Author Archives: Renata

We are happy to announce that our online store is now up and running! You can order our current holiday card designs, the Jackibou from our last post, or our new release, the cupicabra, a Valentine’s themed version of the infamous chupacabra. We will be adding more soon, including cards for St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mother’s and Father’s day.

Cupicabra Card


We’re a bit late in posting this, but these are the Holiday cards we designed for friends and family this year. The first features a holiday themed variation on the jackalope. We got such a good response from the people we gave it to that we’ve decided to do a series based on it, with mythical and cryptozoological animals paired with holidays. We’ll release one for each month, except January (we got started too late for it), August, and September (no holidays in August, and Labor day isn’t really a card holiday). At the end of the year we’ll make a calendar featuring all the holiday designs, and three extra ones for the months we skipped. We’re in the process of setting up an online store, and are about to print our Valentine’s Day card. I’ll post an update as soon as we do!

Jackibou Card

Our Jackibou Christmas Card

The picture is a little hard to read, so here’s the description of the Jackibou from the card:


Related to the jackalope, the jackibou is a rare creature that is seen only in winter. While its white coat camouflages it in snowy environments, it has been known to collect brightly colored objects in its antlers, particularly during the month of December.

I’m not going to say much about the other card because I don’t want to give the concept away before people look at it for themselves. Please post what you think it says in the comments.

Holiday Card

Our Holiday/New Year Card


Seattle from the Space Needle Restaurant

Robert and I recently visited my brother in Seattle. We spent four days eating and drinking our way through the city. While we left with many new places to try for next time, we were able to pack lots of great restaurants and bars into our brief stay. Here are all the restaurants and bars we visited, in order.

Urbane: The hotel restaurant of Hyatt at Olive 8, we got a late breakfast here after getting settled into our hotel room. I had a delicious salmon eggs Benedict. There was a generous portion of smoked salmon and the rosemary potatoes that came with it were great.

City Fish Co.: The first day after breakfast we walked to Pike Place Market. After exploring the shops and watching the famous fish throwing, we had a dungeness crab cocktail, a shrimp cocktail, and 3 for $5 oyster shooters. It was a great introduction to Seattle seafood, and the first, but definitely not the last, time we had oysters on the trip.

Marie & Freres: A wonderful chocolate shop. Their chocolate is made in South America by the growers. They then add things like cocoa nibs or candied orange peel and sell it in the shop. It’s dark, rich, and delicious, and their frozen passionfruit pops, made down the street at Mistral Kitchen, are amazing.

Stumbling Monk: We stopped in for a quick beer while deciding where to go for dinner. I had a sour beer, which I think was called Petrus. It was excellent, very refreshing with almost no aftertaste. It actually reminded me of a more savory flavored kombucha. Robert had a bourbon barrel aged beer which was also very good.

Pinto Thai Bistro and Sushi Bar: Wandering around Capitol Hill, we decided to try a restaurant recommendation my brother had gotten from a concierge at his former building. It was a Japanese and Thai restaurant and we ordered both types of food. We started with a beef salad that was similar to larb, and tom kha soup. We then ordered several sushi rolls. All of them were good, but the best was the Pinto roll with yellowtail, cilantro, jalapeño, and thin slices of lime. The lime added an amazing burst of flavor to the roll. We all wanted to order another, but unfortunately we were too late and they were closing the sushi bar.

Wheelhouse Coffee: For breakfast on our second day we tried this small coffee shop. I had a dirty chai and some banana bread that had white chocolate and nuts. I’m a big fan of banana bread, it’s one of my favorite things to bake, so I love trying different takes on it. This was a solid banana bread, not the best I’ve ever eaten, but definitely good. Unfortunately, Robert was disappointed by his drip coffee, although my dirty chai was pretty good.

Shilla: We had some excellent Korean food here, freshwater snails, beef tongue, bulgogi, and bibim bap. We left extremely full.

Hazlewood: We stopped into Hazlewood for a quick drink while we waited for a table at the Walrus and   the Carpenter. I enjoyed the Harvey Dent, although unfortunately the only ingredient I remember in it is Cynar. Robert had a well-made Sazerac, and my brother had a beer with chili infused tequila. I can’t remember the name of the drink, unfortunately. We also ordered a blackbird, a champagne cocktail with an interesting ingredient, squid ink tincture. My brother and I have cooked with squid ink before so we were intrigued with the idea of using it in a cocktail. While the drink’s flavor was decent, it was a little less dramatic looking than we had expected. I wondered if it would have been possible to add a bit more squid ink without negatively impacting the flavor, as it is a pretty mildly flavored ingredient. Despite our slight disappointment with the blackbird, Hazlewood was a great start to our cocktail tour of Seattle.

Walrus and the Carpenter: The oysters at this place were great. We had read and heard about them and were not disappointed. We ordered three of each for the first round then a few more of each of our favorites. The other items we tried, including a sardine dish, steak tartare, and a salad were delicious as well. When it came time for dessert I couldn’t resist ordering a cocktail as I had been staring at their well-equipped bar all night. I had the Norwegian Wood, a flavorful drink with Aquavit and Yellow Chartreuse (if I remember correctly), which paired nicely with the bread pudding, quince and pumpkin desserts we tried.

