SEDONA: A Summer Staycation at Amara Resort
Kimpton Amara Resort and Spa is one of my favorite getaways any time of the year. In the fall, this native New Englander loves the autumn hues, in the winter, nothing's cozier than sitting in front of a fire pit under the stars and toasting marshmallows, and in the spring the colors are vibrant and the hills awash with spring blooms.
Summer in Sedona is just as welcoming, and the perfect opportunity to escape the soaring temps in Phoenix. On this August trip, I was also looking forward to checking out the newest cocktails and Executive Chef Logan Stephenson's latest menu at Saltrock Kitchen, Amara's on-site restaurant. We checked into our pretty creekside room on a Friday afternoon (visit a prior feature for more property details).
And snacked on a welcome of chips and salsa and make-your-own-margaritas on the balcony, where we lingered and enjoyed the view.
Saltrock Kitchen at Amara Resort is my favorite destination for expertly-crafted cocktails using creative, handmade ingredients. You can learn more about their talented mixologist, Ardi Dulaku, through my previous interview by clicking the photo below.
The cocktails at Saltrock change four times a year and I always look forward to the latest additions to the menu. Not surprisingly, once again, the three seasonal cocktails I tried were impressive, but Desert Storm might have been my favorite. Meant to capture the clean, sweet scent after a desert rain, this was recreated by combining Kettle One Vodka with the bright botanicals of Chareau aloe vera liqueur, lime juice, and a fantastic fresh, herbaceous component via housemade celery syrup.
Midnight Canyon is inspired by "late-night Sedona hikes and the bright, moonlit canyon," and I loved the combination of small-batch Edinburgh gin, red Zinfandel wine, lemon, and bitters with a touch of sweet plum puree for a dark fruit refresher that showcased the team's skill. Southern Hospitality, "a salute to SaltRock's Executive Chef Logan Stephenson who hails from the South," also takes advantage of seasonal fruit and wasa complex libation melding Elijah Craig bourbon, lemon, soda, a housemade grilled peach and Mexican tarragon syrup, and two bitters - Angostura and Peychaud's - all lending depth to a drink that sang of summer.
Having learned about Chef Stephenson' Southern roots, I had to order his grits, and this dish didn't disappoint. A flavorful swathe of grits were given a Southwestern influence with the smoky chile kick of chipotle and decadently gilded with rich crispy pork belly and a lacy-edged fried egg.
Labeled as crab cake on the menu, while my favorite dish of the night was not what I would exactly call a crab cake, I certainly would call it delicious! Picture a toasty handmade cornmeal sope topped with sweet chunks of crabmeat draped in a spicy, buttery chipotle sauce, crowned with a thatch of fresh arugula and aromatic lemon zest, and accompanied by a creamy poblano aioli. Yes, please.
And my husband's prime ribeye steak with pasilla chimichurri, grilled brocolini and roasted garlic was so perfectly seasoned and juicy that I kept stealing a piece. Tip: Ask for an extra side of this zesty housemade chimichurri spiked with smoky-fruity pasilla peppers to slather on every bite.
I can't wait to see what the fall season will bring to the menus, but there's still time to take advantage of Amara's “Escape the Heat” discounted-stay package available Sunday to Thursday through Sept. 13, 2018 with rates starting from $259 per night (40 percent off high-season) and a daily $20 resort credit. For more information or to book your stay, go to http://www.amararesort.com/ or call 877-488-1908.
I received a media invitation and was hosted by Amara Resort.