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Food

    California, Food

    (fōnuts)

    National Donut Day was just a few days ago, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from getting a donut any other time of the year. I admit, I’m a Dunkin’ fan myself, but when it comes to specialty donuts, I’m all over it. And if it’s a one-of-a-kind cafe, even more so.

    I read about Fōnuts in a book entitled Where Chef’s Eat, looking for some unique places to eat while visiting home for a week. In business for nearly four years, Fōnuts’ donuts are truly specialty and decadent, baked, never fried, with gluten free and vegan options. A mere ten minute drive from my mom’s house, twenty if you include the traffic, and free parking behind the store, Fōnuts is a small but welcoming little donut and coffee shop on the corner of  West 3rd Street and South Crescent Heights Boulevard. Four or five stools provided seating against an empty wall and an old-school kitchen oven provided a countertop for cream and sugar. Freshly baked donuts cooled on a baking rack while I perused the many flavors.

    You can order the donuts ahead of time, but I was glad the shop was empty so I could take my time. A half-dozen donuts seems like a lot, but I’m home so rarely, I had to try more than just one. $18 for a half-dozen ($36 for a baker’s dozen) isn’t bad considering they are specialty and not mass produced like Dunkin’ or Krispy Kreme.

    And they are delicious!

    See the website here.

    fonuts donuts

    Clockwise from the top: Maple Bacon, Salted Caramel, Red Velvet, Blueberry Earl Grey, and Strawberry Buttermilk. Not pictured: Rosemary Olive Oil.

     

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    Arizona, Food

    Matt’s Big Breakfast

    matts big breakfast Where I have been?! This place is amazing!

    I read about Matt’s Big Breakfast last year when I spent two weeks in Phoenix for flight training but I didn’t get the chance to go. Instead, I opted for Carmel’s on Camelback (now relocated and renamed to Charlie Finn) and their delicious french toast croissant. Plus, Matt’s is in downtown Phoenix and I wanted to just stay clear. Open 7 days a week from morning to mid-afternoon, Matt’s Big Breakfast serves breakfast and lunch during their open hours. Parking was tricky and I managed to squeeze into a spot in their designated parking lot behind the restaurant. matts big breakfast waffle

    The wait wasn’t too bad. For a restaurant that seems to be continously crowded, seating was relatively quick, with single patrons sharing a bar or a more communal area. I sat on a bar stool close to the door looking out the main window and perused the menu. The woman sitting next to me wasn’t sure on what to get since, as she told me, ‘everything here is good.’

    That was an understatement. I ordered the waffle, made from scratch, topped with sweet cream butter and real maple syrup, and two slices of thick cut bacon seasoned with course black pepper. Coupled with a cup of freshly brewed coffee, it was a fantastic meal. Along with the amazing breakfast, the staff was extremely friendly.

    It’s a recommended eatery for anyone either living in Phoenix or just passing through.

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    Afghanistan, Food

    Eating naan in Kandahar

    Let’s discuss this. This is naan. Not just any naan. This is real, Afghan naan.

    It’s my personal belief that by literally breaking bread with another from a different culture, you can learn a great deal from them. Three years ago, I was in Afghanistan for five months. While working with the locals, we were offered tea on a daily basis, usually green tea, drinking it hot and without sweeteners and it almost seemed rude to turn it down. Even during Ramadan, it was a polite gesture by the locals to be offered tea. During those long and very hot days, we politely declined in an effort to respect their days of fasting.

    The meals were reminiscent of a typical middle eastern cuisine. We ate lamb, which was questionable and butchered in Kandahar, or goat meat, also questionable, along with rice sprinkled with golden raisins. I never thought I’d see it, but we were also offered ‘doogh’, a yogurt beverage (called ‘tan’ in Armenian) which can lead to a stomach ache if too much is consumed. I was surprised with the amount of fresh watermelon we ate. I didn’t think that much was available in the desert!

    Until we found out the local cook had hepatitis.

