Sanitary Clause

For the first time in 25 years, the Arizona Department of Health Services has updated its requirements for food safety in restaurants. While it took the agency three years to develop the new rules, the need for a few of the changes seems pretty obvious.

At least one person on a restaurant staff, for example, must now know how to prevent food-borne illness. Another rule says food handlers "must use utensils or non-latex gloves when touching the food." Latex can cause the wearer to suffer from allergies, along with the dining public if its toxins are transferred to food.

Yet another new law demands that potentially hazardous ready-to-eat foods must be date-marked, which limits the amount of time prepared foods can stay in the refrigerator before being served. Restaurateurs also must now advise us of the health risk in consuming raw or undercooked shellfish, eggs or meat in their menus

The updates, of course, are a good thing. Now, individual inspectors have greater flexibility in how often they inspect restaurants, depending on how closely an operation may need to be monitored. Previously, visits were scheduled solely by the government, or reactive when a customer filed a complaint.

I can see the next thing now, sort of like the Surgeon General's warning, emblazoned across the bottom of menus: Dine at Your Own Risk.

Garden Variety: The Quiessence Culinary Center at The Farm at South Mountain has reopened for its remarkable five-course dinners, served Friday and Saturday evenings only. This is truly a garden-to-table experience, with organic vegetables and herbs picked the same day from The Farm's surrounding acreage. The Mediterranean-inspired menu changes weekly, and plan on spending some time savoring the food. The intimate meals, served in a renovated home, begin with a chef's tasting at 6:30 p.m. and dinner ends around 10 p.m. Reservations are a must -- call 602-243-9081.

Room With a Chew: Sanctuary on Camelback resort, formerly John Gardiner's Tennis Ranch, has become full service, at least as far as the food goes. While the full-scale renovation still leaves just a few suites available for occupancy, the resort's restaurant, Elements, has added breakfast, lunch and Sunday brunch to complement the dinner feature that debuted six months ago.

This Spud's for You: Just when I think I've seen every possible menu marketing gimmick, I find this at NobHill (San Francisco and Las Vegas): "Complimentary Whipped Potato Service" is included with entrees. What's next -- "Gratis presentation of parsley?"

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Carey Sweet
Contact: Carey Sweet