Tucson Local Media: Nourishment


  • Let’s be peppers at The Parish

    When Chef Travis Peters wants to integrate the flavors of prune, ginger, clove, and nutmeg into a dish, his first thought is whether there’s a doctor in the house.Encouragingly, for both Peters and his patrons, there’s rarely a time when a doctor isn’t on duty at his Northwest side gastropub.Dr. Pepper, I presume.Peters was first introduced to the idea of using the bountifully flavored Dr. Pepper in cuisine as a kid growing up in the small Texas town of Spicewood, less than 100 miles from where the popular soda was created, and his ongoing fascination with the 23 distinct flavor profiles that reportedly define the drink has made it a permanent fixture in his kitchen at The Parish, 6453 N. Oracle Road.“Growing up in Texas, I can tell you that there was always Dr. Pepper in the barbeque sauce,” said Peters. “Actually, our barbeque sauce back in those days was only ketchup and Dr. Pepper, that’s it.”Peters later discovered that the rich and complex flavors on which the drink is built had potential beyond the backyard barbeque, and today he lovingly calls it “Texas umami.”

  • It’s a barbeque showdown, and pulled pork is the hero

    It may be the biggest exhibition of barbeque brutality that we’ve ever seen in downtown Tucson when more than 500 pounds of butts take a beating at the Hotel Congress on June 4. But first, all you barbeque beginners can relax. The butt is just a nickname for the upper part of a pig’s shoulder and a cut commonly used on the competition ‘cue circuit. Pulled pork traces its origin back to the butt, which is slowly roasted or smoked and ultimately pulled apart to yield succulent strands.Pulled pork will be this year’s featured protein at the second annual Southern Arizona Smokin’ Showdown, and as local pit masters prepare to battle for the best butt in town, I sat down with Tucson’s reigning Iron Chef Danny Perez for some Butt 101. Perez tells me that these well-marbled butts are subjected to many hours in the hot box, a painstaking process that often times exceeds 10 hours before they officially succumb.“The butt requires smoking at a low temperature over a prolonged period of time to achieve the desired texture and flavor,” said Perez, director of food and beverage and executive chef at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort, 3800 W. Starr Pass Boulevard.“You run the risk of toughness if it’s not done right,” he warned.

  • Acacia’s Albert Hall talks viability and the future

    Chicago’s Alinea went to a ticketed system, ditching the standard reservation process. Other James Beard award winners, like Chez Panisse in Berkeley, have done away with tipping. It seems no matter where you look, fine dining restaurateurs are tweaking the typical protocol in order to find a system that works across the board: a good quality to price ratio for guests, a fair wage and sane hours for employees and a workable amount of cash leftover for the owner.It might sound simple just to list those three things, but achieving them, especially in a town like Tucson where the median household income is about $5,000 less per year than the rest of the state and about $10,000 less than that of the U.S. as a whole, is another story entirely.That’s where chef Albert Hall comes in. At 60-years-old, he’s been in kitchens for 45 years, and has seen some dramatic shifts—particularly in the last 11 years while his fine dining restaurant Acacia was in business. But, on Sunday, May 15, Acacia closed its doors for good.When the announcement that Acacia planned to close was made in February, many articles said approximately the same thing, culled directly from the restaurant’s press release:“It has been our great pleasure to have served the Tucson community since 2004”, said Chef Hall. “In the years since, we have been blessed by the many extraordinary friends and acquaintances who have enjoyed countless meals and good times at Acacia.”But behind that sunny media-ready quote is a man preparing to say goodbye to his preteen child.

  • What the dickens is going on at Commoner and Co.?

    If Charles Dickens were alive today, he most certainly would have found his “fabled orchards where the fruits were jewels” on the southeast corner of Sunrise and Kolb.Springtime means fresh, and for one Foothills eatery, fresh means fruit in abundance.“Our new seasonal menu is built around the flavors that make us feel good, and I’ve always loved the way that fruit makes me feel,” said Ginny Wooters, chef and partner at Commoner and Co., 6960 E. Sunrise Drive. “If you think about it, that’s what food should do, right?”Of the 23 dishes on the restaurant’s new menu, fruit plays prominent roles in 16 of them.Dickens might have started his tour of Commoner’s fabled orchard with the bruleed goat cheese and lemon thyme tart with strawberry jam, or the duck confit empanadas with cheddar curd, cilantro crème fraiche, and golden raisin red chili jam.“The duck empanadas is a super fun dish that brings me back to my southern roots,” Wooters said. “I just dig on golden raisins, and love how their fruity sweetness balances out the bigger flavors in this Mexican-style dish.”