    But then, of course, there was the naan. During our stay, our interpreters would often bring us stacks of naan made in their housing area. There was enough for each of us to eat at least two or three pieces. Baked in a tandoor, or an oven made of bricks, the naan had to be eaten fresh, while the dough was still warm and soft, and you can practically taste the smoke from the oven. Wait too long (i.e. a couple of hours) and it turned hard and stale.

    I’ve never had naan this good in the States. It clearly doesn’t compare with the real thing.

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    Arizona, Food

    Tucson Greek Festival

    calamariThe 38th annual Tucson Greek Festival kicked off on the 25th of this month and is lasting the entire weekend. As someone who has an Armenian background, which has many similarities to Greek culture, it was a must-go event because of the food, the culture…

    I went for the food. Let’s be honest here.

    The festival was held by St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, a small and beautiful church that unfortunately was damaged by a fire last year. The members of the church worked hard to set-up this event, which was wildly popular with Tucson locals. When walking in, visitors are immediately greeted by Greek music and Tavernas selling food and beverages, to include greek beer, wine and ouzo. I opted for Mythos Greek beer, grilled calamari, and a simple Greek salad.

    church

    The church still had a lot of damage from the fire in May of 2013. An article about the fire can be read here, and the church is still under a lot of reconstruction. Several art pieces and religious material were held intact but the interior was badly burnt and a donation table was available to help with the reconstruction.

    The festival had scheduled lectures by professors from University of Arizona on Greek culture as well as traditional Greek dancing in the back patio. Children were given the opportunity to learn to dance and it reminded me of the many weddings and events I attended as a kid. There was even more food, to include dolma, rice and/or meat wrapped in grape leaves, and saganaki, a cheese dipped in batter and pan-fried with lemon juice and brandy coupled with pita bread, and of course gyros.

    I made a bee line to the pastries. My grandmother used to make baklava, i.e. the best dessert in the world, and kataifi and I have yet to have either as good as the ones she made. Regardless, I left with containers of both to include a container of freshly fried loukoumades, fried dough soaked in honey .

    Hopefully I’ll be in town next year for the festivities.

    evil eye

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    Food, Kyrgyzstan, Where I've Been

    Балтика 9 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

    baltikaAfter no alcohol for five months, a friend of mine and I opted for a couple beers while staying near Bishkek for a night before flying back home. The strongest beer available was the Балтика (Baltika) 9, which is 8% alcohol in a fairly large bottle. And I had two of them.

    The beer wasn’t that great but oh the buzz that followed.

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    Alabama, Food

    Crawfish Festival in the South

    A few years back, I spent six weeks in Montgomery for work and a few colleagues of mine found out about a crawfish festival in the local area. It was pretty hick and in the middle of nowhere, but the beer was cheap and we got this bag full of crawfish for about 25 bucks.

    It was more than enough for the eight of us. Simple way to eating them? Break them apart, suck the head (so to speak) and eat the tail.

    And they were delicious.

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    California, Food

    Waffles on-the-go at Shaky Alibi

    I passed by  Shwaffle on the goaky Alibi a couple days ago when I went to Scent Bar on Beverly Blvd and went in to grab a quick coffee. In business since 2010, this coffee bar and wafflerie serves traditional liege waffles that were worth the second visit.

    Not your typical Belgium waffle, the waffles are made of yeast and coated with Belgium Pearl Sugar and dusted with powdered sugar and are sweet and crispy. They’re made to order and are piping hot when off the waffle maker. There was no need to add any syrup or embellishments and it was the perfect on-the-go snack along with a iced dirty almond chai.

     

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    Food, Louisiana

    Cafe du Monde

    Ah, nothing like a cafe au lait and powdered sugar covered beignets late at night.

    The Cafe Du Monde’s original coffee stand in the French Quarter is open 24 hours a day and is closed on Christmas. So visiting the famous coffee shop during my two trips to New Orleans, both for Katrina Relief efforts in 2006 and 2008, was easy. It is a must-visit for foodies and coffee lovers.

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