SAACA, Compost Cats team up to put on 6th annual SAVOR Food and Wine Festival

Madeleine Viceconte | The Daily Wildcat The Tohono Chul Garden vendor offers a smoked salmon salad on a tortilla chip at the 6th annual SAVOR Food and Wine Festival on Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Botanical Gardens. SAVOR featured many local vendors.

Barbecue pork, whiskey and wine — oh my! The sixth edition of the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance’s SAVOR Food and Wine Festival featured smoked meats, fine wine and perfect weather, all set against the bucolic grounds of the Tucson Botanical Gardens.

The Tohono Chul Garden vendor at the 6th annual SAVOR Food and Wine Festival offers a prickly pear lemonade. SAVOR is put on by the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance.

More than 65 vendors hawking everything from freshly painted frescos to locally sourced tequila plied their wares for the sold-out crowd. Musicians positioned throughout the grounds supplied the soundtrack to the lines of hungry and thirsty revelers.

“This event, we’ve done it for the past four years,” said Erich Hernandez, manager of Seis Kitchen, one of Tucson’s premiere Mexican food restaurants. “Every year we get more and more people that say ‘oh we’ve never heard of you,’ and so it helps build our clientele."

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With two Tucson-area locations, including their original location at the Mercado San Augustin west of I-10, Seis Kitchen serves up a modern take on classic Sonoran dishes, and its samples for the event were no different.

Samples of its puerco verde tacos — a delicate combination of slow-roasted pork and green chiles laid out over a homemade flour tortilla and topped with queso fresco and avocado crema — paired nicely with nearby tequila vendors, including Tucson-local Roger Clyne's Mexican Moonshine Tequila.

Hernandez encouraged UA students to make the trip to their west side location, especially since it's located closer to campus. 

“Definitely use that streetcar, we are at the very tail end of that route,” he said. “We have a coffee shop at the plaza so a lot of students come and do homework there and grab tacos and have a good time.”

The University of Arizona was not without representation, with the Compost Cats serving as the event's official clean-up crew and recycling team.

Victoria Ramirez, a senior environmental studies and sustainable built environments student and Compost Cat technician, talked about the long relationship her organization has with SAACA.

“Annually, we do every single event that they host that has food at it,” Ramirez said, before explaining how a typical SAACA event results in “35 gallon tons” of waste product.

And what becomes of that waste?

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“We take them to our farms to process them and turn it into compost, which is a soil amendment for growing plants,” Ramirez said.

Seis Kitchen offers a Puerco Verde taco at the 6th annual SAVOR Food and Wine Festival on Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Botanical Gardens. SAVOR helps provide funding for the Botanical Gardens and Local First Tucson.

For students looking to get involved with Compost Cats, Ramirez suggested they visit the group’s website online and visit the social media pages.

“Students can especially get involved at the SAACA events, we always need volunteers to work the green stations,” Ramirez said. “At those green stations you can help out with informing the attendees on what is compostable.”

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