8 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
1 15 1/2 ounce can black beans, rinsed
Place the tortillas in the oven in two stacks; heat to 200 degrees . In a bowl, mash the avocados with the lemon juice; season with salt and pepper.
Working in batches, in a nonstick skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp; drain on paper towels. Leave about 2 tablespoons bacon fat in the skillet, reserving the rest of the fat. Cut the bacon strips in half.
Working in 2 batches, in the skillet, cook the eggs over easy; transfer to a platter. Reserve the skillet.
Lay the tortillas on a work surface. Sprinkle each with 1/4 cup cheese; top with beans, 1 egg and bacon strips, then fold to enclose.
In the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon reserved bacon fat over medium heat, add 4 quesadillas and cook, turning once, until crisp and golden, about 3 minutes. Repeat with more bacon fat and the remaining quesadillas; serve with the avocado mash.
As a frequent out of town guest of Grand Central Market, I try to find a new spot to eat every time I visit. Top Chef’s Ilan Hall’s vegan ramen joint was the perfect spot for me this trip. The site of several patrons sitting at the counter hunched over a large bowl of curled noodles in a delicious steamy broth with chopsticks in hand drew me in. Ramen Hood usually has a decent sized line that moves somewhat quickly. You basically order your bowl and do your best to find a seat at the counter or one of the surrounding tables in the market. Menu choices are various ramen bowls, some sides and some add-on’s for your ramen (vegan egg, bean sprouts, oysters, mushrooms, etc). They also have a combo special that includes ramen, a side and a drink.
I eat anything spicy and went for the Spicy Ramen. They have a variety of small plates to choose from for a side and I chose the avocado toast (a new thing I’m really into) for mine. The Spicy Ramen isn’t super spicy but they have plenty of ingredients on the counter that you can add more spice to it. The broth is very rich and milky because it’s made from sunflower seeds that are roasted and pressure cooked to obtain its natural oils. They also simmer kelp, white miso, onions and mushrooms in the broth. My Ramen bowl was fantastic and full of all types of flavor. The egg that is added in is vegan. The avocado toast was a pleasant surprise. It was one of the best avocado toast I have ever had (and I made my own creations at home). I’m not vegan and was really surprised how flavorful and filling everything was. I also enjoyed sitting at a counter and watching the kitchen staff work their magic. This was a really nice visit to the Market and Ramen Hood. I’m looking forward to a future visit.
I have visited Shake Shack in Boston, Chicago and now Phoenix. Shake Shack got their start in 2004 in NYC and has expanded to over 130 stores in under 15 years. Sometimes when these restaurants explode like that they lose some of the qualities that originally made them so great. I actually had a nice evening at this location. This Shake Shack is in the downtown Phoenix Uptown Plaza which is becoming a little mini foodie paradise with all the killer eats moving in. I went with my go-to item the SmokeStack burger. You can’t go wrong with a burger topped with cherry pepper relish, applewood smoked bacon and yummy ShackSauce. They use 100% all-natural Angus beef and are served on a non-GMO Martin’s Potato Roll. I love the crinkle fries and got mine with cheese sauce on it. Shake Shack makes a killer burger and the shakes and concretes are pretty amazing too. Tonight I got great customer service and lots of welcoming smiles from the employees.
Ike’s Love & Sandwiches is a sandwich shop that started in San Francisco’s Castro District in 2007 and made its way all through the Bay area. Now we have them here in Arizona. Ike Shehadeh (whose cartoon face is plastered on every restaurant) opened his first restaurant after being nearly homeless. Ike’s are known for their variety of sandwiches that are named after well-known celebrities. They use a bread popular in the Bay area called Dutch Crunch bread (or Tiger bread). The sandwiches are unique because of “Ike’s Dirty Secret Sauce” – a creamy, garlic aioli that is baked into the bread and smeared onto the sandwiches. So far I have tried the Manage a Trois and the Meatless Mike (Vegan meatballs). The sandwiches are pretty large and the bread is very soft and moist. I have had great experiences both times I visited them. They have many vegetarian options and very order comes with a free caramel-green apple lollipop for dessert.
Avocado Toast is becoming a popular thing these days. I love avocados and I try to incorporate them into as many meals as possible. Here is a recipe I found for avocado toast. I added a few things for my own spin on it.
One 8-ounce ripe avocado, halved, pitted and peeled
Fine salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices whole grain or whole wheat bread
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or unsalted butter, softened
Flaky sea salt, for serving
Crushed red pepper flakes, optional
Mash the avocado with a fork in a shallow bowl until chunky. Season with fine salt and black pepper. * – I also added lemon zest
Toast the bread until browned and crisp. Lightly rub 1 side of each slice with the cut side of the garlic until fragrant; discard the garlic. Lightly brush the toasts with oil, and season with fine salt and pepper. Divide the mashed avocado evenly among the toasts, and top with more flaky sea salt, more black pepper and red pepper flakes if using. * – I added a layer of sliced radishes for more crunch and topped it with scrambles eggs and chives.
I’m really bummed to see another local favorite closing it’s doors. Pizza People Pub has been operating out of this location across the Phoenix Public library since 2013. They have a great story of a family owned business starting out of a food truck and eventually opening their own restaurant. Their menu consists of their signature made-from-scratch 10 inch artisan pizzas and a variety of pub favorites like wings and their always popular mac & cheese. I always got a kick out of some of the pizza creations that they have (and the names) – Date Me, The Hulk, Testosteroni, Popeye, Fun Guy, The Hottie, etc. Even though I love their pizzas, I usually came here to try one of their many mac & cheeses. Some of my favorites have been the Smokey Paprika Mac, the Jalapeño Mac and the Truffle Mac. They load their mac & cheese with lots of cheese so they are nice and gooey. I wish they had a mac & cheese flight so I could sample them all. I stopped in tonight to have a last meal here before they close shop. I enjoyed hearing my bartender share stories of how much he enjoyed working here. It’s always sad to hear of local restaurants going out of business. I wish them the best.
“Where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean!”
Waterman’s Surfside Grille has captured the flavors of Virginia Beach since 1981. Located right off the Virginia Beach boardwalk, this beautiful restaurant has both indoor and outdoor patio seating and a fun vibrant atmosphere. I got the Waterman’s Original Pasta – shrimp, scallops and andouille sausage sautéed with a Cajun cream sauce served over pasta. The portion size was perfect and the pasta was amazing. I didn’t try it, but I hear the Original Waterman’s Orange Crush (orange vodka, triple sec and sprite) is amazing as well. They even hold a festival called the Crush Fest that celebrates the drink. This place was jam-packed, so I ate at the bar and people watched. I highly recommend stopping in for a visit at this local favorite. Waterman’s partners with the Virginia Aquarium and participates in their Sensible Seafood Program (promoting seafood that is plentiful and harvested in environmentally friendly ways). I included a video about it below.