Monday, May 25, 2015


The Tucson Homeskillet reports on the AZ Bacon Festival.

Bacon is mutilation!

So far the third installment of the Arizona Bacon Fest ( was off to a good start as that was the first thing we heard when we exited the car. Expecting to see a rag tag group of pasty protesters, gallant in their blonde dreadlocks and a reeking of a backlash decade’s long soy bender, what I got was a small group of tanned folk, ethnicity unknown as I was walking too fast to get a fair glimpse, dressed in what appeared to be their Sunday best or perhaps a fancy day out at their local Wal-Mart. I didn’t get it. I mean, I understand your convictions of consuming delicious meat, ripped and torn un-voluntarily from penned dumb animals and sold for our general consumption at your local market, but, jeeze man….this is the Bacon Festival. In Arizona mind you. Wild banditos and bikers high on methane and cheap swill don’t take kindly to piddly antics coming from fairly well dressed protesters such as yourselves. It was a good thing that the small band of baconphobes were slightly hidden and yelling their beliefs from behind the shells of 1980 era Chevys, hopefully knowing darn well that some muscle freak named Toad would not take kindly someone demeaning his favorite snack and his sweaty meat rage would take effect and a beating to those who think that collecting honey from bees is somehow a form of “rape” would be a most unpleasant yet fulfilling sight. 
So we kept on, me yelling the slightly rude “Tasty, tasty mutilation!”, as we grabbed our passes and made our way into the cured pork fray.

Let's do this!

This year’s AZ Bacon Fest was held at Kino Park (, 2500 E Ajo Way, Tucson, AZ) which is usually home to the baseball team the Tucson Padres; a team so feared and admired at the same time that at one instance they managed to sell out almost half the stadium when they played a likeminded team from Las Vegas. It was a veritable shut out, 1-2, with the Padres winning and a crowd member went mildly wild seeing as he had some cash riding on the event and his bar tab was close to $100. It’s a very green field. Not just the grass but it’s the seats, the backboards and a sort of “green monster” tribute, giving nod to an actual baseball field to an actual baseball team out in the reaches of Boston.

When we arrived a few minutes after the doors opened at 6pm, the field view from the top tier made it appear sparse with attendees. We could see the perimeter of the field lined with food and beer vendors, we could hear the echoing strains of a band covering “You Can Go Your Own Way” and the tented VIP area in the center filled with food judges and those that shelled out $125 to sit in said area who also received a special beer holder that you wrap around your neck allowing you to eat freely while not having to juggle your beer sample or, god forbid, put it on the ground for a second. But as we descended the steep stairs through the seats and bleachers, which were already dotted with large people that couldn’t complete the lengthy jaunt (this is a bacon festival keep in mind, Jillian Michaels did not RSVP I take it) or those that were already too drunk to stand erect on a soft grassy field. Which got me to thinking: Did folks actually pre-party before coming to the Bacon Festival, a place where free beer is doled out at every other kiosk? That would be madness. That is the same mentality as doing a bunch of blow before entering the great Illinois Cocaine Jamboree, an event where you literally stand on a giant mirror, are handed a straw that can extend up to 5 feet and Roombas set on ‘reverse’ that poop out fat lines all night long and food vendors have been replaced by chew toys and the band covers nothing but death metal. 

Bacon wrapped shrimp...we're off to a promising start

The crowd was bigger than I had anticipated, a thick maw of Tucson’s finest, Tucson’s service industry that got free tickets and dotted with those that seemed to have saved up for this because at $50 a pop just to get in, there sure were a lot of bad faded tattoos, scruffy midriffs, neo-gangster attire and confused looks as to what to do or where to go. Most of them congregated in tight groups, holding desperately onto their 2oz plastic beer mugs, shivering from a gusty late afternoon breeze asking each other what ‘pork belly’ was. 

Well...this line isn't too bad. I guess.

