saturday night at the rose and crown pub downtown.
rainbow chard from betsy’s garden! i’ve seen this many places in phx. i have a killer pork brasciole recipe involving chard, but to honor these particular sheaths, i chopped ‘em up and threw them into a veggie stew, and also sauteed some leaves with mushrooms, onions and garlic for a super-green side dish.
I was a Cure fan growing up. and everyone assumed that because I was a Cure fan, I must like Depeche Mode. And my whole stance was: Depeche Mode is totally gay. Not ‘put it in the butthole’ gay but.. y’know. You watch a video and you’re like, “Are these guys serious?! I mean, really.”
The combo’s been done before, but damned if this raspberry-lemonade medley doesn’t put the COCK in my tail…
**This one goes out to Ambrose, who does his cocktails best.**
These fruit-laden super drinks are addictive, gender neutral, and happy in your mouth. But really, what cock isn’t? (Sorry mom, I had to.)
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
Fresh red raspberries (enough for a handful in each glass)
1-2 lemons, sliced
Raspberry-infused vodka, any kind
Trader Joe’s Sparkling French Berry Lemonade
First-round boozefest involved fresh-from-Trader Joe’s raspberries and a residual bottle of Stoli “Razberi” poached from the rear of Roomie’s mysteriously stocked liquor cabinet. We later uncovered a bottle of Absolut “Raspberri” (can no one spell?!) and found it to be even more smooth and palate-pleasing. Further, round three (told ya we’re junkies) involved Skyy Infusions Raspberry, which actually boasts seedy red raspberry puree and was conveniently on discount at Frye’s. LEGIT!
Muddle a handful of fresh red raspberries and 1-2 slices of lemon in the bottom of a tumbler glass. In lieu of a pestel or muddling club, mama MacGuyver’d that shit with the ass-end of a butter knife. In separate liquor shaker, 1-2 shots of raspberry vodka and some ice. Shake fiercely, then pour over the fruit. Finally, top off with sparkling berry lemonade, and another squeeze of lemon to balance the sweet.
FUN WITH BACON!
3-5 slices Applewood smoked bacon, each slice cut into thirds
1 pack of Medjool dates, pits removed
Gorgonzola blue cheese (preferrably a block, not crumbles)
Preheat oven to 400… now.
Using your fingers and the utmost childhood creativity, break off and stuff a chunk of gorgonzola blue cheese into the beckoning recess of each pitted Medjool date. Wrap a third of bacon around each date—if you wanna play it safe, secure bacon bundles with toothpicks.
Bake at 400 for 20-25 min., turning over once at the 15-min. mark.
I like my pork fat crispy and burnt, so I tend to leave mine in a bit longer. Just keep an eye on the gorgonzola, as it will eventually liquefy and ooze out of the dates.
Let cool for 5 minutes.. these fuckers will be HOT.
Met my Aunt K last Friday at the Heard Museum’s indoor/outdoor café in downtown Phoenix for a light lunch and borderline raucous New Jersey-accent-laced catchup sesh. My Italian Aunt K and Uncle D moved to north Phoenix from the Garden State a few years back, and brought an absence of the letter “R” and exaggerated hand gestures along with them. Now, convening with Aunt K for impromptu eat-ins is the most “at home” I’ve felt in the Southwest.
NOTE TO READERS: you don’t have to shell out admission to eat at the Heard; just roll straight to the Caf..
As it was only in the low-90s, we opted for partially shaded patio seating near a festive fountain and a few iced teas to start (I reserve my Friday boozing for beyond 2pm). The fresh-brewed tea is well executed here. Our waiter, Pepé* (not his real name), refilled our glasses often from a reserve carafe, and the brew is deep, almost flowery, with just enough pigment to maintain my interest.
I really dig the Heard’s menu selection. Appropriately eclectic and reasonably priced, such standout specialties as the Southwest seasoned popcorn appetizer, crispy chicken tinga tacos, posolé** (a traditional corn-based meat stew), and fry bread dessert sundae will certainly necessitate a second go-round.
**If this unsettling claim on Wikipedia is true, ancient Mexicans stirred the human flesh of ritualistically sacrificed prisoners into their posolé, then consumed the hominy/body fat combo as a demonstrated religious communion. Once cannibalism was banned, they switched to pork, cause apparently it “taste[s] similar.”
K and I kicked off our decidedly human entrail-free meal with a Tepary bean hummus and pita points app:
Hummus is a fairly easy dish—typically chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil—but there can be so many variations in texture and consistency. I get the feeling the chefs at Heard worked out the kinks a long time ago, cause this hummus is divine.. and as the menu indicates, the AZ-fabulous Tepary bean has been used by Native Americans for centuries.
Perfectly balanced, with just enough garlic and a light sprinkling of (i’m calling Hungarian) paprika. Not too smooth, the dip is likely hand-pesteled so as to preserve some biteworthy lumpage. Pita points are poofy on top and crisp down below—prime for scooping. And as evidenced in the pic, it’s a considerable serving.. this appetizer could easily feed four.
