From about October 2010 to March 2011 the best jerk chicken sandwich in Arizona was made by Charlie Blonkenfeld.
Monster-size and jam-packed with chunks of chicken, shredded cabbage, scallions, fresh basil, and a flippin' fried banana slice piled high in a poppy seed bun, the only place to score one (and lots of other good eats, including baked goods) was at Blonkenfeld's short-lived eatery, Chaka Chaka, in downtown Phoenix.
When the money ran out and the restaurant closed, Blonkenfeld disappeared from the scene and, sadly, so did his food.
But now (or at least for the holidays), Blonkenfeld's resurfaced. And this time, he's not making sandwiches. This time, he's making pies. Glorious pies.
"It started as a bit of goofing around," says Blonkenfeld, who also is a stand-up comedian. "I asked myself, 'Can I make a pie?' and 'Can I make a pie better than anyone else?' Plus, I had a few extra pie pans lying around the house."
Blonkenfeld concentrated on two 10-inch creations: a five-spice pumpkin with a rosemary-tinged crust and a garam masala (a spice blend common in North Indian and other South Asian cuisines) apple pie made with Medjool dates.
He's also got a couple of cookies as well: brown butter oatmeal and double-chocolate shortbread.
Those wishing for a taste of Blonkenfeld's pies can find them at Terra Java Coffee House and Bake Shop (formerly Mama Java) on Indian School Road and 36th Street. Made-to-order requests can be made via Blonkenfeld's Facebook page, That Flaky Pie Company. Pies are $25 and cookies are $20 for 40.
Blonkenfeld tells me he'll sell his homemade pies through the end of November and possibly through December, as well.