Festive Dedication of Renovated Historic Phoenix Building

Barry Kluger extended an invite to me for the dedication of Larry Lazarus’ restored historic 1921 building on 420 West Roosevelt Street in Phoenix. I was appreciative of Barry giving me the chase to get back into the swing of life and meet the people of Phoenix. At late I’ve been taking care of my mother, who suffers from both polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis, and volunteering with the National Medical Research Foundation, founded by Joan and Edward Reiter, to find a cause and cure of these painful and deadly diseases. It felt great to be out in the world again, thank you Barry!

Barry a wonderful escort and well liked introduced me to Larry Lazarus, a prominent distinguished attorney involved in the ADL. Barry and I toured the newly remodeled building designed by Richard Loope. You can’t help to look at the beautiful wide plank floors or notice the impressive safari motifs and nuances throughout the building. As we were leaving to join the party outside, Don Henninger, publisher of the Business Journal, stopped Barry to catch up. The Business Journal is a very comprehensive resource of local business news.

Outside under the big white tent we chatted with several of Barry’s associates. He also introduced me to Attorney General Terry Goddard, Mayor Phil Gordon, and several other statesmen. Mayor Gordon is an impressive man, deep voice, firm handshake and defined eye contact. Coincidentally, Mayor Gordon and I are separated by 2 degrees from my friend Andre Bormanis. Governor Napolitano was suppose to be there, but probably was held up with state budget meeting.

It was a wonderful turnout and Larry Lazarus certainly knows how to put on a party. Among the handshakes and pats on the backs there were bits and bites being nibbled from Mexican fare and sips from margaritas. To top off the evening festivities the Phoenix Police Choir gave a marvelous performance.

Resources:
” Party hearty . . . fun with e-mail . . . phone home” by John Stearns
Napolitano, GOP leaders agree on proposal, Associated Press
Michael: Napolitano’s Budget Compromise

Lunch with Barry Kluger

Courtney made an email introduction to Barry Kluger for me, the newly appointed co-chair of Arizona’s Governors Commission on Film and Television, brilliant PR maven, serves on the board of ADL, and featured writer for column in Arizona Woman called “Life { Male Call”. Barry kindly invited me out to lunch at the Orange Table, a lovely eatery located in Scottsdale’s downtown civic mall. Greeted with a big smile, firm but not overwhelming handshake, handsome and strong features, I instantly liked Barry.

Barry is an ex-New Yorker like me, who lived and worked in Silicon Alley’s new media industry. Besides the lovely Ms. Pulitzer, we have several people in common which was among the many topics discussed over deli sandwich and mozzarella salad topped with tuna salad served at Orange Table.

Sitting outside among the lovely orange trees that grace the patio setting of the Orange Table, on a sunny warm Wednesday afternoon. Barry shared with me his life story, the transition from New York to Scottsdale, day to day with life with Hope, his wife, loss of his dear daughter, and the politics of living in the greater Phoenix area.

Barry is a loving, caring, intelligent, socially conscious, and committed member of society. Also very creative as shown in his most recent article for Arizona Woman entitled, “When a Man Loves a Woman, He Cooks”. Barry extols “the Passion of the Crust” for Hope in hopes of her appreciation. As Anais Nin illustrates in her short story “In Favor of a Sensitive Man”, I found those prescribed ingredients in Mr. Barry Kluger. An unusual note about Barry he enjoys diet soda by adding Sweet ‘n Low to it.

How would I rate lunch at the Orange Table?
Food is fresh, tasty and crisp, dining host warm friendly and playful, topped with a wonderful place for deep discussion. I give Orange Table 5 oranges for being a great place to do lunch!

Other Resources:
“In Favor of a Sensitive Man”, Playboy, 1974
“In Favor of a Sensitive Man and Other Essays”, by Anais Nin, A Harvest/HBJ Book, 1976

Daily Eats Reviews Durant’s

You walk into Durant’s through the kitchen. It’s buzzing with excitement as lunches are being prepared for the business crowd. From the hussling of kitchen business, you walk into the dimly lit dining room, no windows to speak of. Picture this an old time speakeasy, red walls dark furniture with Mafia undertones, very smokey, glamorous blondes dressed in Chanel suits sitting across from tall dark and handsome in pinstripes well sort of like that.

As I was lead to my table I wondered what deals were being made in the dark? Was life and death be negotiated? Was Durant’s of the same legacy steakhouses as New York’s infamous Old Homestead where you chewed your steak quickly for fear of what may happen or Delmonico’s where you strained to hear some inside trading tips?

Jack Durant, the founder, speaks of Durant’s as “Good friends, great steak and the best booze are the necessities of life.” I wanted to put his motto to the test and met Tavis Logan there for lunch. Travis, new Regional Event Chairperson of Phoenix Ryze was introduced to me via the brilliant marketing maven, Andrew Kraft the orginator of NYC Ryze. Ryze, by the way, is a business networking club founded by Adrian Scott. Travis is an impressive connection maker, who is also president of 99AZ, another business networking club, which I will check out on Tuesday evening.

