen and Herb Box. The reuben sandwich made with short rib and chopped salad disappeared quickly.
I look forward to going back and trying their fried green tomatoes and hawaiian bread pudding.
Dad and I enjoy our weekly breakfasts. It had been awhile since we were at Essence and a couple weeks back we were both craving croissants and french toast. They make a banana caramel sauce for the french toast that is not too sweet.
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From the pictures you can see why we like going there so much. Also, I love the architecture and natural light that comes inside. It is a relaxing spot.
Piggly’s is a place that Jack really likes because of their “fair food.” All fried things. For lunch a couple of weeks back we shared fried zucchini and an enormous corn dog.
They have cute artwork, mostly related to pigs. I liked this picture of a cute pig jumping into a lake.
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We like dinner at The Stand a couple of times a month because their burgers are really fresh and they are within walking distance. The last time we visited, Jack tried the tacos and Mexican corn.
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I’m a purist, so I stayed with the burger. They also make hand spun milkshakes, which I’m dying to try.
Last weekend we were in Tucson, we had both been wanting to go for awhile now and the universe was working with us. Great food in Tucson. We started out on Saturday at El Charro for lunch. Look at this enormous ceviche.
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It was very fresh and delicious. We both love marinated fish/shrimp with soda crackers and tortilla chips. Then our entrees arrived. A “G” burrito for me (it had grilled veggies, avocados and green corn tamal) and a Jack chose the original El Charro taco x 2 – described on their website as “Seasoned ground beef patty prepared original style in a crisp shell,with salsa basico, peas, radish & Queso Casero.”
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Delicious food with a great environment and friendly service. We simply could not move after lunch.
We checked into our hotel and took a long nap.
In the evening we headed to Sentinel Peak, for a hike to “A” Mountain. It was almost sunset. We took some beautiful pictures. No, we didn’t paint the “A.”
It’s really something to get away out of the city and see nature. We needed it.
After our hike we drove to Main Gate Square, an outdoor shopping area right outside of the U of A campus. It’s a great spot because there are shops and restaurants side by side. Very independent/local feeling. I spotted Saigon Pho, a Vietnamese restaurant and by that time we were hungry again (shocker!) so we decided to give it a try.
One of Jack’s favorite meals is soup. He had a big bowl of pho, and really liked it.
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Sometimes I want something a little lighter so I picked a bowl of vermicelli with bbq pork. It came with little bits of spring roll and crunchy herbs/vegetables that gave a nice contrast to the noodles.
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We both felt the food was very fresh, reasonable and authentic.
Sometimes you want your vacation to last and sometimes you are just ready to get back home. We decided to leave our hotel early on Sunday so we could get a good breakfast and beat the holiday traffic. We stumbled upon a fabulous place – Los Portales. I’m so glad we did. When we walked in there was a group of mariachis playing, mostly very young people in beautiful turquoise outfits. The music and singing was so inspiring and it really added to a great meal. I ordered cocido – a soup with beef ribs, cabbage, corn, zucchini and carrots. The broth was not overly salty and tasted like something my mother would have made, if she were to make cocido.
Jack is a menudo fan, so when he found out their buffet included it, he dove in, so he could also get a full monty of chorizo/eggs, a tiny tamale (the cutest tamale I have ever seen, even wrapped in the husk and tied with a tiny husk string), mini chimi and beans/rice.
I wish I had gotten a picture of that mini tamale for you, unfortunately it’s just his mendo. In my defense I was distracted by my enormous bowl of cocido.
Breakfast, being the most important meal of the day, is something we will mention again here (segue). We didn’t even realize until this morning that Hazelwoods (First Place) makes breakfast. A $5.00 breakfast with bacon, eggs, potatoes and english muffin no less. And they have a $3.00 bloody mary bar. And, they will make you a blt (not on the breakfast menu) if you ask for it. So that’s what we did this morning. Jack bellied up to the bar and shook me up a great bloody mary.

It was a thing of beauty. Was as in past tense. Long gone!

