11.07.2015

Ten Years Later

Today is our tenth anniversary of moving to Tucson. Ten years and two weeks ago, all our friends in New England were shaking their heads, thinking, "What the hell are they doing?"


We moved to Tucson on a whim. Some might have said it was a mid-life crisis; we prefer to think of it as our mid-life epiphany.

We were happy living in Southern Maine, but we longed to live in a place with bigger skies, warmer weather, less rain, no snow, fewer bugs, and a lot more sunshine. Tucson reports sunshine on an average of 335 days each year.

We researched and visited many places, and several were on our “maybe” list, but Tucson was the frontrunner. Many of the contenders were very nice, but when confronted with our full list of requirements, Tucson won hands down.

We decided to check out Tucson on the recommendation of our friend Michael, who had spent extended time here doing legal research. Our first visit was in June of 2004. We picked June because all the sources said, "June is the hottest month. "We'd see what it was like. Show us what you’ve got, Tucson!

We got off the plane and the daytime temperature was 105°F (40.5°C) in the shade, with blank skies of an intense blue we’d never seen before. We looked at each other and said, "Hey, this isn't bad at all!" You see, our experience of heat always included high humidity. Here, the famous dryness of the heat really did make a difference to us.

Markipedia liked to grouse, "I haven't been warm since Truman was in the White House." To this I would add that I’ve never been both warm and dry at the same time.

Ten years later, we are still loving our "new” home in the Sonoran Desert. We discover new things all the time, and have yet to be bored. Never does a day go by that we aren't stunned by the beauty of this vast and floriferous desert.

One thing, more than all its beauty, makes this place so very special to us: its people. The warmth, friendliness, and openness of the Tucsonans makes this a wonderful home for us.

Before we moved here, we dreamed of living in a Tuscan farmhouse. Who hasn’t? Mark was fond of telling people we got off the plane here only to realize we had misspelled our destination. Tucson instead of Tuscan. Silly boy.

This morning, while Mark potted up annuals for winter color in the garden, I made roasted pork tenderloin with herbs, pommes Duchesse, and sautéed leeks Niçoise. We shared a bottle of 2007 Coteaux d'Aix en Provence from Château Vignelaure. (The wine pairing notes can be seen on the Provence WineZine.) We celebrated our tenth anniversary here with this winter’s first outdoor meal under our portale.

It was a(nother) perfect Tucson day.

~ David

Porc Rôti Provençal

1 small bunch fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon culinary lavender buds
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 small shallot, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of silverskin and fat
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for pan
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup red wine

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven.

Using a mezzaluna or a spice grinder, mince together the parsley, rosemary, fennel, and lavender. Place in a small bowl. Add in the minced shallot and bread crumbs. You should have about 1/2 cup of this mixture.

Oil an ovenproof pan, and place the trimmed tenderloin in the pan. Slather the top and sides of the pork with the mustard, and press the herbed crumbs into the mustard. Melt together 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter, and drizzle over the pork.

Place roasting pan in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place pork on a cutting board. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the wine to the pan, and place over medium heat. Stir to make a sauce, and keep warm.

Slice pork and place on a warmed platter, and drizzle pan sauce through a sieve onto the pork. Served immediately.

Serves 2-3.

  • The recipe for the Pommes Duchesse is from Saveur Magazine, and the Leeks Niçoise are loosely based on a recipe from the Silver Palate.

27 comments:

  1. The reaction from my family when I told them I found a job in Sydney was probably similar to what you got. Talk about a shock! 22 years later and I haven't looked back. Not that it snows up there in Queensland, where they all still live. The humidity is a killer up there in summer, one of the reasons I move down here where it isn't as bad.

    I like the sound of this recipe. So easy! I wonder if the lavender bush up the road is of the edible kind? Can you eat any lavender?

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    1. It is always fun to keep them guessing, isn't it, John?

      I don't know if all lavender is edible - that is a good question. We grow some that is, but most often I buy culinary grade lavender buds from a spice shop or natural foods store.

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  2. I got the same sort of response from friends when I said I was moving from Ohio to the south of France...really...have you lost your mind? I paid no attention and while it has not been without some challenges, it was by far the best decision I ever made!

