Bees and proper bagel storage

29 Mar

So checked my cell phone in the bathroom yesterday on my break (as many of us do) but what I found was most likely different than most of you would find on your cell phone on a  given day.

Yes, a swarm of bees. They are living in the rain gutter above our apartment.

Did you see that movie The Swarm?

There are some bee people coming out today to take a look.

Do any of you know of a humane way to remove bees? The HOA chooses their own vendors so the bee removal might not be as humane as I would wish. ūüė¶ If we had a separate space, like a farm, then we could keep bees. They could be relocated.

En fin…

Recently I was apprised that my local coffee shop (about 500 feet from my apartment in former Jiffy Lube space) is carrying Super Chunk Sweets and Treats bagels. This is a big deal because the bagels are artisan and have no preservatives. Anyways, I went to the coffee shop and ordered a bagel. What I received was a bit dry. I thought maybe because of the way they are being stored.

So I have a little experience with carb storage. If your bread or bagels do not have preservatives and you are not going to eat them on the same day you buy them, you need to freeze them. My freezer is typically full, mostly due to Jack’s frugality with chicken, pork, what have you, but I also freeze bread from Sprouts or Noble Bread. Noble Bread is my go to favorite bread but sometimes they are out, in which case I go to Barb’s Bakery to get it. Or you can also get Noble Bread at farmers markets. Yes, I love bread. It’s a vessel for things like chorizo, potato omelet, chicken salad and butter.

Jack and I visited our little local coffee shop aforementioned a week ago and we ordered bagels again. And they were dry. I let the manager know I was so excited that they are carrying one my favorite local bagels from Super Chunk. She said she doesn’t care for them too much because of how they have to store them there at the restaurant (not in a freezer) and how they toast them. She said they get dry. So I told her (not in a schooling sort of way but coming from more life experience – she is maybe 25 and I am 47, so…) maybe the bagels need to be frozen if they are not going to be used the same day. And she said due to the type of business they do and the type of customer they have they cannot do this.

So, in a nutshell, they are willing to sacrifice quality for getting something out quick to the consumer. And that is sad.

Arcadia Premium is also selling Super Chunk bagels. Here is a photo that I pilfered from their website.

I’m going to pop over there soon and buy some. My shopping cart might include local chocolate and local beer too. I hear it’s a great place to shop local.



R.i.p. Acacia Cafe. Welcome The Smith Cafe

12 Mar

20170305_095651So a couple of weekends ago Jack and I crossed Indian School Road on a Sunday to have breakfast at one of our favorite spots, Acacia Cafe. We found the place closed…but undaunted we ended up a few doors down and on the other side of Indian School Road at Essence. Promises of croissants and baguette kept us calm. Until the following Sunday, when we visit Acacia Cafe again, only to find it’s now The Smith Cafe, looking all shiny and new, where you expect to see Gene Wilder asking Cleavon Little, “What’s a sophisticated urbanite like yourself doing in a rustic setting like this?”

A full English breakfast is something I want to try. Even if we have to pay a little more for breakfast now. I enjoyed the quinoa bowl with coconut milk and Jack did not scoff at the 2 egg breakfast, minus the breakfast potatoes which were not to his liking. He prefers hash browns. Dad says we might have t get them at Denny’s from now on. ūüėČ

White privilege. And pie.

12 Mar

So I was thinking tonight about how fortunate I am to be white. I didn’t understand this until I was in college. Like I didn’t know how lucky I was to live in a nice neighborhood and go to a public school in a pretty good neighborhood that was supported by a healthy property tax base. Unable to sleep I am thankful I have never been discriminated for trying to rent an apartment. I have never been asked to prove my citizenship (except at a border crossing). I have never been assaulted by a police officer and I have never been to jail. I have never had to pay probation fees.

I was reading that 33% or a similar figure of black men in the south of a certain age in the south cannot vote because they have been incarcerated. Could this effect voting outcomes?

Being a white person in a world that is growing in populations of other races makes me feel humble and excited at the same time. I know how to make afgani milk fudge. And i want to try a huntsman pie recipe. Something closer to my roots.

I’m thinking mine and the next generations might want to study Chinese and Arabic.

I don’t think any of these are new observations.

And we still have to eat. So give the pie snob a try. A new place at 36th street and indian school roads. You will find this.

They are also making cinnamon rolls (on the weekends). AND sometimes they have to close early because they run out. And they stock local coffee and ice cream. And nope I don’t have any stock in this place.

I aspire to tho ūüėČ

30 days of Local Gifting

22 Nov

Not that any of us have trouble spending money…it’s just how we choose to spend it.

Through my friends at Local First Arizona I’ve learned that the more money we spend with local business, the more money ends up in our state.

So…shopping local and giving local this Christmas is what I’ve planned.

And it doesn’t have to be something material. It can be a visit over a meal too. As you know the kitchen wench and her friends and family love to eat.

Here are some ideas for you (some of these I am using and have used in the past).

Buy your bro some movie tickets.

Treat your aunt to some local fowl.

Your nieces and nephews like to read. Get ’em books! book

And while you’re at it you can get some monkey chip clips.¬†

Your sister is a tea drinker. You can find loose tea here. tea

Also they have seeds and fun things for your garden.

Tell the boss about a new place in the hood should he be looking for something nice for his lady this Christmas. Just relocated from Glendale and is now in one of my favorite malls, Uptown Plaza. Cute holiday shirts that have Santa on them and say “hohoho!”.¬†

Almost everyone likes homemade soap. Ginger lemongrass smells so good.

You have a friend at work who likes caramel.  And they ship! caramels

Friends with allergies.


Gift them local honey (also they have olive oil, candy, jellies and overall yummy things).

Mom is hard to feed. Take her out to lunch at a place she loves.

Brother visits from Ventura. Treat him to Diavolo pizza and a kronenbourg.

Workmates need something sweet. The seasonal frosted sugar cookies are the best.

Lunch with a friend. A handpie with turkey, stuffing and sweet potatoes is not to be scoffed at. And they ship.

It’s time to treat yourself. ¬†Lunch here is healthy and fresh.¬†

Anything from Uptown Farmers Market. Local produce, seafood, meats, hot sauces, kitchen towels, handmade ceramics.

When your family comes to visit, put them up at The Clarendon. A newly renovated hotel with a beautiful pool and restaurant on the property.

Gift cards for local restaurants are a winner for friends and family. Just go here and buy the denomination you want. 36 local restaurants are represented.

Your besties are bread people like you.

Your besties drinks coffee and appreciate free trade.

Your besties like fry bread.

Your besties and family appreciate local art.

Your boyfriend wants a 5 1/2 quart le cruset round pot but you don’t want to pay retail. I found my ice cream maker here.¬†

Dad is in the mood for a holiday drink like hot buttered rum.

Nieces and nephew appreciate silly things. poppers

They sell poppers and emoticon necklaces and all around goofy stuff.

Treat yourself. After all this shopping you need a cocktail. The negroni is a winner.

Boyfriend needs a break from the kitchen. Hummus and chicken boti will make him happy.

Brother, sis in law and nieces and nephew keep kosher. Take them to lunch.

Friends who like fruity/spicy drinks.

Who doesn’t like a candle? Root candles and pretty flowers sold here.¬†

Yoga. After Christmas you’re going to need it. And we all know someone who is working on their girlish (fabulous?) figure. Last time I checked they were running a special for newbees $60 for 5 sessions.¬†

Handmade pac-man cutting boards, ceramic mugs, recycled bottle wine glasses and more. And they ship!

Grilled artichokes, Karl’s Quality Bakery/The Baker’s Daughter, Las Glorias Grill, Banana muffins, Harkins Camelview 5, Vovomeena, Hazelwoods First Place, Linda’s 4th of July magic shish kebabs

13 Jul

We found a steal yesterday, artichokes at Sprouts for 98 cents each. Jack was quite excited.


So today he boiled them, cut them in half and put them on the grill. My contribution was the mayo dipping sauce with lime juice, salt and pepper. They turned out so nice.


Jack is very good at getting us to try new places. He has a great sense of adventure. And we both like Mexican food…so it was a natural that we finally made it to lunch yesterday at Las Glorias Grill on 19th Avenue and Northern after we had been eyeing a Phoenix New Times ad for them for quite some time. We shared a shrimp cocktail and Jack had menudo while I chose the chile verde pork burrito.



The chile verde sauce had so much flavor…smoky and earthy. It is one of the best chile verde burritos I have ever tried. The pork was tender and lean and the flour tortilla somehow held together despite all the beautiful sauce on top. How do they do it? We also enjoyed drinks, a bloody mary for me and a tequila sunrise for Jack. Other things on the menu we want to try are the whole fried fish, flan and carnitas. We’ll be back soon.

