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Food News Round-Up

NEON Moves to Garden City, Flora's Bake Shop serves up sweets in Hyde Park


North End Organic Nursery wants to put the garden back in Garden City. The nursery packed up its seeds, fruit trees and potting soil and moved from its perch at 2350 W. Hill Road to the former Costume Shop space at 3777 E. Chinden Blvd.

"We felt like there were a ton of different products that we couldn't carry just because our old store was so small," said NEON co-owner Elisa Clark. "We felt like we couldn't put in another cash register and get the line of our clients moving through faster. The layout of the building was hard for us to expand or do anything else."

According to Clark, 28 new townhomes are slated to sprout up in NEON's former site and while NEON will keep the "North End" part of its name, it will no longer be hindered by that neighborhood's space constraints.

"We have doubled our floor space and we're going to be expanding to have a coffee shop, deli and smoothie bar," said Clark. "We also joined forces with J. Michaels Florist, so they're co-oping the building with us; they're going to have half of it and the ReUse Market is going to be here, as well. So we'll be more of a destination."

Over the next few months, NEON plans to start offering grab-and-go deli items, organic coffee, tea and green smoothies.

"We're actually in talks with the Boise Co-op right now to start possibly housing some of their grab-and-go items from their deli," said Clark. "We're thinking maybe that would be a good way to get it open and started and moving before we start actually having a chef in here."

NEON's sprawling new space extends behind the building, as well.

"There is actually a half-acre behind us where we're doing our greenhouses, and our shade houses, and all of our outdoor plants, so there's quite a bit of room here," added Clark.

In addition to expanding its footprint, the gardening center will also expand its class offerings and increase its collection of heirloom, organic and non-GMO seeds. NEON will also be an outlet for Homestead Natural Foods.

"It's really hard to imagine the Costume Shop without all of the costumes in it and the walls and everything else going on," said Clark. "But if you come in here now, we opened up the building so you can see Chinden Boulevard from the middle of the store; it's really open and airy. We've done some decorative touches: we've painted, we've cleaned, we've kind of made it our nursery, so it's beautiful."

In other Garden City news, Payette Brewing Co. is gearing up to celebrate Beer Can Appreciation Day Saturday, Jan. 24, noon-10 p.m., at its brewery, located at 111 W. 33rd St.

According to Payette, "Beer was first sold in cans on Jan. 24, 1935, and Payette Brewing Co. was the first brewery in Idaho to can beer. To celebrate this day, Payette will be selling $1 beers across the board: $1 single cans, $6 six-packs, $12 12-packs and $24 Adventure Packs."

If you want to get even more canned on National Beer Can Appreciation Day, head to Crooked Fence Barrelhouse at 5181 N. Glenwood St., where you can sample canned brews from a number of Idaho breweries, including Laughing Dog Brewing, Slanted Rock Brewing Company, Sockeye Brewing, Payette Brewing Co. and Crooked Fence Brewing. The event takes place Saturday, Jan. 24, 2-6 p.m., and there's a $5 suggested donation at the door. Funds go to support the Idaho Humane Society.

Moving from breweries to bakeries, Flora's Bake Shop is now serving shortbread, brownies, cinnamon rolls, scones and sugar cookies from a quaint house in the heart of Hyde Park at 1607 N. 13th St.

Owned by partners Chris Bedrosian and Harry Studer, Flora's Bake Shop is named after Bedrosian's great grandmother, Flora Farmer, who "made the most wonderful sugar cookies in the world."

"It was the first thing that I ever had that I noticed," explained Bedrosian, referring to the sugar cookie. "It just made sense ... to name [the business] after her because she was such a great baker, and it was such an inspirational cookie."

Though Bedrosian doesn't have her great grandmother's exact recipe, she approximates it to create artfully decorated sugar cookie baskets and bouquets.

"I have 350 sugar cookie cutters, so I can do anything you want as long as you give me a head's up because it does take a couple of days," said Bedrosian.

Flora's Bake Shop also offers Dawson Taylor coffee and espresso drinks, along with an assortment of hand pies.

"We always have little mini pies. They're little circles, like little spaceships that fit in your hand. We have apple and cherry; we do pecan; we've done chocolate, which is awesome," said Bedrosian.

Though the bake shop is only open limited hours during the winter (Fridays and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sundays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.) beginning in April, it will be open Tuesdays through Sundays.