A New Twist

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the soft opening for India Twist, the newest venue from JAM Culinary Concepts.

Located at the sight of the short-lived Twisted Tandoor, India Twist has a Sikh chef who makes dishes of New Delhi and environs.

We ordered the cauliflower patties, tandoori fish and the butter chicken, which we were told is the recipe of the man who invented bitter chicken.

Everything we had was fab!

For me to it cauliflower there has to be something special about the white veggie. Here, the florets were dusted with a spicy breading and deep fried. The cauliflower was like butter and the breading popped with heat.IMG_0295

The white fish was juicy with blackened edges and served with ultra-soft onions and green peppers.IMG_0298

The chicken was tender.Big chunks of white meat in a creamy tomato based sauce, which we sopped up with toasty naan. Fluffy rice accompanied the chicken.IMG_0300

PS. Other media was there. Bill Buckmaster, long time Tucson radio talk show host and his wife reported that the mango chicken was “amazing!”

India Twist opens today. There will be a lunch buffet and you can have any number of clever cocktails from the full bar.

I’ll be back.

 

Time to Dine for a Good Cause

DSCN2346Dine on Your Corner

January 8th marks a day in Tucson’s history like no other. That’s the day a senseless and tragic shooting took place at a ‘Congress on Your Corner’ meet up with Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

Giffords was injured as were 12 others; six people died.

Now a local group is raising funds for a memorial downtown and, as is in true Tucson fashion, the culinary community is pitching in.

On Monday, January 8th, the following restaurants will donate a portion of their daily sales to help fund the project.

The list is a great mix od eateries, from high end to downhome fun places. I’m sure more will be involved.

Check it out.

Donate, Remember, Embrace

http://www.tucsonsmemorial.org/january-8-2018-dine-corner-donate-remember-embrace/  .

Dine on Your Corner participating restaurants:  

Bentley’s Coffee & Tea

Brother John’s

DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktail

Eclectic Café

Frost Gelato

Kingfisher Bar & Grill

Mama’s Hawaiian Bar B Cue

Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink

Senai Thai Bistro

Sundance Café at Hilton El Conquistador

The Shanty

Sunrise Café

Zinburger

High Tea in Tucson

Sazarac Creole Kitchen & Cocktails serves some fine food and creative libations but a recent addition to the menu is a tad more refined.

High Tea is served on Saturdays.24174328_10209106960066051_6109286984283217841_n

Tables are set with mismatched china cups and saucers, adding a shabby chic touch. Servers float between tables pouring several types of tea. And on the bar that opens to the inside dining room are stacks of tiny sandwiches, scones, quiches, pies, cookies and more. Special tea centric cocktails are available for an extra charge ($7).24131444_10209106960306057_1070318530467870601_n

We sat on the patio – which is one of the finest in the city – and enjoyed a casual hour of tea and good food. The vibe was cool and casual with a touch of royal fun.

PS Thank you Edie Jarolim for the food photos.

Mad for Margaritas? Craving a Tasty taco? Then Blanco is the place to be.

The thing about any restaurant in the Sam Fox stable is that you can always count on change.

Change in a good way, course. Menus at the many venues will have the good old reliable items you love but new items are added on a regular basis just to keep diners taste buds tingling.

I had the opportunity to try some of those changes at Blanco Tacos & Tequila the other night as part of a media dinner. Sadly, we couldn’t try all the new changes, but the ones we did have were great and added special bites to the menu.

We began with two new cocktails: The Margarita of the Month, an autumnal mix of apple, cinnamon and tequila and the Spicy Ginger Paloma with tequila, ginger liquor, grapefruit juice and sparkling grapefruit soda.Nov MOM

For example, for as long as Blanco had been around the tacos served there have been of the street variety, in other words, soft tacos.

But now, Blanco offers a plate of two crispy ground beef tacos. The tortillas are perfectly fried and packed with lightly seasoned beef. Topped with greens and shredded cheddar cheese, these are a nice version of the quintessential taco.Blanco tacos

We also sampled another new taco on the menu, the grilled avocado tacos.Blanco 2 These are tiny tacos, just a bite or two, but they are filled with tastes and textures that are refreshing and savory. We were warned that they would be a little spicy, and they were, but the slaw that topped them was almost Asian in taste and texture.

We opted for one of the new fajitas on the menu and ordered the mahi which comes with flour tortillas.IMG_0624 This dish, I think, was my favorite. The thick slab of mahi was grilled to a nice char. We grabbed one of the soft flour tortillas, piled a big bite of fish, seasoned sautéed veggies and sides (guacamole, sour cream, salsa and lime) on top and chowed down.

Blanco has also added the option to have a burrito in a bowlBlanco and the their quesadillas can be prepped as crisps, both clever ways to please the variety of diners.

Service was top notch with sincere smiles and attention to details. Add the stunning view from the patio and all in all we had a great evening.

Dogs and Beer

How often do you get to enjoy a well-crafted local beer and help your furry friends?

Well, here’s your chance.

On Sunday November 12 from 3pm-5pm you can head over to Sentinel Peak Brewing Company on Grant and Swan, sip a pint or two of their brews and know that for each beer you imbibe, $1.00 will be donates to Senior Dog Adoption at PACC.

There is also a “MEGA RAFFLE PRIZE” and the opportunity to adopt a senior pet.

Check out the link below for further details.sr doga

Tucson: Drink More Beer for a Cause, Sips for Seniors

Brunch in the Foothills

Brunch is by far one of my most favorite meals. A little bit of breakfast, a little bit of lunch, usually a bloody mary or a mimosa, hopefully some strong black coffee all served at a reasonable hour.

