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Tasty treats in Tucson

Cafe Poca Cosa

110 E Pennington St

Tucson, AZ 85701

https://cafepocacosatucson.com/

During a summer weekend getaway to Tucson, we had a recommendation to try a local place that turned out to be one of the best dinners I’ve had in a long time.

Cafe Poca Cosa is the creative product of chef/owner Suzana Davila and delivers on all the promises of a great dining experience. The margaritas are refreshing and dangerous. They are so tasty and smooth that it could be easy to drink way to many of them. The server described them as “award winning”. When I asked her what awards, she said “all of them”. Ha! So here you go..this is the margarita that won all the awards. 🙂

The menu can change daily or even hourly and it written on a chalkboard easel. All the dishes are served with a salad and fruit. The salad is a big arrangement of uncut lettuce and vegetables with a tasty homemade vinaigrette. It makes for a very decorative display when served as well!

If you aren’t sure what you want to try, you can always order the Plato Poca Cosa. It is a chef’s choice plate with a taste of the many different dishes that night. They are so thoughtful that even if multiple people in your party order this, they will mix up the plates so that everyone gets a variety.

Everything we had was absolutely delicious. The tamales were so soft and creamy and unlike any I have had before. The machaca was very tender and tasty as well.

Our experience was so amazing that the memories have really stuck with me. The location is not large and very popular so reservations are always a good idea.

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Menu blackboard

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award winning margaritas

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Plato Poca Cosa

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Posted by on 09/04/2017 in Mexican

 

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A little southern comfort – August 2016

Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails
2 Jefferson St
Phoenix, AZ 85004
602-258-0231
http://www.bluehoundkitchen.com/

Organized by: Jenn

We spent a stormy monsoon evening trying out Blue Hound in downtown Phoenix. This was a fun cocktail bar and restaurant with dishes that reminded us of our trip to low country.

As a fan of an Old Fashioned, my favorite cocktail was The Man in Black with bourbon, china-china, sherry, and black walnut bitters. Among all the other great tasty offerings, they make a mean shrimp and grits with legit real creamy grits and andouille sausage; a hearty pappardelle with local Schreiner’s sausage ragu (my personal fav); delicious deviled eggs with bacon jam; and corn grit fries with smoked bacon and white cheddar.

For dessert, we had a sampling of all three options. The favorite was definitely the chocolate pudding with marshmallow fluff, vanilla ice cream, and peanuts followed by the apple pie with salted caramel. The chocolate cake was good but when you compare it against the other two it was hard to measure up.

In addition to the great food and drinks, the location and gorgeous large pane windows was perfect for watching an amazing monsoon storm roll through downtown. It was like putting an exclamation point on the evening. 🙂

Cheers!

 

 
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Posted by on 08/27/2016 in American, Southern

 

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January 24, 2015 – Tuck Shop

Tuck Shop: neighborhood comfort food

2245 N 12th St Phoenix, AZ

602.354.2980

http://www.tuckinphx.com/

Organized by: Ann and Jay

 

In 2015, the DDs will celebrate 5 years of dining shenanigans! 5 years, people! I think this is a testament to the amazing group of people that we have. Love them all 🙂

Since we are at a milestone year, we did a little reminiscing by going back to an oldie but a goodie, Tuck Shop in Phoenix. The first time we visited this cozy home of deliciousness 3 years ago was after seeing it on an episode of Check Please Arizona. Now a few of us have made this a frequent haunt but we haven’t been back as a group since. It can sometimes be scary to revisit a love from the past because time and memories have a way of exaggerating our feelings, but today’s trip did not fall prey to that possibility.

The first time we visited was the first time I had experienced the gentrification that is happening in the historic Coronado district of old homes being turned into cozy dining places. I remember feeling like a behemoth the first time. Like some giant trampling around a quaint village and trying to fold myself into a small cube in order not to disturb other diners. Since then, we have visited many different locations that are “creative” with the limited space they have and I was pleased to see that Tuck Shop this time seemed roomy and welcoming yet intimate. Funny thing is that they didn’t change, I did.

Luckily the food hadn’t changed and was just as delectable as I remembered. As usual, we started with some cocktails such as my personal favorite the 12th&Oak, made with a dangerous mix of Southern Comfort and orange liquor. It is just sour enough for me and just sweet enough to make you forget that this should not be consumed in great quantities – if you plan on being upright tomorrow. We also really enjoyed the French75 that is made with bubbly, a rum cocktail, and a ginger mule. Muah!

