Friday, January 31, 2014

The Weather Cooperated…

and Chuck’s cousin Dora safely made it out of the snowy and frigid Midwest and spent a few leisurely days in the Phoenix area visiting with Chuck and Dora’s aunt Evie and cousin Raina. When she arrived in Tucson, we immediately made arrangements to meet her and her grandson for a quick bite for supper. And it had to be quick since her grandson had other college-related commitments that evening.

We decided on Rocco’s Little Chicago, the home of our favorite pizza in Tucson,
and since the night was warm and balmy, we elected to sit on the covered but open patio.
And, by chance, the night of our visit was “wing night.” Now this must be a big deal since there are five rules or, as Rocco calls them, “tenets” for wing night. I found Tenet Number Five (“Please remain at the table at which you were originally seated so that the waitstaff may serve you best.”) to be especially interesting, since I’m not really sure what kind of problem “table-hopping” creates.
None of my three dining companions will eat mushrooms so I knew that the Fungus Humongous topped with a grilled mixture of portabella and white mushrooms with onions and garlic wasn’t going to fly. So Chuck and I stayed with our usual—a large thin crust cheese and sausage. One problem, we neglected to specify light cheese so it came with more cheese than we would have liked. Still, it was a very good version of the Midwest thin crust pizza. And it was cut Chicago style—in squares.
I am sure that all of you know that Chicago is the birthplace of the deep dish pizza. Well, some pizza entrepreneurs kicked this—as Emeril Lagasse would say—up a notch and created the Chicago stuffed pizza. “In the mid-1970s, two Chicago chains, Nancy's…and Giordano's began experimenting with deep dish pizza and created the stuffed pizza…. A Chicago Magazine article featuring Giordano's stuffed pizza popularized the dish...

“Stuffed pizzas are often even taller than deep-dish pizzas, but otherwise, it can be hard to see the difference until you cut into it. A stuffed pizza generally has much higher topping density than any other type of pizza. As with deep-dish pizza, a thin layer of dough forms a bowl in a high-sided pan and the toppings and cheese are added. Then, an additional layer of dough goes on top and is pressed to the sides of the bottom crust (street
Dora and her grandson decided to share the small (Believe me, there was nothing small about this.) Heart Attack stuffed pizza that contained sausage, pepperoni, prosciutto, roast beef, and extra cheese. I think that Dora managed to finish one slice while her grandson consumed two and a half slices. The remainder he took home for a midnight snack.

The following day, we caught Dora’s grandson between classes for a brief lunch at Beyond Bread. Dora and her daughter had eaten there on a previous visit to Tucson and you know that this is one of Chuck and my favorites. Time to introduce a college student.
The day was beautiful with temps in the mid-70’s (Sorry to our friends and family suffering through the winter in the Midwest and East.) so we again found a seat on a shaded patio.

Both Dora and I ordered the Molly’s Crisis with turkey, hummus, cucumber, sprouts, tomato, and mayonnaise on rustic bread. It was the whole sandwich for me and the half for Dora.
When I saw the size of my whole I thought that maybe Dora had made the wiser choice.
Chuck selected the whole Stan’s Stack with turkey, provolone, roasted red peppers, sprouts, and Russian dressing on white.
Given that he has never been a spouts man, I admit to being surprised that he didn’t ask for them to be held. Since I really like spouts on a sandwich, this may be a promising development.

When we were in on the previous Saturday, we noticed this table sign.
That’s a whole lot of turkey! But, given that three of us had turkey on our sandwiches, it’s totally believable.

Dora’s grandson ordered the day’s sandwich special—the Good Parma with chicken, marinara sauce, provolone, parmesan, fresh basil, and Caesar dressing grilled and served on parmesan herb bread.
Using as my clue the rapidity with which this sandwich disappeared, I feel safe in saying that he enjoyed it a great deal.

All but Dora got the kettle chips as our side. Dora instead selected the cole slaw.
And we couldn’t let them leave without one more side—one of Beyond Bread’s large Philadelphia-style soft pretzels.

It was hard to tell if they enjoyed them.

Both Chuck, Dora, and I took a part of our lunch back to the RV with us for an early evening meal. Two 5.0 Addie meals with 5.0 Addie company.

To review the role of Adler and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

We’re Back in Tucson…

for a couple of weeks and in a few days will be joined by Chuck’s cousin Dora who is flying out to first see the Phoenix family and then will be coming down to spend time with her grandson who attends the University of Arizona.

We thought that we were going to have a leisurely few days but the need to make major replacements of the RV’s A-V components have eaten into our spare time. So all we have had a chance to do is catch a few quick bites at two of our Tucson favorite spots.

We started with a visit to Frankie’s South Philly Cheesesteaks & Sandwiches, and this time we came during the lunch hour. The place was jumping. The residents of the Old Pueblo (their name for Tucson) appear to have taken a liking to South Philly food.

