Javelina Leap Winery & Cafe

One of the things I miss the most about Northern Virginia is the plethora of accessible wineries. They are plentiful and set up in a such a way that everyone can head out to a winery or two and make a day of it.

Hubby and I loved to while away a Sunday sitting on the porch of  a favorite winery and listen to the live music while looking out over acres of vines and horse farms.  Not a bad life.

While there aren’t as many wineries around Tucson as there are in Northern Virginia, we’ve managed to find some favorites. Our idea of a good winery day is a place where you can kick back and relax, drink great wine and nibble on snacks with good friends. Of course a view is pretty nice too.

Javelina Leap is one of our favorites – our only complaint is that it’s all the way up in Cornville so we don’t get there as often as we like.

I’m a fan of dry red wine and Javelina Leap has plenty of them to make me happy. In fact, after my tasting I had a hard time deciding what wine I wanted to bring home! On our recent visit some of my favorites were Sangiovese,  Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Tempranillo.

The white wine drinkers in our group were pleased with the Sauvignon Blanc.

The tasting room is spacious enough for a few large parties to stand around the bar and the back event room has seating for groups up to 50. (I’m guestimating, you’ll have to call them to find out the exact specs). The property is well-decorated and comfy – just the kind of place we like to hang out with friends and family. Now, if only they’d have live music we’d be set.

To learn more about Javelina Leap, their wines and banquet space,  check out their website here.

Tombstone!

As a girl growing up in New Jersey I was intrigued by stories of the “wild west.” I wondered what it would be like to walk through the desert and step into old mining towns. I read books and watched TV shows and movies that featured the mysterious landscape of saguaros and rattlesnakes.

Those young imaginings certainly played a part in getting me to Tucson many years later. I’m still intrigued and captivated by all the desert has to offer.

It’s no wonder then that I couldn’t wait to make a day trip to Tombstone and learn about the history of the OK Corral and the storied gunfight that took place there.

I’d been warned that Tombstone was “touristy” and sort of old-fashioned. However the people warning me had no idea it sounded like my perfect jaunt. I’m all for modern technology and new ways of learning, but there is always a part of me that yearns for the simplicity of my childhood. Soul-searching requires a bit of the new mixed in with nostalgia and memories, right?

My honey and I took off for Tombstone from Tucson on a recent Saturday and I was practically bouncing in my seat the whole way there. It was a pretty drive, through some wide open spaces and I spent some time imagining what it was like before modern roads and cars. What would it have been like to travel by horse or foot that distance? What would encourage a person to venture their way out to the dry and dusty town of Tombstone?

Upon arrival we picked up a tourist map and plotted our day. I couldn’t wait to participate in the theatrical re-enactment of the famous gunfight.  We bought our tickets to the show and got to see the amazing Historama in the theater in the middle of town.

Let me tell you – do NOT miss this! If you’re into nostalgia, like to learn about history and have a great sense of humor, you will love this brief tour of the history of Tombstone, narrated by none other than Vincent Price. I’m not gonna lie, this was possibly my favorite part of the day. (and not just because the theater was air conditioned and it was a brutally hot and somewhat humid day)

The audience was full of energy and willing to participate in the outdoor show re-enacting the 30 second shootout between the Lawmen and the Cowboys – made famous in movies starring the likes of Val Kilmer and Sam Elliott.

ok corral gunfight With our tickets we also were able to visit the photo shop of C.S. Fly and read about the history of the town, with photographs of the people in and around town, and visit the stables and other buildings with facts and information about the time period.

Not only that – but we got a free copy of the Tombstone Epitaph Newspaper with the reports from the gunfight. (super cool, especially for this journalism junkie!)

Overall this was a great day trip and one I’d highly recommend to out-of-towners and locals alike. In fact, I can’t wait to head back there soon!

Want to plan your trip to Tombstone? Check out the OK Corral Website here.

Hotel Congress – Midweek Lunch

We took a jaunt downtown to get a feel for the area and to finally visit the historic Hotel Congress.

I’m a sucker for old hotels, may be a throw back to my years in hospitality sales and marketing – I’d love to go see the old properties that had been abandoned and were in the midst of major renovations. Such a cool sense of “if these walls could talk” you know?

There always seems to be some energy hanging around in old buildings and Hotel Congress is no different. Do I think it’s haunted? No idea. But like I said, old buildings, with old furnishings pique my imagination and being so close to Halloween, I wasn’t against imagining the building in an earlier time, filled with visitors passing through Tucson via the train that stops across the street.

Alas, there were no ghosts to be found in the Cup Cafe during lunch. Which is fine since I had no desire to share my Rachel sandwich!

The Space

hotel-congress-light-fixture

Before I tell you about my meal let me share a bit about the ambience in the Cafe. Despite the modern touches – metal shelves behind the bar with a nice rusty patina, and the super cool wine bottle chandeliers, you can still feel the bones of the Hotel Congress Cafe as it stood in the 1940s. The space is actually two separate rooms, with a step down in between. When you walk in you get to ogle the pie and dessert case that is filled with temptation. The dining is space is tight, definitely not where I’d go for a romantic tete a tete, but perfect to get a feel for the variety of patrons that frequent this landmark.

Oh, and don’t forget to look down that delightful copper penny floor that made it’s debut around 2005.

The Food

the-rachel-hotel-congress

I’m a quest for the best pastrami every where I go and I was not disappointed at Hotel Congress.

The Rachel is described on the menu as “house-cured pastrami, Gruyere cheese, pepper slaw and Russian dressing on marble rye.” What they don’t tell you is that that whatever they’re doing to cure their pastrami is like a bit of magic that comes from a smoker. This was one of the best tasting pastrami sandwiches I’ve ever had – and I grew up in Jersey, spending plenty of time in New York City’s delis

The fries were crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and seasoned perfectly.

The only thing I’d do differently is order a Bloody Mary the next time I’m there. I watched the bartender make a few and I was sorry that I stuck to water. But there’s always next time!

The Hotel Congress is located at 311 E Congress Street, Tucson 85701

The Cup Cafe opens at 7am and prices range from $5.00 – $14.00 for breakfast and lunch.

What’s your favorite thing about Hotel Congress? I’d love to hear.

Why It’s Always Sunny in Tucson?

Or Why I started WIASIT.

I have wanted to live in Tucson since the late 90s when I made my first trip from DC to Tucson for a convention.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. A Jersey-born girl in the desert? An East coast lover through and through, I was smitten as my cab pulled into the Foothills and I haven’t looked back since.

It’s been a journey to get here, but this past August my hubby, two pups and I pulled into our garage and started life over in Tucson.

Before arriving for good, we’ve visited many times and each time I’ve found something new to love – from food, to history, to the pure beauty of the landscape. Never mind the hiking, the wildlife and the expansiveness of a city like Tucson.

This blog is my love letter to my new city.

In it you’ll find Events & News, Food & Drink reviews and opinions, Lifestyle and Community announcements, Information for Pets and their owners and of course conversations with people who make Tucson their home.

Although I’m calling it a love letter, don’t expect this to be a place where I pander to the status quo. I know full well how hard it can be to break into the established mindset of Tusconans. That’s not a bad thing, but I will cast an eye on how “old” and “new” Tucson can play well together.

Above all, I want this to be a place where locals and visitors can have a good time, get to know each other and learn something new about this jewel of the southwest.