What better way to spend a sunny, yet slightly rainy, Saturday afternoon than meandering through the beautiful Tucson Botanical Gardens and sampling meticulously prepared small bites and locally made wines and beers? I certainly cannot think of anything better! The inaugural Savor Southern Arizona, sponsored by Local First Arizona, Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance, and CyraCom International, was a huge success, highlighting the local food and beverage community with over 30 participating restaurants and 15 local wineries and breweries from the southern Arizona region, plus a few from other ares of the state. Local First Arizona members certainly showed up in style, here are a few of the highlights:
North Italia, one of the Fox Restaurant Concepts in Tucson, really upped their local cred by using all sorts of local ingredients in their samples! They brought along a winter squash tortelloni with braised swiss chard, local pancetta, and roasted Willcox apple brown butter emulsion. In addition, they had an olive oil cake made with local Queen Creek Olive Mill oil, fresh orange, local pecan toffee, and mascarpone cream. This cake, with its mix of sweet and salty flavors, was one of my favorite items of the day.
Cafe Roka of Bisbee went classy with their choice of lamb meatballs (lambondigas) with balsamic glaze and basil pesto on a bed of couscous. Lamb certainly has a distinct flavor that can sometimes be difficult to work with, but Cafe Roka did an excellent job to accentuate these complex flavors with the spicy meat and the mild couscous. With Bisbee not far from Tucson, they're certainly worth the visit! You can even make a staycation out of it by staying at the nearby (and local) Copper City Inn.
I think I ate more dessert items than savory items at Savor Southern Arizona, but I couldn't resist the amazing looking desserts offered up by AJ's Fine Foods. I mean, just look at their cake display! They had a variety of sweet offerings, and I chose to sample both the chocolate and the raspberry mousse cakes. I would have gone back for seconds if I wasn't already so full!
If you needed a boost of caffeine to get you through the fog of food, wine, and beer, Black Crown Coffee Co. was on site offering their "Monarch" blend coffee, Indonesian origin balanced with South American coffee beans. They roast all of their coffee beans in house!
All of the participating restaurants definitely brought their A-game, and the local wineries and breweries certainly didn't disappoint. Walking through the crowds at the garden, I kept hearing attendees gush about the high quality of the food and drinks being offered. Many weren't even aware that Arizona produced such highly ranked wines such as Sand-Reckoner Vineyards, Grand Canyon Winery, and Pillsbury Wine Company!
We are already looking forward to savoring next year's event... Stay tuned for details to be announced later this year!