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But we've got better -- we've got Cindy and Gary Iverson, and the Paper Studio. This wonderful gallery/shop/school opened quietly this year, and we couldn't believe it when we popped in on a hot Saturday afternoon. The beautiful space, just across the street from the Tempe Library, is friendly to paper artists from scrapbookers to bookmakers -- a wide range. Cindy, who has an MFA in book arts, teaches a range of classes, from paper pouring (you literally mix and pour the pulp that will become handmade paper) to scrapbook-making. Gary teaches a variety of binding courses, and other local artists round out the schedule with classes like Polaroid transfers.
One of the nicest things about the Paper Studio is that it doesn't look down on scrapbookers but also doesn't stock a bunch of cheesy stickers. If you don't want to get too involved, you can buy beautiful stationery for a few bucks. Or you can have invitations printed for you.
The Iversons will even host a private party for you, with your choice of guests, teacher and class. Phoenix may not have the Church of Craft, but paper people still have a lot to be grateful for!
This corner is testament to what a few creative minds -- and more than a few well-placed dollars -- can do.
And since Whole Foods is admittedly dedicated to high-quality, mostly organic comestibles, both its imported and domestic cheeses contain no artificial flavors or colors or synthetic preservatives, be they from the wilds of Wisconsin, the plains of Spain or the frigid fjords of Scandinavia. We've found it hard to choose from all the artisanal cheeses this place offers -- those specialty cheeses of limited production that may include flavorings such as herbs, spices, fruits and nuts, like cabra al vino, which literally translated means Drunken Goat. It's a hard-to-find Spanish goat cheese from the province of Murcia dunked in red wine and aged to tangy perfection, almost always available here.
Best of all, Whole Foods likes cheese shopping for its customers to be risk-free, so you can ask for a little nibble of that triple-crème Camembert or the $16-a-pound Basque country Idiazabal before you commit yourself to spending beaucoup bucks for a pound of it.
A fourth-generation, family-owned and -operated fishing business based in Alaska, this store's wiggly offerings are pulled in, fussin' and fightin', from Cook Inlet, where it meets the Kenai River, and flown to Phoenix either fresh or flash frozen within eight hours, depending on the season. It's firm, real, salmon-colored, delectable fish flesh, from pristine, virtually contaminant-free cold waters. No antibiotics. No pens. Just good-tastin' fish for grilling, poaching or sushi making.
Besides fresh, fresh-frozen and smoked king and sockeye salmon fillets and whole fish, Alaska Family Salmon also carries fresh halibut, wild Alaska king crab, scallops and razor clams. And you can't beat the prices here with a stick or a fishing pole.
Relief for the gluten-intolerant has come to town. Gluten Free for You, co-owned by Kris Anderson and Tom Rich (who himself is gluten-intolerant), specializes in bread, pasta and cracker products that are guaranteed gluten-free. Not only does it carry ready-made foods made from rice, potato, soy, tapioca and bean flour, but it also stocks mixes for making bakery items, including wheat- and gluten-free cakes and muffins. Gluten Free for You also maintains a convenient Web site, from which you can buy its products by mail order.
We can't imagine a world without pizza, bagels, ice cream cones or cookies; now celiac sufferers in Phoenix don't need to live in one.