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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dirty Hot in Tempe, Arizona

This last weekend, we traveled to Tempe, Arizona, for the USC v. ASU football game. Home of the "dirty hot" girls, Tempe is hot, dusty, and pretty much revolves around drinking and football at the ASU campus (For those of you who are unaware of "dirty hot" it's the girls with bleach blonde hair overlaying a dark brunette under layer. It is an epidemic at ASU).

November 6, 2009

We checked into the Four Point Sheraton on Rural Rd across from the campus. For $100 a night it was pretty nice and the staff was extremely helpful.

I was annoyed that since we booked on Expedia, I wasn't eligible for Starwood points. LAME. It was already really late so we immediately changed and headed out to Mill Ave, the street of debauchery.

Our first stop was Zuma, a sports bar on Mill. As luck would have it, our friends happened to be at the same bar! We ended up partying with them at their table near the door until one of them deliberately poured a beer on a "dirty hot"..... twice. We were promptly kicked out right after our friend had bought a whole round of beers. Not to be outdone, the boys popped the bottles into their back pockets and walked out of the bar.

We then barhopped to Mill Cue Club and The Library, but thanks to getting out too late the bars were singing last call within an hour so we headed back to the hotel. Not before we ate a street dog and took down two slices of pepperoni pizza each. The street dog vendor was awesome!

November 7, 2009

Slightly hungover, we woke up and walked down Rural to University on our way to our friend's hotel to sit out by the pool and begin the next day of drinking. What is it about college football that makes people fratty alcoholics? Thanks to the remains of alcohol eating away at my stomach, we were forced to stop at Chompie's on the way.

Chompie's is a New York deli in Tempe, Arizona (That should have been my first clue). It has a great atmosphere with an outdoor patio where we were seated. I ordered "Le Cafe Francais" which is crepes filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, onions, and tomatoes topped with goat cheese, parmesan and served with fries. I took one bite and pushed the plate away. The goat cheese totally overwhelms the taste of everything else and I LOVE goat cheese. Also, the "crepe" had the texture of a soggy burrito.

The boyfriend ordered the "Bagel Breakfast Skins" which are two bagels cut in half with the insides carved out and filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, onions, fries and topped with melted cheddar cheese and sour cream. This was more acceptable although by the time it came out it was cold. It took forever to get our food and someone seated after us was served before us. That pisses me off especially when I'm hungover and hungry!

After our "meh" meal, we walked across the street to the Quality Inn & Suites to meet up with our friends. We called multiple cell phones but no one answered. We decided to sit by the pool until they called us back. Once they did, we realized that we were at the wrong hotel laying out by the wrong pool. Whoops...

At this point it was getting close to game time so we went back to the hotel, changed and then took the free shuttle to the stadium. The best part about our hotel is the free shuttle. The driver is hilarious and will take you wherever you want for free. He even picked us up at 3am last night from the bars!

Immediately upon arrival at Sun Devil Stadium the boos began. It didn't help that the fastest way to our seats was past the ASU student section. One guy yelled down to my boyfriend, "I'll take care of her for you." YIKES. Finally, we made it to our seats which were AMAZING. Granted the stadium isn't that big so almost all the seats are good but these were great.

The game, on the other hand, was not so great. The final score of 14-9 Trojans was only because the awful ASU quarterback threw the ball right to one of our defense players who ran it back for a touchdown. Our offense literally didn't show up at all and our defense got penalties every other play. We did enjoy talking smack with the two ASU fans behind us who were a fun bunch. They booed every time their awful QB was put in. Poor guy!

Two major highlights of the game were the fireworks and the stadium food. They would set off fireworks any time ASU scored. For stadium food, they had chicken fingers, garlic fries, and a cart that had caramel apples and chocolate-dipped strawberries. They were outrageously expensive but I bought some anyway.

After the game, we went to a house party at an apartment complex near Taco Bell on Rural. It was pretty much 15 USC guys, an apartment full of "dirty hot," and me. The hour we were there featured one of our friends tackling one of the girls to the ground, a round robin of taking pulls from a fifth of Jack, and one of our friends making out with a random girl without permission on our way out the door. At least that was the dare, but he pussed out and just kissed her on the cheek. She was not impressed.

Off to Mill Ave we went already pretty plastered. We went to The Library and then to a club called Whip. We were there only momentarily because no one could stand anymore. We finally gave up and went home.

November 8, 2009

We woke up today feeling AWFUL. I don't think I've felt this bad since Day Three of Amsterdam! I had really really wanted to go hot air ballooning today but the only times available at 6:30am (which we clearly missed) and 3pm which would cut to close to our plane ride home. So, we decided to head into Phoenix via the tram and wander around to see the sights.

The tram is super slow, but cheap. It even provided a little entertainment when a guy got off who hadn't bought a ticket and was promptly tackled to the ground by one of the officials. Apparently, they take tram tramps seriously.

Unfortunately, downtown Phoenix is anything but exciting. We had lunch at Uno Chicago Grill. Maybe it was just that my tastebuds were fried but the pizza and chicken alfredo we ordered was pretty bland. My chicken was crunchy. It's too bad because the interior of the restaurant was really cool.