Home cooking, Bluewater Grill, Urban Cookies, Hava Java, The Gladly, Carniceria/Panaderia Los Alamos

5 Aug

We made lamb burgers this weekend. And fried (previously frozen) artichoke hearts, with fried portobello mushrooms and latkes. Lookie.
Amazing meal. Jack likes to put an italian sausage with the lamb to give it extra texture and flavor. And they were made on the grill. With love, of course…
Urban Cookies, one of my favorite sweet places, recently participated in cupcake wars and made some wonderful/interesting flavors. Olive oil/rosewater, birthday cake chocolate frosted, lemon, coconut…the list was long. I picked up four (since they sent me a buy 3 get one free coupon) and took them to my aunt and Dad for snacks last weekend (not pictured). They will also make an ice cream sandwich for you with your choice of cookies for $4.99.
I think it’s the bees knees. I have tried them before and it’s not something you can have after a meal. It is the meal.
Recently we were at Bluewater Grill for din-din and Jack was able to take advantage of their losbster special. It comes with corn, potatoes and steamed clams.
I went after the crab arugula salad with gusto. It has a citrus vinaigrette that is fresh and delicious.
After dinner on our way home we stopped at Hava Java for coffee. We normally do french press on the weekends and we were out of beans. Their staff is very friendly and will recommend a coffee for you.
The Gladly has a super happy hour. They do a special drink for $5.00 and last friday it was a pisco. Very refreshing. There might have been some bourbon in it. :)
We also enjoyed wings, spicy yummy nuts, pickled pork temple (this was interesting, a cold potted dish served with toast) and sausage with pretzel bread. These guys also own Citizen Public House, which I haven’t visited yet, but plan to very soon.
More home cooking. Jack made pasta last week with ground lamb, olive oil, garlic portobello mushrooms and those multicolor “snacking” peppers. This was a great dish!
There was enough to share with my bestie at work.
So it’s still hot out there, I highly recommend you try a mangoneada at Tropical Snowflake.
It is frozen mango with fruit juices, chamoy, serpentina candy and fresh mango. You have gotta try this. I’m sending their kids to college. ;)
Unrelated to food, my bro sent a picture of my niece and nephew swimming last weekend. Sweet kiddos!
When Jack gets home late (I almost always get home late) we sometimes need a quick feed. Los Alamos is our place. 36th St./McDowell.
You get a whole roasted chicken, beans, rice, tortillas, salsa and a 2 liter bottle of coke for $10.99. A huge ganga!

San Francisco eats, The Break Room, Jay’s Gyros and Red Devil

23 Jul

We were so glad to be able to take a trip to San Francisco to visit Jack’s sister, brother and their families this summer. His sister Apple put us up (or put up with us rather) for 3 nights and then we spent a night at a tiny hotel just outside of Chinatown. As you can see here, Jack’s sister is …fabulous! She is standing in front of her husband Alfonso’s low rider Impala. We rode in it. And yes, it goes up and down :)


But this is what you want to know, right? Here’s what we ate:
Seafood at the Wharf…including calamari, sourdough bread and shrimp cocktail.
The bread at Boudin, also at the Wharf is a must eat. I was eating a half baguette of raisin/chocolate bread. I wish we would have stayed a few more days so I could eat several of these.
We also took pictures of their bread made into animals. We spied turtles and a crab. Very creative!
Near the Wharf is Buena Vista bar. It has been there since the late 1800’s, so we felt we had to visit. They are famous for their irish coffee (Jack’s choice) and I tried to impress the bartender with my knowledge of liqueurs and ordered an Aperol (he was unimpressed). But the drinks did produce a nice buzz all the same.
In North Beach, we had dessert at a restaurant called Mona Lisa that has a vintage Fiat convertible in front of it. The owner is genius because he lets you sit in it to take pictures and then lures you into his restaurant. Smart! I need one of these. Jack really liked this car.
Here’s the fancy desserts we ate there. Lemon ice for me (in a lemon no less) and tiramisu for Jack.
Across the street from Mona Lisa there is a candy shop where Jack found some enormous jaw breakers. We didn’t eat anything there but it is one of those old timey places that is fun and nostalgic.
We really enjoyed the Castro District. Drinks at Twin Peaks and then snacks at Hot Cookie. Their enormous cookies are really delicioius (not pictured). Mine had pecans and chocolate chips. And Apple had something called a Sexy bar. I’m not old enough for one of those…however, we did buy a pair of the red underwear for a dear friend in SC (you know who you are!)
And when we got home we discovered we still had to eat. Haha. That’s my segue.

