Author Archives: Laura A.

azcentral Food & Wine Experience Day 2 November 5th 2017

 

The azcentral Food & Wine experience is a two day event. This year it took place November 4th & 5th at Salt River Fields. It was a showcase of mostly local restaurants, libations and demos. The featured special guest was Martha Steward who was there on Saturday.

Overall I DID ENJOY MYSELF but I feel this festival has taken a few steps back from the last two years as I do have a few legitimate gripes.

Several restaurants promised were not there. These are the restaurants I don’t recall coming across either day….

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlor, Tapatio Cliffs, Little Miss BBQ, Nico Heirloom Kitchen, Orange Sky at Talking Stick, The Larder + The Delta, The Second Story Liquor Bar, Virtu Honest Craft, Zuzu at Valley Ho. I was expecting to come across these restaurants and since I didn’t I am disappointed. (Sadly El Panzon y Frida suddenly closed for business so I understand why they weren’t there)

I am also upset because I paid for VIP so I could drink better wine and use the VIP restrooms.

The wines offered this year seemed like much lower quality to the VIPS. I tried three wines Saturday that made me gag that I had to dump. I know last year they offered good well made wines like Hartford and Freemark Abby.

Freemark Abby Wine provided by AJ’s…Possibly the best wine you could drink at the festival 2016

Yesterday the VIP restrooms were crowded to they sent me off to the regular restrooms even though I was a VIP. TODAY ON SUNDAY the VIP restrooms were locked at least till 1:30.

So I felt cheated between the inferior wine selection and the VIP restrooms I didn’t get to use.

My last gripe is that the discussion panels didn’t seem as star studded as they have been the last two years….I really enjoyed last year discussion panel and the first years discussion panel.

2015 Star studded panel

Photo of discussion panel 2016 star studded panel

2016

Maybe 2017 was just an off year….I don’t know…..

All my complaints are out now so off we go to the food.

Mostly everything I tried was either good or great! The food on Sunday in comparison to Saturday seemed to offer more upscale choices. Here are not all but some of the offerings I came across.

Among my favorite plates at the festival were the Halibut Ceviche and the Cornish Hen Mousse from Quiessence at The Farm at South Mountain. I didn’t think I’d like Cornish Hen Mousse because it seems weird to me….but the flavors were outstanding. I have to give it a big thumbs up.

J&G Steakhouse also was among my favorites. They lightened up a steak in a different and delicious way. They used butternut squash and flavors and textures of orange. It was amazing. I wonder if this is ever on the menu?

From Gallo Blanco and Otro Cafe Pozole

Gnocchi in Lamb Sauce from Rancho Pinot

We both thought the the vegetarian Potatoes Bravas and Shrooms and Grits from Artisan at the Camby Hotel were very tasty.

My husband said this Pork Belly Taco from Crujiente Tacos was good!

From one of the most UNUSUAL CASUAL restaurants in Phoenix……Chino Bandito offered Red Jade Chicken, Jerk Fried Rice and Vegan Cuban Black Beans and Snickerdoodle Cookies. It was pretty tasty….

We tried several different treats from Sweet Republic. The macaron filled with orange basil sorbet was my FAVORITE!

Mariposa Latin Restaurant served a tasty quinoa salad and a very tasty chicken laced soup.

Braised Lamb and Lentils from Talavera

Another among the favorites was this short rib stuffed ravioli with horse radish cream. It was from Hearth 61 at Mountain Shadows

Mamma Toledo’s The Pie Hole served Blueberry Hand Pies

Pigs Ears from Citizen Public House and a very unique unusual Ceviche from the Gladly.

Gnocchi in Veal Sauce from an Italian Restaurant I think from Bella Gusto……

Gadzooks award wining Chicken Taco! Spicier today than last time. Still delicious!

Different Point of View did these very detailed Pork and Cheese Ravioli.

Our Own Iron Chef Tarbel’s served Octopus Tostadas.

Buffalo Brisket, a tiny Detailed Cheesecake and a Fruit Beverage came from Kai at Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass

Beef Carpaccio from Cartwright’s

Kobe Burger from Aj’s Fine Foods

Well that was day 2 of the azcentral Food & Wine experience of 2017.

The Forking Truth

azcentral Food & Wine experience (day 1) Saturday Nov. 4th 2017

 

The azcentral Food & Wine experience is a two day event food & libation festival. Around 50 different Arizona Restaurants and many wines, beers and spirits are there for sampling. The headlining attraction was Martha Steward and cooking demos.