On our travels, we have come across any number of restaurants serving a version of the Philadelphia Cheesesteak, but when you see the use of Swiss cheese or the use of mayo as a condiment, you know it’s not the real deal. Only two restaurants have come close to what we got back in Philadelphia—Gaglione’s in San Diego and Frankie’s here in Tucson. Do you think because both have quick-frozen Amoroso rolls flown in from Philadelphia has something to do with it?
“Frankie Santos (in the photo below) came to Tucson direct from Philadelphia, PA…grew up on the corner of 3rd and Porter Street in a neighborhood row house. His family has lived in South Philly for the past 45 years. Recently retired from the Delaware Pilot's Association where he was a valued employee for over thirty one years,…Frankie has brought the famous tastes to our desert” (
Chuck ordered the twelve-inch cheesesteak with mild provolone cheese.
As we sat waiting for our sandwiches he looked across the table and asked if I “heard the beautiful music of two metal spatulas on the flattop.” (Did you think he was going to say something romantic?) The clinking sound of metal on metal means that the thin slices of rib eye steak are being divided into small pieces. Chuck prefers this method as opposed to the “whole slice” method of preparing the contents of the Amoroso roll. And yes, this preference is as strong at the “wit” or “witout” onions and the choice of cheese—American, provolone, or authentic Cheez Wiz.

I have never had one of Frankie’s cheesesteaks so cannot make an educated evaluation. While saying it was a bit dry, Chuck was a happy man nonetheless.

So if I don’t have a cheesesteak, what do I order? “…Ask almost anyone outside of Philadelphia to name the city's most famous sandwich and you will undoubtedly hear ‘cheesesteak.’ But among actual residents of the City of Brotherly Love, another between-the-bread concoction vies neck and neck with the cheesesteak as a local favorite, and it is even more uniquely local—the Philadelphia-style Italian roast pork sandwich. There is plenty of overlap, since many sandwich shops here sell both roast pork and cheesesteaks, and both come in several particular variations. But just as there are stands primarily famous for cheesesteaks (Pat's, Geno's, Jim's), so are there places that are first and foremost about pork” (Larry Olmsted at
“There are many interpretations, but almost all use thin slices of pork (slow cooked in its juices), broccoli rabe or spinach (heavy on the garlic), and provolone cheese. The result is an intense flavor profile—savory, acidic, sharp—that's earned raves from diehard foodies. The version created at John's Roast Pork (pictured), a tiny shop situated in a nondescript industrial zone, won a James Beard Award for culinary excellence in 2006. The variant made at Tommy DiNic's—located in the Reading Terminal Market, an urban palace of foodstuffs, itself worthy of an afternoon's wandering—was recently judged by the Travel Channel as ‘the best sandwich in America’" (

I ordered mine as a nine-inch sandwich with both hot and sweet peppers on the side along with extra broccoli rabe and Frankie adds an additional touch with a side of pork jus on the side. One bite and I was back in Philadelphia.
The next day we returned to one of our perennial favorite Tucson spots—Beyond Bread.
It was a Saturday—the only day on which one of my all-time favorite sandwiches—the Ernie’s Everything Reuben is served.
Imagine warm juicy corned beef sitting atop a light vinegar slaw, piled high on an everything pretzel roll, covered with melted Swiss cheese, and dressed with Russian dressing. As a young man sitting next to me on our last visit said: “It’s the best thing about Saturday.”

With the sandwich, I ordered a side of pasta salad made with orecchiette (little ears) pasta, red bell pepper, corn, and scallion with a light vinegar dressing.
Unfortunately, I found the cheese—that I think is feta—to be a bit overpowering.

Chuck selected the Cam’s Classic with roast beef, lettuce, and horseradish sauce on a garlic Italian roll
with a small cup of baked potato and bacon soup.
The soup was smoky from the bacon and was a bit thick for my taste.

We had two very good lunches that were not without their minor flaws and both experiences earn 4.0 Addie ratings.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It’s Almost Time to Leave Phoenix,…

but not without one last visit to Andreoli Italian Grocer with Chuck’s cousin Raina and her husband Jesse. I know that I risk being repetitious having written so often about what I have concluded is my favorite restaurant of our five-plus years of travels. So text will be brief and photos many—both to tantalize you and to torment me.

Our recent lunch began with not just one but two orders of Calameretti del Sacrestano or fresh marinated and grilled calamari.
The oil from the marinade drips down onto the grill and “ignites” causing a char that then flavors the oil and red vinegar dressing. It’s not just the calamari that tastes great but the oil and vinegar is infused with the charred flavor and is perfect for dipping Chef Scorzo’s house-made ciabatta bread.
The calamari were quickly followed by a Maresciallo for four—a platter of three meats (Chef Scorzo’s own Genoa salami and prosciutto crudo plus calabrese salami), olives (marinated in house), and cheese.
And what lunch at Andreoli would be complete without an order of Patatine Fritte or Italian French fries deep fried in olive oil with leeks. As I said a number of years ago, McDonald’s makes French fries, but only Andreoli makes patatine fritte.
And Chuck wonders if he could order just a heaping plate of the fried leeks.

So with the preliminaries over, where do we go from there? You did know that there would be more, didn’t you? Chuck said he would be happy with a repeat of the Maresciallo. Jesse was his usual easy-going self and basically said “whatever.” And Raina and I had other ideas.

