With Relish: 5 questions and answers
Melissa Tibbals-Gribbin is the founder of Tucson Vegan Meals and Deals, a Facebook page dedicated to all things vegan in the Tucson area.
What’s your favorite dish to cook on a personal level and why?
One of the most satisfying things I’ve ever cooked was last summer when my niece and I made bread from scratch. It’s the first time I’ve ever made a yeast bread–I don’t come from a family of domestic women–and there was something primal about this cross-generational experience of home-making.
The most magical thing I cook is vegan meringues. Just a year ago, the internet exploded with the discovery that the liquid from cooking chickpeas can be used as an egg-white replacement in meringues and other foods. Watching the gloop turn into white clouds is crazy. Adding sugar and vanilla and having the experience of marshmallow fluff is freaking miraculous! Waiting 90 minutes while they bake and another 30 for them to cool is almost impossible. And then–holy amaze-balls…M E R I N G U E S!
What’s the best or most memorable meal you have eaten lately? Why?
Thanksgiving 2015: This was the first time since becoming vegan that we have had Thanksgiving in our home, and everyone who came brought plant-based dishes. Three tables were groaning with food. So were all of us by the end. Several of the people who came were strangers to us at the beginning of the meal, but everyone left friends.
What’s your favorite food city? Why?
Seattle. It has close to 30 all-vegan eateries, and countless vegetarian and vegan-friendly ones. The breadth and depth of the selection of vegan restaurants mean there is something for every occasion, from a quick bite from a food cart to a special celebration. I’ll be moving there later this year. There are lots of cities with great vegan food scenes, but Seattle calls to my heart.
A good meal is not complete without … ?
Good company. I’m quite comfortable eating alone, but it’s better with friends and family.
What are your 3 favorite restaurants?
Urban Fresh (Scott/Pennington in Downtown Tucson): small vegan restaurant with lots of super-fresh and amazingly delicious wraps, salads, baked goods, smoothies and juices; many options are raw and/or gluten-free; under new ownership since May of last year. I could eat here every day, and many people do.
La Indita (4th Avenue, Tucson): Mexican and Tarascan food; almost everything that’s listed as vegetarian can be made vegan by leaving off the cheese–so many options. The staff are very knowledgeable about veganism.
Pomegranate Café (Ahwatukee, Greater Phoenix): Owned by a mother/daughter team, no trip to Phoenix is complete without visiting this outstanding vegan restaurant, and eating there might even make going to Phoenix something you want to do. Plus, it’s not far from IKEA.
Melissa is joined at the hip to–and may share a brain with–her mother, Alison. They love their greyhounds, Artemus and Audrey, and their gigantic orange tabby cat, Butterball. Her sage advice, “Please adopt from a shelter or rescue group.”
Karyn Zoldan: I admire her vegan foodie passion. Melissa and I are on the same page regarding greyhound adoption and seeing the end of greyhound racing.