The ultimate cup: Macy’s European Coffee House and Bakery celebrates 40 years in Flagstaff

FlagLIVE! February 20, 2020

Photos and Story by Gail G. Collins

Our inclination toward a good thing is to enjoy and preserve it. For four decades, that’s been the case as coffee lovers consistently crowd Macy’s European Coffee House and Bakery, south of the tracks in downtown Flagstaff. The town’s first roaster and coffee house opened in 1980, and many who came to love it as students at Northern Arizona University are happy to see it just as they remember it all those years ago.

Owner Tim Macy, who prefers the term caretaker, feels that timelessness is part of the coffee shop’s intrinsic charm.

“Everyone is welcome in a spirit of unity—treated with respect and love,” he says. “Macy’s is a microcosm of what the world will be one day.”

With an easy smile, he then quips, “I got lucky—people loved Macy’s.”

It was more than luck; it was knowledge, determination and firm principles that propelled Macy’s idea to open a coffee house. It was also a man named Carl Diedrich, a German who had—after fighting at the Battle of the Bulge, marrying into a family coffee, tea and cocoa business, studying the coffee industry in Naples, Italy, and purchasing a coffee plantation in Guatemala—built a retail coffee business from his garage with a hand-fabricated roaster. Macy was inspired to learn from the innovator and self-taught man but initially struggled to reach him. Finally, he convinced Diedrich to teach him the trade when he showed up at his strip mall shop in Costa Mesa, California.

“Once a week, I would buy a pound of the best coffee I’d ever had in my life and hang around to learn the business,” Macy says.

Following what became a three-year mentorship, Macy chose to open his own shop in Flagstaff because of its college setting and great potential. He bought equipment and rented the space where Middle Earth Bakery had been. His first roaster, hand-built by Diedrich’s son, took center stage in the front window. In February 1980, with little more than a penny left to his name, Macy opened his doors.

At this point, Macy needed to educate the public about coffee. At the time, 99 percent of the best coffee was imported to Europe with a paltry amount making its way to the U.S. Macy would change that by serving 50-cent espressos and classy cappuccinos. People were captivated by the aroma of coffee roasting. It even caused a stir with the local fire department.

“For the first year, every few weeks, the fire department showed up, thinking there was a problem,” Macy recalls.

Diedrich supplied the coffeehouse with beans for 10 years before Macy began an alliance with Erna Knutsen. The “godmother of specialty coffee,” as she was known, traveled the world, reinvesting locally and promoting growers’ schools long before the advent of the fair-trade trend. Knutsen won the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991, and was again honored as a founder of the specialty coffee industry in 2014. Today, Macy works with small-source farms, paying above fair-trade prices.

For all those reasons, Macy assures, “Now in Flagstaff, we have the best coffee in the world. You can find a similar product, but nothing better.”

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Macy’s has long thrived on rare relationships. Early on, a gal applied for work at the coffee shop. As incentive, the budding artist flashed a sketch of a person, soaking in a cup of coffee bliss, drawn on a napkin. The student had limited availability so couldn’t be hired, but Macy paid her for the sketch, dubbed “the ultimate cup,” which became the shop’s logo. 

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NexVeg provides healthy, fresh alternatives to meat

Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, January 2020

Written by Gail G. Collins

When engineer Jonathan Netzky set his sights on invention, things turned delicious. The founder of NexVeg has evolved and refined his meatless protein alternative more than 200 times and has found a slot on many menus in Flagstaff. At Diablo Burger, version #48 was dubbed the Netzky Burger and became a favorite. Their server points to any combination of toppings and sauces that complement, not mask, the burger.

The Southwest spiced, smoky patty’s base ingredient is indigenous Arizona tepary beans. The beans have been grown in our arid climate for centuries and deliver supreme nutrition.

There is always one friend in a crowd with vegetarian or vegan needs, and Diablo wanted to provide a tasty burger for them, too.

“We are making something no one else makes and can deliver it to your door with a quality no one else can match,” Netzky said.

Did you know that most veggie burgers out there rarely contain vegetables at all?

There are two approaches to meatless protein. One attempts to duplicate the taste and textures of animal products. The other gathers significant protein sources for the nutrition label, but generally, both contain highly processed ingredients like protein isolates, caramel color and carrageenan. In the end, such “burgers” are chemical emulsions relying on refined oils as two of the top three ingredients—all to mimic the satiation of beef, but they build an unhealthy burger.

