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Have Dinner and Celebrate World Cultures with Chef Ghini

November 6, 2010

Now you can join Chef Ghini of Ghini’s French Caffe at her new World Cultures Table for dinner, drinks & great conversation.

The Premier of this event is next Tuesday, Nov 9th from 5pm-7pm. It’s going to be every 2nd Tuesday during their Tapas night, and will feature an additional $5 discount on bottles of wine for this special table.

The goal is to gather people of all nations, enjoy one anothers’ company and experience the vast cultural diversity that Tucson has to offer.

I tried Chef Ghini’s offerings at the Tucson Culinary Festival last week, and was impressed.  Very fresh, with really nicely balanced flavors.  I’ll be trying to get to one of these events very soon!

Sound like fun to you? Please R.S.V.P with to Chef Ghini at

Ghini’s French Caffe is located at 1803 E Prince Rd, on the northwest corner of Prince & Campbell. They’re reporting that the construction is clear, and their patio is back up and running for the lovely Tucson fall weather!

Dry River Company

October 28, 2010
A slice of Dry River Company pesto pizza

One of the slices that made it home. It's hard to take covert pictures.

Every so often, I hear that I don’t give enough love to the east side of town.  And there’s truth to that – my stomping grounds are really central up to the northwest.  But here I was with the day off (from the job that actually pays the bills) wondering what the heck I was going to do with myself.  “Head east, young man”, said the slightly deluded voice in my head.

I’ve been told a lot of eastside places to try out, but I settled on Dry River Company.  I’ve heard good things, their menu looked enticing, and they’ve got an active Twitter presence.  With those things pulling me, I set out on my long crosstown journey.

Dry River Company shares a parking lot with the new Kolb Guadalajara Grill location and an oh-so-creepy abandoned movie theater.  Their part of the lot didn’t have a lot of cars, but it was only 11:20am.  Too early for pizza, you say? Never!

And now, a caveat: this starts off a little rough but it gets better.

My first impression on walking in was, well, disarray.  It looked like they were doing some minor tweaks on the interior of the dining room, some of the fixtures looked sort of out-of-place, their outdoor seating wasn’t set up, and there were a lot of cords coming down from the ceiling.  I was a little concerned.

I was also a little concerned about the concept.  Their building and windows proclaim “Pizza and Coffee” – two things that just don’t go together.  But, it looks like they’re focusing on coffee in the morning and pizza/pasta/beer in the afternoon and evening.  I totally understand wanting to make the most of the space for as many hours of the day as possible, but it’s a little jarring to have those very different things going on at the same time.  And to add to my confusion, they’re selling small flask-sized bottles of Jim Beam at the counter.  I’m now more concerned, but it’ll take more than clashing concepts to scare me off!

Brie and roasted garlic appetizer at Dry River Company

Brie and roasted garlic appetizer at Dry River Company

I head up to the counter and order the roasted garlic appetizer, pesto pizza, and an iced tea.  Their lunch menu online shows the appetizer to be a whole roasted garlic bulb, brie, roasted peppers, and ciabatta.  It was a little different in the restaurant in that it also came with a cranberry-apple relish and Parmesan crostini instead of ciabatta.  I was not unhappy with those changes.  The presentation was great – and it was a super deal for $5.  Everything tasted good, but a couple of minor changes would have made a big difference.  The garlic could have roasted a few more minutes to develop better carmelization – the cloves were still a little hard.  And the relish could have been cooked down to more of a chutney-like consistency so that it would stay on the bread or cheese instead of rolling off.  It was really tasty, but hard to eat that way.

The pesto pizza was the lunch special for $7.50 – normally $10 on the menu (though the online version shows $9 for lunch).  It’s described as having sliced peppadews, pecorino, mozzarella, and basil pesto.  Their pizzas are Neapolitan-style and cooked in a wood-fired oven (which you can watch from the dining room).

This pizza was spot on.  The crust was light and crispy on the bottom but slightly soft around the edges.  The toppings were light and nicely balanced, with the mild heat and tang of the peppadews being countered by the cheeses.  This was a pizza that I had to fight myself to only eat half of.  What I really wanted to do was polish it off in one sitting.  I refrained – what a good boy am I.

So here’s the nutshell version: I felt like Dry River Company is still trying to figure out what it wants to be, and right now it’s trying to be a lot of things.  I can’t tell you if they’re a great coffee house, or a great bar, or even a great package liquor store (I’m still confused by the Jim Beam), but I can tell you they make a fabulous pizza.  Go try a pie and let me know if you agree.

Dry River Company on Urbanspoon

Halloween Happy Hour at The Abbey

October 28, 2010

Hi All!

Are you looking for some Halloween fun that doesn’t (necessarily) involve costumes, candy, or doorbells?  Do you prefer your treats a little more upscale?  Do you like to do good things for the Community Food Bank?  If so, then you might want to find yourself at The Abbey Eat + Drink on Sunday, 10/31.

Abbey Owners Brian & Sandy Metzger (who are also the talented team behind Jax Kitchen on North Oracle) are throwing a little happy hour party to  introduce their new house brew – New Belgium Brewing company’s Abbey Belgian Style Ale.  Guests can enjoy complimentary Abbey snacks and fun giveaways from the friendly folks at New Belgium during happy hour from 4:00pm – 7:00pm, or stay for dinner and sample The Abbey’s pre-opening limited menu.

