Linda Hopkins' Perfect Food Day

Linda Hopkins' Perfect Food Day
Photo courtesy Linda Hopkins

Linda Hopkins has been a Phoenix culinary mainstay for more than 20 years. She's best known for starting the Valley's first and longest running children's only cooking school called Les Petite Gourmettes. The name is a nod to her love of all things French. Each summer, Hopkins helps  kids from ages 8 to 18 spend 4-5 day weeks by getting their hands dirty and their minds filled with the technique and love of food and cooking. She got her education at culinary schools in France, San Francisco and New York. You can find her exuberant posts and many recipes on the Les Petite Gourmette's blog and twitter (@LHop1027). Her recipes have been included in several cookbooks, including Cooking with Les Dames d'Escoffier: At Home with the Women Who Shape the Way We Eat and Drink -- she's also a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier International, the invite only club for female culinary professionals. Today we've invited her to share her perfect food day.

Here's Linda Hopkins' perfect food day:

To make my Perfect Food Day work, I would need to be able to apparate from one place to another, à la Harry Potter. And we will also assume that apparating in this manner burns off all calories consumed and all feelings of a full stomach. For it to be a truly Perfect Food Day I would also need to be able to partake in these meals with my favorite people, so here we go...

Pre-breakfast stop: Essence Bakery Café for a croissant and to pick up a huge box of Eugenia Theodosopoulos' heavenly macarons, at least a dozen of each luscious flavor, to sustain me and my dining partners throughout the day.

Breakfast: I would travel to Flagstaff to enjoy a leisurely brunch at Criollo Latin Kitchen with my son, Connor. We would indulge in the Huevos Español; Two Poached Eggs with Jamón Serrano on a toasted English Muffin topped with a spicy Hollandaise and served with Home Fries. And wash it down with a Bloody Mary.

Lunch: Connor and I would meet up with my husband, Dave, and all my girlfriends and their kids and share huge portions of Brussels Sprout Salad from Chelsea's Kitchen, the perfect Braised Leeks from FnB, and a stack of Housemade Mozzarella, Local Tomato, and Basil Sandwiches from Pane Bianco.

Happy Hour Part 1: We'd leave my husband and the kids to their own devices and the girls and I would travel to San Francisco and meet up with my daughter, Marissa, at the lovely Gitane Restaurant and drown ourselves in Gitane's fruity sangria and devour platters full of their Bacon Bonbons; Prunes stuffed with Goat Cheese, wrapped in Smoked Bacon, swimming in a Spiced Port Glaze. Oh my!

Happy Hour Part 2: Next I'd pick up Connor and we'd all grab our significant others and head to Florence, Italy to revisit a place that my family has been dreaming about since May 2008! Ballerini Pasticceria il Cioccolato is just around the corner from all the car rental agencies, near the train station in Florence. It is a chocolate shop that also has breakfast pastries and a focaccia counter in the back. The focaccia is like no other. It is a double-crusted or filled focaccia and the top crust is delightfully thin, crispy, and salty. The Margarita, Spinach and Feta Stuffed, and the Sausage and White Cheese are what we enjoyed all those years ago, but I just have to go back and try all the varieties they offer!

Happy Hour Part 3: Back in Arizona, we would go to Elote Café in Sedona and indulge in the namesake Elote appetizer; fire roasted corn with spicy mayo, lime, and cotija cheese, served with crisp corn tortillas. Chef Jeff Smedstad recently taught a class at Les Gourmettes and served the most wonderful "fall and winter" De Lujo (Luxury) Margarita. Even if it's not on the menu, we'd have to request several pitchers for the table.

Elote Cafe's signature elote appetizer
Elote Cafe's signature elote appetizer
PenandFork.com
Binkley's frogs legs
Binkley's frogs legs
Photo courtesy Linda Hopkins

Dinner: No question about it. We would be at Binkley's Restaurant in Cave Creek, order the 6-course tasting menu, with wine paring, and delight with awe at each and every one of the multiple amuse-bouche and courses that Chef Kevin Binkley placed in front of us! If frog's legs are in season, that would be the Pièce de résistance to my Perfect Food Day!

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