On the way home¬†we decided to stop at Karl’s Quality Bakery/The Baker’s Daughter.¬†They make delicious¬†cakes, cupcakes, danish, donuts, chocolates and they have savory croissants, quiches and things you can just grab and go.


Jack bought me a box of 5 chocolates.


I ate 3 of them already…the salted caramel, the lime and another with nuts…hazelnuts maybe? They were all amazing¬†and the other two that are raspberry and ginger don’t stand a chance. They will be visited by me tomorrow with probably a sweet vermouth after dinner. I am not a drink snob. I drink an aperitif after a meal too. ūüôā

This weekend Jack and I had frozen bananas falling out of the freezer so I made some banana muffins. It’s this recipe I found online.¬†

I just made a half recipe, and we both agreed they are the best banana muffins that ever came out of our kitchen.


Jack always requests moist muffins. I think these also would be good¬†with blueberries. So I’m trying that next time. I mean the time after next. The next batch is for our potluck about a week away and I want to see how my workmates feel about them just with bananas before I fuss with them for my own benefit.

So Harkins Camelview 5 is scheduled to be closed sometime in the near future and I think I’m mourning this little theatre already because I’m on a mission to see as many indie/foreign films as I can lately. On Friday Dad and I went to see Me, Earl and the Dying Girl (you should go).


It left me a bawling mess but I enjoyed the cinematography and creativity. Another film that will be coming out soon that I want to see is Samba, with Omar Sy. I saw him first in The Intouchables and I thought his acting was very passionate.

The Phoenix New Times reviewed the potato omelet at Vovomeena recently. I ate potato omelets mostly for dinner when I lived abroad in Spain many years ago…and I felt I needed to go and try it. I’m so glad I did. It comes sitting on a flavorful tomato compote with bacon and an arugula salad.


Dad came with me that day and had the pain perdu, sort of a fancy french toast.


Very dense and sweet. I think next time he’s going to have my dish and I’m going to have his. ¬†I want to mention the inside of the place is urban I felt very welcome and relaxed. I tried a japanese cold brew coffee that takes 12 hours to brew. A different flavor than the drip Ethiopian coffee I make every day. A nice change. The Vovomeena folks also own The Tuck Shop that I have been to 2 or 3 times and it’s time to go back. I remember eating some chorizo stuffed dates and drinking a couple of dark and stormy’s that were very tasty. Now that I’m eyeing their new menu it has a french bread pizza on it… so you know I gotta try that.

Speaking of pizza…did you know that Hazelwoods First Place¬†makes a great mini pizza? Yes! For about 7 bucks you can get one of these.


Go and get one.

I think if Jack ever is out of town this will be my go to place for din-din. I love me a pizza.

Linda was very kind to host Jack, me and my Dad (and her grandson Hex) on the 4th of July. She put together some amazing shish kebabs with pork, steak, chicken and vegetables.

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Shish kebabs hold a special place in my heart. I remember in the 70’s they were on a lot of restaurant menus and I always wanted to eat meat that came served on a stick. ¬†It’s a very nostalgic meal for me. Linda¬†also provided the Coronas, which was sweet. ¬†I brought clamato and a pasta salad and Jack made some puerto rican rice. And we swam in her big beautiful pool. It was the perfect 4th of July with family and friends.

Dinner with Linda at Keegan’s, Uptown Farmers Market, Pita Bistro, Happy hour at Manuels, at home Margarita party, Jack’s magic beans, Butterfly Wonderland

1 Jun

I was at yoga today (Madison Improvement Club) where my fabulous teacher¬†Katie¬†told us towards the end of class that one of the things she likes to do is write. She doesn’t do as much of it as she’d like… but it’s something that brings her joy. And that reminded me that I haven’t blogged in awhile and it brings me joy.

One of the other things I like to do is read. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. Jack picked me up some books recently so I read Hillary Clinton’s Living History, which I really enjoyed. I didn’t realize she had such an impressive background (before and after Bill) and all of the things she’s done to help our country and help other countries (especially concerning women’s rights and healthcare). The other book I’m reading now is Barbara Walter’s Audition. Her childhood and young adulthood were very interesting, having grown up surrounded by famous patrons and showgirls (her father ran variety clubs) and her early years in television and radio she was a pioneer being a woman in a mainly man’s profession.


