FnB – Farewell Dinner

4 09 2010

Went out to the eternal FnB for my farewell dinner in Mesa. Gorgeous low-lighting offered me an excellent playground for the new Canon S90.

Believe it or not, this is at dusk. Dusk. I pushed up the saturation slightly to adjust for personal taste, but goodness me. What an apparatus.

Unnnnnf. Low-light no-flash food photos – my very favorite, and now waaaaay less of a crapshoot. Can’t you just taste that texture? Conjure up some exceptionally fruity olive oil to go with it and you’re there, baby.

Momma digs on a Sundowner, FnB’s take on an aperol spritz. We make appropriate references to the Italian coastal regions.

We’re feeling garbanzos, but Emily expertly slips in a present of fried zucchini. They’re wafers of sweet squash and oil, slight crunchiness outlined by the sporadic presence of slightly wilted mint leaves. Totally addictive and an incredible beginning.

We get the garbanzos also, because, you know. Smoked paprika is near impossible to resist. They are crispy and starchy and popcorn-esque and do you see those lights in the background, holy mother mary I adore my new camera!

Burrata is a must, and this olive-oil and tomato drenched version accompanied by fried eggplant and piquant arugula turns out to be my very favorite iteration thus far in my creamy mozzarella career. It isn’t quite the buttercheese goo that we’ve experienced previously, and it is for this reason that I favor it – the slight chewiness allows the taste of the cheese to develop rather than simply melt, and paired with a tangy heirloom tomato plus a spring of spicy arugula is divine. How about that, I’m already making good on the name of the blog!

Magnificent roasted quail atop a cushy bed of fregola mixed with butternut squash, (pumpkin?) seeds, and snappy green beans is devoured before I think about accessing the camera – hey, I usually have a photographer with me when I go tasting! Ditto for the subtly acidic bucatini, house-cured pancetta tesa, and savory mushroom plate.

This is a perfectly singed crème brûlée, tasting first very strongly of fire, and then playfully of creamy lemon with herbaceous undertones. It is exactly what the dish ought to be in terms of torched – in fact, we were continually fascinated throughout the night by Chef Charleen sparking up the fire with the irons used to create the gorgeous mottled crusts.

The chocolate, although perhaps less impressive of a photographic capture, is the one that will go down in the history books. Dad repeatedly remarked that it was so overwhelmingly decadent that it felt forbidden, like eating fudge icing straight out of the jar (only better: butterier). The whipped cream cap is, in fact, salted, which entices the chocolate richness eagerly towards full bloom.

10 Things To Love About Mesa, AZ

3 09 2010

1. Emerging from an icebox restaurant into the blinding heat of a desert summer. Refusing to turn on the A/C. Allowing your skin to crisp its tingly way back to the scalding outside temperature.

2. Wide open, speed-camera-free highways winding alongside red and purple mountains.

3. Mekong Market. They even have pre-shredded green papaya!!

3.5. Endless entrail soup at unPhogettable. (I know, the name would be unPhogivable if not for that broth. Oh that broth!)

4. Obliterating desert storms at night, furiously rolling through rock and sand and onto our roof, quenching the parched dirt and stirring the bowels of the earth.

5. Rosati’s thin-crust Valentino.

6. Quail families scampering across the street in a frantic peeping parade.

7. Massive amounts of water assumed necessary – and thus, free – in every eating establishment.

8. Starbucks while grocery shopping.

9. Universal acceptability of flip-flops and tank tops.

10. The Torkington kitchen.

The One-Week Countdown

30 08 2010

One week ’til Fulbright orientation in Madrid! Must be time to start another blog.

One year ago, I was wrapping up my Scottsdale TEFL course in preparation for heading towards Grand Adventure in Bangkok, Thailand.

This year, I am making paneer in preparation for another iteration of Indian Nite at the Torkingtons’.

I’m actively attempting not to anticipate; I do semi-understand my way around the quirks of Spanish culture, but I feel like it’s wise to treat Madrid as a whole new experience. I’ve read loads of exciting words about it being a vivacious and multifaceted spot on the globe, and I am much looking forward to exploring nooks/crannies.

A rather sizable chunk of the time will be dedicated to Fulbright-related activity – in regards to which I have even less of an idea of what it might look like. I’ll be helping out as a representative native English speaker in a bilingual secondary school in Tres Cantos, a community pertaining to Madrid but 25 kilometers north of the the center city. This means I will be working with 12-16-year-olds, definitely on the finer points of English grammar but also likely in other subject areas as well. Whispers of a Model UN project float about the Fulbright literature; not sure what that might actually entail.

Bought a load of “work clothes” this summer, including the button down white collar shirt (also featured in gray and stripes, thank you H&M). Will write up a packing list….. eventually…..

In this moment I am anticipating thick, eggy tortilla and a cold Estrella Damm.