We are on our annual vacation to Scottsdale, Arizona. We always go to Scottsdale in the summer, I guess because it is so hot. We like the heat, although 108 is a little more than hot, but also because there are fewer tourists and hotel rates are cheap. We stay right near Old Town Scottsdale so we can walk to almost everything and don’t have to worry about driving after a couple of drinks.
You just have to adjust your lifestyle a little. We get up early to hike in the desert and then do our shopping or museums or whatever later in the day. I have two daughters, each with a daughter to visit with and do things with, here too.
We have our favorite restaurants to visit and it’s always an adventure to see what new restaurants have appeared. Two years ago we were introduced to Arizona wines at FnB in Scottsdale so we continue to try new ones and learn more about them. If you explore our blog you can read about the Arizona wineries we visited last year when we went south to Sonoita and North to Jerome and the Page Springs area.
We arrived yesterday and as usual went directly to The Mission restaurant after checking in to our hotel. They have great margaritas and we always have the guacamole, too. They really get you in the vacation mode. Later we went to the Baratin Cafe, that walk sweated the margaritas right out of us. We had a little snack of casteveltrano olives, roasted tomatoes, lemon and saffron and a glass or two of the Dos Cabezas “Pink”. The “Pink” is a rosé that is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Monastrelle (Mourvedre). It was a nice refreshing wine with a light salmon color, rasperries and other berries in the nose and flavors (dry rosé, not sweet). I also thought I got a little flavor of what I think a red rose flower would taste like if it tasted the way it smells. There was good acidity and just a slight touch of tannins. On the way back to the hotel we finished the evening off with some gelato.
This next morning we arose early and took a long walk around Scottsdale to work off yesterdays calories. Then we went and did some shopping at the REI store and walked through a Total Wine store. We don’t have one near where we live but had heard a lot about them. All I can say is WOW! If you are a wine lover, what a selection. You could easily spend every penny you have there.
On our walk this morning we passed by a new Mexican restaurant and stopped to take a look at the menu. It looked pretty good and as we walked away a guy came out of the restaurant and made a comment about a take out menu. It turns out he is Dave Edwards and the general manager of the restaurant, the Barrio Queen. He started telling us all about the restaurant and it turns out one of the partners and chef is the owner and chef of the Barrio Cafe in Phoenix. She is a fantastic chef and has some great recipes. We have eaten at the Barrio Cafe in the past so we were really interested now.
Dave took us on a tour of the restaurant even though they weren’t open yet. He explained how they remodeled the formerly French restaurant into their style. They make all of there tortillas fresh on demand, everthing is served as it is prepared and they have over two hundred Tequilas for drinking and mixing in margaritas. They make their margaritas out of limes they squeeze themselves, their own simple syrup and don’t use any commercial mix. That is just how we prefer our margaritas so we knew we would stop by to try them. We also made reservations for Tuesday night for dinner.
Later around lunch we decided to stop by the Bario Queen to try the lunch menu and their margaritas. You can order off the regular menu or, like we did, off the al a carte taco menu. They have thirty different small tacos on the menu, beef, pork chicken and vegetarian. We tried eight different ones, four apiece, and all were excellent. Barrio pollo with pinon cream sauce, barrio pollo with chorizo, cochinita pibil, champinon y huitlacoche and more. I had the Casa magarita and Nancy had the Skinny Chola margarita and they were excellent and can certainly compete with the margaritas at The Mission. If you are in Scottsdale, be sure to try the Barrio Queen.
To finish off the day we went to FnB for dinner and some Arizona wines. FFnB is a cozy little place and we always sit at the bar where you can watch the chef work. It is really interesting to see how they maintain the fire in the Mesquite grill and watch the prep chefs chopping and slicing. Kind of like watching Iron Chef but without the time limit.
We started off with some white wine and salads. Nancy had the 2010 Arizona Stronghold “Tazi” Cochise County, a blend of riesling, malvasia and sauvignon blanc along with an heirloom tomato and fig salad with greens and blue cheese. I had a 2011 Arizona Stronghold Chardonnay also from Cochise County. The Chardonnays in Arizona are only lightly oaked and this one went well with the french fried squash blossoms stuffed with goat cheese that I had. Arizona really has their own style of wines and you really don’t want to try to compare them to other areas of the country or the world. It is really nice they aren’t trying to be someplace they aren’t.
For our main courses, Nancy had the Grilled wild king salmon with a chunky gazpacho and sauce gribiche, I had the pork flatiron on a bed of corn, peach, almond and basil. Both were super excellent. She had the 2009 Pillsbury “Roan Red”, a gsm from Cochise County and I had the 2008 Callaghan “Back Lot” a gsm plus zin blend also from Cochise County, seems that county has a lot of good wines. Both wines were very good and paired well with our main dishes, yes red wine does pair with salmon.