TenFifty-Five Pours a Fun Evening

I, along with good foodie friends, Karyn Zoldan and Edie Jarolim, went to Ten55 Brewery Company last night to sample some of their new menu.

Ten55 brags they’re the home to ‘The Best Wurst Ever’ and with all the choice of sausages on the menu, this is no idle boast. The starters, sides and ruffage (aka salads and veggies) and sandos (sandwiches) are beyond the usual suspects and there are numerous house beers to match anything and everything on the menu.

We began with the chicharonnes, a huge portion of fried pork rinds. These were a great iteration, both crispy, fluffy and lightly seasoned.IMG_1280

We also ordered the chou-fleur, cauliflower gratin, which took the cauliflower in a whole other direction besides pizza crust. Sorry no pics, it disappeared too quickly.

IMG_1281

Edie ordered the special sando – they change it up every two weeks – called the ‘Breaking Bad’, a take on a Cubano. Packed with a breaded and fried pork loin, red Anaheim chile sauce, fried egg, pepper jack cheese, the huge sandwich was served on a crusty roll. She also ordered a flight of beer, in this case six IPAs. The pours were generous.IMG_1279

I had the hot Italian with a Ten55 Leap Forward pale ale and Karyn opted for the currywurst with a XOXO Coffee Stout.IMG_1283

All came with fries and a choice of dipping sauces.

IMG_1282

This is definitely a nifty place to grab a bite, have a brew and chat it up with friends and other folks. The passion for beer is strong, the choices plentiful, the vibe is casual and cool.

 

Pop-Up Tacos are popping up near you

Tacos are damn near one of the world’s most perfect  and delicious foods.

And while we have plenty of great tacos here in Tucson, on Sunday September 15th, Chef Ruben Soto will be serving some of his finest tacos at his Taco Pop-up Shop.

Starting at 5:00pm and going until 11:00, Soto of El Mexicano, will be at Tasteful Kitchen at 722 N. Stone Avenue from 5:00pm -11:00pm.

  • Carne Asada
  • Mixtos De Rez
  • Taco’s Borrachos
  • Taco’s De Nopales
  • Taco’s Mixto’s De Puerco

This is the first of several Taco Pop-ups, Soto has planned. Check out https://www.facebook.com/elmexicanotaqueria1/  for more details.

I’d get there early…..

 

 

Fini’s Landing Ups the Game

Fini’s Landing has been serving up some of the tastiest fish tacos in Tucson for sometime now. Throw in plenty of ice-cold craft beer options, a casual beach vibe (in spite of the fact that the patio has great views of the Catalina mountains) and you might just think you at a cantina in some Mexican beach town.

Now they’re kicking up the whole scene with new management, an award-winning chef, décor updates and even more beers. What more could one ask for?

Glen Stosius, who has managed several of Tucson’s favorite spots, is taking over the reins as general manager. Glen pic

Ryan Jones, another long-time Tucson kitchen master, is the new executive chef and back of the house manager.Ryan pic

This dynamic duo will no doubt take Fini’s to a whole new level of kicked-back beachside fun and flavors.

Four new beer taps bring the total to 16. The best part is that many of the offerings are from Arizona breweries.

Wine lovers will also have more options with a new draft wine program. New cocktails and a weekend breakfast menu are also a big part of the changes. Chef Jones will be serving up a new Sunday Game Day menu on the patio and in spite of  Fini’s reputation for fab fish and such, the house-smoked, grilled pork ribs should be able hold their own especially with one or two of the new side dishes available. (Sundays Noon-5:00pm)

There’s more shade on the lovely patio, new table tops and unobstructed views of the many 55-inch TV’s. Sundays will be better than ever.

Of course, that doesn’t mean things aren’t happening other days. Fini’s has always been known for the live music it brings in which will continue full-blast.

Also, you can feel good about dining here because Fini’s promotes local sources in both food and beer, the seafood and fish are sustainably sourced and everything from the oils used to the takeout containers utilizes environmentally friendly practices.

Fini’s Landing is a great spot to spend a sunny afternoon or a sparkling evening. Welcome Glenn and Ryan …  can’t wait to see what you’ve got in store.

