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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Village Vibes

~Tuesday, March 29, 2022~

Day 653

Travel Day…..sort of. Only 10 sites from the site we’ve been to in the last 7 days. Though we’re grateful that we didn’t have to travel in this weather today, it’s still no fun breaking down and setting up in the rain. Thank you Zane Grey for accommodating us one more day.

Since we know we’ll be boondocking at least the next 8 days, we thought it smart to get 1 big last hurrah load of laundry done before departing. Hopefully this will get us by for the next 2 weeks. And since the freezer is much easier to defrost with my handy dandy blow dryer (requiring electricity), I managed to fit that in as well before heading out for some Sedona fun.

Why not combine a little paw pampering for our pups Sadie while in Sedona as well? I was promised they could fit her in as long as we arrived by 3:30, so we raced like a bat out of hell to get there on time. Whew! Made it! As usual, she was such a good girl. Could it be the treats at the end?

We finally ended up at Tlaquepaque Shopping Village for a little

retail therapy. I know just what Jeff wanted to do. But I knew by the shopping village’s appeal with mature trees, vine-covered stucco walls, cobble-stoned walkways and fountains around every turn, Jeff would enjoy the experience. It feels as if you are in a traditional Mexican village. Intrigued by the architecture, I did a little more research about how Tlaquepaque came to be.

Tlaquepaque means “the best of everything” and appears that it does. Back in the 1970’s, most of where the shopping village stands today, was nothing more than cattle grazing land and a few precious acres owned by Harry and Ruby Girard. During that time, a very successful Nevada real estate businessman named Abe Miller enjoyed many vacations to Mexico and the Sedona area. It was his heart’s desire, to someday build a unique, charming arts village reflecting the mood of Old Mexico and thought this Sedona location perfect for his endeavors. He also approached Harry and Ruby Girard with gentle persuasion, making a promise that all the old sycamores would remain. The Girard’s finally said “yes”. Everything was to be constructed with the most authentic means possible. On his travels to Mexico, Abe and his architect photographed thousands of scenes from rural villages and sketched dozens of vignettes of Spanish Colonial architecture, incorporating what they learned to the Sedona site; a gathering place, if you will, for villagers to sell their crafts and mingle people together. And not a single tree was cut down in the process. Every structure was built around the tall sycamores.

We especially enjoyed the Artist’s Kitchen Shop, the Chai Spot

(where the sweet fragrant cardamom drew us in), Spirits and Spice (for high quality samplings of liquor, custom spices, oils, vinegars and wine), the Sedona Candle Gallery (where candles are hand carved), and a few art galleries (ah, if we could only afford fine art). We managed to pack a lot in an hour and a half.

Before heading to our recommended dinner at Moscatos, we needed to drop off Sadie and feed her dinner before our 7:00 reservation. One of our neighbors at Zane Grey had recommended the Italian ristorante, just 8 minutes from our campground. And we’re so glad they did. It was one of our best meals of the trip.

Wow!! Where to begin describing our dinner experience.

From the moment we drove up to the romantically lit rustic building (something that looks like it could be out of Bonanza), we knew we were at OUR kind of place. Since opening his restaurant about 6 years ago, Salvatore Moscato, born in Vittoria Sicily has received glowing reviews, where locals and even patrons from Sedona will make the drive. Salvatore is also the head chef who is dedicated to making everything fresh daily….pastas, sausages, and sauces, striving to purchase everything organic, sustainably raised, and local. Interesting how he settled in the small town of Camp Verde. It would be difficult every night to be on your A game, but it is such a passion for him. We started with a Barrata, Tomato and Arugula salad as well as a Spinach Salad with spinach, oranges, grapes, goat cheese, and pistachios. Paired with it, I ordered a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (one of the best I’ve ever had) named Wither Hills with tropical fruit notes and the perfect dryness. Jeff asked if they had a full bar to which our waiter said no. “But we can make most anything you’d like”. Interesting. Though the gin selection was just o.k., Jeff ordered a Tanquerey martini, straight up with 2 olives anyway. Our waiter said they have plans to put in a full bar in their new location just a few doors down from their current space, set to open this summer. Maybe the next time we’re here, they’ll have Monkey 47 on the list!

For dinner we shared a delicious Willamette Valley Pinot Noir to pair with our pasta dishes. Jeff decided to add the chef’s homemade sausage to his Fungata dish consisting of seasonal mushrooms, tomato, onion, spinach, rosata sauce (a combination of cream and marinara) and freshly made fettuccine noodles. I had the Pasta Primavera which was unlike anything I’d had before with an array of perfectly sized grilled vegetables added to a rosata sauce on fettuccine noodles. The presentation….beautiful. Are you hungry yet? We could tell it’s the quality of ingredients that sets this restaurant apart. Oh, and for dessert……cannoli of course. Because of the owner’s dedication, we can see why this restaurant is a beloved part of the Camp Verde community.

As we were wrapping up our dinner, an older couple seated behind Jeff, were leaving so we asked how they liked their meal. Same response, as they said it was one of the best meals they’d ever had. Again, in about 10 minutes of conversation we learned their life story. No, we didn’t exchange phone numbers.

And in true Latreille fashion, we closed the place down. There was just one little glitch when we tried to pay. Our waiter apologized for the delay, saying their server was down and would be unable to take a credit card. He asked if we had cash to which we replied, “No. But will you take a check?” All good. Of course mentioning the good ol’ credit card imprinter to a 20-something year-old waiter was met with a perplexed look. Now I officially feel old. But seriously, every business should have one of those, right? Anyway, a minor hiccup that we’ll soon forget, but the dinner will remain unforgettable. GO CHECK OUT MOSCATO!!!

What a night. Just when we thought things were winding down we got a direct message on our Instagram feed from Kelli (OurLifeisLucky), who saw my post talking about a family we had met while boondocking in Sedona. Evidently, Kelli met the Alonzi family too in Sedona, and later found out they are related, third cousins actually. What are the chances? This IS a small world!

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