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Boycott? What Boycott?

Business as usual in Arizona.

7:00 AM, Aug 29, 2010 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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Scottsdale, Arizona

Boycott? What Boycott?

A golf course in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Funny what the game of golf can drive a man to do—and no, I'm not talking about Tiger Woods. Rather, when I learned of a package deal involving unlimited golf at the Phoenician hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona, I took advantage of it faster than a Masters champion takes advantage of a cocktail waitress. (Okay, that time I was referring to Tiger.) After all, who can resist the allure of a PGA-rated course (with a men's rating/slope of 69.4/129)? Sure the average temperature in Scottsdale in August is well into the 100s. But it's a dry heat.

And surprisingly I wasn't alone. Though August in these parts is considered a dead month for the hospitality industry, there were a decent number of hotel guests at the pool, at the bar, and more than a few insane enough to hit the links. And at the Phoenician flagship restaurant, the J&G Steakhouse, according to general manager Chris Wessling, business was actually better than expected for that time of year. Aside from the hotel patrons, locals have clearly gotten word of the gastronomic delights served up by J&G's celebchef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and his Scottsdale point man Jacques Qualin (who made his bones at Taillevent). And what's not to love about an 18-ounce ribeye and a whole Dover sole served tableside?

Meanwhile at downtown Tarbell's, the scene was downright busy. Chef Mark Tarbell has drawn a crowd of foodies devoted to his ingenious creations (crispy chick peas, slow-cooked pork, and his chocolate-caramel mini apples from his Iron Chef appearance). All of which brings into question the "Boycott Arizona" movement.

And what better person to ask about this situation than a man known for dispensing sage advice on myriad matters large and small—the hotel bartender. As it turns out, "the only people talking about the boycott are people outside of the state and in the media," says Mr. Bartender (not his real name). "Nobody talks about it here." He adds, "There is a legal way to enter this country.... This isn't racism." Tell that to Rage Against the Machine.

As for the Obama Justice Department's involvement in the matter, says Mr. Bartender, "I wish the president would help us out instead and protect our borders." Recent polls show a majority of Arizonans sharing his sentiments—meaning my investigative journalism can now be concluded and I can focus on that brutal 15th hole par 3.

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