So we did repeat the Maresciallo; this time for two and not four. Plus more bread.
Raina really likes Andreoli’s Porchetta—roasted pork that is seasoned with garlic, fennel, and black pepper and served on a house-made crusty roll. So we asked that the sandwich be cut into four pieces so we could all have a sample.
“I forgot how good this sandwich is,” Chuck mumbled through a mouthful of food.

I wanted the Abbuffino or focaccia bread with spicy calabrese salami and smoked mozzarella cheese. The house-made focaccia is so rich with olive oil that when the sandwich is pressed a thin and crisp crust is formed.
Just when you might think we were finished, we were ready for a little dessert and shared two Sfogliatelli (a classic Italian pastry with ricotta filling) and two biscotti.
The latter were perfect for dipping into our double espressos.
Again, we managed to eat our way through a good portion of the afternoon with good food and great company. Another 5.0 Addie feast.

And we leave you with the words that are emblazoned on t-shirts worn by many regular customers “Everybody loves Rosario.”
After dessert, Raina squeezed in a few minutes of work.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

One night, Jesse drove us up one of the hillsides for these views of metropolitan Phoenix.

The lights of the towers atop South Mountain carried the message "Come back soon."

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

...And Honoring a Legend

Kate and I accompanied cousin Raina and her husband to a special event at the American Legion Post, Number 41, but we took a short detour to an historic site near the Post in Phoenix.

This is the Duppa Homestead.
Darrell Duppa explored Arizona four years before coming here with Jack Swilling's party, pioneers whose irrigation canal first opened the Salt River Valley to farming in 1868.

A well-traveled Englishman and a scholar of the classics, "Lord Duppa," as he was commonly known, was the most scholarly man in the Territory of Arizona. He was a linguist and could read readily the ancient classics in the original, besides several of the modern languages.
Born in England in 1832, he left England in his teens, going first to Paris, where he graduated from one of the highest institutions of learning. From Paris he went to Madrid, Spain, and from Spain he took ship on a sailing vessel for Valparaiso, South America, but nearing that port a fearful storm struck the vessel, which was wrecked and every soul aboard drowned but Duppa. After his miraculous escape from drowning, Duppa wandered over the greater part of South America. Leaving South America he went to New Zealand, and after a time to Australia, then to California, and, finally, to Arizona in the 1860s.
Lord Duppa is credited with naming Phoenix and Tempe. Phoenix was founded in 1868, and the name proposed by Duppa related back to the story of the mythical Phoenix's rebirth from the ashes. The basis being the rebirth of a city of canals, rebuilt on the site of the ancient Hohokam canal systems that dated back to about 700-1400 AD.
In 1871, he homesteaded 160 acres of this land, qualifying for one of the first ten land grants in the territory. This adobe, built after Duppa sold the land, is restored with cottonwood-branch, mud-roofed construction typical of the earliest houses in Phoenix.
Unfortunately, we were not able to see the interior of this interesting homestead.

It was a short walk to the Legion Post where a dance was being held to benefit The Chapito Documentary, a documentary film directed by Paige Martinez recognizing Arizona musician and band leader Chapito Chavarria whose music united Arizona Latinos for over 60 years.
Raphael "Chapito" Chavarria (Chapito is Spanish for "Shorty") began playing with family and friends in the 20's and 30's. Like many young men ended up in the military serving in the South Pacific. Post World War II, Phoenix saw the growth of the valley's Mexican-American population. This was when Chapito's career took off playing at clubs like the Calderon and the Riverside Ballroom in South Phoenix. The men would wear their suits & ties and the women would dress up in their fine jewelry and gowns. They would be ready for a night of ballroom dancing.
Chapito Chavarria's Tropicana style songs were precursors to the Mambo, Cha-Cha-Cha and the Bolero in the valley during the 40's and 50's. Chavarria provided cultural cohesiveness for Hispanics in Arizona at a time when many establishments openly discriminated against them. He was a Rock star in the valley's Latin community. So much so that couples would plan their weddings around his availability. They didn't want to get married without having his band at their reception.

Chapito's band was the first to bring the green dance (Dollar dance) to the wedding reception. The Bride & Groom would dance with the guests. Men with the Bride and women with the Groom. You could give any amount of cash, but it was usually a dollar. The men would pin the money on the Bride's gown and the women on the Groom's tuxedo. The band would play Boleros until they felt they had enough money for a wedding gift.
At age 99 he is spry, but not nimble. and still has a great sense of humor. At the concert he leaned over to Jesse and said "I still owe you a case of beer!" Jesse's father is Chapito's uncle, so this was a special day for Jesse as well as Chapito.
Jesse (left) and Chapito

Paige Martinez is a film maker here in the valley who has dedicated her time and effort to bring this story to life about Chavarria, who has made such a difference in the Mexican-American culture.
Paige Martinez (right) talking with one of the women at the dance

Raina, Chapito, and Jesse

The dance, with music provided by an orchestra of Arizona’s finest musicians, was a joyous celebration in honor of a man who had a great influence on the music of his culture and on the valuing of the Mexican-American culture.

And the icing on the cake, so to speak, came when Jesse and Raina won one of the raffle prizes.
The happy winners