Foodiebear
 
Well I haven't posted for quite some time. To be honest I just needed a break to reevaluate what Im doing here. Originally I had started this blog to supplement my other writings on Yelp and Echo Mag with the idea of sharing my love for local eats. Now having done it for so long I feel its become more of a chore but trust me on this, Im still very passionate about good food and cooking (Ive got the belly to prove it).

In the time Ive stopped writing I have thought much about what I'd like to do to make this fun again. Change the site layout? Change the name? Change direction? After exploring each I haven't come up with a definitive answer yet but probably a mix of all the above. Meanwhile, we're in the process of moving to the San Francisco Bay area which will most certainly help with the evolution of this site and its content. As many of you know Im an avid home cook and am always working on something new. With the addition of bountiful produce into our new lives around the bay I'm super excited to get cooking and of course eating. 

So what does all this mean? Ill be on a continued hiatus until I get settled into our new digs at which time I can focus on what I want to do here. So for now I thank you for your support and hope to see you real soon. Keep eating!

xoxo
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Joe's Farm Grill

02/05/2013

 
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Built out of Joe Johnstons childhood home, Joe's Farm Grill resides on at what's called Agritopia, a neighborhood being built around a farm in Gilbert. This works out well because many of the fresh vegetables and herbs come directly from the farm and right into Joe's kitchen, it doesn't get more local than this. 

Looking at the building you’d have to squint really hard to figure out what the house may have looked like before it was converted into a restaurant. The place definitely has a retro-modern flair with a nod to the 1960’s, the lighting fixtures are groovy baby. 

The ordering process is as straight forward as the menu, approach the window and place your order. Once placed your handed an electronic buzzer to give you a good scare when your food is ready, I swear I jump every time. The interior space is relaxed and comfortable with plenty of open seating, though the best seats are actually outdoors under giant shade trees. Also outdoors is the condiment bar with get this, ranch dressing on tap. Any place that has one of my favorite dips for French fries on tap is a winner in my book.

Whether you're craving a burger, pizza or keeping it light with a salad, there’s an option for you. The mainstream menu definitely caters to the stroller pushing set that frequents Joe's as well as anyone who enjoys fresh well prepared food.

After being scared from the buzzer, I quickly raced inside to the counter to pick up the grub. My mouth started watering instantly when I saw how good the food looked. Once back at my table I quickly sank a bite into the Farm Burger, which was well seasoned and perfectly juicy. Weighing in at 6 oz. then covered with your choice of cheese and grilled onions; this is one tasty burger and a large one at that.

Joe's also has a selection of pizzas that take on a slightly crisp char from being grilled rather than baked. Knowing that Joe does barbecue right at another of his restaurants, ordering the BBQ Chicken Pizza was a no brainer. Smoked chicken breast, bacon, blue cheese, fresh tomato, red onion and Joe’s Real BBQ sauce sound like a lot of ingredients but they work together in an awesome way. I loved the tangy bleu cheese and smoky sweet BBQ sauce created a yin and yang of flavors, great combination.

So it’s with much love that I say I'm looking forward to visiting again real soon.

3000 E Ray Rd Gilbert AZ 85296 | 480 563 4745 | www.joesfarmgrill.com

 
 
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Located in the Lee Lee shopping center in Chandler, the owners of China Magic Noodle House have done a great job of making the interior bright, clean and welcoming. Being greeted with a smile we were sat in the one of the generously sized booths, like they knew the feast we were going to order. 

On the farthest wall you'll see a large window open to the kitchen so you can indeed see where the magic happens. After you place your order, you’re more than welcome to go to the window and watch the noodle master get to work. Each order is hand pulled and is just amazing to witness. I was immediately put into a foodie induced trance while he twisted and beat the dough. Let me say, the noodle master makes it look so easy but I can assure you, it takes a ton of practice and skill honing to get to where this guy is. When ordering you have several choice of noodles including the hand pulled version as well as wide noodles, shaved noodles, thick noodles and vegetable noodles.

