The newest edition to downtown Gilbert is nicely squeezed in between Bergie’s Coffee and Joe’s Real BBQ. Topo is a small walk-up food stall with a huge gopher on the roof (Topo means gopher or mole in Spanish). Leave it to owner Joe Johnston to add a little something fun, unique but weird to the growing downtown Gilbert area. This place draws you in like many of the weird roadside attractions do if you were driving on the Route 66 in northern AZ. What I like most is its very simple menu – burrito, beverage and ice cream. What else do you need in life? You can order a regular burrito (chicken or pork) or have it loco style with elote corn, fritos chips, tomatillo cream and hot sauce. They offer a small bowl of elote for a side. For dessert, they have vanilla or prickly pear ice cream cones that you can dip in chocolate, lime or prickly pear. That’s it – very quick and simple. I came on opening day and it took about 15 min waiting in line to order my food (I’m sure that will decrease over time). Food came out in a few minutes. Joe Johnston greeted people in line and offered us gopher stickers. The kitchen space is small and systems-based. I noticed they weigh every burrito that is made before they serve them. There are a few tables off to the side, but most people use the larger picnic tables next to Joe’s BBQ. This place is unique and fun and opens late. They should get quite a good crowd that just want a quick bite to eat.
The ice cream sandwich explosion has taken over Arizona! I actually visited a Baked Bear in Pacific Beach years ago after a long night of partying on the beach (they actually got their start in San Diego). It was my first ice cream cookie experience and I remember telling myself we need one of these in AZ. Now we got them everywhere. This particular location is located in the heart of San Tan Village and should do massive business. It’s Arizona’s third Baked Bear location. The menu is pretty simple – pick your cookies (you can have two different types for your top and bottom), pick your ice cream flavor and a topping or two. They press it all together and you have your ice cream sandwich. They have a nice variety of freshly baked cookies to choose from including brownies. If you really want to be a champ, pick three cookies and make it a triple decker. You can also have your treat in a bowl with a spoon if you don’t want it sandwich style. The staff was great and very helpful in explaining the process. I loved their enthusiasm and energy. I’m excited for this new location and look forward to another visit – especially during our fun hot summers!
The first time I visited Délice Bistro was on a walking food tour of Tempe. It’s a European-style pâtisserie (a type of French or Belgian bakery that specializes in pastries and sweets) that makes their pastries and entrees from scratch. They are located off historic Tempe’s Mill Ave near ASU campus. In addition to their wonderful parties, they serve European sandwiches, soups and salads (made fresh daily). When I came here last, I had a nutella crêpe with some coffee. They also have a variety of breakfast entrees that include omelets, croissant french toasts and eggs benedicts. But you can’t come here without trying one of their delightful desserts or hand-dipped Bouchée chocolates. Today I had a carrot cake with some coffee from Peixoto. It was delicious and made for a nice late afternoon snack.
2 cups (5 to 6 ounces) crushed chocolate graham crackers
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 packages (1 pound total) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 teaspoons orange or lemon juice
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups (about 8 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange or lemon peel
Line a 9-inch square baking dish with a 14-inch-long piece of foil or parchment paper and grease the foil. In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and 2 tablespoons sugar. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Freeze for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, the orange juice and vanilla at medium speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the heavy cream and mix at low speed until blended, then beat at medium-high speed until thick and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon the cream cheese mixture on top of the crumbs. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
In a saucepan, bring 1/2 cup water, the remaining 2/3 cup sugar and the cranberries to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring once or twice. Lower the heat and simmer until the cranberries begin to pop, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a small bowl and stir in the orange peel. Refrigerate while the cheesecake is chilling.
Holding the ends of the foil, pull the cheesecake out of the pan. Cut into 9 squares. Spoon the cranberry sauce onto the cheesecake.
3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen ( if frozen thaw and drain well)
1( 9) inch deep dish pie crust (or a regular 9 inch crust)
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup sour cream
For Streusel topping
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place the blueberries in the pastry shell and set aside.
Combine 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and salt. Add eggs and sour cream, stirring until blended. Pour the sour cream custard over the blueberries.
In another bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup flour. Cut in the butter with pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle the topping over the sour cream mixture and berries in the pie shell.
Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.
Cover the pie with foil for the first 20 minutes of baking to keep the crust from browning to much.
I’m in San Diego for the evening and I spot this really cool concept while walking around Pacific Beach – The Baked Bear. This place was birth in San Diego by a couple of childhood friends who left their careers to start this amazing place. Basically they make ice cream sandwiches using original-made ice cream that is held together by two fresh-baked cookies. The cool thing is that you can pick any flavor ice cream and any combination of cookies that you want. I got the macadamia nut and pumpkin spice cookies with praline ice cream. It was the perfect treat for me to devour as I strolled the boardwalk along the beach.