Hi! Sorry for the radio silence last week. I was away, exhibiting for work at an annual meeting last week and found myself with less time than expected. (I brought images to edit and everything for a granola post!) I don’t get to travel a lot for work; but when I do, it’s normally an adventure! This meeting was in Phoenix, AZ. It’s the farthest west I’ve ever been and my first time being in a desert climate and landscape. We stayed at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge, closer to the Scottsdale area of Phoenix. In actuality, it was close to very little. You could walk to an outdoor shopping area with a few stores and restaurants; but aside from that, it was just the resort and new neighborhoods on the edge of the desert. We didn’t get to explore too much during our week, but I did want to share two places we went and LOVED!
And when I say “just” a resort, I mean it was pretty darn big. Multiple restaurants, hundreds of rooms, a lazy river, multiple pools, a golf course and separate spa. The first day was all travel (~6 hours) and booth setup. Once that was done, we checked out the lazy river for an hour then headed to dinner at the Four Seasons.
I was sooooo impressed with this place! We were taken here by a local company we work with. Honestly, I was a little disappointed that we weren’t going into the city at first. Then we got in the Uber and started heading out into the desert… First of all, the landscape and views are amazing from the Four Seasons. It’s surrounded by mountains made of piles of rocks, and large cacti. I hadn’t realized we’d gone up in elevation, but we had just enough to see Phoenix glowing below us in the distance. And the sunset was perfect!
The food and restaurant itself was also very, very nice. I have low expectations of hotel restaurants… but maybe that’s because I mostly stay in cheap places when traveling on my own dime? As the sun set, we snacked on soft pretzels, fried green tomatoes as well as lobster and shrimp lettuce wraps for appetizers. The soft pretzels were probably some of the best I’ve ever had, so buttery and almost brioche-like in texture! I really, really, really wanted the chicken and waffles—“buckwheat waffle, smoked blueberry syrup, peach compote bacon brittle, almond honey butter”!!!—for dinner but decided to go with something “lighter” like the stuffed zucchini (that’s a little pot of marinara on the side). Even though it was good, I still felt a bit of regret towards my decision. A scoop of rocky road for dessert helped ease the pain and my sweet tooth. With the views, food and decor, Proof Canteen and the Four Seasons was the perfect introduction to the Phoenix area!
Most of our days Tuesday and Wednesday were filled with attending the meeting and exhibiting. On Wednesday morning, though, I woke up early for some outside exercise. I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to run in a new state, even if it was HOT! And, truthfully, it didn’t feel that hot. There was still humidity, but not nearly as bad as what we have in Virginia. Most locals said that we were visiting on an abnormal weather week. It was “cooler” than normal, more humid and it actually drizzled once or twice! The run was perfectly timed, as I got to run under cloud cover with the sun rising over the mountains. I made it 45 minutes / 5 miles before heading back to get ready for the day.
Sumo Maya | Scottsdale, AZ
On our last night in Phoenix, my coworker and I wanted to make our way more into the city to try out a uniquely Phoenix restaurant. A friend attending the same meeting passed along a recommendation for Sumo Maya—that serves a Mexican-Asian fusion menu. I got a green “magic” mojito made with coconut cream and horchata, among the typical mojito ingredients. It was slightly milkshake-y but so delicious! The rest of our plates include a crunchy-spicy tuna roll, pomegranate guacamole with homemade tortilla chips, Mexican shrimp cocktail ceviche, Vietnamese-style “shaking beef”, Pacifico-soy carne asada, braised pork belly with roasted grapes (we agreed they were the best grapes we’ve ever eaten). There were so many creative dishes to choose from! My only regret was not bringing more people with us, so we could try more!
…which is really PANERA!!! I walked here on our last morning for breakfast. I wanted the exercise before traveling all day and to get everything I wanted without spending $25 on room service. Turns out Paradise and Panera are basically the same restaurant! It kind of blew my mind. Same great baked goods, coffee, sandwiches and prices!
I ended the trip with 30 minutes by/in the pool, before climbing into a taxi for the airport. Arizona was an awesome place to visit. I was in awe of the landscape and impressed with the food we got to try. That being said, it made me realize how happy I am to live in a place that’s lush and green and has seasons