Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blogging on the road...

This weekend I will be taking a road trip, to sunny San Diego! The beach is calling my name! I will attempt to blog while out of town... but then again, I am not sure how sand and lap tops get along. Of course I will be collecting pictures and info on my favorite places, and will fill you in on all the dirt...or sand, when I return!

Things you have to look forward to:

Tapas Night! At the Sheraton Carlsbad.

Pipes, The best beach breakfast place ever!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Now that is how you do a Bloody Mary!

For those of you who are...Particular about your Bloody, I have three words for you...Bloody-Mary-Bar. It is like a salad bar, only with vodka! There happens to be at least one establishment in my town that has one of these every Sunday. The key to a good Bloody Mary bar is Variety! There should be many kinds of pickled or spiced vegetables, hot sauces, mix and juice choices, lemons and limes, and of course seasonings. And to those establishments who have seen the light and provide a make your own Bloody Mary Bar, keep it well stocked! There is nothing worse that an empty Bloody Mary Bar.

If you have not ever experienced a Bloody Mary bar, this is how it works; you get a glass of ice with a shot...or two of vodka in it from your bartender. Some places even have mini pitchers! Then make magic with the ingredients on the Bloody buffet! The only problem I have come across is trying to fit everything I want into the glass!

For an even higher quality Bloody Mary ask for Absolute Peppar...Smooth and peppery.

This is how I made my Bloody, feel free to customize and make it your own.

A couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce
A few dashes of hot sauce ( like Tabasco)
salt and pepper
celery salt
two lime wedges squeezed and discarded
one lemon wedge squeezed and discarded
1/2 Clamato juice
1/2 V8 juice
a dash of olive juice

Now is the tricky part...mix this without spilling! To garnish add a pickle spear and a peppercini, maybe an olive or two and if they have it spicy asparagus...I know, you almost need a separate glass just for garnish! Who needs breakfast with a drink like this!


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Now Thats Amore!

That's Bolognaise to you!

One of my many weaknesses is spaghetti (or any pasta for that matter)with a thick hearty, meaty sauce....Maybe its the pasta, or the sauce...or the fact that you can not eat it without drinking red wine! what ever the reason it is hard to say no!

Usually when I am cooking I don't measure ingredients...ever, but since I wanted to share this recipe with you I figured I better have at least a guideline for you to follow. You can either follow this to the Tbs or just

use this as a suggestion, my feelings will not be hurt. If you happen to change things or add something that makes it great let me know, so I to can try it! Another thing, I would prefer to use all fresh herbs, but since I didn't have any on hand...I didn't.

My Bolognaise Sauce:

5 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 medium sized yellow or white onion small diced
1-2 large portabello mushrooms diced
1.5 lb ground beef
2 Tbs dried oregano
2 Tbs basil (dried or 5 frozen cubes)
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 large green bell pepper diced
6 oz tomato paste
8 oz tomato puree
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup red wine
up to 2 Tbs sugar
salt to taste

Heat olive oil in a large heavy sauce pan. Add onions and saute while stirring for about five minutes until slightly translucent, add garlic and oregano. Keep stirring for about 2 more minutes keeping the garlic from burning. You want the garlic and onions to be soft not brown.

Add the ground beef , cook while stirring for about two more minutes or till the meat is cooked almost all the way through. Add in the mushrooms and bell pepper and saute for another minute or two.

Add beef broth and red wine, cook down for 3 minutes. Add tomato paste, puree, basil and sugar (one Tbs at a time to taste) let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes on low.

Add a pinch of salt and taste. I personally believe salt adds flavor, so I can not put a measurement on it, this is all up to you.

Cook on low for approximately an hour, keep tasting...that's my favorite part. NO DOUBLE DIPPING THOUGH!

This makes enough for, four large portions. I froze half for a later meal and ate half...with help.

I served this over angel hair pasta instead of actual spaghetti noodles, I prefer the texture. I topped it with some Parmesan flakes (would be great with some fresh basil on top also) served with a Caesar salad. Yes in my house we are fans of tomatoes on our Caesar salad.

Don't forget the wine!

The 2007 Seghesio Barbera has Aromas and flavors of ripe blackberry. A rich velvety texture that is balanced with vibrant acidity. This wine pairs well with most hearty Italian dishes, such as my meat sauce, and sells for around $25 dollars.

