For this bite of Tasting Tucson, we’re dipping back into surf & turf at The Cork Tucson on the east side of town.

Head chef Carlos Aponte is back home after many years working in kitchens across several states and major cities, including Los Angeles and New York. As he settles into life back in Tucson, he showed us what it takes to make sure their bacon-wrapped shrimp can handle the heat.

“I came back and bought a house in the same neighborhood I grew up in,” Aponte said, “…to help watch with my parents as they’re getting older. (I’m) coming home again and settling in here to this classic restaurant that I loved to come into as a child.”

The bar appetizer holds several ties to our region and climate. Aponte said these shrimp were fished off the coast in Mexico. He also picked a fresh ‘casero’ cheese that can take the heat in the broiler.

“Casero cheese is like the same cheese you use in ‘palo de queso,'” he said. “It doesn’t really break down like other cheeses that sink and melt to the bottom. Kind of like a feta cheese, it stays its shape, but even holds (it) better than the feta.”

We asked Aponte how you would time out boiling the shrimp while making sure the bacon gets to the right texture at the same time.

“You need a piece of shrimp that’s thick enough,” he said. “Where it’s not going to overcook by the time that bacon is crispy.”

The bacon itself has homegrown flavors, too.

“You don’t want to use a real thick-cut bacon; this is a thin cut jalapeo bacon that we get locally from here in Arizona,” Aponte said.