Juniper-crusted bison carpaccio, smoked dark chocolate fudge + coconut green mole.

Juniper-crusted bison carpaccio, smoked dark chocolate fudge + coconut green mole.

Last night we had one of the best meals we have eaten in the USA, right here in Phoenix. A few weeks ago when we visited the Desert Botanical Gardens, mum pointed out the restaurant in the gardens and mentioned it had been recently redone by a well-acclaimed chef. I checked it out when I got home, and Executive Chef Stephen Eldridge is alumni of other well-known Phoenix dining hotspots such as Quiessence (Arizona’s answer to New Yorks farm-to-table dining experience Blue Hill at Stone Barns).

So when my grandparents told me they would take me anywhere I wanted to go for dinner for my Christmas present, I finally settled on Gertrude’s, and boy am I glad I did.

We turned up to the Botanic Gardens after dark, and walked through the open entrance gates towards the restaurant. It was weird walking through the Botanic Gardens after closing time.
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My new ‘local’, banana bread beer, coconut cocktails + a new hip taco joint.

My new ‘local’, banana bread beer, coconut cocktails + a new hip taco joint.

So my stuff arrived in Arizona from Australia. We picked it up yesterday, running around the airport area getting Customs stamps and paying import fees, and then finally being allowed to load my 400 pounds of cookbooks and a few assorted clothing items into the car.

After unpacking a few boxes and realising how sleep deprived I must have been when I packed the boxes, I gave up and left everything all over my room and went out. It was friday after all! My friends were amused by the stuff I had deemed necessary to bring to America. I was a little confused myself when I found wheat sandwich wraps, seaweed, dried ginger and scrap pieces of paper in one box. My friend Mike sent this picture around, just so everyone knows how crazy I was… thanks.
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Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, feeding squirrels + sad teddy bears.

Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, feeding squirrels + sad teddy bears.

Berkeley is known as the home of ‘California Cuisine’, largely due to the pioneering of the Slow Food Movement in the USA by Alice Waters, who has run Chez Panisse in downtown’s ‘Gourmet Ghetto’ since 1971. Read about and watch my experience at Chez Panisse here.

Berkeley is full of community spirit and art – the University of California is the centre of the city, so it runs like a typical Uni town – full of people, creativity and life.
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