Culinary Delight

There’s an excitement to hitching up and getting the wheels rolling to places unknown.  That sense of wanderlust and curiosity as to what’s around the next bend is always a fun adventure, but there’s also joy in returning to familiar turf.  When we return to places, places that we like, it can feel like coming home.

Our family of four will be enjoying the holiday season together for the first time in several years.

Our family of four will be enjoying the holiday season together for the first time in several years.

Phoenix, Arizona, has started feeling like “home” to me.  First off, having both kids in the area helps.  Second, I know where all my favorite stores are located including a laundromat.  Al and I also have a few favorite eating establishments that we frequent and occasionally miss when we’re off traveling.

The Greek PitaWhen we rolled back into Phoenix in early October, our very first stop was to The Greek Pita located on the north end of the Phoenix valley.  Hubby and I had talked about their Gyros for the previous six weeks and couldn’t wait to make a beeline there on day one.  I’m not normally a fan of Greek food but I’ve always had a weakness for an authentic Gyros (ok and maybe lemon Chicken).

During my high school and college years, I spent my fair share of time working in the restaurant industry in the Chicago area.  Ah yes, I could tell you stories about venturing into Chicago’s Greek town and drinking and dancing until four in the morning…. OPA! But that’s a tale for another time 😉

With our Gyros habit satisfied, a few days later it was time to visit  Café Rio.  We were first introduced to this “Chipotle” style restaurant in Grand Junction, Colorado, and were super excited to see one going in right next door to The Greek Pita last spring.  Can you say, “Taco Tuesday”?   But our favorite little spot that we love sharing with fellow travelers and family can be found northwest of Scottsdale.

What do Walleye fish, the Green Bay Packers, and Arizona all have in common?  The Buffalo Chip Saloon in Cave Creek, Arizona.  We stumbled upon this place a little over three years ago and have returned regularly ever since. Buffalo Chip

I knew our first Friday night back in the valley would be spent dining on the all-u-can-eat fish fry at the Buffalo Chip Saloon.  Hubby just loves Walleye and where else can you find it without visiting Wisconsin or Minnesota?  But they don’t just serve Walleye.  Nope!  You get your choice of Catfish, Cod, Lake Perch, or Walleye….. plus you get to mix and match.  Talk about culinary fish heaven!  So while I sit and politely devour two fish tacos, Al orders and reorders the mix and match fish….. “hold the fries, please”.  He doesn’t intend to fill up on potatoes when there’s all that fish ready to be consumed.

Lunch is a quiet time to visit. (excellent burgers) I took this photo while stopping for lunch and other than the table filled with local law enforcement officers, the place was empty. I assure you Friday nights it's hopping.

Lunch is a quiet time to visit. (excellent burgers) I took this photo while stopping for lunch and other than the table filled with local law enforcement officers, the place was empty. I assure you Friday nights are hopping.

And this is Packer territory.  Rumor has it, one of the original owners of The Chip was a former Wisconsin Green Bay Packers football player.  The place fills up with Packer fans when there’s a game and the numerous television screens hung throughout the place assure guests won’t miss a play.  But that’s not all!  There’s LIVE Bull Riding for all you cowfolk out there.  Out back is an outdoor arena along with a BBQ buffet and bar.   Eating and entertainment western style…. doesn’t get much better.The Buffalo Chip

My heart sank on Thanksgiving Day when the news reported that a fire broke out and destroyed the main building; a historic, one of a kind structure with unique memorabilia adorning the walls.  The owners are working diligently to rebuild asap and folks are donating all kinds of things like cowboy boots, hats, etc. in an attempt to help replicate the authentic atmosphere that helped make the Buffalo Chip Saloon an original.  Arson is expected to be the culprit of the destructive fire.  A very sad loss for the owners AND the community.  I look forward to visiting again once rebuilt.

When we move on to the south-east part of the valley, we like to grab a few friends and head on over to the Organ Stop Pizza.  Although we do enjoy the food, it’s the experience that draws us back time and again.  It is most definitely worthy of a visit at least once.

Although our tastes these days center on the extreme casual, the Phoenix Valley is filled with world-renowned culinary experiences.  There’s no shortage of Five Star Restaurants around here.  Every now and then, hubby and I like to dress up and check out one of these fine establishments.  We actually do clean up nicely…. so we’ve been told LOL.

