Breakfast | Cup Cafe, Tucson Arizona (take 3)

I thought for approximately 1/2 a second about changing the name of the restaurant on this post in an attempt to try & confuse you into thinking that I actually ventured somewhere different for breakfast today.  Then I thought, “It’s my Christmas Day & I’ll go to the Cup Cafe again if I want to!”  So I did.  I have no shame.  In my defence I did try to go somewhere else.  I had it all figured out & everything.  The lone problem was, not only was the spot that I picked not open, neither was anywhere else.  Except Cup Cafe.  Cup Cafe, take 3.

When I wandered into Cup Cafe this morning my eyes met with an amazing sight.  Every single table that was occupied, was inhabited by a party of {exactly} one.  Every single one.  I couldn’t decide if that was scary, sad or comforting.  So since I got to choose, I’ll go with comforting.  Maybe restaurants only exist on Christmas Day purely to serve single people who need to do something to get out of the house?  Whatever…I was secretly {very} happy to be back in the land of {perfect} Baked Eggs.

Rebecca came over & asked me what on the menu sounded good; to which there was only one possible reply.  ”Everything”.  The second thing that came out of my mouth was, “If I order Baked Eggs, do not bring me any”.  I was determined to try something else on the menu & I had already decided what that something else should be:  Croque Senor, which I learned yesterday was a Mexican-style Croque Monsieur with extra cheeses on top & Dijon mustard within.  Yum.  Dustin warned me yesterday that the Croque Senor was huge.  When it arrived in front of me I concurred.  He most definitely was not lying.

Cup Cafe's Croque Senor

Being Christmas Day I decided that I needed to have a Christmassy hot chocolate, so Rebecca brought me Peppermint Hot Cocoa.  It was the perfect Christmas morning comfort drink.  And a Croque Senor is unquestionably a very comfort-inducing breakfast.  I am still not entirely sure about the Dijon mustard, but given that it wasn’t meant to be a classic Croque Monsieur,  but rather a Mexican-style version, I went with it.

While I was supping my minty cocoa & chowing down my huge ham & (triple) cheese sandwich, I busied my mind with reading some more of Jenny Holzer’s quips off the wall.  Here are a few of today’s favorites:

“Thinking too much can only cause problems”…”Fear is the greatest incapacitator”…”Disorganisation is a kind of anaesthesia”…”Guilt & self-laceration are indulgences”…”It can be helpful to keep going, no matter what”.

 Yeah, my mind was busy.  So busy in fact that I swear I burned off a whole bunch of calories while I sat right there.  So despite the fact that I had {very} recently downed a particularly large ham & cheese sandwich, I still wanted Baked Eggs.  Hey, it’s my Christmas Day & I’ll have 2 breakfasts if I want to!  So I did.  I have no shame.

Cast Iron Baked Eggs, just as fantastic the 3rd time

 I did have Rebecca leave the potatoes in the kitchen & went with the English muffin again, since you get only half as much as when you have the sourdough.  When the magical skillet arrived bearing it’s eggy gifts the whole thing was sizzling wildly.  I knew it would be a while before my mouth was going to be able to claim the prize.  So it seemed entirely appropriate to sip on some Dry Desert Lime herbal tea while I gazed lovingly at my bubbling cheesy goodness.

As I sat looking out of the window it suddenly occurred to me that it just didn’t feel like Christmas Day.  Maybe it was the blue-sky-and-sunshine weather.  I could almost pretend that it wasn’t Christmas…except for the endless stream of text messages wishing me a very merry one.  For which I am truly {very} thankful!!

The Cast Iron Baked Eggs were every bit as delicious as the previous two incarnations I had scoffed down the previous two days.  I think they may have been a little bit more delicious just because it was Christmas day.  You know how that goes.  A special day can magically make everything taste better.

Just as I was wiping the last drops of cheesy yumminess from the bottom of the skillet with a chunk of English muffin, & party of 10 arrived carrying large baskets filled to the brim with all manner of Christmas stuff.  They were soon seated, the table complete with mini Christmas Tree, their heads complete with crazy hats & their hands full of gifts galore.  How fun is that?!  But seriously, now is the time for me to head out.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Cup Cafe (at Hotel Congress) on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Maximilian - I loved these.

