Mountain Living Magazine, January 2020
Written by Gail G.
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
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.
Mountain Living Magazine, December 2019
Written by Gail G.
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
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
Her plan is to put SaltRock on the foodie map, “a food destination in a relaxed atmosphere among the red rocks,” she said.
On a trip to Uruguay, I strolled the streets of Montevideo
and followed my nose to a late dinner. Through the glass of a classy restaurant,
their parrilla tempted other passers-by.
Flames licked up the oven’s sides, with wood piled nearby to feed a bank of
glowing coals. Racks of ribs, chorizo, chicken, and of course, beef slowly
cooked on the enormous grill. The server suggested a local bottle of Tanat to
accompany a sample platter of meats. Grass-fed beef, never touched by fire, is
uniquely flavorful. Even in this fine setting, barbecue, or asado, is the
choice of discerning diners.
America stretches from Mexico’s northern border to Argentina, where the gaucho
grill originated. Hospitality and warmth are the peoples’ hallmark and extend
to their sensual dancing and zesty cuisine. Drawing on European influences from
Spain and Portugal, and infused with wider inspiration, diverse and colorful
recipes emerged. Bright, bold tastes result from fresh ingredients, like
cilantro, lime, poblano peppers, and sazón, a traditional
seasoning of annatto, garlic, cumin, coriander, black pepper and oregano. In
2017, Technomic’s Flavor report found that 68 percent
of American diners rate Mexican food as their second favorite cuisine. The
versatility of flavors satisfies the adventurous with empanadas, ceviche and
Such experiences drove owners Paul and
Laura Moir to open Criollo in 2009. “We loved Latin food,” he said. “Laura had
broadly traveled Latin America, and our family regularly went to Guadalajara.
Criollo was unique for Flagstaff at the time.”
The menu began
with tapas, but evolved following customer tastes. The dishes change
seasonally, but items, like bacon nachos and taco plates, are firmly fixed per
customer feedback. The couple even courted over nachos, confessed Moir, making
them a staple in which the owners enjoy seeing other people indulge.
The Happy Hour menu
has expanded to 15-20 choices, offering quality food at bargain prices. Six
street tacos top the list. The fish taco—beer-battered catfish with a zippy ancho
crema and cabbage— leads, but order a sampler to include the al
pastor—slow-cooked pork shoulder with pineapple guajillo, clove and cinnamon, plus
cilantro crema—and a chorizo cauliflower taco with pickled red onion, aioli and
guacamole. Queso? Of courso. Especially delicious is the fundido with Oaxacan
and jack cheeses layered with caramelized onion and poblano pepper, garlic
confit and black beans. The hour is happier with a classic margarita or a
choice of revolving flavors, like prickly pear or guava. Think tropical with a
Pineapple Express, mixing mescal with juice, green chartreuse, lime, blood
orange bitters and agave—summertime, anytime.
To reassess their
aims, Moir and staff recently explored anew what “criollo” means. Literally, it
refers to a person of true Spanish descent from Central America. For Moir, it
extends to the pride and far reach of influences, such as the Caribbean or
Peru’s Asian impacts, through migration.
Jay Felton increased the vegetable dishes on the menu—for example, snap peas
and soy flavors are pulled from Peru. He runs a scratch kitchen of sauces,
dressings, chorizo and more. Tortillas are local as is the produce from
McClendon Farms. The protein is supplied via Moir’s butchery, Proper Meats +
Provisions, which aims to act as a wholesale supplier, giving diners all the
more reason to try the steak plate.
The skirt steak
is charred and tender atop smoked potatoes with a chimichurri sauce of garlic,
oregano and cilantro, plus roasted corn salad and blistered shishito peppers
for hearty plate of tastes. No less indulgent is the barbacoa flauta, stuffed
with chuck beef braised with onion, oregano and apple cider vinegar with potato,
fresh aioli coleslaw and smashed avocado.
Close out the
meal with a Basque-style churro, sandwiching horchata ice cream and rolled in
cocoa nibs for a creamy, passionate, Latin nibble.
lively for chefs and clients this year, Moir introduced the Burger Battle. For
eight Sundays, two chefs went head-to-head, crafting their best burgers. Guests
voted for their favorite and raised money for a charity of the winner’s
“Everyone in the
industry is so busy running around with their hair on fire,” said Moir. “This
presented a great opportunity and a good cause for them.”
In the end, diner
loyalty builds successes, like Criollo.
“We are downtown, urban, local and casual fun in the center of it all,” said Moir. “We’re 10 years in, and we keep getting better.” NAMLM
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.
