The Westin Kierland Fourth of July Weekend

Welcome back from Fourth of July weekend! I hope yours turned out to be everything you wanted. This summer, my family and I enjoyed a staycation at The Westin Kierland, a family-friendly resort less than an hour away from home. I was able to do everything I wanted – reading a book while floating the lazy river, spending quality time with friends and family, and experiencing some notable food moments.

For breakfast each morning, we gained VIP access to the club level. Only those fortunate enough to have earned platinum status with Starwood Hotels enjoy this perk. Fortunately Steve earned the privilege with all of his business travel. I love freebies when they are things I actually want, especially while paying inflated prices for most everything else at a resort.

The continental breakfast menu offered is a step up from what is found elsewhere. I knew I was going to sweat it out in the workout room soon afterwards, so I kept my portion a little smaller than normal. I selected deli meat, cheese, berries, tomatoes, and a mini croissant. In the past croissants were on my no-no list since they are loaded with butter. But after visiting Paris last summer where I picked up my obsession with them, I do eat the good ones when they present themselves. This one made the cut. Crispy on the outside and soft, chewy and flaky on the inside, no condiments necessary. I grabbed a banana to enjoy immediately post-workout.

We spent our days there frolicking in the monster pool, so lunch meant dining al fresco in a bikini on a chaise lounge. Ahh…. A salad sounded good in the 114-degree weather. I ordered the cobb, which included juicy marinated shrimp, egg, intensely flavorful roasted yellow and red tomatoes and romaine, nicely complemented by blue cheese dressing. I asked to swap the bacon with avocado. After I polished off my salad, my husband’s cheeseburger arrived with perfect timing. I tore off three bites.

Towards the end of the afternoon, a battalion of servers marched out carrying trays of gigantic watermelon wedges. A nice kid offered me one before I tackled him.

This chocolate chip cookie warmed by the sun came with our pool bill. I ate nearly half.

Oh yes, drinks. You must know me well enough by now to realize that, of course, I imbibed. The spicy bloody Marys were stellar.

Dinner was at Stingray, a Japanese restaurant situated in the Scottsdale Quarter. Or “Snottsdale,” as my Phoenix-dwelling food writer friend likes to call it. I don’t mind seeing all of the Botox and Juvederm gone wrong. It’s a good reminder to wear sunscreen! In my opinion, Stingray offers some of the best sushi in the valley.

My sushi dinner wouldn’t be complete without an edamame starter.

The volcano roll and salmon sashimi were divine.

Hamachi with jalapenos and ponzu sauce was cleansing.

Then the meal took an unfortunate twist. Our main course filet mignon with mashed potatoes and julienne vegetables arrived during the flurry of sushi, and it was cooked way past the requested medium rare to almost gray. After my “squeaky wheel” protests, the manager made up for it by sending out a properly cooked steak and comping part of the tab.

I’ll give Stingray a pass on the steak mishap, but what about their claim that the dishes are meant to arrive “Japanese-style”, meaning that the dishes are delivered at their whim in any order, at any time?  I call this lazy-style. Please tell me I’m not alone on this.

Estimated calories: 380 (Breakfast), 615 (Lunch), 547 (Dinner), 445 (Snacks), 185 (Wine and Drinks)

What were your memorable food moments this weekend?

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