“It’s like bacon,” I overheard one dude say wearing an Insane Clown Posse shirt. “Only different. It’s sort of like bacon, but on a different level.”

He was right actually. It’s the same region here in America, but it is a completely different cut and cure method. Then I got the food knowledge shivers. Is everything here at the “Bacon Festival” going to be pork belly, that fatty and trendy pork product that neo-hipsters put in everything? Even before trying anything I started to get upset. So I calmed myself down, got us two beers and stood in line for…something.

That's not pork belly is it? It's bacon! Yes please...

That was one of the first things we noticed: We really didn’t know who was here and what they were serving. Sure on the website they give a few hints, like Mama’s Hawaiian BBQ, Lindy’s and Augustin Kitchen, but there were clearly more than the ten or so restaurants lining the stadium than was listed on the homepage. A map would have been nice. It became clear, quite quickly, that attendees were subject to their own plight and would just have to stand in line to see what was at the other end. 

We were lucky to get food from these guys. So good...

As we scanned the whole festival that was another factor that we were hit with: Lines. The whole field was awash with people standing there trying to get a gaze as to what they were queueing up for in the first place. My initial impression of the Bacon Festival was that of one filled with open pits of fire, large manly grills sizzling with twisting meats and bacon literally filling the Southern Arizona sky as patrons partook in an orgy of cured pork gastronomy and got high from the levels of smoke and smoke brined flesh and fat that would eventually give them a sweaty hangover for days to come.

Nope. Just lines.

After grabbing a much needed beer from the Sierra Nevada booth ( we were lucky to find a food tent that wasn’t too busy. Unfortunately they were too busy playing catch up on their food samples to tell me who they were and what they were serving up, seeing as there was no signage indicating such, we grabbed a cup of whatever they were dishing up and dug in. Mind you, there isn’t a whole lot of “digging in” since these are just samples and tastings of their wares but….you get the picture. 

Delicious mystery bacon soup from a mysterious vendor

It was a spicy and really delicious bean and bacon soup with huge cuts of the meat sticking out of the tasty broth. Oh man. Nevermind what I was just thinking. If the food at the Bacon Festival is in this ilk, then we are going to be fine. Man it was tasty. So much that we went back for seconds. Who are these guys?

Next up we found a quaint and slightly busier venture called Evolve that were serving up some bacon wrapped burger realness. Again, the taste and quality was amazing. The bacon that surrounded the ground chuck was thick and dripping on my hands with pork fatty goodness.  Like the first booth we ate from, I wanted seconds but the burgers were going fast seeing as more and more people were walking down the steps and onto the field. At 6:30pm, the Bacon festival was starting to get busy. 

Chef Jay layin' it down...

Luckily I had a chance to speak with the owner of Evolve, Chef Jay, who informed me that they are a new startup and plan on changing the way we eat locally here in Tucson, especially with the meat. That’s a tall order seeing as our fair and dusty little hamlet is already a boon to the “farm to fork” concept with our thriving local merchants, seed libraries, orchards, co-ops and so on. But I had to give props to Chef Jay as his burger concept was one of the best I have had in Tucson. Then he scampered off because they were running out of food and the line was growing longer.

Just as we were coming down from our pre-conceived judging of the event after ingesting a few delicious samples of food, we were immediately met with another obvious oversight.

The trash.

This was only the beginning...

There was literally one trash barrel to every, say, three to four vendors, all of which were cranking out samples of food and beer at a, now, alarming rate. It was as if we had to play Trash Jenga to not litter the grounds so much. I was actually impressed at the levels of balance ingenuity the eaters and drinkers had at this stage. But it would only get worse and by close to 7pm, Kino Stadium was pretty packed.

At this still fairly early stage of the event, the grounds were now a swirling mélange of bacon goers and the lines were teetering on the idea of ludicrous speed. So much in fact we would just walk up to the table and ask what they were serving up before enduring a tummy grumbling wait.

