Posts tagged ‘delicious’

Restaurant Spotlight: Velvet Elvis Pizza Company

In a  small, artsy Arizona town less than twenty miles from the Mexican border lies the best restaurant you haven’t heard of yet. It’s called Velvet Elvis Pizza Company, and it’s dedicated to bringing customers delicious, wholesome foods in an atmosphere that honors both kitsch and tradition.

Owner and Executive Chef Cecilia San Miguel opened her restaurant on December 12, 1998 in the small town of Patagonia, Arizona, population 850. San Miguel learned to cook from her Ecuadorian grandmother, and refuses to compromise her creative vision and dedication to quality, organic ingredients for the sake of profits.

Patagonia is the kind of city you could blink and miss, but if you did, it would be your loss. It’s filled with boutiques and galleries, and the kind of small-town friendliness that’s almost enough to make you swear off cities for good. After a full day of looking at local art, pizza sounded delicious. Some friends recommended Velvet Elvis, and I decided to give it a try.

With a name like Velvet Elvis, I was expecting a greasy slice in a crowded restaurant. But the restaurant isn’t named after Elvis, explains San Miguel. It’s more of a nod to the kind of bad art popularized in the crossroads of Mexican/American cultures. The restaurant was colorful and intimate, and San Miguel immediately introduced herself and some of her favorite menu items. The dough is warm, chewy whole wheat that’s made by hand every day. They also bake their own bread, and hand roast peppers one at a time. I ordered the combo calzone (prosciutto di parma, garlic, sundried tomatoes, fresh basil, smoked gouda, herbed cream cheese and mozzarella), which was incredible and extremely reasonably priced. The restaurant also offers many vegetarian options and a juice bar, as well as the specialty Inca Quinoa Pizza. Baked in a deep iron skillet, and made with quinoa and wheat flour, fresh vegetables, and a creamy vodka red sauce, the dish requires 24 hours notice to prepare.

While I was waiting for my food, I had the chance to admire the art on the walls. There are bright examples of the “bad art” the restaurant is named for, large oil paintings of the Lady of Guadalupe and the King himself, but there are also beautiful handmade tapestries. The man responsible for these woven works of art is John Igini. He combined the native Navajo method of weaving with the alpaca fiber used by indigineous Andean farmers. He farms the alpacas and hand-dyes their wool using organic dyes. The wool is then sent to native artists to weave into beautifully soft designs, each one taking up to a year to complete.

I walked out of Velvet Elvis completely satisfied, and excited to share my discovery with others. Turns out, I’m not alone in appreciating this desert gem. In 2005, the restaurant was declared an Arizona Treasure.

If you ever find yourself in Patagonia, stop by Velvet Elvis. You’ll be glad you did!

– GN

Bake your way to simpler times with Wild Yeast

Do you remember being a kid, running inside after a hard day at play, and being greeted by the comforting, delicious smell of freshly baked bread? My mom would let me stand over her bread machine and watch as the pasty dough transformed itself into a golden brown loaf, just begging to be covered in softened butter.

The Wild Yeast Blog recaptures all the culinary joy of those bygone days, with easy-to-follow instructions and mouthwatering pictures to guide your way. The author, Susan, began her love affair with bread after a short baking class in 2006. From there, she moved on to the San Francisco Baking Institute and then to developing her own very popular blog for others who love baking or simply love bread.

Susan shares links to the books she uses, recent items she has baked, all-time favorites, and links that offer help for those who may not be naturals in the kitchen.

If you still find yourself needing motivation to steer clear of store-bought bread, just remember that you’ll be in control of every ingredient that goes into it. Love garlic? Add a bunch! Hate raisins? Steer clear. Not a fan of chemical bleaching agents, the very same that make certain manufactured white breads so white? Keep them away from your homemade bread! Susan often recommends using organic flour. Whether you’re doing it for your health or the planet, buying organic sends a message to large agribusinesses that you care about the quality of the ingredients in your food.

Read more about some of our adventures baking bread. Have fun in the kitchen!

– GN

Tag Cloud