Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Borrego Badlands & Rancho Pinot

We got up late this morning, had breakfast in Borrego Springs, then took the roundabout exit that heads towards the Badlands and out of town (there are 5 options).

Those are Badlands in the distance.

Lots of gravel in these hills.

Dave picked up some rocks to examine them more closely.

Flash floods rush through here during heavy rains.

But not everything gets washed away.

The road we were on ended at the Salton Sea, where we turned north to get to the I-10.

Back in the 50s, TV ads encouraged us all to buy property at the Salton Sea. We didn't see a lot of homes there but we did see a lot of palm trees.

Once on the I-10, we put away the camera for the long drive to Scottsdale. We did stop at one exit to see if we could find a place to have lunch. All we found was an abandoned gas station.

It looks like we weren't alone in our disappointment.

We settled for a car picnic at a rest stop further on--a slice of the homemade bread I made before we left, pears we picked at the orchard yesterday, and Santa Barbara Pistachio chile lemon pistachios. Not a bad lunch.

We are now happily resting in Scottsdale after eating dinner at Rancho Pinot. Last night I read an article in Edible Phoenix, "Harvesting the Desert." Chef Chrysa Robertson has been preparing locally harvested meals since Rancho Pinot opened in 1993. The waitress told us that the menu changed twice last week in response to the range and quality of ingredients available. This is a good sign.

Attention to detail is reflected in the flavors and beauty of the food that comes to the table. Sorry, my camera doesn't work well in low light and I didn't want to use a flash in the restaurant. We chose a collection of small plates to share (you'll have to imagine these):
  • Diver scallops on a bed of Thai slaw with a few noodles, peanuts, sesame seeds, and a bit of mango salsa
  • Crispy squash blossoms stuffed with a creamy ricotta and goat cheese mixture and a tomato vinaigrette made with small sweet vine-ripened cherry tomatoes
  • Spaghetti squash with sage honey butter and hazelnuts
  • Baby artichokes and grilled baby red potatoes with caper aioli
Each dish offered a delightful combination of colors, flavors and textures. Tender scallops, crunchy squash blossoms, spaghetti squash not trying to be spaghetti, and artichokes toasted to caramelized perfection.

For dessert we had hand-foraged prickly pear sorbet and a rice custard made with Arborio rice (risotto style) topped with salted caramel. My deep gratitude to Edible Phoenix for publishing that article and leading us to this restaurant.

So, it's 80 degrees outside (down from 100 degrees earlier) and it's about 35 degrees in our room. We had to turn on the heater to try to warm it up a little. Weird.

We're thinking Sedona area for tomorrow.

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