“Well, what we have for you today is a pork belly…”
“Today we are serving up a pork infused….”
“This is a pork belly terrine with…”
And, my personal favorite: “This is a pulled pork sandwich.”
That’s it? Is it mixed with bacon? Is there a bacon jam? Is the sauce a sort of bacon marinade? Tell me kind sir….is there bacon in your pulled pork sandwich?
A dead stare. “No.”

Another line? C'mon!

So people are waiting for at least a half hour, if not more, to bite into something that isn’t even mingled or even near bacon. At a bacon festival. Unreal. Pork does not automatically equal bacon, especially pork belly. What was most disappointing was a Tucson favorite helmed by a local “celebrity” chef that were handing out tiny pork belly banh mi sandwiches. Now, this came as a particularly funny prospect as I had just written an article on the banh mi sandwich (a Vietnamese creation featuring a savory protein, usually pork, ironically, on a soft roll including jalapenos, cilantro and the like) and more than half of the restaurants that I featured in banh mi piece used pork belly. It got boring really quick. So it felt to me that this hot shot chef was all, “Oh. Bacon fest. Again? So soon? Okay, um…what’s everyone else doing? Pork belly? Sounds good. What’s that popular brunch place do with pork belly? A banh mi! Let’s do that…”

This is getting ridiculous...

Then this started happening.

Wait. We just got here.

At around the7:30/8pm mark, almost half of the vendors went dark due to running out of food. I really wanted to try a jalapeno bacon sushi roll but they were dry. There was yet another that was already packing it in because they had made a few hundred samples of some bacon….thing, and sold out. Did the vendors not keep up with ticket sales or was the “Bacon Festival” the sort of food-served-for-an-hour-then-its-all-beer-drinking-from-there type of congress? I couldn’t figure it out. 

It sounded good but....oh well.

Stopping by the ever amazing Lindy’s (, 431 N 4th Ave, Tucson, AZ) I found the owner and namesake Tweeting on his phone.
“Dude,” Lindy said, “I had fifteen hundred bacon wrapped pork Sonoran hot dogs…we sold out in an hour. Unreal.”

1500 Sonoran dogs. I don’t blame Lindy at all because that sounds prepared. Obviously when folks hit the turf they ran to where they knew they would get their money’s worth but those that even lagged a bit behind were met with the man himself Instagraming his success and amazement at the rapid rate his wares were handed out and then gone. 

Lindy posting about his 1500 samples gone in an hour

Luckily I did get to try the crabcakes with bacon aioli from Elliott’s (, 135 E. Congress Street Tucson, AZ) and Mama’s Hawaiian BBQ (, various locations across Arizona) which served up a tropical bacon wrapped pineapple feat, both of which were entirely delicious, savory and, thankfully, available. 

Elliott's crabcakes with bacon aioli was bomb

Okay, now that I had a bit of food in me and a few more beers, I started to settle down and relax. Sure it was crowded, sure the band was meandering on in A.M. lite rock expectancy and, yeah, a bunch of restaurants and food emporiums were shutting down, but it was a beautiful night, I ran into a few friends and my meat and beer buzz was afloat so I decided to ride out the rest of the festival with judgment free aplomb.

But that ended rather quickly.

The crowd, who for the most part appeared to be the Bud/Miller/Coors Lite drinking mob, were subject to sucking down beer that was far and above the 2 or 3% ABV (alcohol by volume) they were used to. Most of the beer they were sampling were in the 7 to 9% APV and the effects were starting to reveal itself. 

I can't believe my favorite brewery and beer was here!

They were getting louder. Some were falling down. Other retreated to the seats to pass out. There was some bro-tastic yelling and their dates yodeling the obligatory “Wooo!” As darkness approached, the seething mass was gurgling with apparent intoxication and now the Bacon Festival had transformed itself into a Beer Farts and Caterwauling Extravaganza. Leather garbed bikers emerged from out of nowhere asking “I wonder if there’s bacon beer!” Only later did I find the Harley Davidson tent so I’m sure certain “clubs” were given free passes and now they cohabitated, briefly, with fraternal drunkards that swayed in the gentle night air and to the band squeaking out a version of “Night Moves”. 

