Joe Johnston's Perfect Food Day
|Cindy, Johnston's "lovely Lebanese wife" and Joe Johnston|
He originally went to school for engineering (U.S. Naval Academy - Annapolis, MD and Stanford) and worked as an engineering consultant for 7 years. When you read his project blog The Roaster Project, you will now know where his attention to detail comes from.
Joe Johnston is certainly polished, well-dressed, well-spoken, well-traveled but he's also a farmer's son (he grew up on the family farm that is now Agritopia) and wants to preserve his down-home vision for Phoenix with farmland, food prepared well and community. He wants to do this with his "lovely Lebanese wife," Cindy, and his two married sons, James and William, both involved in the foodservice industry.
If you've grabbed a coffee at Coffee Plantation (co-founded in 1989), eaten ribs at Joe's Real BBQ (co-founded 1998), devoured a burger at Joe's Farm Grill (co-founded in 2006), bitten into a pizza at Liberty Market (2008) or cruised around the well-manicured rows and homes at Agrigopia, you've seen Joe's vision. In addition to The Roaster Project, Johnston is also planning the "EpiCenter at Agritopia" as a food centric distination and yet another restaurant.
We asked the high stylin' Joe Johnston to give us his perfect food day. He hopped on his Vespa and gave us a tour of his Arizona:
Lunch: Getting back on the Vespa around 9a we head down 89A, though Sedona, down I-17 to Phoenix. Arriving at lunchtime, we head down Central stopping first at Hana Japanese Eatery. We ask Lori to choose 3 items for us, knowing she and her family will choose from the best of that day. Hopefully the "fritters" of scallops and edamame are one of them.
Snack: Time for coffee to perk us up so we continue down Central to Giant Coffee, hoping to chat with owner Matt Poole. We sit in the best seats in Phoenix (the cowhide ones facing out the open window wall) and sip macchiatos, feeling refreshed.
|Giant Coffee macchiato|
Second Lunch: Heading out to Tempe for a second lunch, we hook up with our Italian scooter gang, "Lions of Scoodah" (@scoodah) and have lunch at the coal mine-like Cornish Pasty Company. A pint of Guinness and a lamb vindaloo pasty (both sauces - yogurt/mint and tahini) at the counter are one of absolute favorite experiences. It is fun to interact with the staff as they work feverishly making pasties from scratch.
|Johnston's scooter club logo|
|Joe Johnston at BK Hot Dogs in Tucson|
|El Guero Canelo Sonoran Hot Dog|
Happy Hour: Cindy and I need to calm our jangled nerves, so we go to happy hour at Scott & Company. I go for a "Make It Rain" and Cindy goes for a "Earl Grey Sour", both of which are crazy concoctions that are satisfyingly complex.
Dinner: On our final leg, we scooter over rolling hills and winding roads to Sonoita. Arriving at 7p, we meet up with Todd and Kelly Bostock of Dos Cabezas Winery for dinner at Canela Bistro, right next to their winery. One of the top five restaurants in the state (in my opinion), we ask chef John Hall what he would order, knowing his commitment to local Santa Cruz County and AZ products. We then have Todd match up local wine with our dining choices. The final meal enjoyed with great company tops off a day of sampling some of the best food experiences Arizona has to offer.