OK, so 2016 has gotten a pretty bad rap this, well, year, mainly because it took so many celebrity lives. You know, Prince, Mrs. Brady, Snape, Princess Leia, her mom...and some others apparently. Yeah, that sucks when someone you admire and has been in your life for so long passes but for us here at the Homeskillet, we actually had a pretty banner year.
This was the year where this lil' dopey blog started to break, in a manner of speaking. We went from just a few hits to a bit more hits. That alone is reason to celebrate! Our likes on social media went to literally none to almost some. Hot doggers! And we owe our success to you guys, the readers, the followers and the believers.
Thank you for believing in the Tucson Homeskillet.
So to look back on a most eventful and delectable year, we compiled the most popular and talked about posts and how they all came about. This should be fun, right? Right.
2017 should be just as awesome if not more so because Metal Mark is now the new food guy for the Tucson Weekly. So we are up to the challenge of eating all of the foods. How thrilling!
Anyway, you ready to get this year in review thingy started? Because we are.
Cool. Here we go...
January started off with a bang as we gave you some suggestions on how to cure your hangover from various remedies across the globe which then segued into a piece about Metal Mark's lifelong obsession with the pastrami sandwich.
But the highlight and most hits came from our blog about the world losing both Lemmy from Motorhead and David Bowie. That was a big shock for everyone. Still is.
Okay, officially Lemmy died in 2015...ON METAL MARK'S BIRTHDAY! Yep. As the crew settled down for some birthday libations, the notice came out that Lemmy died and we all got even drunker than usual. Then as 2016 rolled in, Bowie called out. Not the best way to start a year.
So what we did was find recipes that were inspired by both iconic artists. David Bowie loved shepherd's pie and Lemmy loved cold spaghetti and we think we did alright with the recipes we found.
Not to mention we told you how to make the "David Bowie" cocktail and, of course, the Lemmy (Jack and Coke). This was a really fun post and we are so stoked that you liked it as much as we had fun writing about it.
We at the Homeskillet are far from being vegan but we do like delicious food and we do love us some Black Metal. So when Brian Manowitz (aka the Vegan Black Metal Chef) came out with his own cookbook you know we had to get our greedy mitts on this thing.
The recipes he supplies will make you forget you are eating a dish that has absolutely no animal products in them. With the use of spices, sauces and ingenious components, the Vegan Black Metal Chef takes you on a worldwide journey of flavor all the while invoking the darkness of foreboding lore at the same time being funny as all heck.
This is a cookbook that everyone needs but probably not everyone will get. We really can't see Aunty Myrtle cozying up to a recipe for aloo palak as the VBMC asks you to "stare into the abyss" while "unholy spirits" command you to add more ginger.
We love it, we love him and obviously you loved this post. Yay!
*insert wailing banshee shriek here, but...all happy like*
We literally just drove by this place on Stone Avenue and went "Whaaa?"
Not hearing anything about it; no notices or twitters, we slammed on the brakes, stepped inside and decided to see and eat for ourselves.
Luckily, Yogi's was awesome and we have been back a few times not just for their cuisine but for their vegetables and goods as well. This place rules and we are so happy that they are doing well.
The food at Yogi's is lighter than most other Indian restaurants in town, and that's what we love about it. Each dish just has a airy freshness to it and when you want to gorge or delicious Indian food (as we usually do) it's nice to come out of it feeling nourished as opposed to feeling like you want to food nap for a few hours.
So if you are in that area and have a craving for some delicious Indian food (as you should) step into Yogi's and say that you heard about them from the Tucson Homeskillet. Then the Bhati family will just look at you funny and be all "Um...sure."
Trust us here.
April was an awesome month. It was the month where we discovered Manna From Heaven Indian fry bread tacos, ate at the wildly overrated Blake's Lotaburger and explained why we don't like covering downtown eateries. There was a lot going on but the post that took the prize that month was our ode to the Omar sandwich.
The Sausage Deli offers up a ton of delectable treats served between bread but the Omar is an entity all its own. It sounds pretty simple when you break it down: turkey, salami, Swiss cheese, onions, peppers, mustard and Italian dressing, but when you bite into it you know you are eating something special.
We love the Omar so much we took it to the fair, for a beer, to an Iron Maiden concert and then finally let the Homeskillet's own compound cat, Lil' Poundcake, get in on the action.
It was a grand day out with one of the grandest sandwiches Tucson has to offer and we are so happy that you guys liked the post as well.
It is well known that we are food truck obsessed. Some of our best posts have been because of the efforts and cuisine from the various carts, trucks and trailers set up serving absolute deliciousness.
In May we confessed to our inclination to Bam Bam's Korean / Mexican fusion. Oh dear lord, is their food fantastic.
Owned and operated by Fernando Sanchez, a Tucson native that was raised in Mexico, he is able to meld together the tang, spice and elegance of two rather different regions only to fuse them into a savory journey that we still just can't get enough of. The tacos, the yakisoba noodle dishes the...everything, is just divine. We have yet to have a bad dish from him and his truck.
Lately Bam Bam can be found by the Flycatcher on 4th most nights, so when you're in the vicinity and need some amazingness in your life, Fernando will clearly set you up.
