Tonight, Tonight…well, really this afternoon, this afternoon but that doesn’t have the right ring

Arizona Chimichangas

Happy hour

BOOK SIGNING

@DOWNTOWN KITCHEN & COCKTAILS

THURSDAY MARCH 21, 2019

4 P.M. – 6 P.M.

IMG_1081With Special Happy Hour

BEEF CHEEK & FRIJOLES MANEADOS WITH CHILI COLORADO AND SALPICON MINI CHIMIS

$6.

Rita Connelly will be signing copies of her new book, Arizona Chimichangas. Her other titles Lost Restaurants of Tucson IMG_1087 and Historic Restaurants of Tucson will also be available.

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A Evening to Remember and more…

Janos Wilder and his team have always played a major role in Tucson’s culinary scene, not just in the food and hospitality they’re known for but as promotors of the all things Tucson.janosheadshot-1-246x300

Instrumental in Tucson becoming a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, the team continues to be active in creating a bond among the chefs, restaurant owners, makers, bakers and even a humble food write or two (more about that later). Thanks to the UNESCO designations, Tucson chefs have been able to take the flavors of Tucson to sister Cities of Gastronomy world wide.DSCN2091

As part of Tucson City of Gastronomy, on March 27th, at Janos’ Carriage House, chefs will come together for the 4th Annual Downtown Chef’s Table. This event is a true meeting of the minds and talents found in our many wonderful kitchens as well as proof that Tucson is a one-of-a-kind city. Tucson Chefs are proud and happy to work together to bring the flavors of Tucson to local diners and the world.

This year’s participants include:

Chef Brian Smith of Maynards Market & Kitchen

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Chef/Owner Carlotta Flores of El Charro/Charro Del Rey/Charro Steak

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Chef Gary Hickey of Charro Steak/Charro del Rey

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Patricia Schwabe and Bryan Eichorst of Penca

Chef Tyler Fenton of Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink

Chef Angel Valente and Chef Mahmoud “Moody” Elbarasi of Augstin Kitchen and The Coronet

Chef Janos Wilder and Chef Devon Sanner of Downtown Kitchen & Cocktails and The Carriage House DSCN2081

 

Chef Ivor Cryderman of 1055 Brewing & Sausage House

Cocktails and hors d/oeuvres begin at 5:30 followed by a multi-course dinner, wine-paired sit down dinner beginning at 7:00. The chefs will all be there to talk about their dishes. Cost is $150 per person 9tax & tip included.)

From a personal point Janos has been a major supporter of my work.

When Lost Restaurants of Tucson

was published Janos and Devon – with the help of my friend Norma Gentry – held a dinner at Carriage House bringing together chefs and dishes from the restaurants featured in the book. I was honored and humbled by the whole evening.

Now Janos is again showing his support for the food writers in Tucson, namely me and my new book Arizona Chimichangas.

On Thursday March 21st, I will be signing and selling my books during Happy Hour at Downtown Kitchen & Cocktails. They’re even making a special chimi just for the evening.

I am beyond thrilled and I hope you all will try and make it.

I also hope that you attend the Downtown Chef’s Table Dinner on the 27th for a chance to experience and taste some of the best food from the best chefs in Tucson.

A Long Time Coming

For weeks now I’ve been meaning to write about the plethora of new Asian restaurants in Tucson. But every time I start to make a list another one opens and then another and another, so many that I’d bet that by time this gets posted another place will appear on Tucson’s culinary map. And speaking of that map, these new places can be found all over the city, which is a good thing.

For decades the number and types of Asian restaurants in Tucson was pretty limited to  Chinese-American eateries with a handful of Japanese, Thai  and Indian spots most of which were near the University, but in the last eighteen months or so there seems to be a noodle joint on every corner with more opening as we speak. I can’t count the poke places that now exist in a city where poke was almost unheard of two years ago.

I have no idea why this is happening other than the fact that people love foods from all over Asia. Maybe it has to do with the relatively inexpensive costs that it takes to open a tiny spot with a small menu. Or maybe the reason is because even if a chef isn’t Asian, noodles are easy to make. Or maybe it’s just cosmic intervention.

I’m not exactly sure when Noodleholics  on Grant Road (I’ve yet to eat there)  but it eas around the same time Raijin Ramen  (1/2018) on Speedway opened.  Both were immediate hits with lines out the doors at both places. But if you time it right you can get in Raijin after the lunch crowd leaves. With a variety of tasty ramen available, I’d recommend you give this place a try.

