A while back I got a chance to meet Chef Payton Curry and try his cuisine at Welcome Diner his short lived concept in Downtown Phoenix, incorporating planned obsolescence. Post Welcome Diner, Curry could be found making guest chef appearances at various restaurants around town as well as throwing “Guerrilla dinners” with his merry bunch of culinary misfits. Over the past few months Curry has been keeping his culinary skills sharp in the kitchen of Chef Charlene Badman at Scottsdale hot spot FnB.
Fast forward to Today and the first service at Curry’s newest venture, Brat Haus. Nestled in the space formerly occupied by Oregano’s Pizza, Brat Haus is spread out among two buildings with a “climate controlled” outdoor patio. (The 360 degree mister was a nice touch and quite refreshing on a hot day but I don’t know if I would go as far as agreeing with our hostess that the patio is climate controlled)
First up from the Haus, a stone hearth pretzel I have been drooling over on Facebook for the past week. This rustic pretzel, served with grainy Haus mustard, is just what I had been hoping it would be (so much for maintaining objectivity). A combination of hard and chewy, kissed with the perfect amount of salt, the Haus pretzel does not disappoint. If I hear of anyone asking for cheese sauce to dip one of these happy little twists in, I may cry).
I’ve eaten my fair share of Bratwurst including a few while in Germany which were pretty memorable but over-all, i’ve just never eaten one and exclaimed “DAMN! that’s delicious.” Well, I can no longer make that statement as the Spicy brat ($5.75) topped with my choices of spicy peppers (of course) and root beer onions nestled in a chewy french roll just plain rocked. Juicy, flavorful and possessed of the perfect meaty texture, the traditional spicy brat is a winner. (there will be many more of these in my future)
Accompanying my brat were thrice-cooked belgian fries ($4.50/Large). Lightly seasoned frites, crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside as they should be, served with choice of dipping sauces (in this case truffle aioli and Sriracha Aioli), the Hause fries are not only a perfect companion to a brat but a necessity in my humble opinion.
Last but not least, the ubiquitous hamburgers, or are they? You will find a “regular” burger in the form of the Haus Favorite but that is where the “norm” ends. There is a brat burger i’d probably want for breakfast every morning consisting of a 1/3lb pork sausage patty topped with a fried egg and swiss cheese ($6.75) and the 800 pound gorilla in the room, the “Pig Mac.”($7.25)
What’s this you say? The Pig Mac? Let me get this straight, Curry thinks it’s a good idea to combine a 1/4lb pork sausage patty with a 1/4lb ground beef patty topped with caramelized onions, bound with something called “Hush Hush sauce?” Well it’s a good gawddamned thing Curry has the twisted mind he does because there are few things pork can’t make better and apparently a juicy, well seasoned hamburger is one of them. I don’t know why I haven’t thought of doing this before but it works. This mingling of textures and flavors going on here is like the crossing of the proton streams in Ghostbusters except I didn’t end up with marshmallow goo on my face. I must say, I would have rather had a traditional spicy brat split and perched atop my burger a bit more as I preferred its texture and spiciness to the patty but again, this is a winner.
It’s about time someone broke the mold and opened a restaurant that didn’t fall into line with the current trend of cookie-cutter concepts, frozen yogurt, cupcake shops and gourmet burger joints come immediately to mind. Curry and his Brat Haus have brought something simple, fresh and different to the Scottsdale culinary scene. (I’m sure others will follow in short order).
This summer i’ve been the spokesperson for Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets. What I basically do is travel to different cities in Arizona, Nevada and California doing morning or daytime television demonstrating their new product lines or cooking live. A recent trip took me to Los Angeles, California to KTLA, the largest media outlet in Southern California and a station I watched growing up in Hollywood.
Of all the segments i’ve done, this one meant the most to me since it was in my “hometown.” I was super excited to do the segment and I had a great time.
Once in a while I get a newsletter/constant contact/mailing list type of email that doesn’t cause me to cringe and look for the unsubscribe link hidden somewhere at the bottom. Today’s was a little gem from The Herb Box (which I happen to love) announcing their “Summer Supper Club.” A series of eight 3 courses for $30 (including a glass of wine even) meals starting the week of June 12th. Some of the menu items look positively MOUTHWATERING and i’ll certainly be dropping in to take advantage of the DEAL! Take a look, make a reservation and le tme know what you thought of your meal!