Next up, we slicked our elbows into two of the Heard Café’s salad offerings:
The Spanish Market Tostada Salad (with Shrimp):
and the Mixed Berry Salad (with Chicken):
Both were equally awesome in bounty and freshness. Having lived in NYC for many years, I shudder to think that I ever grew accustomed to limp, wilted greens. The Spanish Market salad is loaded with fresh avocado, black beans, roasted corn, tomatoes, and a mountain of shredded cheese over the crispest, freshest lettuce I’ve yet had the pleasure to munch. The shrimp come beautifully al dente, and Aunt K and I were so overwhelmed by the creamy chipotle ranch dressing and smoky roasted salsa that we momentarily forgot about the soul of the salad—a crisp corn tostada underlying the heap. Upon discovery, we squealed like schoolgirls and crunched playfully before herding into our gullets. It’s the little things, people.
The Mixed Berry Salad was just as satisfying, and the Heard’s attention to detail is what makes it so special. The freshest of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries; the candiedest of pecans; toasted coconut crust on slabs of ooey gooey warm baked brie; all highlighted by the delicacy of tangy prickly pear vinaigrette. Chunks of seasoned, lean white chicken meat came lightly strewn throughout, but didn’t weigh us down. We headed unabashedly into food-coma territory, and promptly licked our bowls clean.
Café at the Heard Museum (Downtown Phoenix) • 2301 N. Central Ave. (b/w Thomas and McDowell) • (602) 252-8848
Had a friend recently tell me that fresh pineapple cubed up and marinated in coconut rum is her all-time favorite treat. As I’m down for any cause involving coconut rum, you better believe I beelined straight to the drive-thru liquor store.
Call it sacrilege, but I don’t do Malibu. When I want to kick back my flip-flops and make like I’m hammocking in P.R., gotta go with Captain. I’ve found that Parrot Bay Coconut Rum is a) cheaper, b) actually tastes like coconut and, on those cool hammock-worthy nights, c) rocks it in hot cocoa. Try it, thank me later.
Sooo this week I cubed up a fresh pineapple (hella cheap at Ranch Market!) and soaked in aforementioned rum for three+ days, but this nagging feeling inside kept telling me.. there’s got to be MORE!
I’m all for ladling fresh fruit and soupy liquor into parfait glasses, but after two sittings, I have to say, it just gets.. BORING. With bold alcoholic aspirations and half a pineapple saturating to hell in my fridge, today I got frisky and wielded the roomie’s slick handheld blender wand, frapping that fucker into a delightful makeshift piña co-rum punch.
I pulverized the coco rum-laden pineapple chunks into a sexy froth, then added a few ice cubes, a splash of cran, juice from two lime wedges, OJ, and 1-2oz of Bacardi white rum to balance the sweetness (blend again). Talk about a beach picnic. This drink has me flirting with pool boys and waxing Jamaican patois.. all in the comfort of my own living room. Gwaan dig it.
1 Medjool date, pitted (use fingers - play with your food, people)
1 chunk of gorgonzola blue cheese
1 half raw pecan
Stuff lovingly. Inhale. Repeat.
Greatest. snack. ever.
BONUS FUN FACT: The Bard Valley in Southeastern Cali (a.k.a. “out ’round these parts”) currently produces 70% of the U.S.’s Medjool date booty.
Breakfast for dinner is always a treat, but on the topic of succulent, fat-laced pig strips, I can’t think of any better way to prepare bacon than to candy it. Add some heat and we’re talkin crack, people. That’s right.. I CAYENNE-CANDIED the fuckers.
Coated each strip of Trader Joe’s uncured applewood bacon with sugar crystals (online recipes recommend brown sugar; I only had raw sugar on hand) and cayenne powder, then baked on a greased broil pan for 25 min., til edges were crispy and crystals were bubbling. HOT DAMN, the fucking quintessential smoky sweet caramelized meat dish.
Because the happy bacon idea came to me early in the evening, OPERATION: CLEAN OUT THE F*CKING FRIDGE became a challenge to assemble a smorgasbord of flavors to complement. There were a few oblong green chiles in the drawer that I’d been planning to roast and stuff with cheese, but I knew I had brown eggs that were nearly expired, and there was also the matter of the quickly ripening asparagus.. and shit, what about those damn avocados?!
Until it occurred to me.. I dig good soft-scrambled eggs. It’s an art form, really, to cook scramblers slowly enough that they remain tender and moist. *For the record, the very thought of rubbery eggs makes me dry-heave.*
Time to get crafty:
I first roasted, steamed, ice-bathed, peeled, and sliced the green chiles, then mixed them into the fork-whipped eggs and grilled onions in a slow-heated pan. I stirred in a dollop of cottage cheese just before the eggs were set (maximizes creaminess and adds a lingering richness to the eggies—courtesy of friend LaRoca, cream cheese also works wonders) .. then topped with slivers of avocado, a few cilantro stems and a schmear of chipotle hot sauce. Each Southwestern flava present on the palate, but none overpowering the other. Textures were stimulating, and though I know it sounds odd, gotta admit the cottage cheese served its purpose. Overall, mouth-melting and entirely fucking exhilarating.
To add a tad more greenery to the plate, I quick-blanched those asparagus spears back into vibrancy, then doused them with lemon juice and sea salt.
Final verdict: I’ve never been so turned on by a meal. Okay, maybe that Peruvian ceviche in Queens.. and fuck, Häagen-Dazs dulce de leche ice cream is pretty out of this world. But from my own kitchen? This shit was epic.