Of course, that wouldn’t explain why places like Years Asian Bistro and BBQ and the upscale Japanese Izumi opened within months of each other.  These are full menu restaurants. Izumi even has a hostess. Both are outstanding at what they do. Years offers a whole map of Asian food from the typical Chinese -American choices like sweet and sour pork to Korean fried chicken to ‘authentic’ plates such as congee. I;ve been to Years more that once and the one time I ate at Izumi I was thrilled with all the options and with the dishes I had.IMG_0662

MiAn opened two fast casual Hoki Poki spots, one on Grant and another on Campbell Avenue. Granted poke is a Hawaiian dish but the flavors and ingredients are rooted in Asia where many Hawaiians trace their ancestry. At Hoki Poki you build you bowl from a menu on a screen. Choices are plentiful. Poke can also be found at Jimmy’s Pita and Poke which has two locations; one on University Boulevard just steps from the Main Gate with a brand new second store on on West River Road. Apparently, the pita part has been for over sixteen years with the poke popping up in the last year.DSCN2358

Fat Noodle graduated from a popular food truck to a brick and mortar place sometime in 2018. They make the noodles using Sonoran white wheat so in a way the food served there could be called fusion.

In the past two weeks a new item, oigiri or stuffed rice balls,  are the featured item at both Kukai (from the people at Samurai) and Takoyaki Balls another food truck. Weirdly they are both located near Mercado San Agustin west of Downtown, although the truck does make appearances around town,

Fatman Kitchen and Asian Sofrito are practically next door to each other on North First Avenue just east of Grant Road. Asian Sofrito boasts a blend of Chinese-Carribean dishes. That may sound an odd mix, but the idea is common in bigger cities. Fatman Kitchen is another spot that garnered insane attention when it opened and with good reason. Dishes here are big and packed with a savoriness that’s hard to describe; the menu is from Shaanxi province in China. A couple of friends were not impressed but I thought the beef noodle dish I had was superb. Noodles are the focus here, all kinds noodles; fat noodles, skinny noodles, round noodles, flat noodles. Truly something different than most places in town. Maru Japanese Noodle Shop can be found on Silverbell Road near Pima College West. While there may be noodle in the name, the owners want people to experience ‘authentic’ Japanese culture so the menu has a range of good eats including onigiri (looks like those rice balls are going to be the next latest thing for Tucson foodies.)

Back in midtown you can satisfy your hunger for Korean food at  7 ounce Korean Steak House. Odd name, yes, but the menu offers a full ration of Korean meats that you cook at your table.

As expected, the University area has seem its fair share of new restaurants. On Speedway just east of Tucson Boulevard is Yu Zei Wei. The specialty here is Chonggqing whole fish hot pot with other dishes from that province. You order the fish by the pound which is meant for two people and then cook the add-ons (of which there are plenty) at the table on the hot pot.

Closer to campus is Panda House that has a huge menu filled with the usual items plus a whole lot more that are not so usual. Students rave. Practically next door in a nondescript space is Zing Zing, which also claims authentic Chinese food. The owners also recently took over China Bamboo on Grant Road.

New to the Foothills. Island Plate Lunch that has, in addition to Hawaiian dishes also lists Kalbi (Korean) and Katsu (Japanese) on their menu.

And if one considers India to be Asian (that depends on who you talk with) then two new places have to bee mentioned: Tamarind, nest to The Foothills Mall and India Twist on Camp Lowell. Tamarind describes itself as “a modern fine dining restaurant, offering unique Indian food and fusion of Indian Chinese. Allowing our customer to choose from a wide variety of mouth watering dishes.”  India Twist is decidedly more casual, but no less authentic and tasty.IMG_0300

Have I missed any? No doubt. Stay tuned for updates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tamarind

Indian Twist

Hearts Afire at Kingfisher on V-Day

Kingfisher has always been one of my favorite places in Tucson. The food is a little bit down home; a little bit uptown. The vibe is sophisticated especially in the bar.This 20-plus year dining gem has won Best Seafood many years running from various publications and with good reason. The team there knows what their doing and their talent and passion is apparent.

For Valentine’s Day Kingfisher is pulling out all the stops with a special ala carte menu that include their world-famous steamed lobster tail, seared scallops and Long Island Duckling. Of course, a fill slate of chilled on-the-shell oysters will be available.