As I hankered to overhear what conversations were being had at Durant’s, to my surprise the lunch crowd was loud and festive drinking what’s on tap not the usual martini-guzzling crowd I’m use to. My focus immediately drifted back to my table. Lunch was far from dull with Travis we chatted about a wide variety of subjects including my favorites: anything-New York City and quantum physics. In between bites of my delightful cheeseburger cooked to perfection, Travis surprised me with when he asked if I saw the film, “What the Bleep Do We Know?”. An awesome film about quantum physics. We also chatted briefly about Dr. Joe Dispenza and creating your day. All in all we had a powerful discussion over a lovely casual two-hour lunch.
How do I feel about Durant’s: I think Travis would agree lunch was excellent. Though I could do without the second hand smoke, which steals from the true flavors of beef, and spoils my hair and my lovely expensive suit.

I rate Durant’s 4.5 slabs of free ranch beef – I would have given a full 5 but I am a stickler for smoke free dining. Hey if the Old Homestead and Delmonico’s in NYC are cigar and cigarette free and still cranking in the green, so can every steakhouse in the US. Trust me smell is the best part of eating a good piece of steak and second hand smoke doesn’t add to the flavor.

Other links:
My Ryze page

Swedish Meatballs, yah

I don’t know about you, but dining with a Frenchman in a Swedish restaurant is right up my alley on Cinco de Mayo!

And, I’m not an expert, but I do know a good meatball when I taste one. And the Swedish Meatballs at Smorgas Chef were “not-too-shabby.” L’interieur du restaurant was classically Scandinavian–sparse, clean, bright. Blond woods, steel fixtures, and chandeliers made from blue-glass bottles lent a cheery and “not-too-stark” feeling.

My dining companion had the Scandinavian Seabass Tajine (an Ocean-farm raised Chilean Seabass simmered in a Moroccan clay Tajine with champagne prune and sun-dried tomato sauce). I had the Rack of Lamb (no sauce).

While Christian, a cigar-smoking, wine drinking, flirtatious Frenchman, was chatting up with the proprietors, I finished my food. It was a delightfully forgettable experience. [Note to self: bring book next time].

From their website: “Smörgås Chef Restaurant was founded by chef and designer Morten Sohlberg and investment banker Min Ye. Prior to founding Smörgås Chef, Morten and Min founded Sessions.edu Inc. – the world’s largest online design school headquartered in SOHO New York.” Interesting creditials. Gives new meaning to the idea that you really can recreate yourself in NYC all the time.

Rating: Two Meatballs. One Fish

Six Ingredients or Less

First I forgot to give you the link for those crockpot reviews, so here it is:

http://slate.msn.com/id/2113226

Now, let’s get to the meat of the matter, or shall we say, the food. Crock pot kept saying “Feed me Seymore, FEED ME!” (Little Shop of Horrors”) so I had to get going!

Very important recipe criterion: simplicity. Minimal pre-preparation, little slice and dice, no multipage discussions of this or that. Short and sweet. Quick trip to the bookstore netted me this:
“Six Ingredients or Less,” by Carlean Johnson. Oh this looked favorable. I mean, six ingredients! Most of it just canned stuff that you dump in with the meat! What could be neater, what could be sweeter? My friend Abby thumbed through it and smirked. “Huh. Six ingredients. Ridiculous!” I would not be swayed.

So I chose my first recipe, thusly:

“Southwestern Style Chicken”

4 to 6 chicken breast halves, skinned and boned
1 jar (16 oz) chunky salsa, divided
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained.

Combine half the salsa, and all the corn and black beans in a slow cooker. Add chicken, top with remaining salsa. Cover and cook on LOW 4 to 5 hours or until chicken is tender and cooked through. Makes 4-6 servings.

Just FYI, most cookers come with either HIGH or LOW settings, you can’t set the exact temp. Mine also comes with a nifty feature, auto “keep warm” so it’s not a mass of cold goo when you come home late at night.

I made a few changes, for the sake of “simplicity.” Chicken breasts, skinned and boned? No. Chicken chicken cutlets. Frozen corn? Nah. Easier: canned corn.

So one Sunday morning, I plopped all this stuff into the cooker, turned on low, and did my usual sunday stuff: watch plenty of useless TV, surf aimlessly on the web, go the gym in order to sweat copiously. Every now and then, I would look in the pot, and things seemed to be bubbling auspiciously. After an hour or two, a nice smell. I was full of hope.

Dinner time, 6 pm. I could wait no longer to sample my delicious meal. I opened the cover, and a waft of fragrant steam blew out of it. Everything looked kinda red from the salsa.

The verdict? Kinda dry. So THAT’S why I was supposed to use larger cuts of meat, not thin cutlets. Second: kinda bland. My good friend Abby and our intern Jennifer laughed and laughed when I told them that. “So how much seasoning was in there?” she asked. “Hey, it wasn’t in the recipe,” I said. More laughter.

OK. Two lessons: bigger cuts of meat, and more salt/ pepper. A lot more. Question, will I learn these lessons well or will I , in my rigid middle aged way, continue to slavishly follow simplistic recipes?

Stay tuned…

Food in the News: Finger Food ick!

