The Bayou

IMG_2991-EditedWonderful news! I have made the move to Salt Lake City to search for passion, fun and adventure. Why? You may ask? Why not! I shall reply. But honestly it just fell into place and I’m lucky enough to have been able to move in with one of mes filles favorites –  Cortney whom I met one fateful semester abroad in France.

Unfortunately, during the move and transferring of files, I seem to have msiplaced my Cali photos. So that series will be put on hold. Fortunately, I have plenty of SLC photos to start into!

It was a monotonous day and a half drive from Tucson to SLC, but it was made without much hassle or hickup (though my tire managed to pick up a nail along the way. No leakage, but that was something to be fixed immediately upon arrival.) The night of my dad’s and my arrival we unloaded all of my furniture. It  went smoothly and quickly and in no time flat all my possessions were placed inside my new home.

Then it was simply running around getting the necessaries and things I didn’t think I’d need. Saturday we were more or less done and we went to celebrate with dinner at one of the pubs near us. The place my dad choose was The Bayou a Louisiana Cajun style restaurant and bar. They had a veritable BOOK of beer choices and a decent food menu too. I was able to try some Jambalaya that my dad ordered – first taste ever – and it was delicious! I had cajun style fettucini – Fettucini Kileene – with alfredo and pesto spices; it was absolutely delicious. I’ve always laughed at “Cajun Style” pastas at other restaurants but this was no laughing matter. It had enough kick and spice to satisfy me and it was such a unique combo of flavors and was I imagine Cajun food to taste like.

Cort had the Crawfish Étouffée and devoured it. And my dad thoroughly enjoyed his Jumbalaya.

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Carlota’s on Lambert

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Carlota’s is a local Mexican place right in the heart of Oro Valley. The location has a long history of Mexican food. Ever since I can remember we would go to the Mexican restuarant -El Burrito Patio- and I would order a hot dog wrapped in tortilla. Very latino, I know. Since then, my tastes have expanded and the restaurant has changed.

The decor is pretty much the same – Mexican turquoise, coral, yellow – and there are pictures of old vaqueros on the walls. It’s cozy and fun. The menu offers all the yummy type meats in burros, enchiladas, tacos, and combo plates! And, like any good Mexican restaurant, complimentary chips and salsa (at least the first bowl and refill.)

I ordered the carne asada tacos lunch special. The meat was tender and flavorful, the toppings – cabbage and cilantro and onion and tomatoes – were fresh and crunchy. Add some of the house salsa and you got perfect tacos. The rice was moist and not bland. And the beans… were your ordinary run of the mill refried beans. Overall a great lunch for about $8.

Chino Bandido

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Confused by the meal pictured above? You have every right to be. It’s a mix of Chinese and Mexican food! There are a couple locations throughout the “Greater Phoenix Area” (put in quotations because everyone not born in Phoenix knows that Chandler, Scottsdale, Tempe, etc don’t really matter. It’s all Phoenix to us!) and it is quite an interesting experience.

Chino Bandido’s most popular plate option is the combo: you get two meats (burrito or quesadilla style), rice, and beans for about $7. On top of that you can choose refried beans, spicy black beans (what I had, try them. They are delicious), rice, or a variety of fried rices.

What I ordered was suggested by the delightful and knowledgable waitress Fizz (at the Tempe location. GO VISIT AND SAY HI!). She recommended the Emerald Chicken quesadilla with the Jade Red Chicken, white rice (because fried was a dollar extra and I’m cheap) and the spicy black beans. It was delicious. The Emerald chicken is a ginger and scallion seasoned chicken and it was delicious covered in cheese and sandwiched in between crispy quesadillas. I also suggest you spread some black beans on with every bite, it gives it a lovely kick. The Jade Red Chicken is sort of a Sweet and Sour style chicken and it was tender and reminiscent of classic American style Chinese food. All in all I enjoyed the meal, and I had leftovers, too!

The best part, however, may be the fresh daily baked Snickerdoodle cookie that comes with the meal. It’s soft and chewy and honestly one of the best snickerdoodles I have tried. Doesn’t happen often at quick service restaurants, but here it is amazing. They make the dough and bake the cookies on site so it’s fresh and tasty!

If you need more reason to go check out this unusual food combo here is a picture of their mascot. He is adorable (if a bit racist):

 

Now go! Enjoy and marvel at the taste sensation! And again, if you go to the Tempe location say Hi to Fizz!

Ethnic-ly Confused Chicken, Rice and Salsa

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This was a meal I made with my good friend who is now living in L.A. pursuing her dreams of writing for TV and films. Before her trip we were hanging out a bunch and cooking – one of our many common interests. This Mediterranean/Hispanic/Asian inspired is really hard to describe, so I’ll just give you the basic recipes. But trust me, the flavors go perfectly together!

Salsa Chicken – Though cooked in salsa this dish turned sweet and rich in flavors. We were using Pace so there wasn’t much spice, another brand might make it less sweet. The chicken was tender and the cinnamon gave a nice warm background to the tangy tomatoes.

Chop up some raw chicken breast and pour in enough salsa to cover the poultry completely. Add cinnamon/nutmeg and some chili powder and stew/simmer on medium until cooked through. About 20 minutes.

Coconut Lime Rice – If you simply substitute half the amount of water you would normally use with coconut milk or water, it creates a slightly sweet and tropical tasting rice. We added further dimension by squeezing some lime juice in the rice while it cooked as well. Once it was done in the rice cooker, we mixed in some chopped parsley to give it a fresh zing to further counterbalance the sweetness of the coconut.

Avocado, Blackbean and Corn Salsa – depending on the ripeness of the avocados this will either be more creamy or more like a salad side dish. But it’s such a vibrant mix of veggies, legumes and flavors that it works either way. It’s also really good spread on a sandwich with turkey (or leftover chicken!)

Mix 2 avocados, diced, with a can of black beans (drained), a can of corn (drained), half a diced onion, a bunch of chopped parsley, and some lime juice to taste.