Our favorite go-to bar, Danny's, always gets a good supply of food trucks and we were lucky to feature a good amount of them for this site. But one truck that stood out for us was The Bronx Tale.
Run by the gentle giant of a man, Michael Eure, Bronx Tale dishes out some "New York" style BBQ and the few items he does offer are simply exquisite.
The ribs are saucy and fall apart at the bone, the pork sliders are tender and juicy but what we really fawn over is his catfish sliders.
Not too sure if it is the seasoning, the crunchy yet creamy slaw or what but these things are addictive. His mac 'n cheese is rich and heavenly as is his strawberry cornbread which we can't decide if it's a dessert or a meal unto itself. Doesn't matter.
So when you see the usually hidden red truck with the little sign that reads "BBQ", you need to pull over and get your face into that mess. And its a good mess. Its a New York saucy mess.
And thanks for reading and sharing this post. It was almost as fun writing about him as it was eating his food. Yum.
It was summertime and things were heating up, even though there wasn't a whole lot of new stuff to write about, food wise that was.
Luckily Tucson's own competitive eating champ Michelle "Cardboard Shell" Lesco hung out with us at Boca Tacos n Tequila and we chatted about what it takes to take down 40 hot dogs in 10 minutes, how one gets into the competitive eating circuit and how the heck does someone stay so skinny when they eat the Lindy's OMFG burger on a regular basis.
Michelle was awesome, we became good friends and best of all she invited us to come along and try to accomplish some of the other food challenges around town. We still have yet to take her up on it but perhaps in the new year we will be brave enough to take down a 5 lbs burrito or hot wings that register just off of the "are you fxxking kidding me" scale in Scoville units.
Don't give up on us Michelle. It's just that we need to train for those challenges just like you do before heading off to Coney Island for the Nathan's eating event.
Does drinking beer and marathoning old VH1 elimination game shows like "Rock of Love" and "America's Most Smartest Model" count as 'training'?
We hope so...
When we eat garbage food the general public seems to, um, eat it up. Every time we gather around to ingest sandwiches infused with flaming hot crap or seasonal shakes that taste like minty toothpaste, the few that click on this here blog go a little nuts.
This time we ate potato chips that were flavored like tzatziki, szechuan chicken, tikki masala and Brazilian spit meat. All we can say is that, well...it didn't go so great. Not that we didn't have fun trying them, we sure did, but the flavor combos on those chips were like dusty, curdled waves of horror. But that's the nature of the food blogging biz. Sometimes you eat the deliciousness and then sometimes you eat the toilet that the delicious food eventually winds up in.
Luckily for us we were able to hand off these bags of crispy swill to some rather intoxicated suckers, uh....customers down at the end of the bar and leave with a scant amount of dignity.
Don't try this at home kids. Leave the garbage food eating to the pros...
And speaking of garbage food. Holy god forsaken crap for crap!
The friggin' Whopperito.
We ate two of these things. We are not proud of it. We went a little insane.
Can we move on from this one please?
Can we move on from this one please?
It's always sad to see one of your favorite places to grab a bite to eat totally eat it. 2016 was fraught with all sorts of closures and we tracked down a few and told you our feelings about them.
We were totally convinced that the Orenccio's fast casual concept on Campbell Ave would make it but it shut down like a week after opening with a cease and desist note on the front door. Yikes.
Tokyo Rice Bowl was awesome as was Cali Grill (sometimes) but the one we are totally fine with being gone was La Fuente because, man, we never had a good experience there. Sorry, we know it was open for many years but the food will not be missed.
Hopefully 2017 will be a little more forgiving on some of our favorite eateries, unless its that place where we ate the "Best Burger and Burrito in Tucson" because that poo hut has got to go.
November kind of slowed down a bit because of the oncoming holidays, Metal Mark going full throttle with the Tucson Weekly and various other distractions. We did get a chance to review the new cookbooks from Marcus Samuelsson and Anthony Bourdain, which was cool, but the one post in November that garnered a ton of hits (aka, more than 23) was our votes on who should have gotten the Best Of in Tucson.
Not to knock his new gig but every year the Tucson Weekly puts out the "best of" which is totally voted by the reading public. A lot of the winners were fine but a big majority, especially in the food and eating department, we just had to speak up against and give our nods to.
It just feels as if a majority of readers vote for the same ol' places because its what they know and its what they are comfortable with. Now that Tucson is a food destination and the first official "US city of gastronomy", the way we eat and how it is served up is changing...big time.
So look back and see what you think. Thank you again for all of the shares and comments.
To round out a most sumptuous year we hung out with our good pal Erik "Chili" Hulten and his hot dog cart the Sausage Fest. This guy not only runs our home away from home but he comes up with some enticing combos and fits it all on some squishy buns.
Anyway, so the next time you are at Danny's or various events about town you need to stop by the Sausage Fest and eat one of his creations that usually involve lots of bacon, IPA infused 'kraut, fried green tomatoes, his secret chili (hence the nickname) and most importantly Chili's house made pickles. So good and such a good guy.
Thanks again for making 2016 a fantastic, fun and food filled year. We are looking forward to another year of eating, drinking and writing all about it.
You guys rule.
Camera, Typing and Looking Back
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
New Years Eve, 2016