One of my favorite places to eat near work is Jay’s Gyros. Last week Linda and I were there and I had a chicken sandwich with onions and peppers. Lookie lookie.
I was impressed by the quality of the bun, for me the bread needs to be perfect if it is going to be a good sandwich. These guys have a great little place on 48th St./Broadway. Also I have tried their gyro salad and it is very tasty and a good value.
Recently I was with my bro Mike, Cindy and Linda at Red Devil at 31st St. and McDowell. We enjoyed their zucchini and mushrooms, combo pizza (they will make a thick crust pizza for you if you ask) and dessert. Make note, that their desserts are really worth the trip. I had spumoni, while Linda and Mike chose cannoli and Cindy ordered cheesecake. No complaints from anyone at the table. In fact, it got really quiet. You can see why.
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After dinner Linda and I went over to her daughter’s bar, The Break Room. The lovely Adrian (not pictured) will make you a drink called a rusty fox.
Watch out, though, because it’s potent. It’s a good scene, there are pool tables, darts, karaoke and juke box. And a kitchen! The menu which I haven’t had a chance to enjoy in about a year and a half, has changed (new ownership), it’s very big, with sandwiches and appetizers. I’m getting back there soon for a bite. And a drink, of course.

McAlpines, Herb Box, First Draft (Changing Hands), The Henry, Khyber Halal

30 Jun

Mom invited us over for tacos today. Her translation of tacos is flautas, typically made with a beef roast, but today she made them with chicken. She fries the corn tortillas and then bakes the filled flautas in the oven. It is a recipe she learned from her Mom, grandma Sutherland, when they lived in Yuma. The flautas are magical. Afterwards, we treated her and my bro Mike to dessert at McAlpines. Jack and I were recently there for lunch and we were impressed with the quality, environment and the price. Mike and I both enjoyed chocolate malts. Mom ordered the “Parisian” and Jack (not pictured) chose a hot fudge sundae.


The service is friendly and it’s a wonderful place to go and cool off this summer for something sweet. Also you can buy vintage clothes. Jack picked up a green hawaiian shirt with yellow pineapples on it the last time we were there. Very Hawaii 5-0!

We went to see Chef today. If you’ve ever been at a crossroads in your life (I’m sure that has never been me haha) you will appreciate this movie. A great performance by Sofia Vegara. I really enjoyed the story. If you are into the food truck scene at all, you should also go and see this.

Speaking of movies, I recently bought a DVD set of I’m So Excited! It’s one of my favorite movies right now by director Pedro Almodóvar. I wanted to give a copy to my friend Rob in South Carolina and also I promised a copy to a friend at work.


The director is a little out there so I’m going to have to give her a disclaimer. But most people know I’m pretty goofy so hopefully she expecting a movie from me that reflects that. ;)

Thursday we worked a half day so I decided to have lunch at Herb Box and see a movie at Camelview 5. I tried Avocado Love, which is avocado, arugula and fennel on whole grain toast.


Often times when I eat out I feel like I need some kind of meat/chicken/fish protein, but at Herb Box I never miss it. It’s because everything they make there is fresh and seasoned so well. They know about acid/salt/bitter/sweet balance. Sometimes I get the Veggie Nosh which is a trio of a beet salad, hummus and chick pea/quinoa salad. They usually will substitute the tzatziki for hummus for me and it’s one of the first dishes I tried there that I fell in love with. Yes I use the love word a little too much when I talk about food. But there it is.

