Monday, June 22, 2009

Endless Sushi Summer

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2009 at 4:44 PM

sushi-color_copy.gif

Taxed by the high price of T-bones? Sick of the sickly pallor of industrial chicken? Bored with your usual kitchen routine? Looking for a way to make healthy, inexpensive, summer-friendly food? Want to get creative with your cuisine, and share your discoveries with salivating friends?

The answer to all these questions is sushi!

In my filing cabinet of graphic inspiration I've kept a sushi menu for several years. It offers an explosion of sushi treats photographed in all their glory—a graphic orgy of shapes and colors! Finally, a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to draw a sushi cartoon. Making the cartoon enticed me to experience sushi on a deeper level: to make it myself.

I watched the Iron Chef sushi battle on YouTube. Predictably, it was exciting. My first stop in the real world was 17th Street Market, where I was amiably led to the sushi section, across from the fish counter. In true Manga form, my rice bag sported a cartoon rice grain character with a drugged-out smile and a headband. He, she or it claimed to be "Using New Milling Technology." In fact, all the sushi products have great packaging. I dig how nori (seaweed) comes in sheets of various shapes and shades; it's like picking out fancy watercolor paper, though far less expensive!

I borrowed a sushi rolling mat for my first attempt, and my rice was a bit off, but I soon bought my own mat and perfected the rice by fine-tuning the timing of all the steps: rinsing, drying, boiling, simmering, sitting, fluffing and sitting again. Eventually, I could smile back with confidence at my Manga rice grain cartoon pal, knowing that I finally conquered him, her or it.

After my first timid carrot-avocado-cucumber-radish rolls, I branched out into eel, shrimp, omelets, raw tuna, daikon, mackerel, pineapple, mango, roasted sesame seeds and a paste I made out of egg yolks, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce and black pepper. I even boiled gourd shavings in soy sauce and water, watching them plump up into tapeworm-looking things.

I quickly became enamored with the whole concept of sushi. Beyond the visuals, it's one of those flexible cultural foods, like pizza or burritos. I mean, you can basically put anything on a pizza or in a burrito. They are formats that can be edited, amended and tweaked. Like all good art, sushi is variation on a theme.

I also loved the amount of time it takes to make sushi. It was meditative and calming. While doing the prep, I could pour a glass of wine and chill to some sweet tunes: Enigma, Red House Painters, The Dining Rooms ... even eating sushi—with chopsticks, of course—takes time. No wolfing down burgers here; rather, the act of selecting, admiring, dipping and eating one bite at a time. One regulates the wasabi, pickled ginger and sauce to her or his own taste buds, and is surprised and elated with each piece.

On Saturday, I had a sushi party. Starting at 6 a.m., I made about 200 pieces of sushi and had some neighbors and friends over. It was way better than a barbecue, and people were far less logy. Plus, the sushi itself makes a great conversation topic. A professional chef at the party stayed in the kitchen with me, looking over my shoulder and making me nervous at first. I politely mentioned the comforts of the living room and balcony, but he wouldn't leave the kitchen. Sushi relaxes people, though, and soon, I was teaching him my rolling technique, and he was teaching me the right way to hold a knife. I was slicing sashimi, and he was rolling futomaki, and all was right in the world.

Now, I'm doing a series of colored-pencil drawings of imaginary sushi which will no doubt provide me with weeks of further contemplation, peace and hopefully some money.

Is there anything sushi can't do?

Tucson on the Big Screen

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2009 at 4:03 PM

According to a release from the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau, Tucson is featured in two films opening this week. First up is Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which opens on Wednesday, June 24. The film shot in Tucson last Oct. 8 and 9 at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Boneyard and the Tucson International Airport.

On Friday, June 26, Away We Go opens. This film shot here last June 2-6 and features the JW Marriott Starr Pass and Tucson Mountain Park.

BMX and Skateboards: Can't We All Just Play Together?

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2009 at 12:53 PM

Obviously, the guys from Dinosaur Jr. have the concept down that BMX and skateboarders are fully capable of playing together in peace and harmony—so why can't they do the same thing in Tucson at the soon-to-open Albert Gallego Skate Park at Santa Rita Park? Last time we checked in with Mike Hines and his friend Chris Miracle, the two BMX enthusiasts were asking Tucson Parks and Recreation to consider allowing BMX.

