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Mother’s Day Dining & Distancing

The purple-shirted and suspendered Chef Ken Foy with his mom and brother

With social distance guidelines still in regular practice by most, how can you responsibly dote on mom this Sunday over a memorable, chef-prepared meal?

In this week’s Inside Tucson Business, I caught up with a local chef whose basket-based strategy sounds like a must for Mother’s Day!

Check out my story here and let me know your thoughts!

 

Half Man, Half Amazing

He’s been called half man, half amazing.

His enthusiasm for serving the community was boundless and the love that he showed for his patrons went far beyond the assembly of a memorable pizza pie.

In this week’s Inside Tucson Business, I reflect on my rewarding, yet all-too-brief, relationship with pizza pioneer Dino Chonis who passed away recently.

Check out my story here and join the community in praying for Dino’s family during this difficult time.

 

Take Out Once a Week

If you follow the local food and beverage scene on social media, you’ve probably seen the public service video that challenges us all to do take out once a week as a way to support our struggling restaurant community.

In this week’s Inside Tucson Business, I tell the story about this video that’s been viewed more than 16,000 times since it was posted last week.

Check out my story here and let me know your thoughts!

 

Ryan Clark’s BFFs

What does it take to be one of Chef Ryan Clark’s BFFs in 2020?

Easy. Just be a farmer.

My column in this week’s Inside Tucson Business takes a look at the role that farmers are playing in Clark’s PY Steakhouse this year.

Check out my story here and let me know your thoughts!

 

 

Reflections on Life as a Varietal

The multi-faceted Brent Karlicek

What’s the one grape varietal that best represents who you are, psychologically, spiritually, and emotionally?

It’s a question that I’ve asked many winemakers and sommeliers over the years. It’s not about the grapes that they most enjoy in a single varietal or blend, but more about the characteristics of a certain grape that most closely match their own as real people.

I tossed that one earlier today to Brent Karlicek, beverage director of Upward Projects, as he was hosting local media at the company’s newest Postino Wine Cafe scheduled to open next week at the intersection of Grant Road and Tucson Boulevard in Tucson.

Without much hesitation, he told me a tale of two sides on the varietal spectrum that he believes authentically define who he is.

“On one side we have Gamay, a grape that’s fun, personable, pleasurable, and happy-go-lucky,” he said. “I’m in the hospitality business, and this is a business about simply making people feel good.”

Eager to hear what was on the opposite side of the spectrum, while at the same time fearing that the other Brent might not be as fun, personable, or pleasurable as the one across the table from me, I asked him to reveal it.

“The other part of me is more like a Nebbiolo, a grape that’s a bit deeper, more structured, and introspective,” he said. “This one takes a little more time to understand as the layers are peeled back.”

The answer to the question, in his words, introduced a “multi-faceted me.”

Postino’s wine list is as multi-faceted as the man who curated it, assembled with approachability in mind and a pledge to feature a few selections that you may not have seen before. For me, one of those was the Pomares Douro, a bright white blend perfect for a Friday afternoon on the patio. I don’t think it was a coincidence that this particular wine got my attention. Made from Gouveio and Viosinho grapes, it hails from Portugal in the Douro Valley, which is exactly where we’ll be heading on my next Culinary and Cocktail Cruise.

I left my inaugural Postino moment with the confidence that it will thrive on the Southern Arizona food and beverage scene, and with an enthusiasm for getting to know both sides of Brent Karlicek a little better. I guess that means drinking some Gamays and Nebbiolos with him next time…at a decidedly structured yet happy-go-lucky happy hour!

Located at 2500 E. Grant Road, Postino opens to the public on Monday, March 2, 2020.

 

Love Letters from Mama Louisa’s

Delicious things happen every time Chef Michael Elefante writes a love letter to his wife, Crystal.

My column in this week’s Inside Tucson Business reveals several examples against the backdrop of a story that builds bridges across generations.

Check out my story here and let me know your thoughts!

 

Cowboy and Cowgirl Cuisine

All of the cowboys and cowgirls who’ll ride into town next week for the 95th annual Tucson Rodeo should feel quite at home on our range when it comes to Wild West eatin’ and drinkin’.

My column in this week’s Inside Tucson Business offers up some suggestions for making authentic palate-prairie connections.

Check out my story here and let me know your thoughts!

 

Will Crawl for Beer

My first interview with Laura Reese about the crawl in 2015!

When I interviewed publicist Laura Reese in 2015 about her first annual Tucson Craft Beer Crawl, she revealed her line-up of 14 brewers who were preparing to pour samples of their suds at seven venues in downtown Tucson.

The inaugural event ended up being a sell-out. It’s a reality that has repeated ever since, and the fate of this year’s sixth annual crawl on February 15, with 30 brewers pouring at 12 venues, is starting to show similar signs.

Translation: get your tickets now, because I know how Laura Reese absolutely hates to turn people away.

Your $40 ticket gets you a tasting glass, a wristband, drink tickets, and a map of the participating downtown area venues listing the brewers that each is hosting. You create and commence your own crawl after that.

“We actually don’t encourage people to crawl on their hands and knees,” Reese clarified in our 2015 interview. “They can actually walk from place to place.”

However, when I interviewed her again in advance of the 2016 crawl, she encouraged people to “hop” among the bars. A couple of years later, as she was planning her 2018 event, she suggested that people might like to “bounce” from venue to venue (though I don’t think the Tucson Craft Beer Bounce would have the requisite allure).

Whether you elect to crawl, walk, hop, or bounce, this event will showcase spectacular brews that will await you at every venue. A portion of the proceeds will support the non-profit Watershed Management Group, Rialto Theatre, and Arizona Craft Brewers Foundation, and that should brighten your smile with every sip.

“I’m a huge fan of events that have a strong sense of place,” Reese told me, “like you wouldn’t be able to recreate them in another city. What I love most about the crawl is that in addition to tasting the awesome beers, you can explore downtown Tucson, absorb the streets, take in the architecture, and walk around with your friends and take in the very different designs and aesthetics of the bars.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

You can get all of the details on the February 15 crawl here, including a list of the brewers and venues.

Cheers!

 

The Wisdom of Fat-Washed Whiskey

I never thought I’d see the day when animal lipids would leak their way into the language of mixology.

Welcome the world of fat-washed whiskey, my friends.

My column in this week’s Inside Tucson Business takes a look at two expressions of the Old Fashioned, with an oink from one and a quack from the other.

Check out my story here and let me know your thoughts!

 

Top Ten of 2019

The results are in!

Each January, Inside Tucson Business ranks my food and beverage columns from the previous year by reader engagement and response.

The research is done and the results have been revealed.

So here they are, the top ten list for 2019!