Day 3 – A Fall Desert Adventure

October 27, 2013 – A Day of Moments

TPC-Scottsdale-Champions
TPC Scottsdale Champions

It’s taken a couple days but we finally feel we’re settled into Desert life.  The lack of humidity does not feel as severe.  The heat is comfortable and welcomed, and the sight we once perceived as stark desert landscape is starting to reveal it’s true beauty.  At once overwhelming we can now see its subtleties, the variety of the life this place actually supports.  Throw in an awe-inspiring mountain landscape surrounding us and you have a lot to consider.

Our Sunday in the Valley of The Sun was one of moments – concentrated slices of time that carved deep and what we expect will be lasting impressions.

We were saddened to leave the confines of the Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North and it’s tremendous foothill setting, but at the same time, eager to see more of that this wondrous place had to offer.

Golf course number three on our agenda was the TPC Scottsdale, the facility owned by the PGA TOUR.  Recent overseeding and the resulting round restrictions meant we would not be playing on the Waste Management Phoenix Open host layout, The Stadium Course.  Instead the Champions course was our target, a routing that will host the Champions Tour Qualifying School in just a few short weeks.

The former “Desert Course” is a little lacking in desert (but you can see office buildings, a highway, and airplanes landing at the adjoining airport every few minutes) but it turned out to be the perfect palette for some memorable moments between long-time friends.  It’s hard to ask much more of a golf course.

Our third for the journey, long-time friend Rich McLean, joined us prior to the round.  Rich and his wife have a vacation home near Tucson and we timed our trip to coincide with his. A trip with two buddies is fun but throw in a third and the recipe really ramps up. He’ll be along for the rest of the ride.

Amidst the child-like giddiness of three guys in their 40’s reuniting we did manage some stand-out golf moments.  Jeff managed to hole out a couple shots, including a 35 yard birdie on the last hole after a trip to the desert. Rich rolled in an eagle two on a drivable par 4 of 314 yards, and I was able to get a fivesome of birdies to fall.  All ingredients for some laughs, cheers, and smiles.

As great as the round had been it would pale in comparison to what we would share later in the evening.

Forging south, the JW Marriott Camelback Inn Scottsdale waited.  Since 1938 this retreat has been hosting guests in the shadow of distinctive Camelback Mountain.  It is one of the most significant Marriott properties, with a rich history of celebrity guests.  I’ll talk more about it in the coming days as we’re set to stay here for three days and I’ll get a better chance to explore its features in the daylight.

What I can tell you is that their main on-site restaurant, BLT, could only be described as “ridiculous”.  And I mean that in the greatest sense of praise possible.

Bistro Laurent Tourendel (BLT) is named for its Chef, with it being his take on an American Steakhouse. Blending in French Bistro elements, the result is heavenly.  By the time our little trio completed a tour of the menu we struggled to recall a better meal.

The flurry of courses, starting with rich, gooey popovers (recipe below), ascended in heavenly fashion. It would be near impossible to describe; words would not relate each delightful flavour.  Every main, side, and desert was creative, prepared perfectly, and followed by our praise.

To end the day we retreated to the large outdoor space that is central to the resort.  As fire pits flickered, live music played, and the sun retreated from the face of Camelback mountain, we had been left with a day to cherish for years to come.

BLT Popovers 

(Makes 12 popovers)

Ingredients

4 cups milk, warmed

8 eggs

4 cups flour

1 1/2 heaping tbsp salt

2 1/4 cups grated gruyere cheese

Popover pan

Preparation

Place the popover pan in the oven.  Heat the oven and pan to 350F. Gently warm the milk over low heat and set aside. Whisk the eggs until frothy and slowly whisk in the milk (as not to cook the eggs). Set the mixture aside. Sift the flour with the salt. Slowly add this dry mixture and gently combine until mostly smooth.

Once combined, remove the popover pan from the oven and spray with non-stick vegetable spray. While the batter is still slightly warm or room temperature (definitely not cool), fill each popover cup 3/4 full. Top each popover with approximately 2 1/2 tbsp of the grated gruyere.

Bake at 350F for 50 minutes, rotating pan half a turn after 15 minutes of baking.

Remove from the oven, remove from the pan and serve immediately.