Netzky, however, didn’t adopt the same mindset as other meatless protein producers.

“Is there a whole-food option that respects whole-food responsibility?” he asked. “Health is the common denominator for those seeking plant-based foods.”

The aim of NexVeg is to deliver on the promise of truthful, nutritious and convenient whole-food eating. It begins with legumes, which are important in the control and prevention of metabolic diseases, such as colon cancer and diabetes. In 2016, renewed interest in NexVeg’s viability was reported by the Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences.

NexVeg doesn’t promote an appetite for animal textures, but utilizes whole foods and light processing to create authentic plant-based foods with natural flavors and nutritional benefits. The product line begins with tepary or black beans, or a combination of hemp, pumpkin and sunflower kernels for a product rich in omega fats, fiber, iron and Vitamins A and C.

“There is no better complete protein source than these top-notch ingredients,” Netzky said.

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SaltRock Southwest Kitchen

Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, December 2019

Written by Gail G. Collins

A sophisticated couple sat at a patio table with their eyes fixed on the fiery glow of Sedona’s red rocks, bathed in golden light. No words passed between them. A stacked stone water feature nearby spilled over, drops sparkling. From the patio, a path wandered down to the edge of Oak Creek, luring guests to enjoy its solitude and natural beauty. A waiter quietly appeared and served the couple colorful dishes of branzino fillet and Iberico chorizo with roasted heirloom tomatoes on a swirl of charred avocado, roasted fennel fronds and citrus salad.

This combination of inventive, complex and complementary ingredients in a landmark locale draws diners to SaltRock Southwest Kitchen. As part of Amara Resort and Spa, the restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and boasts a distinguished craft cocktail bar. The intimate boutique hotel offers 100 spacious rooms and suites, mixing modern amenities with a relaxed, yet refined, lifestyle. Though guests are only steps from the bustling pleasures of upscale shopping and tourism, the lush gardens and creek feel a world away.

SaltRock opened in 2014, and with the arrival of Chef Lindsey Dale in February, its menu received a chic revamp. The celebrated eatery showcases fresh, light, seasonal dishes enhanced by Southwestern flair and a California sensibility.

“Native ingredients have been wonderful to explore and learn to use in interesting ways,” said Chef Dale. “Tepary beans, cholla and juniper are new to me.”

The Syracuse, New York, transplant came to Arizona five years ago. With a background in family baking and serious training from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, Dale is pursuing her passions in Sedona.

Her plan is to put SaltRock on the foodie map, “a food destination in a relaxed atmosphere among the red rocks,” she said.

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Home & Garden Profile: Williams-Hirsch Custom Builders Craftsman Styled Homes Popular in NB

New Braunfels Lifestyle  Magazine—Sept/Oct 2019

Written by Gail G. Collins

With nearly half a century of experience logged between them, Jim Williams and Greg Hirsch allied in 2001 to begin building custom homes in Hill Country. “At first, we built what customers asked for—big, rambling, Mediterranean-style homes.

“At the time, these type of homes were in style,” said Jim Williams. “Then seven or eight years ago, we got the opportunity to build specs houses, so we studied and began building nicely-appointed Craftsman style homes. We were immediately drawn to this style of home.” It would appear, a vast number of residents were drawn to them, too, as the popular Craftsman style has become synonymous with the area.

The partners also had done a lot of remodeling around San Antonio, particularly Alamo Heights and Terrell Hills. They adored the bungalows in those mature neighborhoods, but even with updating, the old homes often lacked efficient plumbing, insulation and didn’t meet other current standards. So, Williams-Hirsch (W/H) designed a better version. “We build homes with all modern features, which fit into established, traditional neighborhoods,” said Greg Hirsch. Their custom Craftsman homes possess every contemporary function, yet project a timeless, irresistible curb appeal.

Though the W/H constructs other styles, such as ranch, Mediterranean, farmhouse or contemporary in various communities, people come to them for their appealing Craftsman models. “If it is up to us, we choose to build a Craftsman cottage,” said Hirsch.

So what defines a W/H Craftsman style? The simpler, less pretentious home is characterized by a low-pitched, gabled roof with broad eaves and stands one-and-a-half stories with dormers. Craftsman plans could include a large, covered porch with battered columns draws guests to the door and invites them to stay awhile. Pillars line the entry. A prominent fireplace, flanked by fitted cabinetry, defines the living area. Windows are double-hung. Wood abounds in exposed rafters, built-in cupboards, nooks and window seats. Hammered metalwork in copper or bronze adds fine detailing.