Do you know any Slayer?

Then through the night sky, a cloud emerged. At first I thought it could be Tucson’s lazy ruling on pot smoking laws….but no. It was the terrible whiff of cheap cigars, coming from somewhere in the center lanes. Walking by there I found a vendor selling El Ropo style cigars to beer soaked wannabe mack daddy kids that think by donning a smoldering turd in your mouth you are automatically a playa in a rap video being shot in slow motion. Mixed with piling trash, beer puke and desperation, the smell had overcome my short lived giddy mood and I knew the time had come to call it. 

*cough* Gross...

We mashed our way out, giving away our unused beer tickets to random friends that we passed and were eventually set free in the glorious fresh air above the regaling territory below. 

Bye buster Felicia...

“See you next year!” toned one of the gate keepers in a chittery inflection as we exited. I’m not too sure about that, I thought to myself.

The Arizona Bacon Festival isn’t terrible, but it is a work in progress. Obviously the good people of Tucson and the surrounding areas are willing to shell out a good amount of hard earned dough to eat fatty pork products and drink endless supplies of stiff ales and lagers, but the execution that we were witness to needs a bit of stitching up. 

I can't explain the terror we felt.

Vendors need to step up their supply game and work in communicating with the organizers. Staff up the event, hire volunteers and for craps sake get more trash cans. I mean, for real. There were times where it felt we were in the middle of a garbage strike and to deal with the grim reality of smelly piles all around us those in power decided to throw a bar-be-que and beer picnic to ease the pain. It wasn’t bad it just wasn’t…great. Maybe next year as the lady had prescribed to us.

Maybe next year.

Luckily there was an In-N-Out on the way home and consuming a double-double made things right. But to leave a bacon carnival hungry? C’mon. I just wished there was more pork in my belly when we left.

Wait a minute….

Camera and Typing by

Metal Mark

May 2015 

Metal Inspiration
Cannibal Corpse, "Eaten Back To Life" 
Listen to it here: 

Friday, May 22, 2015

So how come there hasn't been any HOMESKILLET posts lately?

"Yeah man. You just restarted this thing. You said you were going to post new stuff like all the time. It's been a while. One lousy piece about you eating tacos and donuts on south 6th avenue and now....nothing? What gives? Like did you kill The Homeskillet before it even had a chance to live? C'mon Metal Mark...I thought you were better than that."

Well, yes, I am, and The Homeskillet is still set to be one of the best food / eating / metal blogs out there, it's just that I unfortunately had a bit of a set back.

Let's should I phrase this? I know, with a simple visual explaining everything:

Yup. Just the other day as I was composing an email, the old rig went ker-plunk and now I wait as a new one arrives.

It was my Dad's laptop, the one that I brought home after he passed. I sort of had this romantic notion of writing and doing massive creative stuff on his laptop but, truth is, that thing was pretty old and when Windows decided to eat itself, it was sort of like him saying, "I appreciate the gesture and offer kid need a new laptop to do The Homeskillet on."

There are tons of photos and outlines on the old one so when the new computer arrives I'm gonna dump the old hard drive onto the new one and start all over.

Trust me here kids: The Tucson Homeskillet has a long way to go and a lot of fun stuff is in the works. Just be patient and there will be TONS of food and Metal coming you way.

In the meantime, let ol' Napalm Death here explain how the old laptop is right now:


- Metal Mark

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Headbangers Day Out: Metal Mark explores South 6th Avenue!

“What’s the big deal,” you might ask. “Lots of people go to south 6th avenue all the time. So what if you did? Big whoop. This article is lame. The stupid Homeskillet should have stayed dead. Nice work Metal Mark!”