Hines and Miracle have pointed out other skateboard parks that allow BMX at the same time, or during certain hours, such as in Mesa, where BMX and skateboard use occurs at the same time, or at Marana's skate park, with a day reserved just for BMX. The discussions with Parks and Rec went nowhere, except some advice that the BMXers begin their fundraising to build their own facility.

"No, they're not budging. They keep telling us to raise our own money and talk to our City Council members. I've talked to Steve Anderson, the ward supervisor of that district, and he doesn't see why we aren't allowed, but he hasn't done anything to help us, either. Peg Weber wants me to help plan something in the future, but we need a place right now. This whole thing is silly. Just let bikes in. Give it a trial period. If it doesn't work then they can at least say that. Oh well, hopefully we will make some noise," Hines wrote to the Weekly in a recent e-mail.

BMX riders of Tucson will get a chance to make that noise at a protest on Sunday, June 28.

According the schedule, protesters will meet at Brooklyn Pizza on Fourth Avenue from 9:30 to 10:15 a.m. (or meet at the park at 22nd Street and South Third Avenue at 11 am.). The group from Brooklyn will leave the restuarant at 10:30 a.m. and ride as a group to protest at the park at 11 a.m.

Hines says everyone is invited even if they don't ride BMX. There will also be a product toss and raffle from sponsors, such as Ajo Bikes and Broadway Bicycles). Proceeds from the raffle will go to the Kory Laos Foundation. Laos was killed while riding his BMX near a busy street close to the UA on May 4, 2007—two days before his 15th birthday. Friends and family contend Laos would be alive today if there was a place for him to ride, such as the Albert Gallego Skate Park at Santa Rita Park.

Now That's Italian

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2009 at 10:05 AM

What is great about Italian food—I mean really great Italian food—is its simplicity: A little tomato, a little olive oil, a little garlic, a little oregano, a little pasta and boom, you've got a fantastic meal.

What makes exceptional Italian food, though, is love.

If you've ever had the good fortune to be invited to dinner at the home of an Italian-American family, you know what I'm talking about. It's momma's-gonna'-pinch-your-cheek-and-tell-you, "Eat more - what, you don't like my food?" good.

When it comes to Italian restaurants, it's not that they have to make you believe you're part of the family. But I'll take a simple Italian place where they love their marinara so much that they simmer it for hours and feed the souls of their guests over an upscale place with fancy plate presentations any time.

Ascolese's Italian Restaurant, in the Samaniego House by the Tucson Convention Center, provided my girlfriend, her father and me that exceptional Italian experience for Father's Day last night.

Continue reading »

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sierra Club: "The Number of Just Terrible Bills Moving Through the Process Is Staggering"

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 10:21 PM

The latest bulletin from Sandy Bahr of the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club:

The Legislature has still not conveyed the budget to Governor Brewer, but rather than just wait until June 30, she has filed a lawsuit to compel them to send it to her. This lawsuit will be heard by the Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday. While the Legislature’s budget is truly bad, the Governor’s is not much better. Her budget includes provisions to undercut voter protected measures as well as a provision for further tying the hands of the legislature relative to the budget, often referred to as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). A TABOR provision in Colorado was a disaster for them and they later repealed it. We should just skip it altogether.

The number of bad bills as well as the number of just terrible bills moving through the process is staggering. I really thought they would let some of these bills die a natural death. Because of that, this update is again ungodly long. If are not interested in the schedule, please do take the time to contact your legislators on some of the bills listed first. Thanks!

This week please contact your Senator and ask him or her to oppose the following

Continue reading »

Father's Day Specials

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 2:22 PM

Here are a few Father's Day Specials that didn't make it into this week's Noshing Around. Father's Day is Sunday, June 21; reservations are highly recommended.

Barrio Grill (135 S. Sixth Ave.; 629-0191) will have a mesquite-grilled 18-ounce porterhouse topped with Tecate Cholula Vidalia onion rings and a baked potato stuffed with garlic, spinach, cheddar and sour cream ($30), or king crab legs in a citrus bouillon, served with basil infused butter ($32).

Chad's Steakhouse (3001 N. Swan Road; 881-1802) will have a New York strip, three Guaymas shrimp, beans, cheesy bread and ice cream ($19.95).

The Cup Cafe at Hotel Congress (311 E. Congress St.; 622-8848) will have steak and eggs ($12.50) or a cannibal omelet ($10.50) for breakfast; a pastrami burger ($10.50) and prosciutto grinder with Willcox tomatoes ($7.50) for lunch; and a grilled filet and stuffed onion ($24), pan seared trout ($17) or bourbon raspberry barbecue chicken ($18) for dinner.

