Hillcrest Farmers Market – A Sunday Tradition

Posted by Shawn | Posted in Market | Posted on 15-02-2012

2

Main Aisle at Hillcrest Farmers Market

Every Sunday off Lincoln and Normal streets in Hillcrest from 9 to 2, you will find a farmer’s market that always draws a crowd. Known for its fresh fruit, veggies and flowers, the Hillcrest Farmers Market is a great way to spend your Sunday morning browsing produce or artisan stalls selling jewelry and clothing. It also boasts multiple food vendors cooking their lamb or frying their tortillas with a smell that wafts down the street and will undoubtedly persuade you to eat. Every time I visit the market I go in with the mindset to only grab some apples or squash but wind up demolishing a cornish pasty or some gyro because of that smell. Not complaining though.

The market does do a good job of showcasing the produce though by separating the stalls into two lanes. Walk down the main one and you’ll see flowers of every color as well as specialty items like herbal teas and hummus dips. While browsing the main walkway last Sunday I stumbled upon some herbs that looked great and as I was perusing the owners walked up. Whitney and Suilin run the Whole Earth Acre farms up in Vista, CA and come to the market every Sunday. Nice as can be, this couple was quick to teach me about their best sellers and which plants fare best this time of year. Even though I didn’t purchase anything with them, I would recommend stopping by to learn more and look into growing your own spices or vegetables.

On the other side of the market you’ll find the source of that great smell with stalls offering everything from big pastries to warm curries. Being a sucker for Indian food, I got a lamb masala with a vegetable samosa to warm me up on a cooler morning than most. The curry wasn’t bad but I would stick to the guy cooking up his marinated chicken for those tasty gyros next time. Down the same lane you can walk by handbags, jewelry and clothing next to some live music as you enjoy your food. Not a bad way to start your Sunday.

Herbs at the Hillcrest Farmers MarketFresh herbs from Whole Earth Acre farms in Vista, CA.

Whole Earth Acre farmsWhitney and Suilin with Whole Earth Acre farms.

Produce at Hillcrest Farmers MarketPink ladies among the fresh fruit offered every Sunday.

Curry at Hillcrest Farmers MarketLamb curry with a vegetable samosa from one of many vendors at the market.

Kebabs at Hillcrest Farmers MarketThis guy knows what he’s doing. Marinated chicken kebabs with pita bread.

Live music at Hillcrest Farmers MarketLive music entertaining a crowd at the Hillcrest Farmers Market.

Peach Festival at Schnepf Farms

Posted by Shawn | Posted in Arizona, Market | Posted on 26-05-2011

0

Peach Festival at Schnepf Farms

Looking for something to do this weekend in the valley? Does picking your own peaches, eating giant pies and walking though sunflower fields sound fun? If so, you’ll want to pay Schnepf Farms a visit before June 5th. Every year around this time the farm in Queen Creek allows people to come on their grounds and pick their own peaches.  For 2 weekends of the month, they also have a Peach Festival that includes a lot more than just orchards.

Train at Schnepf Farms

Last weekend I got the chance to go to their Peach Festival with Becky and we had a great time even though it was a bit hot. It was crowded too but the place is so big that you can easily get a little lost and find some peach trees to yourself. As we walked in there was a flow to the traffic of people all leading to the events and food away from the peach trees, so we followed suit and found ourselves in a bustling area surrounded by state fair-like attractions. They had frozen lemonade, kettle corn, huge peach and fruit pies all in the middle of hay rides and a train that took passengers around the grounds.  At first, it was a little overwhelming but as we kept walking the crowd thinned out and we got a chance to walk in the shop.

Crowd Schnepf Farms

The shop in the corner of Schnepf Farms houses most of the products that come from the farm, including items like desert honey, peach jelly, apple butter spread and of course pies. The pies here aren’t too expensive and they are all delicious. The peach pie was selling quickly but I got a chance to try a slice and it was perfect. Soft to the point where a fork goes right through but strong enough to hold its shape, this slice was layers of gooey peaches in between a flaky crust. Coupled with a frozen lemonade it was the perfect snack (meal).

Peach Festival Schnepf Farms

We eventually made our way to the peach trees where the crowd had definitely died down and reached a quiet orchard only disturbed by the occasional train rolling through with 50 people too lazy to walk. The trees were still filled with dozens of peaches each and we got our hands on a pretty good selection. My height didn’t hurt either when we had to reach high for the good ones. After we picked a bagful, we got in line to pay $1.90 a pound which isn’t bad at all. Apparently others agreed with me though because the line revealed where all the people had gone. Worth the wait however.

Shawn at Schnepf Farms

Unfortunately I didn’t get time to write this article quick enough to tell you to go check out the festival, but there’s still plenty to do at Schnepf and if you go before the first weekend in June you can pick as many peaches as you’d like. There will still be pie though which should be enough to get you to go!

