The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Phoenix: Day 2

I don't usually eat breakfast, but Lee Anne does. So in Phoenix, I EAT BREAKFAST.

fig jam fig jam, it is spread I like the jam of fig
Fig jam

Especially when it contains homemade fig jam from Bologna. Lee Anne worked on an organic farm in Bologna for two weeks over the summer and brought back a bounty of mashed fruits in jars, fig being the best one. Tender gobs of whole figs swam in their golden syrupy juices just waiting to be gutted by my spreading knife. Waiting...for the gutting...and then to be smashed upon the hearty raisin walnut bread Lee Anne bought from La Grande Orange the day before. Oh, the beautiful combination of fruity sugar and bready sugar to form an even more delicious mass of sugar.

bowls of noods

Breakfast turned into lunch as Lee Anne's mom presented us with bowls of bun, rice noodles garnished with cilantro, tasty sweet and hot sauce of some sort, sprinklings of crushed, crunchy peanut souls and chopped up chunks of freshly made spring rolls. Or deep-fried cylindrical meat-filled goodness. I had never assembled spring rolls before, but it's quite easy. I mean, it's quite easy after someone has already made the filling and bought all the ingredients and set them out for you.

Kimberly, spreading the meeat
Spreading the meeeat

You simply lay out a spring roll wrapper and verrrry thinly (like see-through thinly) spread on your filling of choice on a little less than half of the wrapper. Mrs. Shaffer made the filling out of ground pork, shrimp and rice noodles seasoned with soy sauce and various...things I do not know. I assume mainly soy sauce.


And then you ROLL! And you look REALLY HAPPY WHILE YOU'RE DOING IT! Because I SAID SO. More specifically you roll it up halfway, fold in the pointy sides, then roll it up all the way and seal the other end with a smidgen of meat paste. A smidge of a smidgen.

Fry like nevah before

Then you fry. You FRYYY those semi-meat-filled sticks in a pot of oil and watch the bubbles dance around the edges and inject deliciousness into every crevice. INJECT!!!


And then you eat. Best not to eat it when its innards are hot enough to cause painful skin lesions, but don't wait too long or else it'll be a cold, oily stick of less potential deliciousness. You could cut em up as garnish or swaddle one in a lettuce leaf with herbs, mint being my favorite. Swaddle away, my dear children.

creepy cacti SPIKES AHHRHRH THEY'RE GONNA ATTACK moutain with a face
Cacti, everywheeere!

After lunch Mr. Shaffer took Lee Anne, Kimberly and me to the Desert Botanical Garden, a large cacti-filled reserve overlooked by a hole-filled mountain formation that looked like Jabba the Hutt with a few extra heads.

sculptures of some sort! looking AT the branches
They're like ginormous tumbleweeds

We ambled through the garden towards the sculptures created by Patrick Dougherty made of a bagillion or so intertwining branches shaped into hollow balls. Quite nifty. I'm not sure what else I can say about them. They're a bunch of branches! They look really cool! Like being in a POD of NATURE! I have no clue how the artist made them bend to his will (you can see some of the process here), but I guess if it weren't a special skill we'd all be repurposing wayward branches into giant balls of...branchness...

Let me show you more plant life from the land of heat and flatness and lack of moisture. There's a lot of weird stuff, kind of like how the depths of the ocean are filled with weird-ass sea creatures that glow neon green or sprout legs on command or stuff like that. Not that cacti possess any powers like those. Um. But it'd be cool if they did.

Nubbly cacti

I liked the nubbly cacti. If they had faces, I imagine that they would be very cute. Big round vapid eyes, staring into nothingness...yes...


This plant grew its own threads. For what purpose? NOBODY KNOWS.


Lee Anne and I thought this plant looked like vertical poop. Poop with papery flagella growing out of its head. Yeup. Quite a looker.

Aw, I love this cactus
Old Man of the Andes

Old Man of the Andes was one of our favorite plants. It has fuzz! FUZZ! Not that you can really pet it since it's also covered with spikes,, fuzz! It was even better after Kimberly gave it a face.

