by Karyn Zoldan
Thursday was the Tucson Culinary Festival's first event, the margarita championship.
First the disclosures -- I was comped as a guest as was Rita Connelly, the Weekly's restaurant reviewer.
What a great event. It was held outside at the historic train depot. You couldn't ask for anything better -- good music, room to mingle, cool temperatures, an occasional train or two and lots of tequila.
People paid $35 to taste a dozen different margaritas and sample food from four restaurants -- Barrio, Enotecca, El Charro Cafe, and Cafe 54.
My personal favorites of margaritas were JAX Kitchen. Wow! That margarita stood out as it was creamy (almost) and popped with a melange of mint and basil overtones.
My other favorites were Flying V. Damn. I cannot read my writing but they used a respado tequila that began with the letter C and came in a beautiful bottle. Cuvee Bistro was last year's winner; this year they too offered a distinctive margarita made with simple syrup and zest and a tequila that was permeated with caramel overtones. The tequila was Tequila Diego Santo. Bluefin's margarita had pulp and pucker and I wrote down Lodge in the Desert but now cannot remember why I liked it.
Enough, I cannot remember much more.
JAX Kitchen won the people's choice award. I believe Jonathan's Tucson Cork and El Charro Cafe were not far behind. Jonathan's was pulsing with booze; men seemed to really like it.
Then there were the judges. I cannot remember who they were ... some couple from New Orleans, a Cointreau representative, Jennifer English from the Radio Food & Wine Network and Edie Jarolim who writes for Tucson Guide and other esteemed publications.
I forgot to mention that Cointreau was a sponsor so everyone had to use that ingredient as well as a tequila of their choice.
The judges voted for the Cup Cafe in 2nd place and El Charro Cafe won 1st place for the alcoholic version and JAX Kitchen won 1st place for the the virgin Guadalupe version.
A good time was had by all or so it seemed. Rita made the astute observation that she could tell how old women were by what kind of shoes they were wearing. Hmmm, I'm going to tiptoe out of here now in my sensible shoes...