Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Day Four: Desert Rain Cafe, Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

Go West, riders!  And so we did, feeling rather pleased with our strategy for avoiding the rain.  As always, victory soon gave way to growling stomachs.  I’ve mentioned the Desert Rain Cafe in Sells, AZ before, with good reason.  It’s a unique restaurant in many ways.  Located in the capital of the Tohono O’odham Nation, it serves up meals featuring local and traditional ingredients.  Think mesquite flour, prickly pear juice, cholla buds, tepary beans and the like.  Although this concept isn’t particularly rare, I think the skill with which it is executed at this establishment is.  It’s obvious they did their recipe development homework.

This restaurant gets my two thumbs up not just for its delicious food and interesting ingredients.  It also goes far to combat the stereotypes one sees in regards to Native American cuisine.  Surprise!, “Indian Fry Bread”  and “Indian Tacos” aren’t traditional fare.   Native Americans seem to be at greater than average risk for obesity and diabetes when exposed to modern America’s sedentary but super-sized lifestyle.  Traditional ways of eating are being lost the world over, thanks in part, not just to the worldwide proliferation of  fast food and the “Modern American Lifestyle”, but our acceptance of it.  I like to think that the Desert Rain Cafe not only provides delicious food to its community, but more importantly, preserves and continues the thread of its rich culinary culture.

Our lunch (which was, admittedly, supersized, since we wanted to try everything):
Prickly pear glazed pork ribs with brown tepary beans, salad and cornbread.  Also eaten but not shown: tepary bean and short rib stew, a “desert rain” quesadilla, tea and a mesquite oatmeal cookie.  Every last bite excellent, excellent.  You can peruse their current menu here.

Desert Rain Cafe 002

After warming up a bit at Desert Dugs Pizza in Wellton, AZ (decent American style pizzeria, super nice owner), we planted our tent poles at Kofa National Wildlife Refuge that evening.   If you're wondering, and many people do, Kofa is an acronym for the nearby King Of Arizona gold mine.   We didn’t find any gold (we weren't really looking, I guess) nor did we see any of the Desert Bighorn Sheep that are refuged in the craggy mountains, but we did walk up to Palm Canyon before departing the next morning to see perhaps the only palm trees native to Arizona.   You probably could get a great picture of this narrow hidden canyon, if, like Indiana Jones, you were standing in just the right spot, at the exact time of day on the exact day of the year when the sun actually shone directly upon the trees, but, well, we weren’t.  Alternatively, I guess you could shoot in multiple exposures and compile them into one HDR (high dynamic range) photo.  I keep telling myself I’m going to try that one of these days.

Teddy Bear Chollas catch the morning light

I've always been curious about the strange silhouettes of the mountains in this part of the state.  I'm glad I got the chance to see some of them more closely.

No comments: