101 Goals Update – The Places I’ve Eaten

It’s been a few months since I started tackling my list of 101 goals.  I’m still working on rounding out that list but I’m making progress on goals that have already been set.  One of my goals was to eat at 50 new restaurants and for a girl who loves to eat, this actually wasn’t as much of a challenge as I thought it would be.  Part of me feels like I should set that goal to a loftier number but I’ll leave it where it is and adjust in a future list of goals.  I thought it would be fun to recap my favorites from the first 25 and, if you live in Phoenix, recommend that you run (don’t walk) to try them out.

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(Pork ramen from Clever Koi. Best ever.)
  1. My favorite new restaurant of the year has got to be Clever Koi.  I’ve been twice in the past few weeks and I have a feeling I’ll be back pretty frequently.  The menu is full of extremely well-executed Asian cuisine and I cannot get enough of it.  My favorite dishes so far are the Steak “Cobb” Bibimbap and the Pork Ramen.
  2. Stealing the number two spot is Southport Grocery and Cafe in Chicago.  I finally had the chance to visit this sweet spot when I was in Chicago for Memorial Day weekend earlier this year.  I ordered their Southport Cuban and I’m confident that the meat on that sandwich is among the best-prepared I’ve ever had in my life.
  3. Coming in at three we’ve got Richardsons.  My dad hails from New Mexico so I grew up on green chili-centric comfort food.  Richardson’s and The Rokerij serve up New Mexican classics that give my childhood favorites a run for their money.  You really can’t go wrong here but one of my favorite dishes is the Carne Adovada.  Bonus if you’re young and broke – the food here comes in giant, amazing portions and could easily last you a few meals as leftovers.
  4. For a really unique spot, I’m throwing number four out to Nobuo at Teeter House.  I’m a little bit weird about eating meat and generally like things to be well done because too much pink makes me squeamish but the coconut curry lamb at Nobuo is REAL pink and REAL good.  This is a pretty pricy meal but worth every penny for a special occasion.
  5. For an excellent cup of coffee and rounding out my list at number five, I’m giving it up for 32 Shea.  I got a rosemary honey latte and now I think about it all the time.  I love a place that makes their own syrups and if 32 Shea was closer to me, I think I’d live there.

I’m loving trying so many new places and branching out from my normal path.  When I knock out the other 25 I’ll recap with the top 5 from the second half of this goal!!

Summer Reading

Summer in Arizona is much like winter in normal places.  It’s so miserable outside that everyone sort of hunkers down in air conditioned places and waits it out until walking out your front door doesn’t feel like walking into an oven. One of my favorite ways to while away my spare summer days is with a stack of good books. Over the weekend I spent some time in Tucson for a friend’s wedding and stayed at an incredible Air BnB (book the space here) and spent most of my day on Saturday reading The Fault in Our Stars.  Is there anything better than lounging in bed and reading a really engaging book?  I’d say no is the answer to that.  So, in honor of the finer things in life, here are some books I’ve consumed recently.

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Looking For Alaska

Back in my Tumblr days, I stumbled onto a quote form this book that is, to this day, one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read.

“I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep. Not fuck, like in those movies. Not even have sex. Just sleep together, in the most innocent sense of the phrase. But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”

I’m happy to say that when I finally read the book, it lived up to the beauty and honesty in that little snippet.  This is a really quick read (like most YA fiction) but the story is told in such a raw, honest voice that I had a really hard time putting it down.  For fake characters, they have this ridiculously empathetic quality.  Spoiler alert – I lost a friend from high school in a similar way so the book REALLY hit home for me.

The Fault in Our Stars

I saw the movie first and enjoyed it so much that I figured the book had to be so much better.  I’m happy to say that the book and the movie both do each other justice.  I honestly cannot decide which I preferred.  It’s a really easy read (I took it out in 1 day) and is a sweet story that, again, will most likely make you ugly cry.  Think “My Sister’s Keeper” minus the mystery/legal drama plus the love from a book like “The Time Traveler’s Wife”.

Tampa

This book is fucked.  I read the synopsis on A Little Bit Ginger and immediately bought it on Amazon.  The cover of mine is really tactile (a fuzzy black slip cover like those pictures you used to color in as a kid) which I love.  It’s salacious and so wrong on so many levels but I’m LOVING it.  If you want a look inside a (fictional) teacher-student relationship from the teacher’s point of view, read this immediately.  If you like dirty books that make you blush while you read them on the train, this is for you.

Black Mass

I always hated history growing up.  I got all of the battles and wars confused and I remember being ridiculously bored by the entire subject until my World History class my sophomore year of high school.  My awesome teacher, Mr. Bezkorovainy, introduced me to a whole world of History I had heard very little (or nothing) about before.  It. Was. AWESOME.  As a result of this class, I got into reading historical non-fiction books about seedy parts of American history.  I love learning about gangsters and burlesque dancers and Alcatraz.  This book was good, but not great.  I feel like I learned a lot and overall I’m happy I took the time to read it but it wasn’t quite as engaging as some other historical books I’ve read recently.

Rosemary Pickled Cherries

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So, not all recipes have to be super involved.  Actually, when it’s 8 gajillion degrees out and you want to cook, the less involved the recipe the better in my book.  These cherries are damn good.  Part of me wishes I had made a giant batch of them so I could just pour them directly down my pie-hole with no fear of running out.  Last week I ate them with forbidden rice, purple asparagus, and mushrooms and loved every second of it.  This week I’m going to eat them atop some chicken (which will probably be served alongside forbidden rice as well, if we’re being honest).  You can also just inhale them on their own which is pretty damn good as well.

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Rosemary Pickled Cherries

slightly adapted from Smoke & Pickles

What you need:

  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Make the magic happen:

  1. Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and black peppercorns in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring so your sugar melts smoothly into the mixture.  Remove from the heat for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile add your pitted cherries and rosemary to a sterile glass jar.  Pour the vinegar mixture into the jar and screw on a tight fitting lid.
  3. Refrigerate and enjoy your cherries after 4 days.  They will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Literally Living the Dream

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This week has been insane.  It’s been a whirlwind of booked events, exciting marketing plans, momentum on big projects, new connections, drinks with old connections, and this overwhelming feeling of bliss.  This morning I woke up, made a run to the flower market, then stopped in to Creative Mornings to listen to a wonderfully intelligent woman speak about a photographer that captured these incredible glimpses into modern Arizonan history.  As I settled into my seat with my cold bagel breakfast, I looked around at the room and thought, “Fuck, I love my life right now”.

But really… how lucky am I to be a business owner at the age of 23?  How lucky am I to carry my own ideas from my mind into the world and watch them flourish?  How lucky am I to chase my passions for a living?  I can’t stop thinking about how extraordinary this life is that I’ve created for myself and I am almost drowning in this sense of excitement and anticipation for what is to come next.

I’m off to price out some weddings, create some gorgeous arrangements, pretend like I know how to be a graphic designer, and listen to some A$AP Rocky and YG.  Life is fucking great and I’m relishing every moment of this.