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.

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