Azul Restaurant Lounge – Tucson, AZ
Posted by GFKimAZ
Azul Restaurant Lounge
As mentioned in my post about the Westin La Paloma Resort, Azul is located in the Westin La Paloma in Tucson, AZ.
Imagine, you are trying a new place for the very first time… You have done everything you can to assure that you will not be ill after eating. As you approach the hostess stand, you can feel your apprehension growing, will what you eat ruin your vacation?
Prior to our stay, we contacted Deb Stephenson (Executive Assistant) and told her of my food restrictions. She immediately put me in touch with the kitchen staff and shared my food restrictions with the Chef. What follows may be shocking to those who have had bad resort/restaurant experiences.
THEY DID EVERYTHING RIGHT!
All of this apprehension was unwarranted as the staff of Azul was prepared to help me have a fabulous dining experience!
When we checked into the entrance of Azul, we were warmly greeted by Kimberly Bower (Azul Restaurant Manager) who immediately seated us and made us feel at ease.
After ordering our drinks, Michael Kaiser (Azul Restaurant Supervisor) came by our table to check on us. After some discussion of gluten free food and other restrictive diets, I found that his knowledge and passion for food floored me. Michael told us that the chef had personally prepared me a 4 course, gluten free meal. He was as excited as we were to see the presentation and our reaction to the courses placed before us.
Sous Chef Mel Fogata delivered each course himself. He described all of the ingredients in each dish. First we both started with a lentil soup, which unfortunately we took no pictures of. For the second course my husband, not being gluten free, ordered Korean short ribs from the menu, seen on the left. He enjoyed them so much that’s when he started taking the pictures you see here. My second course was a creation from the mind of Chef Mel. I don’t think the course would have been any better if he had been able to read my mind. He designed, created, and hand-carried probably my favorite thing of the evening, a beautiful,
absolutely delicious red and golden beet salad. This wonderful plate full of food is pictured to the right. It was light and refreshing beyond belief! Course number three came with my husband again ordering from the standard menu. This time a Rib-eye steak. He claims the flavor was good, but without knowing what seasonings were used, I could not taste it. My third course was tasted and devoured by me. It was a beautifully plated dish containing perfectly seared sea scallops atop pureed parsnips and garnished with butternut squash. You can see this phenomenal dish below.
Finally, the fourth course was brought, and my husband was surprised because he had not ordered dessert from the menu. This time Chef Mel had created a creamy coconut pudding with figs. As with everything else created and delivered by Chef Mel, the desert course was sublime and left both my husband and I speechless. Yes, we forgot to take a picture of desert also.
Throughout the entire dinner, every time Chef Mel made an appearance to deliver our food or just find out how the food tasted, he was excited and passionate about each creation. We had such a terrific dining experience that Chef Mel and I agreed that he would surprise me at breakfast the following morning with yet another gluten free delight.
The following morning brought the surprise Chef Mel had in mind for me. Since I had mentioned to Chef Mel that I had sensitivities to eggs and dairy in addition to gluten, he created a scrambled tofu with spicy chorizo with sweet potatoes. I was not only amazed by his creativity, but the unexpected flavor profiles of the dish.
Pardon the quality of the pictures in this post. We had forgotten our real camera and these were taken by my husband with his cell phone.
When we return to the Westin La Paloma Resort and AZUL – we will be sure to bring our camera to take higher resolution/better pictures.
About GFKimAZI have been gluten free since 2008 after being diagnosed with Celiac Disease (CD). How I remember the day I was told that I have CD. While sitting in the doctor's office waiting to hear that I had RA or Lupus, I prayed that I would ONLY be diagnosed as having CD. WOW! What a thing to wish upon yourself. My research at the time told me this would be the lesser of three evils. Since I am not one to automatically listen to what I am told, I started searching for information and found that we had a large support group right here in Tucson. www.southernarizonaceliaccsupport.org When I attended my first GF event, I was shocked and dismayed by how many people were as ill as I was - but happy that I was not alone anymore! I joined the local CSA Chapter to find out what I could do to improve my own health...about a month later, I received a newsletter stating they were looking for a Vendor Coordinator for the upcoming Gluten Free Food Fair. I jumped at the opportunity to help plan this event! This was just the beginning for me....as I learned more about the GF diet and the SAD (STANDARD AMERICAN DIET), I became entrenched in passion to find more information about gluten free food and share it with others. I have recently become the President of our CSA Chapter and have even more passion for fact finding. Let's face it - we are being poisoned by gluten, GMO's and other foods daily and it's time to do something about!!! I am looking forward to getting to know more people involved in the GF community. Please join me in building a stronger voice for those with Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance and living a HEALTHY gluten free life!
Posted on August 27, 2011, in Dining Out the Gluten Free Way, Resorts and Hotels Offering Safe Gluten Free Options, Travel the Gluten Free Way and tagged celiac, Dining, gf, gluten, gluten free, intolerance, Resorts. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.