In a Rut! Food Edition

June 10, 2014

Do you get in a rut when the issue is dining out? Find yourself going to the same two or three places? (Maybe two or three options represents wide variability for you?)

I have struggled with this issue—well, “struggled” surely overstates the matter, for this is definitely a First World problem, and a First Worlder for “upper–middles” and above—and have no solutions. I have thought about an old-fashioned app, a piece of paper for my car with a list of options in different parts of town, but I have been thinking about that list for two decades and it remains non-existent.

Alas, several weeks ago Tucson Weekly published its 100 Essential Dishes list. It was a fun read, and I

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The Trip: Food

June 1, 2014

Here’s a not totally thorough review of our consumption during our DC/NYC trip. Enjoy; we certainly did!!!

Best bagel?  Well, why don’t we piss off a bunch of people early? (Nothing like a good fight about whose bagels are best!) Cate and I were big, big fans of Black Seed Bagels. Nothing else really compared. By the way, the Mile End delicatessen people own Black Seed. They focus on Montreal-style deli. We skipped deli—I love salted meats, but they hate me—but, for a future trip, there will be a stop at Mile End.

Sorry about the lack of bagel pics. The best I can do? Share with you my photos of the Super Heebster from Russ & Daughters.

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Mark’s Excellent Saturday Evening!

May 17, 2014

I know a Saturday that is excellent must include two or more names for any excellent experience requires at least two people. Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) had an excellent adventure! (They also had a bogus journey, and are working on something else that has not yet jelled.) Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) had several adventures together, all of which seemed excellent for them. (Maybe not so much for viewers.) Skipping at least a couple of generations, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour—yes, that’s three people, but in those days there had to be a girl—did well with seven “on the road” movies.

So this post is about solo time. Ms. J is away at

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Russ & Daughters

April 19, 2014

Pesach cruises along, about half done. Now, usually, I get focused on the bread. That’s mostly the point, for we don’t eat leavened products for eight days to remember our people leaving Egypt in a rush. (As an aside, and as a reminder that the bible and history often don’t co-exist perfectly—highlighting, perhaps the inherent conflicts between fiction and non-fiction—here’s a piece by Smarya Rosenberg, Passover:  The Real Meaning of Matzah, from

Alas, my focus on bread does not relate to the affliction imposed on my people; instead, it’s the affliction I’m feeling, missing a favored part of my diet and a treasured hobby. Now, I’ve shared a decent amount about my bread world. The reviews are

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Pesach and Pizza

April 13, 2014

Pesach aka Passover commemorates the Jewish departure from Egypt. The celebration lasts seven or eight days, and Is Passover 7 or 8 Days? does some explaining about the 7 v. 8 issue. Regardless, we don’t eat leavened products, or those food products that can rise, during this period. (Rabbi Thomas and Marcia Louchheim explain how the Ashkenazi, Sfardim, Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox parts of our people deal with these issues at Legumes and Rice on Passover.)

Anyway, so I spent today doing Pesach baking for the Seder we’re attending on Tuesday, and pizza to get the bread out of my system before I take a week off (from bread.) Seder means order, and for the non-Jews who follow me,

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Basic/East Village San Diego’s Pizza Choice

April 11, 2014

A week ago I was in San Diego aka Heaven on Earth! Last Friday I reported on an excellent dinner at Monello. I did not, however, share the fact that we had weekend guests who arrived, young and hungry, at about 10 p.m. And what do hosts do for young and hungry guests who arrive at 10 p.m. on a Friday night? Feed them!

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We walked over to Basic, located in the East Village across the street, almost, from Petco Park’s right field fence. I found Basic years ago, and rarely do I present myself in San Diego without dropping by. (Pictures taken earlier in the week. It’s not sunny at 10:30 p.m., even in San Diego.)


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April 5, 2014

Monello means “brat” in Italian. Not a very nice name, but there’s a back story. Monello is the younger, less fancy sibling of Bencotto. Thus, brat fits. Both are top-drawer Little Italy food emporiums. (San Diego’s Little Italy, that is.) And I’m here to report on dinner at Monello.


Monello focuses on food with a seriousness of purpose not found in many places. None I can think of, anyway. The sweet vermouth is homemade in the restaurant, and combines an extraordinary mix of herbs and other additions. You won’t want the bottled stuff, ever again! Cured meats are outstanding. (Prior visit.) Pastas are made in-house, and are cooked perfectly. (See below.) The mozzarella cheese last night was made

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March Madness Thoughts (and Pizza)

March 30, 2014

Fifty-nine games played, and by the time some of you read this, that number will be 60. There will be 63 total games—not counting those play-in games on the first Tuesday—in NCAA March Madness, the post-season Division 1 men’s basketball tournament. In the end there will have been lots of fun, some money exchanges between regular people, lots of coin changing hands at the sports books in Las Vegas and elsewhere, plenty of ad revenue for CBS and TBS, and a strong sense in host cities that they receive an economic boost from hosting part of the tournament, actual numbers notwithstanding. Oh, there will also be a National Champion!!!

Every year storiesstories, and

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Sky Bar and Brooklyn Pizza Company

March 20, 2014

I “bowl” on Monday nights. Not really, actually, but a close friend and co-worker gets therapy—his word, not mine—at the bowling alley one night a week. (He’s been engaged in this particular form of therapy for longer than I’ve been alive, and with the same main group for most of that time.) So, when he started nudging me about my Monday nights, I told him I’m “bowling.”

So here’s the truth, which may surprise very few readers. I’m a member of the Emperor Penguins trivia team. We play trivia on Monday nights at Sky Bar in Tucson, and have been so engaged since around November 2010. (Emperor Penguins, you ask? Long story, for another post.)

Alas, this story does not

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March 13, 2014

Blu – A Wine & Cheese Stop is my new favorite place in Tucson!


Time passes, so I don’t recall when I became acquainted with Blu for the first time, but I think it was in late 2012. Somewhere, somehow, I heard about a virtual cheese shop that delivers. Wow! Cool!!!

With my first order I met Tana Fryer, delivery person, cheese monger, and co-owner with her wife, Kelly Fryer (the new Executive Director at the YWCA, a “going places” organization). Maybe “got in early” mattered, but in those early months a quick call resulted in cheese, pretty much on demand. Norma Lorge, Mesch, Clark & Rothschild’s receptionist extraordinaire, sees lots of people and things coming and going (including,

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