Breakfast | Cup Cafe, Tucson Arizona

I just didn’t have Tucson pegged as one of America’s foodie meccas.  I am not entirely sure why not.  Maybe because I’ve never heard Tucson mentioned much in connection with food.  Thinking about it, I’ve never heard it mentioned at all.  So imagine my {utter} delight when I was completely wowed by a fantastic foodie mecca this morning.  Or, as John Dillinger so famously said in 1934:  “Well, I’ll be darned”.

I was perusing Urbanspoon Tucson last night, hoping to pick out a sweet spot for breakfast & during my virtual poking around I fairly randomly checked out a couple of  menus.  On my second menu I only managed to get down to the third item before I’d made my mind up exactly where I was headed at 6:30 am: Cup Cafe at the Hotel Congress in downtown Tucson.  Here’s the magic words that had me drooling:

  Cast Iron Baked Eggs - two eggs, ham, leeks, and Gruyère cheese, baked in cream, with fines herbes

Absolutely no need to read one more word on any other menu.  I immediately wanted to go to bed early so that morning would come quicker, bringing with it those delicious-sounding Baked Eggs.  I didn’t, but I {really, really} wanted to.

Just like yesterday’s lunch I drove straight to Hotel Congress like I actually knew where I was going.  I think I was on auto-pilot with my nose steering me like a guided missile heading towards its yummy target.  I swear I could smell the leeks before I even got out of the condo driveway.  I rolled up & parked right in the courtyard behind the hotel.  I was expecting it to be busy, being 2 days before Christmas, but Cup Cafe was almost empty.  I did arrive 2 seconds after they opened up the doors.  Maybe that was why.

First up:  hot chocolate.  Beautifully served with cream & chocolate sauce on top.  Hey, it’s Christmas week, of course I want the cream & chocolate sauce.  It arrived at my table in record time & was warm & delicious with its hint of cinnamon.  That was a lovely festive surprise.

Winter Warmers served up at Cup Cafe

 My Cast Iron Baked Eggs arrived at an amazing speed.  I was surprised all over again.  They came cradled in their very own cast iron skillet which registered a temperature of at least 3 thousand degrees.  Along with the Eggs came a cup (how cute!!) of chunky potatoes, onions & bell peppers.  The whole thing looked awesome.  I couldn’t wait to get started…but there was that 3 thousand degree thing to deal with.  Patience was definitely a virtue this morning.

Potatoes served with the breakfast entrees in a cup...at Cup Cafe

My patience was aided by contemplating Jenny Holzer’s Pearls of Wisdom which covered an entire wall.  Such quips as “Enjoy yourself because you can’t change anything anyway” and “Emotional responses are as valuable as intellectual responses”.  Way to start a Thursday!  If only you knew where my head had been on Wednesday. 

 As soon as the molten Gruyère cheese had cooled just enough to not blister my lips on contact, I dug right in.  Heavens to Betsy.  Cup Cafe, if you were in Seattle you’d be giving the Baked Eggs served up at Cafe Presse a run for their money, even though they are utterly different.  Who knew two versions of Baked Eggs could be so downright diverse, but equally as divine?  The only thing that might give Cafe Presse the edge is the fresh baguette & butter to sop up all that runny, eggy goodness.  Cup Cafe’s bread offerings could do with a little upgrade.

 

Cast Iron Baked Eggs: Oh my, can breakfast really be this good?

 

The eggs, by the time I had exposed them from underneath their sumptuous cheesy, leeky, hammy, creamy, herby blanket, had yolks that were a little harder than I would have liked, but when you serve eggs in a skillet at 3 thousand degrees its understandable that they just keep on cooking right there on the table.  Yes, I am being picky…desperately trying to find anything that was not perfect about this skillet full of deliciousness.  I made it last as long as I possibly could.  I could {very} easily have eaten another skilletful right then & there.

