We’ve had lots of good times with family and friends at The Handlebar Pub and Grill in Apache Junction on previous visits to Arizona. There is good music, wonderful food grilled over a pecan wood fire and the atmosphere is friendly and upbeat. This time we are staying in Tempe, a completely different part of the Phoenix area and we were surprised to discover there is a Handlebar Pub here too. All the wood both inside and outside of this Handlebar comes from a historic old barn in the midwest. The barn was dismantled and shipped to Arizona. Like its namesake in Apache Junction, this Handlebar has live music on Saturday nights. But unlike the Apache Junction Handlebar which is named after all the beer tap handles that adorn its ceiling this Handlebar gets its name from the fact that it is a popular hangout for cyclists. We dropped into the Handlebar after a steep hike in the hot sun and enjoyed some cool drinks served by our congenial bartender Jordan, who is a student at the University of Arizona. She has her sights set on becoming a criminal lawyer. Jordan steered me towards the Ramble On cocktail and it was a real thirst quencher. We shared a delicious pretzel but I learned later that The Handlebar serves the finest grilled cheese sandwich in Phoenix so we will have to try that next time.
On Wednesday night after enjoying a wild flower desert hike together with our friends we went to the other Handlebar. I am sure during the coming month we will make more trips out to our old Handlebar haunt, but it is nice to know there is another Handlebar within easy walking distance of our current home.
String Em Up At the Handlebar
Someone told my husband Dave that the restaurant right next door to our apartment was the place to go for breakfast in Tempe so on March 1 that’s where we headed for our first meal of the day. The parking lot was packed with cars.To our surprise, March 1, 2020, was the fortieth anniversary of the Tempe restaurant named after the famous Hollywood actress Jean Harlow. In honour of the anniversary, we were given a glass of champagne adorned with an orchid and our waitress said the breakfast special a HUGE plate of bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and our choice of toast or biscuits was being offered for just $5.99
Our waitress said the orchid in our champagne was edible so Dave decided to try eating his
An article in the Phoenix Times touts Harlow’s as the best-loved breakfast spot in Tempe and describes it as affably old- fashioned. They compare the wood-panelled dining area with its work-a-day ceiling fans, big shiny booths and fancy chandeliers to the comfort and familiarity of your grandmother’s kitchen and tell readers the informal ambience makes Harlow’s feel like the city’s unofficial living room. The reviewer claims there is nothing fussy or novel about the food at Harlow’s but that’s the whole point.
There were lots of items of Jean Harlow memorabilia on the wood-panelled walls. When we got home I read Jean’s biography. Her personal and professional life story is full of drama and dark, troubling events. She died when she was only 26. The owners of the restaurant say one of their patrons nominated the Harlow name in a contest they held and it received the most votes from customers- so Harlow’s it was.
We enjoyed our breakfast at Harlow’s although we could only eat about half of it. I think we will have to share next time we eat there.
Celebrity Sighting At Breakfast
A Walk to Breakfast in Mexico
Last Sunday Breakfast
When my husband Dave plans a date night for us I can always look forward to it being something unique. Last Friday he picked me up after I had spent a long day doing stuff for my Dad and said we were headed for a literary spot.
I would never have guessed it was a brewery, but the Stone Angel fit the bill since it was named after the famous book The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence. The large statue in the brewery attests to the fact but just to be sure I double-checked with the bartender and he confirmed indeed the brewery had been named after Margaret’s book.
Dave is part of a beer club that meets regularly to explore all the breweries in the city so he had been to the Stone Angel with his club members. I don’t drink beer normally and since I was the only woman in the place during our entire visit I was a little intimidated but I had a good time.
Dave picked out two beers he thought I might like- a Kilter Juicy and a Peanut Butter Stout. I tasted them both. The stout was a little too bitter for me but the Kilter Juicy had a nice grapefruity flavour and I drank the whole thing.
Next, we were off to the Tehran Cafe. I had never had Iranian food before but it was wonderful. I ordered a walnut, chicken and pomegranate stew with saffron rice and green salad. So good. Dave had a lamb shank with rice and Shirazi salad. It was great too.
We enjoyed the interesting art in the restaurant and the attentive service.
A literary brewery and a new kind of food were not what I was expecting for my date night but it was a fun evening. Even after spending more than 45 years together with him, my husband continues to make my life interesting.