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    1. Well, Linda, that is a no-brainer to me, and I would have been applauding you! Sounds like a great decision. No matter where you go, I can assure you it won't be perfect, but it will give you one heck of an adventure!

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    2. Linda, good to see your name pop up! I knew you hadn't lost your mind; on the contrary, you found your soul!

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  3. I can relate to your post…I think the two of you made a good decision. A delicious dinner outside sounds like a great way to celebrate.

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    1. Thanks, Karen - and it sounds like you two did just about the same thing recently!

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  4. I love how much you love your life. (That's the secret to life). GREG

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    1. Wow - you should be quoted on that. It is true, Greg, if you forget to love your life, it can get pretty bad...

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  5. Ahhh! The new pastry bag reveals lovely pommes!
    And al fresco dining is one of the best reasons for Tucson! Cannot believe it has been a decade. Soooo glad we are here too...thank you!

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    1. Susan, I love - nay, LOVE - my new pastry bag! It will change my life. Did I tell you that it is made from silicone? So easy to clean!

      And we are so glad you are here, too! xox

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  6. Dear David, sounds and looks like a perfect occasion to celebrate - you made an exceptional and elegant dinner and your pictures mirror the festive atmosphere of it all!
    So very nice to read how happy you and Mark are about your "new home" in Tucson - could not ask for more!
    Liebe Gruesse aus Bonn - es so sooo warm hier - it actually feels like springtime, incredible. Time to sit outside for dinner in November (rather rare around here).

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    1. Thanks, dear Andrea! I am glad to hear you are having warm weather - it is a nice surprise, isn't it? Enjoy your (what we call) Indian Summer!

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  7. Hi David, sounds like you and Mark and very happy with your decision to move to Tucson a decade ago, I love the vibe and landscape of Tucson, it's very special.

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    1. Thanks, Cheri - I am so glad we found Tucson - it really was by accident and we loved it immediately.

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  8. What a beautiful celebration dinner. You have me drooling over my laptop. We know some very satisfied Arizona transplants from Wisconsin, though I was happy when my oldest finished up at ASU and decided she wanted seasons again (though I wish she had cut me a big bunch of rosemary from her yard before returning). BTW I think the Tucson/Tuscan joke is hilarious!

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    1. Happy to mail you some rosemary any time, Inger! It grows like a weed here! :) Mark was very pleased you liked his silly Tucson/Tuscan joke!

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  9. Congratulations for your ten years there: it looks like you made the right choice! I also love that you completely changed your life and followed your dream at a time when most people think it is too late (in other words, when you are no longer in your twenties or thirties... you help me dream of all that the future still holds for me, although I am no longer in the first stages of my life!).

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    1. Fiona - it was the best adventure either of us could have imagined. Really, at our ages then (47 and 53) we were crazy to do this. But I would do it again in a heartbeat. Reinventing oneself is such a joy! I can't wait to see what you do!

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  10. What a big move and sounds like it was the perfect one for y'all! That's a beautiful meal you made for your anniversary. That pork tenderloin looks like it was completely, amazingly, delicious!

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  11. I will always be thankful that you and Mark spent some time in Kittery/Portsmouth. I know you recall that we met over a plate of pasta and, funny, here we are still talking food and wine! Your recipe sounds divine and readers of PWZ are quite smitten with your wine pairing!

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    1. Susan - I love that every once in a while we STOP talking about food and actually discuss something weighty like weather or politics! Glad your readers like the food & wine pairings. It is a lot of fun on this end!

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  12. High temperatures are completely different when the climate is dry! This is a great story David, with all the care you put on choosing the destination it's no wonder you're so happy in Tucson. Happy anniversary my friend! A hug to both of you from this part of the world.

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    1. Thanks, Paula! Now we just need to get you to visit us sometime and our home will be complete! :)

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  13. Happy 10 year move anniversary! We have just moved from London to a small seaside town called Margate and hope we can be as happy here as you guys there. Lots of love and hope to bump into you again on a train one day, Erin.

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    1. Erin - so nice to hear from you! We really enjoyed meeting you both on the train - and hope you had fun in Seattle! Congratulations on the move to Margate - I have always wanted to see the "real" Margate, as New Jersey has a pretty awful version. The name was always so appealing! I know you both will be happy wherever you go - and we hope to see you again someday, too.

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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