A gathering of RV bloggers indulging in culinary delight

A gathering of RV bloggers indulging in culinary delight

LumpiaWith that said, I can honestly say we’ve had the pleasure of enjoying some of the finest and tastiest dishes at a picnic table gathered with friends, new and old.  There’s something about everyone wanting to share their “A” game that turns these meals into a culinary delight that can easily rival any Five Star Restaurant.

Ribs

Flourless chocolate cake

my RV oven was busy that day!

cupcakesDave is a pro when it comes to smoking ribs and chicken, and Mona Liza always endears herself to hubby when she makes her Filipino specialty; Lumpia.  Then there was Curt whom we counted on to provide a cooler filled with beverages.  And me?  I’m the dessert maker.  For this gathering I baked a Flourless Frangelico Chocolate Cake, regular Vanilla Cupcakes, along with Grain Free Chocolate Cupcakes.

Paleo CupcakesI did have a little bit of an oops moment with the Chocolate Cupcakes, but the frosting and chocolate shavings were quick to cover it up.  You see, I got a little lazy and didn’t feel like separating the egg whites from the egg yolks which resulted in a sunken cupcake.

My save was filling in the hole with a little extra frosting.  I don’t think anyone noticed and I know hubby’s sweat tooth was thanking me for the extra dose of sugar.

If anyone is interested in this grain free, gluten-free, chocolate cupcake recipe – click here.  All this talk of food is making me hungry.  Hey Dave, “got any left overs?”

my favorite Five Star Restaurant

my favorite Five Star Restaurant

This is my latest cookbook purchase. I’m beginning to wonder if I have an addiction to cookbooks!

Dining western style – click here for another Arizona favorite

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89 thoughts on “Culinary Delight

  1. Thanks for sharing your culinary delights. What a magical place Phoenix is. I just love everything about it.
    I’m sorry I haven’t come by earlier, but I signed up to follow this blog and never received and WP updates. 🙂

    • Phoenix has so much to offer that life is rarely boring there. I have a new camera on the way which means I’ll be exploring the valley of the sun in depth in search of photo ops.
      Grrr… I’ve heard that from other folks as well. Not sure what the issue is with the “follow”.

  2. It’s amazing how restaurants and foods take us back to memories from times past. I am with you food at a picnic table still might be the best. Thanks for the gluten free recipe, I will give it a try next time my celiac friend visits.

    • Your celiac friends would definitely appreciate these treats. Give me a campfire, tasty BBQ, shared with great company any day…. better than any high end restaurant 🙂

  3. Ingrid, that chocolate cake looks delicious!
    I definitely know the feeling of returning to a restaurant your have found during travels and loved. We have a couple of those in Banff. Every time we go to Banff we have to return to those locations. You know you will get a great meal and it feels very familiar and good to be there:)

    • The chocolate cake is addicting. Hubby has banned me from baking it in 2016 for fear our waistline will expand. Happy travels in the coming New Year!

  4. Gosh, Ingrid, that was a culinary journey!
    Have been so busy and blogging has slipped but I hope you all had a wonderful family Christmas.
    I hear the weather has been very non south west (colder the NYC!)
    I think I am going to be luckier in South Africa 🙂
    Health and happiness for 2016!!

  5. It’s terrible that the Buffalo Chip Saloon was burned down — and especially terrible that anybody would do it deliberately. I hope they manage to recreate the atmosphere in the new version they are building.

    Anyway, I wish you a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year. 🙂

  6. Pingback: The Big Reveal and WINNERS! | Susie Lindau's Wild Ride

  7. So glad to see you back to posting! I will have to check out these dining pleasures! You introduced me to the gyro place! It was delicious! See you soon!

    • There certainly is no shortage of great dining options in the Phoenix valley. Always fun stumbling upon a great find. I’ve recently discovered some fantastic hiking trails that I’ll need to share with you 🙂

    • Thank you Carol and I hope you’re surrounded by family and friends this Christmas. There are some fantastic places to camp in Colorado and not to be missed. That camera of yours is sure to be working in overdrive!

