Travel TBT: Weekend in Phoenix

Last week I went to Phoenix to visit my boyfriend. It was my first time in the city and I must say it looks exactly like Cars Land at Disneyland. Yes, that is the reference I am going with, deal with it. Having never truly been in the desert, I just could not get over how desert it really was: cactus, every building painted in a tan color scheme and not a yard with grass in sight. But, by the end of my time there, I found myself thinking it is actually pretty beautiful in it’s own way. The people are all very friendly. The food is solid. The bar scene is legit. There is a ton of nature to explore. We were a bit all over the place this weekend, so here is what we did separated by neighborhood:

Old Town Scottsdale

I could not believe how adorable Old Town Scottsdale is, it looks like some mayor years ago was bet that he couldn’t make the most Cowboy Western looking town by his worst enemy and had to win. The trash cans are barrels. The bus stops have wagon wheels. It is truly something you have to see to feel the full impact.

Food

Morning Squeeze: This spot is a chain and a local (and visitor) favorite for breakfast. I think I saw 3 separate bachelorette parties waiting for tables. The food was good and the staff was all super nice. I got huevos rancheros and added turkey sausage. The sausage was a bit overdone, but the huevos had two different salsas (chipotle and verde) were great!

Bars

Holy moly, bars in Old Town (also called the Entertainment District), I was not expecting you. Think Vegas, but the clubs are all outdoor patios, within a few blocks of each other. The bartenders are in lingerie. The bottle girls have sparklers and different outfits to bring out different bottles. They’re all pretty similar, this is where we went:

Bottled Blonde
Casa Amigos
The District
Bevvy
Maya Day & Nightclub
Mr Mesquite Tacos: This is actually a taco place we went to after the bars. Not authentic at all, but very good. 10/10 recommend eating as a drunken snack.

Downtown

Food

 Salted Caramel Pudding
Breakfast Club: If you haven’t already noticed, my favorite breakfast is huevos rancheros. If it is on a menu, I will almost always order it. This one was high on the list of most-white huevos I’ve ever had. I mean, the “bowl” was a cold red pepper tortilla. I said to my boyfriend, “These should probably just be called Ranch Eggs”… which I thought was a hilarious joke. However, they were still a solid breakfast and the portions here are ENORMOUS. We got a pancake to share and the maple syrup was amazing. Plus, this area of downtown is really cute. We went to get an amazing salted caramel pudding at Arrogant Butcher after. Yes, we had dessert after breakfast…

Squid Ink Sushi Bar: We went here after Happy Hour, so my judgement may not have been at it’s highest– but the sushi here was great. We sat at an open air bar by the patio, it was lovely.

Bars

Bitter & Twisted: This is a somewhat upscale cocktail bar. We only went in briefly because they serve a ramen burger (where the bun is made from ramen) that my boyfriend was fiercely craving and I had a vodka soda. I plan to go back, because the drinks are supposed to be great.

Valley Bar: This bar has several different vibes in one. There is a game room, a room for performances, a room with hanging mobiles, etc… basically something for everyone. It was fun.

Chico Malo: We went here for happy hour. Beer, wine, wells and shots are all $5 or $6. Like most places in Phoenix, the bar is essentially outdoors.

Cave Creek

Our original plan was to go out to Sedona and hike, but I twisted my ankle the week before the trip and was worried I wouldn’t make it. My lovely boyfriend has the idea of riding horses instead so we went about a 45 minutes outside of the main part of the city to Cave Creek.

Spur Cross Stable Spur Cross Stable: We were hunting on Groupon to find a good deal on horseback riding and Spur Cross was the only place with availability same day. The team was super nice in squeezing us in, even holding the ride a few minutes when we were delayed by traffic. For $68, we got an hour guided trail ride on horseback. I technically rode a horse when I was 3 years old, but don’t remember so this was really my first time. It was super fun and awesome to see the vast desert outside of the city.

 

Oregano's Pizza Oregano's Pizza
Oregano’s:
By this meal, I was already thinking I would need to do a major detox (next section) after this trip, so I figured YOLO LET’S EAT PIZZA. We passed by this place on the way out to Spur Cross Stable and it had a big sign outside that said “The only joint you don’t want to pass”. I mean, weed jokes AND pizza… does it get better? We had an amazing buffalo wings, the Italian salad, a deep dish pizza and cheesecake. Basically we ate enough for a family of 4. It was amazing.

Detox

Did I eat anything healthy in Phoenix? Hardly. Does it seem like I drank every night I was there? Yes. Did I feel absolutely gross by the time it was my last day there? Also yes. So I had to do something about it…

 Hot Yoga University: I saw this place driving one day and noticed the giant sign in the window that read $10 Drop-ins Daily. Having lived in two of the most expensive cities for fitness in the US (NYC and LA) this blew my mind so I made a mental note of it. Then, when the vacation diet grossness kicked in, I thought to myself, COME ON BITCH—LET’S SWEAT THIS SHIT OUT. I went to a noon hot yoga class with Veronica. The studio is very cute (I think they have every motivational quote painting on earth on the walls) and the yoga room is very large. I particularly liked the flooring, which is a sort of woven rubber that was not too harsh on your knees in certain poses. The class was called Cardio Flow and challenging, but in the way that could easily work for all levels. I looked like a smashed tomato by the end, but it was very worth it. I will definitely be back.

