Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Tucson: My favorite foodie things – 2011

English: Cappuccino, Blue Bottle Coffee Co.
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2011 wouldn’t be complete without a list of my favorite foodie things (in no particular order and I’m sure I’m forgetting some).

Tucson Culinary Festival’s World Margarita  Championship – This is my favorite event during that four day culinary extravaganza. I love the margaritas and  food sampling, mingling and camaraderie among the  mixologists.

Sullivan’s Steak House – Ate here for dinner and it was meaty memorable. Can we herald “dry aged?” Here the service was amazing and the steak  tasted like steak from my past. I give it a 10!  (even though it’s a chain)

Elvira’s Mexican Restaurant – When friends from out of state come to visit, we often go to Tubac. Finally, there’s a special Mexican restaurant (on the same caliber as Café Poca Cosa) but with more sauces & seafood and different regional dishes. The décor screams color, light and whimsy. It’s all wrapped up into a delightful package so worth the one  hour drive south. Reservations are recommended.

RA Sushi Media Dinner – As a food blogger, I am fortunate to be invited here and there and one of my most favorite invitations is to the RA Sushi media dinner. It never disappoints. Sake to me.

Dinner Party Catered by Petite Pea – At a particular dinner party earlier in the year, hospitable company and creative catering made the party all the more enjoyable. Watching the caterer, Jale of Petite Pea in the kitchen and executing the appetizers and meal so flawlessly, is a true culinary art.

Caffeine Power: Anne Lucic’s Coffee & Sparkroot – The two best cups of coffee that I have tasted recently are from my friend Anne Lucic’s Aero Press coffee maker (using locally-owned Adventure Coffee) and Blue Bottle Coffee at Sparkroot.  Both outstanding cups made me feel like I was drinking coffee in Seattle or the Bay Area.

Tucson Tamale Company
I have never met a lard-free tamale I didn’t like here . I always get good service and great food at very reasonable prices. It’s my standby for when I cannot decide where to go for lunch or have guests coming  and don’t know what to make to eat. Add a salad and voila — they are impressed.

Willcox– On a wine press trip to Willcox I was surprised by the lesser known hidden pleasures of Coronado Vineyards wine tasting, picking fresh vegetables at Apple Annie’s, drinking the best of apple & pear cider at Brown’s Orchard, and going from grape to glass at Lawrence Dunham Vineyards in Pearce.  Willcox has many surprises including hip wine tasting boites on quaint Railroad Avenue.

Donna Nordin Cooks – Watch an expert at work. She (former owner of Cafe Terra Cotta) makes it look easy (it’s not). Her style is easy going and hospitable. After watching her cook, all participants sit down to an elegant lunch and conversation. I could get used to that.

Tequila Pairing at Flying V
The Flying V is located at Loews Ventana Resort & Spa. One thing about the service that you don’t see most everywhere else is the people who work there don’t act like it’s just a job. Restaurant guests feel pampered and well taken care of. In this case, an excellent tequila master guides diners through  the many nuances of tequila while Chef de Cuisine Josh Willett prepares a 5-course menu to pique your taste buds. Sign up for next year.

And in L.A.
Rock Sugar Pan Asian Kitchen
Tucson needs a restaurant on this caliber. I would forgo the glitz of Rock Sugar for the food. However, let me describe the glitz. The restaurant is located in tony Century City.  Upon walking into the restaurant, you walk down a long entrance guilded to the max. At the podium is a big gong. I half expected Yul Brenner dressed as the King & I to appear but instead a petite Asian woman came forward to greet us.

The vast menu is filled with almost every conceivable Asian pairing. The four of us at lunch chose enough food (portions are small) that the bill came to $164 without tax, tip, and alcohol. Somehow we had whipped ourselves into an ordering frenzy and ate most of it too.

Why rock sugar? According to our server, that ingredient is in many of the dishes. Funny, few of them tasted sweet.

What are your favorite food things from 2011?

  1. I didn’t ever have Anne Lucic’s coffee (or even Sparkroot’s) or experience the catering but can attest to the excellence of your other picks. They’d be on the top of my culinary favorites list too.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly on your choices…at least the ones we shared. Let me add the Onyx Room with the best soul food in town and It’s Greek to Me, odd name but heavenly food

  3. I am so excited! Elvira’s, in Nogales, was a favorite of my husband’s and mine. We enjoyed their tequila’s and mole on many birthdays and anniversaries. A couple of years ago we decided not to renew our passports so we haven’t returned, but have missed our favorite reastaurant. I just told my husband that Elvira’s is in Tubac and a huge grin came across his face. I can’t stress how good the food is. You’ve made my day!

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