A Beautiful Mess

By mess I mean garbage plate. I’ve always wanted to come up with a Rochester hot sauce, or meat sauce, or whatever you’d like to call it. And this was just the excuse I needed. Linh Phillips from Sir Rocha Says is going to be presenting at the RAF 20 Minutes and a Beer on April 19th (see the Facebook event). We needed a photo for the event creative and I thought why not pay tribute to Linh’s (and my) love all all things food and drink….including Sriracha.

The garbage plate was made famous in Rochester. And while mine is not exactly the classic from Nick Tahou’s, it was super good. I started with Wegmans frozen sweet potatoes fries. I pan fried them in a touch of oil then caramelized them with maple syrup. Those are topped with Wegmans deli macaroni salad. Two Zweigles pop-open red hots come next, followed by the hot sauce and Sriracha.

Don’t forget the Sriracha Hot Stout from Rogue Ales & Spirits. It’s an easy drinking stout with hints of chocolate, malt and coffee. The pepper spice is definitely there, but not nearly as strong as you may think given the bright red Sriracha bottle look. A very interesting beer and an excellent pairing for our plate.


The hot sauce was pretty easy to make and ridiculously good. I mixed a touch of sweet in, to go with the spice….especially since I knew the Sriracha was coming. Given it’s a Rochester recipe, I used the Dundee’s Porter instead of only water….and it’s way better! Here is the recipe.

  • 1 medium or 1/2 large white onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 bottle Dundee’s Porter
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon Hungarian hot paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, diced
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 8-16 oz. water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in large skillet, then fry onion and garlic in oil until lightly browned. Break up meat and add to pan with all spices. Stir continually until browned to keep loose. Once browned, add the porter, tomato paste and brown sugar. Simmer 1 hour, adding water if necessary to keep it moist.

Heather and I shared this and it was splendid! Let us know your “plate” suggestions and favorites and we’ll make another! Cheers.

Get your tiki on!

First, I hope you all had a marvelous holiday! Mele Kalikimaka! Happy Christmakuh! Etc.

The rest of this post is long overdue. Heather and I went to New Orleans in July. It was a marvelous get away, despite being all too quick. But it had a purpose, besides going to one of the most fun cities that we’ve been so far: I wanted to shoot some new pictures for the RAF On The Side Expo. As the incoming president (current president, given it’s December!) of the board of the RAF, I was super excited about our first partnership with the Rochester Contemporary Art Center, and I wanted to have some new work to highlight. It was a show for RAF members to share the artwork they do “on the side”, or those things that aren’t paid work.

What does that have to do with tiki drinks? Latitude 29 is one of the coolest places in NOLA, and we went there. Twice. It served as great inspiration, even 5 months later, to create this post (and tomorrow’s, where you can see more).

Here are a few pictures from the On The Side show.

These are the 4 pieces that were in the show along with 2 others in the series. Reflections of Abe and Spirits of the Bar sold during the show!

Here are a few other highlights from our trip.


And last but not least, your tiki inspiration! This is my take on the huge variation of Mai Tai recipes that are out there.

RB_mai tai-p

  • The Mai Tai
  • 2 ounces Don Q Cristal or other light rum
  • 2 ounces Blackwell rum
  • 2 ounces Myers’s Dark rum
  • 1 ounce Grand Mariner
  • 1 ounce fresh pineapple juice
  • 1 ounce fresh orange juice
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • splash of grenadine

Mix all ingredients well (except grenadine) and pour over crushed ice in a  hurricane glass. Top with a splash of grenadine. Playfully garnish and serve with a straw. Cheers!

Bánh Mi. The perfect sandwich?

Where would we be without our friends? I know where I most likely wouldn’t have been… Whatta-Bánh Mi Vietnamese Sandwich Café (673 Monroe Ave. in Rochester, NY). That’s not to say I wouldn’t have wanted to go there… but I just didn’t know about it until Chef Mark suggested we go there for lunch. So….in honor of Mark’s 40th birthday (today!), I thought it was appropriate to post about our last trip there.

In Vietnamese, bánh mi refers to bread, or more specifically the French baguette. However, in the U.S., the term generally refers to a Vietnamese sandwich. And oh what a marvelous sandwich it is! It may be the PERFECT sandwich. We each had a Bánh Mi Dac Biet…the signature combination.

Bánh Mi Dac Biet.

Versus me trying to describe this sandwich perfection, click on the picture below to enlarge and see the details. This sign is on the wall of the café. The super fresh baguette is exactly as described, and the sandwich fillings blend together perfectly.

Bánh Mi, unstacked. Now stack it back up and eat it! (I didn't notice the pig's ear crunch, but if it was there...it's all good. )

The bánh mi probably would have been enough of a meal, but the pho (noodle soup) looked so good, I had to order that as well. It was awesome!

Pho Dac Biet. The special with all cuts of beef.

The view from our table.

I can’t wait to take Heather there and share the sandwich (and soup) love. When you go, look for us…..and let us know what you think.

Whatta-Bánh Mi Café sign.....leading you to sandwich (and soup) perfection.