Chow Bella

Sara Oliver, What Are You Eating?

Sara Oliver

The jeweler and artist has an art opening on Friday, November 5 at Sweets and Beats. Hanging on the walls will be about 120 drawings and mixed media pieces all under $20, plus there will be Tammie Coe cupcakes and a free show by Doctor Dinosaur from Tucson. Her jewelry line is called DEERSnotDEARS and can be found on Etsy or at Sweets and Beats.

What'd you eat for dinner last night? I ate chicken friend rice that I made. It's incredibly easy and cheap to make. It's one of those dishes that had always seemed to complicated and foreign for me to attempt, but I learned it from a friend a few years back and have been making it ever since. All you need is chicken, rice, an egg, and a frozen bag of peas and carrots.

Favorite food: My favorite food is now frozen yogurt, specifically from Mesa Frozen Yogurt. (My fiance) Ryan (Avery) and I discovered it once when we were stuck in Mesa, and it's literally the best frozen yogurt I have ever had. They have six flavors that change every day and a flavors calendar on their site so you can look forward to your favorite flavors (we mark ours on our calendar). They have amazing flavors like Snickers, marshmallow, red velvet and pumpkin. It's not that awful ice-ridden tart nonsense that you get at places like Mojo either, it's really creamy, and you can tell it's made from actual yogurt. You can also get 32 ounces of it for under $5. It's the best.

Least favorite food: My least favorite food is soup. I only eat Ramen, if I have to, and the thought of soup just makes me feel sick. I don't understand people that think soup is a meal, and order soup for their dinner at a restaurant. It's like the equivalent of asking for a hot chocolate in a bowl so you can slurp it up with a spoon and pay pretty much the same price for a real entree. I'll leave the slurpy-liquidy food for the babies, and order real food when I go out. I do have to admit though, that I was at the Main Ingredient recently, and they have a tomato soup that I will call the best soup I have ever had.

Favorite dessert: My favorite desert is Parisian Macarons. There is a place in Beverly Hills called Paulette which has the most amazing macarons I have ever had. I have yet to find a bakery in Phoenix that has fantastic macarons, so if you know of one, please share. Locally though, I'd have to say my favorite deserts are Tammie Coe's Peanut Butter Monster Cake, and The Cheescake Factory's Adam's Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple cheesecake. It's probably not a coincidence that they both have peanut butter in them.

Favorite local restaurant and meal to order there: My favorite local restaurant right now is Two Hippies Pizzeria. I usually order the Mediterranean or Buffalo Wing pizza. They are both amazing. I have never loved pizza so much until I had Two Hippies. Most of their ingredients are local and organic, and they have like 20 different 12-inch pizzas to choose from, all $7. You really can't beat that. I don't even think Eriberto's (3437 N. 7th Ave. in Phoenix) $7 Super Nachos beats it, and that was my favorite meal and favorite place to eat prior to discovering Two Hippies.

Favorite local bar and cocktail to order there: I'm tentative to say I don't drink alcohol. I'd hate to upset anyone, but I'll say it in homage to honesty: I don't drink alcohol. I'm not much help in the local bar/cocktail area. I do love playing pool though, and the Lucky Cue (1612 E. McDowell Road in Phoenix) seems to always have 90 percent of their bar seating empty. If you want a quite place to drink with friends where you know you can get fast service, and all you're looking for is a beer, go to the Lucky Cue. I did a Fathers Day photo shoot there one night, and there were under 10 customers there, and that place is huge. If you're a wine person, I recommend going to Costco and trying any of the Francis Coppola bottles. They are always a good choice.

Favorite thing to cook at home: My favorite thing to cook at home is Chicken Stroganoff. It's the meal I cook when I need to feel comforted. It's very easy to make, although it's messy and leaves a lot of dishes. I try and stock most of the ingredients regularly, in case of an emotional emergency. It's hard to find some of the ingredients if you shop at places like Fresh and Easy, but it's worth the extra drive to a Safeway or AJ's.

Favorite memory involving food: There was a time when I was still living in Los Angeles, when Ryan, Tristan Jemsek, and Erin Caldwell all came to visit me. We spent most of the day by the pool, and we grilled veggies. Ryan and I had gone to the market and bought eggplant, corn, bell peppers, onions, and I think the last item was asparagus. We barbecued veggies by the pool, and also ate amazing gouda, a sourdough baguette (from La Brea Bakery), as well as a balsamic glaze I made, and some form of bruschetta topping I improvised. This type of meal is something I make often, but for some reason on this day, everything tasted much more incredible than it usually does.

Recipe or food tip to share: One of my favorite recipes is a spin-off version of Au Gratin Potatoes. It calls for 6 ounces of goat cheese, a tiny carton of heavy whipping cream, a stick of butter, and about 8 large potatoes (red, brown, or yellow will work). You preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and get out a 9x13 baking pan. From there, you just slice the potatoes as thin as possible, and layer them with slices of butter and crumbled goat cheese. After everything else is in there, you pour the heavy whipping cream until it hits about 3/4 to the top of the pan. You bake it for about an hour--you'll need more time if you didn't slice the potatoes thin. Salt and pepper and even garlic can be added, but this dish is amazing on its own. It's great for anyone who loves goat cheese. Another tip I have is adding hearts of palm (they come in a can) to any salad, and it will make it amazing and fancy.

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Nicki Escudero
Contact: Nicki Escudero