November 30, 2008

The Village Baker opens a new place

By Angele Sionna

NEW LOCATION: 1435 S Milton, Flagstaff, AZ (behind Strombolli's)
(no menu online)

The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)
>>>>= a favorite, can count on it being good every time

The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
x= if the food's good enough, still worth going, otherwise forget it

Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
$= under $10

Value (what you get for your money)
*** = fair -you get what you pay for, not in a bad way

This was one of the best kept secrets in Flagstaff. A tiny little bakery without a sign making some of the best breads in town. But now the Village Baker has a new location, still without any frills, except in their foods.

Village Baker is a bakery only, not a real restaurant, though the new location does have a barstool or two in the front window. It is a great place to buy fresh, unique, healthy breads. They’ve got quite an impressive assortment from several varieties of whites and sourdoughs to honey wheats and multigrains and everything in between. Options to depend on the day and the time. So go in the morning for the biggest selection.

When they opened the new location, they also added lots of yummy breakfast items from cinnamon rolls to scones, danish and more. The fresh fruit danish are really good and worth going for. But do plan on just running in and picking up your chosen goodies. The atmosphere is totally lacking.

Whether you’re a tourist or a local, I’d recommend stopping in and picking up a loaf (ask them to slice it for you). Then grab some deli meats from the grocery store and head out for a picnic at the Arizona Snowbowl just north of town. There are plenty of spots in the meadow or under a tree to throw down your picnic blanket and hang out with the whole family. This is actually a tradition for my family every father’s day.

NOTE: During the summer and early fall, you can also buy Village Baker breads at the Flagstaff Farmer's Market.

**TIP: Look in Flagstaff’s independent free weekly tabloids for an occasional dollar off coupon for The Village Baker!**

More Village Baker photos HERE.

November 20, 2008

Best fries in Flagstaff

*This article was written by me. It first appeared in Flagstaff Live! on Nov. 13, 2008*

Fries, chips, pommes frites, freedom fries, French-fried potatoes—no matter what you call them or how you cook ‘em (deep fried, oven baked, pan fried), fries can be the saving grace of any meal or just a delicious snack. They may not be a healthy choice, but that doesn’t stop fries from being America’s favorite side dish. Introduced to the U.S. by President Thomas Jefferson in the 1800s and made popular after World War I, fries are an edible part of American culture. So, which Flagstaff eateries have perfected the art of good old fries? Here’s a look:

Oregano’s Pizza Bistro
605 W. Riordan Rd.

A pizza restaurant with some of the best fries in town? You betcha! The waffle-cut (a.k.a. cross-cut) fries at Oregano’s are fabulous. You can order a big basket as an appetizer, which I recommend wholeheartedly.

They’re lightly salted plus seasoned and crispy without being overly cooked. These bad boys are light and fluffy, but make no mistake, they’re deep-fried goodness. (Oregano’s just got some great new booths, so you can now be really comfy while devouring them too!)

Bigfoot BBQ
120 N. Leroux

Garlic Romano fries, sweet tater fries, and regular fries are all served up at Bigfoot in the basement of the Old Town Shops downtown. The sides here (from fried potatoes to fried okra) are among Flag’s elite. The garlic fries are tasty without being overpowering. So you can easily munch and still give your sweetie a big old smooch after lunch. These fries in particular compliment Bigfoot’s tangy barbecue sauce. The sweet taters are my fav here, though. They’re cooked up with a nice crispy and lightly salted outside and warm, smooshy sweet inside. Mmm mmm good.

Brandy’s Restaurant & Bakery
1500 E. Cedar Ave.

Ah, the breakfast fry. What a lovely addition you make to a hearty breakfast that can fill you up all day and give you enough energy for taking some of the great trails in our area. Some of the best breakfast potatoes in town can be found at Brandy’s. Their country potatoes, as they’re officially called, are cut into cubes, grilled up on their stovetop, then seasoned and served.
Here’s a little secret, the menu says you can get fries or a pancake with many of their breakfasts plus an English muffin. But if you ask nicely, you can ditch the English muffin and get the breakfast fries and the pancake with your meal. Brandy’s also serves up sweet potato fries and regular fries at lunchtime too. Right now Brandy’s has some great 15-cent specials to celebrate their anniversary. And on Fridays, 15 percent off your whole order total—a perfect time to try the fries!

November 13, 2008

Where to eat Thanksgiving feasts in Flagstaff

A more detailed article (written by me) will soon be in Flagstaff Live!. But here's a quick guide if you want to make a reservation before it comes out:

Little America Hotel
2515 East Butler Ave.
$34.95 adults
$16.95 children 7-11
Children 6 and under are free
No reservations are needed.
*Went here last year for Thanksgiving and Christmas brunch. Very good.

The Cottage Place Restaurant
126 W. Cottage Ave.
$35-$45 (depending on entrée selected)
Reservations are already filling up fast at Cottage Place. Call 774-8431 for reservations.

Josephine’s Modern American Bistro
503 N. Humphrey's Street
$35 adults
$9.50 children 6-12
Children 5 and under are free
You can see their whole Thanksgiving menu online at Call 779-3400 for reservations.
*This is where my family is going this year for Thanksgiving brunch!

Woodland’s Radisson Hotel
1175 West Route 66
$25.95 adults
$9.95 children 6-12
Children under six are free
Seniors 60 & up get a 20% discount

Make reservations at 773-9118.