Okay, the big deal for me travelling out for a day to explore the eateries and fooderies of south 6th avenue is thus: I honestly don’t get out much. For realizes. If I’m not on some assignment or am meeting someone or have to get my leg amputated at a specific location that is out of my, say, 2 or 3 mile comfort zone, you can usually find me somewhere midtown Tucson hiding at home or in a neighborhood bar. That’s it. My day job is within a 15 minute walking distance from home, my wife’s job is the same, our friend’s bar is up the street; there are good burgers and tacos within spitting distance and downtown Tucson just bores and annoys me.  So why leave?

Well, after much razzing from friends and coworkers asking me if I had been to this taqueria on 6th or have you been to this place on 6th or did you get a cake at so and so on 6th or can you drive my grandpa to this brothel on 6th because it’s his birthday and Shelly (the one with the red hair and gout) only works Thursday afternoons so can you do me a solid?, I just decided to hop into our trusty hooptie one day in search of the perfect taco and see what all the fuss was all about. On south 6th avenue. But it’s so far away!
Alright fine….I’ll do it.

Okay, first order on hand was to get things in order. I mapped out my route that would thrust me into the depths of Mexican food heaven, according to various pals and reviews on Yelp and Urbanspoon, then made sure I had enough cash, picked out which pair of black hightop Vans I would wear (I chose the slightly older ones with scuff marks from a recent DRI show at The Rock because I knew I was going into some possible questionable territory or at least an area that I assumed was “Tucson casual”) and got in the car.

My first stop was a well-received food truck called Taco Fish (corner of Grant and 6th on a dirt lot across the street from some used tool depot) mainly because I really hated the name so much. I mean….Taco Fish? Maybe I’ll start my own roach coach and call it Burger Beef or Pizza Cheese or something dumb like that. But relying on the raves from random Yelpers I just had to find out for myself what all the talk was about. So I did what I always do to a new place: I ordered the signature dish.

A beautiful day for some deep fried fish tacos!

“Two tacos de pescado please!” Um, that would be the fish tacos if you don’t speak en espanol. Not long after my order did I receive a heavy cardboard bowl crammed with two fish tacos piled high with slaw. I added some heat from the salsa bar in the center of the cafeteria area and dug in.

So cheap. So good...

Oh. Oh yeah. I see what you guys on food review sites are talking about. The fish, pacific cod, was deep fried to absolute perfection, breaded and seasoned simply and fantastically with a bright vinegar slaw that brought it all together. It was right then and there that I felt bad for hating on the food cart’s name so much and decided that I would be a forever devotee to all things Taco Fish.

I could have eaten like 12 of these things...

The tacos were so good I really wanted to eat the second one, but knowing I still had a full day of sampling south 6th avenue food ahead of me and the fact that sharing means caring, I wrapped the other one up and delivered it to my wife She-Ra up at Old Chicago on Campbell Ave. She was busy and would have to eat it later, which made me feel bad because something this fresh and divinely fried should be eaten immediately. So I scampered off, back onto 6th avenue, driving toward my next destination.

(An hour later I would get a text that read “OMG. Even after an hour this taco is the shit!” There just might be a little magic in that old fish taco after all…)

A few miles down the 6th avenue stretch, I finally came to Taqueria Pico de Gallo (2618 South 6th Ave) and was very excited to sample their goods. Now this place has been embedded in me that the food here is amazing. Over and over folks have convinced me that the tacos at Pico de Gallo were some of the best in Tucson, if not Arizona. Reliable sources mind you, not just some Johnny come dorkly who thinks Hot Pockets are “kind of like tacos….if you think about it”, but those who know food and know how to eat it. So I went in, ordered three tacos (pork, chicken and beef) and waited patiently yet with a flutter of giddy anticipation.

Okay. Looks promising...