  • Burger revolution continues in region

    The Tucson region recently saw the addition of several new choices when it comes to getting a burger. No longer are options solely limited to the drive-thru or value menu, with the only reprieve being high-end, gourmet meals. Sliding in between two buns, and two markets, are a couple new locations in Tucson: the area’s first Blake’s Lotaburger and the first Smashburger to open its doors in Oro Valley.Hailing from New Mexico and known nationwide for its award-winning Green Chile burgers, Blake’s Lotaburger proudly opened for the first time on April 1 to an enormous crowd of hungry and eager guests. Even several days into operation, the store, located at 2810 E. Speedway Blvd., was seeing traffic backed up into the road waiting for the drive-thru. “The Tucson community has welcomed Blake’s Lotaburger with open arms and great reviews of our signature Hatch green chile cheeseburgers and our awesome breakfast burritos,” said Kevin McCaslin, the Tucson region’s district manager. “We are thrilled to be here and look forward to opening our second location at 1600 W. Valencia at the end of May.”The restaurant chain also has 75 locations in New Mexico and three in El Paso, Texas. The Green Chile burger has been named by National Geographic as “The World’s Best Green Chile Cheeseburger.”While not exactly a new name in the region, Smashburger opened its fourth location in the area on April 6. The first Smashburger opened in 2012 at 4821 E. Grant Road, followed by 3837 E. Broadway Blvd. the next year. The third location is at 6970 E. 22nd St.

  • First reponders take on a beer challenge

    When a challenge was thrown down to see who can brew the best beer on the Arizona pro-am circuit, it should come as no surprise that local firefighters were the first to answer the call. First responders, right? I guess it’s in their blood. I’ve since learned that firefighting and brewing have a lot in common, and this pro-am competition will be one of the highlights of the Baja Beer Festival on April 23 at Rillito Park. All told, the event will feature hundreds of craft beers, served by more than 50 breweries, along with local food vendors and live music. But it’s the festival’s pro-am competition that got me hooked, a contest which will pit teams of Arizona firefighters and professional brewers against one another for best collaborative beer. Local firefighter Brian Sturgeon has never walked away from a challenge, whether it’s responding to an emergency or preparing for a brewing competition. Sturgeon has spent the last six years honing his skills as a home brewer, and today, as part of his fire station’s amateur brew team called the 38 Specials, he speaks passionately about the bond that exists between these two communities. “Firefighting and brewing are both about team-building,” he said. “It’s about getting everybody together to reach for the same goal.”

  • Invierno en Guadalajara: Birrieria Guadalajara is great year-round, but truly shines in winter

    I can’t help but roll my eyes anytime I see one of those lists that set aside, inventory and rate women in a particular industry. I’d even go so far as to say that I’d be interested in seeing what would happen if the men and women’s soccer teams were blended—maybe then the U.S. team would have a shot competitively when it comes to what people actually watch, but I digress.In the food and beverage industry, which has been male-dominated in the back of the house since forever, people love to make lists of female chefs and the like—proving that hey, there are some. It’s really ground-breaking stuff. Also, it gives writers the opportunity to cram all of the talented women in the industry into one list, allowing them to ignore their strides the rest of the year.I look at a restaurant like Birrieria Guadalajara, which runs with three women in the kitchen and occasionally an additional to help take orders, and I see the antidote to that sort of pandering. I see those three women working hard, kicking ass at what they do and making some of the most consistently delicious, yet accessible (in price as much as content) food in town.Upon arrival, you’re met with a little part-indoor, part-outdoor stand, which is painted a shade of orange that has to be a relic from the ‘70s. On the patio and near the counter inside, you’ll find other bits of the past—brightly-colored and hand-painted signage, wood paneling and red vinyl-topped bar stools. It might seem a little dingy, but that’s all part of the space’s interminable charm. This isn’t a “restaurant concept,” after all. Plus, I’ve never felt the table, counter surfaces or any of the plates or cutlery were unclean, and that’s what really matters.I’ve heard a couple warnings about the birrieria before going. People say the service is bad and they also say to bring cash. On the first point, I’ve found that this is absolutely the opposite of the truth, though I will admit the staff’s English seems limited. (But, we all realize there’s a difference between English being your second language and being rude, right? Great, I thought so.) On the second point, it’s true: Birrieria Guadalajara is cash only. It isn’t exactly convenient, but it is worth the stop at the neighboring Quik Mart to pull some cash out.Once you’re properly cashed up, you can begin exploring the menu, which spans breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and even large family-style take-away options with heaps of your meat of choice, tortillas, salsa, beans and more.

