More than 15,000 men and woman were dressed in plaids, pinstripes, and seersuckers. There was an unsurpassed lineup of Ferraris and Porsches. Bottles of Penfolds were poured, and Veuve Clicquot was sipped. Add to that mental picture a field of galloping horses under a blue sky and 75-degree weather and POOF! Welcome to the Scottsdale Polo Championships.
Other than the “who is wearing what” competition, the main event that took place November 1 and 2 was between the All-Star Women versus the Arizona Polo Club Men and the Clogau Wales Polo Team versus the United States Military Polo Team. After some exciting chukkers (period of play) with bumps, backshots, and hooks, the Wales team was presented with the Molina Cup.
Personally, I find polo matches to be both exciting and a bit intimidating. What other sport has such grace and speed AND requires attendees to be fashionable?
According to Melissa Hornung, a member of the women’s polo team, to become an accomplished polo player it takes “general athleticism, eye-to-hand coordination, experience in riding and balance, and most importantly fearlessness.” It’s that fearlessness that drives world-class players such as Jeff Hall and Sunny Hale to exceed in the ranks and participate in the Scottsdale event.
Whether attending polo in Palm Beach, the Hamptons, or Scottsdale, Hornung points out both beach polo and turf polo bring the same type of hype and chic glamour. Plus, polo allows a valid reason to drink wine, Champagne, and cocktails all day long (the Penfolds 2010 RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz served in Scottsdale was my favorite).
Other than the fabric worn at polo matches, another type of Searsucker is Brian Malarkeyʼs funky and spacious Scottsdale restaurant. Chef Malarkeyʼs whimsical personality is evocated through his inventive dishes. The most flavorful and unique dishes that stood out for me included an appetizer of squid with Granny Smith apples, beef tartare with Taro Chips and quail yolk, and a prosciutto, beet, pine nut, burrata, and brown sugar salad. When in San Diego, Austin, or Scottsdale be sure to hit up Searsucker—or any Malarkey eatery—and prepare to be impressed.
A few other must-mention Scottsdale dining experiences I had include:
The House Brasserie offers sheer culinary artistry. The look is vintage quaint. Chef Matt Carter has created a fabulous eclectic brunch menu. Each dish I sampled I would deem award winning, from the warm mascarpone crêpe stuffed with fig, huckleberry, and strawberry and served with hazelnut-honey mint sauce to the scrambled eggs with asparagus and ricotta served on griddle bread.
The roast vegetable tartine won me over. I had to sample the Dungeness crab fried rice with mollet egg and aji amarillo and the organic goat cheese poppy seed cheesecake with a drizzle of minted lavender strawberry and an espresso-cocoa crumble. I cannot count the amount of times I said “Mmmm….” (To go along with the brunch, try the house specialty Pimmʼs Mule or go with a good old-fashioned mimosa.)
The Salty Sow tagline reads, “Fancy Sips and Slow Cookin’,” but it should say “Delicious Eats.” Chef Harold Marmulstein serves modern farmhouse cuisine with new cooking techniques and Old World methods, such as braising, poaching, and stewing. The ambience is warm and welcoming with both an inside and outside dining area that resembles a farmhouse with funky artwork on the walls. My favorite dishes included crispy Brussels sprout leaves, cauliflower, and wild rice casserole (with almonds, Parmesan, and garlic cream); the Asiago-crusted lemon sole so light it melts in your mouth; and the pork ragout slow cooked over polenta. I strongly suggest stopping by this eatery when in Scottsdale. (P.S. The sangria was a big hit at my table.)
Warning: This restaurant is for epicurean adventurers only. A dream come true for those who seek to be daring when dining, Posh serves “Improvisational Cuisine.” Chef Joshua Hebert and his culinary team prepare a tasting menu for each individual person. Each guest is given a list—which might include items such as kangaroo, snails, venison, goat, striped bass, and lobster—and asked to check off any items they might be allergic to or would not be open to trying. After you submit your list, it’s go time. From a five-course to a 12-course dinner (with wine parings), the experience has diners waiting to see what is placed in front of them. Oh the surprises that await!
Located in the Saguaro hotel, this Jose Garces Mexican restaurant serves contemporary interpretations of regional favorites. It had one of the best ceviches I’ve ever had by far, topped with a homemade lime sorbet. Both tacos we sampled—the plantain-crusted mahi mahi with chipotle remoulade and avocado and the marinated hanger steak with salsa verde—were perfectly seasoned. Too bad the guacamole didn’t come in a bottomless bowl.
The approach at this downtown Scottsdale restaurant can be summed up in three words: innovative, healthy creations. At this evening’s tasting, all the dishes I sampled were gluten free. The options were endless; chilled cilantro-lime crab dip with plantain chips, Thai barbecue baby back ribs, and green apple slaw, butternut squash, and corn enchiladas were some dishes that really stood out.
Chef Becky J. Windels has the ability to take what is freshest at the farm stand and, with an open mind, set forth an idea that drives her in the kitchen. Whether sitting outside above the canal or inside in the warm interior, you will be pleased with this choice.
The Saguaro Hotel (which played host to the Polo Weekend and is where I stayed) has a fabulous location in the heart of Old Town. The rooms are layered with vintage cameras and contemporary and natural furnishings in wood and leather, including handcrafted pieces imported from Mexico. There are two very different pool areas: one offers tranquility and one has a bar ready for action. The hotel staff was over-the-top helpful, and the best part: It’s pet friendly.