“The Original Chopped Salad”

A couple weeks ago I spend a weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona with a group of women friends. On our first night in town we ate at Citizen Public House in downtown Scottsdale and were blown away by “The Original Chopped Salad” on the menu. I never would have selected the ingredients that make up this delicious salad, but it works in some magical symbiotic way.

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We shared two salads as a table, and we ate them so quickly that I forgot to take a photo! Our waiter kindly took this for me in the kitchen.

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Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia

I recently took my first trip to Arizona for a spa weekend in the desert with some of my closest friends. We had a group of seven women, all in our 30’s, two with babies at home, and one pregnant with her first, all desperately in need of a weekend of relaxation, good food, and great company.

We opted to stay at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia. The hotel is located in Paradise Valley, about a 15 minute drive from the Phoenix airport. We decided to rent a sweet mini-van that fit all seven of us, but it is an easy $30-40 cab ride from the airport.

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View of Camelback Mountain from our deck in Building 10

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Zuni Café

Zuni Café is a San Francisco institution. Established in 1987 and named after a Native American tribe, Zuni continues to impress  with its top notch food and classy ambiance. With several James Beard awards under its belt, Zuni serves a strong, tight menu – I’ve never been disappointed by a dish I’ve had there. And its south Hayes Valley location on Market Street makes it a perfect spot for a special dinner before a night out on the town.

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View of the bar from the upstairs dining area. The live piano player adds to the classy, urban vibe.

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Scopa – CLOSED

Edit 4/22/17: Unfortunately Scopa closed its doors on 4/8/17. You can read about the decision here. Fortunately its sister restaurant Campo Fina still serves many of Scopa’s beloved dishes, but we will miss this charming, intimate restaurant.

One of the great perks of being in a wine club is that it’s an excuse to visit wine country on a regular basis. Jack and I joined the Williams Selyem wine club several years ago, and since then we’ve made it up to Healdsburg for at least a day trip a couple of times a year. On one of these early visits, on a very hot fall day, a few of our friends introduced us to Scopa, an Italian restaurant right on the square. We had a group of six (the largest group they can accommodate) and I remember sitting at their only outdoor table, sweating profusely. We felt like we were in Italy! Our whole table shared a variety of appetizers, pastas, and pizzas. Everything was delicious, but what I remember most were the incredibly tender and flavorful meatballs and the perfectly cooked home-made pasta dishes.

Since that visit, Scopa has been our go-to restaurant when we visit Healdsburg. On this visit we started with the Sicilian Green Olives. These are the plump, meaty, bright green Castelvetrano olives from Siciliy (which always seem a little more delicious in a restaurant than when I buy them at the grocery store). These (along with oil-cured black olives) are my favorite olives. We enjoyed them with some house-made Ciabatta bread with Dry Creek extra virgin olive oil. We also each had a glass of sparkling wine, as we were celebrating Jack’s birthday.

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Sicilian Green Olives (Castelvetrano)

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