2021 Best of the Valley Local Products and Farm Goods

Editorial StaffJuly 7, 2021
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Photo courtesy Monserrat Apud De Lafuente
Photo courtesy Monserrat Apud De Lafuente

Best Farmers’ Market Stand
Toduken

John Cornelio sells traditional and modern food at the Uptown Farmers’ Market. He prepares Filipino barbecue, like chicken skewers bathed in banana ketchup and crushed over charcoal. He rolls out menus with items like kinilaw (scallop ceviche with a bonito-flake-and-sesame condiment called furikake), tamarind spareribs and lechon manok (spit-roasted chicken). For a taste, follow him on Instagram and order ahead: @toduken_bbq

Best Local Cheese
Goatija at Crow’s Dairy

Deserts aren’t dairy lands, but ours has some wonderful cheese makers. Goat farmer Wendell Crow might be our best. In Buckeye, he turns goat milk into cheese, some sold directly to the public, some winding up at more than 100 Valley restaurants. His “Freebird”? A goat cheese made in the salty, crumbly tradition of cotija. It makes for an unreal taco topping. 11300 S. Dean Rd., Buckeye, 623-936-3355, crowsdairy.com

Best Granola We Can’t Stop Eating
SarahBea Salted Caramel Granola

Green Valley pecans mixed with cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut and sea salt headline this habit-forming granola. It’s ideal for snacking, eating as a cereal or topping a bowl of yogurt. Dip your hand into this sticky, grain-free granola bound with caramel and local honey and you’ll be smitten. sarahbeallc.com

Best Purveyor of Frozen Foods
Sherpa Kitchen

The hits keep coming for Subash Yadav – opening a restaurant just before the pandemic, and then experiencing a kitchen fire in May after pivoting to frozen foods. Still, blessed is the eater who comes across a package of his excellent dumplings stuffed with succulent chicken or vibrant vegetables, delicacies called momos, one of Nepal’s great foods. sherpakitchenaz.com

Photo courtesy Sarahbea Salted Caramel Granola
Photo courtesy Sarahbea Salted Caramel Granola

Best CSA
Maya’s Farm

When it comes to Community Supported Agriculture, we’re like Goldilocks. Some boxes are too big (enough to feed us for months), some too small (a handful of winter lettuce) – but Maya’s are always just right. Often the veggies are joined by a bunch of bright flowers. Sign us up. mayasfarm.com

Best Vegan Flour Tortillas on Earth
Cruz Farm Tortillas

Fourth-generation farmer Gabriel Cruz, who runs Cruz Farm in Southern Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains, puts out a vegan tortilla for the ages. Made simply with flour, salt water, baking soda and vegetable shortening, the tortillas are whisper-thin, full of flavor and make top-shelf quesadillas. At farmers markets around the Valley. cruz.farm

Best Specialty Grocery
Main Street Harvest

At this tiny grocery, the stock changes all the time. John Przybyl and Amanda Abou-Eid source from dozens of artisans, just a few units from each at a time. Inside: a wonderland of fresh pasta, farm produce, jams, bean-to-bar chocolates, artisanal ice creams, local jerky, and seemingly any baked thing you can dream up, including sourdough and pastries from Przybyl and Abou-Eid’s own Proof Bread. 121 W. Main St., Mesa, 480-428-8305, mainstharvest.com

Best Mixer for Homemade Moscow Mules
Big Marble Ginger Beer

Grab a frosty copper mug, your favorite vodka, a lime wedge and ice cubes, and then crack open a brown bottle of locally made Big Marble Ginger Beer. Pour the spicy, bubbly elixir over the other ingredients and wait for the fizz to subside. Or let it tickle your nose as you gulp it down. Beats a Fever Tree. bigmarble.com

Best Farm Store
Blue Sky Organic Farms

Under the green thumb of farmer David Vose, Blue Sky grows prized produce. The on-site farm store stocks a rainbow bounty, seasonal staples like golden beets, purple cabbage, heirloom radishes and all manner of greens. The shop also carries artisanal products (Hope’s Artisan Bread, Crow’s Dairy cheese) and its own jams, pesto and other prepared foods. 4762 N. 189th Ave., Litchfield Park, 623-266-4031, blueskyorganicfarms.com

Best Farmers’ Market Find
Blue Sky Organic Farms Bunched Orange Carrots

Their sign boldly states: “Our carrots are like no others. They will ruin you for other carrots.” After trying these sweet, crispy masterpieces, you’ll never again buy limp, tasteless and woody grocery store carrots. A Blue Sky carrot’s texture is as crunchy and satisfying as eating a potato chip. We are, in fact, ruined. blueskyorganicfarms.com

Photo courtesy Blue Sky Organic Farms
Photo courtesy Blue Sky Organic Farms
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Best Arizona Gift to Send Out-of-State Friends
Iconic Cocktail Co.’s Mini Mixer Pack

Iconic Cocktail Co.’s build-your-own Mini Mixer Pack includes four bottles of swoon-worthy handcrafted mixers guaranteed to delight your friends. Choose from enticing flavors like Lime Leaf Tonic, Prickly Pear Sour and Grapefruit Fleur de Sel. Each 4-ounce bottle builds four cocktails and comes with helpful recipe cards packed in a nifty brown box for shipping. iconiccocktail.com

BEST FRESH PASTA

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Sonoran Pasta Co.
Check website for stockists, sonoranpasta.com

  • Valley restaurant vets Brent Kille and Jasmine Brown churn out toothsome bucatini, gemelli, spaghetti and more, plus sauces to complement them.
  • Gluten-free option: protein-packed chickpea pasta.
  • Noodles With Neighbors program lets you earn free pasta for referring friends.
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Pasta Rea
Check website for stockists, pasta-rea.com

  • Catering king Tony Rea handcrafts popular pastas as well as lesser-known lovelies like conchiglie, campanelle and fusilli  (special order).
  • Gluten-free option: brown and white rice flour, potato flour, sorghum and tapioca.
  • Try limited-edition pastas flavored with beet, carrot, turmeric, tomato, spinach and black pepper.

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