pizza & drugs

It happened last night. I was bound and determined to: A) use a greenopolis coupon, and B) eat pizza. So I placed an order at Pizza Heaven. It’s a great neighborhood place that even touts gluten-free — for those averse to wheat and the gang.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I was a bit alarmed. There were no empty parking spots. Fortunately, a woman leaving waved at me as she walked to her car. In my mind this meant, “Panic not pizza friend – I will relinquish my spot to you.”

I was wrong.

Her frantic waving and honking at me as I tried to take her spot caused me to pause.

What the F, lady? I need me some pizza.

I rolled down my window and waited as she made three attempts to roll down the correct window in her car. And this is how our conversation unfolded:

Lady: They’re closed!

Me: What?

Lady: Yeah, they just closed. They’re in trouble. I’d get out of here.

Me: What? They what? Wait, who?

Lady: You should leave.

Me: Ok, I guess I’ll leave.

So I got freaked out that there was some sort of government raid or vandalism or hold-up inside. I fled the scene and started driving home to the melody of sad hunger pangs in my stomach.

About 45 seconds later, logic struck in.

Why the hell did a random woman just tell me to leave a restaurant in a good area with a full parking lot. This is insane.

I pulled over and turned around and called the restaurant.

Me: Hi, are you guys open?

Teenager on phone: Yeah

Me: Like, you’re really open. Right now?

Teenager: Yeah.

Me: KThanksBye

I drove back, parked and walked in. My pizza was ready, my coupon was accepted and I thought the whole thing may have been a vivid daydream until the clerk asked if I was the girl who just called “to see if we’re open.”

Busted.

I told them the whole story. And they told me that the panicked woman is a heavy drug user who often wanders through their place, demanding there are undercover cops everywhere. I asked if they call the police and they said no, she’s pretty harmless.

Yeah, except that she literally drives away customers.

Can’t make this stuff up.

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I’m not paying for that…

Today I ate lunch at this restaurant:

And this is the itemized bill I got:

I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and presume this means two buffets and a coke. But you never know. At any rate, the food was incredible.

gluttony

On Saturday night we ate a lot of food. And drank a lot of wine. And it was glorious.

If you’ve never experienced Atlas Bistro I highly recommend it. Jim worked there years ago and loves going back every so often.

I didn’t capture all our courses but there are the ones I remembered to pause for and photograph before inhaling.

Did I mention that last shot is of BACON ice cream?

And did I mention it’s BYOBW?

 

holy.guaca.mole

Thank you, Barrio Cafe, for the best guacamole I’ve ever had. Beautiful and delicious.

I always associate making guacamole with my high school AP Spanish class, where we had to make it as part of an in-class exercise. It didn’t go so well. Something about the combination of avocados, food processors and 17-year-old boys threw off the dynamic.

And here’s a fun fact: guacamole, while pronounced in Spanish with more of a ‘w’ sound than a ‘g’ sound, is in no way related to Whack-a-Mole. In case you were wondering. No judging my late night googling.


Moral of the story: if you’ve never been to Barrio Cafe, go, at once! Order this goodness and a lobster quesadilla. And please finish chewing before you call to thank me.

Lolo’s Chicken & Waffles (and a kitten)

I’ve wanted to try this place forever and finally got the chance yesterday. I wasn’t expecting much more than an interesting experience, but the food and service were fantastic. Probably the best waffle I’ve ever had, and the fried chicken was incredible. I don’t think we’ll be hungry for several days after consuming a week’s worth of calories in one sitting. But it was worth it.

When we went to leave we discovered a newborn kitten wandering blindly through the parking lot. I am not a cat person, at all, but my heartstrings were aching for this little thing – it was barely the size of my hand. I sighed, and went to leave, but then realized I’d probably cry later if I kept thinking about it out in the cold. I made Jim pull over as I called the Humane Society.

I (foolishly) thought that they’d be able to come pick it up, but I guess they don’t offer roadside assistance. They told us to take it to a local emergency vet who would treat it free of charge. I told the operator that this cat looked so awful I was afraid to come into contact with it, to which she replied, “the only thing you could catch from it is ringworm.” I’m not eager to catch ringworm. I also wasn’t really in the market for rabies.

Nevertheless, I grabbed a towel and swooped up the kitten. It looked like it’s eyes had been gouged out and was pretty disgusting. The occasional mew was the only way we knew it was still alive. We ended up taking it all the way to the south Phoenix Humane Society where a vet tech was immediately paged.

His reaction: “OH MY WORD!” He said it might still have eyes but had such a bad infection he couldn’t tell. Shudder.

It was bad. I don’t know if the little thing will make it, but karma can’t help but reward us on this one. Warning, photos below are pretty gross.

Cafe Lalibela

Anna introduced me to a fantastic new restaurant today, Cafe Lalibela in Tempe. I was unfamiliar with Ethiopian food but knew she wouldn’t lead me astray.

