Sunday, May 31, 2009

50 Wonders of the Arizona Food World (or more specifically, Phoenix Metro area)

On May 20th the AZ Republic published a list of top 50 Wonders of the Arizona Food World. Most of their list is below (I combined, changed and dropped a few). There are quite a few that I haven't had a chance to experience even though we've lived here for a while. I would love to get input from all the AZ folks on which you would choose as your top 10 either from this list or add your own recommendations. It seems to include restaurant, food products and more. I'm sure there's a lot missing, especially things outside of the Phoenix metro area. I added one in Sedona to the end of the list.

I'm thinking of taking time out to visit some of these places to appreciate the Arizona food experience, but want to be sure that it'll be worth my while. I imagine there are a lot of restaurants that aren't included here, so feel free to mention 1 or 2 of those if they are at the top of your list.

Please add a comment with your Top 5 or 10 whether they're on this list or not.

I put an X by the ones that I have had a chance to visit or taste.

- Liberty Market, Gilbert -
- Chris Bianco - Pizzeria Bianco, 623 E. Adams & Pane Bianco, 4404 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
- Goldwater's Salsa -
- Durant's restaurant - 2611 N. Central Ave., Phoenix -
X - Rock Springs Cafe - 35769 Black Canyon Highway -
- Carol Steele - Aravaipa Farms Bed & Breakfast & Jams, Winkelman
- Orange Patch, citrus grower, 3825 E. McKellips Rd., Mesa
- Mark Tarbell - Tarbells restaurant, 3213 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix -
- Stacy Saba & Leslie Updike - Cookbooks
- The Pork Shop, 3359 E. Combs road, Queen Creek
X - Queen Creek Olive Mill, Queen Creek -
(haven't been there but have had their delicious lemon olive oil)
- Kai restaurant, Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort, Gila River Reservation
- Flor de Michoacan, Mexican Ice Cream, 734 W. Main Street, Mesa -
- Maya's at the Farm at South Mountain, Produce, flowers, herbs, 6106 S. 32nd St,Phoenix
- Los Reyes de la Torta, Mexico city Mexican food, 9230 N. 7th Street, Phoenix
- Phoenix Ranch Market, Mexican market, multiple locations, Phoenix, Glendale
- Granite Creek Winery, 2515 N. Road 1 East, Chino valley -
- Simply Bread, 2117 N. 24th St., Phoenix
- Cowboy Ciao, 7133 E. Stetson, Scottsdale
- Sea Saw - Nobuo Fukuda, sashimi chef - 7133 E. Stetson, Scottsdale
X - El Chorro restaurant (now under new ownership) 5550 E. Lincoln Dr. Paradise Valley
- Vincent's on Camelback Restaurant, 3930 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix,
- Lee Lee Oriental Supermarket, 7575 W. Cactus, Peoria and 2025 N. Dobson Rd., Chandler
- Four Peaks Brewing Co. 1349 E. 8th St, Tempe,
- Fajardos' Cafe (formerly Lily's Cafe) 6706 N. 58th Dr., Glendale
- Patio Dining - tell me where your favorite outdoor dining spot is.
- Robert McClendon - McClendon Select Farms 15888 N. 77th Ave, Peoria or at Town & Country Farmer's market 20th St & Camelback, Phoenix -
- Fry Bread House, 4140 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix
- Desert Sweet Shrimp Farm,
- Barrio Cafe - 2814 N. 16th St., Phoenix,
- East Valley Institute of Technology's Culinary Arts Program, 1601 W. Main St, Mesa
- Downtown Phoenix Public Market, Sat. am, Weds evening, 721 N. Central Ave, Phoenix
- Black Mesa Ranch goat cheese -
- Fairytale Brownies @ AJ's and Duck & Decanter - coupon at (Fairytale Fun)
- Los Dos Molinos Mexican Restaurant - Phoenix, Mesa, Springerville,
X - Sam Fox Restaurants - Sauce, North, Olive & Ivy, True Food, etc.
- Schnepf Farms - Peaches, Pumpkins and more, 24810 S. Rittenhouse Rd., Queen Creek,
X- Monti's La Casa Vieja steakhouse - 100 S. Mill Ave., Tempe
- Molly's Tamales - 8806 N. 43rd Ave., Glendale
- Binkley's, 6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek,
- Cafe Bink - 368999 N. Tom Darlington Dr., Carefree
X - Pinnacle Peak Patio Steak House - 10426 E. Jomax Rd., Scottsdale,
- Barbara Fenzl -Southwest cookbooks and cooking school, 6610 N. Central Ave, Phoenix
X - Poore Brothers Potato Chips, Goodyear,
- Nogales Hot Dogs, 1945 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix
- Robin Miller cookbooks and "Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller" TV show
X - Yavapai Restaurant - Enchantment Resort - Sedona

