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Top Five Phoenix Food Stories of the Week

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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.

AZ Liquor Wholesalers and Retailers Under Investigation by State Liquor Department

Lee Hill, Communications Director for Arizona's Department of Liquor Licenses and Control, has confirmed a rumor that's been flying around the restaurant industry for weeks:

The department is conducting a statewide investigation of the relationships between licensed wholesalers (liquor distributors and wineries, for example) and licensed retailers (restaurants, hotels, resorts, nightclubs, wine bars and liquor stores, including big boxes).

Here's what they're investigating and what it might mean for the rest of us.

Because the investigation is open and ongoing, the department refused to share any details, including which businesses are in the spotlight. However, Hill directed me to two liquor industry advisories on the department's website that outline laws -- and therefore possible violations.

The liquor department could be looking at wholesalers who have bribed retailers with money, services, fixtures, signs, supplies or other things of value (including free trips) or who have offered bonuses or compensation to retailers for buying the wholesaler's products.

Find out more about the ongoing investigation.

--Nikki Buchanan

Four Best Farmers Markets in Greater Phoenix: Best of Phoenix 2012

It's officially farmers market season. So grab your canvas sack and go buy some local produce, crafts, meat, dairy and more.

There are tons of great farmers markets in the valley, but we've narrowed down the list to the best four in the greater Phoenix area. At these markets you can buy anything from vegetables to locally grown flowers, all the while supporting local farmers and artisans. Isn't that what environmentally conscious, healthy eating is all about?

See the list of our top four Phoenix-are farmers markets.

--New Times Staff

"Edgy" Sandwich Shop Zookz Opens in Central Corridor

What do you call long tubes of bread baked in special cylindrical pans, sliced open to add fillings, then covered back up and cooked?

Edgy, yo. And if you're Carole Meyer, one-of-a-kind.

Meyer is the owner of Zookz, the just-opened sandwich shop in front of the Landmark Residential Tower on Central Avenue and Camelback Road in Phoenix's Central Corridor.

Born and raised in North Africa, Meyer ran a cafe and catering business in Florida before moving to the Valley, where she sold her own brand of sauces at AJ's stores. At Zookz, Meyer uses her sauces in combination with the circular sandwiches her grandmother used to make her in North Africa. And she's got a patent on Meemaw's concave grill press, which she uses to make the disc-shaped sandwiches filled with fresh ingredients.

Here's what diners can expect from the edginess.

--Laura Hahnefeld

Atlas Bistro Chefs to Open New Pork-Minded Eatery in Scottsdale: Pig & Pickle

"I'm terrified as shit, but in a locker-room-before-the-game kind of way."

That's what Keenan Bosworth says about opening Pig & Pickle, his first restaurant, slated to open at the end of November in Scottsdale serving comfort food with a gourmet twist.

The Wisconsin-born chef, who moved to the Valley in 2004, knows a little something about food featuring local ingredients sourced from the area's farmers markets -- his résumé includes gigs at Rancho Pinot, the defunct Digestif, and Atlas Bistro. Plus, Boworth, whose title at Pig & Pickle is kitchen manager, will be sharing the highs and lows of restaurant ownership with Joshua Riesner, his chef partner at Atlas and operational manager at Pig & Pickle.

Bosworth tells me the thinking behind Pig & Pickle is to show folks that quality food doesn't have to cost a lot.

Read the full story.

--Laura Hahnefeld

12 Favorite Places to Eat Outdoors in Greater Phoenix

At last! Blissfully cool mornings, evenings with a hint of chill and daytime temps that mean we can lunch on a shaded patio without swimming in sweat. This right here, this seasonal slice of heaven is why we endure traffic, tourists and summer. Here are 12 places to enjoy The Great Outdoors at its greatest. Although a few of them are spendy, most are easy on the wallet and at least three of them are kid-friendly.

--Nikki Buchanan

Don't forget to check out Chow Bella's continuing list of 100 Tastemakers.

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