Anyone who has dined at Brix or Criollo over the last few years is probably aware that we source as much of our produce as possible from McClendon Farms in Peoria, Arizona. I always like to consult Bob McClendon before a menu change and with the upcoming summer season I thought that I would pay him a visit and get some ideas.
The first thing that struck me as I drove to Bob’s was the topography. There were no farms in sight; in fact, I drove through about 20 miles of strip malls and development before coming to a ten foot wall with a large electric gate. Hidden behind the gate I found a 25-acre oasis of citrus trees, beehives, lettuces, and an array of heirloom vegetables where some of the best chefs in the southwest come to stock their kitchens.
When I got out of the car I was greeted by a tall, suspenders-clad man who looked at least fifteen years shy of his 77 years…a testament, I believe, to his organic diet and obvious love for how he makes his living. He drove me around in a golf cart and we looked at the departing crops: the citrus, carrots, beets, chard, broccoli, and radishes that filled out our winter menus.
We talked about the crops that were just getting started and what we could expect to see in the coming month: tomatoes, eggplant, basil, sweet corn, squash and zucchini. As we roll into our first summer season with Criollo, I asked Bob about upcoming produce that may fit our new Latin concept. Bob recommended okra, micro cilantro, and sweet Patron & Shishito peppers. He also told me that squash blossom quesadillas were one of his favorite ways to prepare the upcoming crop.
So, while you can expect to see the return of ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms at Brix, you can be sure that we are going to give Bob’s favorite a try along with sautéed okra and padron peppers down at Criollo. We thank Bob for his amazing dedication to growing the best produce in the southwest and for making our cuisine that much better by allowing us to feature it. And we hope that you will be by soon to see for yourself.