Category Archives: Food

Queen Creek, AZ – Olive Mill and Nursery

Queen Creek is a small city on the southeast edge of the Phoenix Metro area. A lot of families will move out to Queen Creek for the affordability of large nice housing, and then commute for work, and even culture. But there is one spot I’ve been hearing about for years that is in Queen Creek, and draws a lot of people to commute out there: The Queen Creek Olive Mill.

image

The Queen Creek Olive Mill is a local olive grove where olives are locally harvested and sold in jars of stuffed olives, flavored olive oils and vinegars, tapenades. They also have a restaurant and coffee bar.

image

I’ve been wanting to visit this place for years, and on seeing that a new friend of mine frequented here, I found the perfect opportunity to finally visit this place and grow a new friendship with Kaeli.

image

We met inside at the coffee bar. When you first walk in you pass through the grocery part of the store and the spot to order at the restaurant on the right, and then the coffee bar is on the left.

image

It’s been hot here in Arizona so we both got iced coffees. I got a caramel iced latte and really liked that they used Ghirardelli sauce. Their espresso was smooth and light, with an enjoyable hint of acidity. We sat at a large community table with stools and talked for hours of who we were and where we had come from. It was a depth to our new friendship.

We continued in realizing we have similar life situations that others don’t often understand us for, as we drove to the Queen Creek Nursery to photograph and look at plants.

image

I don’t remember the last time I have been to a nursery,  but I had been craving it, especially with the recent trend of portraits of people and succulents in nurseries.  Definitely loved photographing here.

image

image

We returned back to the Olive Mill where I bought a sandwhich for lunch.

image

I then browsed through the store while I waited for them to make it. Everything in the store is gift worthy since it is all local, packaged well, and unique. By unique, I mean there is wide selection to buy something you can’t get anywhere else. The selection of tapenades, for example, ranged from Sweet Red Pepper Olive Tapenade, Caramelized Onion and Fig Tapenade, Artichoke and Roasted Garlic Tapenade, to Green Olive Pate, and more. Everything can be sampled. The Carmelized Onion and Fig was definitely my favorite as it was a bit on the sweeter side.

image

The jarred olives also had plenty of variety being stuffed with jalapenos and cheeses and citrus. I came the week before Father’s Day and had been thinking for weeks what to get my dad, and while browing through, I found the perfect gift of jarred olives.

I only waited a few minutes before I was buzzed to pick up my sandwhich. I ordered the Kalamata which is Olive Mill Kalamata salami, Genoa salami, capicola, herb roasted tomatoes, seasonal greens, provolone, red onion with White Balsammic & Herb Cream on grilled baguette. The ingredients were very straight forward, but the overall flavors were rich, much like the food I found in Italy made with quality ingredients. They had plenty of things to try on their menu, so I would like to return and try their other sandwhiches and bruschetta, and try their breakfast menu which uses the tapenades and sauces that they sell in their store.

image

I feel like this is such a great place to support local economy. Apparently in the winter they are packed with business from tourism and those who migrate to Arizona for the winter. I think that as a local, it’s nice to be a tourist in your own back yard. To find what can only be found here, and then enjoy that. The Queen Creek Olive Mill is definitely one of those places.

Phoenix AZ – Postino

Postino is a winecafe known not just for wine, but for their great bruscetta and Italian style menu of meat and cheese boards.  Everything I’ve had here has been good, so when I noticed they had a brunch menu that looked delicious, I asked my friend Amanda to meet me one Saturday morning for brunch at the Downtown Gilbert location.

postino-gilbert-az.jpg

Downtown Gilbert has been built up very well as a destination spot for families and friends to spend time together at any of their great local restaurants. And I feel like more so on a Saturday morning with everyone drawn to the morning farmer’s market.  Going to Postino for Saturday brunch feel so nice: to be outside and apart of the community.  Nice enough that me and Amanda made it a tradition to meet here for two Saturdays in a row.