Wanting to attack the menu from all sides, we indeed ordered up a Chinese noodle feast. When the first dish arrived we knew we were in for a treat. Clearly the Pan Fried Dumpling was, like the noodles, made by hand as the outside skin was thick and robust. Stuffed with seasoned minced pork, these dumplings were huge. Along side was a bowl of a vinegar-based dipping sauce, which brought a nice tang to each pork bite. I enjoyed the fact that the skin was thick since each bite was substantial and toothsome. 

The Hot Spring Beef Tender was actually kind of a surprise when it arrived. My impression when ordering this dish was that it would be tender sliced beef but when it arrived it was actually a plate full of paper-thin slices of spiced marinated beef tendon. I love beef tendon so it wasn't much of a problem, though when asked our waiter about the spelling on the menu he was quick to point out that the tendon is tender, funny. However he was helpful in pointing out that next time ordering the Marinated Beef will get me sliced beef.

Noodles with Minced Pork Sauce was filled with chewy bites was studded with green onion and little pieces of ground pork. The noodles did a great job of absorbing all of the flavors of the dish, I’d order this one again anytime. Beef with Fried Noodles in XO Spicy Sauce, similar to a house lo-mein, was bursting with taste. The spicy XO sauce added a savory dimension to the noodles and the tender beef. If you need additional spice there is a jar of gorgeous red chile oil on every table. 

Similar to Vietnamese pho, Ox-Tail with Soup Noodles were so comforting, I can imagine these on a cold day, warming your belly and your soul. The broth was complex and each bite of fall off the bone tender ox-tail and chewy noodles were a joy to slurp. 

The only negative thing I can say about China Magic Noodle House is that they aren’t closer to where I live, though on second thought this might be a good thing.

2015 N Dobson Rd | Chandler, AZ 85224| (480) 786-8002


 

Postino Wine Cafe

01/22/2013

 
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By now I'm guessing that everyone has been to Postino Wine Cafe at least once. If for some cosmic reason you haven’t made it, you really should. 

If you're like me sometimes you just aren’t ready to go straight home form work. That's when it's time to tap your local neighborhood eatery, pull up a chair and simply unwind from the long of the day. Opening their first location in 2001, by the same great folks who brought us La Grande Orange and LGO Pizzeria, Postino Wine Cafe is one of those hang outs. Even if either location isn't in your 'hood, you’ll quickly feel welcomed by an attractive and friendly staff. 

Postino is definitely a popular hangout and depending on which location you visit, parking can be slightly troublesome. At the Arcadia location where I visited, the parking spaces are at a premium so you can come early or late. I’d recommend checking your car into the valet and paying only $3, this will save you from any potential aggravation.

As I sit there taking in the crowd and the space, I can’t help but ponder into deep contemplation, should I order beer or wine? With a world wide and world class selection of beers and wines there is plenty to choose from.  However if you’re unsure, either your server or bartender will guide you to something quite suited to your taste. I was feeling like a Belgium beer so I went for the Chimay Grand Reserve. At quadruple the flavor and double the alcohol content compared to domestic beers, this beer has a certain yeasty earthiness that's surprisingly not heavy or thick. Contemplation sets back in, what's for dinner?

A small bowl of olives comes to your table so you can immediately start chowing down with your drink selection. They’re smart by teasing you with a small bowl, after one olive you’ll order a full bowl with a blend of Luques, Picholine, Gaeta, Red Cerignola, Arbequina and Castelvetrano olives. Snacking and sharing is key to the menu, though if you want to compose dinner out of salads and sandwiches, that's just as easy. 

The Pub Board severs up a soft, hot and steamy pretzels along side a selection of Schreiner’s chorizo, cornichon pickles, aged cheddar and giant Spanish corn nuts for a major snack attack! 

Panini, a grilled Italian sandwich has many varieties, on this visit the Nine Iron was just alright. Filled with hickory smoked bacon layered with grilled chicken and fresh burrata mozzarella it sounds like a hole in one but the soggy lettuce left me in the sand trap. The accompanied salad was dressed well but was composed of to many pieces of white and bitter romain cores. A mention of this to the server and this was quickly addressed with apologies. Remember it's alright to share your expectations with any establishment whether good or bad. 

