The Best Laid Plans

Due to technical difficulties yesterday’s On The Menu…..Live with Matt Russell did not air.

Anyway, here is what was going to be on the menu:

We were going to discuss the passing of Pat Connors and all that he did for Tucson at his many years at Pastiche. The Tucson community misses him and will always have great memories of a truly, nice guy,

Three Canyon Beer and Wine Garden was the setting. Located on Sabino Canyon Road near Snyder opened only one week ago. We were going to talk about the enormous number of libations that can be found at Three Canyon and about their future plans. They have a real cool “garden” area in the back and food trucks are on site daily.

Then the folks from Sentinel Peak Brewing Company were going to call in to talk about The Third Annual North Tucson Firefighters Association (NTFFA) BBQ Challenge that will be held on Saturday April 8, 2017 at Steam Pump Ranch in Oro Valley. Firefighter and police teams will compete in a friendly cook-off featuring BBQ, smoked meats and side dishes. Tickets are $10 (5 tickets for food and drink). Sentinel Peak beers will be part of the event and the money raised will support Foster and Adoptive Council of Tucson (FACT), a local entity that assists agencies that work with adoptive and foster care.

Then I was going to talk about my new book, ‘Historic Restaurants of Tucson’ and about the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation’s Tastes of the Tack Room dinner that will be held at Maynard’s on 4/7/17, where I will be signing and selling ‘Lost Restaurants of Tucson’.

It was a shame that we couldn’t air yesterday, but I had fun anyway and look forward to being on the show in the near future.

And The Winner is….

The day was a long one, but yesterday’s Stella Artois Iron Chef Tucson was a fun one. The event was held at the Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa and included cooking demonstrations,DSCN2311 booths with cooking equipment and foodstuffs, samples of food from an assortment of restaurants and lots and lots of beer and other spirits.

I was lucky to be a participant this year. Not as a chef – heaven forbid – but as a panel member in one of the many breakout sessions that were a part of the Iron Chef Culinary Event.13524374_10104989648990322_4042269662127497380_n

Along with Andi Berlin of Tucson.com (The Arizona Daily Star), Adam Lehrman of Tucson Foodie and with Matt Russell from On the Menu …Live who moderated the panel, we discussed the restaurant scene in Tucson – Past, Present and Future.

There were three sessions which drew good sized crowds. In between we ate and drank and chatted with the various providers that were a part of the event.DSCN2308

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The day culminated in the Iron Chef competition between defending champion Chef Danny Perez of JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa and Chef Javier Castro of Casino del Sol.Danny-Perez-620x400

The chefs and their teams had one hour to prepare four courses using the secret ingredient (chocolate) in each dish. One dish had to incorporate Stella Artois.

Matt and Chef Jonathan Landeen, owner and executive chef Jonathan’s Cork were the emcees. Neither of these two would ever be described as shy, so the patter was lively with professional insights from Jonathan.DSCN2321

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Judges were chefs Alan Zeman, Russell Michel, Executive Chef at Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa and Brian Burton from the Art Institute of Tucson.

The good-sized audience watched (with up close views on mega-screens) as the chefs went at it.DSCN2327

Add the power going out due to a major storm and the competition was a great time.

It was difficult to see and hear the dishes but in the end Danny Perez prevailed.

A good time was had by all.

Iron Chef Tucson

As I mentioned in an earlier post the heat is on in Tucson but foodies are keeping cool with a variety of delicious events.

This weekend finds everyone heading to Westin La Paloma for the annual Original Stella Artois Iron Chef Competition and Culinary Experience.

Along with a full day of events, two local chefs will battle it out for the title of the Iron Chef Tucson.

Last year’s champ, Danny Perez Danny-Perez-620x400

of the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa will face Javier Castro from the Casino del Sol Resort. This is the 10th year of this competition and as in the past the two talented chefs will go head to head to create true “a la minute dish.” There will be a “surprise” ingredient, three judges and lively commentary.

