Desert Blooms in Phoenix
There are few places where you can better learn about the beauty and complexity of desert ecology than the Desert Botanical Garden, not far from downtown Phoenix. Check out the Desert Discovery Loop Trail for a look at local flora, go for a flashlight tour or cooking class (using plants found in the region, of course), or catch one of the musical performances that are part of the garden's concert series. Make a point to visit the Desert Terrace Garden for the best views of the surrounding buttes and desert.
By Bryan Kitch, AFAR Contributor
Mole before it hits the pressure cooker
I took a really fun and tasty culinary class at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. I never knew there were so many edible plants that grew in the desert! We learned to make crepes with nopalitos, corn salad with tepary beans and a classic spicy chocolate mole sauce. This is the sauce before it goes into the pressure cooker. You see the puréed chilies, tomatoes, spices and chocolate.
Part two of the mole sauce – this is after it has been in the pressure cooker for 30 minutes or so. Now the only step is to blend and strain it to get rid of the seeds. We ate this mole sauce with a mesquite flour crepe stuffed with local goat cheese, nopalitos and corn.
Southerwestern brunch – cooking class at Desert Botanical Garden
We made our own mole sauce with three kinds of chilies and spooned it over a mesquite flour crepe stuffed with local goat cheese, nopalitos and corn. The salad on the side is a light corn, pepper and tepary bean salad with blood oranges that was perfect to brighten up the flavor profile. What a delicious Southwestern-style brunch! I'd highly recommend a culinary class at the Desert Botanical Garden. Out instructor, Denise Clayton, was fantastic!
Photograph Papago Park's Buttes from the Desert Terrace Garden
Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden is a lovely place to visit at any time of year. In fall 2014 it opened a new section—the Desert Terrace Garden—and so is especially worth a visit. The addition features typical plants of the Arizona desert, including agave, boojum, and prickly pear. From the garden, visitors can see—and photograph—the red butte formations of Papago Park.
By Julie Schwietert Collazo, AFAR Local Expert
1201 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008, USA
Sun - Sat 7am - 8pm