We were finally at about an average temperature for November and were at around 80 degrees with ZERO chance of rain. Guess what…..it rained for a short time and then it poured but only for a short time.

My Forking Gripes……

For the most part most of the food I tried was good. I was very disappointed with the wines I tried. Even the VIP ticket didn’t bring on as fine wine as we had in years past. After trying three wines that sucked I didn’t want anymore wine. The VIP bathrooms were really great last year and it seemed they used a different company and the bathrooms were air-conditioned but not much different than porta potties. Another gripe were the stemless wine glasses they used this year. Stemless glasses are for swirling at a table and are not good to be carried around for long periods of time. My wine sling doesn’t work with a stemless glass and it was difficult to carry a glass and get food.

Now I’m over most of the gripes and now I am on the food.

Well lets see some of what I saw and some of what I tasted.

There was a nice little layered dessert and octopus by Match Cuisine and Cocktails. (I thought this was from Match Cuisine….but in the newspaper it reads that this was from The Boulders????) I didn’t take notes so my bad if I am wrong.

Mowry and Cotton at the Phoenician offered  Lamb Tacos and fancy Charred Tuna.

One tequila, two tequila, three tequila…..FLOOR!

The Crepe Bar didn’t serve crepes….?…..They served a Liver Mousse with Buttery Fancy Radishes……

This Pasta and Cheese was from AJ’s. Is a very impressive display. They used what is maybe a hallowed out $1,000 dollar wheel of cheese to serve pasta in. But plain pasta with just cheese is very boring even if it is expensive delicious cheese.

More libations.

This I didn’t try but it was maybe the most unusual offering at the festival. A push pop with duck liver mousse, apple, dates, pistachio, some sort of gel and apple sorbet. It came from PY Steakhouse.

A very tasty Steak with tabasco onions from Bourbon & Bones Chophouse & Bar

AJ’s Pork Tacos

Handlebar Diner offered Duck Tamales

Chef Christopher Collins really brought it on with Wally’s Fried Chicken Sandwich, Grassroots Short Rib over super SPICY HOT Jalapeño Cheese Grits, Twisted Grove Shrimp Salad and Sweet Provisions Lemon Tart and his Super Magic Bar…..WOW what a spread he brought. I think half the food I ate came from here and it all was great!

The Market by Jennifer made a really nice little spread too! Really good Potato Chips with Pimento Dip, Korean Style Beef, Yummy Little Chicken Drums and Milk & Cookies.

Some of Aj’s Fine food offerings……This might have been in the VIP tent. Maybe I’ll ask if they will sell me some finger limes…..None of the AJ’s near me carry them….. 🙁

It was really hot and crowded in the AJ’s VIP tent…..hope my deodorant didn’t fail.

AJ’s offered a fancy couscous salad that was made with this bottle oil, vinegar, lemon and herb dressing. It actually was amazing. The salad and the dressing were really surprisingly good.

AJ’s offered Butternut Squash Risotto that came from a box. It was horrible.  AJ’s also offered    another appetizer……It looked pretty but I got a raw crisp slice of sweet potato with some toppings. These were the only things I tried that were Forking Awful…..both not edible…YUCK!

But then AJ’s had a killer cheese table….so MANY HIGH END cheeses…….so I guess they redeemed themselves after the previously mentioned dishes.

That was Day One of the azcentral Food & Wine experience 2017.

Let’s see what happens tomorrow.

The Forking Truth

Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi with Pesto Recipe

 

 

Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi with Pesto

Gnocchi are Italian dumplings. There are many variations of Gnocchi out there. Potato, semolina, flour, ricotta, with or without spinach and other vegetables or prunes, bread crumbs and cornmeal. My husband strongly prefers the fresh made ricotta gnocchi that I make so much so that he has said on more than one occasion that my ricotta gnocchi would be his last meal if he could choose. These ricotta gnocchi are light in texture and very flavorful. They are done in the lump style, extruded from a pastry bag and are not rolled out. Less handling of the dough does produce a more tender gnocchi. Mine come out almost like gnudi. This recipe is harder to explain than most recipes I publish. I feel it’s essential to prepare your own ricotta cheese since it’s FAR SUPERIOR and far more flavorful than store bought ricotta cheese. Maybe the most difficult part of the recipe is that I can’t give you an exact measurement of flour since the amount with differ depending on how dry you got your ricotta cheese. You might want to prepare the ricotta the day before and let drain slowly overnight wrapped in cheese cloth in a colander to drain. If you use a mesh strainer to drain cheese I find you can get the same results very quick. I do recommend doing one tester gnocchi so you can figure the amount of flour out. It’s better to start with too soft a dough and add 1/4 cup more flour at a time till it’s correct. This time instead of my usual light coating of tomato sauce I used pesto. Other sauces that would be delicious with these gnocchi would be  browned butter with sage or a light cream gorgonzola sauce or a home made red sauce. You will have extra ricotta cheese and extra pesto from this recipe that you either use in another dish or freeze. The pesto recipe is just a guild and it does come out too thick because I try to use as little extra oil as possible. FEEL FREE to add all the oil you want or some water to thin it down to desired consistency. Read all the directions first and the recipe will be much easier to understand.

