2016 has been kind of a WTF year in a lot of ways, but that doesn't mean it was all a bust.
We believe strongly in supporting our amazing culinary community in Arizona. Whether it's a burgeoning food business or an established eatery we think you're doing something right and we want you to keep doing it.
1. Locally sourced ingredients (when available and appropriate)
If you're not from Arizona you may not think of this state as a farming wonderland, but shit we have some damn awesome produce and more. Most of our chefs also know that it's better to look in your backyard for great ingredients first, and then look elsewhere if things are out of season or just stick to what's seasonally available if that's your jam.
2. Keep telling stories about food
We have an army of amazing storytellers here in Arizona. Their mission is to spread the message that Arizona is a food force to be reckoned with. There are so many to name and we don't want to leave any out (you probably know who they are) but we needed to give a special shoutout to Andrew Gooi, Michelle Jacoby, Mark Lipczynski (BITE Magazine) who joined forces to make Food Talkies. Their masterful storytelling really captures the essence of the people behind the food in a beautifully thoughtful way. Oh and by the way it's 100% Ok to pause and take a photo of the food your chef took so much care to thoughtfully plate for you.
3. Pickle everything. Always.
Pickled things are fucking amazing. You can't have a great Bloody Mary without an awesome batch of pickled things. What's a great Cuban Sandwich without the vinegary pickles that mingle with the different porks? How the hell do you eat killer Korean food without Kimchi? Ok, ok I know it's technically fermented but they are like close cousins. Anyways. We fucking love pickled things and we don't understand why anyone would want it to leave a restaurant's menu. Period.
4. Fusion is freedom
We believe that there's really nothing that should be considered authentic. All food is an amalgamation of food from many cultures, recipes changed over time, instructions passed down by word of mouth. So why tell people they can't express their favorite flavors in the new and creative ways? We LOVE all Southwestern food and as it turns out we love a ton of different types of Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Fillipino and Chinese foods too. So why not let them live together in sweet harmony?
In this photo we took thick-cut tortilla chips and melted extra sharp white cheddar cheese in a cast iron skillet. Then, we added some homemade caramelized tamari teriyaki jackfruit and covered it in a miso coleslaw before drizzling it all with sweet chili creme fraiche, spicy jalapeño slivers and fresh cilantro. It was goddamned delicious.
5. Celebrate your roots however the hell you want
Being this close to the border we have a plethora of Mexican and Mexican-inspired food. I personally do not believe you are required to be of a specific heritage to cook a specific cuisine, but if you love where you are from why not cook it like your mom used to make? Chihuahua style, Sonoran Style, Oaxacan style - do it the way you want. We've got plenty of room for more Mexican food here in AZ.
6. Keep making potatoes of all kinds
French fried, Belgian style, tots, waffle cut - keep them coming! Potatoes are bae any way you make them. Don't limit your arsenal with what's "traditional".
Breakfast Totchos: Tater tots broiled to crispy perfection + red onions, melted Trader Joe’s English Cheddar w/ caramelized onions, jalapeño bacon, cotija, cilantro, @golbsalt smoked serrano salt, freshly cracked black pepper and a glorious sunny egg. Tell me you don't want this in your face. Just try.
7. More hot sauce please
It's no secret that Arizona is a spicy state and we love our hot sauce. Maybe we're biased but I think we have some of the best in the world. Our homeboy Jacob from Homeboy's Hot Sauce has pretty much dominated 2016 - but there are still a ton of other great sauces that originated here. This includes both the Red and Green Sriracha from Clever Koi. Now we agree, not all Sriracha is made equal, but it's a classic American success story and we should celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit bottled in every great hot sauce business.
8. More awesome collaborations
With so many awesome chefs (and breweries) in town we should all continue to mashup the best of the best to create new and inspiring dishes like the Little Miss BBQ Brisket Sandwich on Proof bread from Worth Takeaway pictured above. Some of the best things we ate this year were collaborations. We're stronger as a food community so let's embrace one another when it's deserved.
9. Specialty Coffee
It might feel like we are bursting at the seams with new coffee shops popping up all around town, but we are barely scratching the surface. Perfecting the cappuccino, making coffee based cocktails, obsessing over the directly sourced beans and their roasts are all things that will continue to make the coffee scene better. Keep pushing the limits AZ, keep trying new methods. Tap your cold Brew with CO2 and Nitro - we don't care as long as you had a good reason for doing it.
10. Treat cocktails as culinary
By now it shouldn't be a secret that constructing a balanced cocktail isn't accidental. It takes a knowledgable beverage-chef to make great drinks and we're super lucky to have some tried and true cocktail kings and queens here in AZ. Next time you belly up to the bar remember to give the masters a hug and a high five for keeping you happy. #DrinkBetter
While this certainly isn't everything we care about (and you should too) it's a good reminder to love one another and the community of makers and eaters that make Arizona pretty damn good.
BONUS: Our favorite new spot - Garage-East
Garage-East very quickly found it's way into our hearts for a lot of reasons. Let's start with the Breakfast Wine. It's like the perfect Pamplemimosa, Grapefruit Mimosa, whatever - it's amazing. White Grapefruit, Meyer Lemon, New Mexico Grapes lightly carbonated and served from Oscar The Garbage Can it's pure happiness and the best way to start your Saturday or Sunday.
Then we've got this delicious classic Chicago dog.
Anyone know what Tostilitos are? These "crazy chips" are a Mexican Street Food standard. First time I've ever described chips as "fresh" - you will too.
Next time you are around Agritopia and East Gilbert stop by and say hi to the Garage-East family and give them a hug on our behalf.