One book I finished recently Still Alice is about a tenured Harvard professor who develops early Alzheimers. This particularly interested me since my mom had to deal with the disease when she was taking care of her mother in her later years. It was not an easy time for my mom, or my parents in general. I figure there’s a lot for me to learn and I’d better get preparing. Just in case.

Okay…I forgot momentarily this is not a book review blog. It is a food blog. I digressed…

The lovely Linda treated us to dinner recently at Keegan’s.


A hanger steak for Jack, chicken madeira for Linda and beef stroganoff for me. It was delicious and fabulous company, as usual. Thank you again Miss Kelliker! ūüôā

Last week my friend Rueben gifted us with some red peppers and cherry tomatoes from his organic garden (thank you my friend!) and they were so fresh and sweet.


I ate some of the tomatoes on the way home from work and gave the rest to Jack so he could make peppers and onions for our brat sandwiches that evening.

Jack made some magic beans this week. He soaked pintos overnight and cooked them with magic fairy dust (that’s what I say when I don’t know what he put in them) but I can tell you they were spicy and we had them with jasmine rice, grilled zucchini and steak.


Mercy. It was good.

The zucchini came from the Uptown Farmers Market we had visited the weekend before.




We really broke the bank and brought home some nice stuff…including: spaghetti sauce, flour sack towels with cute designs (day of the dead), Noble Bread, a caramel apple and we spied some pretty pottery that we didn’t buy.


This vendor had a pot Jack liked a lot but it wasn’t big enough for soup. She produced another pot that was larger but it didn’t have a lid. You can see how pretty the glazes were on her pottery. So, we’ll probably go back. If not, Santa will order something for Jack from her down the line.

And the best thing we saw at the farmers market…


baby goats! So cute.

Something else we did that was fun recently was visiting the Butterfly Wonderland, where Jack was quite popular.


There were butterflies of all varieties and colors.



Also, there was an impressive 3D documentary about the monarch butterfly that migrates to and from Mexico each year. It was a really super afternoon.


Pita Bistro is a fairly new lunch spot (and happy hour spot thanks to its liquor license) near work that is great because it’s one of the few healthy options around. I usually get a falafel wrap and a green tea.


You can build your own wrap or get it “their way.” Either way if you choose salad, wrap or other option with chicken, beef or falafel, you’re going to leave full and it won’t hurt your budget too much.

And hummus is *free* at happy hour.

Speaking of happy hour (like my segue?) We were at Manuel’s earlier this week for happy hour.


They have delicious taquitos with chicken or beef ¬†that come with guacamole…and for just $1 more they will make your draft beer a michelada.

We like spicy food. It’s a good thing, since Jack’s jalape√Īo peppers are growing nicely. Lookie lookie.


There’s a homemade spicy guacamole and pico de gallo in our near future.

There was a margarita party this weekend. At our place. The menu included…chicharron


and carne asada tacos


and goodies courtesy of Los Pinos Carniceria, which we are crazy about due to their close proximity, reasonable prices, abundance of Mexican candy and soda, pollo asado, prepared meats, fresh tortillas, panadería, etc etc.


Chef Jack also happens to be a fabulous bartender



and just in case you wanted to know…the margaritas worked ūüėČ

I want to end on a healthy note. Because I started this post off with healthy (yoga) and I can’t end with alcohol…so here’s our latest (potential) healthy find. Our neighbor gifted Jack with a practically new Ninja blender this morning. So there are some smoothies in our near future.


Frozen berries and yogurt and ice and…if anyone has recipes for smoothies, please let the kitchen wench know. Otherwise we’ll be regulated to using it for frozen drinks.


Laughlin, BBQ Company, Scott’s Generations, Barrio Queen, Taco Guild, Acacia Cafe, Fez, Camelview 5 and Cookin’ on Wood

3 May

We finally made it to Laughlin a couple of weeks back. I had the wrong impression about the place, and I’m not sure why. But, needless to say, we had a great time. We stayed at Harrah’s and it was very clean (and cheap! only $60/night) and included a 2 for 1 buffet. Harrah’s has a beachfront and those little umbrellas made out of thatch so you don’t get all burnt up.


They also have drinks available poolside, that they will let you take out onto the beach (at least that’s what we did) and there’s also a fabulous restaurant courtesy of Guy Fieri called El Burro Borracho. We were so excited when we learned this that we had to put it on our list of places to try.

