Howdy again AZ hounds! Am back in CA from my visit to Scottsdale/Phoenix and wanted to say thanks for your recs and report back before my memory faded. We enjoyed the warm weather, clear skies, and taking in some desert scenery. We also made it to Taliesin West, which was wonderful and inspiring!
As I predicted, we didn't eat out at all since mom and second mom (me) made sure we were amply fed at home! I really wanted to try House of Fry Bread, Los Sombreros, and Pizzeria Bianco (not to mention a few other recs), but didn't have stomach space or want to undermine family togetherness. Next time!
A few chow-related outings and some questions below:
Penzey's Spices (3310 N. Hayden, Scottsdale)
Went day after T-giving and it was as amazing as I anticipated!! Not a huge store, but filled w/ standard and unusual dried herbs, spices, and baking goods such that I felt like a kid in a candy store. Husband half-jokingly gave me a $100 budget, and I only spent about half that w/ their unbelievably low prices! Benefit of buying from the store is being able to SMELL EVERYTHING first. They didn't carry everything featured in their catalog, but there was plenty selection. Everything looked and smelled so fresh and intensely aromatic that it made me want to purge all my pantry spices and start from scratch. The chili and curry powders were especially intoxicating and haunting, and I liked that they had MSG for sale (even though I didn't purchase). My stash is pictured below, and I can't wait to experiment w/ them all! They had some nice gift crates that would be perfect for the holidays.
House of Rice (3221 N. Hayden, Scottsdale)
This was conveniently located just across the street from Penzey's. Tiny storefront w/ a heavy Japanese influence, although there were some general Asian and European items. Half food products, half food accessories and utensils. Small fridge and freezer case w/ some meats and fish. Prices moderate. Fun to look around, but just left w/ some Hawaiian red salt and a fish scaler. Friendly staff.
Downtown Phoenix Public Market (721 N. Central X McKinley, Sat 8-1)
Found this on visitor bureau website and wanted to see a bit of downtown area and get a taste and look of local flavor and arts and crafts. Not a big market, but it was fun to walk around, sample, and buy a few treats. Produce was sparse and paled in comparison to what I get in NorCal. Vendors that stood out:
Bread Basket Bakery (Mesa, AZ): sampled peach bread pudding. Bought ginger snaps and oatmeal cookies that were very homey and fresh tasting. Everyone loved 'em!
Molly's Tamales: one of few prepared food vendors. Abstained from usual meat offerings and tried a green chile and corn tamal. Smallish but flavorful and sweet. Cornmeal batter was dense in texture. Not the best value at $2.25 a pop, but certainly worth a try.
Not Your Mother's Fruitcake: sampled but didn't buy b/c kinda pricey and not in need of more baked goods. Clearly made w/ TLC and quality ingredients. Filled w/ dried, unsulphured pineapple, peach, cranberry, date, pecans, and macadamia nuts. True to its name, it was delicious and would convert the most stubborn fruitcake haters!
One Windmill Farm: bought some pasteurized organic apple cider and apples (sundown and granny smith) from them. Cider was rich and flavorful w/ a nice balance of tart and sweet. Okra looked good too.
There was some nice handmade pottery that my sisters were happy to find. Any good stuff that I missed? Noticed a mention of Sonoran Brewery root beer on the website, but I must have missed this. Comments? Googling, I found a number of farmer's markets closer to Scottsdale...any good?
Driving home, two places caught my houndly eye. Matt's Big Breakfast just down the block from the public market. Tiny little diner w/ just as many patrons waiting outside as eating inside. Youngish hipster looking vibe. Worth the wait? Other place was Stanley's Sausages on McDowell. What's good there? http://www.stanleys-sausage.com/
We also drove on N. Scottsdale til we reached the town of Carefree. Any good eats around those parts? Thanks for adding to my database, and I look forward to my next visit!