  8. A big check for the Greek Pita, their gyros are really delicious and huge!
    Your family photo op is really a hit, well done!
    There is always good food to be had with great company. Am still working on my cake!

    • So glad we had the opportunity to visit. Our serendipitous meet ups have been fun. We’ll need to keep track on each other and see where next December finds us parked so the culinary adventures can continue!

  9. What a beautiful photo of your family! How wonderful that you’re going to all be together for the holidays. 🙂 Looks like you had a great time with Mona Liza and Steve and other RV’ing friends, too. Your desserts look so yummy!

  10. Great family photo! I’m so glad you’ll be spending Christmas together. It was also lovely to see you enjoying meals with friends. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year. 🙂

  11. I am on to you, Ingrid! You’re tempting us with fabulous food and fun, trying to lure us out there! Well, it just might work! 😉

  12. Oh my! You have my mouth watering! I haven’t had a Gyro since I left Detroit in 1988. I loved going to Greektown there. You brought back many wonderful memories of that time. As for the Buffalo Chip Saloon, I too hope they reopen. I’ve added it to my list of restaurants to try as we travel. I’m like Al, Walleye is my favorite fish to eat too. By the way, I love the family photo. It would make a wonderful Christmas card for the family.

    • Thanks for the compliment on the family photo. Daughter and I planned to use it for a Christmas Card, although I’m behind…. yikes! These are some of the best Gyros probably because the place is owned by a Greek family thus they know how to do it right.

  13. Your desserts look fabulous, Ingrid! I am definitely NOT a baker..especially in my “Barbie Oven”. I have to put everything on the very top rack or I will burn it..You have a beautiful family and I loved the Western plaids..I had a good friend who played the honky tonk piano in a Cave Creek AZ “joint”..It was called The Happy Toad or The Happy Frog..I can’t remember which amphibian it was..My friend’s name was Jack Fairclough, and he was originally from Sandwich, IL. He unfortunately passed away. Boy, he could play a mean ragtime piano!!! Enjoy the holidays with your family..Merry Christmas!!!

    • The “Barbie Oven” can be challenging but I seem to have figured mine out. My little oven gets used regularly. That Cave Creek Restaurant might be called the Horney Toad. There’s actually quite a few yummy restaurants in Cave Creek – so we hear. We never seem to get around to trying out new ones. Enjoy that Florida weather and have a relaxing Christmas.

  14. You got me all excited reading about the all you can eat walleye and Packers! Then to read about the fire. Hopefully they reopen soon, that will be a definite must hit when we are in the area! Where are you guys going from there?

    • The Buffalo Chip backyard is still open for business but only serving the BBQ 😦 We’re keeping an eye on the rebuild plans so Al can satisfy his Walleye fix. We head to TX on the 26th for Bird hunting, but we’ll be back in Phoenix mid February. We’re still trying to figure out our summer plans.

  15. Yummy food all around. I totally understand about going places that feel like home. We have Jackson Hole, and Quartzsite that are it for us. And thankfully, we are leaving here on the 1st, and heading to Q.

    • I’m sure you can’t get back to the desert soon enough. Since our daughter no longer lives in Colorado, we’re trying to figure out where we might want to go this summer. We love AZ in the winter now the search for the summer location.

  16. I’ve been wondering about you guys but sounds like you’ve been staying plenty busy. That’s a great shot of the family. I’m with Al on “hold the fries” as I only eat the main item at a buffet like that – too bad about the fire as it sounds like a super great place to go. I also like pot luck meals when folks bring their best stuff.

    • A get together centered around home cooking is the best. I’ve been so disappointed with restaurants lately that we don’t even look forward to going out. My internet has been a challenge lately necessitating I either go to my son’s home or the library. Thus, I’ve been a little quiet lately. Wishing you and Bev a wonderful Christmas filled with lots of treats.

  17. What a fun evening that was, everyone bringing what they do best, sorry no leftovers but of course Dave’s always up for cooking some more. Looks like we have some more restaurants to check out, first have to get some warmer weather so I can walk off all the calories. We too are enjoying having the family around this winter and we know we’ll be back to spend winter here again one day…yes the desert is addictive. Sorry we never made it to the Buffalo Chip Saloon. Enjoy your holidays with the kids, great family picture.