We got a table outside on the patio facing the rest of the downtown area. The weather has been perfect lately for being outside, and these days were the best with a constant breeze in the air.

postino-gilbert-az.jpg

postino-gilbert-az.jpg

Both times we met here, I got the Farm Scramble which is yukon potatoes scrambled with eggs, herbs, onions, gruyere and white cheddar and served with a greens and tomato salad.  Amanda got the Smoked Salmon item as a scramble with eggs, capers and onions with dill cream cheese on the side. The waiter was really friendly to change the item preparation and presentation to accomodate her allergy to gluten.

postino-gilbert-az.jpg

postino-gilbert-az.jpg

I’ve yet to try the Country Toast with Italian ham, dijonaise, gruyere and sunny side up eggs, but my friend Kristen told me that it’s amazing. She said it’s like a Croque Madame, so that’s definitely on my list to try the next time I’m there.

We also got a french presss coffee, and for a couple hours we day dreamed about travel and updated each other about our lives, while along the downtown streets plenty of families walked by for people watching. It was all so relaxing and a great way to start off the weekend.

postino-gilbert-az.jpg

 

20140510-234528.jpg

Phoenix AZ Heritage Square – Royal Coffee Bar and Pizzeria Bianco

Royal Coffee Bar & Roasting is a local coffee shop in Phoenix AZ owned by a local architect. Their spaces are often small and architecturally unique. There are four Royal Coffee Bars, and as of last week I had only been to the location in Tempe and at the Biltmore. (At the end of this article is a update with the fourth location at the Union.)

TEMPE LOCATION

image

BILTMORE LOCATION: RED DOOR

image

I’ve loved both locations for their atmosphere and coffee. My first experience with Royal at The Biltmore left  such a good impression on me with their pretty teal tiles, great coffee, and adorable outdoor seating area of wood tables and yellow stools, that I was interested in going back to all their locations, especially when I heard last week from some coworkers that there was a location in Downtown Phoenix. Of course I jumped on the idea of actually going when some friends suggested the Downtown Phoenix location at Heritage Square.

royal-coffee-heritage-square.jpg

royal-coffee-heritage-square.jpg

The Heritage Square area is really unique and looks just as it sound: a square block of Victorian vintage homes converted into shops and restaurants. It’s a great location for a coffee bar, especially since the coffee bar is  inside a small converted brick building that usedtobe a carriage house.  We literally walked into a room with four walls, a bar, a wood table and school chairs. That was it. And to it’s benefit. It was a cute space.

royal-coffee-heritage-square.jpg

royal-coffee-heritage-square.jpg

The coffee was being roasted right there behind the bar. And the coffee itself was so good. The whole experience felt like I was discovering a piece of my city with JR and Ashley, and I was glad to have that moment. In between sips of coffee, we were up and down photographing. Heritage Square is a great back drop for photos: brick buildings, unique architecture, and this wall was my absolute favorite.

royal-coffee-heritage-square.jpg

After finishing our coffee, we walked around Heritage Square, eventually ending up at a pizza place that JR knew about. Apparently it was Pizzeria Bianco! A place that’s been on my list for awhile. They are nationally famous for their pizza and  rumor has it that you will have to wait in line to get in. That probably applies more to a Friday night then a Wednesday afternoon, which was when we went. It was the perfect stumble upon on this spontaneous adventure with new friends.

pizzeria-bianco.jpg

pizzeria-bianco-phoenix.jpg

We had a rough time communicating what we would be ordering together, as JR and I were wholly absorbed in looking through our Heritage Square photos haha, but once we ordered, got our food, and taken more photos of our food, the food was really great.

pizzeria-bianco-phoenix.jpg

The Wiseguy pizza (mozzarella, onion and fennel sausage) was amazing and so was the caprese salad. (On a separate occasion at their sister site Pane Bianco, I’ve also tried their Rosa pizza, which is available on the menu here as well. I highly recommend it. It’s red onion, parmigiano reggiano, rosemary, and pistachios.) After living in Italy last fall, I would say this pizza and caprese salad are so legit.

pizzeria-bianco-heritage-square.jpg

Overall, the day just felt great. It’s so fun to discover the hidden spots that make Phoenix great and make friends and memories doing it.