Then we moved onto some appetizers that obviously included a few orders of cheese curds. This almost seems like an unwritten law when visiting Tuck Shop. Made from local dairy farmers and beer battered, they are light and creamy yet rich with taste. We also had the parsnip and potato poutine but this was not one of my favorites. I like my poutine to be a little messier. A little more sinful. The poutine at Tuck Shop was too clean. Too well behaved. The Fontina Sticks of cheese with panko & walnut crust were good but a little light in flavor however the sweet pear sauce was a nice touch. The Stuffed Medjool Dates with Schreiner’s chorizo, melted gruyere and dressed arugula was delish. The chorizo was a bit spicy but having it as the surprise middle of the dates made for an amazing balance of spicy and sweet.

For the main dish we had quite a variety of fantastic options. There was the Eggplant Parm which is not the standard dish you would imagine; the citrus-brined chicken (and a hint of honey) paired with white-cheddar waffles and green beans; the Pine AZ Spiced Steak dry rubbed and served with parmesan lentil mashed Yukons; and the red beans & rice made with fresh linguisa sausage and topped with a skewer of grilled creole shrimp.

There was also the Ropa Vieja Chili with corn johnnycakes, cojita cream, and super fine sweet potato haystacks. It had had a flavorful spice and even a green olive surprise. The roasted Brussel Sprouts with white wine, mustard cream, and crushed almonds were such a delight. The magicians at Tuck Shop turned something that is a childhood nightmare and made it into the stuff of dreams. Some of the guys also ordered the Meat and Three special which tonight was tender lamb shanks with tortilla soup and a Yukon Gold potato stuffed with bacon. Result = fantastic!

For dessert, we ordered both the chocolate bread with hazelnut frosting and the pear tart in a French pastry crust with homemade whipped cream. The chocolate bread was good but was a little dry and improved greatly when we tried it with the whipped cream. The pear tart was amazing and the crust was buttery and flaky. I typically don’t like whipped cream because it can taste empty and soul-less but this whipped cream was the real deal. You know, the kind that is rich yet delicate and mixed with the flavor of mom’s kitchen and sprinkled with Christmas.

Our trip down memory lane was not a scary episode and Tuck Shop made sure that they served up a dose of the magic that made us love them 3 years ago. The only thing missing was the rest of our group who couldn’t make it or else it would have been a perfect evening.

 May the roof above us never fall down and we friends below never fall out. – an Irish toast

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Posted by on 01/24/2015 in American

 

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September 27 – The Market by Jennifer’s

The Market by Jennifer’s
3603 E Indian School Rd Suite A
Phoenix, AZ 85018
602.626.5050
http://themarketbyjennifers.com/

Organized by: Janice

The DDs (minus Fred and Pat who couldn’t make it) made our way to Arcadia this month to check out a local kitchen right in the same parking lot as Beckett’s Table and others. Hidden a little on the side of the plaza the restaurant had a cozy charming feel with an open seating area that is clean and simple without being stuffy, a beautiful wrap around patio, and a view into the kitchen to watch the magic happen.

Fred S demonstrated some of his playa skillz and hung out with the ladies at one table while the rest of the boys pretended like it was the playground at grade school hiding away from the girls and telling dirty jokes. 😉

Originally started as a catering company, Jennifer Russo-Fitzgerald used her magic to create a fun place to showcase her culinary innovations. Not only do they offer a great dine-in experience, there is also Curbside Catering offered as well as a Grab N’Go counter.

With a seasonal menu that offers fresh local ingredients, you are sure not to get bored by a variety of dining options. We started with some happy hour wine selections and some cocktails. The Black and Blue Mojito made with blackberries was divine and dangerous. It would be so easy to enjoy way to many of that refreshing beverage.

For starters we tried some of the options from the rotating “Bites” menu. This week it was the Meatball sliders with roasted San Marzano tomato sauce, the Fried Prosciutto/Provolone Balls with Garlic aioli, Grilled Chipotle BBQ wings, Cheddar & Italian Parsley nachos and Chili & Chive “Dirty Pop” popcorn. Very tasty way to start the evening!

Market by Jennifer’s was participating in Restaurant Week so some of us decided to try to prixe fixe options. This included selections such as the butternut squash & crème fresh soup; grilled cheese with white cheddar, gruyere and honey on a fresh brioche; fresh pasta with pancetta, parmigiano reggiano, poached egg and crisp prosciutto; and free range chicken with skin & crispy artichoke hearts paired with grilled corn polenta. All of these dishes were divine, but none made me swoon like the pasta with pancetta and poached egg that Ann so brilliantly chose.