If that’s not enough for you, guests who bring two cans of food for the Community Food bank will be entered to win one of these fun and exciting prizes:

  • Dinner for two at The Abbey Eat + Drink
  • One night stay at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort (good until 10/31/2011)
  • A Gadabout gift certificate for the Kolb/Sunrise location

The Abbey Eat + Drink will open with a full menu on November 2, 2010, offering distinctive American comfort food in a warm, neighborhood setting.  Jax was named for the Metzgers’ youngest child, Jackson, whose older sister, Abbey, has been waiting patiently (most of the time) for a namesake of her own.  The Abbey is located at 6960 E. Sunrise Drive, on the southeast corner of Sunrise & Kolb.  For more information, visit

Guilty Pleasures

October 13, 2010

We all have them.  The things that we love to eat that we probably shouldn’t.  Things maybe we don’t even want people to know about.  I know I have mine, and now that we’re friends I think I can come clean about some of them.  I’m being vulnerable here, so try not to judge me!

1) Movie-theater buttered popcorn


Popcorn in bowl

Mmmmm, popcorn.

I love popcorn.  I have a special pan (the green monster) that I pop popcorn in a few times a week.  Popcorn popped on the stove in a small amount of oil really isn’t that bad for you – it’s low in calories and high in fiber.  But, when you get it in a giant sack at the movies and it’s drenched in ‘butter-flavored oil’ (whatever that is – and no, I’m not asking) it goes to a whole new level.   Kristine doesn’t like the faux-buttery goodness on her movie-theater popcorn, so this is one that I don’t get to have very often.  Probably a good thing.


White cheddar popcorn topping and popcorn salt

The best popcorn seasonings

Bonus!  You know what I’m really loving as a popcorn topping right now?  White Cheddar Popcorn Seasoning from Kernel Season’s.  Blockbuster carries has it in a display as you go through the checkout line.  It’s $.99 for a little shaker that seems to last for a very long time.

Extra Bonus!  Popcorn salt makes a huge, huge difference in the enjoyment level of stove popped popcorn.

2) Frozen pizza.


Frozen Hawaiian Pizza

An example of a frozen pizza. Photo credit: israelavila

There.  I said it.  I like a frozen pizza.  I mean, I cook it and everything, but there’s just something about hot, greasy, salty, preservative-filled, ‘fresh’-out-of-the-oven pizza that I sometimes cannot resist the siren song of.  Please don’t take my foodie card.

3) Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger from Carl’s Jr.

Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger & Fries

Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger

I’m not a big fan of traditional hamburger condiments such as ketchup, mayonnaise, or mustard, so when my mom told me there was a fast food hamburger without any of those things I was sold.  That was probably 25 years ago.  To this day, that’s my go-to quick burger.  The barbecue sauce, bacon, and onion rings together are a beautiful thing.  Now there are many imitators, but that’s the one that’s near and dear to my (clogged) heart.

4)  Carrot sticks

Not!  But it sure seems like I eat a lot of them.

5)  Fresh bread – right out of the oven.

Plate of pirozhki

Warm bready pirozhki

It’s a carbohydrate explosion of love.  This wouldn’t necessarily constitute a guilty pleasure if I didn’t eat half a loaf as soon as it cooled down enough.

So those are some of my fat- and carb-heavy faves.  They’re not things that I eat all the time – in fact most of them are very special treats for myself (especially now that my metabolism has taken a nose dive).

Now that I’ve bared my soul to you, what are your guilty pleasures and why?  I’ve shown you mine, now you show me yours!


Wilhelm Family Vineyards – Oct Wine & Cheese Socials

October 12, 2010
Wilhelm Family Vineyard Rendezvous

Wilhelm Family Vineyard Rendezvous

I got an email today from Wilhelm Family Vineyards about two events that they have coming up on Saturday, October 23rd and 30th from 6-8pm.

They’re going to be doing pre-release tastings of three wines: Kristian’s Kianti II, Unwind, and Karyl’s Kreation II.  Yes, they do indeed have a penchant for the letter K!

There was also the mention of the possibility of Glühwein around a campfire…

They’ll also have a variety of fresh goat cheeses, a harvest-to-barrel tour of the winery, and maybe some barrel tastings.

Reservations are limited, and run $20 per person.  Sounds like a pretty good deal to me, considering that they’re one of my fave Sonoita/Elgin producers.  To register and get direction/more info, go here.


Fox Concept Restaurants Donates $30,000 in Food to Support Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson

October 12, 2010

Fox Restaurant Concepts has stepped up big-time in support of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson by donating over $30,000 worth of food for ‘The Party’ fundraiser.  This represents all of the food for the 3000+ attendees of the event.

Tickets for The Party are $100, with proceeds going to the Club activities and programs.  You can see the whole press release here, and you can find out more about The Party by visiting


Ok, that was my first attempt at a teaser with a link to the full press release.  What do you think?

Also, I feel obliged to tell you that The Party has a major-name musical act for the headline entertainment.  Want a hint?  Do the letters BNL mean anything to you?  If so, then you’re probably excited.  If not, then I’ll just come out and tell you that it’s the Barenaked Ladies!  Woo!

What should I do with press releases?

October 11, 2010

Hi friends!

I occasionally get press releases that I think you might be interested in.  Right now, they’re snug in their own “Press Releases” section in that tab up at the top.  Once they’re up there I tweet about them and include a link.

What I want to know, though, is if that’s the best way to get the word out about those kinds of things.  The other alternative is for me to post them like I would a regular blog post, and clearly identify them as press releases.  That’s something that I’ve kept away from that because they’re not things that I’ve written myself.  Looking at my traffic stats, though, it doesn’t look like the press release section gets a lot of traffic beyond clicks on those tweets.

So if you would be so kind, I’d appreciate your input.  Let me know what you think using the poll below and I’ll post the results in a week or so.  Thanks for your help!