  • Best of the Northwest: Retirement

    Best Active Living CommunitySplendido 13500 N. Rancho Vistoso Blvd.(520) 878-2600www.splendidotucson.comSituated in beautiful Rancho Vistoso, Splendido is a community for adults 55 or better interested in a unique, exciting and active lifestyle with fine resort amenities – all within the view of the breathtaking Santa Catalina Mountains.

  • Best of the Northwest: Health & Beauty

    Best AccupunctureTess Richardson, L. Ac.,Come Alive Health7235 N. Paseo Del Norte, Ste. A(520) 877-7910www.comealivehealth.com

  • Local Brewers’ newest ingredient: Crowdfunding

    One Tucson-based company, Ten Fifty-Five Brewing, staked its claim to a unique piece of Arizona business history: being the first to seek out investors under the state’s relatively new equity crowdfunding law.Signed by Gov. Doug Ducey just last year, the new law allows for companies to seek out investors and sell shares to Arizona residents via online platforms, greatly increasing chances of raising much-needed capital. Under the legislation, companies are able to raise up to $1 million without having to undergo a financial audit, and up to $2.5 million if an audit has been completed within the previous fiscal year. In light of the rise in the crowdfunding trend started by organizations like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe, allowing business to search for capital via the internet is considered by many to be the next big innovation within the process of starting a business. Ten Fifty-Five Brewing co-founder and General Manager Chris Squires said that pursuing capital via equity crowdfunding “was just the right option for us. It had no limitations on the number of investors, and it allows non-accredited investors to be involved as well, which has been a large portion of our investors so far.”Squires and Ten Fifty-Five Brewing co-founder and head brewer John Paul “J.P.” Vyborny, were first turned onto the online process after speaking with attorneys specializing in brewery capital fundraising. Squires said they went over every different option, eventually landing on the equity crowdfunding.The process began for the partners two months ago, but their business has already netted over $200,000 in investment. Squires said a majority of those interested in becoming part of the business are non-accredited investors, which he said is just another benefit to equity crowdfunding—it’s open to anyone, as long as they live in the state.