Some other excellent choices for dinner was the roasted asparagus soup (which was better than the butternut squash if that was possible); the perfectly cooked ricotta gnocchi with peas, fava beans, Parmesan, and prosciutto; and the crispy salmon with roasted baby zucchini, saffron, baby onions, and natural jus. (FYI we heard that this was Jennifer’s signature dish! )

For dessert we ordered the lavendar crème brulee which was sadly a little disappointing, the HUGE chipwich ice cream sandwich, and the mason jar of lemon meringue pie.

In addition to watching a huge summer storm rage outside, we were also entertained with some live indie music by a guy who looked like he was channeling Johnny Cash. Thankfully, the music did not start until we were well into dinner and the volume so it did not drown out the good time we were having, but it was nice to add to the fun evening with some good music!

Pretty soon we were forced to say adieu and try to race the next wave of storms back to our part of the valley. Thank you Janice for picking a delicious place that also supports local farmers and merchants!

 
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Posted by on 09/27/2014 in American

 

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Aug 23 – One if by land, yum if by sea

High Tide Seafood Bar and Grill
2540 S Val Vista Dr Ste 101
Gilbert, AZ 85295
480.821.9950
 
http://www.hightideseafoodbar.com/
 
Organized by: Jenn

Finding a great seafood place in Phoenix is not an easy feat. We live in a landlocked state and in the middle of a desert with summer temperatures that can sometimes make an inferno jealous. So, it makes sense that finding a creative and tasty place with fresh seafood can be dicey. When we do find one, we dive in like a seagull on the hunt.

This month we visited High Tide in Gilbert and enjoyed a variety of delectable dishes. For starters, we ordered the calamari, which was breaded and served with an old bay lemon aioli; oysters on the half shell; and the sausage and cheese plate of “Pork Shop” Razz Cherry & Cracked Peppercorn Summer Sausage and aged sharp cheddar served with a beer mustard. The sausage had a nice sweet spice and the beer mustard was tasty. Yum! Although we didn’t order them, Fred and Pat also said they have tried the Beer Steamed Clams and said they were excellent.

For entrees, a few of us ordered the Louisiana Gumbo made in real steam pots that taste like you are being transported back to the Gulf. With the option of white or dirty rice, Andouille sausage, okra, and choice of seafood or chicken, the Louisiana gumbo is just bursting with flavor. Don enjoyed “The King” steam pot with two massive king crab legs, scallops, salmon, mushroom, and light saffron sauce. Janice appreciated the Grilled Skuna Bay Salmon that was so well done even Jen said she like it. Since Jen rarely ever likes salmon, that should be a big cheers for the Skuna Bay dish. Jen went land lover this time and ordered the Famous Buttermilk Fried Chicken. The chicken was crispy and delicious and drizzled with local honey for a soft sweetness. Jen even paired it with some of the tangy hot sauce and loved the kick. Fred also used his land legs and ordered the BBQ “Pork Wings” that had a sweet and tangy sauce and was quite tender. The green beans were fresh and flavorful and topped with a somewhat overly buttery garlic butter sauce. Last but not least, was the cheesy, creamy, juicy and divine three cheese Lobster Mac n’ Cheese. Topped with buttery breadcrumbs, this dish is rich and large so it is definitely a shareable treat.

We had a little room for dessert (and I mean only a smidge) so we tried some of the beignets. They were light and fluffy and topped with powdered sugar and a warm and delicate chocolate sauce.

Everything from the food, to the friends, to the fresh and artsy atmosphere was great so the final tally puts High Tide in the win column!

 
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Posted by on 08/23/2014 in Seafood

 

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June 28, 2014 – Kagie Wine Pairing Dinner

June 28, 2014 – Kagie Wine Pairing Dinner
Kagie Wine Pairing Dinner
 
Organized by: Fred and Pat

The DDs have got some mad culinary skillz, yo! For the second time, we gathered together to put our foodie adventure lessons to use and made some scrumptious treats to share with everyone.

Hosted again by the amazing wine- and beer-pairing duo of Fred and Pat, we devoured our way through a four course meal with each course sporting its own beer and wine pairing! My personal favorite was the Mollydooker, but that was an unfair advantage. Mollydooker always seems to be a winner in my book.

One of the fun standouts was Jenn’s deconstructed lasagna served with mascarpone cheese in addition to ricotta. She learned this little trick from our neighbors in the North and it provided a nice escape from the expected.