Do you think you’ve got the chops? or ribs? or chicken? or burgers?

Having spent many hours tailgating on Saturday afternoons at the University of Arizona Mall, I know how the day is filled with fun and food. There’s music and Wilbur the Wildcat and the incredible aromas emanating from the hundreds of barbecue grills. People go all out at home game tailgate parties at the UA. Ribs, chicken, carne asada, burgers, hot dogs, pork roasts and even vegetables are tossed on all manner of cooking devices. Some are as little as a hibachi; others, the size of a Volkswagen van, are towed in the night before. Side dishes are as varied and as creative as they come. Sure you’ll find potato salad and cole slaw, but looking around you’ll spot beef dips and shrimp cocktail and hundreds of other tasty go-alongs.  Desserts are no slouch either. It’s a sight to behold and the smells are intoxicating.

Chef Ryan Clark has been a favorite of mine since his days at Lodge on the Desert. I dreamt about a foie gras dish of his that I had there for weeks afterward.

recent ryan clark

These days Chef Clark is the Executive Chef at Casino Del Sol.

 

Now I’m sure you’re asking yourself…what do these two things have in common?

Well, starting September 7th – UofA’s home opener against NAU, – Chef Clark will be on the Mall looking for the best tailgating dish of the week. Starting three hours before the game (people get there hours ahead of kickoff) Chef will be tasting one dish from each contestant. The dish he likes best will be named the winner and the contestant will be declared SOL BOWL Tailgate Champion of the Week. During the game Chef Clark will present the winner with an “official” chef’s Sol Bowl apron and $500 in gift cards for their next tailgate experience from Casino Del Sol.

OprvFEWg

Tailgate cooks are encouraged to register online prior to each game at www.casinodelsol.com/solbowl. Entrants must be 21 or older, have tickets to the game and an official tailgating location at the tailgate section of the UA Main Campus Mall.

For expert advice on how to prepare delectable tailgate cuisine, Chef Clark has put together a weekly series of tailgate recipe videos that will be available for viewing before each UA football game. Each video demonstrates how to make unique game day dishes such as Sweet Chile Thai Chicken Wings, Dragoon IPA Pork Ribs, Grilled Green Chile-Lamb Burgers and more.

Ingredients used in Chef’s dishes come from Heirloom Farmer’s Markets, Forbes Meat Company, Barrio Bread, Pivot Produce and other local purveyors.

The recipe videos will be available at www.casinodelsol.com/solbowl.

There are six games in all.

Sept. 7 vs. NAU

Sept. 14 vs. Texas Tech,

Sept. 28 vs. UCLA

Oct. 12 vs. Washington

Nov. 2 vs. Oregon State

Nov. 23 vs. Utah

So sharpen your knives, warm up your grill and let your imaginations soar….you could soon be a SOL BOWL Champion.

Further info visit https://www.casinodelsol.com/

 

 

Better Late….

This posting is long overdue.

About a month ago, two meaningful events occurred that shook the culinary community in Tucson.

One, was a mind-boggling happening that in retrospect still seems almost impossible and has long-reaching implications that will take some time to sort out.

The other, was a loss, which made us reflect on life and how lucky we all are to have such a close community.

The odd thing for me was though that the two central figures in both events were once a central part of an article I wrote for the Tucson Weekly way back when Jimmy Boegle was editor.

The article was about hospitality and I interviewed two people for the piece: one, from a upscale concept company and the other from a tiny, sandwich shop.

https://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/all-about-relationships/

The first event was the sale of the Fox Restaurant Concepts to The Cheesecake Factory. Now restaurant sales happen all the time, but the numbers reported on this one were beyond belief. Sam Fox and Company walked away from the deal with a cool $350 million and a plan to bring those numbers close to $400 million. Fox will continue to be a part of the action, opening concepts not just in the West, but nationwide.