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
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
“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
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.
To learn more about
Williams-Hirsch Custom Builders, log into their Website: wwwlwilliamshirsch.com
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.
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
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
To learn more about
becoming a vendor at Red Rooster Antique & Design Center or Encore Antique
Co., contact Lila LeMaster at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call (830) 609-3311.
Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living
Magazine, September 2019
Written by Gail G.
In the last dozen years, Old Town Cottonwood has moved in a
pointed direction with economic development. Branding itself as the Heart of
Arizona Wine Country in 2014, a revitalized Main Street boasts tasting rooms,
supporting nearly 25 wineries along the Verde Valley Wine Trail. The riparian
environment and climate of mild winters, low humidity and
limited annual rainfall provide the perfect place for grape growing. But
one cannot survive on wine alone—even award-winning bottles. Ancillary business
boomed alongside this to provide hotel rooms, gift shops, tours, and of course,
In January 2017, amidst a rare snowstorm, Colt 804 Grill
warmly opened its doors and welcomed guests with Southern hospitality and
platters of smoked meats, guaranteed to melt any reticence of desire for lip-smacking
barbecue on Main Street.
“We moved to
Cottonwood to be near family and created a restaurant that treats clients like
friends in a homey atmosphere,” explained owner Brenda Clouston. “We kept it
casual with a walk-up concept to offer better pricing on a quality meal.”
Colt is a family affair with staff that builds
relationships, working as a team with minimal turnover. The ambience is cowboy
chic, borrowing from Brenda’s professional interior design skills. She created
the spotted cattle hide pub stools and husband Bob with son Carson, a welder by
trade, built the double-wide smoker. Bob’s father crafted the bar, with inlays
of walnut, alder and rosewood.
Large portions of good food at affordable prices spurred
steady growth for Colt over the years. Additionally, the smokehouse caters
three or four events a week. Simply choose from the a la carte menu.
“Everything can be customized and beautifully packaged for pick-up
or delivery for groups,” said Carson, who manages Colt. He added with a wink, “They’re
large portions—we tend to overcook.”
It’s definitely a custom kitchen, too. “Everything, except
the onion rings, sweet potato fries and buns, are scratch made—the rubs, the
sauces, you name it.”
Nothing is ever frozen, and the beef is ground fresh daily,
mixed with pork belly for a juicy burger.
“It’s a taste explosion,” said Brenda. The price for an
8-ounce single patty is $5.95, which is served on an eggy Brioche bun with
salad toppings, a fat, homemade pickle and a slather of zippy Colt sauce.
The turkey sandwich features a thick, smoked slice of breast
with hearty Applewood bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickle and a swipe of fresh mayo.
Tacos of smoked chicken are served on fresh, double corn tortillas with cheese,
avocado, Baja sauce and fresh pico de gallo—messy goodness.
meats are slow-smoked over white oak for a clean taste. The enormous smoker,
which weighs nearly 3,000 pounds, turns out 200 pounds of brisket, 12 racks of
ribs, 20 chickens and six turkey breasts daily. That, in addition to 10 trays
of bacon and four gallons of beans, while smoking enormous pans of cornbread plus
macaroni and cheese alongside any bar additives, such as oranges.
After more than 10 hours, the brisket is fork tender. An
order of baby-back ribs counts a full dozen, and the turkey sausage is lean and
crumbly with the bite of fennel. Can’t decide on what to try first? Order the
platter with a sampling of ribs, pulled pork, brisket, smoked turkey and brat
sausage. Douse the meats in any of seven house-made sauces available. They range
from subtly sweet Kansas City to Desert Heat with jalapeno and molasses to Maui
Wowie with sweet onion, tequila and bacon.
Sometimes, customers proffer advice. A customer passed on
his grandmother’s handwritten list of 14 ingredients for the mac ‘n cheese. The
kitchen added further magic to hone a mature, complex, smoky pasta dish. It exudes
a richness that might add a notch to your belt. For the final frontier, enjoy a
simple cookie, big enough to share, bulging with goodies like oats and
in for a hearty start to your day. The eggs Benedict come in various forms,
including the Black Angus with a slab of brisket and spicy Santa Fe sauce. The
Vaquero omelet is stuffed with brisket and grilled poblano and red peppers,
onions and pepper jack cheese. Both come with a steer-load of brisket hash.
Still, what’s a grill without a bar? Colt serves a bevy of
bourbons, educational whiskey flights and craft cocktails to a host of
“It’ a wonderful element, pulling world-renowned bottles
plus new and interesting small-batch products,” said Carson.
