Saturday, February 05, 2011

AZ adventures: part 4

back in NC
well, i really wanted to post from 30,000 feet! but sadly, the inflight internet doesn't seem to like my mac. it's absolutely mind-boggling to me that the possibility even exists -- although i am also still amazed by the internet itself and the fact that you can FLY up in the air in planes, so yeah.

you will all just have to settle for a post written at 30,000 feet, somewhere between TX and NC. i find writing this bittersweet -- bitter because no matter how long a vacation is, i seem to always want more! there are several facets to the sweetness, however.

a) we do have another day! love coming home on saturday (rather than sunday)

b) i'm excited to get back to my regular posting about . . .well, whatever it is i tend to post about. i'm not usually such a lifecaster, and i worry that these vacay-recap posts are boring for you all. however, i feel compelled to do them anyway in part because i love looking back on them myself!

c) i really missed peanut butter, and my beloved english muffins. yep.

so before i produce the last installment of vacation 2011: southwest edition, here's a little preview of some upcoming topics + posts:

vegan for a week! i think!?

managing longer-term projects

focus . . . in the lab

spring shopping preview!

anything else you can think of -- just drop me a comment, email, or add to (uhh, or start?) this discussion on facebook. i'm always looking for inspiring material and you all are the best source!

last day in AZ: eating our way around scottsdale
when i booked this arizona food tour, i was a little worried that by the end of our trip, we'd have restaurant fatigue, rendering us unable to enjoy a 6-stop food tour through the city. luckily, this was not the case! as the number 1 tourist activity located on tripadvisor, i was expecting some big corporate deal and was surprised to find out that the whole thing is run by a woman who looked to be pretty fresh out of college. she was a great host and definitely put together a great journey!

we began at the rusty spur, a bar featuring down home southwestern grub.

our host beckoning us in

josh was particularly excited to begin the tour with this slider (topped with green chili -- a common theme for the stops to come!).

i paced myself, handing off half the slider to the bottomless pit josh, but it was tasty.

next we hit a specialty store featuring italian imported olive oils and vinegars.

this didn't sound that exciting to me initially, but once we got to tasting i was sold. we actually took home a bottle of the 18-year aged balsamic and i'm excited to put it to good use.

next was a winery! yeah, cabernet may not be AZ's most popular import, but i'm never one to turn down a tasting.

the grapes are grown in CA and shipped to AZ for winemaking purposes, by the way. otherwise i think they'd just turn into raisins!

stop #4 was at frank and lupes, a mexican joint with a fun atmosphere and outdoor patio.

the whole patio aspect would have been appreciated a bit more had it been over 50 degrees (seriously: we came to AZ during a RECORD cold snap! oh well.). however, this little sopapilla creation was worth the chill.

i shared this one with my eating partner as well.

stuffed with beef and cheese -- chili sauce later added not shown!

we had two more stops and i was really excited for our next one at cowboy ciao.

this is a well-known (and very popular) restaurant with the same owners as FnB (which we loved).

they are famous for this stetson chopped salad, a glorious creation packed with arugula, couscous, dried cranberries, pepitas, roasted corn, and more. the pesto-ranch dressing was genius. i am going to have to try to recreate this at home!

finally, our last stop was at the sugar bowl, where we were served mini cream-puff ice cream sundaes!

this was a fun treat, but in hindsight it wasn't anything that special. i wish i had declined and instead headed to the gelato stop just a block away! next time, i suppose . . .

and with that, our tour was complete. the tour guide pointed out both culinary landmarks and other historical sights. i had to laugh a little bit at the 'waterfront' (apparently the region's pride and joy!).

i definitely recommend this tour to anyone headed to the scottsdale area, and now i want to go on the local tours offered in NC! anyone wanna come?

last stop: taliesin west
honestly, i would have been perfectly happy kicking my feet up at the hotel after the food tour. one tour/day is really my preference. but compromise is important on vacation, right? and so josh and i headed to one final tour: frank lloyd wright's architectural school, taliesin west.

in the end, i did enjoy this tour and thought the grounds and buildings were really interesting. apparently there are still students who attend this school -- and all of them have to live in tents with no electricity or plumbing! not signing up for that anytime soon, but it's an interesting concept.

and that pretty much concludes our vacation! josh and i both had a really great time. his top 3 aspects of the trip were:

a) sleeping in
b) hiking in sedona
c) "eating well." (he was unable to elaborate.)

mine were:

a) massages!
b) our room service night
c) food tour . . . but with an honorable mention for FnB.

someday we'll be back, i think! i hope you all are having great weekends!