Tres Leches Cake Turned Into a Shake...But Only Until Sunday

Categories: Chow Bella

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Hungry Dudes (Flickr Creative Commons)
Tres leches cake is soaked with three milks, and we can't get enough of it.

Hopdoddy, the fast-casual burger restaurant and bar in Scottsdale has taken two things we love, the milk shake and tres leches cake, blended them together and presented heaven in a cup. If you would like a serving of your own, be sure to get there by Sunday before their drink special ends.

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Meet Phoenix's 2014 Barista Competitors

Categories: Chow Bella, Grind

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Perry Czopp
Chow Bella's own Heather Hoch watches barista Michelle Johnson pour a cappuccino at a recent practice runthrough.

Each year, thousands of coffee professionals around the world congregate to crown a new Barista Champion. This year three fantastic individuals from Phoenix will be traveling to Rancho Mirage, California for a chance to be crowned the Southwest's Best Barista. This event feeds into the United States Barista Competition, which in turn feeds into the World Barista Championship.

Take a moment to laugh at the notion of competitive coffee making; I know you're thinking about it. Now regroup, and focus on what I'm about to tell you: the Specialty Coffee industry takes this very seriously. Winning the World Barista Championship (or even just the United States competition) means fortune and glory; in addition to a hefty cash prize, winners are provided with expensive equipment, travel opportunities, and are essentially guaranteed lucrative employment in some aspect of the coffee industry for the rest of their lives.

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5 Reasons to Get Excited About the Phoenix Coffee Scene That Have Nothing to Do with Pumpkin Spice

Categories: Chow Bella, Grind

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Zaida Dedolph
Crepe Bar's new fall signature coffee drink features local heritage grains and local dates.

In the mushy-yet-magical coulee that is my imagination, Pumpkin Spice exists as a rejected sixth Spice Girl. Yoga-pantsed, Ugg-booted, and sexy-baby-voiced, poor P.S. just literally can't even function as a flavor.

Pumpkins are a thing. Pumpkin Pie Spice is a thing. But "Pumpkin Spice" is a myth that we seem to have collectively accepted as fact. What defines this imaginary Spice of Pumpkin that has infiltrated my Facebook feed? Aside from being a sensationalized marketing scheme for something that is realistically an amalgamation of artificial flavors, colors, and additives, what actually is it? And more importantly, why do we continue to care about it when there are so many other very real things going on in the world (and in Phoenix!)

I am willing to accept the PSL as a bizarre cultural totem and harbinger of fall festivities, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Here is a list of five things that I do like, that are happening soon, and that support our great local food and coffee folk.

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Lo-Fi Coffee Brings Electricity-Free "Eco-Bar" to Downtown Mesa Event Scene

Categories: Chow Bella, Grind


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Zaida Dedolph
Sam Clark smiles behind the bar at Lo-Fi Coffee.

I never thought I'd say this, but -- there's something kinda cool happening in Mesa.

Seemingly ceaseless light rail construction has provided Mesa shop owners with a creative challenge: How do small businesses stay competitive in an area dominated by road closures, jackhammering, and snorting digging machines?


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How to Brew a Chemex the Cartel Coffee Way

Categories: Chow Bella, Grind

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Zaida Dedolph
Jenny Vaughn adds coffee to the Chemex.

A Chemex is a way of brewing coffee that is one part art, one part science, two parts swank. The hand-blown glass brewer was invented in the early 1940s by a chemist who wanted to create a method for making coffee that was both sleek and effective. At first glance, you might think this was a flower vase.

But the Chemex's thick paper filter and Jessica Rabbit-esque figure are designed to brew a clean, articulate cup of coffee. In recent years, specialty coffee folk have rediscovered this beautiful brewer. Its functional beauty has allowed it to stand the test of time; it serves as a visual representation of transparency and cleanliness of both cafe and coffee.

Bonus story: legend has it that Dr. Peter Schlumbohm, the likely mad scientist slash total baller who invented the device, drove a Cadillac with a little gold Chemex hood ornament.


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Help Wanted: Phoenix New Times Freelance Restaurant Critic

Categories: Chow Bella

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zazzle.com
Phoenix New Times has an immediate opening for a freelance restaurant critic.

We are looking for a journalist who has a sophisticated understanding of food
and the skill to write about it in an engaging way. Ideal candidates will have a solid culinary background, either self-taught or through professional kitchen experience or education.

The person we hire will also contribute to our award-winning food blog, Chow Bella.


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Nom de Plume Ain't Afraid-a No Ghost (Roast)

Categories: Chow Bella, Grind

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Zaida Dedolph
Nom de Plume's current single origin offerings.

Don't worry: No actual ghosts are harmed in the process of "ghost roasting." The term refers to Nom de Plume Roasters' low-overhead business model. Rather than making the (cough, cough, crazy expensive) choice to open their own roasting operation, NdP rents roasting time from other local facilities. Most recently, they've been firing up their own selections at Press Coffee's Roastery.

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The Reservations-Only Trend Hits Phoenix, and We're Not Happy About It

Categories: Chow Bella

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Evie Carpenter
Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour has one of Phoenix's most notorious "reservations-only" policies.

A few weeks ago, I figured I'd sneak into Bitter & Twisted, one of Phoenix's newest upscale bars, to eat and drink for a Happy Hour Report Card before the dinner rush hit. At about 4:30 p.m. on a Thursday, I walked in to find a mostly empty restaurant and a rather dismissive-looking waitstaff.

"Do you have a reservation?" I was promptly asked by the hostess.

"No, I'm just here for happy hour."

"I'm sorry, but you have to have a reservation."

After a short discussion, I realized that I wasn't even allowed to sit at the bar. I was turned away from the restaurant that day and I have no plans to return. If they didn't want me eating there without a reservation that day -- with empty tables mocking me -- then I surely don't want to make a reservation to eat there another day.

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Roots: Cooking with Cactus and Connecting to Family

Categories: Chow Bella

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Natalie Miranda
Cooking with nopales connects one young Mexican-American to her roots.
They call me a whitewashed Mexican.

I'm a third­-generation Latina, and more traditional Mexican- Americans call me whitewashed because, according to them, I act more white than I act Mexican.

True, I don't know much Spanish. The Spanish I do know is from my required language courses in college. I never got chased around and hit with chanclas. (Chanclas are sandals in Spanish, and every Mexican­American cringes at the sight of their mom or grandma reaching for their chanclas.) I can't stand banda music. I went to sleepovers with my friends when I was little, although most Mexican moms are overprotective and don't allow their children to sleep over at friends' houses. Unlike more traditional Mexican-­Americans, I don't have a strong need to live on the same block with my family, which is why it was easy for me to pick up and move out of state for college.

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Nopales for the Masses: A Mission to Bring Cactus to Valley Diners

Categories: Chow Bella

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Natalie Miranda
Cactus paddles are healthy and good for the environment -- why haven't they caught on as the next superfood?
Monika Woolsey is on a mission to get Phoenicians to eat more cactus. As the proprietor of Hip Veggies, a business in the process of becoming a nonprofit, she is Arizona's most vocal nopales advocate, making it her goal to introduce people from all walks of life to the cactus food and reintroducing some Latinos and Native Americans to a food linked to their cultural histories.

If you've lived in Metro Phoenix for any amount of time, chances are good that you've seen nopales. They're the flat pads on the prickly pear cactus, a fixture in the desert landscape -- but unlike kale and other superfoods, they rarely are seen on menus or advertised in grocery stores. The fruit of the same cactus, the prickly pear ("tuna" in Spanish) is commonly used in desserts and drinks.

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