Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bring on the Bikes (and the magazines)

By Saturday, it had been at least three days since Christina had been on her bike, and she was getting antsy [she drove to AZ from Seattle with her mountain bike, stopping in Moab for several days before picking me up in Phoenix]. Luckily, there are lots of opportunities for biking in Sedona, so off to the bike shop we went. I got outfitted with a mountain bike, the bouncyness of which made me a little nervous... I mean, why would I need a full suspension bike with disc brakes when we were just going for a leisurely, easy ride, right? Well, it started out that way, but quickly turned into a rolling single-track. Thanks to my one and only lesson in downhilling ("trust the bike; look ahead not down; keep your cranks level"), I didn't kill myself but I did end up walking the bike quite a bit while Christina rolled down crazily steep steps, peddled up crazily steep steps, and cruised around hairpin turns. Still, the scenery was amazing and it was fun (kind of) but it was a long way from my beautiful, 8-speed, Italian cruiser with the basket on the front, and the thought of falling on a cactus seriously unnerved me. We rode one crazy loop together (which for CM was probably the equivalent of a ride around Green Lake) and then she took off for more bad-ass riding while I cruised up the main trail (along with the people pushing strollers and the elderly) back to the bike shop, which is also a coffee shop, to wait for her while catching up on my New Yorkers.

Christina may have earned her 4pm massage more than me, but it's a vacation not a competition.

seriously, don't fall off the bike 
at the Bike and Bean

Friday, November 29, 2013

Elote Cafe

"You call it corn!" Remember that Native American-looking lady on TV who translated "maize" for us in the 70s? Well, maize may be the word for the corn plant (and it turns out, that lady must have been Mayan because the word comes from the Spanish), but "elote" is Spanish for the corn on the cob street food of Mexico, and based on dinner Friday night, it's a word everyone should know. Elote Cafe is pretty much the most highly recommended restaurant in Sedona, and the hour wait for our table was worth every minute. We had the specialty of the house appetizer which the restaurant is named for, but thankfully, the roasted corn had been shucked off the cob (I've had an aversion to corn on the cob since I was a teenager - all those years of wearing braces) before being mixed with spicy mayo, lime, and cotija cheese. We liked it so much that Christina bought the restaurant's cookbook just for the recipe - and the chef came out and signed it for her! Her halibut dish was as pretty as it was delicious, and my beef barbacoa quesadilla was fantastic, but once again, we stuffed ourselves to distraction.

Red Rocks and Pink Jeeps

This is what it looks like just driving around town. 
The drive from Phoenix to Sedona yesterday was spectacular, but it was getting dark by the time we got in; Sedona in the daylight is mind-blowing. We have our share of natural beauty in the Pacific Northwest, and I wouldn't trade our Seattle sound-mountain-lake views for anything, but the high desert is such an opposite kind of beauty, we couldn't stop exclaiming about it. "Ohmygod, this is SO pretty!!" was said many times during our morning hike north of town along West Fork Creek. We crossed the creek 13 times (or 26 RT) by walking on stones and logs, deep into a wide box canyon. It was deadly quiet and really cold, but the changing light along the red rock walls was amazing. Again, I wouldn't trade the mossy greens for the brilliant reds full-time, but this was new terrain for me, and it was impressive.

After our hike, we ate our leftovers for lunch on the roof-deck of the hotel, and then checked in for our Pink Jeep tour. Pink Jeep is the oldest and most prevalent jeep tour outfitter in the area, but the town of Sedona is built, island-like, in the midst of public land, so anyone with no regard for their 4-wheel drive vehicle can go wheeling around the many trails that are open to them. Our guide, Paul, installed Christina and me and a family of five into one of the jeeps and took off for the dirt. I booked the last tour of the day in order to catch the evening light, and one again, the scenery was amazing.
town of Sedona nestled below the rocks

ancient juniper tree

Traction... capital "T"

Agave plant; tequila is just a few steps away. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Dinner of Epic Proportions

I don't know if the pilgrims ate scallops with crispy pancetta and pear; prime rib with mushrooms, asparagus, sage butter and sour cream; or bourbon glazed pork chops with red cabbage braised in duck fat as they were celebrating bringing syphilis to the new world, or whatever they were doing that night in in Plymouth when Squanto came by for dinner, but too bad for them if they were chowing down on bland turkey instead.

Christina picked me up at the Phoenix airport around 3:30pm yesterday and we rolled into Sedona around 6. By 7:30 we were at the bar at the Enchantment Resort, and at 8 they seated us for dinner. Our meal consisted of the choices listed above and we stuffed ourselves mercilessly. Our options were part of the four course Thanksgiving menu, but the desserts listed were all pumpkin-based, and given that a) no one really likes pumpkin (this is my belief, I don't care what anyone says; no one in their right mind is going to choose pumpkin-anything over chocolate torte or creme brulee or any real dessert), and  b) Christina's birthday happened to fall on Thanksgiving this year, and like any normal person, she did not want the pumpkin pie-in-a-jar (WTF?) or pumpkin gelato, or whatever the third [pumpkin] option was on the set menu, so we had a serious chat with our waiter who brought us two delectable chocolate desserts instead. Many leftovers were brought back to the hotel that night, and lunch was in the bag for the next day.

the name of the restaurant at the Enchantment Resort;
I think it means "no one likes pumpkin" in Anastazi.

scallops, panchetta, pear puree.

bourbon glazed pork chop

grilled prime rib
quite possibly the best chocolate cake I've ever had