Other events though out the day include cooking demonstrations, displays of the latest kitchen and BBQ equipment, food prepped by other local chefs, libations galore and three panel discussions about the past, present and future of the Tucson food scene, The panel will be led by Matt RussellDSCN0672 of On the Menu Live …. with Matt Russell radio show and also include Andi Berlin, food writer from the Arizona Daily Star andi & adam

and Adam Lehrman, from Tucson Foodie website and me.

What a great way to stay cool and enjoy the wonders of Tucson’s culinary scene.

Smokin’ Hot!

Something is in the air in Tucson these days. It’s the lusty, sweet aroma of wood smoke coming from a wild assortment of BBQ joints all over town.

Tucson had had its fair share of ‘que restaurants over the years but in recent months BBQ restaurants have been opening at a fast clip. It seems like there’s new ‘que every week.

Some places are big and bustling with whiskey and beer and wine. Others are standalone food trucks. Catering companies are also making their mark.Congress BBQ-53

The idea of a competition is a logical next step and in that regard there’s the upcoming ‘Cue for a Cause; Smokin’ Showdown on Saturday June 4th at Hotel Congress. This is the second year of the event and proceeds raised will go to the Steele Children’s Research Center at the University of Arizona.Congress BBQ-35

This year’s protein is pulled pork.

The nine competitors include:

AZ BBQ Club

Brother John’s Beer, Bourbon & BBQsmoke

Shooter’s Steakhouse & Saloon

Chillin n’ Grillin

Acacia

Red Desert BBQ

Brushfire BBQbrushfire

The Cup Cafe

Maynards Market & Kitchen

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For a mere $35 ($40 the day of the event) attendees will get:

*A 2oz serving from each contestant

*Two sides prepared by The Cup Cafe

*One 16oz beer from Catalina Brewing

*Live music by The Jons

*The opportunity to judge the entrants! (It’s not as easy as you think.)

Celebrity judges include Matt Russell of On the Menu …Live; 12801587_1158863867458558_8749567108048597689_nCJ Hamm of Red’s Smokehouse and Tap Room; 12993621_1169525489725729_2052699665378504468_nand Tucson Iron Chef Danny Perez of JDanny-Perez-620x400W Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa.

This should be a good one.

The Weekend Well-Fed Foodie Report

Oh what foodie weekend……

Saturday we hopped on the Modern Streetcar and took it to the end of the line and then back again to Main Gate Square to eat at Red’s Smokehouse and Tap Room’s Summer Barbeque Bash. This was a celebration of all things local – from the food to the beer and beyond. Whiskey del Bac was flowing and the taps were awash with Dragoon and other local brews. REPTUC was selling event related t-shirts and Matt Russell was broadcasting his show, On The Menu …..Live.

The place was packed and with good reason. Red’s had cooked up a whole hog from E&R Pork – over 240 pounds once they infused it with a secret blend of seasonings.reds summer ash

It was like a church picnic with beer!

And while you could get a plate of that wonderful pork for $15, we went with the all the fixings plate, which included four different salads, beans, a mess of grilled veggies and thick slices of white bread. It was $22 and totally worth the extra price.

CJ Hamm was running the front of the house like an ace and Chef/owner Ramiro Scavo was in keeping tabs on the food.

You know you’re doing something right when chefs eat at your restaurant. Ryan Clark of PY Steakhouse was there as Devon Sanner of The Carriage House and Downtown Kitchen& Cocktails. Brandon Dillon of Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink was there, too and Chris Squires of 10 Fifty-Five Brewing.

We filled our plates twice – John grabbed some andouille that was also available… There was chicken but I think that was after we left.

Then on Sunday in celebration of Circle of Food’s Karyn Zoldan’s, birthday we did Dim Sum and Then Some Sunday at The Carriage House. We being: Karyn, Edie Jarolim, Norma Gentry of ProVentures and myself.