The modest bungalows exude comfort and a productive lifestyle. They are both beautiful and functional—rife in textural, local materials with a high degree of craftsmanship. It is their fine details, which sets a Craftsman house apart, for though all Craftsman houses are bungalows, not all bungalows are Craftsman style.

It is just such aspects that have sold home buyers on Williams-Hirsch designs. The company offers eight Craftsman Cottage models. Buyers delight in the “custom designs within a budget,” “the functionality of a new home with the charm of an older home,” and “capturing unique architectural elements.” Utilizing Pam Williams for her interior design skills, the family team goes the extra mile with quality materials and workmanship.

Both Williams and Hirsch are Texas A & M grads. As a former Vietnam helicopter pilot, president Jim Williams then tacked on 25 years of experience building custom homes. He is married with three children and six grandchildren.

Vice president and co-partner Greg Hirsch is a knowledgeable site superintendent with 25 years invested in project management plus quality assessment and customer service. Hirsch works on architectural design alongside W/H designers.

“We collaborate on the design process,” said Hirsch. “It’s a team effort, and we stay with the plans until everyone is satisfied with the result.”

According to their Website, their customers share one thing—the desire for something more than the existing choices in custom homes. The company works closely with clients, taking into account their lifestyle, tastes and needs every step of the way from design to completion.

The builder hires third-parties to assure inspection standards, including energy testing, framing and more. “From a construction standpoint, we engineer everything we do,” said Hirsch. Williams-Hirsch is certified in many areas to incorporate science, efficiency and air quality into the overall construction.

The company also has erected commercial buildings, such as the Candlewood Suites Hotel, dentist offices, churches and a bar, as well as mixed-use projects. With an aim of blending the building into community spaces, Williams said, “Our products are designed to fit in well.”

Their awards reflect this goal as Herald-Zeitung readers voted Williams-Hirsch Best Homebuilder and among the Best General Contractors for 2019. Equally conscious as regards efficiency, they rank as a Certified Green Builder, Smart Energy Builder, Energy Star Builder, a Premier Partner with CPS Energy, San Antonio Sustainability winner for 2015 and 2016, as well as winning the Build San Antonio Green Award for Single Family Development in 2017. Additionally, the builder holds designations as Certified Graduate Builder, Master Builder and with the Certified Professional Building Performance Institute. Perhaps, most cherished is the recognition for Infill Development Focused on Community and Historic Character.

“Importantly, our homes look great and function well,” said Hirsch. They guide clients in green decisions, where practical innovation and technology provide a return on the long-term investment. “After moving into their new homes, clients call, excited with their lower utility bills.”

Word of mouth advertising and repeat business mean the most to any business. “We say what we mean and back it up,” said W/H. The builders simply treat their clients the way they desire to be treated. As a result, they have built more than one home for the same family.

The attraction to the Craftsman style is enduring, and Williams-Hirsch builds them for longstanding value. “When a family builds with us, we want their grandchildren to enjoy the benefits of that home one day as well,” said Williams. NBLM

To learn more about Williams-Hirsch Custom Builders, log into their Website:

NB Antique & Vintage Vendors Meet Contemporary Decorating Demands

New Braunfels Lifestyle  Magazine, Sept/Oct 2019

Written by Gail G. Collins

Vintage is all the rage, but truth be told, it always has been. Something old became something new. A fleeting fad created a cult classic. From furniture to fabrics, what goes around comes around.

According to the lay decorator’s Bible, Southern Living, what is trending today in home decor has an anchor in the past:  red front doors, faux marble finishes, crystal chandeliers, collectable displays, gold fixtures, wicker, wallpaper and sumptuous fabrics. Best, these ideas are better than before. Hoist the chandelier over a simple dining table or reflect some wow in the bathroom. Protect fabrics against stains and never score a party foul.

When it comes to vintage, it’s not a flash from the past, but a fresh footprint in another era. Lila and Don LeMasters agree. The owners of Red Rooster Antique & Design Center, a mall for vendors in historic downtown New Braunfels, have grown their concept to 25,000 square feet of shabby chic and period treasures. Artistic displays and vintage vignettes draw customers in and through the mall. “Don is very creative and loves to decorate,” said Lila. “Whatever he touches turns out well.”