UPDATE : BILTMORE LOCATION AT UNION

I apparently am really into Royal Coffee Bar and their freshly roasted coffee, as I now find myself a barista proud to work for this local coffee bar.

image

This past week I found myself scheduled at the last location I had never been to: Union at the Biltmore. I absolutely loved it and couldn’t stop photographing the space. It’s literally a room, with, sigh, a yellow espresso machine, and a window. Here’s some new shots:

image

image

image

image

Phoenix AZ – Sweet Republic

Sweet Republic is a local ice cream shop that makes everything they serve. So, they are pretty famous, being featured on Food Network and Bon Appetit.

20140505-001518.jpg

20140505-001435.jpg

The lady working that afternoon I went in was very helpful to inform us about their store and answer any questions. She told us that they are even famous enough to have travelers from Europe come in because they have heard about this spot. She told me how all the ice cream, cones, cookies, brittle, sauces, everything is made from scratch by them.

20140505-001456.jpg

When I asked what she would recommend for my first visit, she told me about the item featured on Food Network: Toffee Banofi in a waffle bowl. I’m all about salted caramel, so it was nice that it had salted caramel sauce, but I also swapped out the vanilla ice cream for their salted caramel ice cream. I loved all the texture too with the waffle cone and toffee brittle. Seriously, this was the best thing ever. And, it looked way better than the featured picture on the wall.

20140505-001311.jpg

20140505-001405.jpg

Aside from the ice cream, I think me and Molly’s favorite feature was the collection of childhood games. We kind of got lost for a couple hours reliving our childhoods through Connect Four, Jenga and Shoots and Ladders. All that practice at Connect Four as I was a child paid off, and we played and played until Molly finally won a game. Haha! I do have to give her credit and say that she beat me the first chance she had with Shoots and Ladders. The childhood board games are definitely a benefit to their atmosphere.

20140505-001535.jpg

Sweet Republic is located in Scottsdale and Phoenix AZ. They also have a shop at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Terminal 4. I think Sweet Republic is a great representation of Phoenix AZ to those on layover of what Phoenix has to offer in local eats. You should try them out! But you have to get the Toffee Banofi with Salted Caramel Ice Cream!

Phoenix, AZ – Lola Coffee at The Yard

(UPDATE: This Lola location is closed. You can still find the Roosevelt Row location of Lola, and The Yard is still open.)

Me and my friend Mary have always been all about Lola coffee in Phoenix. They roast their own coffee, are local, and their coffee is so good. So when we heard of their new coffee shop location we had to go together. The new Lola coffee shop is inside the Fox Restaurant Concept called The Yard.

20140503-233644.jpg

20140503-233654.jpg

20140503-233709.jpg

The Lola coffee shop is one of three local restaurants at The Yard located in Phoenix. It was a nice space of wood menus, brick walls, lots of hanging lights, and community tables and bar stools for seating.

20140503-233737.jpg

20140503-233746.jpg

20140503-233759.jpg

We each got iced flavored lattes that were just the best. But this location is way more than coffee and pastries, they have also expanded into a breakfast menu and serve tapas.

lola-coffee-the-yard.jpg

20140503-233819.jpg

20140503-233827.jpg

After seeing that they now had a breakfast menu, I decided to go back the following week and introduce another friend, Jr. He snapped this photo of me in front of Lola.

lola-the-yard-phoenix-az.jpg

Visiting in the morning is nice as most of the space is open to the outside and there’s tons of light.

lola-the-yard-phoenix-az.jpg

lola-the-yard-phoenix-az.jpg

Me and Jr each got omelets.  I got The Adriana omelet which was mushrooms, asparagus and aged white cheddar. Jr got the egg white omelet with turkey, tomato and avocado.

lola-the-yard-phoenix-az.jpg

The breakfast over all was so good, from the food and coffee, to being outside on a nice day chatting about travel and cutures and photography and trusting God. And by the end, right when I was ready to adventure around and photograph, Jr was already speaking the same thought. Downtown Phoenix is a great place to do that. There are so many unique buildings and walls.

lola-the-yard-phoenix-az.jpg

lola-the-yard-phoenix-az.jpg

When trying a new place, it’s always awkward trying to figure out how things work, so here’s some advice on what I learned about parking and entering the building. There is complimentary valet if you enter on Montebello. But going on a Friday night, we came too late and the valet lot was full. You can park north of the street by the brown building or across the street by the white building. There is no parking south of The Yard, so don’t try that like we did. The entrance into the building is on the west (“back”) side of the building where you drop off your car for valet.