Jack has been grilling a lot since we moved back to Phoenix. The complex has a fancy gas grill that heats up quick. Recently he put some steaks on the barbie and they were amazing.


He’s very photogenic, no?

On Saturday we made a trip to Bluewater Grill for lunch and it’s becoming one of my favorite places to eat because their seafood louie salad is substantial and fresh. I really like their louie dressing. The salad has shrimp, crabmeat, a variety of lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and egg. Jack decided on oysters, and something from the lunch menu; white clam chowder and a shrimp louie salad.


Did I mention he’s photogenic? lol

The lunch menu is very reasonable, so it’s a nice way to go if you are a newbie.

A parcel arrived from South Carolina last week with some goodies from Rob. He has been to many estate sales and is a great shopper. He also seems to know my size. Lookie lookie.


I felt very glam in this dress. Kind of Audrey Hepburnish.


This suit makes me feel like Katherine Deneuve (without the hat).

There was also an Asian style dress in my care package, and a stripey summer short sleeve sweater that reminded me of something that Liz Claiborne might have designed. Rob is the ultimate shopper. If you ever need a personal shopper and want to fly him out from Greenville, SC I’m sure he would be up for it. He can also remodel your kitchen, bathroom and put in a bamboo floor. His portfolio has recently grown so there’s a lot he can do that I’m not even aware of. A total professional, this one.

Last weekend I was with Mom, Mike and Cindy at First Draft having a iced coffee.Image



I learned of Daniel Alarcón just recently and read his earlier book Lost City Radio. I enjoyed it so much that I had to order his latest novel. Changing Hands was happy to do this for me.


Normally I don’t mention restaurants here unless they are local. I don’t think The Henry is local but I’m giving them a mention because their location at 44th Street and Camelback has beautiful architecture and I’ve had breakfast there twice now with my Dad and it has been very enjoyable. Here’s the inside of the place.


They make a steel cut oatmeal that both Dad and I have tried and it’s very tasty.


It comes with some type of chutney that is not too sweet.

Also I noticed they have avocado toast on their afternoon menu and I’ve asked them to put it on the breakfast menu, since I’m trying to go a little healthier these days. I’ll keep you posted on this.

Jack and I really enjoy middle-eastern food. Recently we tried Afghani food at Khyber Halal on 24th Street, just south of Indian School. It is very reasonable and fresh tasting. Since Jack is a big fan of lamb, he chose lamb shank and I tried the chicken briyani.


It is a rice dish that comes with big chunks of chicken and is spicy. Thankfully it comes with a cucumber salad to cool you down. The staff is very friendly and will explain any dish to you. We also tried the hummus and it was delicious. We also brought home some baklava and I shared it with my friends at work and one of them said it’s the best he ever tried.  There was so much food we had leftovers for the next day, which makes us very happy.








Herb Box, TeePee, Hazelwoods, Autumn Court, Desert Jade, Tropical Snowflake, Essence

16 Jun

We’ve been eating out a bit more lately. Partly because Jack’s the main cook and he’s been thrown under the bus recently. If you’ve ever seen your sweetie suffer stress at work, you know it’s tough. I get out pretty late at work so sometimes getting a meal out seems more practical.

Since Jack came over to this side of town, we’re spending more time at restaurants in the Arcadia area…this weekend we were at TeePee (41st street/Thomas) where he enjoyed chorizo with eggs and I had the green chile burrito with red sauce. Spicy. We liked everything we ate (which typically we do).


After lunch we went to Tropical Snowflake (32nd St/McDowell). Mango raspado with ice cream for Jack and frozen strawberries with cream for me. Love this place.


Desert Jade is a Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood we have been to recently – twice in fact. The first time we ordered house fried rice, spicy beef with vegetables and potstickers. Then the next day we went back for some more house fried rice – since Jack was going to eat the leftovers from the previous day, and was out of rice. It’s reliable and inexpensive.  We’ll be there often.


We have been to Hazelwoods twice also recently (36th st/Indian school). They have dinner specials every night. Last Thursday Jack had the steak special with green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy. I was feeling on the lighter side and enjoyed a greek salad with chicken. The quality of the food is really surprising, for a sports bar.


Their fried zucchini and wings are also delicious. They have a great selection of draft beers, too.  And lots ot TV’s. So you can watch soccer, baseball and basketball all at once.  I used to go there for trivia night and that was fun. Lots of brainiacs.

Another local Chinese place we have been to this month is Autumn Court (37th street/Indian school). I seem to remember the owner is (was?) a relative of the China Doll people (used to be on 7th St./Osborn and we used to eat there a lot as a family; there were fabulous egg rolls). We really liked the food at Autumn Court although I don’t remember exactly what we ate. Potstickers maybe with some type of beef dish and rice. Jack remarked that the rice was very good quality. He is a bit of a rice man. Buys it in 20 pound bags. He will twitch if he doesn’t have some at least every three days (not really. I do tease him a little though). They have a nice drink selection. I will try something with vodka and lychees next time. They were out of sticky rice with mango and Jack said he was going to give the owner a hard time about it the next time we go.  :)

Dad and I celebrated Father’s day a little early last Friday (when I work a half day I tend to employ my dad as my partner in crime, sometimes at Otro, The Parlor, AT Oasis…the list grows). We went to Herb Box, one of my favorite restaurants in old town Scottsdale. Dad chose the butternut squash enchiladas and a couple of mango boozy drinks that looked very refreshing. I opted for the veggie nosh which includes chick peas with quinoa, hummus and a beet salad. They will usually substitute tzatziki for the hummus for me, which is my favorite thing they make. They use a homemade yogurt that has a good dose of fresh dill. For me it just presses the right buttons. I also ordered some sweet potato chips and a cucumber basil mojito. All good choices.

I’m not sure about you, but I really notice flooring and architecture at restaurants. The Herb Box has one of the best bathroom floors, as far as I can tell. We have a concrete floor at home and if we don’t recover it with bamboo, I would like to have this done.


Around the corner of Herb Box there is a little store called Garage. It’s filled with cute clothes for girls, boys, women and a few guys things. Pricy. There are purses, jewelry, beautiful colored scarves and a lot of ridiculous things. I found these key chains that shoot balls out of their mouths.

Can you tell I’m in the easily amused department?


Another place Dad and I were at recently is the First Draft Book Bar (at Changing Hands Bookstore’s new location on 3rd Ave/Camelback). They get their pastries from local bakers and there are wines and local beers. I bought three books (two new and one used and one more for my mom) and Dad and I enjoyed some drinks. I tried a pretzel from MJ Bakery and Dad had a muffin which he said was very moist.


The bookstore also has gifts and one of my favorite things.



Essence is one of mine and Dad’s favorites (38th St/Indian school). I always take pictures of the pastries when I go there because they are so pretty…although I don’t always order one. Trying to maintain my girlish figure you know. Her eclairs sometimes have boozy fillings.


I really like their homemade granola that comes with dates and seasonal fruits. Dad likes the huevos frencheros (french style scrambled eggs) that come with little baked potatoes that I usually snatch away from him since he says it’s too much food.

Recently the owner/chef Eugenia gave Dad and me both an organic apple turnover.  Her pastry is so light and the apples were not too sweet. I think I will have to bring some of these to Mom this week.

One of the places Jack and I will always go regardless of where we live (if we ever decide to move to Thailand that might be the exception) is Mekong Palace.

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We love all of their restaurants that serve great Chinese food, dim sum (see picture above), smoothies with boba, pho and most of all there is a huge asian/international market with produce, fish (where they clean and cook it for you if you want), a butcher with meats from every animal with every part such as duck heads (beaks included) and you can also buy the things on your regular grocery list like milk and eggs. And they have a good beer selection. I wish we lived closer to them because I would be there every day. The last time we were there we saw these baby mangoes. Aren’t they cute?