Tip: Schnepf Farms holds other festivals like the Pumpkin and Chili party in the fall and the Market Festival in September if you can’t make this one.

http://www.schnepffarms.com/

24810 S. Rittenhouse Road
Queen Creek, Arizona 85242

Food Truck Friday at Phoenix Public Market

Posted by Shawn | Posted in Arizona, Food Trucks, Market | Posted on 27-04-2011

3

Jamburritos at Food Truck Friday

A food blogger has to be up on their local scene. There’s no way around it. If they want to know about the latest openings or the most talked about burger, at one point they’ll have to join Twitter or some other social site to be in the know. If they don’t want to join, then they’ll not only be left out of the discussion but they’ll probably miss out on connecting with hundreds of other people who are potential readers to their blog as well. So for you readers of this blog who aren’t selling your soul to Twitter, you can thank me later for doing the dirty work and telling you about Food Truck Friday at Phoenix Public Market in downtown Phoenix (or #FoodTruckFriday @PHXPublicMarket as they say!).

singer at Food Truck Friday

So what’s the deal? Well every Friday from 11am to 1:30pm, a few local food trucks show up to the parking lot in front of Phoenix Public Market to throw a different type of lunch. They circle up and form a wall around some shaded benches and parking spaces. Now since food trucks have been gaining popularity lately on the news and channels like Food Network, the turnout is getting pretty big and is still growing.  This is great news of course to the vendors who show but it also means the lines can get a little long.  As a consolation though, you do have live music to listen to and you can wait in the shade for the most part. The list of food trucks is getting pretty long too (visit Phoenix Street Food Members to learn more) which is good to hear because it means more options.

Short Leash Hot Dogs

This time the lineup was looking pretty good because there was a nice mix of options including Mexican, Cajun, BBQ and dessert. Here was who attended:

Now since there were 7 trucks this time and each had fairly good size menus, I was able to basically eat like I was at 3 different restaurants at one time. The only bad thing was having to decide where I’d spend my money. I felt like a kid in Chuck E Cheese’s with only a handful of tokens, trying to figure out which games would give me the longest amount of playing time. I had to make a move though because the lines were getting long, so I decided to start with Short Leash Hot Dogs.

Aiko Hot Dog from Short Leash

I ordered the Aiko, which comes with choice of weiner (I chose Spicy Brat), mango chutney, jalapenos, red onions, cilantro and mayo. After I ordered, I immediately went over to Jamburritos and ordered the chicken tacos served on corn tortillas with black beans, shredded lettuce, jack cheese and onions. I brought my friend and photographer Jeff with me and he looked at me with a puzzled look like “Did you just order a hot dog AND tacos? This is why your fat.” (Note: I’m not actually fat, but if I continue eating this way I’m sure to be a biggun’).  It proved to be a good decision though because the tacos took about 15 minutes to get and the hot dog only 5, so it felt like a waiter was bringing me my second course as I finished the Aiko.

Meal at Food Truck Friday

The hot dog was decent I’d say. Maybe it was because I didn’t want mayo in 90 degree heat, but the hot dog was too dry and altogether it was a bit boring really. Jeff got the Moki, essentially a Mexican hot dog, with green chilies, onions, tomatoes, pinto beans, cheddar and mayo and he loved it. So I guess it’s hit or miss.

Moki from Short Leash Hot Dogs

The tacos were good too but the exact opposite of dry and I was mopping up the leftovers that fell out with the naan from the hot dog. I think I saw people to my left looking at me probably thinking “Is he really mopping up his second item with his first item?” (again, not fat!).

Sweet Republic Truck

After finishing my ‘combo’, I was jonesin’ for some ice cream and Sweet Republic was staring right at me with it’s bright orange truck. How do you say no to Sweet Basil sorbet or Blueberry Pomegranate Yogurt when it’s 90+ degrees outside!? Answer: you don’t. So I walked on over and ordered some Real Mint Chip ice cream. Oh my god I love Sweet Republic. Honestly, where were they 15 years ago when I was stuck getting Marble Slab Creamery because they were the only ones in town? They have some seriously good flavors that you frankly can’t go wrong with.

Torched Goodnesss

Anyways, overall the whole lunch was a success and I loved the whole feel to it. Everyone is outside enjoying themselves and having a good time eating . That’s what it’s all about and I’m continually looking for occasions like these.  Check Food Truck Friday out one of these times.

Tip: Get there before noon to beat the lines since people leave their offices nearby for lunch around then.