Say what you will about Sam Fox (and there is plenty to say) this is a major sea change. Many folks disparaged Fox, saying that his restaurants are not local, that they’ve become mo better than chain restaurants. But people forget how influential Fox has been to Tucson (and Phoenix) dining. A dozen or more popular and busy restaurants in town are run by Fox alumni. Fox, along with Regan Jasper, elevated the wine scene in town. His restaurants hire hundreds of people in all aspects of the business. We may not see much of him but I blame that on the strict and unbending Pima County, which is not known for being small business friendly.

samfox2

I wish Sam, Regan and the whole company the best…I can’t imagine anyone would have said no to the kind of offer he got.

The second event was sad. Frankie Santos, the man who brought true cheese steaks to Tucson, died after an extended illness. His Frankie’s Philly Cheese Steaks was a hit from day one, mostly due to Frankie’s understanding about what people want.

Frankie was one of a kind. He came here from Philly to open Daglio’s with his friend Chuck Stopani. The partnership ended and Santos went on to open his shop on Campbell Avenue. When I met him for the interview, the changeover had just happened. Part of that conversation was about how difficult it was to open a restaurant in Tucson thanks to all the unnecessary red tape.

In spite of the differences in the restaurants (Bistro Zin was the Fox restaurant at that time), both men had pretty the same things to say….running a successful restaurant was all about making people happy. And not just the diners, but the people who worked for them.

Frankie and I became friends working together on various projects over the years. He was a stand-up guy and was never afraid to speak his mind, even if other restaurant owners didn’t agree. I could go into great detail but instead I’ll just say. Thanks, Frankie for all you did….and rest easy.

 

 

Sandwiches for Sale

We finally got around to lunch at August Rhodes Market, the sandwich shop owned by the same guys who run the two Prep & Pastry and Commoner and Co. restaurants last week.

We had waited to avoid the rush that happens when new restaurants open and for them to get all the pieces in place. Make no mistake, the pieces are in place. The restaurant was still packed but we were able to snag a table in the small indoor dining room. There were a few empty spots on the patio, but eating outside in 100 degree heat has lost its charm for this old foodie. Yes, there’s shade and yes, there are misters but still, it’s too damn hot!

Anyway, August Rhodes is located in the former home of the original Prep & Pastry on Campbell Avenue. They’ve done a great job on the remodel. Gone are is the chalk board art and the bar. The back wall has large patterned wall paper in a modern art deco style. The fire place hold plants and stuff.It looks like a very, hip place for ladies who lunch.

Unlike P&P and Commoner, this is fast casual dining where one orders from a menu that hangs above the counter. There was a line, but there were two people taking the orders so our wait was almost non-existent. Sandwiches and salads are the backbone. Ingredients are local as much as possible and in a clever twist, many of the breads are baked in house. You can even buy loaves to take home. Vegans will be happy with the four options that are on the menu. Kids have three choices.

We ordered the turkey club and the grinder, two old school sandwiches. Soft drink choices were plentiful and varied but we just poured ourselves two lemonades (we did try the blueberry limeade as a refill which was top shelf) from the half-dozen fountain machines that line the counter.

The servers were running beautiful looking plates to the mixed bag of diners. The sandwiches are so big you could pretty much tell what everyone has ordered.

Our sandwiches arrived quickly. They were beautiful! The house made potato chips, thin and golden brown, added to the pretty plating. Should chips not be your thing you can substitute hummus & crudite, pasta salad, fries and a secret sauce, fruit and tajin or kimchi slaw. I think I could make a meal of just the substitutes.

The fillings in both sandwiches were of the finest quality, The grinner was served on a crispy, fresh baguette and filled with capicolla, salami, pepperoni, pickles, provolone, pepperoncini (cut in tiny circles and spread over the whole sandwich which made them easier to eat than big chunks found most places) and romaine and dressed in a perfectly balanced viniagrette. This sandwich was fresh! august rhodes market grinder

The club was served on super thick slices of house-made sourdough. The slices so think it would have been impossible to make a triple-decker that makes a club sandwich a club sandwich, but that didn’t matter. The turkey, avocado, lettuce, tomato, onion, bacon, pickles and mayo came together like magic.