And so glad we did. Lookie lookie:


It’s a pork chimichanga that was very moist, with rice and beans, and a large cabbage salad. We shared everything since the portions are enormous. Also the drinks were delicious. I had a sangria and Jack chose a beer (I don’t remember which kind). We didn’t get to see the founder but we were told when the restaurant opened the staff had been through a 1 1/2 month training period and Guy had visited to make sure there was quality control.

The night before we had visited the same restaurant for fried ice cream and margaritas. Potent frozen margaritas, which we like. The fried ice cream is very fun, they spray it with some type of alcohol and set it on fire before you eat it. Very theatrical!  A late snack for us since earlier we had our two for one buffet at the casino, which included all of the favorites like steaks, lots of veggie choices, fried shrimp, an italian station, salad bar and all kinds of desserts. I was barely able to finish my coconut chocolate chip bar because dinner was so delicious (and plentiful).

We never got to the adult tower, but we were curious ūüėČ


One thing that’s fun (and free) to do in Laughlin is visit the Car Museum at Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort.

Jack really liked the Delorean while I was showing my love for the Honda scooter.



I was with some of my workmates at Barbeque Company about a month ago. It’s rare that we all go together, because some of us have different work schedules or eating preferences. But this was a different day. Look at all these happy people.


Sorry no food pictures, people. But typically we all get something different. They have a great bbq pork sandwich or a loaded baked potato, or bbq chicken, pizza on Thursdays and regular sandwiches like a blt. Their veggies that you can get as a side are a medley of zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper and onions. It’s a substantial side of vegetables and I wanted to mention that here since I’m not sure we usually equate bbq with something that can also be healthy.

It’s true that Jack and I really like to eat. So recently we rediscovered Scott’s Generations (or I did since it was his first time a few weeks back). I had been there previously with my brothers and had kind of forgotten about the place. Their bagels are still amazing. Last weekend we were there with my Mom and my bro Mike for sandwiches. Mike had a number one sub with italian meats, and my Mom chose pastrami (her favorite). I stick with a classic, hard salami on a bagel, while Jack ordered a hot dog with sauerkraut.


Their fries are the whole potato with skin on and are really crunchy and tasty.

Dad and I grabbed lunch last weekend at Barrio Queen. I had never tried their fish tacos and that sounded good to him too so we shared a plate of 4 (three only on the plate since he started eating before I could take a picture). The fish tacos are very fresh and come with a salsa verde that has a nice kick.


Also we imbibed a couple of Queens Fire margaritas that are made with jalape√Īo infused tequila and a rim of chili salt.


Not a bad thing at all.

Taco Guild has become one of Jack’s and my favorite places. We joke that we don’t have to go to church on the weekends we go there since it is housed in a former Methodist church.

Last weekend we were there for tacos and salad.

Jack is fond of their lamb tacos. Look how pretty they arrive.


They make an enormous grilled romaine salad that you can choose the protein (chicken, steak or shrimp). I always choose chicken. It is nicely grilled and charred and the salad dressing is a cilantro lime creamy thing that you just want more of.


I really like it. As you can see, there’s a lot of bacon that gives flavor too.

They also have a “taco of the day” that is about half price of the regular tacos so between 2-7pm it’s a good place to visit especially if you are on a budget and have a sense of adventure. Also there are local craft beers which for me are very important, like Four Peaks 8th Street Pale Ale. Local first!

Acacia Cafe is one of mine and Dad’s go to breakfast spots. It helps that they are within walking distance for me and just a couple of blocks away from Dad. Last week we were there and I inhaled half of a waffle with butter and baked apples.


It’s better than apple pie. Trust me.

They also have wonderful dine in or to go lunch options like chicken salad sandwich and “bistro salad” with chicken, avocado, strawberries, red grapefruit and spinach with a poppyseed dressing. I’m just crazy about this place with their fresh food and reasonable prices. My Dad actually told the owner he should raise his prices. ūüėČ

Jack and I were at Fez last week with Linda, her bro and her sis-in-law for an early dinner. Very nice people. They had already ordered by the time we arrived and Jack wasn’t really hungry so I was munching on this plate of arroz con pollo all by myself. It has a lot of flavor and the chicken and vegetables are all great quality in a yummy sauce.


And I finished the leftovers the next day.

This is where I mention that Fez is now at Portland and First Avenue. Their new location is, well…fabulous!

Did I mention our microwave is broken? This puts a damper on our leftover reheating, but resourceful Jack has been able to reheat our leftovers in the toaster oven. I’m so lucky.