Bon Appetite!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Battle On The High Seas...Pirates Not Included!

About 10 years ago one of my sisters was living in Southern California and told me I must try a fish taco! I said "EEEW!" why would put fish in a taco?! That was when I was living in Texas and their idea of Mexican Food is...well...different.

Since moving to Arizona I have discovered fish tacos can be quite tasty! Of course there are many ways to make and break a good fish taco...and I have been on a mission to try any fish taco I run across. This is a lot like my mission to find the best Huevos Rancheros, so many missions! The sad thing is that I often find the best of the best are made in my very own kitchen (if I do say so myself!), but sometimes I just want someone else to cook! (and clean of course!)

Here I am featuring three different fish tacos I have tried this week...There may very well have be a second, third...edition on my mission to find the perfect fish taco... So many tacos, so little time!

The first is a place known for their "World Famous Fish Tacos" Rubio's. Since 1983 they have been making their beer battered crispy fish tacos with your choice of soft corn or flour tortillas, mild salsa, tangy white sauce and finely shredded cabbage. These tacos are always good, cheap and easy!

Second are the "Fish Tacos" from Z' Tejas...Not what I expected from a fish Taco! If this was called something like Asian fish wrap, I might have understood. The only resemblance to a taco was the flower tortilla. The fish is a catfish and it is blackened...or so they say and was wrapped in the flower tortilla with some shredded purple cabbage,avocado and shredded carrots. The sauce was more like a vinaigrette with ginger and sesame flavors...different. I will probably not be having this again, its just not my thing. I will be going back to try the Jack's five-cheese macaroni & Anchiote Chicken...Can't pass up Mac and cheese!

Third of course is my very own homemade fish tacos, the speedy way! I prefer the corn tortilla slightly fried (because I am a health nut that way...), filled with two all white cod fish sticks, finely shredded cabbage, avocado slices, tomato and a tangy white sauce. The sauce is a mix of mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice salt, garlic powder and cumin. If you like some spice add some hot sauce or Cayenne. On the side I sliced some tomato and nut remember.

Those of you who have never tried a fish taco and think, like I used to, that this is the worst idea ever! Don't knock it till you try it! Also if you happen upon a great fish taco please let me know I am still hungry!

See life through a rose filled glass...

I have been inspired! Thanks to "The Diva on a diet" I have discovered movies! You to can make movies! Just click here xtranormal, after you read the rest of my blog of course!

As I have mentioned before, I am trying to branch out and be more open to all wines. This means not discriminating against a wine because of their race or color...including pink wine...

Yes, I have an aversion to white Zinfandell, I will not bash it...Nor will I be drinking it.

Michel Torino Malbec-Rose 2007

The Michel Torino vinyard is located 5,500 feet above sea level in Calchaqui Valley, in the northwest of Argentine. The sunny days and cool nights allow the grapes to reach perfect maturity while keeping their vivid fruit flavors.

I have enjoyed many a Malbec in my time and this is what made me buy this particular "Pink" wine. Also it was in the "Last Chance" bin at Sprouts Farmers Market for $7.97. Who am I to turn my back on the Clearance section!

The Malbec-Rose was somewhat dry and fruity yet not over sweet, I would recommend chilling this wine in the freezer or ice bucket. I paired this wine with a mac and cheese duo, one a ham and Swiss, and the other a spinach, artichoke with sun dried tomatoes. On the side an artichoke, because yes, I love artichokes! And yes it was a great pairing!

"Dream and think of all things pink. Enjoy and relax...see life through a rose filled glass"~ Michel Torino

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fussy what?!

Normally I am a "red wine only" drinker, but in an attempt to be more open and balanced in the world of wine, I am branching out and trying some whites. Recently I tried the Pouilly Fuisse, Louis Jadot. It is a white Burgundy wine from France, appellation Controlee.

This wine I purchased at Cost Plus World Market for around $25 as a Christmas gift to my significant other, thinking it was his favorite. Silly was not, and after 4 months we thought what the hell, lets drink it! This may not sound like a long time to sit on a wine, but for us it is unheard of! The significant other led me to believe the Pouilly Fuisse (not exactly the name he uses for it...) would be a very sweet wine (ick). Pleasantly we were both surprised to find it was actually medium bodied, dry yet silky and soft on the palate. With hints of melon and just a touch of oak, to my taste buds it was not quite a Chardonnay, and not quite Sauvignon Blanc but somewhere close.