20140509-105450.jpg

Phoenix, AZ – Ollie Vaughn

One of my favorite things about traveling is discovering hidden gems of local food and coffee. I’ve been implementing that into my lifestyle here in Phoenix. There are a lot of great places to discover for a foodie.

Me and my friend Melissa discovered this cute local spot called Ollie Vaughn.

20140424-235750.jpg

We drove up to the parking lot and stumbled on a huge mural that covered the side of the building. I love art and love that it feels typical to find so much of it in Downtown Phoenix.

20140424-235048.jpg

I think the greatest appeal of Ollie Vaughn is their atmosphere. The whole store is well lit with sunshine, which mixed with the white walls and blue chairs, feels overall clean, classic, and European. Then there is the back patio. The tables are topped with succulent pots, lined with the same blue chairs, and at the edge of the patio are two stand up gardens. All the sunshine gives this place the mood of feeling like a great place you would want to lunch.

20140424-235330.jpg

20140424-235343.jpg

20140425-000239.jpg

Me and my friend got breakfast items: quiche, French toast and toddys. I’d love to return and try their lunch items, as two-thirds of their menu is salads and sandwhiches, plus their pastry case looked delicious with fresh pies and bars. Even so our breakfast was good. The quiche had ham, spinach and a creamy white cheese and was topped with cheese that had melted when heated. Also, the price was great. For my toddy and quiche I paid $7.50. And the rest of their menu was really reasonable too under $10.

20140424-235605.jpg

20140424-235619.jpg

20140424-235633.jpg

Tempe, AZ – Crepe Bar

I had heard alot of recommendations for Crepe Bar before I finally made my way there. Within two weeks after my first visit there, I had taken six friends who then started taking their friends and family. Crepe Bar is definitely doing something right.

crepe-bar-tempe-az-14

crepe-bar-tempe-az-12

crepe-bar-tempe-az-10

I have a few reason why I recommend Crepe Bar to others:

PERSONAL: The staff will always bring your food and drink to  you, no matter how busy they are.  And everything they hand out reflects personal attention to presentation: latte art on the coffee, sauce drizzled on the plates with the crepes, and samples in jars and flasks.

crepe-bar-tempe-az-7

crepe-bar-tempe-az-2

FRIENDLY. The staff is always kind and friendly. I like to engage, but I don’t expect it, so it’s nice when there’s mutual engaging.  The staff was friendly to chat about Phoenix and travel with me. Even to bring samples to my seat by the window and converse about any input I had on a new recipe. My favorite thing about supporting local business is that there is heart in what they create and connection with their community.

crepe-bar-tempe-az-3

CREATIVE. I love that this place is always creating. And their flavors are unique. Nothing boring here.  First time I came, I had the smokey crepe (turkey, avocado, chorizo and smoked gouda) and a cappuccino and I can’t help but come back to get the EXACT same thing every time. Though the crepe bar would do their best to persuade me otherwise: every time I come in, I get 2-3 samples of something different. It makes me feel secure that if I ever did sway away from my usual, I would find something equally as good. So, here were the three samples I received on this visit: housemade granola, spicy kale chips, and milk and cookies.

crepe-bar-tempe-az-8

crepe-bar-tempe-az-6

crepe-bar-tempe-az-5

COFFEE. From my first visit, I was obsessed with their coffee. For real. It was amazing. I later learned that it’s from heart roasters in Portland. So much sense: from my visit to Portland, heart roasters was my favorite, and I was in love with the fact that Crepe Bar imports heart coffee to right here in Phoenix. I may be wrong, but Crepe Bar is the only place I’ve found serving and selling heart coffee, which would be reason enough for my support, if they hadn’t given me so many other reasons already.

crepe-bar-tempe-az-1

Everything here is worth recommending. I’m all for finding something great locally and then getting support behind it.