 

Ingredient for about 6 servings

1 gallon whole milk

1 pint heavy cream

3 lemons (just the fresh squeezed juice)

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups ricotta cheese (fresh made from above recipe)

1 L – XL egg beaten

1 cup parmigiana reggiano – shredded

1 1/2 cup flour *****NOTE this is approximate  ******(…If your ricotta is nice and extra dry you only need one cup of flour. This would be ideal. Do tester gnocchi and add 1/4 cup flour more and repeat if necessary……you shouldn’t need more than 1 3/4 cups flour…if you do your cheese was way too wet)

few grates fresh nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

pinch white pepper

1 tablespoon kosher salt (to boil gnocchi)

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (to coat gnocchi with so they don’t stick) ((YOU CAN SKIP THIS INGREDIENT if you have your pesto made)

3 cups basil leaves

2 garlic cloves – grated or ground

2 oz pine nuts – toasted – 225 degrees F 10-15 minutes

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil ****** ( you will need to thin this down by adding at least 1/2 cup more oil or water)

1/2 cup Italian hard cheese shredded preferably Sardinian Fiore Sardo or pecorino or parmesan

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

pinch or two of sugar

Directions

Make Ricotta.

In a large pot on medium low heat add milk, cream and salt. The contents need to go to a slow boil. This will take at least an hour. Once it’s at a slow boil….VERY SLOWLY….SLOWLY drizzle in the lemon juice into the parts where it’s boiling. The contents will curd. Let it slowly boil a few minutes. Use a wire strainer or a colander lined with paper towels and slowly drain contents. Put cheese in a container in the refrigerator. Leftovers can be frozen.

Make the pesto.

Blend together basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, Italian hard cheese, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, black pepper and sugar. Thin as needed with either more oil or water and  adjust seasoning if desired. Set to the side.

Make Gnocchi.

In a medium bowl mix together 2 cups of your fresh made ricotta cheese, 1 egg, 1 cup parmigiana, 1 cup flour, few grates nutmeg, 1/2 t. sea salt and a pinch of white pepper. Mix well.

Put a pot of salted water on to a medium boil. You might want to add kitchen twine to one side of the pot because the string can slice off the gnocchi you push threw the pastry bag.

To fill the pastry bag fold it half way down, add dough and twist the end shut.

Do one tester gnocchi.

It should float within a minute. Test for flavor and texture but it should be right. If you want them firmer you can add slightly more flour but a gnocchi is suppose to be a very light tender pillow. The best ones are made with as little flour as possible. Once you have the gnocchi the way you like them squeeze out the gnocchi one bag at a time and use twine wrapped on the pot handle to slice off each gnocchi.

let the gnocchi boil till after they float. Take them out with a slotted spoon and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil or pesto on them so they don’t stick together.

Serve. Should you happen to have leftovers they freeze well.

“All Beagles are Italian.” “There will not be any FORKING leftovers.”

“Hey Runt, you are only 50% Beagle so that means you are only 50% Italian”. “You are a runt and you come from a long line of runts…..according to your DNA your Mom was a runt, your dad was a runt and 6 generations back you all were runts!” “I’m a BIG Aussie Shepard and I’m getting Gnocchi first!”

“I still love you no matter what you say you really big beautiful Aussie Shepard.” “We can gnocchi together.”

Enjoy!

Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi with Pesto

The Forking Truth

My Trip to Mucha Lucha Libre Taco Shop Peoria AZ

 

The Mucha Lucha Taco Shop is a casual Mexican Fast Food Shop. They differ in quality from the chain fast food shops you might be familiar with because the food is homestyle not chemical laden fast food typical style. The meats all are very flavorful and spicy and are slow braised with chili peppers.  They offer about 18 different fillings that you can have in a street size tacos, regular size grilled tacos, tacodillas, burritos, quesadillas and Mucha More! Then you get to customize your order and the person behind the sneeze shield tops your order with the vegetables, toppings and sauces that you pick. Once you seat yourself you might want to kick your meal up a little more with the complimentary salsa bar.

I picked the Three Taco Plate $7.25 The taco meat and tortillas are heated up on a flat top grill for you. The tortillas get crisped up a bit. They offer you rice and beans to add to your tacos here. Then you walk down the line with the person preparing your food and you get to add on all the toppings you like.

I picked a Chicken Tinga Taco, Red Chicken and Vinaigrette Chicken Tacos. All the chicken meat is flavorful and spicy. My favorite Chicken Taco is the one with that isn’t red or orange. I think it’s the Vinaigrette Chicken.  It has a nice balance of flavors that include chili, garlic, onion and taste like chicken. To me it’s the most delicious. I skipped the beans and wasn’t wild about the taste of the rice on the taco and I think next time I’d ask for the rice and beans on the side.  My least favorite taco is the one that’s very heavy with chipotle and too much smoke for me….but I note that I like less smoke in my food than most people so it might be great to you but it’s too heavy with smoke for me. My husband didn’t have any problems taking that last taco off my hands.

He picked the 5 Street Taco Sized Tacos. $7.25 They are double shelled small tacos with filling and all the toppings you desire.

I don’t know what he picked but I know he picked 5 different varieties of beef and pork. He enjoyed them all and said that we should come here more often. He also added that all that he tried was also very flavorful and all were spicy!

I would recommend Mucha Lucha Taco Shop over Most of the Mexican Fast Food Chains Out There!

The Forking Truth

Asian Slaw Recipe

Asian Slaw

Cabbage is almost free this time of year. I saw cabbage for 33 cents a pound this week so I picked one up. I was thinking about that amazing sandwich I had at Ocotillo in Phoenix. It was a brisket sandwich topped with Asian Slaw and maybe a gochujang mixed with kewpie mayo on the bread….It was so FORKING delicious! Brisket was also recently on sale for only $1.99 a lb. so I have brisket. This slaw is very close to the taste of the slaw I had at Ocotillo so I’m set. WooHoo  this brisket sandwich with this slaw and gochujang mixed with kewpie mayo spread on the bread does taste just like the delicious sandwich I had at Ocotillo.

Ingredients for 10 servings

1 head cabbage (sliced very thin…use fresh do not use bagged)

1 Tablespoon kosher salt

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 carrot – shredded very thin

8 oz radish – shredded very thin

2 .. .14oz-.18oz pack roasted seaweed – sliced very thin and cut across in half

1 Tablespoon garlic (around 7 cloves) ground to paste

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger – grated

1/2 teaspoon ginger (dry spice)

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar (scant)

2 Tablespoon sesame oil

1 Tablespoon ponzu

1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 Tablespoon toasted black sesame seeds

1 Tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/4 cup scallions – sliced thin

Directions

In a large bowl add cabbage salt and sugar. Mix well. Let sit one hour on counter. After one hour there will be a lot of liquid from the cabbage. Drain the cabbage water.

Mix in all the remaining ingredients.

I’d serve the next day because the flavors do mellow and marry.

Asian Slaw

I suggest to make a spread of Kewpie brand Mayo (it taste different than regular mayonnaise) mixed with a little sriracha and enough gochujang to look like the color of Russian Dressing. It’s FORKING delicious you will love it. The spread combined with this Asian Slaw on a sandwich is epic!

The Forking Truth

 

 

 

2017 Halloween Candy Count

 

How much candy will I use in 2017?

2014 I gave out 92 full sized candies

2015 I gave out 121 full sized candies

2016 I gave out 124 full sized candies

I have found children today don’t enjoy the candy and treats I used to enjoy. I used to give out M&M’s, Reeses’s Cups, Peppermint Patties, Snickers Bars and more healthy Cracker Jack Popcorn treats…I’ve found todays kids mostly just prefer plain Hershey Bars or Sugary Pixi Stix.

This year I’m offering

Pixy Stix (big favorite for Halloween last year kids cried when I ran out)

Hershey Bars

A few Seaweeds and one can of sardines (just for fun)

I have enough treats for 161 kids!

