I’ve been a little backed up on posts here lately since my computer was stolen from my checked bag by an airline employee while flying Southwest Airlines out of Midway (MDW) airport. Typing up a blog post on your phone just isn’t the same. I will put my rant at the end of this post, but in the meantime, my dad offered to give me a free ticket to Phoenix to visit his sister and her family’s new home. While in town, we did a lot of eating out. Here’s a few reviews of some great places to eat if you are ever traveling through the Phoenix/Sedona area.
Cibo – pronounced Chee-boh – is this dainty little restaurant in what looks to be a not-so-nice area of the city of Phoenix built into a house with an adorable front seating area. Leslie and her fiance were raving about this place while we sat at Gino’s East in Chicago dining on what I like to think as some of the finest pizza around. So for someone to suggest there was good pizza, in Arizona, I had to see it to believe it.
The inside is literally the front of a house with a bar area immediately to your right, a table for a large group set front and center with the kitchen behind it, and bathrooms that in any other setting someone would have viewed the cracked toilet seat and floor tiles as grotesque, but here, the added bouquet of flowers and wall mirror made for a rustic, inside-someone’s-personal-house, geriatric feel. We sat outside, as the temperature had cooled down to a manageable, sunless 90 degrees and Leslie’s fiance was meeting up with us with her puppy (yes, it’s dog friendly).
The outside patio was separated into two areas with the main walkway down the middle. The floor was made up of mismatched bricks, some jutting up, with small, two to four seat, wrought iron tables strategically placed around the center where a tree was unruly growing out of the brick and mud. They had decorated it with a string of white lights which gave the atmosphere of the perfect place for a date. Everything at Cibo is cooked in their fire-grill oven, and they mostly have wine, with a few specialty beers brought to you by a rather odd waiter.
We first ordered an appetizer of Schiacciata Maremma, half without eggplant and our little sandwiches came with just enough time to gobble them up before Leslie’s fiance arrived and even knew we ordered. The crunch of the bread from the wood-fired oven with the melted cheese holding the vegetables in was the perfect start to a fantastic meal.
We then ordered pizzas, the Pizza Rosse Vegetariana and I believe Leslie had the Di Notte pizza, adding potatoes. The crust was thin and just the right amount of crisp, but still strong enough to hold the massive amount of toppings. I wouldn’t compare it to Gino’s East, but overall, it was a pretty good, healthy pizza. It felt almost homemade.
We finished the meal off with a nutella and strawberry crepe which was to DIE for. There are few restaurant chef’s that seem to make a crepe the correct way, thin, less like a pancake, and still strong enough to hold together your ingredients. They managed to get the crepe and ingredients just right and we walked away extremely full and satisfied. Not before her 3 month old puppy went to sit on the neighboring tables lap after they picked her up. An extremely chill, relaxing atmosphere. I highly recommend finding this Phoenix gem while you are in town.
For lunch one day, my dad, his sister and I tried a sports bar in town that his sister knew the owner from her children’s school and had rated it pretty decent. We started with an awesome chips and queso appetizer at Blue 32 with tortilla shell bowls holding the queso and salsa. It wouldn’t be a bad place to watch a game either, as they have tv’s at every angle all over the restaurant. There wasn’t a bad seat in the house. They also kept it cool enough inside that my aunt was able to get the soup she had been craving which the hot weather didn’t allow for her to make at home like she did in Chicago. I tried the Southwest Salad, minus the chicken, which was good. It needed more spice, which I assume probably came with the chicken portion of the meal. I would have preferred it doused all the way in chipotle ranch sauce instead of it drizzled on top of a tossed balsamic vinaigrette for an ultimate Southwest feel. Overall the bar was similar to a chain, such as Buffalo Wild Wings, with its own twist on menu items.
My aunt moved into the dairy farms of the desert. Yes, I was surprised too, there really are dairy cows/farms in a desert. And a dry heat exists, and they grow crops. Weird, right? Anyways, the cows are apparently grass and alfalfa fed cows who hang out under fans misting them constantly under a metal roof which provides some shade. Somehow the cows survive and make AMAZING ice cream, or so we experienced at Apple Dumpling Cafe. I had something that had a base of vanilla ice cream, mixed with some chocolate candy bar and drizzled in chocolate and caramel syrup. To die for, and in a waffle cone none-the-less. I highly recommend one of these small town diners serving fresh-from-the-cows ice cream.
