Thursday, March 20, 2014

Girls Getaway to Phoenix/Mesa - Day 2

Agritourism is a surprisingly good reason to love the Phoenix metro area. We strongly support the movement towards eating local, organic and sustainable food so we’re big fans of Queen Creek Olive Mill, Orange Patch and The Farm at South Mountain. The Farm is a pecan grove and working farm, selling fresh produce to visitors at weekly farmers markets. There are yoga and cooking classes too, plus three restaurants on site serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. We enjoyed a bountiful brunch including a kale and quinoa salad with golden raisins and pepitas and fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice with fennel syrup and mint.

Orange Patch is a cute citrus general store, great for fresh-squeezed pulpy orange juice, fresh fruit, honey and other local food products. Ask if you can peek in back to see the fruit being sorted by size during harvest season. Navel oranges are the best-seller, but we loved the kinnow mandarins, tangelos and rio red grapefruit.

I’d never have guessed that olives would grow so well in the desert, but nearly all of the chef-driven restaurants in the area use local extra virgin olive oil from Queen Creek Olive Mill, including Rico’s American Grill. Sit out on the patio by the garden and soak up the rays. Chef Ken Arneson somehow managed to feed us a four-course lunch including a decadent buttery triple grilled cheese, pork belly and dessert that clocks in at under 1,000 calories. Arneson is an expert on grilling, gardening and composting and he’s happy to chat with guests and share tips.

Head to the Biltmore for a classy afternoon in the historic Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired property. It's 
been a playground for the rich and famous since 1929 and has more gold leaf ceiling than any building in the world, save the Taj Mahal. Enjoy afternoon tea here and some quality girlfriend bonding. We loved the made-to-order finger sandwiches even more than dessert and it's rare we favor savory over sweet. Kevin, the tea sommelier, guided us through an extensive tea selection with knowledge and passion for his craft. After eating, head to the Biltmore Spa and allow your stomach to digest while you enjoy an oxygen infusion facial, where hyraluronic acid and Intraceuticals customized serums are
infused into freshly cleansed skin with what looks like an airbrush makeup spray gun. Finish with microcurrent technology from NuFACE that causes facial muscles to tighten and lift. Both Florence and Silvia deserve shoutouts for incredible service at the spa, something I’ve come to expect from Waldorf-Astoria properties. Plus, right around the corner is the Biltmore Fashion Park including UNION, a collection of fun locally-owned independent retailers and eateries.

Author Amber Gibson is a Food/Travel Writer, Model & Actress from Chicago currently contributing to the Girls Getaway Guide. To find out more about Amber, visit  

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