The Pouilly Fuisse paired perfectly with citrus marinated, and roasted chicken leg quarters, mixed green salad with roasted beets dressed with the Gorgonzola, cranberry, walnut dressing from Trader Joe's. Dinner for two with wine pairing, for under $40! Once again, recession does not have to mean depression!

I would highly recommend the Pouilly Fuisse Louis Judot chilled on a warm night or day. A light meal, and a loved one even the red wine only crowd could not resist.

Scottsdale... Or as I like to call it Snottsdale, I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE!

Scottsdale Mall
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
11:30 a.m.-12:30 a.m. Monday - Friday5:00 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Saturday & SundayCocktails until 1:30 a.m. everyday

I am very aware that I may be directionally challenged, and AZ 88 may not be as hard to find as I thought it was...But if only the sign were a bit more visible... Though I suppose since it is located in the heart of Scottsdale, having no sign or a very hard to find sign is the "cool" thing to do...

I was meeting my girlfriend for lunch and we were branching out , (you know from Pita Jungle...)We located the restaurant at 11:00 am on a Friday in hopes of beating the lunch crowd...FYI AZ 88 does not open until 11:30, which I would have known had I read the website thoroughly.

My friend and I killed time by wandered around the Scottsdale Civic center and spotted many other restaurants and bars we would have spent some time in.

Back at AZ 88 and being the first customers of the day we had our choice of lovely patio seating, with its open air and artsy modern covering, the majority of tables were either totally or partially shaded. Shade in Phoenix is a hot commodity! Yes they have indoor and bar seating but it happened to be 70 something degrees and sunshiny!

The AZ 88's menu has a variety of appetizers, burgers, salads, sandwiches and a few "Plates". Since they were named in the Arizona Republic as "a place to get a really good burger", That is what we did. It was pretty good, not the best but far from the worst! My friend and I split (a $2.50 charge)

Covered with peppercorns and sautéed in a burgundy sauce with minced red onion,
crumbled bleu cheese and thick bacon

When they say bacon, they are serious! The burger was cooked perfectly (medium-pink and juicy center) and came with a side of waffle fries (not the best), a mix of raw fruit and veggies (pineapple, honey dew, cantaloupe, one baby carrot and a piece of broccoli)...interesting choices. I keep forgetting we are in Scottsdale... And of course a pickle spear!

The Ice tea was flavored and really good if not flowing as quickly as I would like, but served in very cool glasses! Presentation is half the battle right?

I would have loved to have a cold pint of beer...but all beer is bottled, no draft...From what I am told they have killer martini's, but even the wino has to draw the line at having martini's at 11:30 am!

On second thought, it is after noon on the east coast and a certain Diva Mom would certainly be enjoying a dirty vodka martini! I would also wager she would go for the Grilled Portabello mushroom and onion, fresh tomato slices,and blanched Idaho potato on a toasted roll.$8.5

Yes I would go back and I would like to try a salad. I saw a few, and they did call to me! There is also the ALL AMERICAN GRILLED CHEESE A combination of American, Cheddar, Colby and Swiss cheese, topped with thick bacon and tomato slices. $7.00 You can not go wrong with grilled cheese!

Of course I will have a glass of wine or maybe even a martini.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bartenders View

Cocktail of the day

The Special
In a shaker with ice

Equal part 1 and 1/4 ounces bourbon and water
teaspoon of grenadine
Dash or two of Bitters
Shake lightly and pour into chilled martini glass
Or can be served on the rocks in a short glass

You may be saying sounds familiar...Yes it is, kind of a mix between an old fashion and a Manhattan
The special is always an important part of all family functions (at least my family).
If you are going to a bar of any kind, have your ID on you! We don't care if you are 21 or 41, If the bartender asks you for ID and you don't have it...NO DRINK FOR YOU! Just because you say you are of drinking age...does not legally count as ID.
Bartenders are required by LAW to card people who look 30 or under. The only people who get angry about being carded seem to be people in their very early twenty's...This makes no sense! If you are under 30 expect to be carded and just have it ready. The less you anger the bartender the better your drink will be.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Australian Red, Faith renewed!

est. 1861
McLaren Vale
south Australia

Remember this one? I purchased this at the Bevmo five cent sale, and have now drank both bottles, not in the same sitting...though would that really be so bad?
Back in 2000 was when I first fell in love with Red wines, due mainly to Greg Norman. To be specific the Greg Norman Cab Merlot, oh how I loved that wine! This caused me to seek out all Australian reds for quite a few years...Of course in recent years the Greg Norman wines have taken a turn, not for the better and my faith in Australian wine was lost.

Until Now! Tintara Shiraz is everything I love in a wine, including being under $2o a bottle! There is peppery spice, hints of blueberries and blackberries with a silky yet bold texture this Shiraz lingers on the taste buds. The aroma is mouth watering sensuous, the color is a deep dark red with a hint of almost black purple. This wine is delicious now and will likely reward anyone patient enough keep it in a cellar for years.

I enjoyed this wine with Pizza, and I am sure it would be excellent with a grilled steak or hearty pasta. This wine would be perfect also on its own for quality time enjoying a sunset.

Sadly the five cent sale is over (for now) and I will have to actually pay the full price stocking my wine cellar...So its just a wine fridge so far, but I have a shovel and I may have to start digging!


Tintara Shiraz 2006 can be bought at Bevmo for $12.99!

Thank you to my reliable and bargain savvy source!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Its not just a Chicks place!

3939 E Campbell Ave
Phoenix AZ 85018


I have been wanting to blog about this place since I started blogging, this is my absolute favorite place! Between the always fabulous food, the classy, yet casual atmosphere and the ever changing unique wine menu I could spend days sitting in one of the comfy leather chairs or on the glorious patio at Postino grazing and drinking wine.

The building in which Postino now resides originally was a Post Office (I am guessing this is where the name came from). It is not a large restaurant, but it is comfortable and functional. The restaurant also serves as a wine shop, and if you buy a bottle to go, of one of the wines you enjoyed during your visit they will take $9 off the price.

With its brick walls and full wall of roll up (garage style) doors that lead to the open air patio it reminds me of some hip cafe you would find in LA. Being a California girl at heart, this would explain my original love for Postino, if only there was an ocean view! There are small tables for two and and tales that can be combined for larger parties. They have a section where there are couches and coffee tables and comfy leather chairs so you can relax with your wine and munchies.

I was introduced to Postino by my lovely Boyfriend on one of our first dates (as I recall). Guys, this is a great place to bring any female who loves wine and food! She will not be able to help being impressed and will find you very romantic. In the evenings the entire place is lit in candle light and the patio is strung with small white lights, adding to the romance! The patio also appears to be dog friendly, so bring your hairy four legged best friend and relax on the patio. (might even help you score points if you are shopping for a lady...)

You must of course first order the Bruschetta, for $12.75 you choose four of the eleven different flavors. These are not your average Bruschetta either they are large and each is sliced in four pieces, making sharing easy. Some of the choices include Warm Artichoke spread, Fresh Mozzerella and basil, and Prosciuto with figs and Mascarpone...check out the menu on line for more options.

My all time favorite is the goat cheese and roasted red peppers! There is always a seasonal flavor that so far has been fabulous every time. This is where I discovered the roasted and diced yellow beets on top of goat cheese whipped with cream cheese, mixed with crushed toasted hazelnuts and sprinkled with mint and sea salt....I had no idea beets could be so good! Each order of Bruschetta comes on a bread board and is served with a variety of olives marinated in herbs and olive oil.

There is a starter menu that includes, a cheese plate that I believe changes regularly, bowls of olives or even a platter of meats. Something for everyone.

Salads run from $8.50-$9.50 and all have wonderful fresh ingredients, and unique delicious dressings. The Paninis come on your choice of Ciabatta bread or Focaccia with a Romain salad or organic chips served on the side. Sandwiches will run you $9.50 and are also large enough to share (if you were so inclined).

(click to see the latest menu)

Postino changes the menu on a regular basis, so if you find something you like you should buy a bottle to take home, on the chance that it won't be there next time. Also all the wines are small vineyard selections, so most of the wines you won't find on your average wine list. This makes it a great place to try new Varietals, especially if you are a wine drinking beginner. Seven days a week from 11-4 all their glasses of wine are only$5! Now that is what I call a great deal!