Grilled bread covered with your choice of preparations, Bruschetta scored major kudos. Four to an order, it was love at first bite! My choices were Prosciutto with Figs & Mascarpone, Tomato Jam & Fresh Sheeps Milk Cheese, Albacore Tuna with Gaeta Olives and Salami with Pesto. Salty, creamy, sweet and chewy, this was a full on taste party!

Continuing the party to the end, the Salted Caramel Sundae was all about the grand finale. Vanilla ice cream with chocolate covered corn nuts a pretzel stick, and a salted caramel shot was all I ever wanted, I just never knew it. 

This is food that I love to eat, clean, simple and fresh. When paired with my favorite beer or wine, I could easily stop by on my way home from work every night. xo

Check their website for location. www.postinowinecafe.com

 
 
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Walking into Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana at the Borgota in Scottsdale, you can’t help but notice what a sleek and beautiful space they've created. The dining room has soaring ceilings, dark furniture and a massive mural showing someone riding a scooter in the streets of Italy. What appeared to be another trendy, albeit sexy, pizzeria is actually so far from it.

While pizza is the name of the game here, getting to that point was a blast. Loving kitchen tools, you'll see in the open part of the kitchen a classic red Berkel meat slicer which is used to prepare selection of cured meats. This is one serious meat slicer that I can only dream of having in my own kitchen. To see it in action I ordered the Affettati Misti, a plate is filled with paper thin  slices of bresaola, prosciutto, salame, olives and cheese, chef choice and his choices were spot on.
 
At lunch time Pomo also serves a handful of paninis. However these are not the typical grilled sandwiches you find else where. They take fresh dough and quick bake it in their blistering hot oven which yields a slightly charred yet lint and crispy bread. Then they stuff it full of Italian goodness like the Salame Panini which was filled with spicy salame, arugala and mozzarella cheese. Served with a simple side salad, the panini was excellent and very satisfying.

Like the panini the pizzas are cooked in a wood fired oven that rages around 900 degrees. This means that a pizza only take around a minute and a half to cook. By Naples standards the pizzas are decidedly thin though surprisingly the crust isn't ultra crispy as one might expect. Instead the crust is light and moist with an excellent toothsome chew.

Ordering the Regina Margherita was on point as the tomato sauce was bright and sweet then the flavor of the milky fresh mozzarella kicked in which was enhanced by fresh chopped basil, have mercy! Another way to enjoy the stupendous crust was in the Calzone Napoletano. This was not your run of the mill calzone. Instead the amazing crust was filled with spicy salame, tomato sauce, mozzarella and ricotta; each creamy bite deserved another as I wickedly ate the whole thing.

After such delicious food what better way to end than to order dessert. While they do have standards like Tiramisu and Panno Cotta, the light and airy Semifreddo Di Mandorle was a standout. Each bite of the partially frozen mousse was accented with a toasted pistachio crust, more please.

With their VPN certification in place and a passion for tradition, this might be as close to an authentic Italian pizza as you'll get without going to Italy.

6166 N Scottsdale Rd Ste 701 | Scottsdale AZ 85253 | (480) 998-1366 | pomopizzeria.com


 

Merry Holidays

12/26/2012

 
Merry holidays everyone! Sitting by the fire loving some tasty eggnog while listening to Bing Crosby Christmas.

I hope you're having an amazing holiday season and enjoying the magic only friends and family can create.

Hugs warm hugs and much love!

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Hmm... where to go to get a charming old building, vinyl booths, a ceiling adorned with Christmas tree lights and an old school Mexican menu that's simple, satisfying and inexpensive? Tee Pee Mexican Restaurant! For me this is solid Phoenix style Mexican food that I grew up with.

Each table is automatically adorned with a pitcher of ice water and a squirt bottle filled with Tee Pee's own hot sauce. Within moments a large bowl of chips is brought out and accompanied chunky salsa. The chips are humongous, essentially a medium corn tortilla cut in half and deep fried to till crisp. The chunky salsa was bursting with freshness and a slight throat burn more indicative to pepper than chile. Either way, I love built in appetizers.

I'm a cheese crisp fanatic so I consider myself an expert by way of sheer cheese crisp volume consumed over the course of my lifetime. Having chowed on so many, there have been many great and not great. So what makes Tee Pee's cheese crisp so great? The truth in advertising. Pick up a slice and you'll find its truly crisp and rigid being followed by thick ropes of gooey melted cheddar cheese. I got mine covered with green chile strips for an added punch of flavor.  