 As I sat there savouring the last morsel of magnificence in my mouth I realized that it was the day before Christmas Eve.  That was all the reason that I needed to follow my divine Baked Eggs with Double Chocolate Pudding.  Cup Cafe are famous in Tucson for their pastries, so really, I didn’t have a lot of choice now did I.  Miss Connie will be {very} proud of me.  Miss Connie thinks each & every meal should include dessert.

Double Chocolate Pudding - perfect with breakfast

 Sitting in the window of Cup Cafe with a cup of Double Chocolate Pudding watching the sun peek over the Catalina Mountains was just delightful.  I can’t think of many nicer ways to start a day.  It will be a {very} long time before I forget my first Big Breakfast Adventure in Tucson.

Bon appetit indeed!

Update:  I confess.  I went back to Cup Cafe today & despite almost being wooed away by their Croque Senor (which according to barman extraordinaire Dustin is a huge Croque Monsieur with 2 different types of cheese added on top… sounds horrible, right?) I ate those Cast Iron Baked Eggs all over again.  Hey, I am only in Tucson for a week, and who knows when I will be back?  Maybe never.  So I gotta get my fill of these Baked Eggs while I can.  This time I dispensed with the hot chocolate & the Double Chocolate Pudding & swapped out the sourdough for an English muffin.

Dustin ceremoniously presented my scrumptious skillet in front of me.  5 minutes later he came back to my end of the bar, took one look at my un-touched eggs, leaned over & commented:  “Yep.  The only bad thing about those Baked Eggs is waiting for them to cool down enough to eat them”.  You read my mind, Dustin.  Seriously, I could eat these Baked Eggs every darn day & be perfectly content.

Perfectly.

Sat there at the Cup Cafe bar with my perfect breakfast, I was whisked back to my first ever Baked Eggs.  Every once in a while my mother made Baked Eggs.  Maybe twice a year, maybe only once.  She used to grill bacon and then cut the rashers up into small pieces & sprinkle them on the top of the eggs just before bringing the dishes to the table.  I can still feel the joy that the sight of those little pink ramekin dishes brought to me.  I can see those dishes in my mind right now.  I expect that they still survive in my mother’s kitchen to this day.  The more I ponder those little pink dishes the more I think that my mother’s Baked Eggs may have been when my love affair with double (heavy) cream began all those decades ago.

“Well, I’ll be darned”.

Cup Cafe (at Hotel Congress) on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Foodie Favorites of 2010 » Foodie Footnotes - [...] Breakfast | Cup Cafe, Tucson Arizona [...]

After Weeks of Taunting » Foodie Footnotes - [...] be so entirely different in different restaurants.  I love them all.  This was no exception.  Baked Eggs just make me [...]

Amanda @ oven&apron - I loved your post on the baked eggs at Cup Cafe! I’m from Tucson originally, but just went to the Cup for the first time a few weeks ago and I ordered the baked eggs. They were so good! Since I had them, I’ve been itching to recreate them in my own kitchen. I’m working on a recipe right now, and if you’re interested, you can look for the post on my blog next Saturday!

carrie - I think I love you, Amanda!!!!

Philly: Just 5 inches from Mexico

There’s something a teensy bit odd going on here.  Here I am, just 5 inches from Mexico & so far I’ve eaten Californian, Italian & Thai.  So you, like me, might be wondering 1. When the heck I am going to get around to eating some Mexican food & 2. What on earth I am doing at East Coast Super Subs, home of the best Philly Cheese Steaks outside of Philadelphia - which is not that far off of being as remote from Tucson as you can get while still being in the same country.

