Scottsdale & Phoenix, AZ (EATS)

May 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

sun glints white

on glossy green

palm tree leaves

spiky sharp at their ends

yet soft as a cluster

swaying in the wind

I love Arizona. I love the heat, the intense colors, the desert landscape and the cacti.

Red boulders stacked against the electric blue sky

And now, after a long weekend in AZ, I love a particular dish in downtown Scottsdale: the chopped salad at Cowboy Ciao. It is a plate of goodness — smoked salmon, Israeli couscous, arugula, toasted pepitas, currants and marinated tomatoes presented in a rainbow of orderly rows, with a little metal jug of buttermilk pesto dressing on the side. A perfect lunch.

I also experienced eating as a locavore at FnB in downtown Scottsdale. I didn’t realize much produce was grown in AZ, but in fact, it is, and there are a number of local wines as well. While I’d rather drink the wine in California, to be totally frank, two dishes stood out: grilled broccoli with chili (an entire head of broccoli, halved and perfectly charred) and a roasted Jidori chicken.

I’d been wanting to try one of these birds since I read a New York Times article about this Japanese breed, whose name translates roughly as “from the earth”. The chickens are raised on a handful of farms in Central California and processed by a tiny plant in L.A., whose owner offered my favorite part of the article: “You don’t just grow a chicken, you form a relationship.” Amen. I never used to eat chicken in restaurants because I found it dry and bland. But after moving to San Francisco, which is serious about raising happy, free — and I guess the theory goes, flavorful — chickens, I’ve realized the joys of this fowl. And this one lived up to my recently-set bar: it was juicy and very “chicken-y”.

Finally, best spot to grab lunch on the way to or from the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport? Phoenix Ranch Market right nearby. My husband and I tried the chicken enchiladas in green sauce (him), caldo de res (me), and since I adore tamales, two tamales, one savory with pork and one sweet with pineapple. I’d pass on the tamales next time (masa a bit tough, filling unremarkable), and I think the green chicken enchiladas in San Francisco are better, but I loved that caldo de res. The simple soup with big chunks of beef stew meat, carrots, onions, zucchini, chayote and potatoes was a little greasy, but it was homey and hit the spot with a stack of warm, fresh tortillas.

Caldo de res with tortillas

The party that is Phoenix Ranch Market

Cowboy Ciao, 7133 E. Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ (Stetson at 6th Avenue in the SouthBridge district of downtown Scottsdale). 480.946.3111

FnB Restaurant, 7133 E. Stetson Dr., Scottsdale, AZ. 480.425.9463

Phoenix Ranch Market, 1602 Roosevelt St., Phoenix, AZ. 6o2.254.6676

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