One of my fondest memories growing up were going on ski bus trips with my youth group and watching Warren Miller movies on the ride up. The movies were funny and inspiring and always got me pumped up for a day of shredding on the slopes. I started attending Warren Miller movie premieres not too long after that. Being around other skiers and snowboarders always gets my adrenaline going. In fact, I won a set of Warren Miller beanies in a drawing at the most recent premiere I went to. Warren Miller Entertainment ski films have changed my life. I love his story on how he got started in the entertainment business when he made his first movie Deep and Light in 1950 with a 8mm movie camera he purchased. Since then there has been an annual Warren Miller movie shown every year just before ski season. Warren Miller has been involved with all of them until 2004 when he retired. Even though the newer movies are no longer produced by him, they continue to have his name on them. I was saddened to hear about his recent passing but will forever be inspired by his career. I just bought his book Freedom Found: My Life Story not too long ago and can’t wait to dive into it. Warren Miller lived a full life and changed the culture of skiing and snowboarding forever. Thank you for your films and the memories and may your legacy live on.
One of the many ski trips where we watched Warren Miller films on the bus ride up
Warren Miller vehicle at the recent film premiere of Line of Descent in Scottsdale
Florencia Pizza Bistro is one of those locally owned neighborhood eateries. Ahwatukee has a lot of these little hidden gems because most of them are located in strip malls. This one has been around for quite some time and resides next door to the popular Melting Pot. They offer three types of pizza – Traditional, Olive Oil (Garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Mozzarella Cheese with no tomato sauce) and Pesto (Basil Pesto Sauce with no tomato sauce). You can create your own with toppings (over 40 topping choices) or choose from one of their popular specialty pizza creations. Some of the names include the Snow White, Pomodora, Valentinos, Winchester, Clevenger, Malanzane, Bo-Be and the Green-Eyed Chicken. There are many more creations to choose from and they have vegetarian options as well. The dough is house made and their pizzas are thin-crust. I’m more of a thick crust person myself but actually found their thin crust quite enjoyable. They also have panini, calzones, salads and sandwiches if pizza is not on your radar. Their appetizer menu is not incredibly large but they have a nice variety to choose from. I got the mozzarella sticks and felt they were just average. We ordered the Clark’s Classic pizza which consisted of pepperoni and chicken marinated in buffalo sauce. I was a little worried the sauce would soak through the thin crust and make it soggy but it actually held up (even eating it as a leftover the next day). There is a small bar area to the side where you can order a glass of wine or beer. The owner is a Wildcat fan (boo…) and they’ve had fun fundraisers in the past during the annual ASU/UA football game to benefit the local high schools in the area. It wasn’t very busy when I visited but service was pretty good.
You can’t help but be curious of what this place is when you drive by and see the name. The Oink Cafe is a locally owned modern style cafe that serves both breakfast and lunch. The things that make this place stand out is their cocktail and espresso bar that includes a Bloody Mary flight, a 50-50 burger (half beef, half bacon) and of course everything bacon included with many of their entrées. They have eight flavored bacon choices (pepper, applewood, jalapeño, hickory, sugar-cured, apple cider, honey-cured, and chef’s choice) that can be ordered as a flight or included with one of their meals. The cafe isn’t incredible large, the walls are lime green and the decor includes paintings and mini statues of pigs. Also hanging on the walls are coloring sheets colored by kids (kids eat free M-F with an adult entrée and 2 beverage purchase if they color a sheet). Breakfast includes a variety of omelets and benedicts that are centered on bacon. Prices I would say are a tad bit higher than most breakfast places. The 8 bacon flight will run you about $11, which I think it pretty high for a side bacon (even flavored bacon). They offer 4 slices for $6. I got the jalapeño bacon per my server’s recommendation with my breakfast. I enjoyed the spiciness of it but wasn’t particular overwhelmed with the bacon itself. I guess if you are going to advertise yourself as a bacon joint I was hoping for some good-sized slices of bacon. My service was decent considering my server was covering quite a few tables. I didn’t try one of their popular Bloody Marys so I didn’t get the full treatment of this place. But overall I found Oink Cafe a fun concept with a possibility for a revisit in the future. Btw… they offer a free Best Maple Bacon Donut on your bday.
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.
Helio Basin Brewing has become one of my favorite local breweries. Their slogan is Quality Crafted in Phx. They took residence in an old pool hall that I used to hang out at in Arcadia. Helio Basin is founded by Mike Conley and brewmaster Dustin Hazer. Chef Tamara Stanger creates the amazing food that is served here. It’s the perfect pairing of top quality brews with simple but innovating food. Many of the dishes here have some sort of representation of Arizona in it. For beers, their IPA and Blackberry Wheat are the big sellers. I think my favorite thing about this place is the sense of community they have created here. They have a few large tables for large parties and have the ability to open up the patio for outdoor events. From talking to many guests that I sit next to, Helio Basin had become a popular neighborhood favorite. I came here for their one year anniversary party with a buddy and my son. I ordered a beer flight got a nice variety of beers as my selection. The Robust Porter is one of my favorites. Chef Tamara put together some delicious roasted pig tacos with banana cornbread and Sonoran rice. We had a great time and enjoyed our beers and food. Hello Basin is a great addition to the Arcadia food scene and definitely check out their great happy hour and Taco Tuesdays!
I just found out recently that this Portland-based coffeehouse opened in Chandler. In fact, we currently have three locations in AZ. Black Rock Coffee offers a variety of drink options, from drip coffee to mochas to espresso to hot tea. So what makes this coffee chain different from other ones? They really strive on connecting with people and creating an atmosphere to craft those stories. This location is very spacious and located in the southern part of Chandler. They have both walk-up and drive-thru service. The latte I got was pretty good and I thought the staff was really friendly. Black Rock seeks to build connections with the local community and were donating their proceeds of the day to a family of a local teacher that had been killed recently. I love hearing stories of local businesses seeking to make a difference and thought I’d stop in and show my support.