Thanks for your insights. Let me know if you'd like to join us for a Saturday outing to a few of these spots sometime.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Catching up...
I still have several posts to catch up on... Amber's graduation party, my spring cleaning project, and Terry & Julie's birthday party, but right now I'm going to tell you about our AZ Diamondbacks game with my mom today. I'm sure there's more, but I need to look back in my pics to see what I'm still missing.

So today we took my 85 years old mother, Jaye, to see the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team play the Atlanta Braves. It was a 1:10 pm game on Saturday which made the logistics much easier than an evening or even a Sunday game. We also bought the tickets as a fundraiser for my boss, Rosanne's grandson Jordan, so that made it even more worthwhile. Jordan plays high school baseball and we know how our public schools are hurting for funds, so it's always nice to be able to help in any way we can.

We decided to pick up mom early and grab a bite to eat before the game to save the cost of the stadium food as well as the hike back and forth to the concession stands, since Mom's not quite as mobile as she used to be. We originally planned to try out Matt's Big Breakfast, which I've heard so many good things about, but silly me, I printed out a map of the address and forgot to bring it and couldn't remember exactly where it was. We had a back-up plan to go to Cooperstown, but while we were on the way there we drove by First Watch, which I knew was a breakfast place, but had also never been there. I knew that Mom and Terry both liked to eat breakfast out, so that's where we went. The service was good and the food was adequate. Nothing really to write home about, but much cheaper than lunch at the ballpark would have been.

It was a good thing that we went there, because Mom insisted on paying for our meal (since we were providing the rest of the entertainment for the day) and the food at Chase field would have set her back quite a bit more. I try to let her pay once in a while because she's a giver and it brings her joy to show love by giving gifts, plus she gets mad if I don't let her. We're alike in that way. I like to give gifts and so does she. Fortunately, my budget is a little bigger than hers so I win out most of the time.

Anyway, we enjoyed a leisurely meal then drove to the ballpark. We arrived probably 45 minutes before the game was supposed to start, but because it was "Stephen Drew Bobblehead" giveway day and a Saturday afternoon game, there were quite a few of the 30,000+ crowd already on hand. Terry dropped us off and parked the car while mom and I presented our tickets, received our bobblehead dolls and maneuvered our way thru the crowds and half way around the stadium to our seats in the lower level near left field.

Terry arrived a little while later and although Mom said she wanted me to sit by Terry (since she didn't know much about baseball and he wouldn't have anyone to talk to) she proceeded (as I sat between them) to ask him every question she could think of about the game, the players, the team, the league, etc. She also confirmed much of the information that she did already know about baseball. She realized while she was there that the last game she had been to was to see the Cleveland Indians some time in the early 50's with my dad (over 50 years ago, if you didn't do the math).

I think she was truly having fun. That's one great thing about my mom. She tries to make the best of every experience that she has...wants to soak it all in and enjoy it for all its worth. She rarely complains, even if the physical activity is getting harder for her. She's such a trooper and really loves experiencing new things. She's always been a great example to me of how to have a positive outlook about my world.

Soon my boss (and friend) Rosanne and her husband Ken, daughter Alison and grandson, Jordan came and sat next to us. It was nice to have them there and Terry enjoyed talking with Ken. They had also shared the experience of a Red Sox game in Boston, but that's a long story for another time.

We treated ourselves to some Cold Stone Creamery ice cream during the game and were all intent on watching the Dbacks. At the 9th inning the game was tied 2-2 and at some point Mom said, "I may never get to come to another baseball game, so they better win for me!" She also tried to convince me that she was using mental telepathy to will one of the guys into getting a hit...there's that positive attitude for you. She had fun with the whole thing.

