Saturday, November 20, 2010

Eating on a Corner in Winslow, Arizona

Because we were sick, Barry and I drove back from Omaha as quickly as possible.  We had originally intended to spend a day sight-seeing in Oklahoma City, but we just stayed the night and continued on.  We also drove all the way from Albuquerque to Phoenix in one day.  Around noon, though, we did break for lunch at one of our all-time favorite restaurants - The Turquoise Room at La Posada in Winslow, Arizona.

Located between Route 66 and the railroad tracks, La Posada was once a major gateway to the Southwest.  The masterwork of architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, La Posada was possibly the most beautiful of the Fred Harvey hotels.  Sadly, it closed in the 1950's and was first converted to office space and later left to quietly deteriorate.

All that changed when Allan Affeldt and his wife Tina Mion bought La Posada in 1997 and started its renovation.  The arched doorways, handmade tilework, and surrounding gardens have returned to their former glory.  Handcrafted lighting fixtures, locally woven textiles, and original works of art lend warmth and color to the interior.  And the restaurant is now owned and operated by John and Patricia Sharpe,committed to fresh, local ingredients and innovative takes on Southwestern cuisine.

Barry and I both started lunch with the signature soup and honey-soaked cornbread.  Half the bowl is filled with a sweet, textured cream of corn soup; the other half is filled with smooth, zesty black bean; and spicy chile cream is drizzled on top.  Both soups are delicious on their own, but the contrast between the two and the added hit from the chile cream is absolutely fabulous.

For his entree, Barry had the churro lamb posole (the lamb is locally-raised, free-range lamb from a rare breed of sheep) and I had the elk and bison piccadillo with sugar pumpkin, butternut squash, and green beans, which had an almost Indian (as in India) flavor.

The service at The Turquoise Room is always friendly, the flowers are fresh, and the music New Age.  It's a little gourmet oasis in the fast-food wasteland of northern Arizona.  We don't get to eat there often, but we always enjoy ourselves when we do.  This time, the food was special enough to make us temporarily forget our fatigue and even our colds.

"Good food depends almost entirely on good ingredients." ~Alice Waters

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