November 11, 2008

Northern Arizona's Microbreweries

(This article was written by me and first appeared in Flagstaff Live!)

Here’s proof that size doesn’t matter … when it comes to beer at least.
Northern Arizona has three great breweries in Flagstaff and another in Sedona. All may brew on a small scale, but their beers are award-winners and worthy of coming back for over and over again. Here’s a look at the offerings of Beaver Street Brewery, Flagstaff Brewing Co., Mogollon Brewing Co. and Oak Creek Brewing Co. (Note when reading: I am partial to great hefeweizens!)

Beaver Street Brewery
11 S. Beaver, Flagstaff

Beaver Street makes several types of award-winning beers. My fav beer here: the Hefe Weizen. It’s unfiltered, somewhat effervescent, and tangy on the taste buds. The smell alone could make you order another before you even take a sip. This brewski’s claim to fame: it took home the gold prize for best “South German Style” out of 60 competitors at the Great American Beer Fest in 2007.
But Beaver Street’s Hefe isn’t always in season.
If that’s the case, I opt instead for the Bramble Berry Brew. If you’re more of a dark beer fan, try the R&R Oatmeal Stout. It’s a rich, dark ale made with chocolate and gelatinized oatmeal.

Flagstaff Brewing Co.
16 E. Rte. 66, Flagstaff

Flagstaff Brewing Co. usually has four or so beers on tap. They make more ales than anything from their Agassiz Amber to the Great Golden Ale, Three Pin Pale Ale and Bubbaganouj IPA, a.k.a. the “Pride of Flagstaff.”
Weisspread Wheat is the hefe made by the Flagstaff Brewing Co. It tastes more bitter than other area Hefes making it less smooth, but it’s still tangy and refreshing. Other notables there: Bitterroot ESB, Blackbird Porter and Sasquatch Stout.

Mogollon Brewing Co.
15 N. Agassiz, Flagstaff

The Mogollon Brewing Co. cooks up handcrafted microbrews but no longer has a pub to call home. You can, however, find them on tap or bottled in the area. Among their varieties, the Mogollon Hefevenom brewed in traditional Bavarian fashion, the slightly sweet and coffee-esque Apache Trout Stout, the malty Mogollon Toad India Pale Ale that is brewed with 65 pounds of hops in each 600 gallon batch and has a 7.1 percent alcohol content.

Oak Creek Brewing Co.
2050 Yavapai Dr., Sedona

Driving down the canyon to Sedona’s Oak Creek Brewing Co. is definitely worthwhile. There are two locations to get your fix of handcrafted beers made by Oak Creek.
Not a surprise, my beer of choice there is the Hefeweizen. Oak Creek’s Hefe is more effervescent than most, making it particularly refreshing. It won the Bavarian Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2003. This might be my favorite beer in all of northern Arizona.
All of the Oak Creek Brewing Co. beers are award winners. They include the Gold Lager, Amber Ale, Nut Brown Ale (which is a customer favorite) and their Pale Ale.
You can find coupons for a buck off Oak Creek’s pints, pitchers and growlers on their Web site.

The Winner is …
Two Arizona beers came home big winners from the 2008 Great American Beer Festival that was held this month in Denver. The festival is known as the granddaddy of all U.S. beer festivals, offering what they call the largest collection of U.S. beer ever assembled.
There were 2,902 beers in the competition. Only 225 of them were awarded a prize. Two of those brews call our great state home.
If a robust porter is your thing, plan a road trip to Tucson. Barrio Brewing Co. took home the gold prize for their Nolan’s Porter, beating out 46 other entries.
Barley Brothers Brewery and Grill in Lake Havasu City took home a bronze medal for their Double Espresso Stout in the Coffee Flavored Beer category. There were 28 entries in that category. Barley Brothers is owned by the same folks that own Shugrue’s and Javelina Cantina in Sedona.

November 5, 2008

Big Al’s Burger at the Junction

By Arikka Fullmer
Highway 89 Kanab, Utah

The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)
>>= mixed bag, can be good but can be bad, can’t count on it
The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
xxxx= comfortable
Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
$ under $10
Value (what you get for your money)
*** = fair -you get what you pay for, not in a bad way
This is Kanab’s greasy spoon. This is where every little league teams descend after a game. This is where teenage crush’s are crushed in the drive up.

Kanab High Cowboy football team portraits hang next to the ‘firewood for sale’ sign. Combine all that with vintage Coke decor and you’ve got an atmosphere familiar to any small town.

The menu high on the wall behind the cashier is full of typical fare. Corn dogs, fries, grilled cheese, get the idea. To my surprise they have a buffalo burger, for cheap! I order it with cheese, fries and for 15 extra cents - Al’s homemade fry sauce. Fry sauce is a condiment anomaly unique to Utah and it is fantastic!

The shake menu shows signs of Kanab’s past and recent growth. The first shake flavor is COFFEE! I order a mint oreo shake but they don’t have mint! How can this kind of place have coffee but not mint shakes.

My dining partner orders a cheeseburger and a peanut butter cup shake. Total cost.....$13.85, a sign of the quality of food. My buffalo burger is bland, the bun flat and soggy. But the fries and sauce are delicious. It was enough to sustain me another 200 miles on the road without the emergency stop I anticipated.

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