The couple began with a café and store in 2006, expanding and relocating to a defunct furniture store. Focusing solely on antiques, they added a second mall, Encore Antiques Company, in 2016.  With more than 65 booths, a short list of goods for sale includes:  Western and primitive décor, furniture, jewelry, clocks, rugs, handmade quilts, original art and apparel. No wonder they have been voted Best Antiques Store in New Braunfels for years running.

It was a good fit for Don, who explained, “I like really unique, rare, quirky, odd stuff. Personally, that’s what attracts people to my business.” He fancies old signs, like the nearly 20-foot metal Gold Bond Stamps signboard, a trademark in the store.

When buying or selling awkward-sized goods, they transport via UShip, a niche transport company that hand-delivers unconventional items. It makes impulse shopping a “no worries” solution for customers alike.

Vendors rent space at Red Rooster, like hairstylists lease a chair at a salon to cut hair. The booths co-mingle in the great space for greater impact and shopping benefits. A good relationship works both ways. Generally, mall managers provide a sales venue, supervision, utilities, promotion and staff while the vendors offer high quality items displayed attractively to attract shoppers. The LeMasters work with vendors to be successful, even if they are newbies. “We help set-up from zero to selling,” said Don.

Selling takes effort and tips can make it pay off, like a wall of fishing-related signs, gear and décor, to turn interested heads. A lace tablecloth with dainty china, tailored linens and mix-match flatware begs for a party. The trick is stocking a booth with inventory without crowding it. Make ordinary goods special with a facelift, like painting a group of frames to match, or bundle items for effect, like books or postcards. Price competitively, track sales and focus on selling what is selling. A booth is a business, not a hobby.

Successful vendors know their customers. They keep booths fresh, regrouping and restaging goods. Promotions, like trunk sales, donating to fundraisers, pop-up events, teaching classes and lending for exhibitions can build a brand and expand the customer base. “We have about 10 original vendors,” said Lila, “and we call them family.” They build one another up and contribute to the overall value of the mall.

The idea of recycling, repurposing and reviving goods has gathered momentum with a new generation. Millennials adore vintage, mixing traditional styling with contemporary flair. A hand-knotted Persian rug undergirds the cool lines of a neutral couch. A landscape painting offers a view an urban loft misses. A glass topper on a trunk creates a coffee table for the insatiable traveler.

Unique, found objects are not a commodity. Vintage vendors sell history, nostalgia and fantasy. The goods are one-off, not available in a big box world driven out of business by online sales. A vintage item is considered for its merit in the eyes of a smitten seller, and then, a beguiled buyer.

Still, the greatest joy of vintage goods is found in the personal story … who owned that cocktail dress in 1957 and who will wear it to ring in the New Year in 2020? The legacy is ongoing, bringing happiness once again. NBLM

To learn more about becoming a vendor at Red Rooster Antique & Design Center or Encore Antique Co., contact Lila LeMaster at or call (830) 609-3311.

Nature’s Medicine—Morning Glory Café

Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, May 2019

Written by Gail G. Collins

Food fuels our bodies, and a nutritious diet can cause synergistic, positive effects. Still, we may overlook the medicinal value it inherently supplies. Consider food as medicine. Eating well can reduce the need for drugs, while our stronger bodies perform better when at work, play and sleep.

 “When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”

—Ayurvedic Proverb

Food is nature’s medicine, and it has no ill side effects. To get started, don’t focus on what should be eliminated from your healthy prescription, but on what can be added. That includes an abundance of proper foods. Choose local, raw, fresh and organic items, which are higher in fiber, vitamins, minerals and good fats.

The vital life force in plant-based foods naturally includes more whole foods. Despite today’s latest trend, whole foods are the true superfoods. Ginger aids digestion, turmeric fights inflammation, legumes are antioxidants, honey boosts immunity and energy, while raw nuts, seeds and oils offer nutrients, cardiovascular health and joint lubrication. Try adding one whole food at meals and build a wholesome diet. Also, look for healthy options for meals out.

Morning Glory Café has had a reputation for healing foods since 1985 when Maria Ruiz created recipes for “conscious cooking.” Before anyone talked about sustainability, Ruiz sought ways to practice it in her meals and the methods surrounding them. In 2009, Ruiz left her “crack in the universe” (a beloved reference to Morning Glory) for the Great Beyond. Longtime friend and employee Julia Bianconi became caretaker of the small spot on South San Francisco Street. She carries the goals forward, striving for nourishing and delicious fare with zero waste through cyclical composting, grey water and gardening.

