Veg Out!

Finding great flavor in meatless dishes around town

Written by Gail Collins

Striving for healthful, responsible eating means including more veggies, fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Vegetarian dishes often invoke creativity and color urging cuisine in flavorful directions with earthy lentils, creamy cheeses, garden produce, aromatic spices and satiating sauces. Flagstaff has an abundance of such choices on the menus of our ratcheted-up restaurant scene. Here is overview of vegetarian dishes from some innovative kitchens.

Sosoba

This nonstop noodle shop is not just ramen, but a full-service restaurant incorporating authentic dishes with farmers market finds. The starters boast unique concepts:  balls of fire mac ‘n cheese; flash-fried cauliflower with madras curry aioli and scallions; steamed edamame dusted with zippy togarashi and more. The salads add inventive goods, like rice noodles, shaved veggies, nuts and seeds plus citrus-soy dressing. But who are we kidding? We’re here for the noodles. The SUV—So, You’re Vegan—piles noodles with roasted veggies, sautéed greens, squash and rayu’s chili-sesame spice for a Japanese curry. The Mothra bowl layers broccoli, peas, cabbage, herbs, sriracha, fried garlic and marinated tofu over the noodles. And Yakisoba is stir-fried carrots, onion, celery, garlic, scallions and herbs in a Thai peanut sriracha sauce. This noodle house is hot on a winter’s day. 12 E. Route 66, Suite 104

Root Public House

This rooftop bar and grill offer peaks views and comfort cooking. Chef and owner David Smith draws on a southern background for inspiration. Root changes up the menu weekly according to fresh accessible ingredients, but vegetarian dishes are always available. One option is the cold, roasted vegetable salad contains seasonal garden goodies tossed in cream cheese vinaigrette with a scattering of fermented black garlic. Of course, there are salads, like the baby greens topped with tempting bee pollen, feta, candied walnuts and carrot vinaigrette. For a savory main, try the ricotta gnocchi with seasonal vegetables, olive, lemon, Black Mesa Ranch goat cheese, plus pecans. 101 S. San Francisco St.

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STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE

Some of the Best of Our Local Dishes

Written by Gail G. Collins

It’s no secret anymore. Flagstaff’s culinary scene is now the envy of much of Arizona. For a mountain town that still does not top 100,000 people, this place has dozens of independent restaurants achieving a high level of dining in their respective categories. After a few years of basking in the recent lineup of hotspots, we thought we would pause to reflect on a handful of signature dishes by our new dining places and expanded or reinvented eateries with a look across the foodie spectrum.

Craving Crepes at Streetside Saigon

In a nod to the French, the classic banh xeo, a crepe, is revamped with shrimp and shitake, that’s a hit at Streetside Saigon. The rice flour crisp is vivid with turmeric, filled with bean sprouts plus chive and served with a field of lettuce and traditional herbs. Tear off some crepe, tuck it into a lettuce leaf with mint and cilantro, roll it and soak up the lively dip—light, crunchy, healthy and flavorful. Not up for the crepe? Try the banh mi, a Vietnamese sandwich, which boasts French influence in multiple ways. Streetside slathers their softer-than-baguette bun with pate and hose mayo, piles on tender pork meatballs and a layer of livered carrot, daikon and cucumber for a tongue-teasing combination of tastes and textures. streetsidesaigon.com

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The Art of the Sandwich

Local Restaurants like Toasted Owl Café Upping the Lunch Ante

Mtn Living Mag March/April 2016

Toasted OwlAs children, many of us toted a lunch box that held the vital means for lasting an entire school day: the sandwich. Mom understood our favorites and how the right ratio of mayo to mustard mattered. Later, in midnight raids of the fridge, we mastered the exotic use of leftovers, and on the day after Thanksgiving, we constructed the best sandwich of the year. Slow-roasted meat and gourmet relish buttressed by homemade bread embodies the art of the sandwich.

And art it is to assemble a veritable feast between crusts of bread. Bread is the canvas. It is also where art becomes architecture. Whether one prefers Mediterranean flatbread, rustic ciabatta or a granary wedge, the bread should be substantial, not sloppy—a foundation upon which to build. Spreading a condiment over the bread acts as a barrier to mushiness or adds moisture. Next, cheese imparts strength as well as sharp, nutty or velvety appeal. Meat often showcases the perfect sandwich, and greens cap it off. The British Sandwich Association—now, there’s an organization worth its salt and pepper—actually crowns a champion sandwich maker annually. The ingredients need not be elaborate. A recent winner utilized homemade fruit bread, quality butter, soft Lancashire cheese and an artisan pickle. Continue reading “The Art of the Sandwich”