we've had a few adventures lately, including last week's trip to southern arizona. see julie's post from earlier today. so tonight, since it was halloween eve, we decided it was time to carve pumpkins. julie's sister sarah and her boyfriend dustin joined us in the fun.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Last weekend we took a trip to the southern part of Arizona to see Kartchner Caverns, Willcox, AZ, Chiricahua National Monument, Tombstone, AZ and Auntie Annie's Apple Orchard.
It was a great trip with wonderful weather. Here are some highlights from our trip:
Kartchner Caverns - which had wonderful rock formations such as stalagmites, stalactites, turnip shields, and helictites. The story of how the cave was discovered is pretty cool as well! Unfortunately, we couldn't take any photos of the cave, however, the website has come cool video and photos.
Willcox, AZ - this was my hometown when I was in the 1st-3rd grade. In that time, my dad was appointed to Willcox UMC and we "acquired" my two younger sibs, Matt and Sarah. When you're younger, the city seems large and cool. Upon our recent trip back, the reality of it being a small, run-down town set in. But at least they have recycling and Rex Allen Days.
Chiricahua National Monument - is a great mountain range with awesome rock formations to the south of Willcox.
Tombstone, AZ - the famous city that's "too tough to die" which has the OK Corral and many gunfights.
and finally, we paid a visit to Apple Annie's Orchard and picked some great granny smiths and red delicious. We also visited their produce orchard and picked yummy green beans and spaghetti squash. The apple crisp that we've made was DELISH!
Here are some pics from our trip!
one of my childhood homes
Willcox Hospital - where my sister Sarah was born
Chiricahua Nat'l Monument
Thursday, October 29, 2009
i randomly came across this article about what it really means to "go green" and what's really going on in the big picture of all the waste we create. while i don't expect too many people out there to do all this guy has, he really makes some good points.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
The best part of our experience at Wildflower Bread Co. (WBC) last night was without a doubt the food. The atmosphere was good and with the hospitality that was shown to us, it did give that feeling of being at home, but the food will make you come back again.
WBC served a 5 course meal to us, in smaller portions to what they normally serve, to give us a sampling of their fall menu. Both Julie and I will review each course to give you a couple different perspectives.
Brian: The caramel-praline syrup sold me on these. It was good enough to drink on it's own. It came delightfully warm with the buttermilk pancakes. It was the 1st example of the way WBC pays attention to the minor details. The currants and pecans in the soft pancakes added a nice crunchy texture. They could almost serve the pancakes and syrup as a desert, it's that decadent.
Julie: This was such a scrumptious "meal". The short stack of these pancakes include 3 - 2oz pancakes and the entree includes 3 - 3oz pancakes. We had 2 of the 2oz buttermilk based pancakes. The smell was heavenly! The pancakes had large chunks of apples, walnuts, topped with brown sugar and powdered sugar. The pancakes were light and flavorful on their own without the syrup and transformed into a fluffy caramel apple when dipped in the caramel praline syrup. The syrup was a bit sugar-y and I would be a little more cautious with it if I was actually eating this as my first meal of the day. I used a little bit of the butter on the pancakes but it didn't need it at all.
Brian: This was my least favorite part of the meal, partially because I am normally not a big fan of squash. The squash itself was soft & moist, and the spice they added to the squash is a nice touch. It added that extra kick that can make food a bit more enjoyable. I thought there was a bit much of the cranberry-balsamic vinaigrette, so perhaps having it on the side might be better.
Julie: I like butternut squash and was looking forward to trying this salad. The salad had butternut squash that was roasted in maple syrup, sundried spicy corn and a great variety of greens. The salad comes with a great hunk of perfect sourdough bread. The squash had a nice "kick" to it becuase of the red pepper in the squash and it had a nice light texture. The gorgonzola added a nice tart balance to the bit of sweetness from the cranberry-basalmic vinaigrette dressing. I think though, if I ordered the salad again, I would get the dressing on the side.
Brian: One of my favorite parts of the meal. A wonderfully thick sandwich that has every taste you could want out of one of these mini-meals. When the owner, Louis, was describing it my immediate comment was "You had me at bacon.". Yes, this Turkey Day inspired sandwich has bacon! Perfect. They also include a spiced mayo. Normally, I don't like mayo. On this sandwich...awesome. I already want another one.
Julie: The original size of this sandwich was enormous. One thing that Louis mentioned was the desire to reduce portion size and this, to me, would be one of the areas in which that could be applied. That said, the concept of this sandwich was really cool. The two thick slices of bread were really delicious and I love the concept of the Stuffing Loaf (made with carrots, celery, sage, and pecans - ready for the thanksgiving day turkey!). Then there were also small chunks of cranberry-walnut stuffing as the first layer on top of the herb mayo, which was not heavy nor overbearing. Then a few thin slices of turkey, then great quality medium sliced bacon slices, cranberry sauce and finally, another slice of stuffing loaf to top it off. I actually had to take the sandwich apart and slice off pieces of the sandwich and then eat it with a fork. The taste was a great blend of all of the tastes of a thanksgiving meal!