I Drank a Beer in Austria
Laughing Without An Accent
Visiting A Colorado Microbrewery and The Barry Manilow Concert That Wasn’t
Wednesday night we had a group of friends over to dinner. Before our meal, we took them to a bar called Patent 5 near our home in the Exchange District. We wanted to treat them to a celebratory cocktail to mark the fact that we will celebrate our wedding anniversary this weekend. Patent 5 is located in a former stable.
The Dominion Express Company, whose name you see over the front door of Patent 5 was a parcel delivery business. It was founded in 1873 in Winnipeg and built its headquarters at 108 Alexander Avenue in 1904. The stable area for the company’s horses and wagons has been converted into the Patent 5 Distillery and Bar.
Patent 5 offers a menu of interesting and unique cocktails using vodka, whiskey and gin they make on-site. The name is a reference to the kind of still they use to produce their alcohol. It is based on an 1869 design by James Wilson who was issued Patent #5 for his invention.
The interior of Patent 5 is steeped in history as well. All the oak paneling, doors, window frames, chandeliers, and stained glass were taken from the fabled Oak Room at the St. Regis Hotel built in 1911. The hotel closed in 2017 but the beautiful interior of the Oak Room has been preserved in the design of Patent 5. The chairs in Patent 5 come from an old Presbyterian church in Melita, Manitoba and your cocktails are served in vintage crystal glasses.
A former Eaton’s Warehouse built in 1926 is across the street. You can see the signature letter E above the door. We had a great time at Patent 5. It was very fitting to drink a toast to the history of our marriage in such a historic place.
Lunch in an Old Train Station
A Fascinating Conversation in a Tiny Wine Bar in Lisbon
This photograph caught my eye while I was waiting for my sister to arrive for our lunch date at Resto Gare in St. Boniface. When I asked the staff about it I was told it showed Winnipeg residents waiting at the St. Boniface train station to be evacuated from the city during the 1950 flood. The St. Boniface train station in the photo is now the Resto Gare eating establishment, still, in the very same location, it was during the flood. The original building is over a hundred years old.
The St. Boniface train station in 1930
It was built in 1913. In 1983 the building became a restaurant called La Vieille Gare and in 2008 the name was changed to Resto Gare Bistro. They have a bell in their dining room from a locomotive that used to pull into the St. Boniface Station. My sister and I sat in an old observation train car built in 1914 that has been attached to the station house. The restaurant serves meals with a definite French flavor and in the background as you eat you will hear the latest Montreal francophone music. I tried in vain to find some photos of the train station in the late 1950s because during the 1958-1959 school year I was attending classes at Marion School right across the street from the station. I must have seen the old train station every day when I arrived at school.
My grade one class at Marion School with our teacher Ms. Bourreau.
My family lived in Winnipeg’s French Quarter the year I was in grade one because my father was an intern at St. Boniface Hospital. Marion School was built in 1950 and is still in use today.
Having lunch at Resto Gare with my sister was a chance for a lovely visit but also a way to learn some history and take me on a bit of trip down memory lane.
Thursday night I attended a cooking class at De Luca’s restaurant with my sister and two of her friends. Our affable host Tony welcomed us to his well-known family establishment which opened in 1968and introduced us to Chef Mike who would show us how each dish was prepared. First up was a tomato soup served along with three kinds of fresh bread. Tony was on hand to answer any questions we might have about ingredients or cooking methods. Television screens at key spots in the room allowed us to see the chef’s hands in action. He prepared a mouth- watering mushroom gnocchi next. There was time in between each course for us to talk about travel adventures, work, our families and of course the delicious food. A chicken breast arrived next complete with pine nuts, a sweet potato sauce and kale. Just when we thought we couldn’t eat another bite the tiramisu was delivered to our table , too decadent and delicious to refuse.
It was interesting to hear the chef talk about the food, our host talk about the food, and to talk about the food with each other. Kurt Vonnegut was right when he said………..
“You can’t just eat good food. You’ve got to talk about it too.”
A Chocolate Evening with Beatriz
Cooking Up A Storm in the Yucatan
Home Grown in Newfoundland
“The place doesn’t look like much.” “A real hole in the wall.” “Plain and friendly.” “Quick service and great meals.” “The seafood is delicious and cheap.”
