TUCSON, Arizona, January 3, 2010 — The southern road to Tucson skirts at least four mountain chains, leading into the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Tucson is a desert city, surrounded by the iconic saguaro cactus and Saguaro National Park. Tucson is also a foodie’s playground, stuffed with a range of restaurants and specialty producers.
The Hacienda del Sol makes a deluxe basecamp for exploring the area’s culinary delights. Reminiscent of a fine historic hacienda, the accommodation offers 30 well appointed guest rooms and private casitas, including one rumored to be Tracy and Hepburn’s secret hideaway.
Sited on 34 acres of natural desert landscape with stunning desert views, the Hacienda is augmented by The Grill, an award winning dining venue. The Grill’s Executive Chef Ramiro Scavo orchestrates a five-course tasting dinner that features the finest local meats and vegetables and herbs from the property’s garden.
The meal is elegant, but relaxed; the pace set by a team of top notch servers working with their guests to make the repast a culinary high point.
The Hacienda’s bar also holds gastronomic adventure with its roster of culinary cocktails. Called “culinary deconstructivism” by Ferran Adrià, the Spanish father of molecular gastronomy, the cocktails range from deceptively simple to laborious and complex.
As an example, “Peppers!,” made with Aviation gin, fresh red bell pepper, red jalapeno, Hacienda-grown mint, freshly squeezed lime juice, and simple syrup, has so many layers of flavors, from the snap of the jalapeno all the way to the soothing sweetness of the syrup.
From the sublime to the…hot dog?
Tucson’s range of gastronomic delights sweeps the entire horizon, from haute to homey. The Sonoran hotdog, a kind of “kitchen sink” take on the standard red hot, piles a bacon-wrapped hot dog onto a soft Mexican bolillo roll and tops it with pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, onions, jalapeno sauce, cheese, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, and a variety of Southwestern relishes. A roasted chile usually comes alongside.
BK’s could be the Nathan’s of Sonoran hot dogs, Winner of the Travel Channel’s Food Wars Sonoran Hot Dog challenge in the Spring of 2010, BKs serves up ridiculously inexpensive Sonoran dogs in a classic collegiate hangout.
The 4th Avenue Shopping District, between University Boulevard and 9th Street, holds antiques, stylish salons, unique gifts, vintage clothing, costumes, trolley rides, beautiful jewelry, custom-made furniture, Mexican imports, and some of Tucson’s best restaurants and bars, all in a six-block, window-shopping sidewalk stroll.
An afternoon spent prowling the street’s delights can open a window into Tucson’s history and character.
More Tucson in our next post.
Serves 4 to 6 people
2 pounds flank or skirt steak
Fresh ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon fresh cumin seed, lightly toasted and ground
1 large handful fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, finely chopped
Fresh ground black pepper
2 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
Put the steak in a large, sealable plastic bag along with the marinade ingredients. Make sure each piece of steak is well coated; refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Preheat grill over medium-high flame. Remove the steak from the marinade and season both sides of the steak pieces with salt and pepper. Grill the pieces for a few minutes only, on each side, depending on how thin they are, until medium rare to well done, to your preference. Remove the steak pieces to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak across the grain on a diagonal. Serve with warm tortillas, pico de gallo, and chopped avocados.
For more information:
Arizona Office of Tourism, 602-364-3695, www.arizonaguide.com
Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau, 520-624-1817, www.visitTucson.org
Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort, 520-299-1501, www.haciendadelsol.com
BK Carne Asada & Hot Dogs, 520-207-2254, www.bktacos.com
Fourth Avenue Shopping District, www.fourthavenue.org
Reed Hellman is a freelance writer living in Alberton, Maryland. For more of his signature culinary escapades, read his articles in Recreation News, in print or online. Visit his Recipe for Adventure Website at www.reedhellmanwordsmith.com. You can find more recipes in The Recipe Box on his Website.
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