Last week the Phoenix area hit 100 degrees for the first time this year and it was the fourth earliest date on record. Thus, one would think that the season for outdoor events would be coming to an end. One would be wrong, as this past weekend brought in the Scottsdale Culinary Fest and the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, an outdoor Taste of Chicago-esque festival showcasing food from all over the area and of all types.
Some were household names with tons of locations around the Valley of the Sun, like Grimaldi’s and Zoe’s, but others seemed a bit more special and I sought them out (along with some booze, of course).
I’d been hearing murmurings of how great this place was for a while now, and its victory at Burger Battle 2018 further cemented my desire to get there. This burger wasn’t perfect, nor would I expect it to be in such a situation, but the combination of mozzarella, bacon, basil garlic aioli, balsamic reduction and a discarded tomato made me more eager to seek out the real deal.
It’s hard to go wrong with bar food, but it’s usually pretty heavy stuff. So, when I entered East Park Tavern in Charlevoix, Michigan with a stomach that knew it needed to eat something for dinner, but wasn’t especially hungry, I hoped there would be something I could find. Instead of making my way to the full on entree menu, I went for the appetizers and the wings caught my attention.
I have a confession to make: I don’t understand why people love banh mis so much. Maybe it’s because they are one of the only options out there where people can eat Asian food and sandwiches at the same time. Thus, when I took a stroll over to My Banh Mi in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon), I opted for something a little different instead.
When it comes to grilling (as opposed to generating energy), charcoal is king. Somewhere along the way, someone realized that this would translate into a great restaurant concept. Thus, the world was given Charcoal in Venice. Charcoal, like most BBQs, is pretty meat-centric and great for unvegans. Nonetheless, there were definitely veggie options for those who prefer not to enjoy life as much.
There’s something about fusion done well that really gets me excited. Throw some Korean BBQ into tacos and I’m sold. Try to make Mexican food Kosher, not so much (don’t underestimate the need for cheese!). But I had never thought of Indian food as something to fuse until I found California Chutney in Old Town Pasadena. This place is all about fusing Indian food with American (and by American I also mean Mexican because, hey, North America).
I don’t know about other people, but when I tell someone I just went to Las Vegas, the first question is “Where did you stay?” The next question, though, is “Which buffet did you eat at?” Perhaps it’s because I’m a food blogger, but I tend to think it’s because the buffets are just so damn good that gluttony in Vegas is just a more interesting sin than gambling. Plus these days, you can gamble on sites like www.boomtownbingo.com/high-life-bingo-review on your phone and so you can have your cake and eat it too. Thus, on my most recent outing to Vegas the buffet of choice was Wicked Spoon in The Cosmopolitan.
On my rapid journey across the country once again, my buddy suggested stopping at Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue in the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. Having traversed this path before, I was eager to get back to Gates, but he said this would be worth it and I deserved it because it was my birthday. Since he hails from Kansas City and knows good food I took his word.
The little village of Rhinebeck in Upstate New York is really one of the more uninteresting small towns I’ve ever seen. I’m sure it’s refreshing coming from New York City, but coming from Pittsburgh, which is filled with small town-like neighborhoods, I couldn’t help but feel bored. Yet, that didn’t stop me from popping into Village Pizza for lunch.
Legend had told me of Birmingham Bridge Tavern‘s 50 cent wing night on Mondays, but for some reason it took me far too long to get there. I arrived with some friends for dinner and found the place surprisingly empty, but on the other hand it was the South Side and school wasn’t in session, so the emptiness could at least be explained.
After many days abroad, one might think I wouldn’t jump right into another ethnic meal after returning to the USA. Well, you’re right, because my first stop was Taco Bell, but after that set my stomach straight it was time for a meal at Nicky’s Thai Kitchen in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nicky’s sits on the fancy end of the Thai spectrum, which is usually something I try to avoid because cheap Thai is awesome, yet I was willing to give Nicky’s a try.