  • Third annual Southern Arizona Food & Wine Festival this weekend

    The third annual Southern Arizona Food & Wine Festival will be held this Saturday, Feb. 6 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Tucson Botanical Gardens located at 2150 N. Alvernon Way. The event will showcase some of the region’s best cuisine and is a fantastic showcase of some of Tucson’s local culinary talent.Set in the beautiful setting of the botanical gardens, the festival will feature over 60 different restaurants, wineries, breweries and specialty cooks, all prepared to showcase their finest plates and drinks. This foodie festival will showcase the amazing diversity of food that Tucson has to offer in addition to the regions burgeoning fine spirit industry.The event is open to anyone aged 21 and older with general admission tickets costing $65. Tickets include all food, wine and other samplings, as well as access to the Tucson Botanical Gardens, event activities and awards raffle. To purchase tickets, visit https://saaca.thundertix.com/events and select “Savor Food & Wine Festival at the Tucson Botanical Gardens.”Not only will local foodies be able to sample some of the greatest dishes Tucson has to offer, but guests will also have a unique chance to meet and interact with some of the chefs during the event.In addition to alcoholic beverages, vendors will also be on-site offering various artisan coffees and teas. See below for entire menu and list of participating businesses:Artisan Popcorn by {POPPED}Various flavors of Artisan Popcorn.Agustin KitchenTop Knot Duck Tinga on Hubbard Squash Puree. Alfonso Gourmet Olive Oil & BalsamicsSamples of Olive Oils and Balsamics.  Athens on 4th AvenueSpanakopita, Greek salad, Saganaki, Roast peppers and grilled pita.  Arizona Hops & VinesNamaste (Chardonnay), Cazzo Piccolo (Sangiovese Cabernet) and The Fluffer (Sparkling Moscato). Black Crown Coffee Co.4 oz. samples of Brazilian/Ethiopian coffee blend.  Blue Moon Brewing CompanyHard Orange soda and Henry's hard Ginger Ale.Boca Tacos y TequilaBlack Bean Enchilada Eggrolls with Eamarind sauce.Bodega Pierce WineryPandora - Pinot Gris Blend, Chardonnay, Moscato, Emotive - Super Tuscan Blend, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.Borderlands Brewing CompanyNoche Dulce Vanilla Porter and Citrana Wild Ale.  Caduceus CellarsMerkin Vineyards - 2013 The Diddler, Caduceus Cellars - 2013 Lei Li, Merkin Vineyards - 2014 Chupacabra and Caduceus Cellars - 2012 Primer Paso.Café BotanicaSmoked Nopal Canape with avocado-lime drizzle on poblano polenta cake.Carlson Creek Vineyards2012 Carlson Creek Sangiovese, 2012 Carlson Creek Rule of Three, 2012 Carlson Creek Sauvignon Blanc and 2013 Sweet Adeline Riesling.  CataVinos Wine Shoppe & Tasting RoomFeatured premium wine samplings.Chef ChicBeer Bread Bowl with IPA Risotto with pork belly, S'mores shakes: chocolate cup filled with a porter shake topped with graham cracker crumbs and a brulee marshmallow top. Chilttepica SalsaChilttepica Salsa, a fresh medium red chiltepin salsa.Commoner & Co and Prep & PastryGoat Cheese Brulee Tart.  Dragoon Brewing CompanyDragoon IPA and Scout Porter.Ermanos Craft Beer & Wine Bar  HopShock IPA, Mr. Pineapple and Devil's Ale.  Fermented Tea Company4 flavors of Kombucha Tea.Fini's LandingChorizo Stuffed Clams with Chubasco Hot Sauce Trio.  Golden Rule VineyardsWine samples.  Goose Island (GED)Beer samples. Gourmet Girls Gluten Free Bistro & BakeryAward-Winning Dill Pickle Soup paired with Shaved Ham Sandwich with horseradish cream sauce.  GRINGO grill + cantinaManchego and Chorizo stuffed Chili Relleno.  Hamilton Distillers(Whiskey Del Bac)Whiskey Del Bac - Classic and Clear.  Hannah's Hill VineyardHannah's Hill Vineyards Wine: Viognier, Malbec and Petite Sirah.Hermosa Coffee RoastersA selection of coffees from around the world.  Iron John's Brewing CompanyBeer samples. JW Marriott Starr Pass TucsonPork Posole with fried hominy and Shrimp Sopes with Spicy Cilantro Crema.Kingfisher TucsonKingfisher's Seafood Gumbo paired with the Kingfisher Hurricane Cocktail.Living Room Wine Cafe & Lounge and Humble Pie Meatball slider with red sauce and Parmigiana on brioche bun, Mixed berry crepe topped with seasonal berries and berry sauce.Mama's Hawaiian Bar-b-cuePrickly pear and toasted macadamia nut lemon squares with a mesquite flour crust.  Maynard's MarketMaynards AZ Red Zinfandel Blend, Maynards AZ Red Malbec Blend.  