Desert Golf and Dining

Got a chance to play TPC Scottsdale and Talking Stick North this weekend. The trip was originally intended as a second pilgrimage to Pizzeria Bianco, but sadly we discovered they were closed for summer vacation. Instead of scrapping everything altogether, Mat, Tom and I decided to salvage the trip by turning it into an impromptu celebration of Mat’s last weekend as a single man. I don’t go quite so far as to call it a bachelor party since we didn’t hit any strip clubs or anything like that. Excessive drinking, dehydration, overeating and well, old age in general kept that from happening. But I must say, it was still a good time, even if it was very low key.

TPC’s Stadium Course was in nice shape considering the 100+ degree weather they’d been having. Only the slightest hints of burnt grass here and there, and the newly sodded fairways produced some strange divot action. But the greens rolled really true; some of the staightest, purest rolling greens I’ve ever seen. Too bad my putting couldn’t save me from my horrendous iron play. As for the temperature, it was close to 100 but actually pretty comfortable the whole time with a nice breeze especially when driving along in the golf cart. Too comfortable in fact, and the result was that dehydration snuck up on me. I never felt uncomfortable during the round, but immediately after getting back into the car, I started feeling queasy and I realized I still didn’t have to pee even though I drank about 6 gatorade bottles full of water. Thankfully I made it to our next destination, a Mexican restaurant, without hurling.

Abuelo’s is apparently a chain restaurant, but it was highly recommended by the guy who cleaned our clubs after our round. It’s always good to ask the locals where to eat. God, I hope that doesn’t make me sound like Rachel Ray. But don’t worry, we weren’t trying to dine on $30 a day. Although everything on the menu was in fact really inexpensive. I went for the Grande Combination which turned out to be enormous. It’s not often that a Grande is really grande. And it’s not often that a chain restaurant puts out straightforward honest food with flavors this good. There was one beef hard taco, three enchiladas (beef, cheese, sour cream chicken), a big ol’ chile relleno, and my favorite thing on the plate, a tamale. Every item, and I mean everything including the refried beans and the little mound of guacamole garnish, had delicious, well rounded flavors. The corn meal in the tamale was the perfect texture, not too gluey nor grainy, and had the most pleasant sweet corn aftertaste. The chile relleno was a beauty too, smoky and with a fire perfectly mellowed by the cheese inside. Really an excellent meal.

The next day we played a Troon course called Talking Stick North. This course was in even better condition than TPC. It was kind of a links style layout, but with big waste areas too. But once again, my game wasn’t up for the challenge, this time my wedges and chipping failing me miserably. You know it’s a great course when you can’t break 100 on it but still feel like you loved it.

For lunch, we ate at a place called Bloom located in a little strip mall nearby. They had an interesting menu so we walked in and found ourselves in a dining room full of older women. It made me wonder if Bloom might be a secret code word in the middle-aged lesbian community or something. In any event, we sat down and ordered. They had a pretty big wine selection, but after a round of golf I didn’t want anything too big, so I ordered a glass of Paul Chamblain champagne. For my app I ordered the smoked salmon on potato galette with creme fraiche. It was almost exactly like the potato pancakes I made at one of Sterl’s first dinner parties way back in the day. It’s kind of classic catering fare, which reminded me of the most recent episode of Top Chef where Hung was scolded for making a canape popular since the 70’s. And as I ate it, I agreed completely with Hung- we ate it back then, we eat it now and we’ll be eating it 30 years from now. Why? Because it tastes fantastic and it looks good too. Bloom’s version was served with a little salad which I took note of because it was not listed on the menu as part of the dish yet it was lavishly accented with white truffle oil. Sure the truffle oil thing is played out these days, but when you’re gonna give it to me all stealthy like that, I am definitely going to appreciate it more.

For my entree I had the meat loaf. Don’t ask me why. I know it was the end of summer and 100 degrees outside and I know that I was holding a glass of champagne, but still, that’s what I wanted so that’s what I had. And you know what? It was great. Moist, rich but not cloying and correctly dressed with just a dab of ketchup underneath. It was served with a buttery mashed potato and perfectly cooked thin green beans. I finished everything except for 3 green beans, you know, to leave something on my plate so I wouldn’t feel like too much of a pig. 🙂

So all that, half a giant bottle of jack and a quick $200 hit and run at Casino Arizona and that was our trip. Pretty mellow, but good times indeed.

3 thoughts on “Desert Golf and Dining

  1. I would have to vote for our lunch at Bloom as being the highlight of the trip. I guess I am spoiled living in San Jose, because while delicious, the meal at Abuelo’s was pretty much standard fare for me. The food at Bloom was an unexpected surprise! Not that similar fare isn’t abundant in the Bay Area, but it was the fact we were just wandering around a parking lot, looking in windows of restaurants, and stumbled on Bloom. My seared Ahi appetizer and my Ever Changing Ravioli entree were both top notch!

    Thanks Steve for putting the trip together!

  2. Man, you’re lucky. I haven’t come across good Mexican food in NY yet. I think all the Mexicans are cooking in French and Italian restaurants here!

  3. Ha ha, I think you’re right! My brother lives in Rochester, NY now, and the first thing he did the last time he came back to San Jose was go to Uno Mas for a burrito! He said there was nowhere to go in Rochester for good Mexican food.

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