We traveled to Sedona for the end of our short-lived trip (which I wish could have lasted forever, yes I mean move there. It was beautiful, and warm, and not at all what I expected, but most of all warm). Our first stop was for brunch (breakfast but it was already 11 o’clock their time, 1:00 Chicago time). We stopped in the Coffee Pot Restaurant, located conveniently behind the coffee pot rock. I was already 3-5 hours in without any coffee, and it was time for a cup or three. The mugs on the table were handmade and very interesting. My younger cousin noticed the decor, probably American Indian, and couldn’t stop asking questions (in a great, educational way). The girls gobbled up their huge plate of pancakes almost as fast as the boys ate their omelet meals, while my aunt and I dined at a slower pace taking in the environment surrounding us. They had an outside patio and were known for making omelettes 101 ways. I was satisfied not only by the coffee and egg breakfast, but by the price of everything, as I had heard Sedona was a tad on the expensive side. I imagine myself coming back to this restaurant some day, sitting on the patio to stare at the beautiful mountain formations the ocean created for hours on end while I sip on my coffee and perhaps write to my hearts content.
While in Sedona we also ate at Wildflower Bread Company. It was similar to a Panera Bread, but had a slightly less chain feel to the restaurant. Everyone raved about their food, surprised it was better than expected. At this point, we had been eating the entire trip, so I only ordered a tea, but I would definitely say that the little box holding the tea bag which instantly circulated into the air with a sweet aroma of peach and ginger was more than expected. Delicious. We sat and chatted about African Safari’s and Notre Dame’s potential win while watching bats (or my dad seems to think they were some kind of bird) fly by the light of the moon dangling above the Snoopy mountain creating one of the most relaxing atmosphere’s I’ve experienced in a long time. We tried to compare our overseas trips to see if their was another culture as beautiful, and all I could come up with was South Mole Island in Australia which is the island we stayed at and took a boat out to see to swim in the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve still never seen that many stars in one patch of sky.
Overall the trip was relaxing, warm, fulfilling and entertaining. The warm weather threw a knife in my bike tire, so to speak, as Chicago is experiencing one of the coldest September’s, spiking up the mold and pollen content and having everyone die from their allergies so far this year. The Arizona desert was something of wonder and beauty as I have never been to a desert before and was expecting only sand. Sedona is a place everyone should visit once in their life and stay for more than a day or two. Unfortunately, due to the small town atmosphere, we went in search of cactus fries in Sedona and arrived at 9:05, they closed at 9, so I will just have to make another trip someday! I will also be tracking my trip using Foursquare and Flickr creating an online scrapbook, and I’ll add the link when I finish that project.
Now for my rant:
You can read on or stop here, but my advice to everyone is to monitor your checked luggage and never pack anything of value. There are some crazy stories I’ve been hearing since my Macbook, GPS, and jewelry were stolen of the airline employees stealing people’s name brand clothing or a U.S. Air Marshall had a frozen lasagna his mom made and froze for him to take home in his luggage and when he got off the plane and picked up his luggage there was only half a lasagna. Who would even think to steal something like that? I know for a fact that the food pantries are stocked with some decent snacks, fresh vegetables and even whole slabs of meat thanks to working at CEDA. Needless to say, our society truly believes that they deserve things that they haven’t worked for, and will chance their job to make some extra side cash by stealing from innocent, trusting travelers checked luggage. Like I said, I was on vacation using a free ticket and staying with family, or there would be no way I could afford to go on vacation in this economy. There is also no way I will be able to replace my items, even though the jewelry was cheap Charlotte Russe brand $5 a piece for the most part jewelry. To replace each piece would cost me $50 or more. And who steals costume jewelry anyway? A tarnished earring is not going to make you that extra cash you thought you’d be making. A broken optical drive on an old 1st generation MacBook is going to be worth risking your job to bring that into a pawn shop and get a whole $150-200. No, I don’t believe that is correct. Sure, we all love the song by Travie McCoy, “I Wanna Be A Billionaire,” but it’s not a reality for most of us, and if you want something in life, you work for it, not just take. I believe we learned this rule in kindergarten on the first day. SO, what I have learned from this and want to share with everyone is that you cannot trust anyone these days and should be wary even when traveling on trusted airlines such as Southwest Airlines especially through MDW airport as they or TSA or someone in the airport has hired a fraudulent, irresponsible, untrustworthy employee who is stealing from the bags and it is next to impossible to get the Chicago police to go over tapes in the airport unless someone has stolen over $25,000 and up. Everything else is miniscule to them. PHX police were very helpful, took their time to take a detailed description of everything and suggested calling back with my serial number. Welcome home to Chicago, the land of crime, where the police will not help you out when you need them most because they are too busy pulling over drunk drivers too make more money for themselves. I love my home, but reality hits hard when things like this happen. SO, if you are out there, using a used Macbook generation A1181 laptop with the serial # W87120K2WGK or a used Magellan Roadmate 1470 that only came with a car charger serial # 00039-403-487-659 you are in possession of stolen property, please return this to the police. Thank you. And for the thief, how shady.