This little boy in the glasses sat just down the row from us and reminded me a little bit of my nephew, Lucas or Jonathan Lipnicki from Jerry Maguire. He was so cute in his wire rim glasses and inside-out rally cap holding his stuffed rattlesnake. He wanted so badly to stay awake for the whole game, but eventually gave in to his little body and took a nap. What a sweetie!

The game finally ended in the 11th inning with a hit from Eric Byrnes that drove in a run by Mark Reynolds. So, Mom got her win and so did the Dbacks. All in all I think she had a fun day and we didn't wear her out too much. Good news is that she has her Stephen Drew bobblehead to show off to her friends at the senior apartments, plus I told her I'd print out a few pictures and bring them to her when I come over next week.

I treasure every time we get to spend with her. She's doing so great for her age, but we never know how long she will still be with us and healthy enough to do fun things like this. What a gift it is to be able to enjoy days like this with her!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Happy Belated Birthday Sweetie!

Even though the official day was last week, I've been working on this whenever I get a few minutes and wanted to take time to wish my hubby a belated happy birthday.

Here are just a few photos of him over the years. The one of him on top of the car was obviously before his mother (on the right in the photo) became overly cautious of the safety of little children. (just kidding-she was a great mom with all those 5 boys and Julie to keep track of).

The second photo is the talented, shy, creative, sensitive, rock star, hippy that I dated and fell in love with when I was 17-18 and married when I was 19. O.k., 19 and a half.

Then there's Terry and Kevin flying a kite in Newhall, California. They share a love of the outdoors, learning and adventure. In fact, they may be going sky diving together soon.

I love this one of Terry and Amy on a boat ride at Lake Tahoe. She wasn't always very demonstrative about her affection, so when she decided to show it, you had better stop and enjoy it. Yeah, she still has him wrapped around her little finger. They share a special bond, including a love of reading history. Amy recently borrowed about 6 of his big thick hardcover historical biographies to read.

The last 3 were taken recently and reflect a few of the things that Terry loves. The sand dunes and waterfalls were in Oregon. Did you know that there are sand dunes in Oregon? I didn't until our vacation a few years ago. It was part of our adventure.

We both love to travel and Terry is the one who usually does all the research about the places that we're going. True story - He often brings a historical book to read that's about the area we're visiting. Last year when we went to Boston and New England he was reading Paul Revere's biography. Kinda nerdy, but sweet.

And last but not least, the other love of his life...playing music. That is what he lives and breathes and what God created him for. He gets so excited every time he has the chance to pick up a stringed instrument or a harmonica or if he had more time to play around, I'm sure there'd be other instruments on the shelf too. Whether he's playing in the living room with friends, or on stage somewhere, all of our lives are more rich and full because Terry shares this gift with us. This is a picture of him with his beloved ukulele, oh, I mean mandolin (some of you will get that joke).

I'm so thankful that God placed him on the earth 54 years ago and allowed us to meet in the 70's and share life together these past 30+years. I look forward to sharing the next 30 or more with him long as the Lord allows us to remain on the earth.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mother's Day
Well, I still have a lot to backtrack on to cover the last few weeks of events.

Here are some pics from the time that we spent at Hope & Steve's on Mother's Day. Thanks for hosting guys, even though it would have been nice for Hope to have the day off too. It was so sweet of you to sacrifice your time for us.

Isn't Kassidy's haircut so cute? She's such an adorable little lady. And of course, my nieces Hope and Lisa look gorgeous too. O.k., let's not play favorites. Its a pretty nice looking family overall.

We went over mid-afternoon, shared some lunch and then played Wii bowling together. I'd love to look for a used Wii game someday so we can have one at home. The nice thing about it is that virtually any age or physical abilities can play. The range of ages on Sunday was about 5 to 85...not bad and I think everyone had a good time.

I love the shot below of the Betty Crocker cookbook with takeout containers sitting in front of it. Good news was that no mothers had to do any cooking on Mother's Day. All in all it was a good day!

I am so thankful for every day that I get to spend with my mom. At 85 we know that she may not be around too long, although she seems to be doing very well so far.

I know this is already a lot of photos, but for those (family members, mostly) that want to see more pics, you can see them here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Best West Coast Seafood Dives -

Talk about a dream writing assignment!

