There is something so calming about being on one of the many trails in the Arizona desert. If you stop walking and listen at any moment on your hike, you will hear a glorious sound (and see a glorious sight).
Maybe it’s because I live in the city, where I am surrounded by one noise or another 24/7, but silence seems to be in limited quantities these days. My brain is constantly working, which is certainly not a bad thing, but while at home over the holiday weekend, it was nice to have time to simply be. Even nicer that this time to simply be was spent with the people I love the most.
Our first major hike was on Thanksgiving, but we proceeded to venture out almost every day after, even sneaking in our longest distance on the day Bobby and I were scheduled to fly back to Chicago. The scenery was beautiful.
Bobby, my brother and I went ahead of Mama and Papa Bender, snapping pictures at the highest point.
I still can’t get over how tall – not to mention fit – my brother has gotten. He even towers over Bobby!
It was a wonderful weekend for family, that’s for sure. We shared and ate plenty of delicious food, too. One of the highlight meals was on our way to the airport, when Mama Bender brought Bobby and me to Calistro California Bistro.
In the restaurant’s own words, “Calistro California Bistro brings that ‘Farm to Table’ mentality from California to Scottsdale, Arizona. We buy from the best local farms, prepare everything in-house from scratch, and serve you in a comfortable neighborhood setting.” I had been there for dinner previously, but their lunch menu looked equally tasty.
We started with a plate of hummus to share. It was a traditional chickpea hummus with roasted garlic, lemon and sumac, served with grilled pita. It was also incredibly smooth and rich in flavor – my favorite kind of hummus!
Mama Bender and I tried a Strawberry Lemon Shake Up to drink. Made with fresh strawberries and lemons, then muddled with sugar, it hit the sweet spot and was refreshing on a warm Arizona day.
For lunch, I went with the chicken pesto panini, made with walnut pesto, fresh mozzarella and oven dried tomatoes, and served on pressed herb focaccia. I chose sweet potato croquettes as my side.
The croquettes were so interesting! A few were a little too fried for my taste, but the bigger pieces that were filled with more sweet potato than fried batter were really good. They were seasoned with salt for my favorite salty/sweet combination. The sandwich was perfect all around – everything that pesto should be and I quickly devoured the whole thing!
The meal was over and we were at the airport too soon, but it was a great final Arizona treat!
I’m back in Chicago with plenty on my plate – pun intended, of course – for the next few weeks before Christmas fever sets in. Last night, Jill and I presented DreamChamps at an event called Technori Pitch. It was nerve wracking but also a lot of fun.
We’ve got a video shoot for another awesome company to work for today, and a few other to-dos to take care of before this weekend. Wish us luck!
Last but not least, check out this post from ZestyCook to enter to win a KitchenAid Stand Mixer!
Do you try to find moments of silence throughout your day? If so, how?