Bona fide Butchery: Proper Meats + Provisions

Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, January 2019

Written by Gail G. Collins

The Shambles is the oldest street in York. Its name descends from an archaic word meaning slaughterhouse. The market of butcher stalls is mentioned in The Domesday Book of William the Conqueror, an 11th-century grand survey of England. Soon after, the Butchers Guild, a professional organization, who held sway in matters of hygiene, weights and measures and so on, formed to oversee the trade.

Fast forward in history to 1865, when Chicago’s meatpacking industry utilized a vast network of railways, and few decades later, the advent of reliable refrigeration generated potential. In the 50s, neighborhood butchers promoted their offerings with recipe booklets, such as A Medley of Meat Recipes. In those days, a shopper popped into the green grocer for fresh produce and the fish monger for today’s catch, but the butcher often suggested supper. Cleaver in hand, he would point out specialty cuts and how to prepare them.

This golden period—captured in ambience and action—still exists at Proper Meats + Provisions, newly relocated on Route 66. Chunky, custom, butcher block tables meet leather benches with their backs fastened by leather pulls against rough paneled wainscoting. Chalkboards advertise the menu choices. Iron shelving contains practical goods for dining plus items for sale—olive oils, fresh pasta, cutting boards or cast iron pans. Kim Duncan Design fashioned the vintage air.

Behind a long glass case, filled with sausages, steaks and unique offerings, Joe Fiandach stands ready to provide advice on locally-sourced animals with a sure pedigree.

“The goal is to buy meat, like wine, from single farms,” said owner Paul Moir. “We have three sources in the case today:  Arizona Legacy from Humboldt, Pierre’s Prime from Rimrock and Creekstone Farms out of Kansas.”

Award-winning restaurateurs Paul and Laura Moir also founded Brix and Criollo Latin Kitchen in Flagstaff, and originally opened Proper Meats in Southside in 2014. Now occupying the former Grand Canyon Café space, the new location expanded the shop in multiple ways.

“It gave us opportunities to spread out the kitchen space for production and preparation and include a new seafood case with wider selections,” said Paul. “It also provided more space for retail and expanded hours.” Meal options, like a bucket of fried chicken, homemade stock or Bolognese, sausages or charcuterie and more, are prepackaged in a case for easy access. Even Fido can benefit from homemade dog food.

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The Tortilla Lady & Rising Hy

Scratch made favorites with heat and flavor

Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, December 2018


Written by Gail G. Collins

Brenda Ramirez stands at the stainless steel counter, her deft hands scooping, spreading, filling and folding. A huge bowl of moist masa sits within reach—the base ingredient for creating dozens of tamales—and stacks of corn husks bundle the completed package. Turning the sticky hominy dough into handfuls of this holiday staple is a series of tasks best shared by extended family, each taking on a physical role in the assembly line, but also fulfilling the role of happy company. It’s a time for chatter about the year just gone and what lies ahead. Hands and hearts are busy, and the tamalada, or preparation party, is a festive glimpse of the celebration at which the tamales will be the highpoint.

Spanish history professors believe that tamales have been filling growling bellies since Pre-Columbian times. Aztec women prepared them and toted the portable handholds into battle to keep the army fed. The tamales were easily heated by burying them in ashes. By the 1550s, tamales were served to Spanish conquistadores, and steaming was introduced as the cooking method. Tamales vary in size, flavor, filling and wrapper, depending on the resources available, but the laborious process remains one reason they are dedicated to special occasions.

One shortcut is to buy ready-made scratch masa from authentic tamale crafters, like The Tortilla Lady, where Ramirez makes tamales year round. “Why tamales?” asked co-owner Mike Konefal, “Because people love them. Stock your freezer with our tamales. They’re always available.”

Konefal’s first business venture, Rising Hy Specialty Sauces, began in 2005 in his final year at Northern Arizona University. As a joke, a childhood friend gave him a hot sauce kit, and his first fiery efforts yielded a habanero sauce. He was hooked. Now, a shelf of handcrafted choices are offered, still made in small batches. Unlike most recipes, Konefal doesn’t use vinegar. “Vinegar overpowers, and we want people to enjoy the chili with the food.”

In 2009, Konefal partnered with Dawn Graham, and a couple of years later, they bought The Tortilla Lady, keeping the genuine product, the employees and the business rolling.

“Mike had the passion and heart, and I brought skills and initiative for the combined company to grow with our goals,” said Graham. “It’s been a hot mess and a good outcome.”

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Perfect Picnics

Tips on how to fill your basket and where to spread the blanket

Written by Gail Collins

It’s always a good day for a picnic in northern Arizona. And it’s the perfect meal for a few reasons:  no need for a clean house to entertain, a tablecloth doubles as a nap blanket and al fresco feasting tastes better. Keep it simple and keep it fun by gathering your goodies at local shops. This list is not exhaustive, as Flagstaff’s foodie scene continues to expand, but it provides a good start. As for the venue, numerous parks and panoramas are within easy reach.

Where to fill the basket

Planning brunch on a blanket? Swing into Macy’s European Coffee House (14 S. Beaver Street). Unique combinations, like the mozzarella sandwich, bursting with fresh cheese, organic spinach, roasted red pepper, balsamic glazed onion, tomatoes and basil, create difficult, but delicious, decisions. The coffee is top-notch and grab a made-from-scratch pastry.

Tourist Home Urban Market (52 S. San Francisco Street) carries specialty items on the shelf and fresh grub to go. The daily quiche makes an easy handhold and the Cobb salad packs protein. Pastry chef Kat Beimann stocks a case of sweet surprises, too.

The deli counter at Proper Meats + Provisions (110 S. San Francisco Street) offers specialty butchered meats for the best cheesesteak outside of Philly or go global with the bahn mi of pork shoulder confit, pickled zucchini and carrot with cilantro and chili aioli.

Café Daily Fare (408 Historic Route 66) provides platters of veggies and dips or assorted spreads, including smoked salmon with lemon caper cream, and tarts or cookies. Frank’s, of course, carries all-beef hotdogs and Italian sausage with peppers plus snacks. Jitters Lunchbox (3504 Historic Route 66) features weekly sandwiches, like an egg salad BLT on buttermilk bread, and soups. Items are hand-crafted at Aspen Deli (20 N. Beaver Street). Choose the rise and swine burrito with pork and potatoes for a hearty start or Grandma’s recipe potato and pasta salads. Go Go’Z Drive-Thru (1750 E. Route 66) boasts two food truck concepts, including BBQ, for a fusion of flavor.

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GOING WORLDLY

Nomads Global Lounge Caters to International Travelers & Local Foodies

Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, June 2017

Story & Photos by Gail Collins

Travel writer and a founder of Outside magazine, Tim Cahill, once noted:  “Travel is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” On the cusp of summer, one’s mind turns to travel, to vacation. Vacation and travel are used interchangeably, but the first often entails getting away to relax, while the latter implies exploration.

Exploration becomes an education, both in making plans and executing them, and as plans generally go awry, that is when the learning begins in earnest. We must problem-solve, reach out to strangers, and often, we make friends in the process. Beyond our familiar culture lay new ways to live, think and grow. Our circle of experience expands dynamically, and we are raw and real in the moment. Maybe, that authenticity allows us to find fast friends when wandering—we open up, engage in novel adventures and find others, who understand the joy in it.

We are fortunate to live in a place, where people come for adventure. Flagstaff is a jumping off point for travelers from around the globe. They bring their ways to us! The connecting point for such fellow travelers is Nomads Global Lounge with the motto:  “Where the world comes to mingle.” Owners John and Lisa McCulloch wanted a social space for guests of their properties, so John spent more than two years employing his

woodworking skills to transform the previous check-in area of Motel DuBeau. Nomads opened last October.

“We created an elegant, but comfortable, communal environment, where travelers and pilgrims could gather and tell stories, and locals could meet them,” John said. Lisa handled the decorating, layering a sleek, international atmosphere over classic, historic bones. Handcrafted, burnished wood, leather seating arranged for chatting, bold colors on the walls and global destinations on frameless canvases give Nomads a timeless, yet yearning-forward, feel. The duo built a background in customer service before buying the Downtown Motel in 1997 and Motel DuBeau Travelers Inn & Hostel in 2000 to provide beds for 90 travelers.

“It’s a quiet place to come after the theater, for parents dropping off college kids, a pre-game meet-up or a nightcap after dinner,” said John. The bar aspects include a variety of international wines and beers, plus cold pints of Boddington’s and 90 Schilling, specifically. Can’t decide on a wine? John suggests sampling sips.

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