The Breadfruit (Phoenix)

When I was still in the infant stages of planning our Phoenix road trip, I was surprised to find a few recommendations of a Jamaican restaurant on a well-known food board I frequent. It also has vegan friendly dishes on the menu. And it has a connecting rum bar that boasts of having the largest selection of rum in the west? With all that going for it, I couldn’t think of a reason not to dine there.

The entrance to the restaurant is through the bar. Upon entering the bar, you see two bartenders in that ubiquitous Cocktailian costume, and an impressive number of shelves displaying dimly lit bottles of exotic rum. The bartender, who also functioned as the hostess asked if we had reservations. No, we did not. After a few minutes of waiting while she fiddled with the computer, she led us through the small bar into the restaurant area. It was small, and it had plenty of tables free. It always amuses me when restaurants ask for a reservation and make it seem like they’re fully booked, when in fact, they are not.

After we were seated, the waitress presented us the food and cocktail menus, stooped into a squat and began a long tale about the cocktail program, the food, and the lore of The Breadfruit. I kid you not. I thought we were in an episode of Portlandia. When we finally got to the ordering part, we had already decided on drinks, appetizers, and mains.

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I easily convinced Will to get a Hemingway daiquiri (not shown) while I got an interesting sounding beet cocktail. It had beet juice, nutmeg, pimento, basil and was garnished with sorrel. It was an unconventional combination, but it tasted wonderful and strange at the same time. It was a thoughtful drink that made me look forward to the rest of my meal.

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We shared a dish of fried plantain eggrolls, which was a little on the sweet side. The fried plantains were great, but the sweetness of the mango chutney was too much on top of it. I would have preferred something more sour to cut down on the cloying, rich sweetness of the eggrolls.

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Will got some sort of vegetarian chicken curry which smelled and tasted great. It had a decent amount of spice without being spicy. The rice and beans he ordered as a side were flavorful and savory with a hint of thyme.

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My mussels in a red curry sauce was similarly tasty. The broth was acidic and spicy in all the right places. I spooned some of this delicious broth onto my rice and beans at the end and declared it a success.

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As a second drink, Will ordered a Gin Rummy which was Appleton White, juniper berries, ginger root, cucumber, and ting. That was a manly man’s drink to be had while lounging around at the beach. The juniper berries gave it quite a punch. It tasted a little too much like aftershave for me to drink with dinner, but I can see myself sipping on the cool beverage when it’s 98F out — which it was in Phoenix.

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For dessert, Will got the sweet potato pudding, which was more like a sweet potato pie topped with shredded coconut. Without the whipped cream, it was vegan. Very cinnamon-y and comforting, if you like the taste of cinnamon.

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Despite being pretty full, I couldn’t turn down the creme brûlée. It was creamy, sweet, topped with rum-infused cherries, and had a surprise at the bottom: a syrupy, sweet slice of pineapple. I liked each creamy spoonful with the ginger crumble on the side.

When we were thinking of Phoenix, we did not imagine we’d find such a delightful Jamaican restaurant. I could see this type of place thriving in LA, but it was a nice surprise to see it in a city like Phoenix. It will definitely be on my list of places to recommend when someone asks, “Where should I go to eat in Phoenix?”

Interestingly enough, there was no breadfruit on the menu. Maybe it was the wrong season for breadfruit in Phoenix.

The Breadfruit
108 East Pierce Street Phoenix, AZ 85004
(602) 267-1266

Gold Standard 2012

On this lovely 80+ degree day in Los Angeles, I was invited to attend the Gold Standard 2012 (thanks Jonathan!).  I was lucky enough to be the first one to be denied parking in the Peterson Auto Museum parking lot, thanks to the car in front of me who kept letting other people into the lot. Thanks a lot, guy!  After finding an illegal spot in an empty lot nearby (woohoo, free, risky parking!) I hoofed it to the entrance while the VIPs were still getting their wrist-bands.

The event started off well with a light appetizer from Tsujita.  I thought it would be risky of them to serve nigiri in a setting such as this, but both pieces tasted fresh and they didn’t skimp on the presentation.

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Some highlights of the event:

DSC_8415The Salt Cure’s crostini with pate, pickled onion, and mustard

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Mozza’s Budino, which is every bit as good as it is at the restaurant.

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Little Dom’s smoked oyster
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I was also happy to see restaurants giving their booths some personality to distinguish from each other.  I especially liked the tree of happy people from Mo Chica and the made-to-order spoonfuls of bean stew with smoked salmon skin from another restaurant.

DSC_8436Mo-chica’s booth where people are getting refreshments

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A hearty bean stew topped with crunchy salmon skin

I wasn’t able to sample everything since I’m only one person and my stomach can only hold so much food, but of the food that I did taste, none of it seemed worse for wear because of the weather.  Once more people started filing in, it was getting close to roasting in the indoor area, so I gulped down some ice-cream, an iced-coffee, and tried to cool down outside.

Since Jonathan Gold is moving on to the LA Times, this is probably his last year doing the event for the Weekly.  Who knows what’s going to happen next year. Maybe there won’t be a Gold Standard 2013. If that were the case, I’m glad I attended this last hurrah.

A full set of pictures from the Gold Standard 2012 can be found here

Holiday Latkes and a Taco Party

Latkes have a special place in my heart because it was one of the first things Will cooked for me.  Plus, they’re deep fried potatoes and how can I not love that?  We usually have a Chanukah party sometime in December, but because it falls so late this year and people get more busy the closer it gets to Christmas, we decided to skip it.  But that doesn’t mean we have to skip the latkes!

DSC_8263Chanukah Latkes with Christmas Beer

The next night, our friend Yuko invited us over to watch Top Chef. This evolved into grabbing dinner, which then evolved into a taco party. Freshly made tortillas and home-made filling made this party a success! The food was so good, I completely forgot to build a food-porn plate under her excellent kitchen lighting and just stuffed my face instead. Top Chef is always better when watched on a full stomach and sipping an armanac side car.

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