Archive for the ‘Restaurant’ Category

Tea options change in Tucson

November 9th, 2015

The Chantilly Tea room closed!  Sad day. They were the best.

Could try Seven Cups traditional Chinese tea service.

Kalina’s restaurant does Russian Tea on Saturdays. (closed)

The Tudor Rose is British Tea all the way. Closed down.

Missed a boba shop: Chatime (visited, sad really)


Ethiopian Food in Little Ethiopia

July 29th, 2012

Arizona is one of the few states blessed with Ethiopian Food.  Zemam’s in Tucson is best of class!  They have high standards of cleanliness in a slightly run-down building.  Also the tiny but amazing Babylon market gets the surplus Injera from Zemam’s so we can grab some and make our own meal!  Phoenix has a couple that are not impressive, Lallibella is a vegetarian place with more traditional decor.  Below is the Ethiopian Alphabet.  Seems way too complicated for the amount of words in the language.

Ethiopian Alphabet on skin.

We were also blessed with the opportunity to visit Little Ethiopia in Los Angeles.  Like Little Tokyo and other cultural minority areas, Little Ethiopia seems to be drying up and moving away.  There were basically a handful of stores on one street about a city block long.  We got lentils and Injera from each one as a sample. Here are our findings compared to Zemam’s:


Location Impression
Messab Second Hand Smoke permeated the room. Lentils at 9.50 were not edible. Injera was bland.
Rahel Veggie Injera was way too sour. Lentils at 10.70 were more of a soup, not pleasant.
Nyala Tried Kik Wat and split peas. They were watered with potato and had bland Injera. Lentils were 11.00
Little Ethiopia Injera lacked a sour edge. Dark but not overcooked, possibly better Teff used? The lentils were good, and had spice. Garbanzos were undercooked and the chicken not edible. Doro 12 dollars, Kik 5.00
Rosalind’s Injera was better than the others. Undercooked collards and the lentils tasted weak, but acceptable. Chickpeas were too oily. We tried a veggie sampler. The meatballs were scary. Overcharged Dinner prices at Lunch time.


Best No-bake cookies yet.

May 20th, 2012

Easy Chocolate No-Bake Oatmeal Cookies

2 Cups Sugar

1/2 Cup Milk

1/4 Cup Butter

2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder

1/4 Bar of Scharfenberger Chocolate with Nibs

Dash salt.

COMBINE all above and bring to a boil for one minute stirring constantly (the goal is no granulated sugar but not burnt tasting).

Remove from heat and stir in:

1/3 cup natural smooth peanut butter

1 Tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp orange juice

3 Cups natural quick oats.

Quickly plop spoonfulls onto parchment paper and let them cool completely.  The faster you do this the more glossy ones you get!  Don’t judge by calories or appearance. They Heaven.

Pointless, Restaurant

Must try these: Brownies

June 14th, 2010

Cocoa Brownies

Soft butter, for greasing the pan
Flour, for dusting the buttered pan
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar, sifted
1 cup brown sugar, sifted
8 ounces melted butter
11/4 cups cocoa, sifted (use half regular and half dark)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.

Sift (in a food processor) the sugars together first and put in one bowl and then the rest of the dry ingredients together in another bowl. In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs at medium speed until fluffy and light yellow.  Add vanilla, and sugar mixture. Combine the rest of the dry ingredients and add in thirds, alternating between dry and butter. The goal is even distribution of everything.

Pour the batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square pan and bake for 45 minutes. Check for doneness with the tried-and-true toothpick method: a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan should come out clean. When it’s done, remove to a rack to cool. Resist the temptation to cut into it until it’s mostly cool.


Bubble Tea (Boba Tea) In Tucson, AZ

April 11th, 2009

In only one week the goal was to try every Thai and Vietnamese shop in Tucson, Arizona that served Bubble Tea (Boba). There were seven shops to attempt. Javalinas Coffee sold out to Java Edge and no longer serves Bubble Tea. Here are the shops we tried, listed in order from greatest to least. At the end is our first attempt at making the Tea ourselves.

I need to start with two honorable mentions. The Best Thai Tea in Tucson is naturally at the best Thai restaurant – Bangkok on the corner of Tucson and Speedway. They don’t serve the tapioca in the tea, but it is the most vibrant and authentic tea to be sampled.
Runner up for the best Thai tea was Luckies (Da Yuan Express) at Houghton road. They no longer serve the Boba in the tea. They have cheap eats of the MSG-free Chinese fare, and very friendly service!

