Thursday, May 30, 2013

FaLora: a new foodie "BrightSpot" on Broadway Blvd.

Last night, before heading to a Tucson Padres game at Kino Sports Stadium, our family gathered for salad (us) and pizza (all) at a terrific new food "BrightSpot":  FaLora  It is owned and operated by Ari Shapiro who also runs , a "brightspot" I wrote about several months ago on this blog.  There are so many nice things to say about this place.  The location is terrific: on the corner of Country Club and Broadway Blvd. with easy access to El Con Theaters, Kino for baseball, soccer, other events, only 10 minutes from downtown and free and plentiful parking.

When you enter the restaurant, you come through the patio, facing Broadway, and, I suspect in the not too distant future, there will be music playing to welcome the patrons.  Hanging by the door is a large spool of brown butcher paper with the daily specials.  This recalled to us the casual-clever ambiance of Thomas Kellor's Ad Hoc that we fondly recall from our Napa trip with our son several years ago.  Coming into the restaurant are long wooden common tables as well as a few window tables with comfortable chairs.  At the far end of the space is a wall of pecan wood for firing up the 900 degree pizza oven, imported from Italy.  There is an open kitchen with stools for eating and watching a master making Neapolitan-style/thin-crusted pizza. (Our six-year-old guest observed the process with unabashed glee, singing a pizza song from school).  Against the patio window is a stack of LPs and music from a LP player which, on this night, was featuring an album by Stan Getz. 

From the salad we split--(named "Butter Pecan), which featured spinach and butter lettuce, fennel, apples, chevre, toasted pecans with apricot viniagrette, to the pizza (Margherita for us; Cura for the others) with fresh ingredients and mozzarella from Wisconsin (some entrees feature it from NYC)--the meal was delicious.  Once the pizza is dressed, it only takes 90 seconds to bake in the oven and the pizza comes out lightly crispened and bubbly.  They use e.v.o.o. which I needed Ari to explain to me means "extra virgin olive oil" on the Margherita and chili oil on the Cura.  I asked for a bit more of the e.v.o.o. so I could soak my crust in it which I love to do when something is this good and worth savoring.

Enjoy these photos but, believe me, you have to go there and enjoy a meal to appreciate the details of this place--which includes hand-made artisan blocks for serving the pizza and small wooden artisan clipboards to handle the affordable bill.


AAA Tucson Baseball is a BrightSpot

I love baseball.  Love to watch it, used to love to play it (pitcher).  Growing up in suburban Chi-town, I was raised to be a White Sox fan, but I have become a Dbacks follower--although it's getting harder to know the players with the fast trades that go on in the sport these days. 

So, last night, it was with much happiness--tinged with an impending sense of loss when the Tucson Padres move to El Paso-that we introduced a six-year-old to Kino Sports Stadium and to baseball.  It was a perfect night to be on the lawn, watch the nightbirds (what are those yellow fly-bys), bats, other families, AAA-type between innings entertainments and, yes, even watch the game (Padres won:  3-2).  Here are two shots of two different kinds of "BrightSpots" in my life.

The field and sky for a perfect baseball night:

And a six-year-old getting "kitty hugs" between innings:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Brightspot in my Backyard

Sometimes, I don't have to leave my home to find a Tucson "brightspot."  Here is today's, a newly bloomed sunflower in my backyard.

What "brightspot" exists within a few steps of where you live?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Early dinner at Tubac Golf Resort and Spa; a spacious "brightspot" in the region

Last night we had an early dinner (4 p.m.) at the Stables Ranch Grille, one of several restaurants at the Tuban Golf Resort and Spa. Mark and I have driven past the Resorts hundreds of times on our way to Nogales or Tubac.  For many 4th of July evenings, my mom, who lived with my dad for 24 years in Green Valley, wanted to go to their open-to-the-public fireworks but dad didn't want to make the drive and deal with the traffic.  What a jewel this place is!  We were so surprised by the spacious grounds (27 holes of golf), housing and resort buildings.  The brochure we picked up in the lobby describes the site, a 900 acre ranch owned by the Otero family, as the oldest (1789) Spanish Land Grant in the Southwest.