What's good Mexican food without a mainstay like Sour Cream Enchiladas. Corn tortillas encircle molten cheddar cheese and sour cream then draped with Tee Pee's savory red sauce. As soon as the plate arrived I could tell that these were going to be good. Oh, by the way, when they say these plates are hot, they aren’t kidding. Seriously, do no touch these or you will get burnt, I speak from experience on this one, heed their warning. However, the fieriness from the plate further enhanced the smoky red chile sauce making it that much more delicious. 

The Beef Fajita Chimichanga is an ode to everything that is right about fried food. Huge flour tortilla filled with tender well seasoned grilled beef, onions and bell peppers, then rolled and deep fried to delicate crunch. The French fried burrito is covered with the usual suspects including red sauce, lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream and a healthy dollop of guacamole. I didn't feel an ounce of guilt eating the entire thing.
 
4144 East Indian School Road | Phoenix, Arizona 85018 | (602) 956-0178 | www.teepeemexicanfood.com


 
 
Like a campfire, there is something mouthwatering about the strong smell of mesquite wood smoke emanating from the kitchen. Watching the cooks manhandle slabs of meat over an open flame, the burgers at The Original Hamburger Works are definitely treated right. As soon as your burger is done your name is called out over the house loudspeaker, then the fun begins.

The centerpiece of the dining room is a large wagon filled with fresh sliced tomatoes, lettuce, onions and pickles and all sorts of condiments and salad dressings. You are in control of your burger destiny with as many ladles of ranch dressing as you'd like. I’d recommend not going too heavy on the condiments and toppings since the burgers here can stand on their own.

Biting into the Big One gives new meaning to the whimsical saying. A deep amber charbroiled crust surrounds the 1/3 pound of fresh ground beef, inside it’s perfectly medium as ordered. The meat is toothsome, well seasoned and is bursting with a wonderful beefy caramelized flavor.

Burgers are ala carte so you'll have to order your sides separate or opt for a combo meal. Potatoes aka Fries were disappointingly pale and seemingly unsalted. At a contrast Id opt for the Onion Rings instead, fried golden brown and addictive with dunks into ranch dressing.

If you don't eat red meat you're in luck, they make a juicy Chicken Sandwich. Cooked over the same mesquite coals, this sandwich has a surprising amount of satisfying heft. The Italian version gets a treatment of flavor adding Italian dressing before getting cooked to a savory finish.

Fair warning, when eating Buffalo Wings here just hope you're not wearing a nice shirt. These are so sloppy and messy that you may need a stack of wet-naps just to get through the plate, exactly how they should be. If there isn't a mess, there's a problem.

TOHW might be a little bit country, but the burgers are a whole lot of rock 'n roll.

2801 N 15th Ave | Phoenix, AZ 85007 | (602) 263-8693 | originalhamburgerworks.com

 
 
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With 20+ beers on the menu, beer centric is the name of the game at The Main Ingredient. Being the beer lover I am and coupled with great patio seating, TMI will makes for a great hangout after a long day of work. No worries if you’re not a beer fan, the beverage menu also has many wines available by the glass and bottle.

The menu is composed of a few nibbly things, salads and sandwiches. Plus with the most expensive menu item topping out at $10 TMI is definitely wallet friendly.

Marinated with citrus zest, rosemary, garlic, and red pepper, the house blended Olives seem to have been a favorite, we ate them all. Pro-Pasto is an ode to cured meats, cheeses, roasted veggies, more olives, and crostini.

As I sipped my Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale and enjoyed the conversation with my friends, I couldn't help but notice how diverse the other guests were. There was a couple looking like they were on a first date, a group of 20 something’s laughing and enjoying themselves and a smattering of other couples simply enjoying the moment. I couldn't help but smile, what a great vibe.

Rounding off our starters were the Artichoke Heaven and Mindy's Mac & Cheese (technically a specialty but mac n cheese is good for any course, always). The artichoke cheese dip had a hint of spiciness and was served with tortilla chips for scooping. Mindy's mac and cheese was tasty and I really enjoyed the cheesy baked crunchy edges. 

