Thursday, March 1, 2012

Culinary Cruising in Phoenix, Day Two!


In my last blog I recounted that we're using this week's visit of our daughter to Phoenix to venture out and try some of the restaurants and food favorites which have been featured in either "Check Please, Arizona" or the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives".  On our second day we began our day by visiting the Red Poeviner Tortilla Factory in Surprise, Arizona.  My daughter was anxious to purchase fresh tortillas to take back to her home in Virginia.  The Red Poeviner is a modest operation on old Santa Fe Road in Surprise.  They make fresh tortillas for both wholesale and retail sales and also run a small food operation on site.  This day they were offering a combo of fresh tamales, with sides for a very reasonable price at the counter.  My daughter bought a pack of freshly made tortillas so that we could sample them and decide if this establishment would be where we go to purchase in volume on the day before her departure.  We found Red Poeviner's tortillas to be quite tasty, light and fluffy.  Good food!  However, we have also heard about Carolina's outstanding tortillas so we visited the Carolina's restaurant in Peoria and ordered both plain and the buttered tortillas for comparison.  Perhaps we were influenced by the fresh butter folded into Carolina's fresh tortillas, but Carolina's won the taste test!

Our next stop was at the Cerrita's Candy Factory in Glendale.  I had read that this was a popular spot for visitors to buy and take home freshly made candy and we were not disappointed.  We watched part of the factory tour but were anxious to see the many varieties of candy so we scooted over to the retail bins to marvel at chocolate covered strawberries and chocolate covered jalapeño peppers!  After salivating over attractive bins of all varieties of candies we purchased bags of delicious chocolates and caramels and peanut brittle, then continued down the road of culinary pursuits.

Trying our best not to dig into our candy haul, we headed East toward Scottsdale.  As we cruised down Scottsdale Road we marveled at the winter luxury of the Hiltons and Radisons as Eastern tourists walked around in golf shorts and basked in our warm winter temps.  Our next destination was lunch at "Noodles Ranch" in Scottsdale.  This is a Vietnamese restaurant that offers a vast array of light and elegant Vietnamese food favorites but our goal was to score a noon time bowl of hearty "Pho", the beef and noodle soup that is a staple with Vietnamese families.  We arrived just as they were opening for lunch and were quickly seated and orders taken.  My wife had a coconut juice, laced with layers of fresh coconut and my daughter ordered the traditional Vietnamese iced coffee.  Within a very short time the restaurant began filling up and order after order was for the Pho soup.  I was amazed when our orders arrived at the table.   We ordered the beef sirloin Pho and were greeted with huge bowls of Pho packed with savory beef and noodles.  The key to good Pho is allowing the beef broth to simmer long and strong and to make sure the spices are blended properly.  We were not disappointed.  This Pho was some of the best we have ever tasted.  None of us were able to finish our servings so, if you're looking for a great $7 dollar lunch you can't beat Noodle Ranch.  The owner is a professional chef who relocated to Scottsdale from Washington State and opened his restaurant here, much to the satisfaction of local diners.  This is a family owned and operated restaurant for all to enjoy!

Prior to heading back to the west side we decided to stop and check out a new Toffee Candy company that had been featured on the local morning TV show the day before.  After some difficulty finding it we finally located it tucked away in the innards of a shopping center off of Shea and 70th street.  The shop is called GoodyTwos and is a mother-daughter business that has opted to specialize in toffee candy.  We went in and sampled the toffee candy and it was tasty.  However, we were surprised and disappointed that it was overpriced.  $14.95 for a modest 1/2 pound of Toffee and $26.95 for the same candy available in a gift box.  My daughter did splurge for one small bag of Toffee then we hit the road and headed for home, our eyes entertained with Scottsdale's lushness and our stomach's sated with another day of good eating!

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