This year I had close to 130 Halloween Trick or Treaters. (I gave out 130 treats I know a few took two). I was surprised that I saw many more Baby Trick or Treaters than ever before. Got a lot of older kids too. I don’t recall seeing any home made outfits this year. I saw many Army Guys and many of the girls were little Princesses. Maybe the most interesting Trick or Treater was a little boy dressed as a jar of Peanut Butter or the little boy as a big sumo wrestler?

In 2017 I gave out-

66 Pixi Stixs (Giant Straws of flavored sugar)

61 Hershey Bars

3 Packs of Seaweed

 

Sadly this is the first Halloween without my Halloween Best Friend.

He used to enjoy giving out the candy with me every year but since moving to Arizona I stopped dressing him up because it’s too hot to dress up a dog here.

We have other Furbabys and they are special too but different….

“I don’t do Halloween and I FORKING HATE KIDS! I can scare everyone the Fork away! “Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!”

“Halloween ….?” “WTFork is Halloween?” “I’m only one year old and I don’t Forking know what Halloween is?” “And WTFork is this thing on my head?”  “I am small but I have a deep loud BAY that I do and I sound like a very large dog…..I just very excited and make lot of noise when people pass by.” “I hear I have potential to celebrate Halloween……maybe next year?”

“I was Forking perfect!” “Maybe I attended Halloween in Spirit!”

That was 2017 Halloween with a 130 count on Candy.

The Forking Truth

Halloween SPECIAL EDITION – Frightful Horrifying Food Served to me in Metro Phoenix AZ

 

The Forking Truth is not every dining experience will be a great one. I am pleased to say most experiences are ok and many exceeded expectations. But some are downright Frightful! Here is THE FORKING TRUTH…… a collection of the most terrible food that was served to me in Metro Phoenix in the past few years.

I do note that it’s not my intention to bring  negative attention about restaurants that are still open for business. I can only reveal the names of the businesses that are closed. The restaurant business is a very difficult business to be in. For that reason there will be no name mention of restaurants that are still open for business because everything is subject to change. At least I hope so….

Polenta

This polenta tower came from a well known restaurant in the Biltmore Area of Phoenix. It looks absurd and was the worst polenta I ever had in my life. I do know the Chef has been replaced since.

Taco Haus Scottsdale AZ (wow that was really bad) Closed for business

The worst taco I ever had in my life came from Taco Haus (long closed for business) The tortilla fell apart and the chicken was the most driest most flavorless chicken I ever tasted anywhere. I’m still choking when I think about it.

Seared Tuna Nicoise ($16.) from The Local, PHX AZ

This didn’t’ taste awful….This plate came from The Local (closed for business) The food was very good but overly sparse…………

$16.00 for a lunch platter that doesn’t even meet HALF of Weight Watcher Standards. I was FORKING STAVING after this lunch. WTFork was I suppose to buy two lunches? WTFork was that chef thinking ……..It’s not even enough food to feed a gerbil…. and where the Fork was the other half of egg?……I could have used it.

Glendale AZ

Sushi that isn’t fresh is always horrifying…….Still open today in Glendale.

I went to an interesting restaurant that is now closed for business called Indy Fusion. It really wasn’t a bad restaurant at all but whoever the chef was didn’t write the menu I’m sure. He had zero understanding of what a Fondant is. Indy Fusion had a Fondant on the menu for dessert. Instead of a molten chocolate cake that’s known as a Fondant I received a lump of Fondant frosting on a plate. Instead of Indy Fusion I received Indy confusion.

Fondant from Indy Fusion

I went to a certain Asian Restaurant with a Bakery in either Glendale or Phoenix. My meal was good but the dessert was inedible. It was hard like a rock. We couldn’t cut threw it. It could not be penetrated by a Fork. My husband felt the need to bust it apart with his hands.

This restaurant is located in the far west valley. I came across a few problems with the food and I tried a dessert here hoping for redemption. Instead of redemption it turned out to be a nail in the coffin as I pulled out a silicone-like object from my mouth. The waiter acted like nothing was wrong with that and he told me that it was part of the gelatin in the dessert.

Everything I tried at this restaurant in Surprise Az had problems. I actually informed the waiter and management about the multiple short comings I experienced at this restaurant. They didn’t say they were sorry or anything like that….They said they were newly opened and that is just how it was….SURPRISE!

These falafels did have a nice crunchy texture but were dry and lacked typical falafel flavors. But  a few food critics have raved about this place. Maybe this place in Glendale improved since my visit?