Jack had recently bought some regular sized mangoes of the same variety at Ranch 44 market – now called Super L Ranch Market so we didn’t take any of these home (yes we also shop the competition).



Noodles Ranch, New China Gate, Raspados Rico, The Gladly, Oasis Raspados, Fez, Chompies, Avanti and competing with the Italians for more $ spent per capita on food

27 Apr

It occurred to me that we’ve been eating out a lot lately. Even more than usual. I specifically think I am starting to compete with the Italians who are supposed to spend more income per capita on food than in any other country. We could check, but I’m pretty sure I might be winning.

Last night we needed a quick and hearty feed so we ended up at Chompies for dinner, where we got a to go pastrami sandwich. You must go and get one. It is nice that they are big enough for two (or maybe three) to share. It’s become one of my favorite places to go and get a sandwich.


We always buy dessert when we get dinner there. Love their hamentachen. Here you can see the apricot and raspberry flavors.


This week a new raspado place opened, just across the street from Jack’s, at Hancock and Scottsdale Road. It’s called Raspados Rico. We went yesterday after stopping at Chompies. It’s very colorful and there are lots of tables and chairs so you can sit and stay awhile. I decided on a 60/40, which is like a 50/50 bar. It has orange sherbet, vanilla ice cream and then you get a can of orange Fanta to pour over it all. Lookie lookie.Image

The place looks very clean, and the fruit is a little different than I’ve seen in other places – there was guava in syrup, which I would like to try on my next visit, over some shaved ice. With lechera, of course.

A couple of nights ago I was out with my bro Mike for dinner at Fez – they were participating in a fundraiser for AIDS research/outreach…so we had a wonderful meal there with lettuce wraps, bruschetta and I had some lamb sliders (see below) and Mike enjoyed a bean pattie, a vegetarian option they serve. He said it was tasty. I’m always leery of vegetarian food, I guess because I like eating meat…but sometimes you try a veggie dinner that is flavored and cooked well. Good for your health. I need to try some more of that. In the meantime, I’m planning my next lamb burger. I hear they make a great one at Citizen Public House (whose sister restaurant is The Gladly, which I will mention shortly).


After dinner Mike suggested we go to Red Hut, a new coffee house at 7th Street and Roosevelt. I think it used to be a Krispy Kreme, or was it a Quiznos? Anyways, I had ordered an americano that was very strong (and my 4th coffee that day) and Mike chose a latte with almond milk, which he was very pleased and surprised to find that they had on hand. He tells me a lot of coffee shops don’t have almond milk and he prefers it to soy. I grabbed a cranberry scone for breakfast the next day and it’s one of the best scones I’ve tried in awhile.


The nice man behind the counter told me they are made by a local bakery that brings them in every other day. So either I’ll be trekking down to 7th Street and Roosevelt once a week or I need to find out where they are made…my brother also mentioned the quality of the coffee at Red Hut was very good and he is going to find out if they sell it by the bag. Will keep you posted.

Earlier that day I had been to AT Oasis coffee shop with Bianca and my Dad where we tried the Ful, which is fava beans cooked for 5 hours (according to Aisha, the owner/chef) and they are drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with tomatoes, onions and jalopenos. It is one of the tastiest foods I have tried lately. She uses some nice spices, and I can’t quite tell what they are, but one of them is cumin. And she brings you pita bread so you can eat with your hands. Love that. She also performed the Ethiopian coffee ceremony for us which I had witnessed a couple of weeks back but I was keen that Dad and Bianca would also experience it. You should too. 46th Street and Thomas. She also has great pastries made by Karlene Carlson, who will also bake you a cake or pie for that special occasion (or just because). Her contact info is

I’m really going to have to start watching it (my intake). I mean, one day I’m at Tropical Snowflake having a chamoyada…

and a few days later I’m in Tempe at the new raspado place.

