Sedona, AZ, May Not Actually Exist
Sedona, AZ’s majestic rock formations predate Tyrannosaurus Rex. The air is impossibly clear, the vistas impossibly vast, the red rocks impossibly beautiful. Ubiquitous juniper trees scent the air, as the sun shines down from a deep blue sky. I would doubt the existence in nature of this strangely mesmerizing landscape had I not just spent a few days there with my mom and sister. We hiked; we soaked up the “masculine” energy of the Airport Vortex and the “balanced” energy of the Boynton Vortex; we enjoyed delicious food. It was an ideal setting for relaxing and reconnecting.
Orchard’s American & Mexican Grille in downtown Sedona offers American and Mexican fusion fare in a casual ambiance. My favorite thing about this restaurant was its patio seating, under cheerful yellow cloth umbrellas, looking out on the main drag and its background of red rock formations. My mom and I ordered Arnold Palmers, which were a bit too sweet (we realized later that they were made with pink lemonade instead of regular lemonade). I enjoyed a wonderful wrap called “Not Just A BLT,” a chopped medley of bacon, romaine lettuce, spinach, tomato, red onion, avocado, sprouts, dried cranberries, and queso fresco wrapped in a spinach tortilla and served with a cup of zesty chipotle-caesar dressing for dipping. The wrap was easy to eat because the many components of its filling were chopped into bite-size pieces; this also helped the flavors blend together.
Needing a bit of a snack while browsing at the Spanish-esque shopping village of Tlaquepaque, we stopped into a candy shop where my mom enjoyed crystallized ginger dipped in dark chocolate, and my sister picked up a Rocky Road stick, also dipped in dark chocolate. I tried a Caramel Marshmallow, a sticky, chewy layer of caramel sandwiched between two pillows of homemade marshmallow, dipped half in milk chocolate and half in white chocolate. Mmm.
Our best meal in Sedona was dinner at Dahl & DiLuca’s Italian Ristorante. We sat on the patio, under potted trees and hanging vines. We were soothed by the sound of trickling water from lion heads on a stone wall fountain at one end of the patio. The patio glowed with warm, soft light. My sister and I both enjoyed the seafood special: surprisingly delicate homemade fettucine in a butter, wine, and lemon broth, topped with mussels, shrimp, calamari, and sweet scallops. For dessert, we sipped coffee and shared a creamy, fluffy tiramisu.
We returned to Tlaquepaque for lunch at the Oak Creek Brewery & Grill. According to the menu, Oak Creek’s “Horseshoe Hefewiezen (2003 Gold Medal Winner, American Beer Festival) [is] a traditional unfiltered Bavarian wheat beer with hints of banana and clove.”
I’m not a huge fan of clove, but this beer was exceptional — smooth and refreshing, without any particular flavor or spice overwhelming the 50-50 blend of wheat and barley malts, subtly enhanced with a modest amount of hops. The hefeweizen made a great accompaniment to my Citrus Salad, a blend of arugula, mint, and baby spinach topped with mandarin oranges, grapefruit, roasted almonds, shallots, and grilled salmon, all drizzled with a honey-lime reduction. The flavors in this salad were brilliant together, although I could have done without the mint.
While we enjoyed some wonderful food in Sedona, the highlight of the trip was definitely the food-for-the-soul provided by the fresh air, sunny hikes, and magnificent natural landscapes.