Butternut Squash Ravioli
Brian: I was surprised by how much I liked this dish. It's topped with a walnut cream sauce that is great for dipping the grilled garlic bread that comes with it. There's a wonderful warmth to the ravioli as well. I was impressed by how well the butternut squash worked with the cream sauce.
Julie: Again, as a fan of butternut squash, I was really looking forward to this dish as well. IT WAS HEAVENLY! The sweetness of the squash was enhanced by the nutmeg. The creamy texture of the ravioli went perfectly with the walnut cream sauce. I also appreciated the slight hint of red pepper to compliment the sweetness of the squash. I could definately eat the large portion of this dish! In addition, as a huge fan of garlic, the smell of the thick slice of garlic bread that accompanied this dish was enough to want to make me hang it from my rear view mirror. YUM!
Brian: It's hard for me to pick a favorite out of the deserts. Without a doubt, I loved the latte. It was another favorite out of the meal. It had cayenne pepper in it, and I felt it as the latte went down my throat. The pumpkin pie is super creamy and melts in your mouth. The roasted nut pie is great. Think pecan pie, just add 5 more nuts. Crunchy and melty at the same time. The pumpkin cheesecake is wonderful, too.
Julie: I was pleasantly surprised with the selection of desserts. I love pumpkin during this time of year and it's great when it's incorporated into any sort of dessert! The pumpkin pie could barely keep its shape because it was so creamy and fluffy. The texture was so good that it almost didn't need a crust. The Pumpkin Cheesecake was also a delight! The cheesecake was fluffy and light which I appreciated because I could have eaten the entire piece. As for the Roasted Nut Pie, I was a bit skeptical because I usually don't like pecan pie or other similar desserts. The blend of 6 nuts was nice and wasn't "sticky" like other pecan pies. I don't usually like Chai Lattes but they offered to make mine with soy milk. Besides the abundance of foam (I'm not really a coffee drinker either) the taste was good. It was a nice blend of spicy chocolate and warm goodness.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Recently, Brian and I joined a group called Tastecasting, which is a movement to help local restaurants gain publicity by word of mouth/blog/tweet/linked in. It is a great way spread the word about the great food that restaurants serve and also about a great experience with fun people! I found out about it from a friend's sister's blog and then discovered that there was one here in Phoenix. Both Brian and I joined and had a great time tonight at our first tasting. Check out the link to see if there is one in your city!
While I will post about my experience tomorrow, Brian will also post about his experience soon as well.
But first, I'd like to introduce you to the place we visited. It's Wildflower Bread Company (WBC) and they have several locations, mostly in the Phoenix area. Louis Basile, Jr. is the head honcho and is obviously quite proud of this company. It certainly shows in the big and little details.
These are just a few things that stuck out to me about his commitment and passion about creating this restaurant:
- WBC lives by the Golden Rule of serving others as you would want to be served;
- his goal was to provide a place where Phoencians could get some excellent bread and also to provide a unique, tasty, affordable meal;
- each WBC has an environment with it's own character;
- WBC is active in the community and donates all its baked goods at the end of the day to churches and charities (definately a plus for me!);
- WBC takes its perspective of abundance and uses it to help others;
- all items are baked on-site and each loaf of bread takes 3 days to fully leaven (I LOVE bread and this is really cool!)
This was our first visit to WBC and we were certainly impressed by the decor, ambiance and again, the little details that convey that they really care about their customers.
One little thing that I noticed before we dove into the gastronomic festivities, was the really nice bathroom. Now I realize that I am blogging about the food of the restaurant, but for me, an indicator of a restaurant's cleanliness and care is the condition of its restrooms.
The restroom at WBC was surprisingly nice. I expected a little, but felt as if I was walking into a restroom at a fancy place. The frosted glass doors and ceramic tile complimented the bright lighting and FREE Bath and Body Works lotion samples on the counter.
I was so impressed (or perhaps dorky enough) to take some photos of the restroom!
Each stall is behind a frosted glass door
View from the loo
FREE lotion samples (Bath and Body Works Coconut Lime Verbena)
They even have a courtesy phone in the hallway
I must say that this first impression was certainly a reflection of the standard of service from WBC.
I expected WBC to be similar to a Panera, Paradise Bakery or Atlanta Bread Co. I was pleasantly surprised to have my expectations exceeded!
Tomorrow: the feast!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
in honor of us moving to arizona, we decided to change the look of our blog. that, and brian was getting tired of the black template that we were using.
This is a very interesting experiment in sociology and context. Warning: it's a long but great story!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
It makes me speechless that this dumbf*** has such a narrow viewpoint. Has he never been to the west coast? BTW, it is SO TOTALLY racism.
last week julie & i made a trip to the phoenix library. mainly to get library cards, but also to browse their selection. my original intent was to look over the CDs & maybe borrow a few to expand my musical horizons. i've discovered that library collections are great for that.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
It's kind of like "white flight" of social networking.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
i did a bit of cybersphere research and found out about the phoenix chapter of the central michigan university alumni group. occasionally, they have events. as alumni groups like to do. turns out, they organize places to watch cmu football games. that is, of course, the american meaning of "football". so, saturday morning julie & i are heading to buffalo wild wings to watch cmu take on eastern michigan university...and to hang out with fellow cmu alums. sweet. :)