Ann and Jay, Don and Jen, and Kelly and Tony outdid themselves with the appetizers. Don and Jen’s salmon ceviche was light and refreshing but not fishy. Delicious! Ann and Jay brought the crostinis with sun-dried tomato jam, baked shrimp scampi and asparagus wrapped in prosciutto. Tony and Kelly treated us to a caprese salad and blue cheese stuffed mushrooms poised on a crunchy pedestal for the perfect mix of flavor and crunch.

With so much goodness, we were almost stuffed by the time dinner came around. The Buccatini alla Amatriciana was light for a summer dinner but with some spice from the chili flake to wake up the taste buds.

Tony and Kelly’s two options of spicy and sweet Italian sausage were tender and juicy after cooking all day in a flavorful sauce. What a nice addition to Jenn’s lasagna.

We were so happy Karna and Fred made it to the smorgasbord even after a super long flight home from frolicking through Europe. The Black Forest Cake didn’t make it to the table but we did wrap up dinner with a sampling of rich and decadent cheesecake flavors.

Again we had such an amazing dinner and it was a fun departure from our normal routine to have a delectable dinner at “home”.

Cheers to all!

 

 
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Posted by on 06/28/2014 in theme party

 

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A night for bons vivants – homemade pasta and wine at VinciTorio’s

VinciTorio’s 
1835 E Elliot Rd C-109
Tempe, AZ 85284
480-820-2786
http://www.vincitoriosrestaurant.com/
Organized by Fred and Karna S.
 

The Double D’s met up again in July to experience VinciTorio’s Italian Restaurant in Tempe. And yes, I mean not just visit, but experience it. The night we visited was also the night of the dueling pianos in the wine bar (Enoteca) section of the restaurant. There are other live music offerings in the wine bar during the week – such as Sarah Vanell who we have seen before at Vintage 95 – however the dueling pianos are only once a month, so reservations are required. There is a quieter dinning side if you are not in the mood for song and dance, but trust me…you would be missing out.

We started with a bottle of 14 Hands Chardonay (Washington) for some and a bottle – then another – of Alexander Valley Vineyards Syrah (Sonoma County). The Syrah was delicious and a little bit lighter, which was nice for the summer evening.

All of our entrees came with a choice of soup or salad. Surprisingly all the men chose a salad and all the ladies ordered the cream of mushroom soup, at Karna’s recommendation. The soup was tasty and quite thick and creamy with little pieces of mushrooms included.

The entrees were well-prepared classic rustic Italian dishes: Raviloi di Formaggio (four cheeses), Raviloi Carbonara (sauteed bacon), Spaghetti Bolognese, Raviloi di Zucca (butternut squash), Linguine Vongole (clams), and Gnocchi Garganico – just to name a few. What sets these dishes apart is the focus on quality. The raviloi, trofie (short rolled shells), and gnocchi are all made in-house by Mario and his team. The remainder of the pasta is imported from Italy and made fresh daily. The tomato-basil sauce on top of the cheese raviloi and the gnocchi was refreshing and flavorful as opposed to a heavy marinara sauce. There was an extra abundance of sauce on the raviloi which could probably be reduced but it was tasty all the same. The linguine with clams was quite a bit heavier than expected and it is a large portion but the white-wine broth was good. The special of the evening was chicken stuffed with cheese in a marinara sauce paired with gnocchi in a cheese sauce. It was a lot of food, but delicious. Don enjoyed the gnocchi so much that he wished he could secretly lick the plate before they whisked it away. To sum it up the food was not overly pretentious, rather it was classic dishes with simple quality ingredients that allowed you to enjoyed the meal and not overwhelm your senses.

The service was exceptional. Mario (the owner) was very visible walking around the restaurant making sure that all the guests were taken care of. Water glasses were regularly filled, dishes were cleared quickly after you were done, and question or need was quickly addressed by a courteous employee, and all this with a very packed house. You could see the staff bustling around and clearly focused on making sure that everything was taken care of. Even when we left, staff that we had not even seen before were thanking us for coming and bidding us good night. This made for a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere during the entire evening.

The dueling pianos was a special treat which was lively and entertaining. Some of the girls in our group were dancing fools and enjoying every minute while some of the guys (I’m looking at you two, Bill and Don) were in agony. They are not fans of their wives dancing and signing at the table and this just gave them the freedom to do it all night and quite loudly.

All in all, it was an extremely fun evening with singing, dancing, lots of laughter, good food and wine, and great friends. Another successful DD’s event – thanks so much Karna and Fred!

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Posted by on 07/28/2013 in Italian, Pizza, Wine Bar

 

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