Old man has anger


Stupid tree

Although its label said Boojum Tree, I christened it the Stupid Tree. Stupid because it consisted of a thick trunk with evenly spaced spiky twig-like branches that perpendicularly grow out of it. But why? What was Nature thinking? It looks cool, but silly and kind of stupid. Like something out of a Dr. Seuss book, which could be said about most of the plants.

(By the way, I know Nature is smart. Kinda. I mean, the Earth is going along alright aside from the humans destroying everything. So I assume there's a good reason that the Boojum tree has graced the world with its confusing presence.)

tumor cactus

That cactus had a tumor. Or an extra brain. I think I saw it pulsate.

Our favorite cactus

Our favorite cactus (or my favorite cactus) had the face of a grinning cyclops with a bottom row of nubbly teeth. Heehee! HEEHEEHEE! BWAHAHAHA! You don't think it's that funny? Oh. Well...we did.

It's time to imitate the cactus

Yes, we're really good at amusing ourselves.

road sign
Street sign

I thought the street signs in the Phoenix area were awesome, or at least much easier to follow than the street signs in New Jersey (and elsewhere). They're large and easy to read and at night they're backlit, which is great for those of us who are optically challenged. Of course, it's not like the signs in New Jersey are hand-scrawled on scrap plywood, but they're not the easiest things to read when driving at night. Especially when you're a mediocre driver with bad eyesight. Like myself.

Lee Anne make fish!
Home cookin!

For dinner Lee Anne made a dish of pan-seared fish with a buttery sauce of chopped tomatoes and capers. And...probably more things, but Lee Anne would know better than I would what the ingredients were. YOM YOM!

Potatoes and veg

For some vegetable matter Mrs. Shaffer made peppery diced potato and sugar snap peas with sliced carrots. Double YOM YOM! ("Yom" is a funnier version of "yum," in case you were wondering if I was speaking another language. Why is it funnier? I dunno. I think it has something to do with the cuteness of the word, cute because it's grammatically incorrect and cute because o's are the most rotund letters. And you know round things...they're funny! Yeah. That's my explanation.)

authorized pizza dealer
Pizza dealer

After dinner Lee Anne, Kimberly and I met up with Alex at Oregano's, an Arizonian pizza chain with random kitschy stuff all over the walls (like the pizza sign, which wasn't so random since they did serve pizza, but like the kayak-like boat hanging over our heads, which was definitely random) and fake kitschy signs painted on the exterior of the restaurant that gave it a Disneyland-feel of something new trying to emulate something old. Or something. Not that I have any problem with that.

Hi Lee Anne.
Staring into each others eyes...with loooove...

For instance, in this photo of Lee Anne looking at me funnily as I stare back with some kind of stupid grin on my face, you can make out the pseudo tromp l'oeil painted on the brick building behind us overlooking a fake city skyline across a river of some sort. It's SO REAL!!!

waiting for PIZOOKIE

For some reason the seats in the restaurant are FREAKIN HUGE. Or the table is higher than average. I felt like I was the size of a 5-year old while sitting in the massive booth.

We went to Oregano's with one thing on our minds: pizookie. This beastly combination of pizza and cookie—a possible invention of bored or drunken curiosity—consists of 1/2 pound of cookie dough spread into a 6-inch pizza pie plate that has been underbaked and topped with three scoops of vanilla ice cream. One pizookie is supposed to feed 2 to 4 people. I was pretty sure I could devour an entire one by myself even after eating dinner, but I kept quiet as we started off slow and only ordered one for the four of us to share.

pizookie, ready for eating
Pizookie number one

The first pizookie came out in a glorious heap of melting orbs of ice cream atop a warm bed of chocolate chip cookie dough. ....Or so I thought.

"Oh no, something's wrong with this," lamented Lee Anne. I continued to lick my spoon.

"What's wrong?" I asked in between bites.

"The cookie isn't hot enough. And the ice cream has shards of ice in it. This isn't what it's supposed to taste like. ..But we've pretty much eaten the whole thing already."