Pull up a stool and stay awhile. NAMLM
804 N. Main St., Cottonwood. Hours: Breakfast Thursday-Mondays from 8
-10. 30 a.m. and daily for dining from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Mountain Living Magazine, August 2019
By Gail G. Collins
Flagstaff has been a crossroads since its inception. It’s no
wonder that offering a bed as well as food and drink emerged as its enduring
trade. To meet the growing needs of travelers, Hotel Monte Vista was built,
opening on New Year’s Day in 1927. Funded by prosperous area leaders, including
author Zane Grey, the 73-room hotel was originally dubbed the Community Hotel
before the longstanding name change to Monte Vista, meaning “mountain view.” As
one of the oldest continually operated hotels in Flagstaff, it is listed on the
National Register of Historic Places, and the current proprietor, Jimmy Craven,
celebrated 25 years of ownership in May.
Included in this legacy property on the corner of San
Francisco Street and Aspen Avenue are Rendezvous and Lotus Lounge, located in
what was once the town’s third post office. Its evolution continues as a Pan-Asian
restaurant and bar.
Genie Kuester enjoyed a longtime love of the hotel,
blossoming into oversight as general manager for Lotus Lounge.
“It’s a great place to work, and I love the hotel’s history,”
feel is urban Asian with mod, fun accents like cheerful lanterns and maneki-neko figures, lucky Japanese
waving cats. Contrasting a flat black backdrop with gleaming white tile
accents, the second-level loft overlooks a U-shaped main bar with overall seating
for 177 guests.
“Come in for a quick meal or drink stop or head upstairs for
date night and stay awhile,” said Kuester. Twinkle lights lead the way. Curated
local art revolves monthly for ongoing visual appeal.
Lotus Lounge opened late in 2017 and built a cohesive core
of staff quickly. The hours expanded to lunch in April and can service a
turnover crowd with bento box-style choices or linger over sashimi and wine.
Weekly specials keep it fresh.
For lunch, a burger or salad is a staple. The Lotus Lunch
Burger is made with Kobe Beef, miso mayo, cream cheese, tempura sweet potato,
serrano peppers and butter lettuce on a toasted, buttery bun and served with
steak fries or signature Hawaiian macaroni salad, rife with chopped veg. The
good luck salad showcases chiffonade cabbage, zucchini, carrot, peppers and
fennel with arugula and butter lettuce plus udon noodles. Tossed in
tamarind-yuzu (Asian citrus) vinaigrette, the plate is scattered with wonton
crisps and chicken or fried tofu. Bright flavors and textures earned the salad
a promotion from menu special to standard.
Dietary options are indulged. In fact, the miso soup is
vegetarian for simplicity, and rice noodles meet gluten-free needs.
“We have our finger on the vegetarian and vegan populace,”
said Kuester. “We try hard to say, ‘Yes,’ to our guests.”
The overall menu covers Thai, Japanese and Chinese cuisine
plus sushi. Honolulu Fish Company delivers fresh product twice weekly while
Massachusetts’ Island Creek Oysters have been voted hands-down best by Lotus
“There are no compromises on quality,” said Kuester.
Javier Cortes and his brother, Eddie, run the sushi program.
The tiger roll is wildly popular with spicy tuna, avocado, cucumber and
sprouts, topped with salmon, shaved lemon, red tobiko roe (flying fish), black
sesame and tataki sauce—a sweet, soy, ginger, garlic blend. The roll zings with
vibrant color and tartness. The chupacabra roll binds salmon, cucumber and
avocado, topped with tuna, green onion, white and black sesame plus fragrant
The plate lunch specials mix it up, like beef stir-fry with
gyoza (pork wontons), salad and house dessert, such as lively lychee sorbet.
As a sister to Rendezvous, Lotus Lounge builds on her
reputation for classy cocktails and infused spirits while discovering new
tastes. With 10 beers on tap and a full complement of Asian-branded liquors,
it’s not just about sake. Try a flight of ½-ounce pours of gin, vodka, whisky
or sake to explore high-end possibilities within an affordable price structure.
Among the rum-forward cocktails, try the subtly sweet
Moonrise Mai Tai. Unique is the avocado smash, blended with Blanco tequila, avocado,
lime, serrano and simple syrup for creamy, green refreshment in a tipsy glass.
Community is huge for Lotus Lounge, participating in many fundraising
events, such as Wine & Dine in the Pines, Palette to Palate, Feast for
Flagstaff and more with enduring devotion to Victim Witness Services.
In the end, Lotus Lounge delights in gaining new
ground. They are expanding into the
previous Pato Thai space and growing team skills.
