When I flew back to Tucson on Thursday from Sacramento, Odel and I had plans to visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, one of the highlights of Tucson, on Friday. Instead, I awoke late and moved around like a slug until almost noon. I don’t know if it was the grey skies or the high activity level of the prior week, but doing nothing held great appeal. With the exception of a trip to the grocery store and a short walk in the desert, that was exactly what we did.
I awoke reinvigorated on Saturday, but didn’t want to head to the museum on a weekend. Instead, I planned a day in town: a farmer’s market, a visit to one of Tucson’s great independent bookstores, a stop at Trader Joe’s, and lunch at Chopped, a favorite Tucson restaurant. Odel was happy to sign on as driver/accomplice.
Farmers markets in winter? Yep, here in sunny Arizona. We decided to visit Tucson’s newest farmers market (Farmers Market at Maynard’s Kitchen), in the middle of downtown Tucson at the old train depot. We had a plan: walk the entire circuit once before making any purchases. This worked as well as it always does – in other words, not at all! :)
The selection at the farmers market was very, very good. Though there weren’t many booths, there was great variety – and we immediately got hung up at a booth selling savory pies of all descriptions. Most of the pies featured chicken, but the one that caught my eye was made with Copper River Salmon from Alaska. Since we had paused for a moment, the vendor quickly engaged us in conversation and offered samples. Oh, boy, that salmon pie was fantastic. Since I doubted we would run into the same thing for less money just around the corner, we made our purchase of the frozen pie, which the vendor obligingly kept in his freezer until we were ready to leave the market.
After that, it was all caution to the winds. I bought a delicious roasted vegetable puff pastry for breakfast; Odel bought some sort of custard-y sweet. Cranberry walnut bread went into the bag. Then we came to the vegetables, all locally grown, and we added kale and kohlrabi to the mix. Two guys had a business selling beautiful, unusual beans packaged with herbs as soup mixes and we snapped up a couple packets when they gave us a taste from their crockpot. We passed on tea, salsas, homemade tortillas, ceviche, grass fed beef and books about raising chickens at home; no fresh roasted coffee beans for us, or homemade biscotti (unusual restraint). It was a great little market!
When I was in Sacramento, the bill for our lunch in the café at the Crocker Art Museum was presented in a book, The Pat Conroy Cookbook. If you have read Pat Conroy’s books, you know that food plays a prominent role, usually seafood from the Carolinas. The cookbook featured Conroy’s reminiscences (real or fictional, I don’t know) introducing his favorite recipes, and I wanted it!
Tucson has a wonderful independent bookstore, Bookman’s, with two or three locations. They sell both new and used books (their used book selection is huge), so I set out to see whether I could find the cookbook there. The answer was “no”… but I had a good time browsing through the cookbook section anyway. Maybe I’ll end up buying it retail eventually, but I’ll give myself a chance to forget about it first. I really DON’T need another cookbook…
Then we were off to Trader Joe’s and Chopped, which has now changed their name to Choice Greens. They still specialize in (huge) custom mixed salads, just as good as I remembered (I ordered spring greens with asparagus, peas, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, feta cheese and balsamic vinaigrette, a yummy mix of crunch, sweet, and salty).
Back home, we spent an hour or two chatting with Day and David, a couple we first met in Oregon a few years ago when they hopped up from a picnic table and introduced themselves (they knew us from this blog). They left a note on our door the other day; they are here at Justin’s. David is a self-described “foodie”, a fan of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives so, as the sun dropped and the cool breeze sent us each to our own rigs, we made a plan to share breakfast at Coyote Pause, a local favorite, on Monday.
Today we took a long, looping hike through the desert, out to the Ironwood Picnic Area in Tucson Mountain Park. This tree (an Ironwood) is said to be 250+ years old, and is by far the largest tree in the area. With it’s gnarled trunk, scaly bark, and the welcome shade it casts on the sturdy concrete picnic table, it is one of our favorite goals when hiking from Justin’s or Desert Trails.
Back home, Odel tossed a load of wash in our new washer – both new appliances are working perfectly. Tonight: the last two hours of series 2 of Downton Abbey. Boo-hoo! Sundays won’t be the same without Maggie Smith.