The co-host/founder of "The Poe Show", the only annual celebration of Edgar Allan Poe's birthday west of the Mississippi, hosts the Mesa Poetry Slam every Thursday at 8 p.m. at Queen's Pizzeria in Mesa, which is free to attend, $1 to slam
What'd you eat for dinner last night? Chicken Korma with jasmine rice and naan. The naan wasn't so good.
Favorite food: Vepřová, knedlíky, a zelí (roast pork, bread dumplings, and sauerkraut)-it's the national dish of the Czech people! I'm first generation American, and both my parents are from the former Czechoslovakia (father's Czech, mother's Slovak), so this is the ultimate in comfort food for me. There's always a fight for the gravy in which to soak the dumplings in.
Least favorite food: Not sure I have a "least favorite" food--every cusine has something I like. I had pigeon in Egypt recently. It wasn't bad--but for a roasted bird, it had very little flavor. Probably wouldn't order that again.
Favorite dessert: Key lime pie. I'll enjoy a slice when it's on the menu at restaurants I go to in the Valley, but growing up in South Florida, I can say the restaurants here never get it quite right. In Lantana, Fla., there's a restaurant called "The Old House", which has the best-made, with fresh local key limes and real whipped cream. If you ever get to South Florida, it's worth a stop (their conch fritters are also worth a stop).
Favorite local restaurant and meal to order there: Probably the Breakfast Club in Scottsdale. As the slammaster of the Mesa Poetry Slam, we have touring poets coming from around the country to perform, and as "mooching coordinator", it's my job to put the poets up for the night, and I like to buy them a meal to offset the costs of living on the road. Inevitably, it's a late breakfast since poets are a late-night bunch. Their filet mignon Eggs Benedict is pretty amazing.
Favorite local bar and cocktail to order there: Probably The British Open Pub in Scottsdale. If I'm feeling the pub vibe, I'll order a Jack Daniels and ice. If I'm feeling extra goth-y, a Vampire's Kiss (vodka, chambord, and cranberry- a drink I picked up in New Orleans at a bar on Ursuline called the Babylon Club).
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Favorite thing to cook at home: Recently, I've been making beignets--French donuts as made famous by the Cafe du Monde in New Orleans (New Orleans is probably the only place in the world I would go to just to eat). They've got to be the worst thing in the world for you--they're nothing but fried dough and powdered sugar--but who cares? They're delicious!
Favorite memory involving food: About 3 years ago, I had to have open heart surgery. Not entirely convinced I was going to survive the process, I decided to have a "living wake", so I invited about 20 of my friends to a meal at an Italian restaurant. I think the best way to enjoy someone's company is in the presence of a good meal and good drink, and if I was going to die, I wanted to remember people in that last celebration, and wanted people to remember me the same way. It was a lot of fun. I drank so much sangria that night. There was a birthday party on the other side of the room, and I remember my friend Bill Campana shouted, "Hey, could you keep it down? This guy's dying over here!". Of course, I survived--and had to pay the $600 tab. I was kinda hoping to pass that along to my next of kin.
Recipe or food tip to share: I'm not one of those people who "cleans as they go". I believe to truly create in the kitchen, you have to lay waste to it. My girlfriend loves to eat my cooking, but hates to enter the kitchen while I'm doing it--utensils everywhere, vegetable skins and stems in the sink, blood and sauce on the stove and counters. The amount of mess is directly proportional to the deliciousness of the meal. Be grand in your messes, and you'll be grand in your cooking.