Apparently someone at the Phoenix New times was asleep at the wheel or had a bit too much bourbon when they were putting together a list of 100 Tastemakers because I made the list. To be included among such august culinary company is flattering and i’m honored. Take a look at some of the others, many are people I know personally and admire/respect, some are people I know only by reputation and i’ll certainly be looking forward to reading about the other eighty-two upcoming.
“From now ’til we publish the 2012 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times and Chow Bella present 100 Tastemakers – Valley residents who make the cut in our culinary scene. Some you’ll know; for others, it’ll be a first introduction (but likely not the last). While you’re here, check out our 100 Creatives on Jackalope Ranch.
Today: a man we can’t resist describing as saucy.
Tastemaker 83: Tony Morales
When Tony Morales realized no other company made barbecue sauces to his liking, he decided to parlay his passion for food into a business and in 2009 Desert Smoke BBQ was born. Today you can find Morales’ BBQ sauces, hot sauces, and rubs in several states, online and at some of your favorite local markets and restaurants. When he’s not creating new recipes or blogging about food, this California native and former Marine loves to travel.
I arrived in Phoenix… in 2003 with nothing but the clothes on my back (literally). The day I moved here, my U-Haul — stuffed with everything I owned — and my one-week-old new car was stolen, so Phoenix really was a clean slate for me.
If I was sitting down to dinner for six, my five dream dining companions would be… my great grandmother — I can still remember the avocado-colored appliances, yellowish linoleum, giant black cast-iron skillet on the stovetop that she cooked damn near everything in, and the love of food and cooking she instilled in me at an early age. Gordon Ramsey and Julia Child — he because he’s such an unapologetic prick and she because everything gets a little bit of wine, the two would be entertaining as hell! Fernand Point, the true father of modern French cuisine, and Grant Achatz for his twisted culinary brain. I’d love to hear his points of view on technique, ingredients and preparation each would bring to the table.
One place everyone who comes to Phoenix must eat is… Carolina’s. The red chile is delicious, the tortillas couldn’t be fresher, and it’s what taco shops around the country should aspire to.
One menu item this city could do without is… Cupcakes! They’ve just been done to death and I’m over them. I find it difficult to believe that such a pool of talented pastry types around the Valley can’t find more imaginative ways to satisfy my sweet tooth.
My last meal in Phoenix would be… a multi-course progressive affair. I’d begin with a stop into FnB for an order of Chef [Charleen] Badman’s spicy broccoli (she’s the friggin’ vegetable whisperer), a hot buttered lobster roll from Noca because I can’t imagine lobster being happier, Wild boar bacon from Posh because few things taste so damn good, and a double scoop of huckleberry ice cream from Sweet Republic to finish the meal off. (If someone could get me a cappuccino from Press Coffee my night would be complete!)”
You can see the original story as well as a list of the other tastemakers on the Phoenix New Times website HERE
Susie Timm, Local foodie and Owner of Girl Meats Fork posted a cryptic tweet a while back asking if i’d be interested in participating in a fiery food challenge for a good cause. Since I rarely shy away from either challenges or a good cause, I accepted without knowing what exactly I was committing to.
It turns out Bueno Burger Scottsdale created an Hamburger dubbed the “Sneaky Diablo Burger” made with several different types of Chile including the dreaded Ghost (Bhut Jolokia-formerly the Worlds Hottest Chile). What could possibly make this challenge better? Well, Rodney Hartwig and myself would be facing the fire so to speak, LIVE on television.
The Ronan Thompson Foundation is the beneficiary of Bueno Burger Scottsdale’s generosity and will recieve a portion of the purchase price of each burger sold. It seems like everyone enjoys trying to make me sweat and though this burger was quite hot i’ve certainly had hotter food. Sucking down this burger in the time allotted was the real challenge here and Rodney was the better competitor at this (despite his looking like his head was going to explode).
All in all, the absolute best part about having this challenge on Sonoran Living was talking Host Andi Barness into taking one for the team so to speak, yes, Andi ate a Ghost Chile covered Jalapeno pepper “for the kids” and looked like she wans’t going to make it….Rodney and I had to finish the shows dialogue since Andi was a bit “incapacitated.” We love you Andi, (and rumor has it, you’re no worse for wear plus I love that your crew added some pretty cool sound effects to the final video!)