First off, Pico de Gallo is a fairly unassuming place. The exterior basically matches the interior: no non-sense, down home, utilitarian yet kind of funky. What was immediately arresting upon entering was the comeliness of the girl behind the counter who took my order. It seemed that the low tech atmosphere of the place did no service to the product which has to be quite fiscally abundant in order to attract someone that was, well, that attractive. I’ve only seen girls that structurally “hot” in busy corporate sports bars or  cafes next to a Latina modelling agency. I felt like an old perv at times when I caught a glimpse of her, so I tried to divert my attention by looking around or pretending to check my phone.

The tacos finally arrived, I grabbed a table and went for it. The first bite of the chicken taco wasn’t….bad, but it wasn’t great. So I bit into the beef taco. Okay. Nothing to write my mom about using a quill and parchment paper to be sent by carrier bird, but okay. Then the pork. Kind of the same. Each had a distinct flavor, of course, seeing as they are all different proteins, but there wasn’t a real sock to the jaw and tongue pizazz that I was sort of expecting. They tasted like tacos. Just tacos. The salsa was decent pico de gallo and the tortillas were nice, but that was really about it.

Should've had those 12 fish tacos instead...

Was I full of preamble hype about the food at Pico de Gallo, enough for me to make assumptions that, no matter what, the tacos here are mind blowing and will encourage me to get on a bended knee, propose to the (much too young for me) pretty girl on the other side of the counter and risk getting murdered by She-Ra because the flavor is just that fantastic? Maybe. But I also think that some kids out there like their tacos like this: good and safe. Perhaps I came on an off day, one where the chef was like “You know what I hate doing? Making tacos. So instead of pouring my heart into the construction of the perfect taco, I’m serving up straight bullshit today.”

And the bullshit was pretty good. It just wasn’t great. Sorry Pico de Gallo, especially you la chica picante counter mujer. If you’re reading this, don’t tell my wife.

Now, if any of you know me, you might know that I have a serious love for Food City. For those that don’t know, Food City is an Arizona chain of supermarkets with the Latino community as their focus, with great deals, awesome produce and specialty products you probably will not find at major corporate markets. Like Fud. Do you know what Fud is? It’s a brand of cotija cheese. Wait, do you know what cotija cheese is? Than why are you reading this silly blog? Go to Food City, get some Fud and sprinkle that stuff all over your tacos and enchiladas. Trust me here. The Homeskillet will still be here when you’re done.


Thing is, Food City sells their own brand of tortillas, ones that I have been eating regularly since moving to Tucson ten years ago from California, and there is only one place where they make it. Can you guess where it is? Don’t you love reading dumb blogs that ask even dumber questions? Like I’m here writing this, asking the question and then waiting to get your answer as if the internet and my laptop have some kind of time portal connection and I hear you answer “Huh?” like that book Harry Potter wrote in to talk to Tom Riddle. Wait, where is this going? Ah yes.

That’s right; it’s the big Food City on South 6th Avenue (2950 S. 6th Avenue)! For me, coming to the main store in Tucson was like visiting the holy temple of hot peppers and deep fried pork skin, aka chicharrones. It was like I was home. A big home blasting Tejano music where sketchy banditos were buying cheap cases of Tecate, unattended children ran rampant eating bags of gummy chili sprinkled candy and this old bent woman was singing some Spanish song loudly to a woman who was bagging up bunches of cilantro. You don’t get action like this at Safeway or Albertsons. To me, Food City is like a Piggly Wiggly gone mad on tequila, who knocked up your sister then decided to serve up reasonable products at a reasonable rate while jamming to Los Tigres del Norte.

Excuse me....are you hiring?

There’s nothing big to report here. I just like Food City and watching the tortillas being made right before me just got me to thinking: I will be eating you soon my flat round little buddies. Oh yes. Soon. Maybe I’ll just climb over the wall here, grab a few then… Oh hello mister security guard. Me? Nope. Just taking some pictures of the tortillas. And then moving along…

Marinated pollo el Food City? Si por favor!