In my defense, it is warming up outside.Image

;) It’s hard to be a girl with a complicated palate. I’m always craving something.

Occasionally I share something with you that is not food related. Recently, Dad introduced me to a new author from Vietnam, Thich Nhat Hahn. He writes a lot about mindfulness, which is important to remember, especially since most of are multi tasking a lot. I think we lose something in that. Anyways, here’s the the cover of book. 

I passed it onto one of my friends at work, who shared it since with others.Image

The illustrations are very sweet also.


Jack picked up some food from Princess at the 101 and Broadway a few nights back. We like to get the princess platter, and for about $16.00 you get chicken, meat cubes, kefta and some lamb, with rice, salad and hummus. It’s really a steal. We always have leftovers for lunch for both of us. 


The hummus is very smooth and rich. I usually eat most of it. Image

As I mentioned, it’s an enormous amount of food. Jack also brought back some delicious baklava (not pictured) that was great for breakfast the next day. Princess has a market where you can buy lamb, tea, coffee, cookies and all kinds of interesting foods from other places. They butcher their own lamb, which I think is very interesting.

This week Dad and I met at Bertha’s Cafe for breakfast. It was my first time there, and Dad suggested a waffle with fruit.


It was a great waffle …and they also made me a chicken curry salad to take for my lunch which was very tasty and fresh. We met Bertha, who is sweet and obviously doing great things. There are lots of breakfast and lunch choices. And yummy baked goodies. I spied a banana cake I will have to go back and try.


She is at 32nd Street and Indian School.

I almost forgot to mention Easter. It was a double celebration. On Saturday my Mum and Dad came over with Linda and Jack made a ham, a corned beef, and I put together a pasta salad and Mom made her famous cinnamon rolls.




And Linda brought her tasty deviled eggs. She has those down to a science. She put thousand island dressing in a few of them, and they had a nice tang.

The next day (Easter Sunday) we went to the buffet at  Avanti with Wanda, Fran, Dad and Sharon. They had a super brunch with all of our italian favorites…orchiette with red sauce, meatballs, chicken vesuvio and lasagne. There was also a cold salad station with enormous fresh shrimp/cocktail sauce, salami, cheeses and the dessert table boasted tiramisu, creme brulee, cannoli, brownies, cookies… and they also make a pretty mean manhattan.  Quite the spread. They are doing this again for Mother’s Day. I highly recommend it.

New China Gate is a mom and pop chinese place we found recently at McDowell and 77th Street, next to the Fry’s.  Very reasonable prices and plentiful portions. Here’s the house fried rice.


Here’s the lemon chicken. It’s very crispy and tart.


I think this is hunan beef. It’s a little spicy, which we like.Image

Considering that we eat out so much, it’s probably a good thing that most of the places we frequent are cheap. And it’s important to mention (again) that we always eat the leftovers. Usually we have leftovers. So maybe we aren’t spending as much as I think?

Another reasonable place we go to once in awhile is Noodles Ranch at McDowell and Scottsdale Road. Jack likes their big bowl of Pho and we share a papaya salad and potstickers.  And then I get some fresh spring rolls to take to lunch the next day, at Jack’s suggestion.


I’m so very lucky that Jack looks out for my lunch. When he cooks he does this too. He makes a lot, I mean.

Recently Dad and I were at The Gladly for brunch. They make their own bloody mary mix with roasted tomatoes and they put in olives, house-made pickles and cured sausages. It’s like a drink that you can also eat. Fun for me. Dad really liked the food, and so did I. So much so that I was keen to go back for happy hour, where the prices for some stuff are cheaper, like the liver pate, super yummy nuts and pastrami sandwich. And I tried a negroni for the fist time. It’s a lovely thing.


I recommend two (or three). They’re on tap and only $5 at happy hour. Yes!

The food is just great. Here’s the pate. I love capers and the pickled onions with the mustard, on little toasts.


They also host cocktail themed dinners.

So… when I’m feeling flush I’m going back for that. Their next one is this Tuesday April 29 and here’s the menu.



