[NOTE: This is the second entry I've posted today. Yes, two entries in one day; what craziness hath I wrought upon the Internet? Just make sure that you read the other one first, mmk? Mmk.]
In lieu of more fooding and subsequent sensations of stomach gurgling, Alex suggested that we visit the Phoenix Art Museum. "If they have this one special exhibit, it'll be worth the price of admission." Not only did they have it, but they bought it, people loved it so much.
As did we. The exhibit, You Who are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies (which totally sounds like the title of a yet to be made Múm song) by Yayoi Kusama, transported us mortal creatures into a freaky world of LIIGHT and DARKNESS and LEDS and MIRRORS and GIGGLINGS. I took loads of weird photos, putting my zoomy lens and long exposure times to good use. We would've stayed in the room longer had the museum employee not thought our happy fun dangling LED time was up. (For safety's sake you can't really shove a lot of people in there at once.)
We roamed around the rest of the museum, which was all sleek and modern and art museum-like. Definitely worth checking out, although mainly so you can be obliterated by fireflies.
We walked over to the somewhat close by (or not far enough to bother driving to) Phoenix Public Library. Like the museum it was huge, spacious, pretty and modern. Besides the regular library offerings like...books there was also a teen section full of kids EXPANDIN' THEIR MINDZ with books and whatnot (I think) and a rare books collection in which sat an old printing press. They have some kind of printing press society that you can join, although it seemed rather secretive as though they don't really want us mere peons to join, but...well, you can't really miss the hulking mass of metal machinery sitting by the glass wall of the room.
We retreated back to Alex's house to bask in a world of air conditioning and pulpy orange juice. Ohhh, the glories of pulp. Lee Anne and I browsed through the pile of family photos on the kitchen counter (cue a million aws) while indulging in cool refreshing refreshments and kneading our bellies. I noticed a tabloid on another kitchen counter whose front-page news was that celebrities have cellulite. LOTS AND LOTS OF JIGGLY, RIPPLING CELLULITE! And they had plenty of photographic evidence to back this up with. So much...evidence...burning into my virgin eyes....the cottage cheese texture...enveloping me in their pillowy folds...nightmares upon nightmares...
Sorry, went off on a tangent there.
We went back to La Grande Orange, which was thankfully much less crowded than it was that morning. While waiting for a table at the LGO Pizzeria we oogled at the pretty Tammy Coe cakes (which I haven't tried yet, but hopefully will before I leave) and various candies, chocolates, gourmet pastas, greeting cards and blah blah blah. The wide variety of goods (from Mallo Cups to funky plush toys) in the not so big "grocery" store reminded me of the careful selection of products I'd see in some stores in Paris. Like when I saw Fluff at La Grande Epicerie. Who's idea was that? Who buys that? Homesick Americans? Curious Frenchmen? SOMEONE LOVED THE FLUFF.
It wasn't long before we had PIZZA LIFT-OFF. Alex's sister Carly joined us for our pizza festing, meaning that we had four bodies to share pizzas between. Bwahaha. Three pies—two without meat to fulfill Alex's vegetarian needs—was the right amount to fill our bellies with.
The roasted corn pizza topped with goat cheese, roasted tomatoes and some of the most fragrant basil I've ever sniffed was pretty awesome. It wasn't the most awesome pizza on our table, but it was THE SECOND MOST AWESOME PIZZA ON OUR TABLE. Although it was named after the corn, I thought it was all the other toppings that most stood out, the soft tangy goat cheese and fresh basil in particular.
Beneath all the tasty toppings was an equally tasty crust. Not too thin, not too thick, chewy, crispy, slightly charred, basically bread that I'd happily eat plain. It immediately reminded me of the pizza bianca from Sullivan Street Bakery, which is one of my favorite breads...ever. Lee Anne had the good idea to ask for olive oil on the side, which was abnormally fruity (like very, very fruity) and propelled the crust into a higher level of deliciousness.
The star pizza of the night was "The Padre" topped with Prosciutto di San Danielle, fig, arugula and ricotta cheese (googling has turned up either mozzarella or blue cheese as the topping for this pizza, but I could semi-swear that ours had ricotta). The pizza could easily be made vegetarian friendly without the prosciutto (although you should eat it if you like the meats) and still be awesome due to the sweetness of the figs and the differently sweetness of the ricotta and the tinge of bitterness from the arugula and OH GOD, MOUTHSPLOSION OF TASTINESS, yes. Our least favorite part about the pizza was having to say, "We would like The Padre," which sounded funny to us. But at least they didn't name their pizzas, "The Crazy Squirrel," or something like that.
I didn't get a good photo of the final pizza but it's not much of a loss since it ended up being the only one that we didn't finish and the one that least lived up to its name of "Mushroom Party." It sounded like a pretty awesome party with its trio of sautéed minced crimini, button and oyster mushrooms accompanied by chunks of sweet onion and tomato, but it was strangely tasteless compared to the other two pizzas. It needed garlic or...something. The pizza equivalent of spiked punch. I think you can actually add garlic for no charge, so keep that in mind if you ever go there. Either mushrooms don't know how to party or we just happened to come across a very tame fungal get-together.
After we finished dinner we moved onto the best pizza chaser...
GELATO! HEE HEE HEE! Arlecchino Gelateria is conveniently attached to the pizzeria so that you can easily mosey into a room full of gelato tubs, aka "heaven."
Their menu shows that the pistachio is a little bit more expensive than the other flavors. Hm. Hmmmm. Is it MAGIC PISTACHIO? Yes, yes it was. But first, what were the other flavors?
The other flavor I was most interested in was the white mint, but unfortunately it wasn't made with real mint leaves. Admittedly, few places make real mint gelato or ice cream (I can only think of Il Laboratorio del Gelato and Ciao Bella, and I don't recall eating any real mind gelato in Italy), so I wasn't surprised. Still, I had that little nugget of hope, a nugget that I hung onto by a disintegrating sinew...
The pistachio gelato filled my mouth with happy, buttery pistachio joy. Like being swathed in the golden light of the dawning sun, except it was my mouth being bathed in rivulets of gelato melted by the warmth of my mouth. It was just like that. Buttery. Smooth as a baby's butt. Pistachio souls. In my mouth. Down my throat. Into mah belleh. It was some damn good pistachio gelato. The sensation of its awesomeness is lost after a few bites (which is what happens to all very tasty things) so it may have been a good thing that I only got half a scoop of it, but it overpowered whatever tastiness may have been in the crema crunch. I recall that it indeed had crunchies in it. Mm, crunchies.
Alex ordered a scoop of dulce de leche and chocolate, which I didn't try.
And Lee Anne got a scoop of chocolate and peach, which I did try but don't remember much about because all I remember is FROZEN PISTACHIO BUTTAH. But I'm pretty sure it was good. My overall impression of Arlecchino's gelato was that the flavors were mostly...you know, real (especially the fruit ones), and not overpowered by sweetness. They would've earned extra points for using a gelato paddle instead of a scoop (I heart the paddle!) but I suppose it tastes the same whether it's in spherical form or mashed into a cup.
...Or does it?...
My first day in Arizona, surely the longest one of my vacation, was finally over. Eating-wise. It was really over after I rid myself of hours of accumulated filth and pulled the contacts that were partially suctioned onto my tired, drying eyes.