This girl loves…cooking Italiano.

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Here I sit, wine glass in hand.  The aroma of a fresh Bolognese sauce fills the air.  Pasta boils.  Bread gently browns in the oven, awaiting the ricotta herb spread I’ve made from scratch.  A salad made of fresh cherub tomatoes, mozzarella, and hand-torn basil patiently waits to be devoured.

Italy.

Italy.

Italy.

My senses take me away to that country so flavorful, so rich, so steeped in history.

There’s only one issue–I’ve never been.  I don’t know what tomatoes in Italy taste like.  I don’t know what wine grown from vines millions of years ago feels like drifting down my throat.  I certainly do not know the texture of freshly made pasta.

What I do know is that the food I make each Friday night takes me to this fantasy land I like to think is Italy; my own personal, intimate version of Italy.  It is the Italy I’ve created for myself through the literature I’ve read–Petrarch and Boccachio–through the art I’ve researched–David and the Mona Lisa–and through the movies I’ve seen–Eat, Pray, Love and Under the Tuscan Sun.

This summer has been about seeing the world through a new set of eyes and I like what I see.

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This girl loves…unexpected pleasures.

It's a foggy day here in Phoenix-town...

It’s a foggy day here in Phoenix-town…

The month of July here in Phoenix has been unusually rainy.  The fact that July is Arizona’s monsoon season has not historically had any bearing on this fact whatsoever because, as of late, monsoon has come to mean just a lot of blowing dust.  This summer, it is as if the Phoenician gods have smiled down upon me and sent down some of my favorite weather.  I guess committing to living here in Arizona has pleased them so.  I’m happy to oblige, in any case.

This morning began with brunch at a local favorite, Postino.  This was a first for me as I usually reserve Postino for wine and bruschetta.  Nevertheless, I had a coupon and decided to give it a try.  I was pleased with my meal and also by the freshly squeezed, locally grown orange juice that accompanied it.

The B.E.L.T at Postino

The B.E.L.T at Postino

After a delicious and filling brunch I took a drive through a mountain preserve not too far from Postino.  The rushing water drew me like a magnet.  I sped up the hill in order to get a closer look at this mysterious steady flow of water.  What I was met with pushed my senses to the limit–70 degree temperatures cooled my skin, cloud-covered skies dazzled my eyes, fresh rain water tickled my nose, and rushing water filled my ears with the most soothing of sounds.  Even now, with words and pictures, I can not quite seem to capture the feeling of pleasure that overtook me today.

The past week has been a stressful one so the calm I experienced today was truly an unexpected pleasure.  I tend to think those are the best kinds.

I have been reading the blogs of my traveling friends and family and while I love seeing and reading about their experiences I can’t quite stifle that green-eyed monster.  I want to be traveling, writing, and showing MY pictures to the world.  I want to be eating at new and interesting places taking in the sights, smells, and tastes they have to offer.  I want to be writing about these experiences  and sharing them with my friends and family.

But, wait.  I am doing all of that.  I am writing about MY travels, sharing MY pictures.  I am even eating at new and interesting places.  It just so happens that it is in my own backyard.

This learning to bloom where I am planted is still such a new concept to me.  I am finding, though, that when I dig into that fertile ground the green envy is quickly replaced by a myriad of colors blooming up and all around.  It is like Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, there’s no place like home and one doesn’t have to look any further than their own backyard to find adventure.

A motto I am trying to live by

A motto I am trying to live by

 

 

This girl loves…eating.

The English Rose Tea Room aka The Best Place to eat Quiche...

The English Rose Tea Room aka The Quiche Room…

The biggest difference between humans and animals is that animals only eat enough to live and humans live enough to eat.  I’m paraphrasing a bit, but that is the gist of the conversation my brother and I had about humans versus animals.  We were, of course, enjoying a meal at the time.  We determined that this fact alone accounted for the lack of obese animals in the wild.

If only I just ate to live.  My life, and my clothing budget, would be so much better.  Alas, I am a girl that loves (or rather, lives) to eat.  As I’ve stated in my previous posts I have taken a particular liking to enjoying all of the local eateries Arizona has to offer.  I try not to patronize restaurants too many times in a row but for certain places I’ll make an exception.

The English Rose Tea Room in Carefree, Arizona is one such place.  It goes without saying that I was first attracted to this eatery because of the name-paying homage to my Anglophile roots.  The restaurant and shop is decorated in such a way that you feel as though you have been dropped into some Anglophiles dream-a cardboard cut-out of Her Highness, Queen Elizabeth II greets you as you enter.  Currently there is a table set up near the hostess stand with pictures of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with an assortment of baby accessories in anticipation of the royal birth.  Tea cups, pots, accessories and tea itself clutter the shelves of different hutches throughout the store.  My favorite piece in the whole of the store is a tiny sign near the entrance stating simply, “I’d Rather Be In England”.  You can probably guess why that might have caught my eye.  Unfortunately, unlike most of the items in the store, it is not for sale.

Now that you have a nice idea of the atmosphere, it is time to wow you with the menu.

Proper English Tea is served daily including, but not limited to, cakes, scones, tea sandwiches and pots of delicious black, green, and white teas.  I have not partaken of this meal as I always order the same menu item, the quiche.  They always have a “special” quiche usually including sun-dried tomatoes (pronounced “toe-MAH-toe” as opposed to the American “toe-MAY-toe”), spinach, and mushrooms.  Or, you can order their vegetarian quiche which is a staple with broccoli, cheddar, and onion.  I have had both but prefer the vegetarian as I am more of a broccoli,i rather than a spinach, fan.  You can rest assured that either choice is a good one because it is not the filling that keeps me coming back for more, it is the delectable crust that melts in your mouth with each buttery bite.  Paired with a glass of their finest Black Currant Tea, iced, the meal cannot be beat.   I do not even mind the thirty minutes of laps in the pool nor do I mind the half-inch of extra “me” the meal inevitably adds to my waistline after partaking in such deliciousness.  It all is well worth it.

I thank my lucky stars that I was born a human and not an animal, especially when it comes to dining out at The English Rose Tearoom.