I just can’t help myself. Ick to the in the custard, double ick to the hoax about the finger found in Wendy’s.

Finger food: the case of the custard A man in North Carolina found a finger in a container of gourmet ice cream from Kohl’s Frozen Custard in Wilmington, North Carolina. Customer Clarence Stowers discovered the digit when he dug into his chocolate desert at home. – by David Pescovitz

Mediaocrity: News Gives Public The Finger: “News Gives Public The Finger”

Despite finger, body parts in food rare

Despite Discovery of Severed Finger in Custard, Statistics Show Body Parts in Food Is Rare

Custard Finger

My question why would anyone put something in his or her mouth to see what it is?

Cooking for Lazy Gadget Phreaks

Problem: You’re a 40 plus year old man who’s done little more than scramble an egg, and you’re getting royally sick of fully cooked chickens cut into quarters and two slices of cheese pizza from the local joint.

Cooking? Hmm. Seems kind of labor intensive, plus there’s the fear of knives and too many ingredients.

The answer came in a web news perousal in early Februrary. Crockpots! Slate.com does a convenient review of several models. Didn’t various girlfriends also mention this device? Yes they did! You just dump some meat and veggies in and some six hours later, you have tasty, tender grandma style hearty eats! Hah! Too good to be true?

I decided to find out. The Rival 3861 6 quart countdown programmable crockpot slow cooker. About $50 delivered from Amazon. Highly recommended for the price from Slate.

Two weeks later, I had in my hands a stainless steel rock of a pot, complete with removable innard. Mighty heavy. Cool touchpad buttons on it, appealed to the gadget man in me.

Recipes come next, I will share with you my trials and tribulations in trying to create edible dinners from my new gadget.

Daily Eats review: Elle, Country Wine Restaurant, Tucson, AZ

My brother, Tom, was on business in Tucson from Massachusetts so we decided to drive from Phoenix to meet him on Sunday for lunch. Not knowing Tucson very well I contacted a blogger friend, Michael Bryon, who recommended Cafe Poca Cosa. All excited I called Cafe Poca Cosa, but they are closed on Sundays. So opted for Claim Jumper, only to arrive at the restaurant, and told it was not opening until 3pm because of some problem not elaborated on.

Riding up and down Alvernon Way, through the center of Tucson in hopes of finding a great restaurant to have Sunday dinner with Tom. We were almost going to drive back to Phoenix because it would all seem restaurants in Tucson are closed for lunch on Sundays. I now know I’m not in NYC any more. After an hour of endless searching we drove past Elle on 3048 Broadway Boulevard. I grabbed the triple A book I looked up Elle much to my surprise and my diabetic father’s relief, this glamorous place is open for Sunday Brunch! We made a U-turn back to Elle.

The decor is stunning, architecture impressive with beautiful nuances. If a scene speaks for the food this is certainly an indication of excellent cuisine. Jeff Fuld and Fernando Elizalde own Elle, a wine country restaurant and may I add experience. Elle has a wine list that boasts some 300 wines that span the globe. A wonderfully rich selection that will intrigue your taste buds.

It was there, together for the first time since last year, my family and I had Sunday brunch. My mother had the seafood dish, which displayed a variety of different seafood and ahi tuna grilled to perfection. Tom had a marvelous sole. My father had the pork medallions, which he ate with delight. I had a flavorful sun dried tomato quiche with salad. All were impeccably delicious. Our dining host, Erica was delightful.

Onto dessert, which is something special at Elle. I had the double chocolate cake, they have 3 different chocolate desserts on their menu. My mother had a duo creme brulee, and Tom had bread pudding. All of the desserts were out of this world in taste and presentation.

Jeff Fuld came by to introduce himself and see how we were enjoying brunch. He told us, Fernando, his business partner, and he took over Elle only 4 months ago. Well hats off to you both it was a total delight in food presentation, service, and atmosphere, to add jazz was off course the background music.

Elle TucsonI give Elle 5 champagne toasts!

Other sources talking about Elle:
Do Tucson
Arizona Gourmet

Location and phone number:
Elle
3048 East Broadway Boulevard
Tucson, AZ
520-327-0500

Holy Toledo! it’s a Burrito of WMD!

Well what do you know we’re now seeing WMD’s in our food! “A call about a possible weapon at a middle school prompted police to put armed officers on rooftops, close nearby streets and lock down the school. All over a giant burrito. The drama ended two hours later when the suspicious item was identified as a 30-inch burrito filled with steak, guacamole, lettuce, salsa and jalapenos and wrapped inside tin foil and a white T-shirt.” Source Associated Press.

A burrito of this size and nature obvious packs a lot of punch. There will be strong after affects and fall out from ingesting such toxic contents! HazMat will have to be brought in for the clean up and gas masks will be provided.

As though New Mexico never saw a 30-inch burrito.

Other links:
Burrito of Mass Destruction, By Xeni Jardin
The Crazy Years – Burrito of Mass Destruction, by Core Dump
Tall Brad is an International Menace, by A Nod to Nothing
Giant burrito, by newscouch
Burrito of Mass Destruction, by Jeff