Old re-heated over cooked fish is never good. This came from a beautiful resort in Scottsdale. The fish came to me slightly warmed up and sat on top of a salad that was missing most of the ingredients the menu listed.

Over Cooked and over salted fish was served to me from one of the finest restaurants in Phoenix.

Over Cooked and Over Salted Phoenix AZ

Tried a personal size Chicago Style Pizza from some place on the west side and it was re-heated and not fresh made and came with a burnt crust and so much cheese I felt sick.

The fish wasn’t so great and the Couscous tasted like salt….Just another bad dinner out! Somewhere in Peoria.

Had a chicken sandwich somewhere in Scottsdale. The bun was hard like a rock. The chicken slightly burnt with a weird snappy texture. The sandwich also had a canned green chile pepper that tasted like the tin can it came from….not to mention the horrible potato salad it came with….All the potatoes were over cooked and I basically got a dish with mashed potatoes, some chopped egg and mayonnaise.

A grilled chicken sandwich from somewhere in Scottsdale AZ and the potato salad is pictured below.

Went to a Mexican Restaurant in North Phoenix. Got served the most tasteless, uninspired taco salad I ever had anywhere on warm iceberg lettuce. The chips and salsas were also the worst I ever tasted anywhere.

$13.99 Salad from a Mexican Restaurant in Phoenix AZ

Went to a place in Scottsdale and was served Old Tasting Fish topped with Salty Sour Tomato paste, Lousy sides of corn that looks like vomit and gooey pierogis.

We were driving back from Vegas a while back and stopped in Sun City for a bite. Should have kept going…..Mediocre fish, less than mediocre warmed up frozen vegetables and the most disgusting mashed potatoes I’ve ever seen in my Forking life. “I asked the waiter why are the potatoes were greenish?” He said, “The Chef said that black pepper makes the potatoes green.”

– Sun City

I seriously think food this bad is a violation and they should have their food license pulled.

Well that was a little stroll by not all but some of the most Frightful Food served to me in Metro Phoenix. I hope I didn’t frighten you too much!

And this is my rating to these places.

NOT WORTH A FORK!

Most food experiences in Metro Phoenix are better.

This was a Halloween Special Edition of The Most Frightening Horrifying Foods that were Served to Me in Metro Phoenix in the past few years.

Remember that everything is subject to change and your experience may or may NOT Differ.

Good Luck and Happy Halloween!

The Forking Truth

 

Zabari Mediterranean Grill of Phoenix AZ is Worth a Fork!

 

Zabari Mediterranean Grill is a casual order at the counter restaurant. Zabari M.G. offers an Israeli Spin on Mediterranean Food and is also certified Glatt Kosher. That’s means kosher plus no diseased animals are used. This restaurant has been on my list for a long time and I just wasn’t sure about trying it out…With maybe a good reason…after-all I’ve dined at the AMAZING multi award winning Zahav Restaurant in Philadelphia (modern Israeli Style Restaurant)….By multi James Beard Award winning Chef Michael Solomonov (also 2017 James Beard outstanding Chef Award). I kept thinking this little restaurant can’t compare…..but after reading a glowing review by the Phoenix New Times I changed my mind and I’m glad I did because it’s pretty downright special!

We decided to order two entrees. A falafel platter and a Meat Sampler Platter that they call the Zabari Mix (Grilled Chicken, Chicken Shawarma, Kabob, Beef Shish Kabob. Each platter also comes with THREE SIDES and they give us pickled mango sauce, really HOT green shrug sauce, FORKING HOT Red shrug sauce, tahini sauce and fresh baked pita bread.

ALL THIS FOOD IS TWO ENTREES!

 

Rice, Chickpea Falafels, Matbucha (tomato & pepper salad), seasoned carrots, Israeli Salad, Eggplant, Babaganush and Hummus.

Zabari Mix – Grilled Chicken, Chicken Shawarma (chicken thighs with zesty spices, broiled on a vertical skewer), ground beef kabob, marinated and flame broiled tri tip Kabob, rice and pita breads.

WOW! It’s a whole table of food!  where do I start?

I start with the Falafel.

It’s a super fluffy crunchy and also flavorful falafel. Very very good indeed. It also seems grease free…I like that very much. Babaganush is very creamy with lots of eggplant that’s almost sweet. Very little smoke to it. Hummus is creamy. The Eggplant salad is very tasty….it has nice flavors to it.

Moving on to more vegetables…..