Here’s the thing. I have a bunch of Latino pals and those that know and appreciate my affection for Food City hipped me to an even greater mecca on south 6th: El Super.

“You’ve never been to El Super?”, my buddy asked, sounding confused. “Dude, if you like Food City so much, you need to make a pilgrimage to El Super homes. It’s like a ghetto AJ’s (a very upscale expensive supermarket with sushi chefs and sommeliers running around in ambient light) but instead of a fancy wine list you can get like bags of pigs feet for a dollar.”

Why did I not know about this place?

A ghetto AJ’s? Pigs feet for a dollar? Sir….you had me at El.

And he wasn’t kidding! El Super (3372 S, 6th Ave) is indeed a bustling haven for Mexican food, products, produce and people. Literally, I was the only Caucasian there and that alone made me feel at ease knowing I was in for an authentic treat. The meat and fish counter were sprawling and glistening, hot pork rinds simmered under ancient heat lamps, rows and rows of pickled and bottled who knows what the heck that is and a produce section that rivals any Food City I’ve ever been to. Sorry Food City, I still love you and all but…El Super has a cheese lady doling out free samples of queso so, please don’t take it too personal.

Come to papi...

El Super actually reminded me of a Latino version of HEB (, this incredible supermarket in Texas that I dream about when I am away from, which is quite often sadly enough. HEB has food demos going at all hours, have their own sushi counter (but not as stuck up as whack ass AJ’s) and just plumes with a certain life that can only come from a store so packed with endless possibilities one wonders if the dream ever come to an end. I certainly hope not. El Super is just that kind of radness which is why I felt so welcome there.

Landscape of tomatillos...
When were these baked? Last week? I'll take the lot...

So I left, exhilarated, enlightened, alive yet still a bit grumbly in the tumbly which brings me to my final stop on my day exploring south 6th Avenue.

 I’ll let you in on a little secret of mine. Alright, it’s not really a secret, it’s more of a preference. Even with all of my food obsession; cooking it, eating it and writing about it, I really don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Honestly, I never really did. When I was a kid and all of my friends were spending allowance money on Now and Laters, Whatchamacallits and Ding Dongs, I was spending my hard earned kid cash at the local deli, sucking down pastrami sandwiches and canoodling with dill pickles the size of my face.

Sweets just aren’t my bag so when Le Cave’s Bakery (1219 South 6th Ave) was recommended to me I was hesitant. Le Cave’s has a serious following and a big history, first opening up in 1935, so I decided to give my nearly nonexistent sweet tooth a workout and see what all the hype was about.
When I first walked in I was struck with a feeling of antiquity. The space is sparse; just a counter with donuts and baked goods behind glass and an area in the back to create such items. Yet it had the look and feel, and smell, of a bakery that has seen its fair share of varied customers throughout the years and an aura of something you’d notice in a 1950’s postcard advertising the place with the note “You don’t need a lot of ‘dough’ to eat at La Cave’s” scrawled on the front.

Bakery? Psssh! Metal Mark is a deli man I tell you...

It was empty except for me and the girl behind the counter. Knowing this place has been around for almost a century, I had to ask if it even gets busy here.

“Oh yeah,” assured the girl. “If you get here at 6am, when we open, there is always a line. Some people wait an hour to get a donut.”

With that said, I asked what I should get, seeing as it was my first time there. She didn’t hesitate to recommend the glazed donuts.

“Just came out of the oven,” the girl added. She then went back to a sheet rack where dozens of the fluffy little guys sat waiting to be eaten, grabbed one and handed it over. “First one is always free,” she said. “This one’s on the house.”

Let me tell you. After that one bite I knew right then and there why there are people lining up around the block to get one of these. It was the best donut I have had in a very long time, if ever. Melted right on the tongue as the sticky glaze stuck to my lips while the light and airy goodness just permeated all of my senses. Unbelievably  tasty and instantly addicting.