From there we went to the Arizona Science Center which is four floors of interactive science displays. It was definitely meant for people way younger than us but there were some cool exhibits. One should the vibration of a guitar string depending on how tightly it is wound and another was a 15 minute video about Arizona that featured an earthquake, heat lamps, and a little rain falling from the ceiling. You could also pay extra to ride on the tight-rope bike. In retrospect, I wish we'd done the 3-D shark show in the iMax theater there. Oh well.

Next we walked through Heritage Square near the Science Center which features the Rosson House built in 1895. You can take tours of the house but we weren't that interested.

By this point, we were bored to death and it was getting close to our departure time at the airport so we headed towards the tram. I took pictures of St. Mary's Basilica and Chase Field on the way.

While at the airport, I reflected back on the weekend. I have to say that Tempe and Phoenix, Arizona are two of the most boring places I have ever been. Granted I didn't do any outdoor activities due to lack of time but a nice hike still isn't going to get me to come back. I also was super disappointed in the food. Most of it was average if not awful. That is with the exception of Einstein's Bagels in the Southwest terminal. I had the turkey bagel sandwich which hovered close to excellent so at least I left with a good taste in my mouth.

Overall, I don't think I'm headed back here unless it's to see the Dodgers beat the D-Bags.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Meet Me in St. Louis

This is more of an addendum to my post yesterday about the brewery tour, but I wanted everyone to know more details about St. Louis like the food and the hotel. Hopefully, I will be able to see more of it on my next trip but work comes first right?

November 3, 2009

We stayed at the Westin near Busch Stadium, home of the Cardinals. It's a nice hotel although the lady at the front desk was neither intelligent nor motivated. They were also out of contact solution - boo. They did honor my Starwood points though - sweet.

The room was also quite nice although there wasn't much of a view.

On the otherhand, dinner there on Tuesday night was quite good. The restaurant is called the Clark Street Bar & Grill and the first night we ate in the bar.

We split the chopped iceberg salad which had Mandarin oranges which added a sweetness to contrast the sharp taste of the blue cheese dressing.

We also split a margarita pizza. They have a huge wood oven so the pizza was thin, crispy on the edges and gooey in the middle...mmm.

Lastly, we had the key lime cheesecake for dessert. When it came out I was a little afraid of the stunning green but it still tasted like good ole key lime. Delicious.

We spent the rest of the night preparing for our meeting at Anheuser-Busch the next day.

November 4, 2009

We were up early and off to Anheuser-Busch headquarters for our meeting. Afterwards we stopped at the hotel for lunch before going on our tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery (see my previous blog) Lunch wasn't very good. The "Simple Green Salad" was too simple and the white bean chili was thick and pasty. Not a great lunch considering how good dinner the night before was!

We spent the rest of the afternoon touring the brewery and then went straight to dinner with the client at Mike Shannon's Steak and Seafood restaurant. Mike Shannon is a famous Cardinal baseball player so the restaurant has a major baseball theme with bats carving into the walls and rows upon rows of back-lit baseballs. It has an upscale, yet fun atmosphere which was perfect.

We split the Tuna Two Ways appetizer, which featured an Italian tuna dish and an Asian tuna dish. It was okay.

I also had The Wedge salad which also was okay.

Then I had the Sweet Potato Fries with smoked ketchup which were delicious and the Tenderloin Filet which was very good. It was a little rare for a medium steak I thought but still delicious.

We were much too full for dessert but I did get a shot of the client's Lobster Ravioli which looked incredible (I'm allergic to shellfish so I couldn't tell you how it tasted).

From there we walked back to the hotel ready to work late into the night to prepare for tomorrow's meeting.

November 5, 2009

Another day of meetings and food. For lunch we took the client to Sage Urban American Grill, which is right next to the brewery. One of my favorite things about St. Louis is that Shock Top is on tap everywhere you go - it is by far one of the best A-B beers around but usually hard to find. Except in St. Louis.

Sage is a great little restaurant bar. For appetizers, we shared a plate of Gus' Pretzels with mustard dip. They were piping hot and had just the right amount of salt. No wonder Gus is so famous in St. Louis!

For my entree, I had the Trio of Mini Sandwiches. I choose the Tuscan Chicken, Beef Tenderloin, and Buffalo Crispy Chicken sandwiches. They are really more like sliders. The Beef Tenderloin was delicious, the Crispy Chicken was a little too spicy, and the Tuscan Chicken was totally bland.

Here's a look at what the rest of the group had.

Greek Chicken Wrap
with hummus, tomato, cucumber, red onion, olives, spinach and romaine with balsamic dressing and feta cheese. This wrap was huge!

Baby Spinach Salad with sliced mushrooms, almonds & sun-dried tomatoes tossed with warm bacon dressing and garlic herb croutons. She also got it with grilled salmon on top which she said was nasty because it had clearly been thawed and then grilled.

Mardi Gras Quesadilla with blackened chicken, andouille sausage, Cajun rice, and cheese. This looked amazing.

Overall, I thought it was a good lunch but not a spectacular one. I am still dreaming about the pretzels though. So good.

From the restaurant, we grabbed our suitcases and headed towards the airport. On the way I was able to get a quick glimpse of the famous St. Louis Arch.

Overall, St. Louis is a fun city for a couple days but definitely a little small to live in. I hope to be able to see more of it on my future work trips.