It’s citrus season here in Phoenix! Farmers’ markets and roadside stands are overflowing with oranges, grapefruit, and lemons (so is my Instagram feed).
When we were in Tucson just before Christmas, there were baskets of beautifully bright oranges, tangerines, and kumquats at the Thursday Farmers’ Market at Mercado San Augustin.
California Citrus Historic State Park in Riverside, which we’ve enjoyed visiting when we’re in Southern California, currently has extended hours for the season and special events like a harvest tasting on February 26.
The Pasadena Farmers’ Market lists lemons, navel oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and tangelos as being in season right now. (When I was there this summer, it was piles of peaches and pecks of peppers.)
On the theme of citrus…
What’s in season where you are?
There’s a community garden in Downtown Mesa that I’d heard about but hadn’t been to until my sister-in-law Liz was in town.
Isn’t it funny how you tend to see more of your city when someone is visiting?
Anyway, after lunch at Republica Empanada (at Hibbert and 1st Ave.), she asked about the gate next to the restaurant that leads into the Mesa Urban Garden, and we went to check it out.
I wasn’t expecting to see much, because August in Phoenix is rough on plants and only the most hardy survive. But there were still a fair number of things growing – veggies and vinca and this gorgeous trumpet vine with orange flowers and long green pods.
The garden is surrounded by walls with colorful murals, and there’s a Little Free Library made from an old phone booth.
I’ll definitely have to return later this fall!
I love a good grilled cheese sandwich.
The first time I went to Graz Kitchen Fresh for a breakfast meetup and saw they had a whole menu of them, I was like “oh, I’m coming back!”
And I’ve definitely been back. So I felt like a post devoted to the goodness of Graz was long overdue.
Open for breakfast and lunch, Graz is a juice bar and sandwich shop focused on fresh ingredients.
It’s located just south of Downtown Chandler and Gangplank, where I sometimes work. I can easily pick up lunch on the way in or pastries for our Monthly Momentum meetup.
I’m kinda hooked on their green goddess sandwich. It is goat cheese, mozzarella, pesto, arugula, and avocado on this whole grain bread toasted on a sandwich press. I mean, seriously.
They serve Peixoto coffee and occasionally do a breakfast sandwich pop-up there. They also provided the food and coffee for Craft Camp. If you order ahead, they make crazy good cinnamon rolls.
I finally made it in to The Living Room, a cozy wine bar in Chandler, one summer day when my friend Katie was in town. A monsoon storm had just blown through, cooling the temperature down from unbearable to pleasant, and they opened up the patio for us.
The bruschetta was awesome. One kind had ripe cherry tomatoes. The other had prosciutto that reminded me of Spain.
My sangria was ok. Turns out I’m very picky about sangria. After that, I ordered the same red as Katie, and that was really good. That’s probably what I should’ve done in the first place. Katie has great taste and is kind of a Living Room expert from her Chandler days.
The servers came around just often enough, not so much they kept us from catching up, but enough to get our orders and bring us more bread, so we could finish off our delicous artichoke dip.
Every few years, my mom decides it’s time for a Thanksgiving picnic.
We’re kind of spoiled here in the Phoenix area by almost always having gorgeous weather on Thanksgiving Day. I guess we kind of pay for it with the crazy hot summers.
Anyway, ever since I was a kid, some years we have traditional Thanksgiving with a whole turkey and a dining room table, and other years we have turkey sandwiches at a desert picnic table.
This year, it was just my parents, Phillip, and I. We kept things super simple and picnicked at Usery Mountain Regional Park.
We still had the boisterous, house-full-of-people experience with Phillip’s side of the family the following Saturday.
But Thanksgiving Day was all blue skies and saguaros.
After picnicking, we took a short hike, chatting some and listening to the gravelly trail crunch under our feet, a cactus wren calling to us, and far off coyotes howling. The sun dipped low to backlight the landscape, putting glowing edges around fuzzy chollas and creosote bushes with their tiny, fragrant leaves, and making the evening seem magical.