Bianconi, or Juls as she warmly introduces herself to guests, said, “Since taking over, an infinity of miracles has sustained us,” referring to the challenges of evolving business.

Recently, Jonathan Wright came alongside to consult, activating ideas and providing direction at Morning Glory. With an international background in food preparation and herbology for its medicinal value, a great deal of transition has been in the works. Vegan and gluten-free enhancement in dishes and new recipes feature. Adding a tonic bar broadened and enhanced the variety of nutrient-dense beverages. Chocolate features largely, and no one complains about that.

Chef Miles Martin, who launched the kitchen for Nomads Global Lounge combined his confection experience with Wright’s to concoct vegan chocolates. Gorgeous truffles incorporate Sacred 7 Mushroom Organic Extracts, which includes:   Shiitake, reishi, turkey tail, chaga, maitake, cordyceps and lion’s main. These ancient medicinal mushrooms reduce inflammation and cholesterol while stimulating virility and neuroregenerative effects. Martin has expanded the confectionary case with gluten-free options, such as double-chocolate cookies and tofu chocolate mousse pie.

Morning Glory has enlarged its menu offerings with specials, including various soups, like a brilliant borscht. The blue corn tamales mix masa with calabacitas, or try the sweet potato with shiitake and a mélange of veg. Chile rellenos, filled with tofu scramble and drizzled with chipotle and avocado crema, create crunchy heat. The hefty hemp burger deluxe is topped with grilled tempeh and avocado crema and cilantro walnut pesto plus veganese on a whole wheat bun piled with greens. The rice paddy burger is “meaty” with shiitake and black wild rice.

Morning Glory’s new Healthy Happy Hours run from 2 to 4 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. Try the house made roasted red pepper seed cheese and crackers or the seed cheese on nachos with the crema works. The mocktails, such as a jun and tonic or elderberry cordial, often utilize root extracts and tinctures for vitality.  Jun hails from ancient China as the elixir of life.

“They take you on sophisticated journeys,” said Juls. “They’re herbal, exotic and full of flavors to savor.” Smoothies, like the superfuel with turmeric and organic greens or Berry Coconut’s bright burst and crunch, tempt as tasty, nourishing alternatives to alcohol.

In a hurry? Take home some exclusive dry goods, such as nori seed crackers, spiced mushroom cocoa or blue corn pancake mix.

The overall expansion of Morning Glory also encompassed a remodel. New flooring, murals by Chip Thomas, patio seating in the garden, plus access to the neighboring yoga studio make an integrated space that nourishes the body and invites respite.

In the end, as Wright put it, “Our philosophy supports things bigger than us with a softer footprint. When we care for ourselves, we also care for those around us and the planet in the process.” NAMLM

Morning Glory Cafe is located at 115 S. San Francisco St. and is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.

Palate Primer—Whisk and Whisky

Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, April 2019

Written by Gail G. Collins

Whiskey has always been in style, but it’s never been more popular than it is today. Alongside those, who’ve maintained a long term relationship with whiskey, millennials have been cultivating one for more than a decade. Craft cocktails have bolstered the trend. Over the past five years, the American Whiskey & Bourbon Distilleries industry reported 6.3% growth with revenue of $4B in 2018.  With so much grand sipping going on, here is quick primer on appreciating a tumbler sparkling with what in Gaelic translates as “water of life.”

First, the spelling—whisky or whiskey? The Irish and all, but two American distilleries, call it whiskey, while in Japan, Canada and elsewhere around the world, it is whisky. In your glass, it’s all the same. The best glassware for nosing and warming whiskey, if it is your preference, is tulip-styled. This concentrates the bouquet at the top of the glass, which unfolds in layers over an indulgent half hour. Adding ice or water is either frowned upon or praised for masking aromas or allowing them to blossom.

Now, examine the dram. A lighter color comes from American oak casks, and a darker hue is imparted via port or sherry casks. Swirl the glass. Legs on the side reveal higher alcohol and a full-bodied spirit, and thinner legs indicate lighter flavor. Cradle the glass to warm it and sniff again. Develop a relationship that can last a lifetime.

Whisk and Whisky, Flagstaff’s latest entry to the bourbon boom in August, is keen to sweep away any intimidation. “We offer whiskey flights to help guests determine their palate,” said Ryan Field of Plated Projects LLC. “From there, you can expand and build on your preferences.”

