For nearly two years, Gina Buskirk baked biscotti and made fresh cheeses in a rented commercial kitchen before selling her Gina's Homemade products at the Scottsdale Farmer's Market. Now she and her husband, Chris (who handles the business end of this family operation), have found a permanent home for their homemade goodies.
The couple rented a pad in the Palo Verde Square shopping complex on Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard (just north of Shea) because they needed more space for production. The happy result is that they have a permanent retail space to sell their own products, along with the little extras they now carry to create an easy, one-stop shop for gourmet-minded customers.
Here's what you can expect to find:
A refrigerated case holds Gina's cheeses -- shimmering orbs of mozzarella and burrata, ricotta, mascarpone and a fluffy, herbed spread the couple named Bene Con Tutto (good for everyone) because everyone loves it for its versatility. Chris says it's terrific on crusted bread, hamburgers, and morning eggs.
Gina's exceptional new butters, which she's been perfecting in recent months, are offered in three flavors: plain, sea salt, or truffle, the latter so outrageously good I don't expect the half-pound tub I bought to last more than a few days.
It's going under the skin of a chicken that will be roasted this very night.
The shop also sells five or six ready-to-bake, gourmet pizzas (think margherita or ricotta with arugula) and two or three of Gina's seasonal soups, packaged for take-out.
While I'm there, Gina cuts a few samples of the Olli salami they bring in from Virginia, made by an Italian expat whose family has been producing salami in Italy for three generations. This fatty, wonderful stuff shows up on one of the pies -- a Gina's Homemade idea that grew organically from customers who said, "You already make great cheese, why not pizza?"
Various display shelves and cases around the cozy room hold Chris Bianco's canned tomatoes, Italian-imported dry pasta, olive oils, Bob McClendon's honey and, at the moment, his arugula, eggplant, yellow squash, red bell peppers and heirloom tomatoes.
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The Buskirks' little shop is so new it doesn't have a sign out front, but it's easy to find, given that it sits almost directly behind Blue Adobe Grille. You should also know that many of Gina's Homemade products are sold at AJ's and Whole Foods, and that all of her yummy stuff will still be available at the local farmers markets where you've always found them. A growing number of Gina's Homemade products also are being used by local restaurants, including Beckett's Table, Praying Monk and Prado.