A weekend spent in the Phoenix/Tucson, Arizona area is a weekend full of fun, hot weather and great eating. I've gone to this area a couple of times in the past, but this weekend I was able to, for the first time, spend some quality time driving around and really enjoying the cities for what they are. It was super hot, but the many air conditioned restaurants and misters in the gas station serve to keep one cool. I landed in Phoenix just in time to join my Arizona-based brother for a lunch at the Tempe location of Culinary Drop-Out (http://www.culinarydropout.com). A funky, cool vibe greets you when you pull up to the valet stand. In the Arts District, the building is big, loft-like and filled with small white Christmas lights, wood accents and big, garage-like doors. It offers both an indoor and outdoor seating arrangement. As it was super hot, I stuck with the indoor one. My chicken salad was to die for! I also partook in the pretzel and fondue appetizer. Needless to say, very filling. It was a bit much to eat those and then climb in the car for the 1.5 hour drive to Tucson. However, I got her done!
My Friday night started out with a wonderful meal at Tavolino Ristorante Italiano (http://tavolinoristorante.com). This fine eatery had many surprises in store. I started the meal with the traditional mozzarella caprese which was very yummy. Fresh tomatoes and mozzarella combined to make this an amazing appetizer. My main course consisted of sharing a plate of beet raviolis with my cousin. We also passed around a plate of butternut squash raviolis. Have to say, the beet raviolis were the winners hands down.
Although the air outside was over 100 degrees of "dry heat", inside things were warm with laughter, love and good food. I hadn't seen all my cousins in one group in a few years. It was so great for me to be around all this good energy for lots of laughs, tears, and toasts. There is just something about being around those you grew up with for you to be able to let your guard down and hang loose. These particular cousins grew up across country from my native New Jersey, however, once I moved out West, we not only re-connected but also bonded deeply. They are my "happy, healthy" family members who I love to be around.
The weekend continued on with graduation parties, shopping and even a squeezed in work-out at my new addiction, Orangetheory Fitness. We have a new franchise here in Park City, and I was able to join in on a class in Tucson at their new location. This one hour work-out (www.orangetheoryfitness.com) consists of sessions split into intervals of cardiovascular and strength training with heart rate monitors to track intensity and maximize metabolic burn. I have never stuck to a work-out routine before, but for some crazy reason this one is addicting. The one-hour work-out goes super fast.
I finished up my time in Arizona with a ladies' brunch at Agustin Kitchen (http://agustinkitchen.com) in Tucson. I arrived early and was able to spend some time getting to know the fabulous Jamie behind the bar. What a sweet, upbeat young lady who clearly enjoyed her job and excelled at it. She was a whiz at mixing up beautiful mimosas, Bloody Mary's and anything else you could want on a hot Sunday morning. My cousins and I ordered off the brunch meal. We started off with a huge, home-cooked cinnamon roll that tasted like a sugary cinnamon/gingerbread mix. Only order one for the whole table because they are giant. Well worth the extra calories. I had huevos rancheros that were amazing as well.
As you can see, I spent most of my Arizona time soaking in the amazing food. We are a little understated here in Utah when it comes to great food, so when I go out of town I have to make up for it. I totally did that and more in Arizona....
Until My Next Adventure,
It's easy to impress me. I don't need a fancy party to be happy. Just good friends, good food, and good laughs. I'm happy. I'm satisfied. I'm content. - Maria Sharapova