Dining on the Road: Scottsdale

On a recent trip to Scottsdale, Arizona I found myself without my camera. Oh no! Not to worry, I figure I’ll try out the camera on my iPhone. Now I still have the iPhone 3GS version. Still a pretty good camera though – impressive.  I’ve heard the iPhone 4 camera is amazing.  Anyway, we found this cute little cafe in Old Towne Scottsdale across from Nordstroms. What a treat! First off, love that there are soooo many non-chain restauranteurs in Scottsdale. Not that McDonalds, Chipotle or Five Guy Burgers aren’t any good.  Those are some of my staples when I’m on the run.  I just enjoy dining at unique little eateries to see what local chefs and bakers are coming up with these days. For lunch, I ordered a curry chicken salad with golden plump sun raisins. Very fresh, very good – nice blend of sweetness and curry spice. Great texture! Tender chicken coupled with the crisp crunch of greens and toasted almond slivers.  And of course, I had to wash it down with a Mexican Coca-cola. My hubby ordered a chicken panini. I would have taken a pic, but by the time I remembered, he’d already scarfed down most of it. He did save me a bite. Tender grilled chicken, melted cheese, roasted red peppers and onions with some kind of aoili sauce all on a toasted, grill marks and all, sourdough bread. Now I know why it was gone so fast. To finish our meal, we split a coconut caramel cookie bar with the biggest dark chocolate chips I’d ever seen, nestled throughout. Quite the treat!

Chicken Curry Salad, Golden Sun Raisins and Toasted Almonds

 

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CRAZY for Cupcakes!

Raspberry Chocolate Ganache

Now I know that cupcakes of late, have been all the rage.  You’ve got the fancy ones made by the premier bakeries and you’ve got the cupcake in a box versions that you can pick up at your local grocery store.  All are definitely good.  I guess I didn’t realize the vast creative, and not to mention delicious varieties that come in between the premier bakery and convenience boxed versions!  My eyes were opened as my family and I were invited to a party a few months back that had served some of the most delectable cupcake treats. Cupcakes of various sizes… The traditional full-size cupcakes to petite mini cupcakes. Not to mention little mini cupcake “pops” – or cupcakes on a stick, similar to a lollipop.  Frankly, I think the minis are more dangerous. How long did I stand over the tables popping different varieties of mini cupcakes? Raspberry lime, wacky chocolate cupcakes, chocolate ganache with raspberry… Oh and the “adult” variations… Those flavored with Baileys Irish Creme liquor or raspberry liquor, or even a cosmopolitan!
Beautifully decorated, moist and fresh, positively yummy!  Seeing as the host of the party is also the baker, we ordered 2 dozen of the mini cupcakes for a party.  They were snatched up before I could blink an eye. Ok, that’s an exaggeration. But you know what I mean. They were gone in no time. All I was left with were empty serving platters and a few crumbs.  We may not wait until the next time we have guests to place an order!
As for my photo project,  what did I learn on taking pictures of the cupcakes we ordered?  Model selection… I need to be more observant. I love that I was able to find a cupcake that showed the “swirl” of frosting. As for the raspberry ganache, I would have liked to find a way to make the chocolate more shiny looking, and I would have been more selective on my raspberries. What was it that I read somewhere, to make the food glisten? Spray a fine mist, brush with egg wash?  Maybe I’ll try next time, although, I won’t be eating them up after the pictures are taken!  🙂

Here's were I didn't notice the imperfect raspberry...

 

Loved the caramel creme "swirl" on the Wacky Chocolate Cupcake

 

Just a touch of Salt, please

Happy New Year! What better way to celebrate the holidays and welcome 2011 than with candy? What about salted chocolate covered caramels… Dark chocolate… Ever try one? Friends of mine introduced them to me over Thanksgiving. I’m hooked. The rich, slightly bitter yet sweet dark chocolate encases a creamy gooey caramel center. Absolutely divine! But wait! Encrusted along the top is an accent of sea salt crystals that simply enhances the sweetness of this chewy delight. It really is an elegant piece of sweetness. I’m addicted and my youngest son, age 1, can’t seem to get enough. I almost have to hide in secret when opening the plastic box lid. The sound of the container opening is enough to make him snap his head up and come toddling over to me.

Pulling out my camera, I attempt to get a shot showing off it’s sleek dark features enhanced with the sparkle of its salted crust. It’s a simple piece of candy. In my mind it renders itself to be a simple snap shot. One or two little caramel pieces positioned on black semi-glossy wood finish. Some few inches behind the caramel models, I place its teal labeled container.  Interestingly, when I took the shot under natural light, the label reflected a subtle teal glow onto the table; thereby throwing reflective light behind my subject. I love when I discover little nuances!  My favorite pic is the one I chose for my banner.  Tasty!  They were all gone in 3 days courtesy of my 1 year old and myself.