“We educate about our fish, liquor, wines and sushi to build
confidence in staff to pass on to clients,” said Kuester. NAMLM
Mountain Living Magazine, June 2019
Written by Gail G. Collins
When it comes to achieving a goal, the earnest will hustle
in every way possible to make it happen. That’s how Nancy McCulla evolved from raffling
off dinners to pay college tuition to owning her catering business, Simply
Delicious, and then, running Café Daily Fare. At 13 years old, she worked in a
kitchen in Illinois and under the tutelage of a master German baker. The
competence and confidence gained propelled McCulla to continue cooking after
earning a bachelor of arts in ceramics at Northern Arizona University. Following
stints in local kitchens and prepping pastry for Grand Canyon Railway, the next
step seemed inevitable.
“Café Daily Fare has an eclectic menu,” said McCulla. “We’re
a chef-driven Mom and Pop—very aware of life in Flag, the venues and what
people like to eat.” Her catering business is nearly 20 years strong, while the
lunch spot, tucked up on the ridge above Route 66, celebrates a decade in
McCulla gathers international inspiration for cooking. Her
Brazilian Fish Stew is an example of trial, tried and true. Though she had
never visited Brazil, flavors leapt from the pages of recipe books, tempting
her. The resulting stew of cod chunks, tomato, coconut milk, lime and smoked
paprika ladles up alongside cilantro and cumin rice. It’s lively and savory in
turns. “I play, make, tweak and look for new traditions,” she said. “Cuisine
crosses lines globally.”
The point of conviction came when Brazilian travelers
ordered the fish stew and proclaimed it an authentic success. “I don’t
Americanize food—that’s not fun,” McCulla confessed.
The Chef’s Favorites on the menu are guest picks as well.
McCulla wanted to serve duck, so created approachable (and irresistible) duck
tacos. The blackberry-marinated fowl with habanero aioli, Fossil Creek goat
cheese, arugula, jicama and toasted pepitas combine for a decadent handhold.
The fish tacos are fabulous, too, so go ahead and order half and half. House
salad and bread or black bean salad accompany the favorites.
The sandwich list is well-traveled. The hot Italian plumbs
McCulla’s deli roots. It loads capicola (Corsican pork), Genoa salami, pickled
red onion and tomato with Pecorino Romano for a sharp edge on ciabatta. A
generous, well-dressed salad of greens, apple, avocado, jicama and pine nuts on
the side builds a big lunch. Beans, greens, spices and other products are as
organic and local as possible.
The Simply Delicious club layers turkey, capicola, Applewood
smoked bacon, Swiss, Provolone, tomato and romaine with slathers of mayo and
Dijon on sourdough. The hearty stack satisfies. The balsamic-glazed Portobello
is upgraded with grilled eggplant, plus smoked onion, poblanos, roasted red
pepper, pesto mayo and romaine on brioche. Boost the protein with a cup of
soup, especially when the creamy quinoa—veg-filled tomato broth with garbanzo
beans and pumpkin seeds—is on offer. Half sizes of sandwiches and salads are an
option, and the extensive array of add-ons, ranging from cumin crusted chicken
to balsamic glazed grilled steak, makes a meal of greens.
are 60-plus years of experience cooking at Café Daily Fare, and it shows. What
some may not know is the eatery has a secret menu on occasion. Seasons stimulate the staff, especially as
far as soups and stews, so ask. You might be rewarded with a fun and flavorful
Community drives Flagstaff, and McCulla pitches in
enthusiastically with other restaurateurs for events such as Arizona Breweries
& Veterans, Arizona Cancer Society, United Way and more. Interestingly,
McCulla’s caring cuisine has sparked generosity and legacy from guests in
return. One sent jelly made from her Wisconsin garden. Others with no children
have passed on treasured family recipes to the chef.
What began for McCulla as an avenue for funds grew into a
passionate business nourishing her artistic expression through food. She reads
her sauce book regularly, even taking it on vacation to browse yet again. Still, cooking is about pleasing her guests.
“Our town has a great mix of people: college students, cowboys and ranchers,
locals and tourists,” McCulla said. “I love a newcomer in our café—I’m happy to
serve them wonderful food.” NAMLM
Café Daily Fare is
located at 408 W. Historic Route 66 and is open Monday-Saturday 11a.m.-4 p.m.
Mountain Living Magazine, May 2019
Written by Gail G.
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
“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use.
When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”
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
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
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.
Northern Arizona’s Mountain
Living Magazine, April 2019
Written by Gail G.
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
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
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