Nekter JuiceNekter: Are you even detoxing if you don’t do a juice cleanse? Now, I’m not a believer that a juice cleanse is going to make you lose weight or change your life. I do not believe in starving yourself (spoil alert: you will just gain all your weight back as soon as you start eating) but I do find that doing a 1-day cleanse with limited food added helps to reset my metabolism and get me back on track. I got the 1-day Advanced Cleanse at Nekter, which includes added probiotics, prebiotics and _____, which is a cool addition to the usual juices. I also ate a vegan greek salad around lunch and had some cashews as a snack in the afternoon. By the end of the day, I started to feel like a real fitness blogger again (haha)… but let’s not lie, a few weeks of cardio will be needed to reverse the impact of this trip.

Moisturizer: If you didn’t know, ARIZONA IS IN THE DESERT (lol)… 24 hours after getting there, my face starting falling off. Not joking. My spoiled California coastal skin didn’t know what to do without humidity. My usual moisturizer with sunscreen was NOT cutting it, so I took my frugal ass to Marshall’s and got an intense coconut moisturizer called CocoKind. I actually first heard about it from this IG account I am obsessed with called @ShutTheKaleUp, it is all natural, organic, lalala, you normally buy it at Whole Foods, if you fancy. Anyway, I bring this all up to say, PACK MOISTURIZER when you visit Phoenix. Your skin will thank me later.

I will definitely be back in Phoenix for the boy, so this is far from my last post about it. There is so much I want to go see across the entire West Coast in terms of National Parks, but Arizona has quite a few on my list. Please leave your suggestions!!

XOXO,
Truett

Korean Beef (or not*) Bowl

I got inspired by this salad from the Steak Salad Week on Maple (David Chang’s meal service which makes SUPER delicious lunches and dinners for delivery in Manhattan).

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So, I went to my favorite grocery store, Super Fi. They didn’t have the exact items, so I ended up with red cabbage, zucchini, parsnip, turnip, carrot, ginger, quinoa, Chile Garlic Sauce and Kimchi.

Full transparency… I totally didn’t know what the turnip or a parsnip were when I grabbed them (Super Fi is not the best at labeling things sometimes). I thought they looked interesting and somewhat like the Daikon in the Maple picture so I figured… let’s just saute these! However, I was rather embarrassed when I checked out and the cashier didn’t know what they were either. She asked me what they were so she could lookup the code… and I had to answer “I honestly don’t know… I just thought it looked cool…”. She charged me for turnips twice and definitely thought I was a big idiot. Anyway, I just googled a bit and figured out what they were for sure.

Then, I googled and adapted this Epicurious recipe to know how long to saute them, except that  used Chile Garlic Sauce and sesame oil and added in the carrots.

I wanted to make each item separately so that I can assemble either all cold or reheat the meat and quinoa and keep the veggies cold for some contrast. Or any combo of all that.

Overall, this is definitely more ingredients than I would usually buy to make something. The Ssäm sauce is rather fancy, but my boyfriend got it for free at an event. Any marinade of your choice, or even soy sauce, would do. However, it is VERY tasty and, somewhat ironically, also made by David Chang. So I suppose this recipe is an unintentional ode to how much that guy rocks. Thanks David!!

*Make it vegan, just skip the beef (or use your favorite replacement) and use vegan Kimchi!

INGREDIENTS (links are what I used):

COOK (serves 6):

Sesame Charred Zucchini: Over medium heat, coat a pan with sesame oil (let’s call that two solid spoonfuls which is my estimate of tablespoons). Add zucchini, season with lemon pepper (side note: currently obsessed with the Trader Joe’s lemon pepper on zucchini, I made it with yellow zucchini from the farmers market and nearly fainted). Stir to coat. Cook for 12 mins, stirring to avoid burn. My zucchini was soft, but not soggy with a little bit of char (which is basically my fancy way of saying mildly burnt on the sides, but in the tastiest way).

Carrots, Parsnips, Turnips: Over medium heat, coat a pan with sesame oil. Add carrots and turnips. Cook for 5 mins, stirring to avoid burn. Add the parsnips and a solid spoonful of Chile Garlic Sauce. Cook an additional 10 mins, stirring. They should also be soft with a little char.

Cabbage: Over medium heat, coat a pan with sesame oil (I used the zucchini pan, without bothering to wash it #winning). Add cabbage and ginger. Add two generous spoonfuls of Ssäm Sauce to coat. Cook for 8 mins, stirring to avoid burn. Cabbage should be soft and cooked through, but still a tad crunchy in places.

Beef: Over medium high heat, coat a pan with sesame oil (I reused the carrot pan). Cook for 8 mins, flipping with tongs at the 4 minute mark. (see Things I Learned #3)

Quinoa: I used a rice cooker, which is so lazy and amazing, but you could follow your package instructions. I own this one, it is the most basic rice cooker but it rocks.

ASSEMBLE:

Basically, put it all in a bowl. Quinoa is the base. Add veggies, kimchi and beef. Top with Sriracha. I also made a quick sauce of equal parts Sesame Oil and Chile Garlic Sauce for extra moisture. I plated it two ways (for maximum Instagram-ibility, let’s be honest). Store in separate tupperwares. This made more than enough for my boyfriend and I to eat it 3 times each. Ideal to make on Sunday for dinner and then pack for lunches!

NOTES:

  1. If I’m going to share recipes on a blog, I should probably use my measuring spoons so that I don’t have to put “solid spoonful” as a measurement. Sorry y’all.
  2. My veggies were never going to look like they weren’t ripped by bear claws with my $20 target knife set. I’ve since bought a knife, so in future things should look better!
  3. I don’t love this preparation of the beef. If you cook red meat often (I don’t, I grew up rarely eating meat), I’d say go with your own knowledge on this one. Please feel free to send me recipes. Also, the veggies are soooo good, you almost don’t even need beef. Or you could easily sub tofu or chicken or… literally anything…