Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

2013 – Eating Tucson, SFO, LA

Noble Hops chocolate dessert
Noble Hops chocolate dessert

It was a very good year. I dined out frequently as well as made many healthy delicious meals. Maybe next year I will treat myself to a personal trainer and one of those Sunizona  farm boxes.

The highlights were: (in no particular order)

2013 was one of those birthdays when you just cannot believe you’re that old! Really? No way!  It’s all downhill from here. Fortunately, I celebrated by going to Los Angeles (where I used to live) but spent my actual birthday in San Francisco. I love SFO!

My friends and I celebrated our mutual April, May, and June birthdays  during my visit. We chose Rock Sugar Pan Asian Kitchen which is one of my favorite places to eat in LA. The restaurant is located in tony Century City.  Upon entering the restaurant, you walk down a long entrance gilded to the max. At the podium is a big gong. I half expected Yul Brenner dressed as the King & I to appear. We ate an exotic pre-fixe lunch; I felt a million miles away.

In San Francisco my syn twister and I racked up a hugely expensive dim sum lunch at Yang Sing (the friendly bus driver pointed us in that direction); a spare but elegant dinner at the historic Empress of China where waiters dressed in faux tuxedos hovered; and savored a  sublime cannoli at Stella Pastry in North Beach.

Hey Tucson, if any restaurateurs are listening – Tucson needs a good dumpling / dim sum house.

My birthday was celebrated in Tucson by my three foodie friends. I chose Noble Hops to celebrate; there’s nothing like a great gastro pub and amazing brews on a 100-plus-degree day.

I was a judge at the World Margarita Championship in October and a judge at the Taste of Chocolate competition/fundraiser for scholarships. While both were fab fun – give me tequila over chocolate. Chocolate tequila?

pop up dinner
coconut crepe cake – photo Jane Wallace Cherry

And then there is the pop-up dinners prepared by Kumi Rao when she breezes into town from her precious Portland. OMDG!  Ms. Rao prepares exquisitely spiced Indian/Indonesian small but adequate plates of food like nothing I have ever tasted. She even bakes her own bread with vibrant spices and pleasing textures…five courses paired with liquid refreshments…in local private homes where others at the table (all foodies, of course) are your new best friends.

New restaurants opened – Agustin Kitchen, Saint House Rum Bar (mentioned in Esquire and Food & Wine/best modern tiki bars), Proper, Diablo Burger, Penca (mentioned in Food & Wine), Falora (Eaters.com/24 best pizzas), GIO Taco, Maynards Market had a redo. (and many more)

Here are some of my favorite places for casual dining that I return to again and again: Ha Long Bay, Zayna’s Mediterranean, Seoul Kitchen BBQ, Tucson Tamale Company, Café a la Carte, La Cocina, NoRTH Italia, Poco & Moms, Playground, Saffron, Vero Amore, Kazuko, Downtown Kitchen & Cocktails happy hour, Feast, D’s Island Grill, and Kingfisher (at the bar).

As I try to recall my year in food – I do remember one appalling incident where the owner of a restaurant yelled at me, “You’re lying.”

on the radio
on the radio

And I am always thrilled to be on Matt Russell’s On the Menu Live radio show. If you missed my most recent appearance on the Dec. 14 show, the audio archives are online.

Of course, there were many glasses and bottles of wine, sparklies, artisan beer, and cocktails but I do remember one in particular because I have ordered it multiple times, mostly during Happy Hour – Beet Poetry – at Feast. I love beets and this was the essence of a very spiked borscht martini. Le chaim!

Eat. Drink. Enjoy the good life.

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