While I had no previous pizookie experience to call upon, Lee Anne and Alex agreed that it was far from being an optimal pizookie. I didn't sense the gravity of the situation until Lee Anne and Alex informed Kimberly and me that the first pizookie-eating experience is supposed to make your taste buds shriek with happiness and flap their arms with glee and cause your pupils to dilate as your soul reaches the heavens, or something like that.

pile of cookie dough ish stuff and ice cream
Pile of pizookie

While the pizookie definitely made my belly happy (as though cookie dough and ice cream could do anything else), it wasn't a life-changing experience. Oh bother.

So we ordered another one. ...After Lee Anne politely expressed our disappointing pizookie-eating experience to the waitress, hoping to ensure a better second version.

pizookie #2
Pizookie number two

For our second pizookie we ordered a cookie that was half peanut butter and half white chocolate macadamia nut. Happily, it was better this time around. The cookie was warmer and the ice cream had magically smoothed itself out.

Nom nom

Alex didn't take part in the second pizookie feast due to a strained belly (oh Alex, HOW YOU DISAPPOINT ME and the pizookie gods), which left Lee Anne, Kimberly and to scoop heaping spoonfuls of ice cream-infused cookie dough into our mouths. Mraah....mraaaah. That is the sound I make when eating gobs of cookie dough and ice cream. My favorite parts of the cookie were the bottom bits that had crunchified from the baking process. Such a beautiful transformation of dough to cookie that is, a chemical reaction whose magnificence is on par of that of a butterfly wriggling out of its cocoon and gently flapping its virgin wings under the golden morning sun, a message to Mother nature that it is ready, ready to liiiiiive...

Man, I really like cookies.

...But I suppose I like my friends more. Yeah, if I had to choose between friends and cookies, I'd rather have my friends.

I'm not sure how, but at some point during our pizookie eating Alex started talking about bunnies and what they do when they're delighted beyond human comprehension.

"They binky..."

"They wuh?" The rest of us were confused. As made obvious by our intelligent "wuh" spurting.

"They jump in the air, have a little happy spasm," Alex explained while twitching to provide us with a visual aid, "and then land back on the ground as though nothing had happened."


"You know Wallace and Gromit? They kind of do that. Like..." And then Alex gave some kind of a happy twitch while wearing a wide grin, which is what he usually does (grin, not twitch).

When Lee Anne, Kimberly and I got back home, we looked up binkying on YouTube to view this phenomenon of happy bunny behavior. Indeed, they do jump in the air, spasm for a split second and then land back on the ground, usually in a different direction. I was expecting something more due to Alex's description, but I should've realized that even though Alex gave the impression that the bunnies magically hovered in mid-air for a second, the laws of physics would prevent this from happening.

Binkying became a popular act for us during the rest of the week. We must thank Alex for presenting us with this great gift of happy spasming.

I can has manatee?

Another silly theme of the week involved manatees. Say wuh? Well...Lee Anne has the most adorable plush manatee toy the size of a guinea pig (or what I think the size of a guinea pig is). Its round shape, small size and overall fuzziness makes it a perfect thing to coddle in one's hands and nuzzle closely like a baby bunny. Except it's a manatee that squeaks when you squeeze its belly.

The first time I saw the manatee I basically shrieked/went apeshit and squealed something like, "OH MY GOD ARAHGRG IT'S SO CUTE WHAT IS THAT AHRGARA [melt] EHEHA [arms flap] ARHAHR GIMME [grabs manatee] EHEHE ARHARHA [cries tears of joy] HAHA!" It's not a pretty sight, but I suspect it's quite amusing. Because cerebral meltdown caused by cuteness is hilarious.

So for the rest of the week the word "manatee" became the code word for being extra happy and crazy due to the presence of super cuteness. "Binky" became the trigger for acting out such happiness. They went together pretty well.

While I have slits for eyes
As always, I have slits for eyes

When Alex had to depart (he left for Florida the next day for a week-long trip) we took a photo while thinking of manatees and binkying (well, that's what I was thinking of, me and that complex brain of mine, oh ho ho), which was much better than thinking of the sadness of Alex leaving and thus missing out on joining us at Pizzeria Bianco and Pane Bianco and more delicious things, which I will hopefully write about by the end of next week.