Um. Nevermind. I just wept a little when I ate this.

“Guess what,” she asked. “Our donuts are one hundred percent vegan. Always have been. Isn’t that crazy?”

Apparently it’s true. She ran me down the baking process without giving away any big secrets. Le Cave’s have been using vegetable shortening and baking egg free since the 30’s. This place has been hip before the hipsters were hip and going vegan and gluten free because apparently if you have an ironic beard and tattoos on your neck and drink PBR from a mason jar, suddenly you have celiac disease. Whatever. She sold me on the donut so I purchased a bunch of fruity filled empanadas they had on display which were equally as tempting and delicious so now I guess I have a sweet tooth of sorts. Thanks Le Cave’s. It’s not like I’m pudgy enough, now thanks to you I’ll be spending money on gas, standing in line at 6am like a chump, eating donuts like a stoned beat cop and hating you for it but not really because I love you and see you tomorrow.

Is this all you got? Crap. Alright. Give 'em to me...

After a long day on south 6th avenue, I went home, plopped down on the couch, full and filled with gladness. It was nice to get out of my comfort zone and I was really pleased that I had a day filled with tacos, donuts, crazy supermarkets and even crazier people, ones that I normally don’t see on a regular basis. I mean, there are plenty of nutjobs and taco joints here in midtown, the south side though takes it to a new level. But in a good way.

That said I emailed my El Super pal about my adventures on south 6th only for him to respond back: “South 6th? Naw man, you need to drive around South 4th! Now that’s where the good stuff is…”

Are you kidding me? I just got back into my comfort zone.

Okay. Let’s go…

Metal Song inspiration:
Fu ManchuKing of the Road
(Not super Metal but….you get the idea)

Listen to it here:

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The (Tucson) Homeskillet is back!

Hoo doggies!

All I have to tell you kids is that it has been a rough couple of years for me. Since leaving the life of a chef, my day job consists of working in my local public library. Yeah, you'd think I would have PLENTY of time to eat and write about what I just ate. Uh, no. It's a far busier enterprise than I had anticipated and my last few posts were literally me eating junk food after too many cocktails.


Then in 2014, my wife and I shared a most disastrous year. In early spring my step dad, my dad's husband, died from complications from Alzheimers. Then a few weeks later, my dad died from complications of a broken heart. A month later, my wife's grandmother died. Right around that time, our dog, Deacon, a Siberian husky, suffered a stroke and was living with cancer so we had to put him down. Then after that, we found our cat had been ravaged by coyotes finding only a leg and head in our back forty. So...whew! Not a good time to say the least. It was rough, but when 2015 rolled around, we knew we had to get back to work and get back to being awesome.

Which is why I am "reforging the sword" so to speak with re-launching The Homeskillet as a site that will entertain, enlighten, educate and most importantly make you hungry for more.

My goal is to focus on local (Tucson) eateries and food related businesses with a voracious yet lighthearted approach seeing as eating is fun and shouldn't be taken all that serious. I mean, I'm serious about food it's just'll see. Plus I'm extremely adventurous and not afraid to try anything. It must be the lifelong Metalhead in me.

Speaking of which, I plan on melding my stories with whatever metal song I am listening to at that moment or ones that inspired my visit or recipe. What more could you ask for? Food and Metal! Two great tastes that go (hopefully) great together.

And, of course, I plan on travelling and eating and writing my way through my stomach sojourn. Tucson is where I call home I live but the world is where I live. But I love the food in Tucson! Beyond Sonoran hot dogs, this place is a fooder feast for the senses...and it's only getting bigger and better. Hopefully with sites like The Homeskillet, we can get the word out that the Old Pueblo is a serious threat to the  culinary world.

But not too serious. I mean... You know.

Okay. You ready?

Let's do this....

- Metal Mark