Enjoying more cheese, the Griddled Cheese sandwich is sure to please. A combination of havarti, muenster, and cheddar is topped with tomato but I quickly removed the tomato since I'm a cheese sandwich purist.

Cash Money is a tribute to old school PB&J, but instead uses cashew butter, red pepper Cabernet jelly, and sliced banana on sourdough bread. At first I was going to order this one for dessert but thought better of it. Be sure to order chips with this one, salty and sweet are what this one is all about.

If you love hot dogs, you’ll love eating their Coronado Coney. They take a jumbo Schreiner’s all beef frank, and then top it with red onion and spicy Nut Brown Ale Mustard. I liked the hot dog but kept wishing there was less mustard and more onion, that's just how I roll.

While we were to full for desserts like Triple Chocolate Brownie and the Imperial Stout float will have is coming back for more, more, more (how do you like it).

2337 N 7th St | Phoenix, AZ 85006 | (602) 843-6246 | www.tmialehouse.com


 
 
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I recently got word that one of my favorite Scottsdale restaurants Voltaire will be closing down at the end of their current season ending in June 2013. This provides a rare opportunity to enjoy some of Chef Davids classic French cookery. I have many great memories of Voltaire, especially at Christmas time with my closest friends and loved ones. While I will always have those memories Im still sad that they will be no longer. 

On a brighter note owners David and Martin 
Antonelli will be opening a new more casual effort in the same space. Im not sure about you but I find this really exciting and can not wait to see how it turns out. Meanwhile below is one of the amazing memories I had at Voltaire. I hope you get a chance to enjoy a similar experience like we had with great service and amazing food.

(Jan 2011) I’ve read about the service and food at French restaurants in the past where waiters would bone a fish, mix a salad and prepare Crepes Suzette all tableside. Well I'm happy to share that Voltaire serves little piece of that history in a sleepy neighborhood of Scottsdale away from the hustle and bustle of Old Town.

Opened in 1983, Voltaire has an understated charm that’s both enduring and endearing. Owned and operated by the Antonelli family, son Chef David expertly heads the kitchen while his father Martin runs the front of the house. The duo provide top-notch service and outstanding French fare.

Nothing says loving like a gorgeous plate of Rabbit Pate. Served with classic accompaniments, this special includes toast, gherkin pickles and rustic French mustard, simply divine.

I feel blessed that we have some excellent bowls of French onion soup here in the valley and Chef David’s doesn't disappoint. His version, Soupe a l'Oignon Parisienne, is as homey and comforting as a hug from mom. Well that’s if moms hugs were made from veal stock, caramelized onions and gooey melted gruyere cheese.

When the service cart is wheeled to your table, you know you're in for a treat. The Spinach Salad is started with your server pan cooking bacon then adding a splash of red wine vinegar. In a sizzle and a pop the bacon vinaigrette is finished then tossed with spinach leaves and button mushrooms. We asked Chef David to poach an egg to top off the warm salad, the creamy yolk added another component to the already stellar salad. 

If you have a hard time selecting an entree, I would highly recommend Le Poulet en Croûte. Puff pastry wrapped around creamed spinach and a fork tender chicken breast was a satisfying choice. However the meaty Le Steak au Poivre Sauté Richelieu, a New York strip blanketed with a cracked black peppercorn finish, was so tender and well-prepared Id be hard pressed to order anything else. Draped with a shimmering gloss of truffled cream sauce, the Coquilles St. Jaxques ($31) was another solid suggestion. You just can’t go wrong with buttery pan seared scallops of this caliber.

When our server flambéd the Cherries Jubilee table side with Grand Marnier and cherry brandy, she began to sing La Vie En Rose. Her beautiful voice filled the dining room as she lovingly prepared our dessert. When she started to spoon the warmed cherries over a mound of vanilla ice cream, I turned and looked deeply into my partners eyes and couldn't help but think how this intimate moment will be remembered always.

Dinner Only, M-Sat 5:30-9:30
8340 E McDonald Dr | Scottsdale, AZ 85250 | (480) 948-1005 | voltairerestaurant.com