Both sandwiches had just the right amount of fillings. Often sandwich shops cram fillings in the sandwiches usually with the cheaper meats and then in an attempt to make a “pretty” sandwich over do the lettuce. Not so here. This is how a sandwich should be built.august rhodes club

Two bites in and we were making plans to return.

Service was outstanding from the counter person to the manager who refilled a drink for us by taking the cup back to the fountain machine not from a pitcher. They all seemed genuinely happy in their work.

Currently only wine and beer potent potables are available but the sign in the window notes a liquor license is in the works.

We’ll be back. I want to try the soups and a salad and several of the sandwiches. I guess that means more than one revisit.

 

 

G.U.T – Let’s Do The Time Warp

Apologies to this great group of local chefs and to all you foodies out there.

This should’ve been posted last week at the latest.

Below you will find the menu for The Gastronomic Union of Tucson’s Summer Series Dinners held at The Carriage House.

Tickets ($75) are still available at:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/gut-summer-series-2019-time-warp-tickets-64808536076

Cocktails kick off at 6:00 pm

Thses dinners are a blast and you get to enjoy one-of-a-kind dishes prepared by a whole legion of creative, passionate chefs.

Time Warp  ~ Sunday, July 28th

Menu:

Hors d’œuvre (1950’s)

Salmon mousse, chicharron, cucumber kimchi, salmon roe

Rumaki – brûlée pork belly, chicken liver mousse, Asian pear

Coronation chicken deviled egg

Ceviche aspic, avocado mousse, Tajin shrimp

 

First Course (1970’s)

Not Your Grandma’s Cheese Ball

spice whipped cream cheese + english cheddar, tomatillo + summer herb coulis, crispy butter toasted croutons, asiago crackers

Second Course (1980’s)

Pablo Prudhombre – Blackened Sea of Cortez Cabrilla, maque choux terrine with Southwestern accent, lemon butter sauce, rocket

Third Course (1960’s)

Mesquite Beef Cheek Bourguignon,

lingerie potatoes, carrot confit,

sweet onion puree,

truffle glazed mushrooms

Dessert (1810’s)

Course 4 – 1810

Sonoran Mille Feuille

mesquite puff pastry, prickly pear pastry cream quince, pomegranate gel, candied orange, bahidaj sitol meringue

 

The chefs/collaborators for Time Warp include:

Obadiah Hindman, Mountain Oyster Club

Janet Jones, Tanque Verde Ranch

Mat Cable, Fresco Pizzeria

Marianne Banes, Kingfisher

Rica Rances, The Parish

Ken Foy, Dante’s Fire

Izaak Morhaim, The Hub

Gina Skelton, Casino del Sol

Brently Singletary, Zona 78

Matt Kraiss, Culinary Ronin

Kelzi Bartholomaei, Mother Hubbard’s Cafe

Jerry Morgan, Mountain Oyster Club

Wendy Gauthier, Chef Chic

Max Provost, Private Chef

Lindy Reilly, Local Kitchen Pirate

Stacy Vernooy, Chef Chic

David Hargis, Kitchen Management Solutions

Rocco DiGrazia, Rocco’s Little Chicago

Roderick Ledesma, PY Steakhouse

Nohemi Montoya, Eurest

Mike Gradowski, Catalina High School Culinary

Devon Alsakkaf, The Coronet

Juan Almanza, El Taco Rustico

Nichole Correa, Batch

Mike Estelle,  Mountain Oyster Club

Devon Sanner, The Carriage House & Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails

G.U.T (Gastronomic Union of Tucson) is a union of local Chefs working to further education and give back to Tucson’s diverse culinary community through responsible agriculture and locally sourced ingredients. It is a collaboration of over 30 chefs and food professionals who came together following Tucson’s designation as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, to foster a culinary community of creativity, professional development and community engagement. Their goal is to educate the public that our dynamic food scene is more than its exceptional restaurants; it includes seed banks, food banks, community gardens, the 4000 year agricultural history, farmers markets, breweries, wineries, distillers, ranches,  growers, food writers, and most importantly the Tucson community that supports them. G.U.T seeks to bring these elements together both to honor our food heritage, and to foster culinary innovation and creative exchange.