A Night to Honor – Janos Wilder – A Tucson Treasure

As a food writer in Tucson my life has been filled with wonderful, passionate people who love making others happy through their craft; people who make the world a better place through hard work, creativity and talent.

One of the most, perhaps even the most, creative caring people is Janos Wilder.

Janos has for decades created food that made people sit up and listen, He used local ingredients long before the trend became the norm. His food was transcendent. It was food you dreamed about long after you put your fork down.

He has generously shared his talents with the community and has given back to his adopted city time and time again. Who knows how much money he has helped raise for numerous causes in Tucson?

Personally, Janos has always been there when I asked for anything form a simple question for an article to having a incredible dinner to promote my book, ‘Lost Restaurants of Tucson.’  Talking with him is always enriching and fun. He’s made a difference in my life.

Now Tucson is giving back to Janos in a big way.

As the kick-off event for the Annual Agave Heritage Festival, a dinner honoring Janos Wilder will take place on Friday, April 27th at Carriage House.

The four course dinner will include an agave-inspired cocktail appetizers, entrée and dessert created from Janos’ cornucopia of recipes.

Participating chefs include: Bryan Vernon, Patrick Fahey, David La Force, Carlos Calderon, Bruce Yim, Marianne Banes, Devon Sanner and Brian Smith.


Cost is $150 per person and will benefit NATIVE Seed/Search, a Tucson based organization that preserves and protects native plants and seeds. Janos had been instrumental to the growth and success of NATIVE Seed/Search and is currently the Chairman of the Board.

Tickets are available below.


Have a Fox-y Easter

Fox Restaurant Concepts is serving up some special Easter offerings and the neat part is you can go fancy or casual; All-American or Italian; brunch or lunch.

Wildflower opens early on Easter Sunday and in addition to the tasty lunch menu items, people can order from four specials: Wild Mushroom Quiche, Roasted Sea Bass, Blue Crab Omelet or Prime Rib. As per usual at Wildflower, cocktails play a role in a beautiful brunch and the Easter specials include $6 Bloody Marys or mimosas, Make reservations at www.wildflowertucson.com


North at La Encantada will serve the usual Sunday Brunch items like the earthy Nonna’s casserole with torn bread and Italian sausage or the special of grilled cauliflower with fried egg, toasted breadcrumbs, pancetta cream and lemon. Prosecco may be more appropriate here. Rezzies are recommended. www.northitaliarestaurant.com

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Then for those folks looking for a more casual take, you might want to dine at Zinburger. There’s even an Easter burger called the Brunch Burger that is built with Waygu beef, ham, fried egg and hollandaise sauce; sounds like a knife and fork kind of burger. New items include a Classic Diner Burger, a California Burger Bowl and Seared Salmon Salad. Your choice of drink? Either one of Zin’s milkshakes or a chilled bottle of pinot grigio, No reservations taken but info can be found at www.zinburger.com

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Historic Restaurants of Tucson…hot off the press

Well, folks here it is….


Publisher: The History Press
Date: 02/12/2018
Tucson’s culinary journey began thousands of years ago, when Native American tribes developed an agricultural base along the Santa Cruz River. In modern times, restaurants ranging from tiny taquerias to fine dining spaces all contributed to the local food culture. El Charro, serving Mexican cuisine since 1922, still attracts crowds from all over. Folks head straight to Pat’s for a hot dog, Lucky Wishbone for some fried chicken or eegee’s for a grinder and a cold, frosty drink. On any given night, the patio at El Corral is filled with diners anticipating their famous prime rib and tamale pie. Local food writer Rita Connelly brings to life the stories of beloved eateries that have endured for decades and continue to delight with incredible flavors.

Rita Connelly has lived in Tucson since 1979 with her husband, John, and daughter, Riene. Somewhere in her travels, she earned a BA in education from the University of Arizona. She worked as a restaurant reviewer for the Tucson Weekly for ten years. During that time, she acted as a judge for hot dog, wine, tequila, salsa, chocolate and pie competitions. Her book, Lost Restaurants of Tucson, was published in 2015. She chronicles her food adventures in her blog, thewellfedfoodieblog@wordpress.com.

Rita will be on the Buckmaster Show on KVOI – The Voice 1030AM on Tuesday 2/13 around 12:30 pm and on Morning Blend on KGUN Channel 9 on Friday sometime after 11:00 am



Sunday February 18. 2018


El Charro Cafe Downtown

Book Signing


Saturday, February 24, 2018


Mostly Books

6208 E Speedway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85712


Friday March 2, 2018


Trail Dust Town

6541 E Tanque Verde Rd, Tucson, AZ 85715


Friday March 9, 2018


Antigone Books

411 N 4th Ave, Tucson, AZ 85705


Sunday March 11

Tucson Festival of Books

11:30 – Mini meet the author talk

2:00 book Signing and saleshistoriccover

SAACA Satisfies

Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance is one of my favorite non-profits in Tucson. Over the years they’ve developed a deep support of arts in all forms, including food.

This week is one of SAACA’s biggest fund raisers – Savor – Southern Arizona Food & Wine Festival, which this year includes three separate events.

Tonight at Monarch Premium Appliance site is Sweet Charity where folks can enjoy cakes, candies, pies, ice cream, cotton candy and much, much more (I think the chocolate/candies chile pepper pate sounds divine.) Confectioners from all over the area will be there as will local wineries and breweries. If you don’t know which wine pairs with lemon bars, here’s the place to find out. Monarch is located at 3850 N. Orange Grove Road. The event runs from 6pm-8pm. Contact SAACA for tickets.

Then on Thursday February 1st, SAACA teams with GUT (Gastronomic Union of Tucson) for a bit of New Orleans in Tucson, CARNIVAL.  The best chefs in Tucson will be collaborating and serving fabulous food from the world over. The following is just a small sample of what you’ll find. Cost is $45 and monies raised will support not just SAACA bur the Rialto Theater, where CARNIVAL is being held.

  • Dirty South Mudbug Rolls n’Gutzz
  • Smoked ‘gator boudin sausage with creole mustard
  • Green gumbo & grilled kale garlic rice
  • Brazilian Feijoada
  • Pao de Quiejo
  • Yuca Fries
  • Molho Rose
  • Smokey duck boudin balls with kumquat remoulade
  • BBQ shrimp & pork belly poboys with charred pickle slaw
  • Chicory, celery & chicken heart salad with crispy onions and buttermilk vinaigrette
  • Stuffed fresh water shrimp head with a Shrimp mousse
  • Corn flour tempura with Smoked chimichurri
  • Beef Roulade with charred green onion, pickled carrots, bacon, avocado and Serrano cream
  • Coconut flan, filo crisp and sous vide candied plantain topped with a coconut lace garnish.
  • Heritage Red Beans and Carolina Gold Rice and Pickled Pork
  • Alligator Gumbo, Cajun Trinity, and Tasso Ham
  • Fresh Beignet “Fosters” au Foie

Music will be a big part of the evening.

Then on Saturday is the big SAVOR where many of the same participants from the other events at Tucson Botanical Gardens. This is a can’t miss event. The Botanical Gardens are a Tucson treasure and all the food and wine here will be top notch. Tickets are $75. Contact SAACA to purchase tickets.



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.


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.