I just came across this listing of the best Seafood places to eat on the west coast...too bad we're not near the coast.

If you're in any of these areas (and I know some of you are) please check out at least one of these places, enjoy some seafood and think of me. Or send me a picture of what you get. Just because I LOVE great seafood and love pictures of food too!

Let me know if you agree with these recommendations or have some of your own. I'm going to save the list to refer back to when we're headed for the coast. Hopefully some of these places will still be in business.

I will say that Mo's was one of our favorites in Oregon. Although we didn't go to the one in Newport. We went to Mo's West at Otter Rock, which is just a stone's throw from the ocean and Devil's Punchbowl. Here are a couple of pics from our visit there on vacation a couple of years ago. Makes my mouth water just thinking of it. Mmmmmm

Funny thing. We met someone from Phoenix while we were eating there. They live just a couple of miles away from us here. Small world, huh?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Favorite Photos

AZ Republic will print one of my Maui ocean photos in this Sunday's Travel section and it's already posted as #13 in the "Your Travels" area of

Take a look. Fun stuff!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Dad the Iron Worker
My dad passed away when I was 20 years old, but I came across these photos a couple of days ago that reminded me of him. He was an iron worker, or structural steel worker. He was the one that built steel high rises, bridges and more. He didn't wear any kind of safety harness and walked 10 or 20 stories above the ground on steel I-beams that weren't more than a few inches wide.

Can you imagine that? There's no way I could even think of doing that, even when I was young and irresponsible. My mom said she saw him working on a high rise once and never went to see him at work again because it made her so nervous to see him up so high.

He tried to quit construction work at one point when his brother was killed on a construction site, but work was hard to come by and the money was great, so he went back to it. He was often the foreman or superintendent on the jobs he worked. We've heard many accounts of what a great, responsible, caring boss he was.

These photos really make me appreciate the risks he took to provide for his family.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day to all!
We're having a busy weekend so I'll have lots of pics to post as the week goes along, but wanted to wish everyone a Happy Mother's Day.

As is the custom in our home, I woke up to a delicious breakfast of steak, eggs, toast, fresh fruit, juice and coffee. Before today, I asked Terry to cut back on the size of the meal because I can never finish it. So he didn't make hash browns. :-)

Notice that Shredder is sitting in my chair. We were debating about whether she thought it was HER Mother's Day breakfast or she was guarding it until I was ready to sit down. In any case, she moved over to her own chair and I gave her a few treats since she is a mother too after all.

I love my gifts too! I got hydrangeas which are my favorite flower in the whole world. I wish they would grow here. Does anyone have any tips on keeping them alive in the desert? I also got dark chocolate, mmmmm. And although we don't normally do "real gifts" on Mother's Day, Terry got me a gift card for Christopher & Banks. What an amazing husband I have! He spoils me rotten.

Kevin just emailed a bit ago to say that the phones at the base are all backed up so he'll have to call later. It was good to hear from him and we'll look forward to talking to him soon. Amy just called and we got to visit a little too. I love my kids and am privileged to call them mine.

So we're off to Hope & Steve's for the Perkins family Mother's Day gathering. Of course, I'll have more pics from that gathering too, so watch for more to come soon...

Enjoy your day moms and pamper your wives and mothers, guys.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Antiques Roadshow in Phoenix

Did you know that the Antiques Roadshow is going to be in Phoenix on August 1st? Well, a month or so ago, I just happened to stumble across that information and also a link to sign up for a chance to get free tickets to attend the event.

I've watched the Roadshow sporadically, but being the eternal optimist I'm always so excited for the people that have some random piece that turns out to be worth thousands or tens of thousands. What a fun adventure!

Anyway, I just got an email saying that I will be receiving 2 tickets in the mail in the coming weeks. I'm not sure exactly what I would take down there to be appraised. I'll have to look over the website a little more to see what the process is.

I'm not sure if Terry will want to go down with me (he's not a fan of standing in lines) so if any of you would be interested in going and have something fun to take down there, let me know. It could be a fun photo op day and maybe even a great story of finding out about a hidden treasure.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Tucson Folk Festival
Yesterday, Terry and I took a drive down to Tucson to visit our friends Dave & Kathrin Argentati. As mentioned before, Dave was one of 10 finalists in the TKMA Annual Songwriting contest and all the finalists were scheduled to perform their 2 songs each, starting around noon on Saturday.