WOOHOO!! It looks like my humble brand of BBQ and Hot Sauces have been selected by Phoenix Magazine as being among the top 25 tastiest Arizona products for 2011! Many of the brands and products chosen are regulars in my pantry an I can not express the pride and happiness I feel to be considered among such fantastic company.
The journey from idea to where Desert Smoke BBQ is today has taken three years and I have had nothing but encouragement and support from family, friends and customers. A sincere thanks goes out to everyone that has helped me make Desert Smoke BBQ successful, watch out for what I have coming in 2012!
Check out the article HERE:
“Desert Smoke BBQ is committed to combining tangy Carolina BBQ flavors with BIG, BOLD, Southwestern spices!” With that as a guiding principle, I’m always looking for new flavor combinations that will make your tastebuds smile (and smolder). Our new Habanero Peach BBQ sauce takes one of the most recognizable Southern flavors, the humble peach, to a whole new level with just the right amount of Fiery habanero chile pepper. Used as a condiment, our Habanero Peach sauce will make your chicken dishes cluck and is the perfect compliment to pork ribs, roasts and chops. Drop by your Phoenix area Whole Foods Market or Phoenix Public market and grab a bottle! (Stay tuned for an upcoming contest).
Big, BOLD flavor is what we do! Desert Smoke BBQ doesn’t follow the traditional product development model because we aren’t a traditional company. For most of 2011, many of you have heard rumblings of a new line of Hot sauces and some have even been slipped bottles to try. Our “focus group” consists of real world fire eaters, Chefs, foodies, friends and family. These are all people who’s opinions I value and who were all willing to donate their taste buds to the cause.
Without further adieu I am happy to announce the launch of the following for exciting new products:
Hatch Green Chile Hot Sauce: Fire Roasted Hatch green chiles, vinegar and salt combine to create a tart hot sauce with just enough heat to let you know its there. This hot sauce is great as a condiment on anything that could use a little heat or to add flair to your Southwestern dishes. Rumor has it, Chef Gwen Walters of Pen & Fork has even concocted a gourmet SMOOTHIE using our green chile hot sauce.
Desert Smoke BBQ Habanero hot sauce Habanero Hot Sauce: Our Habanero hot sauce is the cure for what ails you. Red Savina Habanero chiles, vinegar and spices elevate this humble chile to fiery excellence. Use as a condiment on your favorite dishes or add to soups or stews to add depth, flavor and heat.
Ghost Chile (Bhut Jolokia Chile): In an homage to the World’s hottest chile, we have created this smokey, scorchingly hot sauce for true fire eaters. Use in small quantities with extreme caution as this is the granddaddy of all hot sauces. Your taste buds will not be tickled, they will be ASSAULTED with intense heat and flavor. You have been warned. Add to soups and stews to knock the heat level out of the park, or use sparingly on your favorite foods.Ghost Chile Hot Sauce.
All three of our new hot sauces are available at Whole Foods Market stores in Arizona, Phoenix Public Market and New Frontiers Natural Market Stores in Flagstaff and Sedona, Arizona.
So, the other day I get a tweet from friend/PR person Holly Harmon asking if I’d be interested in doing Sonoran Living today on short notice. “Of course” I say, I have done the show several times before and love hosts Andi Barness and Stephanie Sandoval, and I go about planning a menu for three, three to four minute segments.
Up first will be my take on the “Sonoran Dog,” a tasty Mexican-ized take on the venerable ball park hot dog. Wrap a bratwurst in thick applewood smoked bacon, deep fry and cover with tasty toppings…
Next up, Cotija and Green Chile stuffed cheeseburgers. Things all started to go pear shaped during the commercial break as the live segment at the ballpark with co-host Andi Barness lost sound and we had to hustle as the cooking segment became the main focus of the show. Stephanie never missed a beat (TRUE professional), and we rocked through the second segment with zero prep time. (notice the sizzling sound through the rest of the show, as Emeril LeGasse says “we’re really cookin here”)
What could be more refreshing on a hot summer day than a sweet, watermelon granita? Easy to make, delicious to enjoy (hint: take this recipe to the next level by adding 2oz of Jack Daniels whiskey to the mix before freezing)
Just a few last minute tips on making those Summer BBQ’s better
In all, cooking live is always challenging but working with professionals such as Stephanie Sandoval and the Sonoran Living Crew makes it all look easy! I’m already thinking about what to do the next time I’m invited onto the show.