So, when we were invited to sample the Sunday Blues, BBQ & Brews brunch at Loews Ventana Canyon a couple weeks back we replied with a resounding yes.IMG_0185

The day was warm and sunny, ideal for dining on the patio with close-up views of the Catalinas. A combo played some old-time blues. Totally relaxing.

Oddly we never made it inside for the omelet bar, cheeses, baked goods (well, we did east several of the many desserts that were displayed.) But that didn’t mean there was any shortage of things to eat.

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Tucson Flavor was the central theme of the brunch and while there were plenty of foods we don’t grow or make nearby, local makers were there serving their wares.  I filled my plate with grilled salmon,IMG_0183 prime rib, roasted veggies many of which were from local farms, cornbread, a tamale with an egg on top from Tucson Tamales,IMG_0179 several slices of a dark, sweet bread from Barrio Bread. IMG_0177

Flavors of Tucson is a part of ‘Flavors of Loews Hotels’ a program that is featured a Loews Hotels across the country.  The program highlights the products of local makers, bakers, brewers, distillers and more. Flavors of Loews Hotels began at Loews Miami Beach Hotel and now can be found at the Ventana Canyon. Chef Ken Harvey is working with Tucson Tamale, Barrio Bread and Dragoon Brewing Company to bring the delectable flavors of the Southwest to guests from near and far.

We skipped the local beer and went for a mimosa.IMG_0188IMG_0166

Other goodies included pots of Mexican dishes like green chile. Sonoran hot dogs, grilled chicken, fruits of all kinds, barbecued ribs and ……the list was so long, I list everything. But, everything we ate was fab. Quality products, prepared with finesse and flair was what this experience is all about.IMG_0171

This would be an ideal spot to take out-of-town guests to get a flavor and a feel for Tucson and the Sonoran Desert.IMG_0186

Sundays from 11-2. $42. Children 6-12 $21 $5.95 for kids 5 and under.

I’d make reservations.

 

 

All Aboard and Then Some

So after not having traveled anywhere for almost a year, I’ve just returned from my second vacation in one month.

I wrote all about my Michigan experiences in my last post.

This one is about my trip to Seattle and the train ride we took from The Emerald City to The City of Angels.

We flew to Seattle on Friday and got there just in time to grab a cab to Elliot’s Oyster House. Located on Pier 56, the restaurant is designed for great views of Puget Sound. IMG_0191Huge ferries moved in and out as the sun set. Warm golden logs and beams, high ceilings and a soft, busy vibe added a touch of romance and glamor.

We went to Elliot’s on the recommendation of my friend Susan, who I’ve known for decades. The restaurant is one of her and her husband, Steve’s favorites when they visit Seattle.

I have to thank them. We had a fine meal.

We kept our dinner simple: a dozen and a half oysters and the alder planked Alaskan sock-eye salmon. We paired it with a Washington State white wine.

We tried three oysters from over a dozen choices on the menu. They were all local and achingly fresh. A bright mignonette, ketchup and the hottest horseradish I’ve had in a while were all that accompanied the bivalves. Some, I think they were the Hama Hamas, were tiny and light while the Wildcats were big and plump and almost two bites worth.IMG_0196 I could’ve eaten a dozen more, but sanity prevailed.IMG_0195

The salmon was outstanding, as well.  The photo doesn’t do the presentation justice.IMG_0197 A light rub added a pop and the tomato beurre blanc glistened with a rich layer of buttery flavor.

The next day we went to Pike Place Market. John had never been and he was totally blown away, as was I even though I’d been there before. We didn’t see any flying fish but we did see beautiful fruits and vegetables, IMG_0199huge, bright bouquets of flowers, candies, baked goods, pastas, IMG_0201oils and much, much more. We popped into Beecher’s and bought cheese.

We sent chocolate covered cherries to the kids in Brooklyn from Chukar cherries. We also sent them two types of smoked salmon from City Fish. We bought some for ourselves (it’s fabulous).

We were able to get a table at Lowell’s, another Pike Place institution. We opted for the line as opposed to the restaurant, but the line has a full selection of fantastic options. We ordered the Dungeness crab cocktail, crab cakes and the clam chowder.IMG_0204

The food was at the table pretty quickly but we had time to enjoy the views. IMG_0202The Sound was as calm as could be and because it was the weekend there were pleasure boats galore.

We had to get up early so we ordered a pizza in from Padrino’s. No photos. Nothing really to say either, but we liked it.

We boarded the Amtrak Coastal Starlight the Sunday morning just prior to departure at 9:30. We had a sleeper but spent a good part of the time in the parlor car.

Like the observation car, the Parlor Car allows for great views but it has more comfortable chairs that allow for almost 360° views. This ride is the only one with the Parlor Car option and due to costs it may be cut. I am writing letters to the powers that be, maybe two.

We ate several meals on the train: a rather ordinary burger in the dining car at lunch; a small but savory lamb shank and fettuccini alfredo in the parlor car; a salad and a hot dog for the next day’s lunch and salmon for our final dinner. Nothing was fantastic, but like airplane dining space and equipment are limited so all in all we enjoyed our food. The only foodie photo I have though is of the wine tasting. We had a fun time even though the wines were not that great. IMG_0215

We arrived in Los Angeles right on time Monday at 9:00 pm.

Maybe, I’ll do a play by play of the ride, but not today. But I can recommend this trip. It was a fabulous way to see our beautiful country.