That’s what we had read about the Marlin Azul cantina in Merida. After my sister said she and her husband had enjoyed delicious shrimp fajitas there Dave and I decided to try it on our trip into Merida yesterday. Once we were out of our Uber we got a little direction turned but there are these English-speaking tourist guides hired by the city at many key intersections and this man named Roberto was happy to point us in the right direction. When we got a little turned around again direction wise this gentleman kindly stopped and offered to take us to the restaurant.He led us right to the Marlin Azul and the outward appearance lived up to the descriptions we had read.So did the descriptions of the friendly service. This affable waiter helped Dave pick out the perfect beer to go with our meal.And the food certainly lived up to its hype. The shrimp fajitas we shared were wonderful.We were about to set off on an eight kilometer walk around the city to explore some of its art galleries. Our meal at the Marlin Azul fortified us and got our afternoon off to a perfect start!
First Supper in Lisbon- My Husband Has Great Instincts
A Gourmet Sail in Costa Rica
Home Grown in Newfoundland
On Friday my friend Esther and I paid a visit to the Amsterdam Tea Room just beside Old Market Square at the heart of the Exchange District. I had been there before for tea but never for a meal. As the name of the restaurant indicates there is a distinctly Dutch flavor to the menu items. I had a vegetable sandwich with beet soupand Esther had the endive, pear, grape salad with the pea, celery and leek soup. They have dozens and dozens of kinds of tea on offer at the Amersterdam Tea Room. I opted for the Pina Colada tea and Esther chose a chai blend. We had a lovely meal at a sunny window table and caught up on what had happened in each of our lives since we last got together. We had planned to sketch in one of the many art galleries in the Exchange but it was such a gorgeous day we sat at a picnic table in Old Market Square to work on some new pages in our sketch books. Winnipeg, we decided, is a beautiful place indeed on a fine fall afternoon!
Autumn’s Beauty on the Black Sand Beaches of Iceland
Autumn is the Perfect Time for Writing
Autumn Dreams Are in the Air
Beach at Salema
Yesterday we did a little road trip I had read about in a travel article. We headed west from our house in Praia da Luz to the village of Salema. The cobblestone decor made it obvious we were in a place that is dependent on the sea for its livelihood. We went for a walk along the beach. Although in summer the beach is said to be extremely popular and crowded with tourists we shared it with only a flock of gulls and a group of fishermen who were repairing their nets. Our friend Rudy got into quite a conversation with one of the fishermen and Dave and I listened as he explained in his limited English that their main catch was octopus. He showed us the terra-cotta and steel pots they use to catch the octopus. This fisherman owns literally thousands of them. The pots are all roped together on lines that can stretch for 20 kilometers or more. The octopus like being inside the pots because it is safe and secure, kind of like a cave for them, so once the fishermen have reeled the pots in they put a spot of bleach into the pot which chases the octopus out. They sell the octopus to restaurants.
I had read one needed to stop in Vila de Bispo to taste the goose necked barnacles, so we found a tiny restaurant there for lunch. Our helpful waiter David brought out a plate with a goose necked barnacle for us to look at. It made Dave and I decide to eat something else so we ordered sandwiches. Our friend Rudy was more adventuresome and asked the waiter for suggestions. He ended up ordering the fried moray eel. Rudy said it was good but there wasn’t much of it so Dave and I shared our sandwiches with him. While we were eating a couple came over to talk to us and asked if we were from Manitoba. They had noticed Dave’s Winnipeg Jets hat. Turns out they were from Manigotagan and ran a campground there. They were traveling through Portugal and checking out the Portuguese campgrounds. Rudy who has been an avid biker in the past, also stopped to chat with a group of bikers from Great Britain.
The cook kept coming out from the kitchen during our meal to check on us. She couldn’t speak English but her cheery voice and smiling face made it clear she hoped we were enjoying our food. We didn’t order dessert but she brought out a small slice of some lemony kind of pie for us to share anyway.
After our meal we got back into our rented car and headed off for more adventures. We’d learned how to catch an octopus and what a goose necked barnacle was… two things we didn’t know before our road trip began.
Coming All the Way to Portugal to Get To Know People From Our Church
First Supper in Lisbon
What is Fado?