Good New Mexican Food Was Worth Risking My Life, Quince Jerome

Quince JeromeI lived in New Mexico for only two years, although now that I’ve been visiting there for more than half my life, I consider it home. But two years or not, it was long enough to make me a food snob when it comes to the food. Ask anyone who’s put in any time in the “505”: We take our green chile VERY seriously. The first time I brought a jar home to a friend in NYC, I was horrified when I learned later that it had been poured into a bowl, mistaken for the sort of chile you eat at a football game. The New Mexican chile is an obsession put on everything from pizza at Dion’s to cheeseburgers, even at McDonald’s and Dairy Queen. But I digress. During a recent American Southwest roadtrip with my friend Diana, we received a restaurant recommendation for a good New Mexican restaurant called Quince¬†(Jerome, Arizona( outside of Sedona, where we staying. What we didn’t know what was that the road to Jerome was a death-defying twist of asphalt heading straight up.

For New Mexican food, it was worth it.

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Low-calorie tricks from Miraval

low calorie recipes Miraval

Miraval: my kind of spa.

My trip to the personal growth-pushing Miraval spa included a three-hour class that I sort of glazed over in an earlier post: cooking. Now, if you know me, then you’ve already guessed that this was about as out of my comfort zone as you can get. (I’ve always been way more into my career than anything domestic.) I also don’t take great food photos. After digging through my notes, however, I ran across so many low calorie recipes and tricks that Chef Chad Luethje uses to cut calories in his foods, that I really wanted to include one actual recipe. Plus, the class rocked for another reason: We made friends! After our class, we headed straight to the bar for the first of many fun times with the friendly Canadians. Girls, did you ever cook your husbands the five-course dinner you promised?!

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Five-course dinner? My kind of spa!

Miraval Arizona spas

Low-cal filet mignon.

Lest you think we deprived ourselves, Miraval is not that kind of spa. After a delicious three-course meal at the Cactus Flower restaurant the first night (yes, with wine), we opted for the “Cooking with the Chef” class on the second night. Five courses with wine pairings! Starting with an amazingly healthy, crisp and delicious Caesar salad, we were amazed at all of the things you can do to cut calories in the kitchen. The girls at our table diligently took notes, vowing to cook the whole shebang for their husbands when they returned home to Canada. But only the travel blogger took photos! Pictured here: angus beef filet mignon with roma tomato, basil and shallot salad, drizzled with vinegar reduction and topped with a goat cheese ball.

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Winter in Vegas: Pass the Meringue

How Vegas does winter: with edible treats.

We don’t get much snow in sunny Las Vegas, but that didn’t stop at least one chef in town from creating a mini-meringue snowman on a plate. Michel Richard is famous for his whimsical food designs and having pastries to die for. At his hot spot Central at Caesars Palace (open last fall), executive chef Todd Harrington had the pastry chef whip up this cute little winter treat for me. He was so lifelike, I had a hard time wanting to dig in! One forkful of the homemade¬†chantilly creme that covered the plate, looking like melted snow, solved that. The snowman is a vacherin dessert (watch out for other fun designs throughout the year — Chef loves ’em), meringue on the outside, soft ice-cream in the middle. As I broke through the meringue, which had been hardened and dried in the oven, the sinful vanilla ice-cream started to melt a bit, and the adorable snowman’s parts finally started to cave in, so he was easier to eat. And eat him I did — this little snowman was ridiculously delicious! As he started to look more and more like a real melted snowman, I knew my taste (pun intended) of winter was coming to an end. I’m a warm-weather girl and a foodie to boot — I’d take this version over the real kind any day!

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Napa: You Can Travel “Just Because”

Napa, travel, photographySadly, I rarely take a vacation with my “IRL” (that’s “in real life” for you non-social media junkies) friends, aside from a steady stream of weddings. Thankfully, I have an enormous web of online travel pals to hit the road with “just because.” In the case of a recent girls weekend in Napa, I had met both girls off-line first before re-connecting with them on the web. Kristin (LEFT) and I worked together more than five years ago but barely knew each other. Then she found me on Twitter, and we met briefly during my first trip to Napa last year. Diana (MIDDLE) and I knew each other the first time I lived in Vegas, when I was a magazine editor and she a publicist. I was living as an expat in Costa Rica when I got a surprise email from her asking advice about taking time off to travel. Neither of us ever thought we’d move back to Vegas (what a transition!) — but here both of us are! Don’t let the champagne fool you — this was one of the most budget-friendly trips I’ve ever taken. Head to Virgin America for cheap flights, and all tastings are easy on the wallet. Girls trips for everyone!

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