28 October 2011

Home On The Range


I have mentioned to many people over the years that, if I ever take what I do for a living for granted, they are allowed / encouraged to slap me. Hard.

They can also refer me back to this post, if they'd prefer a less violent intervention. Mind you, if I ever take a day like yesterday for granted, I should probably slap myself. Harder.

The day ended with a mostly decent dinner in the breathtaking, Frank Lloyd-Wright inspired Arizona Biltmore Hotel. Before that, it involved a couple of hours at MIM, Phoenix's Musical Instrument Museum, which turned out to be one of the most impressive, educational and unifying museum experiences I've had in years. And before that came one of the best mornings I can remember.

I'll long argue that food isn't just about the quality of what's on the plate, but also the context. Breakfast at Tanque Verde outside Tucson had both. In spades.

It began with a horse ride across Arizona's ruggedly beautiful terrain. Yes, they found a horse big enough, no it didn't need a 'spare' after ferrying me up and downhill: seriously, I did most of those jokes myself. There had been speculation that I'd get a huge horse, probably jet black, with a terrifyingly masculine name like Thunder or Braveheart. Well, he wasn't jet black but Ricochet certainly scored on the other counts...

While I was never really in control, I think we came to an understanding and Ricochet tolerated me for an hour as we gently made our way to Tanque Verde's Old Homestead, where exec chef Ben had created the sort of breakfast that defies logic and makes me very happy indeed. Somehow, on a few open ranges, Ben and colleagues had produced chilaquiles, bacon, homemade sausage, New York strips, a hash, beans, biscuits, apple butter, lime-and-raspberry butter, kickass 'Cowboy' coffee, cranberry and pumpkin pancakes and, most remarkably, pumpkin souffles. Actually, his souffle thunder was promptly stolen by the colleague who caramelised buns and crisp doughnuts in a pan of melted sugar over an open campfire...
There's little more to add. Words can't do it justice, the pictures I know don't do it justice. By the time Ricochet brought me back, I was relaxed, content and beaming - and will probably be doing the latter until the end of next week.

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3 comments:

Gizmogirl said...

Hi Stranger! Having read your Arizona posts, I feel like I have put on weight!!!! G x

Nadia said...

Amazing trip... Thank you and all the others

Jackie Ludwig said...

Well, Neil! I am not certain I could have said it better myself. Thank you
for taking the time to come to Tucson, the Real Southwest. Yes, Tanque Verde I am confident stole the hearts and stomachs of many. See you soon.