Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Queen Creek Olive Mill

It was back in 1997 when a Detroit couple decided to take a trip to Arizona and get away from the fidget weather.  While enjoying the warm climate of Phoenix, Perry and Brenda Rea were astonished by the many olive trees they saw growing in the area.  Being from an Italian family, Perry was motivated by his childhood upbringing of cooking with olive oil to start a business of his own in Arizona.  A year later, they moved the family to the valley, and started an olive oil business just as a sideline.  A 100 acre parcel of land in Queen Creek was the place they choose to plant 1,000 olive trees with the notion of supplying their olive oils to the community.  Very quickly, their little hobby became a permanent business.

Nowadays, the Queen Creek Olive Mill has a shop, café, and seminars all under a 5,000 square foot building.  Inside you will find various local wines, homegrown olives, stuffed olives, spreads, oils, sauces, and much more merchandise.  There is also a café where the food is made to order and delicious.  You can sit inside or outside in the cover patio or a table among the trees.  They have tours of the grounds and end with a seminar on their various olive delights.  On certain days and nights, you will find an assortment of entertainment.  I enjoyed my visit to the Olive Mill in Queen Creek, my scrumptious sandwich, and the atmosphere of the place.  I did not go home empty handed.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Kartchner Caverns State Park

The Big Room

Kartchner Caverns State Park is located 55 miles southeast of Tucson and adjacent to the town of Benson.  These caverns are known for having “the world’s longest stalactite formation”.  The caverns were unearthed in 1974 and have an amazing array of minerals and creations found inside the gigantic cave.  It was established as an Arizona State Park in 1988, and the limestone caverns are continuing to evolve to this day.  The park operators shelter the fragile limestone by using subtle lighting.

When you visit the park, you are escorted by a tour guide throughout the astonishing subversive realm.  You will see areas known as the Throne Room and Big Room and learn about the “delicate ecosystem of long-hidden limestone caves”.  Also, you will get a glimpse of the world’s longest identified stalactite called the “Soda Straw”.

There is another part of Kartchner Caverns to see, and that is the 23,000 square foot Discovery Center.  In this space, you will learn various facets of the cave which incorporates geology, the bat inhabitants, and paleontology.  You can get personally involved in some of the exhibits which will enlighten you on how the cave was discovered and how the stalactites were created.  Inside the area is a multi-screen video which familiarizes you with those who founded the caverns and their excursion below the earth’s surface.  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Bisbee Breakfast Club

The original restaurant in Bisbee, opened its doors in 2005.  The establishment is situated inside the historic Rexall Drug building on Erie Street in Lowell.  The environment inside is comfy just like home with amazing breakfast meals, mouthwatering lunches, and homemade pies and desserts.  In 2009, because of the popularity of the restaurant, they expanded their interior area buying the glass shop next door.  Now they have plenty of room for all their customers to enjoy a delicious meal.  The Bisbee Breakfast Club has expanded with two new restaurants in Tucson and Mesa, AZ.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Shops and Art in Southern Wine Country

The towns in this area are small, but we still managed to find places to shop.  Actually, most of the shops are in Sonoita and Patagonia.

Sonoita Merchantile Country Store and Deli, 520-455-5788. This place has a deli, gourmet food items, local wines, and a self-serve Shell gas station.

Sweet Ride Gift Shop, 520-455-4717, 3244 Highway 82, Suite 6, Sonoita, Arizona

The Steak Out Gift Shop is inside the Steak Out Restaurant and Saloon, 520-455-5205, 3243 State Highway 83, Sonoita, Arizona

Many Horses Trading Co., 520-455-5545, American Indian jewelry

Heartland Ranch Alpacas & Country Store, 520-455-5701, Alpaca products, gifts, wearables, and collectibles

Global Arts Gallery, 520-394-0077, 315 McKeown Avenue, Patagonia, Arizona

Tumbleweed & Poppleswamp, 520-384-0055, 299 McKeown Avenue, Patagonia, Arizona
This place is a Living Studio which is "a space where many of the goods you buy are actually created". Their merchandise consist of "handmade and custom made clothing, art, note cards, and other little gifts".

Heart of Gold Antiques, 520-394-0199, 335 McKeown Avenue, Patagonia, Arizona

Monday, February 23, 2015

Places to Dine in Sonoita

Sonoita, AZ is a rather small town, but it does have places to dine which are notable.  Here are some of them:

Vineyard Café

This place was recommended by Bernie and Karen of the Xanadu Ranch.  We had breakfast there on our way out of town, and the food was not only priced fair, but very tasty.  They will offer breakfast and lunch, or a brunch on Sundays.

Overland Trout Restaurant - We didn’t try this place, but we heard that the food was good.  This is what they say on their website:  “Chef Greg LaPrad brings a polished dining experience to the lush high-desert grasslands of Sonoita, poising this region as the Southwest’s prized up-and-coming culinary destination. Named after cowboy slang for bacon, the term “Overland Trout” was first seen in a newspaper published in 1887. Here, we celebrate the culinary heritage of Arizona’s borderlands with our terrain that boasts a rare agricultural bounty of regional indigenous ingredients alongside rich soil that feeds our neighboring vineyards. Overland Trout combines the treasured produce of Sonoita with its quality wine for an authentic and unforgettable dining experience.”

The Steak Out Restaurant and Saloon

 We choice this place to have dinner on our first night.  The ambiance is western with steaks and ribs cooked on a mesquite grill.  For over 50 years, this place has offered their customers a fun time and great food for affordable prices.  We had to pay a cover price of $5.00 because we didn’t have a reservation.  They sat us in the back room, on the other side of where the band was located.  Yes, they entertain you while you eat with a live band.  I had the beef ribs and they were so delicious.  On our way out, there is a small gift shop with local/handmade items.  We just couldn’t resist stopping in and checking out the merchandise.

The Café

We choice to have dinner at this place on our second night in Sonoita.  It was recommended by a bartender at one of the wineries.  The owner, Adam Puckle, was born at nearby Fort Huachuca and attended schools in Elgin and Patagonia.  With a culinary degree, he opened The Café in 2010 and wanted a place which was not only affordable, but offered mouthwatering food as well.  We found this place warm and inviting.  We had a wonderful dining experience there, and the fish was scrumptious.

Sonoita Chuckwagon Grill & Ice Cream Parlor

 Before hitting the wineries on our first full day in Sonoita, we choose this place to have breakfast.  Not only do they offer breakfast meals, but burger and sandwiches as well.  The food wasn’t bad, the service was a bit slow, but the scenery surround the place, was gorgeous!

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