 Dinner will be served from 5-11pm. No happy hour offered on the holiday.  Reservations are a must.  Call (520) 323-7739 or visit kingfishertucson.com .

oysterfest 002Oyster BAr

Seasonal Oysters, ½ dozen, market price.

Gulf of Mexico Oysters, ½ dozen. 13

Seasonal Selection Pacific NW Oysters

Grilled and Chilled Gulf Shrimp, ½ dozen. 15

House Smoked Ruby Red Trout, red onion jam, hot mustard, croutons. 11

Oyster Bar Tasting, gulf oysters (4), grilled shrimp (6), ½ smoked ruby trout, bay scallop ceviche, condiments. 26

Really Big Oyster Bar Tasting, chilled, 1 pound Lobster (split,) 10 ea grilled and chilled shrimp, 10 seasonal oysters, 1 order smoked trout, 1 order ceviche, smoked mussel salad, condiments. 110.00

First

New England Clam Chowder, oyster crackers. 7.5

Lobster Bisque, lobster, sherry cream, garlic toast, chives. 12

Seasonal Mesclun Greens, radicchio, Kalamata Olives, grape tomatoes, red onion, balsamic-lemon dressing. 6.5

Ahi Tuna Poke, Wakame salad, golden beets, sesame seeds, soy, honey, served up. 14

Spinach-Shaved Brussels sprout salad, dried cranberries, bacon, scallions, hot bacon maple vinaigrette, spiced pecans.10

Traditional Caesar Salad, anchovy, sourdough crouton, parmesan. 7.5

Steamed Black Mussels, Sriracha, fish broth, sweet butter. 15

Baked Oysters “Storyville,” (5) crab meat, champagne, crème fraiche, cayenne, Parmesan, sweet butter 18

Dinner

Macadamia Nut Crusted Hawaiian Fish lemongrass butter sauce, Texmati rice pilaf, sautéed spinach, fried sweet potatoes. 26

Steamed Whole Maine Lobster, (1#) herb butter, sautéed green beans, Texmati rice. 38

Seared Scottish Atlantic Salmon, roasted beet, sweet onion tumble, herbed aioli, sautéed spinach, Texmati rice. 27

Kingfisher’s Bouillabaisse, blue crab, scallops, shrimp, cod, mussels, tomato, garlic saffron broth, rouille crouton. 34

Grilled Sea Scallops, braised leeks and oven-dried tomatoes, roasted mushroom risotto, sautéed green beans. 28

Roasted and Carved “Prime” Beef Tenderloin, Blue Crab-Pichu berry relish, sautéed asparagus, mashed Yukon gold potatoes, red wine glaze. 38

Pan Seared Arctic Char, red shrimp chermoula, pigeon peas and rice, lemon butter sauce, sautéed broccolini 26

Grilled ½ Long Island Duckling, prickly pear barbecue sauce, mashed sweet potatoes, sautéed green beans. 23

Grilled Sea Bass, Romesco sauce, white bean ragout, tomato, rosemary, grilled oyster mushrooms, Kalamata olives, broccolini. 28

Grilled Angus Beef N.Y. Steak, glace di Viande, au Poivre butter, mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, grilled green beans and onions. 33

Rockin’ at Carriage House

Carriage House has some tasty events happening in February.

On Saturday February 9th, they’ll be celebrating their annual Chinese New Year party.

The menu comes from all over China and I suspect has roots in Chef Devon Sanner’s recent trip to the UNESCO Cities of Gastronomy gathering in Macao.

Shunde Hamachi Crudo

ginger, seaweed, candied jalapeño, shiso

Macao Soup Dumpling, Duck Confit Spring Roll, Shrimp Jiaozi

Five Spice Quail

Shanghai savory nian gao

Crispy Skin Pork Belly

hoisin, pickled vegetables

Sesame Ice Cream

kumquat, mandarin, pandan, almond tuile

Kick off is at 6:00 p.m. and includes a welcome cocktail and half bottle of wine per person

$65.00 +22% service and 8.7% tax per person

There will be a Lion Dance performance by Jade Lion

Then on Valentine’s Day bring you and your sweetie can enjoy

Love on the Lido Deck

The menu is all out romantic:

SiIkie Tart
red wine braised silkie chicken in savory tartlet

Chorizo y Huevos
Spanish chorizo, deviled quail eggs, truffle salted potato

Rouged Cheeks
braised beef cheek tostaditas with chiltepin salsa

Grab em in the Biscuits
barbecue glazed pork belly biscuits with bread and butter pickled chayote

Ménage Artichauts
grillés artichoke, preserved lemon, smoked paprika, labneh, and
pomegranate spiral sandwiches

Pink on Pink
house-cured gravlox, beet horseradish panna cotta, shrimp cracker

Getting Some Action Stations

Hot Taco
achiote shrimp taco, caramelized pineapple

Stuffed Loins
roasted pork loin stuffed with habanero + pepita pesto, on soft buns

Solid cocktails

Dirty Knees
mesquite honey Bees Knees gelée, cucumber cup, candied lemon zest

Bellissima
peach nectar and sparkling wine gelée in kumquat cup

Happy endings

Assorted sweet bites

6:00 pm
$50 + tax / person

Contact:

Megan@DOWNTOWNKitchen.com

or call

520 615-6100

Proof Proves True

This should have been written last week but somehow things got in the way.

With the kitchen still in a state of chaos we decided to check out Proof Artisanal Pizza and Pasta, the new restaurant from the team at Union Public House/Reforma Modern Mexican. We had high hopes and we were not disappointed.

If you ever ate ate at any one of the other eateries that was in that space you’ll be surprised at the redo. Gone are all the antique white frills. Instead there is a more relaxed look fitting for a casual pizza spot. Off the entryway there is a window where you can see the pizzas being made. The patio was also redone making it more inviting and a great spot to spend an evening.

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The wine list is short and smart with wines not found at other places in town.

We started with the polenta fries that came with a pleasant marinara sauce, The thick cut ‘fries’ were light and fluffy with a nice lightly crisp outside. I’d definitely order them again but the other apps look so tempting a reorder will have to wait. Baked ricotta? Yes. Fried asparagus? For sure, Meatballs? Without a doubt.

The artisanal pies looked great but we went with a basic pepperoni. It came to the table hot and bubbly. The crust was impossibly thin and crispy with a slight char, There was the perfect amount of that same tasty marinara on top, The cheese and meat were top-notch, with the spiciness of the  pepperoni balancing out the creamy mozzarella.

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We finished our meal with the panna cotta. Cool and light, it was the perfect finish,IMG_0977

We’ll be back. I want to try some of the beautiful looking pastas that walked by that night.

 

 

A Sense of Place / Tucson on a Plate

Autumn is here at last and with along with all the wonders we desert folk love about this time of year, comes the City of Gastronomy “Sense of Place” Fall menu at Downtown Kitchen & Cocktails. This is only the latest in a series of “Sense of Place” events at the restaurant.

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These eclectic menus, the creation of the legendary Janos Wilder and his illustrious team, are the bones of what Janos has been doing for decades. From his early days in Tucson, Janos has celebrated and used local ingredients to make some of the best food in the city.

The Fall Menu features food that is of Tucson and our desert with influences from the globe. The press release calls the menu, “playful, delicious and iconic”, much like Janos himself.

Both global and local, modern and traditional the Fall Sense of Place menu truly tells Tucson’s story on a plate.

Take a look at the menu and then make reservations. The menu is available at dinner only, seven days a week.

A Sampling from the fall Menu:

 

SONORAN WHITE WHEAT BERRY + SPINACH SALAD

pickled beef tongue (optional), apples, dates, raisins, carrots, broccoli, toasted sunflower seeds, cider vinaigrette, goat cheese

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BACON WRAPPED QUAIL

stuffed with caramelized apples, Magdalena Big Cheese squash sauce, pomegranate arils, mild green chile vinaigrette

 

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ROBERTO’S BARRIO ALBONDIGAS SOUP

lightly minted meatballs in rich chicken and tomato broth finished with lime; garnished with radishes, queso fresco + cilantro

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HAMACHI TOSTADA

spicy peruana beans, radishes, red onion, cilantro, roasted garlic cloves, roasted Anaheim chiles, lemon citronette, corn emulsion

 

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DUCK WANDERS INT0 TUCSON AUTUMN

citrus braised duck quarter on chipotle molasses sweet potatoes with Aravaipa Asian pears, Briggs and Eggers apples, roasted grapes, spiced wine reduction,

membrillo vinaigrette with watercress/watermelon radish salad

Call 520 623-7700 for more information and to make reservations.