It’s an interesting experience to order off of a menu where you have to look up every item on a legend, but I found a combination that sounded incredible.

This ended up being a perfect restaurant for the two of us, with Anna being a lifelong vegetarian, and me being one on and off for about three weeks – we had plenty of choices that didn’t involve beef or lamb.

I opted for the Chef’s Combination – spicy chicken stew, something similar to collard greens, salad and home made cheese, all served with injera bread.The menu describes this as A combination of doro wat, gomen and ayeb served with selata.

The best part of the meal was getting to use the bread as a utensil. I was somewhat fascinated with this spongy crepe-like bread. Here’s what wikipedia yielded:

The most valued grain used to make injera is from the tiny, iron-rich teff. However, its production is limited to certain middle elevations and regions with adequate rainfall, so it is relatively expensive for the average household. Because the overwhelming majority of highland Ethiopians are poor farming households that grow their own subsistence grain, wheat, barley, corn, and/or rice flour are sometimes used to replace some or all of the teff content. There are also different varieties of injera in Ethiopia, such as nech (white), kay (red) and tikur (black).

In making injera, teff flour is mixed with water and allowed to ferment for several days, as with sourdough starter. As a result of this process, injera has a slight sour taste. The injera is then ready to bake into large flat pancakes, done either on a specialized electric stove or, more commonly, on a clay plate (mogogo) placed over a fire. In terms of shape, Injera compares to the French crepe and the South Indian dosa as a flatbread cooked in a circle and used as a base for other foods. The taste and texture, however, are quite unique and unlike the crepe and dosa.

Anna ordered the Vegetarian Combination “a combination of misir wat, gomen, tikil gomen and fosolia served with selata.” In English this meant red lentils, cabbage and lots of other veggies.

Neither of us came close to finishing out meal and left fully content. Thank you for the experience Banana!

Switch!

If we were playing word association games and you shouted the word ‘switch’ at me, I’d respond with ‘Will Smith.’ If you don’t remember his 2005 segue into almost real-ish hip hop I suggest you look it up. You’ll be singing it all day. It was a solid hit Will, I give you that.

I am going somewhere with this.

Tonight we ate at a restaurant called Switch, and not only was it amazing, but I have been singing that stupid song ever since.

I’d never heard of Switch before tonight, but came across it in a magazine that I blatantly stole from my chiropractor’s office. Sorry Dr. Cas: you make me wait, I steal magazines. It was the most recent edition of Phoenix Magazine and the cover story was the 21 best sandwiches in the Valley. While a sandwich is not my go-to, Jim lives and breathes for a good one and I knew this mag would come in handy. I conveniently slipped it into my purse on my way out. (Once a clepto, always a clepto, that’s for another post).

I was so excited with my booty* that I called Jim on my drive home to tell him. In hindsight, I was acting with a sense of euphoria that would have made you think that in a million years neither of us could ever possess the $3.95 required to have our own copy of a real magazine. Once I got home we poured over the amazing photos of sandwiches and decided there was no way we weren’t indulging tonight. We picked Switch based on location and the photo below. Hello, beautiful:

I was thrilled to learn upon arriving here that it’s owned by the same folks who’ve brought us FEZ and Ticoz, two fantastic dining establishments. The atmosphere is what my brother calls hot and chic. Basically, a place with fancy high top tables, trendy light fixtures and weird unisex bathrooms, among other criteria. There was a pretty decent crowd for a Wednesday night so I looked past the hotandchicness and ordered with an open mind.

We started with the bruschetta appetizer and it was hands down the best bruschetta I’ve ever had. Yes, even better than Postino. Here’s their description: “Grilled baguette with sliced tomato, roasted onion, EVOO and balsamic (3) and parmesan, white bean spread, sopresetta ham and roasted red peppers (3).”

For dinner I had to go with the sandwich featured in the mag: The Murano. “…It starts with an excellent, crusty, artisanal roll, piled high with just the right proportion of mild roasted chicken and salty prosciutto. A layer of gouda cheese brings a little tang to the party, and chopped Greek olives, ripe tomato and a slick of aioli finish it off for $9.95.” Not sure why this baby shares it’s name with a Nissan SUV but I’m okay with it.

Jim ordered the french dip** which is something you’d never, ever see me order, but it was really, really, really good. Both sandwiches came with a side Caesar salad which I really appreciated over fries.

Fyi to all you Phoenicians, this place is just off the Light Rail, and I hear people are wearing pants on the trains again so it’s safe.


* I’m not sure if it’s ever really appropriate to use the word booty when not referring to the body part. Still deciding.

** I was going to capitalize the word ‘french’ in french dip since I capitalized Greek olives, but after recently reading Sarah’s Key I am not so fond of the French at the moment.