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That Was That Year That Was 

Rita Connelly looks at 2013 in Tucson food

What a year it was for the Tucson food scene! So many new restaurants (and quite a few closures).

This job requires a lot of eating out, and because I don't cook as much as I used to, we eat plenty of non-work-related meals in restaurants as well.

Off the top of my head, I can't say there was a most-memorable meal, although a few dishes really impressed. The tom kah koong soup at Sa'ing Thai knocked me for a loop and the grilled garlic shrimp at Wild Garlic Grill was lick-the-plate good. Another great dish was the Herring With a Fur Coat at Kalina, which included beets.

Speaking of beets, they seemed to be everywhere, which is due, no doubt, to the farm-to-table movement and the growing popularity of less common vegetables. According to chef Omar Huerta at Wildflower, a kale and Brussels sprouts Caesar has been added to the menu. Taro root in various forms is a new addition to the menus at 47 Scott and Saint House says Travis Reese, co-owner of both places.

Grass-fed meats are also making their mark: witness an entire restaurant, Diablo Burger, that is built around the stuff.

And fabulous cheeses—much to my delight—are being utilized at the most basic level. Chef Ginny Wooters of The Abbey says, "It seems like there is some type of cheese/charcuterie board on everyone's menu these days; they are all so fun and interesting."

Indeed, Tucson has its very own cheesemonger, Tana Fryer of Blu—A Wine and Cheese Stop, which recently became a part of Alfonso Gourmet Olive Oil and Balsamics.

Because Asian food, notably Korean, has hit the city in full force, pickles can be found even at high-end places. "We find ourselves making lots of different types of pickles, much of which comes from our Downtowns Around the Globe experiences," says chef Janos Wilder of Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails.

More by Rita Connelly

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