Single malt ice cream? Oh, my.

Also, one of my favorite places, Pig and Pickle is doing a fundraiser for the Tammy Dykstra foundation on May 8. They are donating 50% of the proceeds.




Oasis Raspados, Otro Cafe, someone to bake your pies/cakes and home cooking

2 Apr

So …it’s warming up. And that means I’m spending more time at Oasis Raspados. 32nd Street/McDowell. Recently I was there with my friend Rob who was visiting from South Carolina and he wasn’t really getting his mind/mouth wrapped around the whole spicy/salty/sweet/fruity thing that the chamoyada is (I think that’s bad grammar).

I digress.

That’s okay. Oasis has ice cream and other more mild flavored treats like fresas congeladas con crema (frozen strawberries with creme) for folks who aren’t into the spicy frozen treats.

But I’m a purist. I’m sticking with chamoyadas with mango, thank you very much.Image


A few weeks back Rob and I were at Jennifers on 36th Street and Indian School when we met one of their servers, Karlene. She happens to be a pastry chef (yes!) and she will make you a pie or cake. And possibly deliver it for you. Here’s the peach pie she made for my Mom for her birthday.


Her mad pastry skills saved me a bunch of time. Here is her email address if you want her to bake for your next event.

Jack made soup for us a couple of nights ago. He had this broth that had been previously frozen when he made “chicken in a pot” (last post I think). He added lemongrass, onion, carrots, tomatoes, bamboo shoots, rice noodles, garlic and all the other stuff he calls “magic fairy dust.” It’s a healing soup. If you have a bad day and you eat this, you will feel better.



My brother Mike actually called it medicinal. He’s a smartie.

They bought us lunch at work this week. It was our end of month meal, and they either feed us breakfast or lunch. This time it was hot dogs. I love me a good hot dog.

In actuality, I had two.Image

One with chili (not pictured) and this one with sauerkraut and relish. It was so delish.

We always appreciate the free lunch. :)

Jack made lumpia last night. They are filipino style egg rolls. I’m pretty sure these had chicken in them but I’m not sure what else. He serves them with a sweet & sour type sauce that I don’t have a picture of.


These are made with love, you can tell.

I’m a bit of a shoe whore (how do I segue to this?) as most of you know. Recently I was at Scottsdale Fashion Mall and spotted these platforms. I am pretty crazy about them (see picture below).

Unfortunately I suspect they cost the size of my rent payment, so I am glad to be surrounded by other like minded shoe whores who give me shoes they no longer wear, or pick up at goodwill (you know who you are …Linda)

A local boutique, Frances on Camelback had beautiful shoes, the last time I checked. It might be time to pop back over there one of these days…they carry shoes from Remix in Los Angeles and they are fabulous. Platforms, which I like. They give me height.ImageIn the meantime, a girl can dream….

This morning when I woke up I noticed my windows were tinted. Jack took my car over to a local tinting shop while I was at work yesterday. Image What a nice surprise! He’s a keeper.

I’m convalescing today, not sure if it was the fish balls we had last night (they disagreed with me) or if it’s a flu bug. Either way, the cookie fairy felt I needed a pretty iced cookie to cheer me up. These are from AJ’s Fine Foods and they bake them at Barb’s Bakery (24th St.). They are amazing. They make them for all seasons. I suggest you pick up a box and take them into your co-workers for Easter. You will be instantly popular.Image

The sandwich fairy brought me this beautiful braut (from The Pork Shop) sandwich today on ciabatta bread with sauteed tomatoes, peppers and onions. Convalescing isn’t so bad, it seems…



Bianca and I went over to Otro Cafe (7th St/Bethany) last weekend for lunch. A carne asada torta, paella and inca salad were on our menu, along with a calimocho for me (half red wine and half coke) and a bloody mary for her.

It was her first time. And she loved it. Image

And who would not? Now I need to go back and try their open faced blt. I’ve seen it on facebook and it is speaking to me.




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