Dad and I were at Harkins Camelview 5 last week after our lunch at Barrio Queen.


Did you know that the Camelview is closing? The Harkins folks are creating a multiplex movie theatre at Scottsdale Fashion Mall, so soon my little independent movie theatre that shows foreign films will be no more. I’m sad to lose it. Meh.

Linda discovered Cookin’ on Wood recently and we have been there for lunch a couple of times. It’s a homecooked meal for about $5.00. A real steal. She likes the tri tip meal…


and I’m more of a chicken meal kind of girl.


Also this week the boss brought in lunch for us from these same folks and everyone really enjoyed it.

So give ’em a try.

Noble Eatery, Halo Halo, Frances, Mariscos Sinaloa, Tropical Snowflake, Urban Cookies, Barrio Urbano

2 Apr

Today I was given permission from my boss to play hookey. It’s called PTO and boy, I needed it!

Jack and I started our day at Harkins Camelview 5, where we saw Wild Tales (Relatos Salvajes), a series of stories that are pretty, well…wild.


Produced by none other than Pedro Almodóvar himself, so I knew it would be great. And it was very very funny. Funny goes a long way with me.

After the movie we took in some lunch at Noble Eatery. I have been wanting to get over there for some time now and today was the day, finally. Jack chowed on a tuna sandwich while I chose avocado toast with a blood orange flavor in the background… and started with cauliflower served cold with olive oil and vinegar, pepitas and raisins.




Everything was very fresh and delicious. They bake their own bread so of course we had to take home a loaf. One stop shopping. Eat now and take home for later.

Halo Halo is another place we had meant to go to before now. One of our friends had recommended it some time back and it turned out we were on the west side of town last weekend, so a trip seemed inevitable. We took home some chicken curry, pork skewer, some other kind of pork dish with vinegar and lumpia (not pictured).


Their lumpia are super tiny and very crunchy. Those were gone really fast. They also make tea/smoothies with boba and I had to have mine. Milk tea with boba.


It was frothy and nice for a hot day, not too sweet.

Frances is one of those places I mean to visit more often. Because they are local and have such cute stuff. They used to be at the Union Shops at the Biltmore Fashion Park where they carried Remix shoes, but then they closed due to all the mall restrictions and quite frankly understanding what it is to be self employed, I don’t blame them. Restrictions can cut off your air, as it were. Don’t get me started on that…anyways, Frances has a fabulous facebook page, you should friend them. They have very cute jewelry, accessories, hello tshirts, kitchen textiles and clothes…the list is endless. Emphasis on cute, though.

And here’s my shirt that I got today.

20150401_161453 frances.jpg

So cute! I love fruit.

My boss introduced some of us to Mariscos Sinaloa a couple of weeks back. We were having phone troubles and he decided we should all do some team building for lunch. And I couldn’t wait to try the place. So a few of us went from work and tried different things: carne asada tacos, fried shrimp, shrimp cocktail and burritos. They do serve cubetas (buckets of beer) and micheladas (beer with clamato) but these were working hours so all we could do was ogle the cubetas at the other tables.

So recently a few of us at work were heading to Pita Bistro (think food like Pita Jungle) but they are so crowded now because their food is so healthy and good, so we needed a backup place and we landed at Mariscos Sinaloa. Look at my fabulous lunch.



And my peeps. We had a really good time. Bruce, my workmate, is really funny. He says ridiculous stuff really fast you don’t really have time to say “did you just say that?”

Tropical Snowflake is going to be my new best friend again this summer as it is warming up. Earlier this week I popped in for a chamoyada.


My favorite snack.

Urban Cookies has happy hour on Sundays from 1-4 and Mondays (I don’t remember the times on Mondays because I can’t get there that day) and all cookies and cupcakes are half price. That means these cupcakes below are $1.50 instead of $3.00.



We brought 3 cupcakes home (chocolate on chocolate and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting) and a couple of chocolate chip cookies and made a cupcake friend. Lance, Jack’s friend came over for dinner and helped Jack with some computer issues and hooked up our HBO GO. Yes! For that we rewarded him with homemade turkey pot pie. And riesling (and a cupcake).


It is the second pot pie we have ever made and was so good! The crust (courtesy of moi) came from a challenge butter recipe 1 1/4 cups flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup butter and 4 tablespoons of cold water. Jack made the gravy with a roux of flour and butter and threw in some fresh rosemary and a lot of veggies. It was a work of beauty.