At Maynards Market and Kitchen (400 N. Toole Ave.; 545-0577) it's a 12-ounce dry-aged Angus beef ribeye wrapped in bacon and a twice-baked potato, salad and a 22-ounce beer for $36. (Those dining with dad get $2 off their meal if dad orders this special.)

Jonathan's Cork (6320 E. Tanque Verde Road; 296-1631) has surf and turf ($35) and veal Oscar ($29).

Hifalutin Rapid Fire Western Grill (6780 N. Oracle Road; 297-0518) has a 12-ounce New York strip with fixings ($21.95).

Bluefin Seafood Bistro (7053 N. Oracle Road; 531-8500) has a Maine lobster, 6-ounce tenderloin and fixings ($35.)

And if you REALLY wants to treat dad to some killer barbecue this weekend, head over to Juneteenth Festival on Saturday, June 20, at Kennedy Park (3700 S. Mission Road). Boss Hogg—the barbecue outfit that's manned the grills at the festival for 39 years—will again work their magic this year, and they do not disappoint.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Where's the Heat?

Posted By on Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 8:22 PM

What I like about Tucson is the heat, and the weirdness that the heat brings.

But, where is the heat this year? I feel almost sane, and that's insane!

I should be two-cacti-to-the-wind by now. My eyeballs should be chaffing. My chaffing should be on fire. My mind should be a cheese-melt. Instead, it's been in the 90s. What is this, Encinitas?!

I want my mind bent! I want to hallucinate! I want heat waves; mirages!

Once, in June, the rear-view mirror of my 1980s Chrysler LeBaron flopped down from the heat; the grease in the ball joint simply lost its viscosity, and the damn thing went limp. And, once, my Tupperware utensils snapped in half. I couldn't believe it! I didn't think Tupperware (registered and trademarked) would simply snap in half.

This season, however, has brought wimp-weather! I can still ride my bike without thinking about skin cancer. It's been downright spring-like, and I'm hardly a prune. Is this symptomatic of Global Cooling?

Of course, by the time I finish writing this, it'll probably be 120 degrees, and I'll be walking around downtown, going insane, imagining a giant Day of the Dead martini glass full of antifreeze and tequila ... oh, yeah ...

Fire at ... a Fire Station?

Posted By on Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 10:21 AM

Friday morning update: Here's a pic, from P.K. Weis.
f52f/1245431905-burnedout83crpclrez.jpg

This just in, from the good folks up in Saddlebrooke:

At approximately 12:43AM this morning the Captain at Saddlebrooke Fire Station 373 was awakened by a popping sound coming from outside his bunk room. He opened his door to investigate and found the communications room at the front of the station fully involved in fire. Before he did anything else he alerted the rest of his crew at the other end of the station where they slept. The crew proceeded to the bay and the engines to prepare to fight the fire, and found the bay was also heavily involved in flame. There was insulation and debris falling on to the fire trucks and beginning to burn the hose and equipment on the truck. The crew quickly decided they needed to get the trucks out of the bay before any other efforts could take place. The fire had caused the power doors to fail and the engines had to be backed out of the rear of the station. It was then that the Dispatchers were alerted of the fire and additional Golder Ranch engines and equipment responded to the fire.

Additional units arrived within about seven minutes at which time the building was approximately 25% involved. Once firefighting operations were underway the fire was contained and under control in just over 30 minutes. There was extensive damage to the front of the building and bays, and the entire structure suffered smoke damage. The station will need extensive renovation to render it habitable again.

All crew members who had been asleep in the station got out safely and did not suffer any injuries throughout the ordeal. The quick thinking of the Captain to first alert his crew to safety was critical to the outcome of the event. The engines and other equipment had minor damage and will be returned to service as soon as the fire district mechanics release them.

The cause of the fire is under investigation at this time.

It should also be noted that Mr. Ed Robson of SaddleBrooke Development has offered 3 Villas for the crews to base out of so that there will be no loss of service and response time to the SaddleBrooke Community.

Temporary Station 373 will be located in the HOA #2 Villas near Holiday and Casual.

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@ Tucson Hop Shop Fri., Sept. 30, 2-11 p.m., Sat., Oct. 1, 12-11 p.m. and Sun., Oct. 2, 12-8 p.m. 3230 N. Dodge Blvd

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