Charlemont resident David Fersh gets a taste of Tucson

  • While vacationing in Arizona, Charlemont resident David Fersh enjoyed a wildflower hike through Picacho Peak State Park. Contributed photo/David Fersh

  • FERSH

For the Recorder
Published: 3/26/2019 3:10:44 PM

Two trips to Tucson, Ariz. during this winter and the last have given me opportunities to sample plenty of tasty Southwestern meals at venues I’d recommend to travelers.

Being so close to Mexico, the cuisine is often related to that area but also includes other influences. Since I stayed in an apartment in Tucson with a full kitchen, most of my meals were eaten there. I brought a few favorite staples that complemented what I bought at The Food Conspiracy, a co-op that’s part of the same nationwide organization that supports Green Fields Market.

I started my days with a hot drink and something sweet, like a muffin, tart or — my favorite — heavenly French press coffee and chocolate. Breakfasts included eggs, potatoes, cereal, yogurt, nut butter on toast, or a bagel with lox cream cheese.

When I chose to eat breakfast away from the apartment, I visited Pie Bird Bakery and Cafe, which offered a lovely vegetable omelette on ciabatta bread, as well as biscuits with sausage gravy. I also spotted a Bruegger’s Bagels and loaded up on good bagels, but was surprised to find it’s not indigenous to western Massachusetts, but rather a national chain.

Lunches consisted of salads, soups, cold cuts and hummus. Next door at Zinman’s Food Shop and Vegan Bistro, the staff happily dispensed produce, baked goods, grain concoctions and more. I had all of the above and a tasty borscht.

Tucson is easy to get around and to feel comfortable in. Folks are welcoming and enjoy talking about and recommending food. The pièce de takeout was a vibrant seafood ceviche with various salsas. On the other hand, I also had horrid boneless wings from a chain takeout restaurant that tasted like sawdust.

My dining out depended on the circumstances. The Tasteful Kitchen turned out to be a delightful place with an attentive owner, soft music and excellent food. I had the spring roll and portobello mushrooms en croute with roasted vegetables. Another place served seasonal prickly pear salmon with rice and kale.

One evening, I visited the desert hideaway of a pal from back home. Several of us devoured campfire grilled organic hot dogs and side dishes, sipped wine, and watched the sun set and the stars come out. He later took me to Rubio’s for a delightful taco with mahi mahi and avocado, and to Wolfstock, a canine event where doggie snacks were the hot commodity.

I also attended the monthly street fair, where the food truck fennel sausage calzone rivaled that of New York City’s Feast of San Gennaro. I followed the calzone with a pistachio-butter pecan cone at The Screamery. The area produces a plethora of pecans.

As for special Mexican restaurants, two stood out. My friend took me to El Charro, which delivered with reynosa chicken (chipotle cream) and outstanding stuffed mushrooms; however, the noise volume diminished the dinner. He also introduced me to Café Poco Cosa, an upscale eatery, where I was treated to perfectly cooked chicken breasts in two molé sauces — chocolate and red cream — a melange of lettuce, cabbage and fruit, warm corn tortillas and the perfect margarita.

Lest I end this without referring to the weather, which is what drew me to Tucson in the first place, let’s just say it was a welcome change from western Massachusetts, but only during winter. The summers are so hot you can make huevos rancheros on the sidewalks, and eating al fresco is only possible after dark. I prefer the changing seasons and wide variety of expertly grown and raised foods we enjoy, as well as our many wonderful places to eat.

David Fersh lives in Charlemont and enjoys the area for its natural splendor, healthy approach to food, creative artistry and strong sense of community. He is a singer-songwriter whose group The Artful Codgers performs at local venues. Write to him at dfersh4@gmail.com.




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