This was all Mike Harris’ idea.  I blame him entirely.  I was completely oblivious to the existence of East Coast Super Subs in Tucson until Mike popped up on my Facebook with a little note:

“If you make it to Tucson, stop in East Coast Super Subs for a legitimate Philly food experience before you leave. Tell Keith (owner) or Mark, that Mike Harris from NJ sent you :-) “

Given that I am very good with instructions (oh that’ll make my HR department laugh), lunch on my first day in Tucson just had to be a Philly Cheese Steak at East Coast Super Subs.  Despite not being Mexican or anything even vaguely like it.  This is probably a good time to mention that I had never eaten a Philly Cheese Steak before, so I was going into this a bit blind…but really, how could thinly sliced steak, melted cheese & grilled onions on a freshly baked hoagie roll possibly be bad?  I’d always wanted to try one, but had never quite managed to be hungry at the same time that one was available & on offer.  Today was a big day.

My Dear Foodie Footnotes Readers will know that I find driving in Seattle without getting lost or having to turn around a tad challenging.  And I live there.  So will someone please explain to me how I drove straight from the condo to 187 N. Park Avenue without doing either?  I have never been to Tucson before.  Not even close to Tucson before.  Oh, and I didn’t have a map.  I tell you, if I am anywhere other than Seattle you’d think I must have been a homing pigeon in a former life.

I have to say I am not sure that there are many Sub Shops that look like quite like this one.  Especially in Philadelphia :-)

 If you’re ever in Tucson, swing by…it’s worth a trip just to visit the store, with it’s riotously decorated interior which is amazingly larger than you might imagine from the outside.  You could sit in there for weeks & not get bored of looking at all the paraphernalia hanging from every surface.

I found a table & not long afterwards an adorable young lady bounced over to get me a drink.  The menu is a sight to behold & if you’ve never eaten a Cheese Steak before it might be a complete mystery.  It was to me.  Luckily my drink arrived along with some tips to navigate the enormous list of options.  In the end I simply went with the East Coast Super Subs #1 seller:  The Broad Street Bully.  Turns out this is a Cheese Steak sub with extra steak & extra cheese.  Cheese Steak on steroids – sounded great to me.  Especially with a half order of french fries.  Yeah, just wait until you see how big a half order is.

The Broad Street Bully Sub

A half order of french fries. FANTASTIC french fries I might add.

 While I was munching on my french fries (which incidentally were some of the best french fries I have ever eaten…awesome down to the very last fry) owner Keith came out to say “Hi”, having heard that Mike Harris had sent some strange camera-toting chick over.  Shortly after chatting with Keith, Mark came out.  Great guys.  Down-to-earth, sub-lovin’, laid-back, fun-thinkin’, wide-smilin’ guys. Fantastic hospitality.

Mark (right) & some of the East Coast Super Subs Crew

Owner Mark doing what he does best: Cheese Steak King

ECSS has quite the philosophy on running their business:

  • We will treat each customer like family
  • We buy and serve the highest quality food
  • The founder and owners make every sandwich with care

‘Nuff said.  So here’s just one more look at that Cheese Steak on steroids.

 Beloved by Philly Cheese Steak connoisseurs all over Tucson, I suggest that you hustle right on over next time you’re in the University area.

Tell Keith & Mark that cb from Foodie Footnotes sent you.

East Coast Super Subs on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Shirley Guzman - This is an excellent post.

Where have you been all my life?

I have a new favorite food & I am speechless.  How did I get to be on this planet for {quite} so long before I discovered Thai food?  I have totally lost count of the number of times friends have asked me if I liked Thai food & my response had always been that I’d never had it.  Everyone said it was good and yet I’d never had it.  Leave it to Shawn to {yet again} introduce me to weird stuff that I had never heard of before.  He has a knack for that.  He introduced me to sushi.  I have so much to thank the man for, and now here’s one more thing to add to the growing list.

What is the object of my latest foodie passion?  Tom Ka Gai.  Where did I eat it?  Thai House Restaurant in Mesa, Arizona.

Tom Ka Gai: heaven in a bowl

 There were 6 of us – Shawn, his wife, 2 of his children & one of his nieces…a {particularly} cheeky chick in a hot fuchsia t-shirt & sporting bright blue fingernails.  A lot of laughing was guaranteed.  And I was prepared for that.