    • We’ll need to plan another get together in February when the weather will hopefully be warmer. All the food was delicious and being surrounded by great company made it a fun visit. Dave sure outdid himself that day.

  18. I so share that feeling of places becoming ‘homelike’. Sometimes for me, it’s about the setting, other times it’s about the people found there. There have been some where what seemed home like was nothing more than the way the sun came up on the horizon and we’ve been drawn back over and over again. Thanks for the thoughts and shared memories.

    I just added Buffalo Chip Saloon to our list of places to visit. Gotta love a fish fry!

    • It’s interesting how certain places resonate with us. We all encounter different experiences. We’re heading back to Rockport at the end of the month so I can commune with my feathered friends. It’s not an area I would recommend, but yet it works for us. I look forward to seeing where you end up this winter. Safe travels.

      • We’re bound for Ocala Fl —have never wintered in FL and the doctor delays kept us in MKE too long for me to want to make the trip all the way to AZ, which we had considered. When we do our first desert winter I want to have more than 3 1/2 months. So, it’s off to new territory for us. Can’t afford S. FL, so this is the best we can do. But there’s forest and refuges and we’ll see what we find to do.

  19. Good to hear that you and your family have settled happily and hungrily in AZ. You’re perfectly positioned for a great holiday season. Merry Christmas to all!

    • Thank you Lenore. I’m enjoying my time in Phoenix very much and love having both children close by. We’ll head off and travel for January and then return in February. Those wheels are meant to roll 🙂

    • You can imagine, hubby and I sure weren’t complaining about extra frosting. One of these years, you’ll need to bring the trailer to the desert southwest for a little RV socializing.

  20. I was just thinking about you and wondering how you were doing. All the restaurants sound wonderful. So sorry to hear about the fire at the Buffalo Chip. It sounds like a great place. I love your family photo!

    • Oh how funny. This really is a small world. I just ran into another blogger at the laudromat today. We’re heading to TX on the 26th but will be back in Phoenix mid February and stay until mid April. Let me know if you’ll be in the area 🙂

  21. We’ve been to Organ Stop Pizza too. Love the pizza but the Wurlitzer organ is incredible. So happy to have the opportunity to get some bloggers and friends together. Finally got to meet Al too. You, Mona Liza and Dave are fantastic cooks/bakers. Hope we can do it again soon.

    • Thanks Curt. It was a fun get together. We might be staying in AJ for a few days in early February. If we do, I’ll be sure and let you know. Isn’t the hiking at the Superstitions the best?

  22. It’s been busy here in Illinois – glad to read you are still enjoying life on the road. After reading, I long for the day when I can enjoy oife like you and Al. I know it will be here before I know it, in the meantime I am counting on you for my freedom fix. Thanks and peace.

    • Always nice hearing from you Clay. We’re not moving around as much as usual, but hope to keep the adventures coming. Stay warm and have a lovely Christmas.

  23. After reading about the Buffalo Chip Saloon and the wonderful fish fry, it was sooo disappointing to read about the fire! Good to hear they are rebuilding:) Sounds like a place we need to visit!

    Sure looks like lots of fun with friends and such yummy food:)

    • As you well know, this lifestyle can be very social and makes the adventures even more special. Have a wonderful visit with Jessica. I look forward to seeing what kind of hikes you gals will tackle.

  24. What a delicious tour Ingrid. Wonderful that you will all be together over the holidays. We are headed with our gang to Mexico. No matter where being with family is the best.

    • It’s been wonderful having us together. We used to do something fun for the Christmas. Most often we’d rent a cabin in the mountains near Rocky Mountain National Park, but occasionally I’d plan a cruise or trip to Disney World. Always a fun time. Have a great trip and I look forward to seeing/hearing all about the Slaght shenanigans.

  25. Oh my! Now I’m hungry. I do love me some Cafe Rio. Their Barbacoa pork salad is my hubby’s and I’s favorite to split. So delicious. And I love the cool drinks they have there too. Those ribs looked amazing! Scrumptious! Glad you’re eating well.

    • No shortage of delicious foods around here, but I always gravitate toward desserts…. more like chocolate. Sound familiar? lol You’d love the chocolate cake!

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