The Israeli Salad is fresh and light with crunchy cucumber and tomato. The Carrots are very tasty. I know I taste a little cumin…whatever they did it’s very delicious. BUT THE TOMATO PEPPER Salad called MATBUCHA is Forking YUMMO! WOW they should sell it in all the supermarkets. I have to attempt to recreate this one….It’s so delicious…The tomatoes are concentrated, I taste a delicious roasted red pepper kind of taste but I also get some spicy pepper….but not too spicy.

Now to the meats…..

Grilled white meat chicken is nicely seasoned. Some pieces are very tender and a few are not.  The Grilled chicken taste extra great with the pickled mango sauce. Ground beef kabob is moist and tasty, Tri Tip Shish Kabob has more flavor than the Ground Beef Kabob. The CHICKEN SHAWARMA is the way to go! It has crispy caramelized ends and is full of juice and flavors. It outshines the other meats by leaps and bounds. I think it’s the FORKING BEST CHICKEN SHAWARMA I EVER HAD ANYWHERE!

The Chef’s son was working the counter on our visit. He was very kind and helpful explaining the food to us. He also offered us some tasting samples and also served us our platters and checked on us too.

All the food was good but the Falafels, Chicken Shawarma, Matbucha, Eggplant, Carrots and nifty sauces will make us come back for more!

P.S. Portions were very large. We had plenty of leftovers to bring home.

Zabari Mediterranean Grill is Worth a Fork!

Worth a Fork! Killer Chicken Shawarma, Matbucha, Falafels

www.ZabariGrill.com

The Forking Truth is that EVERYTHING is subject to change and your experience may or may not differ.

The Forking Truth

The 2017 Reign of #PumpkinSpiceEverything & Halloween HORROR – Food

 

It’s that time of year when the world goes Forking berserk and many things go pumpkin or pumpkin spiced. Since it’s Halloween time I tossed them into the bunch as well. I never know what I’ll come across. This is what I found this year.

Here are Werther’s Original Caramels with a touch of Pumpkin Spice for your chewing pleasure.

This is Pumpkin Spice wafers filled with real pumpkin in a creamy filling.

Butternut Squash Zucchette Pasta (this one is Forking Cute and DIFFERENT!) and Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli.

Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Cherrios!

I guess if we can have Pumpkin Spice Flavored Cheerios then why the Fork not Pumpkin Spice Frosted Mini Wheats…..

Well if Pumpkin Spice Cheerios or Mini Wheats don’t do it for you then maybe Pumpkin Spice Quaker Oats is more to your liking.

Some sort of Captain Morgan Jack-O-Blast and Pumpkin Vodka………..(hic!)

They Forked with Bally’s and made that Forking Pumpkin Spiced too!

Limited Edition Pumpkin Pie Pop-tarts.

Pumpkin Spice Cookie Butter Spread…? and Pumpkin Spice Cookie Butter Dippers and a Normal Jar of Pumpkin Butter that doesn’t forking taste like butter but they call it butter…?

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Brownie and Gift Cast Iron Skillet Gift Pack with bonus Pumpkin Spice Caramels.

Pumpkin Flax Flapjack and Waffle Mix.

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn and Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds.

Pumpkin Pie Toaster Pastries.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies…..These sound yummy…don’t know?

More pumpkin pancakes and waffle mix.

Forking Pumpkin Rolls! Whoo Hoo!

Pumpkin Spice Mug Cake…with NO ARTIFICAL flavor…

Here is Artificially Flavored Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream!

Pumpkin Spice Vinaigrette…..so your salad too can taste that way!

Pumpkin Spice Almonds….I think that one is strange.

Pumpkin Latte Lollipops.

Pumpkin Pie Snack Sized Kit Kats…UmmmmmI would have purchased them but they were Forking placed passed the check out…..Thanks Fry’s for saving me a bunch of calories!

Pumpkin Spice Biscotti.

Pumpkin Spice Swirled Bread?….It would be tasty as French toast…..maybe good with chicken breast……but terrible as most sandwiches. I can’t imagine it with tunafish.

Pumpkin Spice Cookie Mix. Incase you don’t have pumpkin spice to add for your fresh baked cookies.

Here are Pumpkin Tortilla Chips and Ghosts and Bats Crispy Potato Snacks

Candy Corn White Fudge Marshmallow Peeps..?

White Chocolate Pumpkin Pie M&M’s.

Candy Corn M&M’s.

