Monday, August 5, 2013

La Posada - Winslow, Arizona

La Posada in Winslow, Arizona is a treasure that fortunately has weathered earnest attempts to tear it down. Designed by Mary Colter, named the chief architect for the Fred Harvey company in 1910, in the Spanish hacienda style, its construction costs were more than $1 million in 1929. She had full design authority over the architecture, furnishings, gardens, and construction.

The original hotel was the jewel of Route 66 and the Santa Fe rail line, when Winslow was a larger town than Prescott or Flagstaff. But when Route 66 was bypassed and trains no longer made regular stops in Winslow, La Posada closed and was nearly torn down in the late 1950s. In the 1960s it was gutted and made into offices; in the late 1990s the current owners bought it and have been restoring it ever since. 

I've been to The Turquoise Room, the hotel's dining room, three times since I've been at Petrified Forest. The first time I went for lunch, after hearing people at the park talking about it. When I got back and told them I'd gone, the first thing I was asked was if I had the soup, and the second thing I was asked was if I had bread pudding for dessert. Yes and yes. The soup is actually two soups, a bean and a corn, poured into the bowl at the same time so they meet in the middle. It comes with some of the best corn bread I've ever had, and really, what bad thing can you say about bread pudding? 

The day I went for lunch I also went to have my picture taken standin' on the corner in Winslow, Arizona. If you look in the glass behind me you can see the girl in the flatbed Ford. The place was packed with bikers that day, and is probably the same every day. If you want a Route 66 t-shirt, the store on the opposite corner is the place to get one. Or a POW-MIA shirt, although I haven't yet figured out what that has to do with Winslow.

Then I was off to La Posada. 

The entrance courtyard.

A gate patterned with corn plants, a popular southwest theme.

A camel, you say? What does a camel have to do with Arizona? Some day I'll tell you about Uncle Sam's camels, which came right through this part of the country. I'd never heard of them either.

The doorway into the gift shop.

One of just a few remaining floral murals by artist Earl Altaire. His work was once in all public spaces and in every guest room, but only three survived the conversion to offices in the 1960s.

The Spanish southwest caters to my love of religious art.

But then I also love this art.

A peek into the truly awesome gift shop from a half-opened window.

Ceiling detail in a stairway.

Want one, just like this.

The other two times I've gone to The Turquoise Room have been for dinner. The first time the food was so gorgeous and I was sorry I didn't take pictures, so the second time I restrained myself until I got a few shots.

Squash blossoms stuffed with sweet corn tamale and Oaxaca cheese, beer batter-dipped and deep fried. Served with a green chili salsa and a grilled squash and roasted corn salsa. It is every bit as good as you think. I had this both times I went for dinner.

Oregon sea bass with a crabmeat, mango, and avocado salsa with lemon basil and tomatoes in a citrus vinaigrette, on a bed of polenta, with broccolini. Yes, fantastic.

And then there's dessert. Have to have dessert.

Arizona cheesecake pie with pine-nuts and roasted corn in a blue corn crust. Drizzled with mesquite syrup and prickly pear syrup and a little cream. Not a great picture but an amazing, different, dessert. 

And a prickly pear margarita to sip throughout the wonderful meal.

No, thank YOU, La Posada.

Thought of the day:

Food is an important part of a balanced diet. (Fran Lebowitz)