The skies were building up to (maybe) another monsoon later today, but the morning offered freshened air from last night's storm, a few puddles and very enthusiastic vendors and patrons at the Heirloom Farmers Market opening at Rillito Downs. Yum, yum, on veggies, pastries and Tamales from Tucson Tamale.
Musicians by the racetrack bleachers
Food truck patrons enjoying waffles and syrups.
Families strolling the grounds, and
Mark with our friend, Loren at the Heirloom entrance.
I bought this painting last Sunday at the Southern Az. Watercolor Guild's Gallery
Thank you to the Guild and the artist,
Diana H. Davis, for being a brightspot in my day. It now hangs in our doorway for all to enjoy.
This week LocalFirstAZ is celebrating independents (get it: for Independence Day) and one of our favorite ways to comply is by eating local. We actually eat local most of the time when we go out, but this week, we are focusing on dining at local restaurants and/or food trucks..
Saturday, for lunch with my 95 year old dad, we were at Lucky Wishbone for chicken and shrimp www.luckywishbone.com .
To lighten our load, at an early Saturday dinner, we stopped by the reopened Rincon Market and enjoyed their salad bar. NOTE: Their grand opening is all day 6/30 www.rinconmarket.com .
Sunday, we are eating in, and Monday we will be doing a picnic on Mt. Lemmon and stopping my the cookie place in Winterhaven. Who knows what Tuesday will bring, but Wednesday we will be at the localfirst mixer at Alfonso Oil Company on N. Oracle, chomping on bread, cheese and olive oil. My guess is that local wine will also be available www.localfirstaz.com . Through localfirst you can also get a $5.00 off summer discount card at many local businesses, including restaurants.
Tucson has no shortage of great local places to eat, including the Food Truck Round-Up and the Food Truck Rally.
With this warm Spring, we lucked out and experienced a "below normal temps" Sunday. Perfect for an outing to the first ever Local Food Fair, and, for us, a visit to the Farmer's Market regularly held at Rillito Downs Park. One of the sponsors for the Food Fair was LocalFirst/Tucson. The breeze turned into a wind when we were leaving, but it didn't blow away the smiles or appetites. We enjoyed a lamb pita with dilly-green beans and chocolate baklava, prepared by the Sunnyside High School/JTED Culinary Program (sorry no photo--we ate it fast, before Mark could take a picture.)
We also sampled a chicken and rice entre from Snow Peas, a "Modern Asian Kitchen" that is new to us. We will try it out for a full meal when we are on Tucson's east side. Check out their menu at www.facebook.com/SnowPeasAZ .
For "dessert" we each had the new pastry hit (modelled after the NY dossant), a part donut, part croissant (topped with maple bacon icing) from Prep and Pastry. That's where I had my birthday tea and am still waiting for the owner to send me the detailed menu from it so I can post the menu with more of my birthday pictures. Their pastry is in a photo below. Check out their menu at www.prepandpastry.com .
The other photos are of the wonderful vegetables at the Farmer's Market. We spent money and time and both booths featured below and got an earful of hydroponic gardening info from the enthusiastic student/gardeners from the UA. The garden is at the UA Campus Farm.
Because we are fortunate to have a friend who shares her condo with us on the occasional weekend, we are learning to enjoy the "brightspots" of Phoenix. This is our second visit to the Japanese Friendship Garden www.japanesefriendshipgarden.org , but the first time in the Spring. The light was muted with clouds and so Mark's photos are sharp and clear. Enjoy a small tree of cherry blossoms and the reflective pond, a bubbling stream and sculpted bushes, and (special surprise) a young family of five ducklings and their mom.
Due to a bad cold and family issues, it is taking me longer than expected to post the lovely photos of my marvelous 65th Birthday Tea at Prep and Pastry. Here is one photo that Mark took of one of the four (for 7-8 of us) with myself semi-hidden and my friend, Eileen, in the picture. I have an album to make of his photos and those two other guests/friends have shared so more will be coming. The "Downtown Abbey" theme and game that I made up made it fun, the food was fabulous, teas amazing and gifts and love from friends made my heart overflow....
While on a brief respite weekend and Phoenix, we took a long drive from our downtown location to the far East Valley, discovering groves of still standing (and just blossoming) orange groves. Meandering through the past agricultural area and more recent urban sprawl development, we reached our destination (45 minutes later): the Queen Creek Olive Mill. It was worth the drive.
We took in the Olive Pressing 101 tour, led by a wonderful guide, Sandy (who looks better in her mid 60s than Olivia Newton-John does and had the same perky personality as "Sandy" in "Grease). We tasted a variety of their products (and olives from the Olive Garden at the Greek Monastery in Florence) and had a great Panini and salad from their Restaurant.
Here are pictures of the exterior Olive Grove/Picnic Area and the amazing interior/store with products not only from their gardens but other local growers. The story of the Mill and other photos (plus directions which you will need) are at www.queencreeekolivemill.com. We encourage you to check it out and, if the trip is too much for now, their products are also available in Tucson at La Encantada. We bought their "classic" EVOO for ourselves and our Phoenix condo hostess and our Chef Aron Fonte.