Adam Lehrman is the founder/creator of tucsonfoodie.com, a website which started in 2008 with a Twitter account and expanded through Adam's background in web design, marketing, sales and food. It has since blossomed into one of Tucson's go-to destinations for food news. Adam tracks down, writes and photographs a lot of the content along with his hand-selected contributors.
What was the first dish you had that changed your perspective on food?
I don't think I can remember the actual first dish I had that changed my perspective, but living in San Francisco exposed me to a finer side of cuisine that took full advantage of fresh and local ingredients. I remember a dish at Delfina that was super simple: A perfectly cooked soupy like bed of cannellini beans with sautéed fennel topped with a whole sardine. This wasn't like a sardine out of a can—it was probably 7 or 8 inches long, fresh caught, and cooked to perfection. I've tried recreating that dish a million times.
What are you eating these days?
What aren't I eating is more like it. I eat so many different things and go out so much that it's just havoc on my digestive system. Lately, it seems like a lot of pizza. First world problems, for sure.
What was the first dish you remember cooking?
When I was a kid I used to bake a lot—cookies and brownies. I'd actually raid my mom's cookbooks, see what we had ingredients for and make sweets. But the first full dish? No idea—maybe something with pesto or salmon.
What concept, ingredient or food trend does everyone seem to love, but you just can't stomach?
I've said this a million times—if someone doesn't like something, they just haven't had it prepared right (or to their liking). So, there's very little that I don't like. I mean you can completely ruin a piece of ahi by overcooking it and people will hate it. Sear that baby for a few seconds, maybe with a little garlic—that's a completely different experience. With that said I'm a huge hater of sweet stuff in salad—dried cranberries, strawberries, stuff like that. But to prove my point, I had a delicious charred octopus salad from Poppy Kitchen a few weeks ago that had watermelon in it. That was pretty perfect, actually. Thanks, Ginny Wooters!
What chef, with us or passed on, would you most like to cook or eat dinner with?
Maybe Thomas Keller or Julia Child. My biggest inspiration is actually Marcella Hazan. Followed closely by Alice Waters.
What city, other than Tucson, is your favorite place to eat?
I think I'd have to say San Francisco, although I'm not all that well traveled as far as food cities go.
Speaking in junk food terms, what is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Ha—that's a good one. I probably eat more guilty pleasure items than anyone I know. So here it goes: cookies, ice cream, pizza cookie from Oregano's (which just happens to be cookies and ice cream), gummy candies like those little raspberries and blackberries coated with whatever they're coated with, mango sorbet, ice cream sandwiches, french fries, (oooh, prime fries from HUB), Lucky Wishbone (that one I actually do a pretty good job of avoiding), Doritos, red licorice, eegee's combo (I mean you can't go there and NOT get a sandwich, fries, and flavor of the month fizz—it has to be fizz, by the way), and pork belly. If pork belly is on the menu in some form or fashion, I'm probably ordering it.
Top three Tucson restaurants?
Nice try. There is no answer to that question. I will answer it with my three favorite items of late, however, and tell you where I've been getting them (this is always changing—and if someone has a kale salad I need to try, hit me up): Kale Salad: Falora or Time Market; Pretzel Reuben: Beyond Bread; Indian food: Twisted Tandoor, Sher-E-Punjab or Kababeque.
With a figurative electric chair in your immediate future, what is your last meal?
This is a hard question. It really depends on if I'm vegetarian, vegan, fruitarian or breatharian at that point. I'll tell you something though—I have a true passion for bread. Real good bread. There's not much of it in town. Barrio Bread is great. Time Market is great, Beyond Bread is up there. Occasionally I've found good bread at AJ's and Whole Foods that was par baked and shipped down. I've also made a ton of bread. I have a great book by James Beard called "Beard on Bread," that says: "Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods."
So, I suppose I just want some good, fresh baked bread with good, soft butter. Followed by a pizza cookie, of course.