Every week, there's a cornucopia of Phoenix food news, features, and reviews to report here at Chow Bella. If you're like most people, you probably just don't have the time to get to all of it. It's kind of like those burgers at Old Town Whiskey; it just won't all fit in your mouth ... or in this case, your day. So, here's a recap of some of the top stories from the week that you may have missed.
Nowadays, the rolling grasslands of Sonoita and Elgin are better known for wineries than big cattle ranches. But apparently, grapes aren't destined to be the only gold in them thar hills.
Shannon Austin Zouzoulas and Megan Austin Haller -- two 30-something sisters who just opened AZ Hops & Vines (their self-described "cheeky little winery" in Sonoita) in March of this year -- have also harvested their first crop of hops this week, the first hops commercially grown in the state of Arizona.
These chicks don't fool around.
They started out with grapes two years ago, planting six acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, Mourvedre, Grenache and Graciano. Because their grapes are still young (most wineries wait three years to harvest them for wine-making), they are currently offering six wines they've made using grapes sourced from other Arizona and California vineyards (including Stag's Leap for their big bad Imbibe).
Cheeky though they may be, these savvy sisters didn't go at this venture blindly. Check out the full story.
Word's been out for a while that Chris Bianco's writing a book -- but Chow Bella just got the scoop on his co-author: local-food movement guru Gary Nabhan.
When it comes to understanding flour, dough, yeast, tomatoes, olive oils and other artisanal ingredients, heat sources and the whole pizza shebang -- Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco is the indisputable MAN. He's the only pizza-maker to ever win a James Beard Award (Best Chef Southwest, 2003), and his cramped but cozy pizza restaurant has earned accolades from every important food publication in the country, including "best pizza" from Bon Appetit and "best pizza in the nation" from Ed Levine of the New York Times.
And now that it's time to write it down, Bianco's keeping it classy by sharing everything he knows about pizza in a cookbook. Find out more about when and where you can get the "pizza bible."
Have you heard the news? Arizona Restaurant Week 2012: The Fall Edition is right around the corner. September 15 to 23, to be exact. And more than 200 restaurants across Phoenix and Tucson are participating with special three-course meals. Do you know where you're eating yet?
Well, you'd better head over to the website and decide because reservations (especially to the extra-fancy spots) fill up quickly. We've heard that Binkley's (which almost always sells out during restaurant week) is booking up already and it hasn't even posted its menu.
Corporations moving in on the scene-y food truck scene? Dude, no way.
It was bound to happen. Over the past few years, local upstarts have been responsible for starting and keeping the frenzy aflame, but now, many corporate chains have taken notice and have tapped into the trend with their own mobile kitchens, according to a recent report by AdWeek.
Man, it used to be all about the food in the trucks, you know? With that said, check out 10 corporate mobile kitchens totally bogarting it.
"Almost every restaurant serves tequila in the Valley, but only at TQLA in Mesa will we give you the chance to sample some of the rarest and finest tequila's around and to try tequila on tap."
That's what owner Michael Nelson had to say about his tequila bar and restaurant, TQLA, opening in Mesa on Monday, September 17. The Mesa location is Nelson's second TQLA, with the original in Houston.
Featuring tequila, tequila, and more tequila -- including a collection of tequilas on tap, hyper-cooled to 5 degrees Fahrenheit -- TQLA even boasts a certified tequilier (yes, it's a real thing), the tequila equivalent of a sommelier and a title granted by the Academia Mexicana del Tequila, AC.
Don't forget to check out Chow Bella's continuing list of 100 Tastemakers.