I was excited to try Barrio Urbano as soon as I found out they opened since I was already a fan of Barrio Cafe and her former restaurant Barrio Queen (now owned by different folks). At Barrio Cafe she makes a chunky guacamole with pomegranate seeds that is duplicated at Barrio Urbano. And their pozole! Just take a look. We took my Mom for her birthday and all of us had something different. The ensalada maya with chicken and a citrus dressing was just perfect for me. Mom had pozole and Mike went for french toast, while Jack chose menudo.



It was a big hit especially with me and Mike. We had been to Barrio Urbano before, when Mike enjoyed an Arizona burrito with lots of chicken and smothered in a tasty cheese sauce and I was keen to try the pozole so that’s what I ordered. (They serve breakfast until 2:00..things like steak and eggs, huevos revueltos, chilaquiles, etc. take note those of you who may have imbibed the day before.) Afterwards we played ping pong at the Yard. Mike’s on his game!

This is a picture taken previously by me while he played with my uncle. You can tell he’s good.

mike pingpong

A.T. Oasis, Brunch at Postino, Valentine’s day dinner at China Village, Julia Baker Chocolates

14 Mar

Valentine’s Day came and went very quickly. Jack gave me a pretty bouquet of colorful mums and carnations that smelled very nice and lasted a couple of weeks (we’re a couple that appreciates value!) and about a week before we were at Julia Baker Chocolates at Biltmore Fashion Park and he bought me a 6 piece box.

It’s a very decadent thing.


Her chocolates are very rich and you only need to eat one at a time (well maybe two) to get the full effect. I like one or two with earl grey tea. There were light chocolate truffles with caramel, and dark chocolate truffles with hazelnuts. And some other flavors. They’re a blur now which means I need to go back for another box.

Julia Baker trained in Paris and she’s a local. Your chocolates are made in Scottsdale, a good thing.

The other thing that’s great about her place is that you can sit down in a fancy chair with a mirrored table and eat your chocolates. Yes, this is no joke. Or you can eat cake and have a port, an espresso or a latte. And she has melted european chocolate so if you are crafty (like moi) you can bring in your own croissant from AJ’s Fine Foods for dipping. There’s also champagne. It’s a lovely place to hang out on a Friday afternoon with your girlfriend (or solo, if she’s stood you up). I’ve taken my Dad there and Rob when he was visiting from South Carolina, and we all agree that Julia should sell us some stock in her place. We want little name tags on our individual tables.

For Valentine’s I did some shopping for my coworkers at A.T. Oasis, one of my favorite places to buy coffee. Look at the goodies I got there.


Included in my great bounty was organic kiwi and strawberry tea for my friend Dana (she had recently gifted me a tin of matcha so we are now tea buds) and truffles for Linda. There were also some turkish delights (like gummy bears covered in powdered sugar except they are square) and chocolate truffles.

Let’s just say I was very popular at work on Valentine’s Day. I like to take care of my people. And support local business. A.T. Oasis is my go to place to get beans. They are organic ethiopian beans and you can also buy iced coffee there, along with ful, sandwiches and pastries. You won’t leave hungry, or uncaffinated, for that matter.

On Valentine’s Day eve we found ourselves hungry and tired (hangry almost) and Jack had been doing something physical in my mom’s toolshed…we were going to cook something (that means Jack was going to cook something) but when we got in the car to head back to our place we stumbled onto China Village and just decided to eat there instead. The asparagus could wait.

China Village is not impressive to look at. It is clean but the inside feels like the 60’s and 70’s. And that doesn’t bother me at all. One of my favorite Chinese restaurants, China Doll was kind of the same thing and their food was always good. So when I walked in, I wasn’t phased at all. Come to think of it, Autumn Court isn’t the most impressive interior either but their food is really good. Enough said.

We enjoyed drinks before dinner, a mai tai for me (potent) and a long island iced tea for Jack. That’s one of his favorite mixed drinks. Then we ordered potstickers which were generous, 8 to a portion, so there wasn’t an “embarrassing potsticker” to fight over. Delicious potstickers by the way. Pork, ginger and garlic flavors, the way we like ’em. Our server was kind enough to bring us hot oil and white vinegar to put on top of them as we like to do, Hong Kong style. Or at least I think that’s Hong Kong style because at Mekong Palace they have hot oil and vinegar on the table for dumplings at dim sum. We love that place.

