The Chile Whisperer
Are you a Mexican food fan with a DIY streak? Elote Cafe chef Jeff Smedstad shares his favorite recipes for sublime Mexican cuisine.
In his early 20s, Jeff Smedstad roamed interior Mexico, falling in love with the cuisine and the people – after attending Scottsdale Culinary School, he opened Los Sombreros with then-wife Azucena Tovar in 1994. Smedstad left Los Sombreros in 2006 to open Elote Cafe in Sedona – our choice for the state’s best Mexican restaurant, incidentally – but he still undertakes frequent research-and-development trips. One of his greatest joys is discovering new farmers and producers in the fertile Verde Valley surrounding Sedona, allowing him to blend Old World Mexican with New World sensibilities in some of the most exciting Mexican food ever to pass our lips. We asked Smedstad to share some recipes from his 2009 cookbook, The Elote Cafe Cookbook, and tell us about a few of the essential ingredients in the Mexican pantry. (Cookbook recipes reprinted with permission.)
Two Valley moms capitalize on the retro craze with Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market.
Like a good thrift-store score, Lindsey Holt and Coley Arnold’s business was pure serendipity. The two met in a class for young married couples at Scottsdale Bible Church and clicked immediately over their similar broods (they’re each mothers of three) and their love of “junking,” or scouring vintage, thrift and antique shops and estate sales for singular items with a story behind them.
Poor tequila gets a bad rap. Sullied by tales of youthful overindulgence and shots-shots-shots-induced sickness, Mexico’s mejor spirit is worth a second look. Brent Karlicek, beverage director for the Upward Projects roster of restaurants, says, “Tequila, as a spirit, I appreciate maybe more than any other because I feel very close to products that reflect a place.”
A young girl dances joyfully. Nearby, a young woman dances seductively. Two hooky-playing boys swing on rope, laughing. A Navajo warrior stands proud, rifle in hand, while a Native mother and her child pick peaches.
Ahwatukee (AKA “The Other Side of the Hill”)
Technically part of phoenix, Ahwatukee draws its name from one of the first homes in the foothills, the Ahwatukee Ranch, built in 1922. The word “Ahwatukee” means “house of my dreams” in the language of the Crow Nation. HIGH LIFE: The 16,000-acre South Mountain Park/Preserve borders Ahwatukee on the north. While the 2,690-foot Mount Suppoa isn’t accessible to the public, Valley residents can climb the 2,330 feet to Dobbins Lookout.
Wherever these mobile boutiques stop, you can shop.
Fashionable, affordable and on the move, the modern mobile boutique is the lovechild of your friendly neighborhood food truck and a hip urban clothing shop. Often featuring locally-made or designed products, fashion trucks push the pedal to the metal when it comes to inexpensive, in-vogue designs.
On the lookout for a place to see antique David E. Walker saddles with your 5-year-old wannabe cowboy (or girl), Georgia O’Keeffe and Ed Mell paintings with your artsy friend, or pieces of Old West history such as saloon card holdouts and Navajo blankets with your parents?