My favorite red I recently tried was Rock Solid , a Syrah-Cabernet from California, and it truly was "Rock Solid". Normally this glass would have run me $11, but I was there before 4pm! No I did not buy a bottle, yes I should have... I may need to go back soon! By the way guys they also serve beer, and we are not talking bud light...They usually have two or three specialty beers on tap, and quite a few bottle selections from around the world. So while you are being romantic, you can enjoy a cold beer!

Another feature that I (of all people) would like to mention...the restrooms. There are only two, and they are unisex. The word BOTH is printed on the doors. And this is going to sound weird to those of you who don't know me well, but I LOVE the bathrooms at Postino! They smell really good, they always have some fantastic candles burning and the decor is like someones home restroom. If a restroom can be considered romantic, well these take the cake! On that note I must go...

Stay tuned, there is a new Postino that just opened in Central Phoenix and I WILL be going there soon!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bartenders View

Drink of the day!

Harvey Wallbanger
(3 parts) Vodka
(1 part) Vanilla Galliano
(6 parts) Fresh orange juice Preparation Mix the vodka and orange juice in the glass, then float the Vanilla Galliano on top. Garnish and serve.
Traditionally served in a highball glass (also known ass a tall)

I was reminded of this beverage while watching "Life on Mars" a TV show taking place in 1973. Some one dear to me asked "what is in a Harvey Wallbanger?" Of course I am not sure I have actually ever made one of was popular a bit before my time. Every bar I have worked in has carried Galliano (it’s the very tall skinny bottle of yellow liquor) but I am not sure any of them actually ever went through a bottle.

As the story goes this drink was invented in 1952 in California, named for a Manhattan Beach Surfer. In 1970 it was made popular all across the country when it was briefly featured on TWA flights. There are a few different stories as to who exactly invented this drink ...Of course when booze is involved, these things are hard to pin down!

Tip of the day!
When ordering a drink at the bar there are a few key things to know in order to be served quickly:
1. Know what you want before you get to the bar.
2. Have your money or credit card out and in view of the bartender.
3. Keep your eye on the Bartender, when it is your turn they will make eye contact. Clearly and quickly order your drinks.

Don't forget to tip! Preferably the green kind!

Romantic Steak Dinner for under $25!

I have been trying to do my part in keeping the economy afloat, by continuing to eat out and of course I am still going shopping (even if it is just grocery shopping). It does seem that I am one of the few though, and this does not seem fair! So this blog is all about a recession style romantic dinner.

The menu at Casa De Negro Y Blanca for this evening is as follows:

Choice of Boneless New York Strip or Boneless Ribeye
seasoned with Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
grilled to a perfect medium rare.
(There will be an extra charge if you want yours well done, we do NOT eat steak well done!)

On The Side Steamed Artichoke
halved and De-choked
served with a choice of Citrus Bur Blanc or a Citrus Aoli

Wine Pairing

North coast

Winemaker Notes
This deep, cherry red Zinfandel exhibits intense aromas of blueberry, loganberry and baking spices with undertones of black pepper, juicy blackberry and plum flavors and supple tannins, bold, fruit-forward wine with cracked black pepper notes on the soft finish.

The Breakdown:

I chose the Ribeye for its great marbling, making this steak very flavorful, juicy and tender. the cost $5.59 on sale at Frys Marketplace.

My handsome dinner date chose (well I chose for him) the New York strip. Mostly because it is his favorite, also having lots of flavor. This particular one was not as marbled as we would have liked, I will do better next time. Price $6.22 (Also on sale at Frys Market Place)

The Artichokes were $2 each from Sprouts Farmers Market (they have the best tasting artichokes I have found, and the cheapest)

Sauces when all said and done cost under a $1.

The Kicker is usually the wine, This Fantastic Zinfandel usually runs $14-$16. Today it is on sale (at Frys Marketplace of course) for $7.99! And when you buy 6 bottles of wine you get 10% off of that! SCORE!

That makes dinner for two $24.81! (give or take a few cents) If you had this meal at a steak restaurant it would most likely run you two or three times that amount! Not including the tip. This also saves you from any worry about drinking a bottle of wine and then driving home.

So you see there is no reason romance needs to be as depressed as the economy, go ahead light some candles, pour yourself and your honey a glass of wine and Bon Appetite!