I digress. Our entrees were Happy Family (kind of a seafood/veg medley) and house chow fun with the wide rice noodle. The chow fun is one of my favorite dishes at chinese restaurants and I’m happy to report that China Village does a very nice chow fun. Lookie lookie. ¬†I love the bean sprout, brown sauce and noodle combination. It’s very homey food.


When Jack makes his version of Thai beef noodle soup he always has leftover rice noodles and makes me a big place of chow fun. It’s the best I’ve ever tried but I will stand by the chow fun at China Village as my backup. Also the chow fun at Mekong Palace and Autumn Court. Can you tell we really like our chinese food?

Recently the Postino folks were kind enough to email me that they liked my yelp review (I’ll never tell which one it was) and they sent me a buy one get one brunch coupon. And Jack hadn’t been there for brunch before, so it seemed like a good idea. I really like their french toast, so I had that, along with a mimosa and a french press. The coffee was a little too strong for Jack so they brought him a cup of drip that the spoon didn’t stand up in and that suited him just fine. He went with the egg and toast breakfast option pictured below.20150208_092350

It came with bacon and breakfast potatoes which he likes a lot. It was the perfect breakfast because the weather was beautiful that day, we were on the patio and I remember asking one of the servers if Walt Richardson was coming in that day to perform. And he said yes. And with my mimosa buzz and caffeine high I thought to myself what a wonderful world we live in where we can get a mimosa, a french press and see Walt Richardson all in the same place.

Remembering a friend

14 Feb

When a friend leaves his life too early, it makes you reflect on certain things. Sometimes I have a knee jerk reaction especially when it comes to self preservation. So in terms of Jason I could have done things differently. I could have been a better friend.

Jason entered my life through my brother in grade school, when I felt people younger than me were more of an irritation than anything else. So at that time I didn’t notice him. It wasn’t until after his car accident that I got to know him better and how funny, smart and classy he was. Emphasis on funny.

I think part of the reason he was so funny is that because if he didn’t laugh he would cry. He was in a lot of pain.

He liked to read. Catcher in the Rye and Nine Stories were a couple of his favorites. And he liked Kurt Vonnegut.

I remember that when became friends he told me that I had an inferior education because I went to public school and he had it better because he had gone to Brophy. Well, maybe…I think it’s true he was exposed to things in school that I wasn’t, or maybe I just wasn’t interested or motivated in school.

He told me about his relationship with his grandfather (his Mom’s Dad) who used to have a house on a lake somewhere in Pennsylvania. His grandfather had a forge and he when he talked about him he said he was a renaissance man. He could do many things. He was a bookkeeper and might have been a friend of cosa nostra. I’m not sure if that was true or if Jason was just embellishing his past to impress me.

One of his favorite movies was The Big Lebowski. We used to watch it together and laugh. Not just laugh but we had big belly laughs. Like we fell off the bed we laughed so hard. There are only a few people in my lifetime so far I have laughed that way with.

We would eat teriyaki chicken bowls from Tokyo Express and watch The Sopranos together. This was when I was quite broke, not working and Jason had cable (specifically HBO). We enjoyed Bill Maher and I was always glad to be with someone who could laugh at religion and politics the same way I felt.

In a previous life we might have been married. But he really needed a girl with bigger boobs (his admission). I remember he told me once that if I got a boob job he would have married me. This made me laugh really hard.

I remember we went to The Herb Box in North Scottsdale (this is when he lived in that neck of the woods). We sat outside and ate our jerk pork sandwiches, drank tropical iced tea and felt fabulous among the good looking fabulous people.

Jason was actually fabulous looking. He was a great dresser and towards the end he enjoyed body ink. Over a couple of months, we would go to the Crawling Squid on Bethany Home Road, maybe once weekly and he would start shopping for a new tattoo. He had a question mark on one shoulder and an exclamation point on the other.

I wished that we could have taken a trip together. Especially when he was in better shape, because when he was feeling better he would have been fun to travel with. He appreciated good food, architecture and culture. He told me about a trip he took with my brother and his Mom to San Francisco and it was very opulent, they stayed somewhere very nice, I don’t remember the name of the place but the way he described the trip, I just knew it would have been a blast to have been there with them. I think he also said he and his family went once to Ireland, he has some roots there. I can imagine a photo of him there as a tweener in a fishermans sweater, with his blonde hair blowing in the wind, standing on a hilly bluff. With a goofy smile.

RIP my friend ūüôā