Focus on farmers markets: Eating local? So are a lot of folks. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there were 17 percent more farmers markets across America this year than in 2010. And for Valley shoppers looking for fresh, locally grown goodness during prime season, it may have seemed most of the increase happened in Arizona. Next up: community gardens.

Esparza and Bianco branch out: This year, Valley legends Silvana Salcido Esparza and Chris Bianco expanded their empires. Barrio Café chef and owner Esparza announced two concepts coming to Old Town Scottsdale: a European-meets-Mexican restaurant called Silvana (set to open New Year's Eve) and the casual Barrio Queen Tequileria (which was to open December 26). Pizza master Bianco was especially busy in 2011. In addition to releasing his own line of canned organic tomatoes with California cannery expert Rob DiNapoli; creating the menu with Doug Robson of Gallo Blanco for Cocina 10, the restaurant inside downtown's new music venue, Crescent Ballroom; expanding his sandwich and salad shop, Pane Bianco, by taking over the space next-door that had been Lux and adding dinner; and opening Pizzeria Bianco for lunch; Bianco partnered with British celeb chef Jamie Oliver to open a restaurant in London called Union Jacks, featuring wood-fired flatbreads with British ingredients. Bianco also announced plans to open a trattoria in Central Phoenix with former Prado chef Claudio Urciuoli (whom Bianco hired last year) at the helm.

Late-night eats: The trend of wining and dining into the wee hours of the evening heated up in 2011, with top-notch Valley restaurants like Petite Maison, FnB, Posh, Noca, Sens Asian Tapas, and Citizen Public House offering a select menu of late-night gourmet eats, sometimes called "staff menus," to hungry diners not yet ready to call it a night. Extras like celeb chef sightings and eavesdropping in on the latest restaurant gossip made the late-night meals all the merrier.

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5 comments
Concerned Food Fan
Concerned Food Fan

"4,000 hungry fans" were "happy to pay the $35 ticket price" at the festival until they got in and realized what a rip off it was. Overcrowded, underserved, and not worth the money or time..

darclyte
darclyte

The best part about Food Trucks is that some of them often carry foods that many have never had the chance to try before. They're like yummy samples on wheels. Thanks for another great article!

 
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