First PlaceDrink PriceTriesThoughts
Saigon Pho (University In the Back)3.50Thai, Coconut, Honeydew, WatermelonHand Blended, this place is amazing! Crisp fresh sandwiches, MSG-free, loved every dish we tried!

Worth Finding

Cool Cutout Menu

Awesome Thai Tea

Sandwiches and Bowls

Best Coconut and Honeydew for sure

Pork can be yummy

Second PlaceDrink PriceTriesThoughts
Miss Saigon (Campbell near Speedway)2.75?Coconut Snow, Watermelon, Honeydew, Chocolate, Milk Tea, GrapeMore variety of drinks than any other. Enjoyed them all. Fun seals. MSG in the food, had to pass.

Worth Finding

Third PlaceDrink PriceTriesThoughts
Dao Tai Pan (Wilmot near Carondolet)3.25Coffee, Green Apple, Strawberry, TropicalFun sealed. Liked the Lychee Konjac bits in the tropical. Boba pearls were too soft from freezing and nuking. Uses MSG so we skipped the food.

Most Famous Boba Sign

Fourth PlaceDrink PriceTriesThoughts
Ha Long Bay (Wilmot at Broadway)2.75Coconut, Honeydew, Strawberry, Thai TeaNot Fun sealed. The real coconut milk was slightly off. Uses MSG so we skipped the food.

Nice Painted walls

PlaceDrink PriceTriesThoughts
Orient Express (University Look upstairs)2.99Cherry, Jasmine Tea, CoconutNot Fun sealed. Watery flavors, lids not fitting well. Blah

Barely Drinkable

LAST PlaceDrink PriceTriesThoughts
Asian Diner (Speedway Near Campbell)4.10Mango, Banana, Honeydew, CoffeeYuck! Over syrup, Something was wrong with the storage of the pearls or something. We could not drink them. We had to pay .60 cents more to put the tapioca in and we ended up with less amount than other shops!

NOT Drinkable

Most Expensive

Very frozen

We just had to make some ourselves! We went to G and L Oriental market and snagged all the needed bits. We bought fat straws and two kinds of tapioca balls that are pre-packaged. Fun experiment and Much cheaper. Now to perfect the Thai Tea recipe!

Big Bag

Colors or Black Pearls

They Float!

White Milk White Tea, colored Tapioca

If you live in Albuquerque, be sure to try the Bubble Tea shop near the TaLin Market. The best Bubble tea I have ever had was in Las Vegas at Lollicup. None of these mentioned above come close to that.


The Perfect Vanilla Ice Cream

February 19th, 2009

Homemade ice cream should only come in one flavor. Eggs should be in a chicken, not your ice cream! Anyhow, here is the Perfect Vanilla Ice Cream recipe:

This is for a Six quart size maker:

  • 1 Quart Shamrock Whole Milk

  • 1 Quart Shamrock Half & Half

  • 1 Quart Shamrock Heavy Cream

  • 1.5 Cups Vanilla Sugar (made by storing a whole vanilla bean sealed in the sugar for a week. See pic below)

  • 1 Teaspoon red mined salt (use a little less if table salt)

  • The powdery insides of a real vanilla bean

  • Enough Molina Mexican brown vanilla to change the color (about 3 tbsp, to taste)

Warm the milk, half and half, and cream in a sauce pan and stir the sugar in. This gets the sugar granules all dissolved, and makes everything play nicely together. You want to stir it constantly and avoid scorching. The ideal temp is just before bubbles form on the outside edges. This is nowhere near boiling, like 140 degrees. You would not want to put your finger in, but if you did you could not keep it in. Remove from heat.
Stir in the rest of the ingredients and cool the whole thing half an hour. If you are pressed for time, just warm the milk to melt the sugar in and mix the half and half and cream in cold.
Try these for variety: A tiny pinch of cinnamon, a very small pinch of clove powder.
Another variation: Scorch only the sugar until it caramels just a bit. Maybe add a little lemon zest or a squeeze of lemon in. (This WILL curdle milk, so be careful! I add it right before churning) As risky as lemon would be a dash of tea Masala (Chai). The fresh ginger is the danger here; it will overpower if stored for any amount of time. Finish it off!

