Arizona Turns 100!

Guys. I’m from Arizona. And I freaking love Arizona. And today Arizona turns 100! That’s 100 years of statehood! (Yeah, America!)

I was born in Tucson, AZ which is, give or take, 40 minutes from the US/Mexico border. Later in life my family moved to Phoenix where I attended high school. Then I went back to Tucson where I attended the University of Arizona. 2/3 of my life have been spent in southern AZ!

There are so many wonderful things about Arizona, and while it’s definitely not a perfect state (which is!?) it’s my home, and I love it! If you’d like to learn a little more about the good ‘ol A-Z follow me on Twitter today (I’m using the hashtags #AZ and #100yrs) where I’m sharing cool/neat Arizona factoids, or check out my Pinterest Arizona Centennial board where it’s more of the same but in pretty pictures.

Having lived there 22 years, it’s kinda astounding how many places I haven’t yet been! Top of my list are Red Rocks State Park, Greer Lodge & Resort and attend a pow wow (did you know Arizona is home to 21 federally recognized tribes and that reservations and tribal communities comprise over 1/4 of the state?).

If you’re from or have been to Arizona, where are your favorite places to visit?

Photo thanks to ibontxo via Flickr.

The Best Thing I Ate Last Week: Phoenix Edition

Listen. If you’re going to judge me for naming the best thing I ate last week a dish from a chain restaurant, you can, kindly, close your browser window and walk away from my blog.

Because you simply have not had the chorizo-stuffed pork tenderloin at ZTejas Southwestern Grill in Arizona. Yet. You’ll have it if you’re here. I promise you, you’ll regret it if you don’t.

Where do I start? It’s hard to find well-seasoned chorizo in DC, so I really appreciate a spicy but not flaming hot sausage. The meat lets you know there’s some heat there, but it’s not going to have you reaching for a glass of milk.

In fact, where’s Mrs. Wheelbarrow and her Charcutapalooza crew? I’d like to see her take on fresh, home-made chorizo.

As if the chorizo wasn’t enough, it’s then wrapped in a juicy pork tenderloin. Oh and there’s poblano peppers all wrapped up in there too!  They could stop right there and not bother with the sauces, the mashed potatoes and the vegetables. There’s really no need for all that extra stuff on the plate. Because when those little meaty medallions land in front of me it’s like I have tunnel vision…and I don’t come back up until they’re all gone.

Best Thing I Ate Last Week: Tucson Edition

I’m home for the holidays right now and that means lots of puppy kisses, friend time and sleeping. In the vein of friend time, I headed down to Tucson, AZ, my birth city and where I lived until I was about 13, with my bff since childhood. Our mission was Christmas lights, but we had to eat along the way. We asked our hotel for some recommendations and they came up with Maynards Market & Kitchen.

The restaurant was cozy, dimly lit and had a really lovely warm feeling. The emphasis on locally sourced, or at least well sourced, ingredients was an immediate draw for me…but the menu was both meat and fish heavy. I love a good bacon cheeseburger, we all know this, but that night I was craving something lighter.

Enter: fennel butternut squash “scrapple” with figs, chanterelles and a cauliflower veloute.

Sounds like a lot of random on a plate, right? I wish I had a photo, because it came together so well visually and taste wise. The “scrapple” was a rectangle of thinly sliced fennel and squash layered about a hundred times over. I have mad respect for the sous chef that labored over that mandolin and subsequently placed those layers in a baking dish.

Of all the other items on the plate, the cauliflower veloute was the star. It was creamy…uh…velvety…and delicious! I didn’t expect to walk away from dinner feeling full, but I did. I also wasn’t hungry an hour later – a sign of a good vegetarian dish according to this meat-eater!

So, like I told my friend, sometimes it’s good to veer off the beaten, beefy path at restaurants like these. Every once and awhile you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

What’s the best thing y’all ate last week?

Farmers’ Markets: Arizona

Photo from Tony the Misfit on Flickr.

I am loudly, and proudly, from the Grand Canyon State: Arizona. People leave their hearts everywhere…but mine is located somewhere in the desert (probably on the I-10) between Phoenix and Tucson (the two cities I have grown up, and gone to school in).

And because my love is so great for all my Arizona peoples, I will share with them (and you DC folks, for your vacations) some great farmers’ markets in my home-state. Here goes.

Greater Phoenix Area

Tucson Area

Farmers’ markets by county (so helpful) for your Bisbee-ans and Bullhead City-ans (shout out for The BF’s old stomping grounds!).

Can I suggest a few farmers’ market tips? Go early, go often. Take some old grocery bags or a canvas bag. Take your dog, but keep them on a leash and bring water! Talk to the farmers and vendors! They’re growing and/or making your FOOD! Ask questions like: what can I make with this? how do you cook this? tell me more about this fruit/vegetable/meat! what does this taste like? They’re there to help you and they want to talk to you! So when faced with 10 different apple varieties, and all you want to do is bake a pie…ask them which kind is best for a pie!