Desert Botanical Garden
1201 N Galvin Pkwy
Phoenix, AZ 85008

523 W University Dr
Tempe, AZ 85281


Tina / August 12, 2007 5:52 AM

I want that fig jam! The stuff I usually find in Fairway or even Williams Sonoma don't have whole figs in 'em! Argh. I need to go to Bologna for some fig.

That pizookie is crazy looking concoction. I don't know if I would eat it unless I was having PMS or dying of starvation.

I must scream, "AWWW!" for that really cute stuffed manatee. Cuteness! I need to get one for myself and possibly for your birthday (which is coming soon).

shukumei / August 12, 2007 8:35 AM

I've never had a fig, but the jam looks delicious!

Would the cute cacti with eyes look something like this?

Morten / August 12, 2007 9:43 AM

Figs from Bologna...mmmm...figs...Bologna... Italy, here we come!

I ate a million figs while I was in Bologna. They are delicious and they are rare and expencive in Norway so I wanted to get as many in me as I could. Which reminds me. Fig is a funny word. Like tart. Like you'd give a fig! Why do people say that? Who gives figs away anyway? Except to really good friends. I'd give you a fig. I'll buy you figs in Italy :)

christina / August 12, 2007 10:25 AM


had a day in NYC recently and was so inspired by your food-oriented glee that I went to the Sullivan St. Bakery and had an egg custard tart in Chinatown...XDDD They were all delicious.

N / August 12, 2007 12:15 PM

The manatee? Good god.

I don't even like stuffed animals and I still felt, like, rainbows in my brain when I saw that thing.

I see your "AHRGARA [melt] EHEHA [arms flap]" and I'll raise you one "asdsjhdfgjk."

Grace Kim / August 12, 2007 6:11 PM

Places that must be tried in Phoenix-
1. Phoenix Ranch Market on Latin mercado...with a jaw-dropping food court! Huarache-thick masa fried goodness filled with cheese and toppings! Almost anything is fantastic here..MUST get an agua fresca (REAL fruit juices-sandia aka watermelon is the best remedy for the heat...horchata is the cinnamon creamy drink)...This place is insanely cheap and looks like a pinata exploded in there. Friendly people, great kitsch items...
2. Joe's Real BBQ in Gilbert-cute and homemade sides! also homemade rootbeer! just recently opened Joe's Farm Grill in his childhood home-HOMEMADE EVERYTHING! (I haven't tried this YET-but I
3. Drip-coffeeshop-nicely designed, closes unfortunately at 3pm...closed on Mondays-I like it better than Lux. Lux is too much Williamsburg attitude but without the location.)
4. Lisa G's -cute house renovated...serves slider sandwiches...sear steak,ahi, cranberry turkey and peppered bacon is the best of opinion-cute wine bar
5. AZ 88-staple of scottsdale art/social/gay scene....same area as SMOCA (scottsdale museum of contemporary art-check it out)-great burgers...fantastic drinks, owned by conceptual artist, expect hot gay men and a lot flash...

things not on east coast-but I love...gross...but i love them

forget In-n-out...go to Sonic Drive Thru when you want fast food! the breakfast burrito filled with bacon or sausage, eggs, cheese and TATOR TOTS is what my sister, who now lives in NYC misses the most of the south, cream slushies=oddly satisfying

jack in the box-get over it's er...less than illustrious past..the ultimate cheese burger and it's 92 grams of fat (?), and throw in the curly gold

to avoid in phoenix-boba/bubble me on this one. compared to NYC, most of Asia, California, and's all powder mixes here....that's why you have to go to the mercados to get get fresh fruit juices

roboppy / August 12, 2007 6:37 PM

Tina: Bologna has many treasures, even those that extend BEYOND THE FIIIG!

I can eat pizookie any time, no PMS required. ..I dunno if that's a good thing.