We arrived at El Presidio Park with all it's great old architecture (well as old as things get in Arizona) a few minutes after noon, due to the lovely Tucson construction traffic. Fortunately when we found Kathrin, we discovered that they were scheduled to perform 5th in the group, so we still had plenty of time. We were so glad to be able to be there to hear Dave and Kathrin do their songs! He's quite a creative songwriter and they sounded wonderful together! Some other friends and family were also there in the crowd to cheer them on.

We stayed to listen to the rest of the finalists, who were also very talented and came from places as far away as Ohio, Washington and even Alaska. So you can imagine that the competition was quite stiff. The announcement of the top 3, including the winner wouldn't be made until nearly 4 pm, so we had a little more time to wander around before that.

Terry and I were hungry, and the amazing aromas coming from the food booths were so tempting that we decided to have "a little something" to hold us over until Kathrin's much anticipated dinner of homemade chicken enchiladas. We decided to share a tri-tip sandwich, although I'm sure we could have each eaten a whole one. Wow, were they good! You can see the photo here. This guy literally had a grill so big that he had to pull it as a trailer. It was piled high with whole tri-tips and when he saw me taking pictures, he lowered the rack so I could get a better shot. What a great guy. And the sandwiches were excellent. We were almost tempted to buy a whole tri-tip to take home, but weren't sure what we'd do with it for the rest of the day.

After we got our food, we sat in the shade and enjoyed lunch with our friends.

This pic is Dave with his daughter, Bethany. She is so sweet and as creative as she looks! She likes photography, cooking, doing hair and makeup and any number of other creative expressions. It was fun to get to know Bethany, her husband, Matt and the other kids. The other two young ones are two of Dave & Kathrin's kids, Davey and Rebecca. They are fun kids and did well hanging out with us all day.

After our lunch break Dave guided us to several different stage areas to hear various musicians. It was fun to see the wide range of ages and lifestyles that were represented. I love this little girl that was trying to sit still while her parents listened to one of the ensembles.

This guy, playing the standup bass is Bob Kimmel who was formerly a member of the Stone Poneys. For those youngsters among us, they were the band that played with Linda Ronstadt, who also started out in Tucson. If you don't know who Linda Ronstadt is, look it up.

Anyway, we enjoyed our time there. Listening to music in the open breezy air is always so relaxing and refreshing. Then 4 pm rolled around and we made our way back to the stage for the announcement of the contest winners. They announced the top three. # 3 was an older woman from Southern California who had such a free spirit and joyous way about her, # 2 was a rugged looking guy from Alaska and # 1 was Dana Hubbard (who was unfortunately one of the acts that we missed because we were late). So even though Dave didn't win, he did a great job and every bit of exposure and the connections that go with it are helpful for him in his love and pursuit of making music.

After a wonderful day, we decided to head out to the Argentati's lovely home. It was so gorgeous out that we ended up congregating in their shady back yard. A few more of their friends came by too and we all ate chips & salsa and enjoyed some delicious chicken enchiladas. Dinner was topped off with a sinfully rich brownie that Bethany made. It was a chocolaty cupcake-shaped brownie filled with bite-size Milky Way Dark bars in the center. It was so rich and wonderful. I can't believe that I didn't take any pictures of the food. Probably because I was hungry and enjoying the company so much.

After dinner the instruments came out and the guys proceeded to jam. The young folks were good sports. Matt tried to stumble his way on bass thru the "classic" songs that Terry and Dave were doing, which he had never heard before. Poor Davey ended up being stuck with the mandolin, which he didn't know how to play. He picked around on it a little bit, but eventually gave up. Bethany was willing to sing with the guys, but they couldn't seem to land on a song that all parties knew and could play or sing. Anyway, I think it was an enjoyable evening for everyone else. I always feel blessed with a day filled with friends, fellowship and fun and love the gift of having amazing musicians in my life, even if I don't play an instrument myself.

Thanks to the Argentati's for a precious day full of fun memories. We're hoping to make plans to get together again soon...and eventually we'll talk them into moving to Phoenix, we hope!