Sunday, November 19, 2017

Weekend Cooking: A Taste of Tuscon

One of the things I really wanted to do when I was in New York was a food tour. There are so many interesting looking tours that are available - specific types of food, neighbourhoods and more - but we just didn't have time this time.

From New York we were flying to Tuscon to meet up with some friends for part of the weekend. I have known these girls online for many, many years since we originally met on the forums for author Sara Donati. There is a core group of about 10 of us who have stayed close over the years despite the fact that we are spread all over the world. There are members in the US and Canada, Australia, New Zealand and France. I have previously met two of them on my last trip to California, but the third girl was one I hadn't met which was very exciting.

Originally when they were planning their girls get together they asked if I want to come to America and I was very tempted but had to say no because, well, it's a long way to go for a weekend, but by getting our dates just right I was able to be there for at least a full day before we flew back to Australia.

Given that we did only have just over a day, we wanted to make sure that we used our time wisely. Robert already knew what he was going to do. Tuscon is home to the largest plane grave yard in the world so he was going off to look at planes and helicopters. In the course of looking for what we were going to do I came across a walking food tour of Tuscon, and also the fact that Tuscon was made a UNESCO City of Gastronomy a couple of years ago, so this is what we did for the afternoon.

In the end, there were the four of us and the tour guides, so it was almost like a personal tour, something that was emphasised at the end of the tour. I had been talking about how we hadn't been able to find any traditional American apple pie. The tour had ended when the guide came back and gave me a back containing an apple empanada. She apologised for it not being pie but hoped it would do as a substitute.

So first, a don't do before embarking on this tour!

Don't visit a craft market and stock up on various different flavours of pie with plans to eat them when you finish the tour. You will be waaayyyy too full to even contemplate anything for dinner except maybe some nibblies much later in the evening, preferably after a spell in the hot tub. Visit the craft market by all means. Contemplate buying lots of different pieces of jewellery all you like. You just won't need the pie.

We met in a lovely courtyard area called Mercado San Agustin where there are various different shops including a Mexican bakery, some kind of iced confectionery place (Sonoran Sno-cones) as well as the first of five stops on our tour, Agustin.

Here we tried some amazing food, including some of the best calamari I have ever tasted, goats cheese brulee that was to die for and a new to the menu kale salad. The chef came out and talked to us about why sustainability was so important in the food world right now which was very cool. He was very passionate about the food he had presented to us and about this subject.

The next stop is my kind of place - brunch. Again the chef came out to speak to us and when he heard I was from Australia he was very enthusiastic because brunch is really big here and cafes and restaurants are constantly trying to do interesting things with breakfasty type foods. He said that he followed a number of Australian chefs to get inspiration We got to taste 3 tasters, and I have to say the Cinnamon Griddle Cakes were amazing. The others were good too.

Next stop we had sliders at a sports bar type place. Not your normal beef or pulled pork, but this time it was duck, which I have never had on a burger before. It was so good, especially combined with the house coleslaw which was definitely identifiable as coleslaw but also had a different taste to it. It was really fresh and tangy and went with the sliders perfectly. One thing that was interesting about this place was that they had a lot of flavoured vodkas available, some that I can imagine drinking but a few that I couldn't. Roasted Garlic vodka? Green pepper vodka? Anyone, anyone?

We were all full now but still managed to find space for some wood fired pizza. The pizza was great but it was the salad that was the surprise. It was fresh and delicious and it would have been good to go back and just have the salad by itself, which in itself is something that I would never have expected to say about a pizza joint.

Last stop was the ice creamery which is all natural ingredients and some interesting flavour combinations. For example, there was a bourbon and bacon ice cream flavour. The bourbon ice cream was really good, the bacon not so much, but that's probably because I don't really get why you would mess around too much with bacon by doing things like covering it in chocolate, putting it in cupcakes or ice cream.

It wasn't all about the food though. During the course of the tour we were also introduced to some of the history of Tuscon, and to some of the interesting buildings in town, including the movie theatre and an old hotel, and also some of the many murals that have been painted in downtown Tuscon over recent years.

One fun thing was that because it was close to Halloween the movie theatre was having a free showing of Beetlejuice. As we walked past there was a guy there all dressed up as Beetlejuice in the full costume. A bit later in our tour, we came across the guy again, but this time he was out walking around town with his wife. He was dressed normally from the neck down but he was still full Beetlejuice from the neck up!!

The tour was well run, a good pace and it was a nice touch to include an all day trolley ticket so that we could continue to explore the city if we wanted to. We chose to head back to Le Augustin for a cocktail to round off our day nicely!

It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and one I would definitely recommend if you happen to find yourself in Tuscon with a few spare hours!

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.


  1. Wow That sounds fantastic. I'm trying to figure out what part I would have liked best -- maybe the sliders? That salad must have been awesome to have beat out the pizza.

  2. Thank you for sharing this incredible adventure. I live not to far from NYC and I've never done a food tour- will have to look into doing one. - As for your food tour in Tuscon, I would go for the goat cheese brulee..

  3. How you ate all those meals in a row is a mystery to me! Sorry about the apple pie. It's probably not that different from pie that you would make yourself in any modern kitchen, though.

    best... mae at

  4. What fun. Have a great week. Cheers from Carole's Chatter



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