First Taste

HotDish in Tucson: Grilled Cheese, Watermelon Gazpacho and a Creme Fraiche Parfait

Phoenicians Lara Mulchay and Joel LaTondress helped celebrate the opening of the Mercado San Agustin in Tucson this weekend with brunch in the form of "HotDish in the Old Pueblo.

Cheeseaholic Mulchay (from Petit Fromage, whose Phoenix location closed in August last year) and web developer LaTondress are planning a business in the Biltmore/Arcadia area early next year. They're pals with Mercado's owner, so a weekend pop-up was a natural.

Get more photos and learn about the food after the jump.

The event's vibe was relaxed -- with live jazz, families enjoying snacks and a stray dog or child here and there. The lady taking orders wasn't useful for much else than dispensing lemonade and iced tea, but Mulchay was happy to answer questions and chat if you caught her running between tables. Speaking of tables, we found no seating two but there was plenty of space available as long as you were willing to share.

For the weekend, HotDish offered three main dishes for $8 and a $5 crème fraiche parfait.

The grilled cheese was a classy cheese platter comfortably sandwiched between two buttery slices of bread. The familiarly gooey white cheddar provided body while the petit basque offered an unexpected, mild sheepy flavor. Fruit chutney incorporated sweet apricot, tart cherries, and hot jalapeños. Peppery, slightly bitter arugula rounded out the flavors of the sandwich.

A little cup on the side held refreshing watermelon gazpacho. The mint and cucumber garnish accentuated the coolness of the watermelon, but at the same time it tasted savory and a little spicy with the grainy sweetness faint on the back of your throat.

This summer, HotDish plans to launch a "Community Supported Provisions" program to deliver fine cheeses, charcuterie, and other foods to members.

We hope they'll deliver to Tucson.

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Jackie Tran