Phoenix Food Gifts
I'm trying to figure out the best place to buy some (shelf-stable) food that's unique to the Southwest - something to give as a gift. I'd prefer someplace in the Southeast Valley. Is a farmers market my best bet? I'd love to check out the Phoenix Public Market sometime, but I can never find the time to schlep over there.
Can anyone recommend a great local mustard or maybe prickly pear preserves or some other local product?
Two places that immediately come to mind are:
Sphinx Date Ranch (Thomas & Scottsdale Road) in south Scottsdale has a bunch of great local foodstuffs and wines. They also put together gift boxes/baskets and frequently have wine tastings.
Queen Creek Olive Mill carries a large selection of olive oils, vinegars, olives, tapenades & spreads, honey, agave nectar, etc. You can spend a nice weekend afternoon there as they often have wine tastings too. Restaurant on site as well.
Other local treats that don't necessarily scream "southwest" but that are excellent are goodies from Gina's Homemade (www.ginashomemade.com), Goody Twos Toffee (www.goodytwos.com), and Tracy Dempsy Originals (tracydempseyoriginals.com). Last year all of these could be found at the Old Town Farmers Market (in Old Town Scottsdale), but not sure about right now since the market is downsized for the summer. Also at the Scottsdale Old Town Farmers Market were several booths selling jarred jams, spreads, horseradishes, etc. Not my thing, so I couldn't relay the details.
Have fun with your search!
Sphinx Date Ranch
3039 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Queen Creek Olive Mill
25062 S Meridian Rd, Queen Creek, AZ 85242
It's not the sexiest idea, but if whoever you're giving it to is a creative cook, have you thought about dried cholla buds?
My mind was drawing a total blank - I forgot all about Queen Creek and the others are good new tips for me.
I don't even know what to do with dried cholla buds (I had them for the first time at Kai recently), but that's a great idea. That definitely says Southwest. Where would one find cholla buds?
Now I just have to figure out if things like jelly and tapanade are considered liquids by the TSA...
Answering my own question (and for the benefit of others), I just found out about a neat-sounding store in Tucson. It's called Native Seeds and it's run by a non-profit organization of the same name who works to preserve local produce and seeds. It looks like they have a ton of local products including cholla buds when they're in season and mesquite flour (which is what I'm currently looking for.)
I was going to recommend Native Seeds. But their site was down that day.
Just know that their mesquite flour is actually from South America. At least it was last time I checked, a couple weeks ago.
Phoenix Public Market also sells mesquite flour. I am not sure if it is native or not. A quick call would probably answer that question.
If you were closer, I would just sell or trade you for some of my own, that I had milled last year.
I do find it ironic that with all the mesquite trees around, all the mesquite flour I've seen (online) comes from South America. Especially strange that even Native Seeds' comes from South America. Maybe I should start collecting my neighbor's pods instead of just trying to keep my dog from eating them...
I know, right? And most of the varieties used for landscaping around here are non-natives as well. I guess our native varieties are too shrubby and slow-growing for most people's taste. Too bad too, because their pods are way tastier, in my opinion.
If you do collect the pods, hang onto them until the Fall. Desert Harvesters does a milling at Maya's Farm -- in October, I think? More info here:
BTW, carob pods are also in season.
There are two places in GIlbert/Mesa that I would recommend:
Langley's Country Market is on Guadalupe between Greenfield and Higley in Gilbert. They carry a ton of Queen Creek Olive oil products without schlepping all the way out to the mill (as fun as that is, but if you don't have time this is a great source).
The other place is close by and technically it's in Mesa. It's called Power Road Farmers Market. I love their homemade preserves (Tomato and Fig in particular). They also have a lot of good local food items that you won't easily find. http://guadalupefarmersmarket.com/