I was {completely} un-prepared for the taste-bud ecstasy that was about to explode in my mouth over the next 45 minutes.  Completely un-prepared.  I don’t even want to write about it.  I just want to eat it.  Again.  And again.  And again.  My first New Year resolution?  Find the best Thai food in Seattle.  And go often.  I just checked on Urbanspoon & there are around 305 Thai restaurants in Seattle.  I think 2011 is going to be a {seriously} tasty year.

We had other things apart from the Tom Ka Gai.  I barely remember them although I do remember that they were good.  I was just utterly smitten with this soup:  white chicken meat with mushrooms, cabbage & Thai spices in coconut milk.  Shawn tells me that one of the spices is Lemongrass.  Whatever it is I have never tasted anything quite like it.  I certainly can’t describe it other than to say that it is one of the most divine flavors I have ever had the pleasure of inhaling.  I say inhale because I ate probably 4 bowls of the stuff.  We had ordered 2 large bowls to share between the 6 of us.  I could have just eaten the 2 large bowls of soup myself & been entirely & absurdly blissful.  I wish I had a way to adequately express my enthusiasm for this soup.  My dining companions laughed at me.  I didn’t care.  This whole thing is, after all, all your fault Shawn.

Mus-sa-mun: tasty peanut curry

Orange Chicken

Pad Thai: very different noodles with crushed peanuts

Pork Garlic & Pepper

A whole plate of Thai tastiness

Tom Ka Gai: the big bowl

 I am not going to lie.  It wasn’t quite all harp-playing angels.  When we got to dessert, after I had inhaled an inordinate amount of Tom Ka Gai (stopping just short of licking the bowl) it all went sideways really quickly.  Now I understand that this is a traditional Thai dessert & I know nothing about Thai desserts, but I still have to say that this dish was just nasty to me.  The sticky rice was like eating cold 5-day-old rice pudding & the custard was just wrong.  I had serious texture issues with the entire thing.  I am glad I tried it, but I won’t be doing that again anytime soon.

Sticky Rice & Thai custard: the point at which it all went sideways

 However I am simply not going to let that color my new-found love of Thai food in the slightest.  If you have never had Thai food, please go try it.  If you love Thai food, I now know exactly why you rave about it.

Shawn:  THANK YOU.  My taste-buds adore you.

Thai House Restaurant:  I will never forget my first Thai dining experience or your Tom Ka Gai.

Thai House on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

More Green than Ginger » Foodie Footnotes - [...] my tastebuds.  There was something in that curry that had the exact same flavor as my cherished Tom Ka Gai.  I don’t know what it was.  I know they both have coconut milk in, but I am sure that [...]

Mad About | The Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger » Foodie Footnotes - [...] from London to spend a long weekend in Phoenix with Shawn & his family.  That’s Shawn of December’s Thai fame.  And the same Shawn that introduced me to the reality of Roadrunners.  During this [...]

A {very} Dashing Dog » Foodie Footnotes - [...] is THE best place to get a great paw rub.  I’d just want to eat.  Remember my first Thai food experience back in December?  Yeah.  Thailand sounds good to me, with or without paw [...]

More Green than Ginger » Marmalade and Mile Posts - [...] my tastebuds.  There was something in that curry that had the exact same flavor as my cherished Tom Ka Gai.  I don’t know what it was.  I know they both have coconut milk in, but I am sure that [...]

Friendships like that

Shawn & I met in England almost 20 years ago.  He has been {really} bad at keeping in touch.  (Hi Shawn!  Love you!)  I have been a lot better, but even so, we’ve probably only seen each other 7 or so times in those almost 20 years.  Still, it’s one of those friendships that defies time itself:  every time we see each other it seems as though we just saw each other the previous week.  Don’t ya just love friendships like that?

A wife & 4 deliciously adorable children have joined Shawn in the years since we met.  I love spending time with them all; it just doesn’t happen that often.  It’s always {very} special when it does.  November 2009 had me stuck at Phoenix airport for a 4-hour layover on a flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  What better way to spend it than to have lunch with my favorite family of 6?  That was the day that I met Shawn’s youngest son for the first time.  He cried when they dropped me back at Sky Harbor & I promised him it wouldn’t be another 5 years before I saw them again.  So when I planned my 2010 Christmas getaway to Tucson & Flagstaff I realized I would be driving right past their door.  PERFECT.