Ohh man, I found out after writing this entry when I unpacked my luggage that LEE ANNE HID THE MANATEE IN MY LUGGAGE! Sneaky sneak! ;D That's the kind of thing Lee Anne would do, sneak cute manatees in people's luggage. If you get one for yourself we can be MANATEE TWINS?!

Ahh yes, bday..I dunno what I'm doing for that..!

shukumei: Those cacti-things weren't exactly what I had in mind; I was thinking something more San-X-y? :) San-X should have a cactus character! If they don't already!

Christina: Yaay I'm glad you had a yummy time! Sounds like you got a lot of good baked goods in your belly, bwahaaa.

N: If you look at my reply to Tina's comment then you'll know the fate of the manatee. :) Who is sitting on my bed right now, being all cute and sleepy-like. He gives me total HAPPYSPLOSION!!!

Su-Lin: I KNOW! It's amazing! Why don't they teach us this stuff in school?

Grace: Ohh man I should've probably mentioned that I'm already back in NJ. :( I left Phoenix on Saturday afternoon. Warrgh..

But I'll keep your recs for next time I go! I went to the Super Mercado on Friday. YEAH, awesome. They had some great horchata (and it was my first time drinking it). And we got free fresh tortillas!

I didn't get any BBQ, but had thought about it. There are a handful of places I wanted to go to but didn't have the time for. Eep. I need long vacations to do everything I want.

I went to Lux, not really on purpose but because we went to Pane Bianco and it was right there. I don't really like coffee, so it was more for my friends' sakes, but it was cool to visit...and not order anything in...buh...

I passed Lisa G, but not AZ88. Sounds good. Buurgerrs.

I loved In-N-Out (that'll be in my next entry), didn't get to try Sonic except for a limeade. :] I don't really like tater tots (I think there are two categories of people, those who heart tater tots and those who realllly ...don't heart them). Never had a breakfast burrito though. Ooh.

Also in my next entry will be...uh, bubble tea! Haha. Oops. I actually don't really like bubble tea either (because of the boba), although if there a really famous place for it I'd try it out.

Christina / August 12, 2007 7:27 PM

"And then you ROLL! And you look REALLY HAPPY WHILE YOU'RE DOING IT! Because I SAID SO."

Right when I saw the picture of you rolling the spring rolls I thought, "She looks very happy." Then I saw what you wrote and started laughing!

I saw the pizookie first in your Flickr pictures and thought it was the "yommiest" dessert ever!! I had two amazing cookies at the Indy Museum of Art's cafe. It said WP which I'm thinking stands for Wolfgang Puck since Puck's is there. It was amazing, as if it was baked thoroughly, yet underbaked, with crispy outers and the innards weren't gooey but cheeeewy and then you start to wonder if it's underbaked but I read somewhere he doesn't like those types of cookies, and if it has his initials it'd better be cooked. So it was between cooked and raw, cookraw. That's what your pizookie reminded me of, minus the ice cream.

Horchata is great. I haven't had bubble tea yet but this place sells it and my brothers both liked it so I guess I'll have to try it. I'll be honest, the tapioca rocks freak me out (the place here calls it "tapiloca" and we think it's a misspelling but it sort of sounds, even though I like tapioca, it sounds better when it's spelled tapiloca).

Nicky / August 13, 2007 7:39 AM

I never had fig jam before this week, but am already hooked. A friend gave me some homemade jam, a fig-peach-jam-cocoction, delicious nevertheless ;)

lady d / August 13, 2007 6:31 PM

Pizzeria Bianco in downtown Phoenix (623 east adams street. brick oven, super thin blistery crust... Best. Pizza. Ever. and i'm from nyc.

susannah / August 13, 2007 7:23 PM

PIZOOKIE! The Pizzeria Uno chain has a similar creation, though I'm sure its not as good.

I didn't know what a binky was either! Jumping bunnies! WHAT.

roboppy / August 14, 2007 1:11 AM

Christina: Mm...cookraw...I guess it's been cooked to the point of killing bacteria, but still has that gooey doughy goodness? Definitely YOM YOM. [licks lips]

Oh my god, tapiloca is such a cool word. Like, "I'm from the land of Tapiloca." ...Okay maybe not. "I came down with a case of Tapiloca this weekend and broke out in hives." Well...I like the word, yes.


