For those who thought restaurants in the Rim Country only served meat and potatoes, the 2012 Taste of the Rim fund-raiser for the Payson Public Library offered pleasant surprises.
“This year we have more chefs with more selections,” said Bessie Tucker, reference librarian and chair of the event.
Feeding people these days is fraught with peril, with so many suffering from food allergies, intolerances, health issues or lifestyle choices. The 250 guests at the Taste of the Rim event learned that in Payson, restaurants offer several options to make the dining experience pleasurable — and possible.
Going gluten free? It’s available.
Sugar free? No problem.
Lactose intolerant? Got that covered.
Vegetarian or vegan? They’ll cater to your preference.
Tucker said when she had mentioned she had gone gluten free, participating restaurants surprised her by saying they planned on serving gluten, sugar and lactose free alternatives.
The goal of the Au Natural Cafe restaurant is to serve delicious food that also has dense nutritional value. Each day, Chef Kevin Ritter and Cindy Bryant, the nutritionist/owner, consult to maximize the dining experience from taste to health.
Said Bryant, “We practice Hippocrates philosophy: ‘Use food as your medicine and your medicine as your food.’”
At Taste of the Rim, Ritter served an oriental take on fried rice; except he used the nutritionally dense grain Quinoa and non-GMO, pesticide, chemical and hormone free turkey and vegetables.
The cafe also served their famous black bean brownie sweetened with agave nectar and smothered in either a blueberry or raspberry sauce.
Who knew healthy could be so delicious?
At Laura’s Small Cafe and Vita-Mart’s station, the two owners showed off how they partner to create healthy alternatives they can offer between them.
“I use Laura’s kitchen to create soups and then offer the soup, ingredients and recipes in Vita-Mart,” said owner Christine Bollier.
“I use the ingredients Christine sells to make whatever the customer needs,” said Laura Seeley owner and chef at the Small Cafe. If a customer asks, the cafe will serve gluten free pancakes, French toast, sandwiches or prepare any food separately from others to avoid any food allergies.
During the event, the two served chicken dumplings with Parmesan crisp and a garden vegetable tomato soup with an apple-cheddar sourdough muffin.
Besides healthy foods, restaurants offered unique flavors such as Ayothaya Cafe, the Thai restaurant. They served a slightly spicy beef and pork dish along with their Chicken Paradise and cucumber sushi.
Susie Watson from Rim Country Jams served berry and plum jams infused with chipotle and exotic Turkish spices.
“My husband is a firefighter and loves spicy foods,” said Watson describing what inspired her creations.
The Payson High School culinary arts students had an international flare, serving bread sticks with an herbed olive oil, jalapeno poppers, and a Thai dessert of coconut ice cream and fried bananas.
Cardo’s Pizza and Italian food served their famous pizza, while Gerardo’s Firewood Cafe had beautiful cups filled with tiramisu.
For those looking for the classic meat and potatoes dining experience, the Creekside Steakhouse and Tavern station served ribs, their famous Creekside salad and a dessert.
One guest raved about their classic fare: “I gotta tell you, the ribs and crumb cake are just awesome,” he said to Carol Hiscox of the tavern.
“We aim to please,” she replied.
The Landmark at Christopher Creek served both a chicken pot pie and beef stew with biscuit. The pickles had a bite from horseradish.
Barbara Frazub-O’Conner the chef from the Randall House served a salad nicoise, and an appetizer with hummus, baba ganoush, and olive tapenade. Known for its delicious baked goods, the restaurant served a lemon poppy seed muffin and chili-chocolate cupcake.
The Mazatzal Casino bakery also attended. The bakers offered racks of desserts.
For drinks, the members of the Friends of the Library donated multiple types of wines.
Not many could eat every offering from each restaurant, but many tried.
The event typically nets $6,000 to $9,000 for the library.
“This event puts books on the shelves,” said Tucker.