For example, the Kentucky Derby tour contains:  Buffalo Trace, Old Forrester, Woodford and Old Weller. Need further introductions? Rye Not? explores rye whiskey, Traditions travels the Scottish countryside (as I did garnering my initial education) and don’t forget Irish You Did! Better yet, choose a Passport and any four of 11 labels from around the world.

Need some entertainment? Order an ice ball for $3 ($1 goes to charity) and watch a frosty cube melt into a clear sphere to plop into your glass. Behind the C-shaped granite bar with dropped, tongue-in-groove ceiling, the whiskey is arranged by region with 200 evolving choices. Importantly, the cocktail assortment of glassware is ideal for the task at hand, adding a classy dimension.

Whisky Wednesday is the chance to indulge your heart’s desires with half-off pricing on one-ounce pours. “It’s an educational intro with a low investment,” said Brian Terpay. Or dip your toe with a blended whiskey cocktail. There are two on draft, a New Fashioned and a Manhattan.

As with other Plated Projects, partners Brian Terpay, Tim Pacatte and brothers Jared and Ryan Field built a comfortable place, where they might bring friends or family to eat, drink and enjoy. The airy, industrial, full bar and restaurant boasts glass walls with a Peaks view, yet invites. “This is a smaller spot than our other five projects in Flagstaff,” said Field, “with 85 seats inside and 45 outside.” Their location at Aspen Place at the Sawmill encourages mingling with other tenants via music and block parties in mild weather.

Chef Justin Martinez keeps the menu approachable with quality ingredients. “We take comfort food and replicate it in-house,” he said. “It’s the nostalgia of how food should taste.” With scratch sauces, homemade pickles, hand-cut fries and potatoes mashed to order, Martinez explained, “That is what separates us from others.” Unique offerings, like the buffaflower—crisped cauliflower with spicy buffalo sauce and gremolata—pique trendy taste buds, too.

Channel pub grub with BBQ poutine. Super crisp, skin-on fries are heaped with shredded pork, Tillamook cheddar and whiskey-laced sauce. Street tacos are equally popular. The el diablo sandwich begins as a breast brining in buttermilk before it’s fried. Airy batter offsets the kickstart heat of Fresno pepper coleslaw plus a pickle for a moist mouthful.

The Patagonia salmon is pretty and perfectly portioned. Chef said, “I know when it was caught, shipped and delivered.” A flaky, rosy wedge swims in a pool of blitzed butternut squash with roasted corn and caramelized onion relish, capped with a seasoned crust and verde drizzle. The sweet potato pie is generously deep dish and dense, topped with sweet cream and infused bourbon syrup, of course. The angel’s share at Whisk and Whisky goes to the guests.

“It’s become a place for young professionals to gather and connect, a girls night out or for couples,” said Terpay. “I love our guests—they are wonderful company.” NAMLM

COZY UP: Find your ideal coffee shop in Flagstaff

Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, November 2019

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Written by Gail G. Collins

For most of us, morning doesn’t come without coffee. It supercharges us for the day ahead. In fact, two-thirds of American adults begin the day with a cup of joe, and we average nearly three mugfuls. A welcoming vibe greets us at our coffee café. The beckoning aroma, friendly faces, comforting taps of the portafilter and hiss of steamed milk feel like your second home. You meet co-workers, study or steal away for a quiet afternoon hour. Sill looking for your perfect coffee vibe? Here are five places in Flagstaff to try.

Lux North 111 E. Aspen Ave.

The newest comer to the caffeine scene is Lux North, which expanded from Phoenix. Channeling the ‘60s with burnt orange leather couches, sleek lines and funky blown glass lighting, the entry steers service to one side and seating to the other. Owner Katie Calahan feels camaraderie with other coffee spots in town and focuses on her customers.

“We believe in building relationships, and that requires dialogue,” she said.

And the drinks are the perfect complement to quality conversation. Calahan’s la Marzocco espresso machine is lever operated, which requires serious skills, but offers defter options for infusing shots with water, following “the original principles of coffee creation.”

The company roasts daily in Phoenix, and the popular sippers are lattes, pour overs and cold brews. At 3 a.m., Calahan bakes croissants, cinnamon rolls, and her grandmother’s coffee cake among others to accompany that morning coffee. For a heartier start, try the eggerchief, so called for the portability of egg, meat and cheese as a pocket sandwich.

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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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