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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Reflections on Food: Yuma, Arizona Trip Report

Cross posted from Chowhound, my favorite foodie site.

Just finished up another week long trip in Yuma and thought I'd post my dining thoughts. I'm totally bummed that apparently I crossed paths with Chowhound Yuman Ed Dibble and didn't get to meet him! Ed, next time!

Day 1: Nature's Express, Healthier Fast Food. This totally plant-based menu is deceptively good, and Dr. Carl Myers, the owner and an oncologist, has said in the past, "If I can make this work in Yuma, I can be successful anywhere!" I love the sauteed greens, which are very simple, stir fried (usually) kale with tons of garlic. I also am fond of their wraps, especially the thai peanut. They also make a darn good reuben that beats many meat-filled reubens! Real rye bread with caraway seeds and a thick layer of something that resembles meat. Not sure what it is, but it's tasty.

Dinner at Mi Rancho. I've now given this place two tries and I think it's just okay. I tried the al carbon and the birria (stewed goat). The al carbon was better than the birria, which was very fatty and more bone than meat. The broth was good though. On the positive side, the al carbon was very flavorful, and I really like the salsa. I think I just need to go to Tacos Mi Rancho instead, because the service was erratic here.

Day 2: Ah-So Sushi and Steak. Had to attend the Village Jazz Series for work, so we thought we'd go hang outside at Ah-So and have some creative sushi. We had a great experience last February and thought we could recreate it. Well, we had to be extremely persistent to get a good experience this time. In general, I've heard from several people that the service here is sub par. I would have to agree, unless you can speak to the manager, Joe Corona. Our initial server was totally flummoxed with the request to "let the sushi chef do what he wants." While Jim was going back and forth between the concert and our table, the server came back twice trying to convince me to order something...anything...off the regular menu. Just when I was about to close out the tab and go someplace else, Joe returned from a break and spoke with me about ideas. Thank goodness! We ended up with very fresh shrimp (amaebi) with the heads battered and flash fried--crispy and delicious; mixed tempura with the usual dipping sauce spiked with chile sauce; monkfish pate, super white tuna, and togorashi crusted seared albacore. So we ended up with a great meal, but it sure was hard to get from point A to point B...

Day 3: Bad meal day.
Lunch at The Crossing with a donor. Chicken salad was incredibly icky. Swimming in mayonnaise and lots of non-chicken filler like eggs, celery and more mayo. Ugh. Our server was incredibly nice though.

Dinner--leftovers heated in the microwave in my room. Like I said, bad meal day.

Day 4: Taco trucks! YAY! Went back to Juanita's for the campechana cocktel. This is SOOO good. Delicate tomato broth with tons of fresh seafood. After that, over to Mariscos Nayarita for shrimp empanadas. Thanks Ed.

Also stopped at Raspados Piguino for dessert, since I wanted something frosty. I had never had raspados, so the kind person behind the counter gave us a quick lesson in what our choices were for this Mexican snow cone. Between Jim's functional Spanish and the counter guy's halting English, I ended up with a tamarind version with vanilla ice cream, which was mildly sweet and very refreshing. Jim had the pineapple version with vanilla ice cream--the pineapple flavor was incredibly concentrated and a great counterpoint to the ice cream. Yummy.

Day 5: Back to Nature's Express for dinner. Felt incredibly virtuous.

Day 6: Lunch at Ciao Bella. I inhaled my pesto capellini with lots of veggies. I also had the red pepper bisque, which is really rich in roasted pepper flavor. Dr. Myers would be so proud of my plant-based diet.

Happy hour at the hotel and wings at The Crossing. Even though I hate their chicken salad, I do like their spicy sweet wings. So much for the plant based diet.

Day 7: Lunch at Burgers and Beer with a client. I like their asparagus fries, but I really wish they would be more careful about trimming the woody ends. It's really inelegant to be picking stringy asparagus out of your teeth in front of a client. I also had the guacamole burger, which is a total mess, so I didn't do so well on etiquette points.

Day 8: Lunch at Mimi's Cafe with a client. I like their blue cheese and walnut salad, but everything else was just adequate.

Dinner at River City Grill. Excellent, well prepared cocktails and I really liked the red snapper dish, which had nicely spicy black beans, basmati rice, and a tasty, fresh salsa on top. Jim had the mustard crusted halibut, which was also light and tasty.

Oh, one more thing from this day--donuts from the Campus Community Center on the Arizona Western College campus. It's pledge drive. No protein in sight, but lots of coffee and sugar.

Day 9: Lunch at Highway 95 Cafe. They always seem so happy to see me there--wow, a real Chinese person. In Yuma! I stuck with the super combo bowl this time, but added some sauteed bean sprouts on top and lots of chile sauce. It's very quick and affordable.

I missed Los Manjares de Pepe, the Pupuseria, and Carla Renee this time, but they are on the list for next time. Also on the list for next time is Mustards, which had gotten good reviews from friends and Tacos Mi Rancho. Any suggestions for my next trip in May are welcomed and appreciated!

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