Salty’s on Alki Beach: An amazing brunch with a great view of the city. The buffet was huge with oysters, crab, shrimp, an omelette and pasta bar, carving station, several varieties of eggs benedict, and a huge dessert area.

Mistral Kitchen: An amazing meal! It came highly recommended from Marie at Marie & Freres and did not disappoint. The ceviche and mussels were great. Probably the most memorable food item of the night was a terrine that came on the house charcuterie plate. It had a rich meaty flavor, but almost the exact texture of a cold buttercream frosting. While Robert found this a bit off-putting, I enjoyed it. We also tried the Courting Rachel, an amazing smoked cocktail, see my and Robert’s earlier posts on it.

Knee High Stocking Co.: On our first night, walking back from dinner at Pinto, we saw a very well dressed man standing on a desserted street corner. As we passed him we notice a the words “Knee High Stocking Co.” in tiny letters near the door in front of him. Later, as we talked with the host at Mistral Kitchen, he recommended several places for good cocktails, Knee High Stocking Co. among them. We texted early in the day for reservations and were confirmed later that night. I had the Cup of Awesome, a gin based cocktail with stout beer syrup, agave, bitters and an egg white froth, topped with nutmeg. It was on the sweeter side, but delicious. Fortunately it did live up to its name. Just as we had finished our drinks and were getting ready to leave, the bartender announced that it was the time of night when he got tired of the usual speakeasy soundtrack and he was switching to 80s Hiphop, one of my favorite genres of music, another point for Knee High Stocking Co.!

Space Needle Restaurant (SkyCity): I had a good prime rib here. The food was pretty good, not the most amazing we had on the trip, but not disappointing either. The view was beautiful though, we got some nice pictures and it was a great way to end our trip.

Although we drove past this place twice before finding it across the street, hidden by the light rail and in the corner of the parking lot, it was definitely worth the trouble. I had the beef shawarma plate and Robert had an Arabic coffee and the kafta on our first visit. When we returned a few days ago, starving after a trip to the rock gym, he had the kibbi, a delicious mix of ground meat and bulgar, and I had the lamb tongue sandwich. I would easily order both again. Although I have had beef tongue in several different ways, I think this was the first time I had tried lamb tongue. The texture was tender and not too chewy, and the flavor was stronger than beef tongue. I could definitely tell it was lamb, but as a fan of lamb and other more flavorful meats, I really enjoyed it. The food was excellent, definitely one of the better Middle Eastern places we’ve been to in the Phoenix area. It was also very reasonably priced with some of the sandwiches at only around $4.00 and the larger platters around $10.00.

Another great thing about Haji-Baba is the small grocery section that takes up about half of the storefront. With a variety of interesting and harder to find Middle Eastern products, it’s a fun place to shop after your meal. On our first visit we enjoyed the coffee so much that we bought a pack of the superfine ground coffee mixed with cardamom needed to make it at home. On our second visit we bought a little pot for making it. We will definitely be back to Haji-Baba, it’s a great place for cheap, delicious, filling food, and the type of place I am constantly looking for after moving back to Phoenix from New York City.

After enjoying the Courting Rachel at Mistral Kitchen on our recent trip to Seattle, we couldn’t resist trying to make our own smoked cocktails. As soon as the cocktail came to our table, Robert was imagining ways to duplicate it at home. I found the recipe online and some suggestions about how to create and capture the smoke, mostly fairly expensive handheld smokers. Fortunately Robert had already come up with another way. After reading about a method of smoking fish in a cast iron skillet, he threw together a makeshift smoke collector, which he will be detailing in another post, and I mixed up a cocktail to smoke.

As the Courting Rachel is based on a modified Old Fashioned, I tried to work with some similar flavors. I used Jim Beam Rye, Cherry Heering and Angostura Bitters. I also added some orange blossom water on my second attempt, which improved it a bit. I didn’t add any sugar or syrup which probably would be a good addition for next time (the Courting Rachel uses Rye syrup). For our first attempt we used jasmine tea for the smoke, because we had some on hand, and had recently used it successfully to pan smoke some salmon in the cast iron skillet. I mixed the drink while the smoke was collecting, then poured it into the jar, through the smoke. We allowed it to sit with the smoke for a few minutes (I’m not sure whether this was actually necessary or not, it seemed to pick up the smoky flavor quickly and easily) then we poured it from the jar into a glass with some large ice cubes.

Although we were able to make it all work with the jasmine smoke, we agreed that its flavor did not work very well with the drink. The next night we bought some hickory chips and made some minor improvements to the smoke catcher and the drink (more ice for the smoker and orange blossom water for the drink). It turned out much better. The only downside is how much smoke it creates in the kitchen. Ventilation is definitely an important thing to remember!

Welcome to the Metallic Mango blog! We are Renata Grieco and Robert Houston. We both live in Phoenix, Arizona and love to eat and cook. This blog will be our place to talk about all the great (and maybe not so great) places we eat and things we cook. We also do freelance graphic design, often related to food, and will probably occasionally post about that too. So read along, have fun, and maybe find some good recipes and restaurants along the way.