Cookies and Screeem M&M’s…..(They are suppose to taste like regular Oreo’s)

Here are two Halloween Treats. One is Franken Berry Fruit Roll Ups. The Other is some sort of Count Chocula Bar.

YOU KNOW that there is going to be some sort of Oreo and here is Pumpkin Spice Oreo.

Whoops here we go again….Halloween Oreos! What flavor is Halloween? Old Ghost? Cadavers? Spider Juice?

That was the 2017 Reign of #PumpkinSpiceEverything and Halloween Horror.

Be safe and Happy Halloween!

The Forking Truth

Happy HOWWWWLoween!

 

Baked Cod Cakes Recipe

 

Baked Cod Cake

Felt like whipping up some sort of fish cake today since I have a bunch of potatoes and came across some cod today. These fish cakes are NOT the east coast style kind as mine are made from regular cod and potato and are not fried. The mixture is soft so I lightly coated the fish and potato patties with just a light coating of whole wheat panko. I think a secret here is using whole wheat panko. I don’t think regular panko will work out as well. The coating comes out very crispy!

Ingredients for 8 generous servings

2 lbs baking potato peeled – cut in halves – and placed in a pot of water

2 Tablespoons kosher salt – to boil with potatoes

1/2 onion (to boil with potatoes – discard after potatoes are boiled)

2 garlic cloves  (to boil with potatoes – discard after potatoes are boiled)

1 celery rib (to boil with potatoes – discard after potatoes are boiled)

1 carrot ( to boil with potatoes – discard after potatoes are boiled)

1 hot pepper (to boil with potatoes – discard after potatoes are boiled) ((I used a banana pepper)

1/3 cup grated onions

1 celery rib – chopped very fine

1 garlic clove – ground to paste

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 lb cod

fresh ground sea salt to taste

fresh ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup (scant) extra virgin olive oil (to drizzle under and over the fish)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon course sea salt

1 Tablespoon heavy cream

1/4 cup scallions – chopped

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1 L egg – slightly beaten

1 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs

non – stick spray – either canola or vegetable

Directions

Turn oven on to 425 degrees F

In a pot add potatoes, 2 Tablespoons salt, 1/2 onion, 1 celery rib, carrot and hot pepper on to a medium boil. Boil the potatoes till fork tender.

Sprinkle a baking sheet with extra virgin olive oil and Fresh ground sea salt and black pepper. Place the fish on top of the olive oil and seasoning. Now drizzle the top of the fish(s) with olive oil and lightly sprinkle the fish with fresh ground sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Place the fish in the oven and pull out when done. (about 15 minutes)

While the potatoes are boiling get a small fry pan on medium heat, melt the butter and then cook up the grated onion, finely chopped celery, ground garlic and thyme till everything smells good and everything is soft. It should get done very quickly because everything should be very fine. Set to the side.

When the potatoes are fork tender. Discard the onion, garlic, carrot celery and hot pepper. Drain the potatoes and hand mash. (after draining I put the potatoes back in the pot to mash) Add the onion and celery mixture from the fry pan and mash into the potatoes.

Now mash the fish into the potatoes. Add the ground black pepper, sea salt, heavy cream, scallions, white pepper and egg and mix till incorporated.

Score the mixture in quarters. Half a quarter will make a nice size patty. Make eight patties.

In a small bowl add the panko. Lightly coat each patty all over with the crumbs.

Spray the baking sheet(s) and tops of patties with Non stick spray and place the patties leaving some room around them.

After 30 minutes in the oven they should be golden brown all over.

I let them cool and then refrigerate. Latter I reheated two patties for dinner uncovered for 30 minutes (with covered vegetable sides) at 350 degrees F.

The outside is very thin and VERY CRISPY. I think they are flavored just right. My husband didn’t think he’d like them but when he tried it he couldn’t believe how yummy they were! I don’t think the Baked Cod Cakes really need a sauce but feel free to use whatever sauce you like. Back east we just use ketchup on fish cake sandwiches. I think a tarter sauce would be good, a lemon aioli or my secret sauce Asian Style shhhhh (Kewpie, a squirt of sriracha and gochujang. My husband requested cocktail sauce. I didn’t measure but this quick style cocktail sauce came out really amazing. It was Ketchup, horseradish, worcestershire, hot sauce, black pepper and bomba calabrese. My husband kept asking how did you make this? (fish cake and cocktail sauce) This is really delicious….really really very good!

Enjoy!

Baked Cod Cake

The Forking Truth