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.
Posted by GFKimAZ
Westin La Paloma Resort – Tucson, AZ
My husband and I needed some peace and quiet. Not to mention some grown up time away from the children. Staying at this resort would provide us a close get away since we reside in Tucson.
This resort also has an onsite restaurant called Azul (see review under Dining out the GF way) which works closely with the guests to assure that they have a pleasant stay. A few days before we left to spend the night at the Westin La Paloma (http://www.westinlapalomaresort.com), I contacted them to let them know of my dietary restrictions and discuss accommodations. I am not only gluten free but also have a plethora of other food sensitivities. From experience, I knew I would not enjoy myself if eating made me sick and we were in an uncomfortable room.
Upon entering the parking lot, we observed this beautifully eye appealing resort from the outside. We saw people being driven around in golf carts or walking place to place in their swimsuits. They all seemed friendly and happy to be there. Maybe it was due to cooling off in the many pools available to swim in during the summer heat.
Perhaps the real reason they were smiling had to do with the attentive staff of the Westin.
From the parking lot, we entered the vast lobby. It was gorgeous! We found it hard to believe that we were still in the middle of Tucson. The check-in went smoothly and we went to locate our room.
We entered our room and were greeted by an invitingly clean fragrance that was not overpowering. To keep with the clean theme, everything was spotless. The bed looked like a fluffy white cloud. Covered with plush white bedding and an abundance of dreamy white pillows, the bed said to us – no need for anything else but a nap.
Although we were very tempted to take that nap, we next check out the view from our balcony. We had asked for the golf course view because we have a pool and mountain views from our home. Opening the patio drapes and door, the greens which are a rare color in Tucson, invited us to sit and sip champagne on the balcony.
Since we had dinner reservations at 6pm, we did indulge in some champagne on the balcony. We unwound before dinner and then went off to dine at Azul.
To be continued……
(Please see review of Azul 8/2011)