Grocery Store Rant

Lately, most of my grocery shopping is at farmer’s markets and small grocery stores (Sprouts and Fresh & Easy are my two favorites). Today it was raining and the farmer’s market just did not sound fun. It will be wet. I am feeling lazy and want something for lunch that is pre-cooked and warm, like soup. So, I went to one of those HUGE super grocery stores. Huge mistake. The parking lot was a crowded mess. There were tons of people wondering around looking lost, and I soon joined them. I found ricotta cheese and many refrigerated blobs of food-like product, but no cottage cheese (something on my grocery list). I found dry soups, canned and boxed soups, soups at the deli, and soups in jars. Due to food allergies, I check every label before it goes into my cart, much less my body! Every soup label I read contained non-food unpronounceable items. Same label problems for the milk, yogurt, gelato, and meat that are also on my list.

Too late for my favorite farmer’s market, I gave up on the gigantic grocery store that contains no real food in the ¼ acre building, and I headed to my comfortable little F&E. When I walked in I was struck by how tiny it really is, how quiet and clean, and how easy it is to find food. Within a few minutes I had everything on my list, including 3 kinds of lovely soup that contain food, and only food! Chemical and pesticide free food!

If you are still shopping at the large format grocery stores, give the small store and farmer’s markets a chance. It is a more enjoyable experience, I did not get lost, shopping is faster, and a dozen other reasons will keep me going back to the farmer’s markets and small shops – rain or shine!


Ground Control

This is the greatest coffee shop & bar & gelato place EVER! Okay, I really have never seen another coffee shop & bar & gelato place, and now I wonder why aren’t there more of these?

There are at least two. We visited the Ground Control Goodyear location on the North West corner of Litchfield road and Indian School road.

A full service coffee shop, we started with lattes. They even offer almond milk for customers allergic to soy or milk. The coffee beans are roasted on-site to perfection. The full liquor bar caught our attention and we ordered shots for our coffee.

Ground Control offers a relaxed environment with great service. Many folks stopped in for a quick lunch. Others, like us, were staying for a few drinks. A small variety of unique beers are on tap. Three draft beers are on constant rotation featuring unique one-of-a-kind brews that “only last as long as the keg”. If those are not enough, there are over 150 different bottled beers!

Then, we found the wine room! Ground Control has wine tasting events each Tuesday & Saturday that I am looking forward to attending. During non-wine tasting events, they have structured wine flights to taste & sample, as well as a great by the glass menu.

But wait! There’s more! Over a dozen flavors of gelato taunted us. Ground Control servers up full Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. Comfortable seats. Great ambiance. I could stay here eating and drinking all day!

Superstition Farm

I am a city girl. But I do like to know where my food comes from, beyond just the “store”. Due to food allergies I have a limited diet. I also really like food.

Over the last several years I am totally smitten with Farmer’s Markets. It is an awesome experience to speak to the Rancher who grew the meat for dinner, the Fisherman that caught the Salmon in Alaska, and now I can hang out with the COWS that my milk & ice cream comes from!

Superstition Farm is a family owned dairy farm and country store in the outer fringe of Mesa, Arizona.

SuperFarm is home to a goats, sheep, rabbits, chickens, and of course, cows! This is a real working dairy, so they have cute, happy, healthy cows. My studies show that milk just tastes better when it comes from happy, well adjusted adorable cows. True Story!

A local grocery store pops-up on this dairy farm every Thursday night at the SuperFarm. Ice cream, milk, and dairy from the farm are available, as well as local farmers and ranchers bring food to sample and purchase. We sampled some delicious farmer’s cheese, fresh butter, local Arizona Honey, and fresh fruit from a local orchard.

This Thursday, we had a special treat of an all you can eat “POP UP PIG OUT” for $15 per person. We ate pulled pork, coleslaw, ribs, lettuce wrap carne asada, mango pico de gallo, and washed it all down at the milk bar. For $1 you can buy fresh local milk with a flavor of your choice. Skipping the traditional chocolate or strawberry milk, I tried the pistachio and now I have a new favorite drink! After all that food we could have taken a hay ride around the farm, or toasted s’mores around the one of the firepits.

Arizona Inn

The idea for this blog originates while my Sister and I were lounging by the pool at Tucson’s Arizona Inn. Discussions turned to the “what are some fun activities around here?” from several Canadian families visiting, as well as the pool staff who were new to Arizona. We mentioned some of our favorite sights and activities for the area, which grew into all of the cool things “off the beaten path” in the Wild West! My Sister and I started a short list of things close by, and as we relaxed our definition of “close by” the list grew to several pages long. Several months have passed and the list just keeps growing.

It is only appropriate that I start off with Arizona Inn, where the spark began! Arizona Inn is a gem hidden away in the heart of Tucson, Arizona just minutes away from University of Arizona. The 1930’s resort has a vintage Hollywood style from the immaculate grounds for croquet to the classic swimming pool. The casita-style rooms have a simple charm for the ultimate relaxing vacation. Many of the rooms have a private patio for total seclusion.

This little hide-away is perfect for a mid-week break, or to celebrate that special anniversary.  Room rates are reduced in summer for a great price and tons of seclusion!  Any time of year, Arizona Inn is wonderful.

Patio outside our room at Arizona Inn

 During Summer, the Inn provides an Ice Cream Sundae bar pool side. They offer a variety of flavors, hot fudge & syrups, nuts, sprinkles, and a wide assortment of toppings. There is nothing more decadent than eating a custom made Ice Cream concoction by the pool!

Arizona Inn

Pita Jungle Chandler

One of my favorite casual dining restaurants is Pita Jungle in Chandler. As the name suggests, they offer a wide variety of dishes with pita. In addition, they have a great selection of hot & cold salads, delicious baba ganoush, and tasty wine selection. The menu features fantastic vegetarian options, and good selection for anyone with food allergies.

Last night we enjoyed a crisp bottle of South African Chenin Blanc with Tuna and Salmon salads, and finished with a baklava sundae. Delicious! Fresh fruit and vegetables are the basis for their light meals.

The best part? The view from the patio!

PJ1
Grilled Chicken Club wrap

Update March 2014:  I still love this place and ate lunch there yesterday.  The view was spectacular as always.  My friend ordered the chicken special, and I ordered the grilled chicken club wrap.  Being good friends, we sampled each others meals.  Both were good, but the specials are almost always the best item on the menu and yesterday this was very true.  Delicious.

PJ2
Chicken special from March 2014

Fun and Interesting things to do…

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