Native Arizonan Chris Sossaman was in her forties before she ever tasted a cup of coffee. Sossaman is, and always has been, a tea drinker. “I really started Tea Royalty for selfish reasons,” Sossaman says. “I love tea and I love dining out, and I’d say to the server, ‘Tell me about your tea,’ and it was comical. No one knew if the [iced] tea was made from concentrate or fresh brewed.” Don’t even get her started on boxes stuffed with who-knows-how-old bags of cut tea. It’s as scandalous as iced tea made in concentrate form.
That slight nip in the morning air means it’s time to swap cold cereal for something warm and satisfying, like a steaming bowl of heart-healthy oatmeal. Want to make it even healthier? Annette Downing of Matcha MarketPlace packages whole oats with a teaspoon of emerald green matcha, the ceremonial powdered green tea from Japan. Purported to have more antioxidants than other green teas, matcha is consumed whole, versus steeped and discarded. Downing packages the matcha-spiked oats in individual servings with other flavors and brown sugar, although there is a sugar-free option if you prefer to add your own sweetener.
Comforting stews mixed with exotic spices eaten hand-to-mouth with pinches of tangy flatbread called injera sum up the interactive pleasure of dining at 18-year-old Café Lalibela in Tempe. The only way to make Ethiopian cuisine more intimate would be to eat it in your own home – and now you can.
Chef Atsade Desta and her daughter Salam Beyene (also the restaurant’s manager) recently created an enticing retail line of their most popular vegan dishes, available at Whole Foods locations throughout the Valley (look for them in the refrigerated section).
Choose from five stews ($5.99 each), including spicy misir (red lentils spiced with berbere, a highly flavorful and aromatic mixture of chiles and warm spices); yekik alicha (buttery yellow split peas); gomen (onion-and-garlic-flavored collard greens); tikil gomen (mildly spiced cabbage, carrots and potatoes with turmeric and cumin); and fosolia (stewed tomatoes with green beans and carrots). Eat these delicious stews chilled or warmed (our preference) with injera ($2.50 for two 16-inch rounds) – thin, spongy sourdough bread made from teff, a nutritious ancient grain. Utensils are optional.
Odds were good that Cassie Weisz would become an entrepreneur in the culinary field. She grew up surrounded by kitchen playthings. Her mom owns the long-running, whimsical kitchen playground Two Plates Full, which is filled with artisanal items for the kitchen and dining room, and Weisz didn’t fall far from the tree. She started Never Enough Sugar, an online, boutique bakery, even before she graduated from The Art Institute of Phoenix’s baking and pastry program in 2010.
Grainy black and white Westerns flicker silently across a TV screen at Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue, occasionally interrupted by the jarring clang of a dinner bell. Everyone turns to stare. Just another heaping mound of Chef Bryan Dooley's pecan-smoked 'cue – worth the drive from anywhere in the Valley. And the one constant on every plate at this cowboy-chic outpost is Dooley's signature condiment: the sweet-and-tangy pickled jalapeño.
As hot sauces go, heat levels are relative: What’s scorching to one palate is child’s play to another. Maybe that’s why culinary-school-trained Stuart Hutchinson, creator of a unique line of condiments called Precious Sauces, is more focused on “where” a given hot sauce brutalizes the mouth than “how much.” For example, his personal favorite among his four flavors, Liquid Gold, hits the front and sides of the tongue – first with a sweet, fruity flavor, and then with a powerful, if short-lasting, punch from habanero.