#FoodTruckFriday

721 N Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Vincent’s Camelback Market

Posted by Shawn | Posted in Market | Posted on 24-02-2011

2

Crepe at Vincent's Camelback Market

Saturday mornings are a special time for me wherever I am because I can usually find an outdoor market. I love markets and everything about them, from trying locally grown produce to sipping great coffee and just relaxing. I’ve been to a lot of markets in and out of the U.S. and each one has its own signature trait but whenever I go I always come across something I wasn’t expecting. For example, the Borough Market in London is known for its size and being one of the largest in the world, but they also have some of the best coffee I’ve tasted from a small place called Monmouth Coffee. The Ferry Building market in San Francisco where I visited recently was proudly displaying their breads all over the place and even though I knew I had to get a loaf of sourdough when I was there, some locals were telling me I had to try the specialty meats from a local farm owner. As for Phoenix, there are a growing number of Saturday morning markets these days but Vincent’s Market on Camelback will always be one of my favorites.

Bike to Vincent's

I think the reason I frequent Vincent’s Camelback Market is the fact that I’ve never been to one that put such a large focus on the meals. Every market has its share of clothing, craft or jewelry vendor but few have so many people cooking the local ingredients in front of you. At Vincent’s, you can get a crepe, pizza, panini, omelette and tons of other things made just for you right there. It’s almost as if the restaurant behind them was turned inside out and instead of sitting in a dimly lit room, you can enjoy the sunny weather outside at a little table with your mimosas. Yes that’s right, you can get mimosa table service outside with a giant “menu” to go with it. Maybe that’s the reason I frequent this place.

Mimosa at Vincent's Camelback Market

Let me walk you through your options starting from the front entrance which we rode our bikes to, making for a great start to the day. To your immediate right will be all their local vegetables and fruit including fresh strawberries, eggplant, greens and sometimes something new that’s in season. If you buy a fruit, a fun thing to do is to have them wash it and then bring it to the crepe station where they can include it in your meal. Talk about fresh. Moving on you’ll come across a pastry case full of delicious treats like apple tarts, croissants, huge macaroons and chocolate brownies. It’s easy to spend money here though so be careful!

Chef at Vincent's Camelback Market

Down the table you’ll usually find samples of olive oil, salsa or something you can dip into to whet your appetite. They also recently started selling fresh fish here and they have about 5 coolers full of different varieties. If you’re planning on sitting down and enjoying the day though, they’ll keep it on ice for you until you’re ready to leave. Now moving on there’s a gap before the next tent but look to your left and you’ll find the man with the champagne hidden behind some trees and tables ready to give you your own bucket with ice and a bottle. He also sells freshly squeezed orange juice from one of the other vendors to go with the champagne, and I highly recommend you get this. The fresh juice full of pulp makes for a great mimosa and gives the drink a whole new level.

Crowd at Vincent's Camelback Market

At this point you’re around the middle section of the market but there are way more vendors in the second half so keep on venturing. In the second half you’ll find made to order omelettes and pasta. You can choose to add as much as you want to these and your options include things like fresh basil (some of the best I’ve had), prosciutto and a big selection of cheeses. We got their ravioli in a tomato sauce with fresh basil and parmesan cheese. It was absolutely delicious and the sauce is top notch.

Ravioli at Vincent's Camelback Market

Towards the back Vincent has a wood fired pizza oven on wheels that put my attempt at making one last year to shame. This thing cranks out thin crust pizzas every 4 minutes so you don’t have to wait long. There are about a dozen types you can get ranging from the basic margherita to inventive ones with avocado and bacon.

Pizza Oven at Vincent's Camelback Market

This time we went with a simple four cheese pizza that literally made everyone sit back in their chairs after the first bite and just smile. It had mozzarella, brie, bleu and goat cheeses all on top of a basil pesto and it delivered a great taste. The only problem is that I could eat 3 of these and be out $25 in 30 minutes.

Pizza at Vincent's Camelback Market

The back of the market also houses some locally produced honey, frozen pasta to take home and a cookie mix made by Brophy’s Calculus Club plus more. However, don’t leave before you’ve ordered a crepe from Vincent’s son. You can find him in the middle where there’s usually a large line of people waiting. There are two types of crepe you can order: a savory crepe with a long list of fillings to choose from or a sweet crepe with an even longer menu. Needing dessert to go with the remainder of our mimosas, we tried to stump him with a fairly large order. We asked for a crepe filled with nutella, bananas, blueberry puree and topped with powdered sugar. He looked at us and just politely said “You want all of that in one crepe?”. We nodded yes and he set off on making what turned out to be a big folded crepe that turned heads as we walked back to our table. Needless to say, it was damn good. The perfect end to a great Saturday morning.

Kim Rowe

Vincent’s Camelback Market is located on Camelback just west of 40th St. It’s open from 9am-1pm on Saturdays and goes until May 21st this year. Make sure to pay them a visit!

Tip: Grab a table on your way in if possible because they go fast and people stay for a while.

Vincent’s On Camelback

3930 E. Camelback Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85018