I want. The jam. And your friend. :D

Nick: I want more, MOOORE!

You shall always be remembered in Lee Anne's heart, "the dude who carried her giant backpack."

Fruitspecies: Yup, it's very sweet! DELICIOUSLY so. I loved that it had whole gobs of fig that you just took apart with your spoon.

lady d: I went, I ate, I conquered. 6 pies with the help of 6 friends. And yeah, it was awesome. Like "I really want to go back now" awesome.

Susannah: I know, BINKY, it's one of the most amazing things ever. I feel much more intelligent now that I know what it is.

Christine / August 14, 2007 2:16 AM

Ok why do your pictures of the Desert Botanical Garden look way (as in 100x)better than my pictures?! And why didn't I see that Old man from the Andes? He's kinda cute. And what can I do to get my hands on some of that fig jam?!

Oh btw, did you try any cactus jelly while you were there?

sara / August 14, 2007 11:43 AM

you are so happy in these pictures! it makes me happy. also i love your blog. and i went to nyu and i considered the food and nutrition program but never got that far. did take food in a global society though. much much fun!

parir fig jam / August 14, 2007 7:43 PM

I was all set to hate Arizona since it seems so unavailable...
But now I'm definitely loving it and I wish I was going there instead of Paris..
no wait a minute!
This can't be!!!

roboppy / August 15, 2007 12:20 AM


I edit my photos in photoshop to helll...maybe that's why... :(

I bought a weeny jar of cactus jelly but haven't tried it yet! I have nothing to eat it with. I guess I could just eat it with a spoon...

shukumei: OH MAN, those dog furniture things really confuse me. They're cute and all, but also totally...WTF.

Sara: Ooh, that global society class is a good one. I think. It might depend on your prof, but I loved mine (Jennifer Berg). Unfortunately I feel like I've forgotten everything I learned in that class...hell, everything I learned in college...

Carol: OH NO NO NO, you definitely want to go to Paris. Nothing beats Paris. :[

Arizona is worth going to though. :)

TucsonKZ / August 15, 2007 2:32 AM

I love fig jam. Did you get to go to A.J.'s Fine Foods? They have a high end selection of all things food and marvelous packaging to tempt you further.

Have you ever tried ginger spread from Trader Joe's? OMG! The first ingredient is ginger and the second ingredient is cane sugar and that's it. Ginger spread is intense. Try some good dense bread and put a smear of almond butter and then a smear of ginger spread and it's a gourmet version of the old PB&J.

Next time come to Tucson; the temperature is a lot cooler (7 to 10 degrees) in the summer and has a whole different type of vibe.

chasgoose / August 16, 2007 12:01 AM

I wish I were back in PHX to share the magic with you. It's probably best that I wasn't there for pizzokie time tho (imagine me at Mariage Freres but like more scary and fighting you with my spoon for bits of pizzookie). I am glad you liked Pizzeria Bianco as it is pretty much the best thing ever (my parents are moving out of my childhood home to one downtown, and I was initially sad, but now I live 5 minutes from Pizzeria Bianco so my heart is less sad).

roboppy / August 16, 2007 10:44 AM

TusconKZ: I didn't go to that store...ooops...another time!

Never tried ginger spread. Nor did I know it existed! It sounds good. Almond butter and ginger spread, ooh..sounds like it could be a funky ice cream flavor as well. (I love ginger ice cream!)

eternal / August 16, 2007 12:27 PM

Lee Ann's food looked better than everything you ate at a restaurant in Phoenix, which isn't totally surprising.

Charmaine / May 20, 2008 3:52 AM

HELLO! I just came across your blog while researching pizookies and yeah...xD
Bahahha you are so funny. xD
Uhm...I'd subscribe if I knew how. xD
I'm sorry if I'm scary. xD
I'm just in an interesting mood. xD

Jesse / July 14, 2009 9:42 AM

The Manatee toy, could you send me other photos. I've been combing the inernet for a small 7-8 inch manatee like that.

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