We asked to be seated on the shaded patio at the Stables and looked out on the greens, on the newly unfolded leafy cottonwoods that have grown along the Santa Cruz River and even a few cattle grazing--in keeping of the original ranch spirit of the place.  Our server, Marta, reminded me of the "old school" of servers--personable and professional.  Our meal, prepared by Chef John L. Wooters and his staff, was wonderful.  We put in a split order for Ceasar Salad (without anchovies), rib eye steak in port glaze, mashed potatoes, broccolini and Mexican Key Lime pie for dessert.  We were not charged for the split order and my husband also had a cup of chicken and bacon chowder which he said was "smokey and divine."  I am fussy about my salad and I appreciated the small pieces of romaine and fresh cheese, accompanied by warmed multi-grain and crunchy white bread and butter served at room temperature; thus we didn't have to put chunks of it on our bread or tear up the bread because the butter was too hard--a particular peeve of mine at even some upscale restaurants.  Our steak was grilled to perfection--juicy and tasty with the pungent glaze and the cut had very little fat.  Potatoes were creamy and, even in a split portion, were more than enough along with the crunchy and delicate broccolini.  The dessert was perfect for cooling off our palate and just right balance between tart and sweet in the lime flavor.

After the sumptious dinner, Chef Wooters came out to greet us which is always a nice touch for foodies such as we have become.  We had time to take a walk along one of the golf cart paths and came close to the cattle and trees along the river.  It was so quiet as the almost-full moon began to rise in the Santa Ritas.  We heard the leaves rustle, the sound of the train from Mexico, dusk-dwelling birds trilled and, somehow, I was reminded of the solace I experience at my grandparent's farm in Illinois.  Rural is rural, wherever you are, I suppose.

We will return--maybe for the 4th of July Celebration--but certainly, for another meal at the Stables.

Is there a place you are reminded of when you see this pictures?

Original ranch silos with vintage cart.

Two cottonwoods are nature's pillars to the past along the Santa Cruz River

Can you see the cattle along the white picket fence? Two calves are in the shadows to the left.
Even a split portion of our entree makes a pretty picture and enough food for each of us.
The Mexican Key Lime pie was dusted with toasted coconut and served with fresh berries and mango relish.  All so yummy in texture, taste and color.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"Another Day" Poem

Prompt:  write a poem with each line starting with the letter of the alphabet

Another day

Begins with birdsong and a gray

Cat climbing upon a yellow bench.


Eggs are sizzling in the iron pan,

Fresh fruit from the garden

Glows in blue bowls on the table.

Here there is solace,

Inside a small green-roofed farmhouse

Just outside a Chicago suburb.

Kin from Indiana are coming to

Laugh and linger on the white front porch.

My grandparents offer a full table

Never turning away from a grandchild's questions,

Open to learning from them,

Patient as the

Questions turn to the meaning of life.

Religion is not the

Subject but

Time and Truth are

Understood to be the

Very center of




Zero knowledge.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

UA Museum of Art: BrightSpot

It's been several years since I visited the museum, and it was my Mother's Day request, so Mark also came with me.  He was mesmerized by a semi-scientific exhibit that showed different species and their symbiotic relationship.  I go for the classics:  Arthur Dove's "Cloudy Day" continues to be a favorite and there is (still, thankfully) an exhibit that includes this glazed terra cotta (1440, Florence, Italy) by Lucca Della Robbia, a favorite of the De Medicis.  A new painting that moved me was a portrait by a female artist (I should have written down her name but it was later that I realized how this portrait stuck with me) and her "story" inspired" my short reflection below:

I sit beside Renaissance paintings
that tell stories from the Bible, the Aenaid and other ancient texts.
There is also a map of Mexico City,
sketched after the fall of the Aztecs.

A daughter,
forbidden by her father to attend the court
of the King of Spain,
painted a goldsmith, his eyes glinting with greed.
Dying before her thirtieth year,
and never called "artist",
her father grieved over her dried brushes and palette.

So many stories hang on museum walls,
all for the price of admission.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Penca Restaurant a potential "brightspot"

Opening in March, this hip restaurant on 50 E. Broadway, directly on the "still under construction" Tucson modern streetcar, could be a shining star in our growing culinary scene.  Since I would describe the overall kitchen and service effort as a "work in progress", I will praise the inventive interior you see here:

The mirror above the bar has a story to tell I would like to know and the way the utensils hang on the metal post in the center suggests, to me, the design is going for whimsy as well as urban chic.
I ordered the salad and, most times, salads are pretty standard to me.  Although I had to remind the server I ordered pulled pork on the salad, when I did get it, the meat was tender and savory.  I thought the portion was about right and the wilted greens were perfect in their taste.  More avocado would have added to the plate, but what we have here is a good beginning for a specialty salad.
Go to to see their menu, prices, and directions for a location a bit tucked away west of Scott Avenue.