I arrived in Mesa {pretty} late & {very} tired after 34 hours of driving in a 39 hour period.  Yikes.  I am sure I was also pretty stinky since the last time my body saw a shower was back in Seattle some 41 hours earlier.  Yikes.  Nevertheless, no-one seemed to care in the slightest.  Love {apparently} doesn’t care about stinky bodies.  Don’t ya just love friendships like that?

Morning rolled around & after I had *very carefully* manouvered myself off the top bunk (mercy those bunk bed ladders are skinny) I rolled into the shower.  15 minutes later Shawn & I snuck out to find a Big Breakfast Adventure, wet hair and all.  At this point, eating good food with one of my {very} favorite people was way more important to me than looking cute.  Thank heaven that deep friendships look beyond un-cute too.

Shawn already had Crackers & Co. in mind.  We drove straight to their Mountain View location & raced right in.  With drinks already underway we started to check out the menu.  Huge & ridiculous & with everything sounding good I could immediately see that we were going to need a spot of assistance from Tad our super-jolly server.  Clearly Tad is a morning person.  Or he just loves his job.  Or maybe both.  He was absolutely no help on the menu front though.  Well, that is, he was a huge help until he got started extolling the virtues of his 4th favorite.  Tad, now you’re just making this harder not easier!

This is probably a good time to mention that Shawn & I share a brain.  It doesn’t seem to matter what it is, my favorite whatever  is also Shawn’s.  This morning was no exception.  Even off of this *enormous* menu we chose the same thing.  Shawn gallantly conceded so that I would have more food to photograph, and wouldn’t you just know it – he chose my second choice.  Wild.  Synchronicity at it’s finest.  Don’t ya just love friendships like that?

Blintzes with warm 3-berry topping

 Despite being all new to my Big Breakfast Adventures Shawn didn’t even need to be asked to not eat until the snapping was over.  I tell you:  we share a brain.  The snapping did cause quite a commotion inside Cracker & Co.  Fellow diners all swivelled in their seats & servers came running to join in the fun.  Tad was hysterical, thinking that maybe this might just end up being his 15 minutes of fame.  He was such a fun complement to a couple of plates of great food.

I went with Tad’s 1st favorite: California Eggs Benny – spinach, bacon, avocados, tomatoes all on a toasted English muffin & topped with Hollandaise sauce.  Oh, and eggs.  Silly me.  Fancy forgetting the eggs.

Tad’s favorite: California Eggs Benny

 The Eggs Benny were gorgeous.  I almost didn’t want to even wait to take a snap.  Turns out they were also delicious.  Yum.  The Cracker’s Country Potatoes were also very yummy.  Made a nice change from the ubiquitous hash browns.  The Benny’s spinach was fresh & uncooked.  The avocado was fresh & firm.  The whole dish was just darn fine.  Thanks Tad!  *Great* suggestion.

Shawn & I caught up on a year of life while we were downing our respective plates of breakfast goodness.  It was just like we’d seen each other just last week.  Don’t ya just love friendships like that?

Then, out of the blue, Shawn pulled a Miss Connie on me: Cracker’s award-winning Blackberry Cinnamon Brandied Bread Pudding.  I say it was all that pesky tent card’s fault.  It just sat there on the table softly cooing at Shawn until he couldn’t stand it anymore.

Dessert for breakfast. Of course.

 It was good, but it didn’t wow us & I do like to be wowed, particularly when it comes to dessert.  But despite the lack of bread-pudding-wow it didn’t spoil our breakfast-catch-up in the slightest.

Crackers & Co. is a great place.  I think I can speak for both of us when I say that Shawn & I thoroughly recommend it.  We do share a brain after all.

Don’t ya just love friendships like that?

Crackers & Co. Cafe on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!