Noble HopsFocaccia paired with a India Pale Ale Brew.NORTHTuscan Kale Salad, Short Rib Radiatore and Salted Caramel Budino.Omni Tucson NationalPecan Wood Grilled Flank Steak on Wagyu Beef Rillette with Sorrel green and Bora Bora Sea Salt.Oskar BluesDale's Pale Ale, Pinner IPA, Oskar Blue, Mama's little yella pills and Old Chub.PencaRoasted Corn Mousseline with a Beet and Chiltepin Salsa.PRP Wine InternationalSelected Wine Sampling.Pueblo Vida Brewing CompanyBrew Samples.PY SteakhouseE&R Pork Lardo, House Focaccia, AZ Date & Pecan Mostarda served with cocktails featuring Three Wells Distilling products.Queen Ceviche Organic hibiscus syrup with organic lemonade.  R & R Family Kitchen & BBQPulled Pork Sliders and Tacos. Rigo's RestaurantMini Chimichangas (Beef,chicken,Calabacitas) withTamarindo Ice Tea.Roger Clyne's Mexican Moonshine Tequila  Mexican Moonshine Tequilas: Silver, Reposado and Añejo. Sand Reckoner2014 W White; 2013 R Red; 2013 X Malbec.SanTan Brewing CompanyHopShock IPA, Mr. Pineapple, Devil's Ale and Grapefruit Shandy.Seis Kitchen & CateringChili Verde Pork Taco on handmade corn tortillas.  Sierra NevadaBrew Samples.Sogno Toscano Tuscan DreamSelected breads and olive oil and balsamic sampling.Sonoita VineyardsLocal wine sampling.Sonya's Brown Sugar BakeryMini Cheesecakes with Prickly Pear Wine Gelee.Table of ElementzPrickly Pear and Thai Chili Smoked Brisket Slider. Crispy Corn Tortilla and Vegetable Slaw with a Tamarindo Dressing. Tamarindo, Candied Poblano Chili and Toasted Pine Nut Fudge.  TavolinoPenne Funghi: Penne pasta with mushrooms, spinach in a parmesan cream sauce and Penne Bolognese: Penne pasta with a meat ragu sauce.Tazzina di GelatoVarious Gelato.  The CoronetLemon Tumeric Cookies and Lavender Earl Grey Cookies. The Melting PotChocolate-Dipped Strawberries and Chocolate-Covered S'mores.The Ritz-Carlton Dove MountainRed Velvet Trifle: cream cheese icing, red velvet sponge cake, raspberry crunchy cream puff, raspberry chocolate cream.The StillDesert Flower Punch  Three Wells Distilling CompanySonora Silver, Sonora Copper and Agave Silver.  Tucson Country ClubChipotle Chicken Pasta/ Duck Confit Salad; Ginger Margarita: Milagro silver tequila, house-made ginger syrup, fresh lime juice, topped with ginger beer and a salted chili rim.Tucson Tamale CompanySanta Fe, Green Corn, Santa Cruz and New Dehli Tamales.Ume Sushi & Asian CuisineStrawberry , Kiwi, Pineapple and Cream Cheese Dessert Sushi rolled in  sweet  rice and topped with locally-grown pecans, shredded coconut and a prickly pear syrup. Vero AmoreEggplant Parmesan paired with a Clove Daiquiri provided by The Still.  WildflowerCider glazed Pork Belly, Cauliflower Polenta, Brussel Sprout Leaf, Pickled Green Garlic and Mini Mocha bar with huckleberry and crème fraiche.Yellow Brick CoffeeCosta Rica: Don Pepe, Kenya: Kayu, Nexico: Nueva Esperanza and Chiapas coffees.

  • Oro Valley Community Center soon to feature French cuisine

    Arizona has long been known for having a fine selection of Mexican cuisine and other Latin-inspired dishes. A hotspot for any foodie, Tucson in particular has long contained some of the best restaurants in the state — and the Southwest region.The Oro Valley Community and Recreation Center, located at 10555 N. LaCañada Blvd., is set to throw some world cuisine and culture into the mix with the new dinner program, the Traveler’s Passport Series.Executive chef Robert Kaslly, a Le Cordon Bleu graduate at the helm of The Overlook restaurant at the community center, is excited to flex his culinary muscles for members of the community. “People aspire to travel, explore and discover new cultures, dishes and history,” Kaslly said. “This allows people to continue discovering and exploring with friends and family, without leaving home.”The dinner series will be held at the community center for six events between January and March. The event begins on Jan. 9 and 23 from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. and will feature French cuisine and a look into French culture.Kaslly will lead with food he is quite familiar with. Having received classical French training from Le Cordon Blue in San Francisco, Cal. and spending years cooking in France and Germany, Kaslly said he plans “to wow guests with a few modern flares on traditional French cuisine.”

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