A hint about the vanilla, If you do not like Mexican Vanilla, skip it. Put the husk of the scraped Vanilla bean in the milk when you warm it and let it get very hot. (Just avoid a rolling boil.) More flavor will leak out and more bits can be scraped out of the bean.

I use a full 20 lb bag of ice and about two cups of rock salt for the maker. (Get the blue big Morton’s bag of softener salt, after all you are not consuming this.) The more ice and salt you melt the faster it will harden. I use a dasher to poke down into the ice all the time it is running. If the mix churns too long it will make butter bits. You can gain a couple minutes by pouring a cup or two of water over the ice when you first load the maker. (The water connects the cold of the ice to the metal of the maker)

Adjust for four Quart maker:

  • 3 Cups Milk

  • 2 Cups Half and Half

  • 3 Cups Whipping Cream

  • 1 Cup Sugar

  • .5 Tsp Salt

  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla

I know the ingredients as listed are not cheap, but if you cared about money that much you would just grab some Dreyer’s Rocky Road or Dreyer’s Cherry Vanilla. (I have not found this recently, but try Dove’s Cherry Courtship. Wow!) At some point you must decide, “Are you making cream, or are you making art?”

The sugar soaks up all that yummy Vanilla.


Bisbee’s Master Chocolatiers

January 30th, 2009

Nested a bit uphill from the main set of shops in Bisbee is a real gem. Gordon and Kim Terpening have brought with them the results of globe trotting in the name of the fine Cacao bean. The super obvious name for the shop “Chocolate” will be easy enough to google. Lots and lots of results!

Chocolate as an art is not cliché in this case. I consider myself a candy expert and it turns out I knew nothing about just how intense and vibrant chocolate can be. Like a well mastered coffee bean, the chocolate must be treated with masterful oversight. We were fortunate to arrive at an off time when we could see individual processes and sample Cacao beans from each region of the world. The rare offering from Madagascar has hints of lingering strawberry and Venezuela seems warm and very mature.

Kim adds the artistic flair to their recipe creations. You will find chocolates of unique shapes that have been masterfully sculpted. You will see ornate edible prints made with the pure cacao butter. You will see the glints of fine edible fairy dust sprinkled on.

You owe it to yourself to seek out this rare talent near Castle Rock in Bisbee and sample. Make it a point to investigate the process and be sure to eat a roasted Cacao bean. We found a need to cleanse our palettes between each regional bean. Bring something to sip and accomplish this. As an added benefit you may not be able to eat Hersheys, Nestle, or any of that plastic stuff made with alkali and soy lecithin again!


Diesel Chicken Anyone?

January 19th, 2009

Gotsta git me some er dat yummy diesel chik’n.

Shot in Texas somewhere.


Paint on the Smoker’s ceiling.

January 19th, 2009

More on smoking, moron smoking.



Must.. Make.. Mochi.

January 19th, 2009

Attempt number two: start with sweet white rice, not brown sweet rice. End result? Still lumpy and inconsistent. At least the plates all survived. I can’t figure out how to smash the rice bits that get suspended in the mass. I need a bigger mallet.

Lumpy, just lumpy.

Ok, after a trip to Tucson to examine a mochi maker machine, I have decided that our current bread machine may be capable of pounding the mass into something mochi-similar.

Here are two of the better kinds of mochi candy out there: The first is Daifuku mochi balls. They have a sweet red bean paste in the middle, and a thick mochi shell. Pass them up if they are not FROZEN. Very important! When you are ready to consume one, let it thaw on the counter for about 15 minutes until you can easily reshape it.

These are very incredible in small amounts, but if you eat too much the mochi expands in your tummy and you feel really strange. This is not pleasant. My favorite flavor is the green one with Mugwart bits to get in the teeth. (no, not green tea, MUGWART!) Try some!

Yummy in the tummy.

The second and most wonderful for American taste buds is: Mikawaya Ice Cream Mochi. This is the grail of all things mochi. Perfect combination of east-meets-west. The Strawberry, Green Tea, and Mango are among the finest experiences your mouth has ever had. (Yes, these had better be frozen also!) Thaw on the counter for about a minute, only until the Ice Cream softens slightly.

We DID budget for getting these.
Worth one week of skimping

Not sure what the picture on the box represents. They are supposed to look like little stumpy balls of stickiness with a light dusting of rice starch and a pinch point.