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On my first overnight research trip to Tucson, friends took me to downtown to eat. It’s funky, it’s got an attitude, it’s probably not for everyone, but this place had me at two words : BLT pasta.

These photos were taken last Wednesday on one of many follow-up visits.

I’m sure they have other great dishes – in fact, I’ve heard people say they quite enjoy their food – but I think I’m set. And yes, the leftovers are awesome fresh out of the hotel microwave the morning after.

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saffron spice

Sometimes traveling isn’t possible – time, money and finals can all get in the way. But, to flip a famous saying, if you can’t go to the mountain, maybe you can bring part of the mountain to you. Photos, souvenirs and maps are all great ways to relive or predict get trips.

Another way is recreating a dish from somewhere else that tastes fantastic. While in Dubai over winter break, I made sure to pick up saffron in Dubai’s colorful spice markets – a lot of saffron. Now that we’re back, Steven’s putting it to good use.

Part of cooking with saffron is knowing how much to use. It really only takes a tiny, tiny pinch to turn a whole pot of rice yellow, and our 20 dirham stash will probably last us years if used judiciously. Steven said he marinated the chicken breasts normally – in this case using Italian dressing – and then sprinkled the saffron on top while it cooked in a broiler pan.

The saffron chicken here is served over white rice, also cooked with saffron, and with sauteed onions, mushrooms and chives – and it was amazing! Steven’s also made hummus and lebnah, and they’re delicious too – I can imagine I’m sitting in a cafe nearly anywhere on the Mediterranean. But the saffron – that brings back the sights, sounds, and most importantly the smells of Dubai’s spice souks.

At times like these when work restrictions make my movements limited, it takes a bit of effort to ignore spring weather and the travel advertisements that suddenly seem to be everywhere. But I enjoy knowing that I’m far from cut off from the world – it’s just a few steps and a few minutes away in a plastic compact on the spice rack. And the saffron will last a lot longer than the Arabic labeled chocolate bars did!

saffron chicken

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