Phoenix has much to offer on a winter getaway..

.. By Vern Lanegrasse, The Hollywood Chef

I recently spent a weekend in the Phoenix area and even though it has grown so I still love the winter weather in the Arizona desert.

I highly recommend the Marriott's Camelback Inn Resort, Golf Club & Spa,. I first visited this lovely resort some thirty years ago and today it is the State's only Mobil Five-Star and AAA Five diamond resort. They offer sensational packages that include everything from unlimited golf to a retreat at the Valley's most complete resort spa. You can relax by the pool, experience 36 holes of USGA championship golf, rejuvenate your body and mind at the Spa at the Inn or relax in one of 423 guest casitas.

Dining in the Chaparral Room is one of Scottsdale's gourmet experiences. The wine list is well balanced and priced fairly. I love the western ambience of the room. A great bar with friendly bartenders is a nice spot to sip your favorite drink before claiming your reservation.

If you don't stay at Camelback Inn be sure and dine there at least once before you leave the area. Reservations are a must and can be made by calling 602 948-1700.

I never leave the Phoenix area until I have at least one breakfast at Bill Johnson's Big Apple. Serving good ole western country cooking since 1956 the Apple still has man size portions, great BBQ, real western Chili and unbelievable meaty ribs. Don't forget the deep dish Apple, Cherry or Peach Pie like Grandma used to make.

All the waitresses are dressed in western wear and carry real pistols on their hips. I have always dined at the original location at 3757 East Van Buren but now there are four other locations in the greater Phoenix area.

Chef Donna Nordin became internationally known with Cafe Terra Cotta in Tucson. She now has a charming Cafe in the Borgata of Scottsdale at 6166 N. Scottsdale Road and serves lunch and dinner every day. Chef Nordin has created a line of southwest condiments that are available in the gift shop.

Some of her outstanding signature dishes are: Tortilla Crusted chicken breasts with roasted garlic and goat cheese sauce with orzo and black bean, corn salsa; open tomato basil ravioli with green lip mussel, sea scallops and shrimp in a saffron Guajillo Buerre blanc.

Also an Arizona Vegetarian sampler that includes red chile corn cake, grilled chayote squash, portabella mushroom, smoked tomato couscous and sweet corn relleno. A special is red chile rib eye with blackjack Mole with jicama horseradish, slaw and white cheddar whipped potatoes.

The menu includes pizzas, soups, salads, sandwiches as well as desserts. There is a full service bar with imported wines and exotic drinks. Reservations are suggested at 602 948-8100.

Landry's Pacific Fish Company, 4321 N. Scottsdale Road was my choice for the last dinner before we left. Landry's Seafood Houses are all over the south and southwest. They are all good with reasonable prices. The menu has Angus beef and fowl for those that are not seafood fans as I am. Pastas, soups, salads and hot and cold appetizers are also available. They mesquite grill or deep fry the seafood.

Service is attentive and excellent. There is a full bar with a small wine list. Reservations by calling 602 941-0602.

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Last Update:3/30/98

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