The salads, saladgreenpapayajanosthe dumplings,dumplingd&bananfritterscarriagehouse the peachy lychee mimosasmimosacarriagehouse…what a wonderful meal. The choices are and interesting mix of Asian, Latin and American plates. We all really liked the chilaquiles, crispy layers of tortillas and pork in a spicy sauce and topped with a fried egg. And the dumplings are plump and tender….

People kept coming through the door; the crowd was a great mix of families, couples old and young, large groups of friends. The servers kept bringing more food.

Janos stopped by the tables and treated Karyn to banana bread pudding for her birthday….we also had chocolate truffles.

If you haven’t been I highly recommend making reservations soon. Prices are more than reasonable, portions are all big enough to share and who can argue with mimosas?

A Bountiful Trip

The Heirloom Farmers Markets are a real treasure. DSCN2132With three sites around town these uptown, down home markets offer some of the best meat and produce from nearby farms, artisanal foods of all sorts, freshly baked breads and sweet treats, locally roasted coffees and on any given Sunday seeds, compost, woven shopping baskets, knife sharpening and more. I’ve even had the opportunity to sell ‘Lost Restaurants of Tucson’ there.
We go to the one at Rillito Park, which is held on Sundays. There is one on Fridays at Trail Dust Town and another one on Saturdays way out at the Oro Valley Market Place.
Yesterday I spent a good hour or more buying all sort of goodies and talking with the vendors. I also chatted with Manish Shah, Director of Heirloom Farmers Markets. His team is top notch; knowledgeable, friendly and into their work. Manish also is the owner of Maya Tea Company.
I needed honey – there are several vendors – but I opted for Tone Nutrition Mesquite Honey.DSCN2141 I’d met the owners the last time I was on ‘On The Menu Live….with Matt Russell’. We sampled several of their honeys that day and then I found their honey at, of all places, Plaza Liquors. Yesterday I bought a jar at the MarketDSCN2140

There are also several local coffee roasters. I purchased a pound of the Sunrise Morning Blend from Adventure Coffee Roasting.DSCN2130

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Also on Matt’s show that day was Adela Durazo, the owner and creator of Durazo’s Poco Loco Specialty Salsas. Adela is full of life and is passionate about her products. Her salsas are fabulous, ranging from ‘Mild’ to ‘Stupid Hot’ – yes, that’s the name. She also makes a great guacamole, but I had to buy the Crab Dip. Creamy, rich, spicy and thick with lump crab and shrimp, it is addicting.DSCN2139
I didn’t get any roasted veggies from Red’s Roasters but I did buy some raspberry jam from Grammy’s and some fresh vegetables.DSCN2143

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There are always food trucks at the market and I couldn’t pass up a pie at Fiamme Pizza Napoletana. Owner Scott Volpe has a wood fired pizza oven right there DSCN2131and cranks out pizza after pizza with an artisans hand. Volpe has won numerous competitions for his pies and his tossing skills. His pies are the perfect combination of smooth sauce, chewy/crispy crust and quality toppings.DSCN2138

All in all is was a most tasty trip to the Heirloom Farmers Market.

On the Menu Live…

Two of my favorite foodie friends are going to be chatting up culinary happenings in Tucson on Saturday.

Matt Russell,  host of On the Menu Live….with Matt Russell and Edie Jarolim, one of my favorite food and travel writers, will be discussing the upcoming culinary events in town on Matt’s show, On the Menu Live….with Matt Russell.

On the Menu Live.…airs Saturdays on KEVT 1210 (Tucson time 4:00pm-5:00) although streaming is available.

Guests include:

Steve McFate of Fate Brewing will be discussing the upcoming Tucson Craft Beer Crawl.

Albert Hall of Acacia Food & Cocktails

Ken Harvey Chef at Loew’s Ventana Canyon

Tune in – you’ll have fun. i guarantee it.