5 places to celebrate Valentine’s Day 2015 in the Phoenix area.

As Valentine’s Day 2015 approaches in just over a week many restaurants a planning for happy couples to come out for dinner and show their love for each other. Whether you like sushi, southwestern or contemporary American food the 5 options below are offering special dishes, prix-fixe menus or Valentine’s Day themed parties.

Sierra Bonita Grill
On Valentine’s Day, enjoy a romantic brunch or dinner at Sierra Bonita Grill. For brunch, enjoy southwestern-inspired cuisine, including the Monte Cristo ($13) with Cure 81 ham, oven roasted turkey, scrambled eggs, bacon and manchego cheese between two egg battered pieces of sourdough bread, served with oven roasted root vegetables. The Cowboy Hash ($12) is roasted root vegetables tossed with Schrieners linguisa sausage and chorizo, topped with fried eggs, salsa verde and salsa fresca. For dinner, the evening’s specials include Smoked Prime Rib ($33), served with green chile mashed potatoes, horseradish sour cream and beef au jus. The fresh catch of the evening will be Pan Seared Crab Crusted Shrimp and Scallops ($35), served with tomato fettucini pasta tossed with spinach and cherry tomatoes, and topped with a white wine chile cream sauce. Pair dinner with a special cocktail created for the evening. The Hibiscus Margarita ($10) features hibiscus infused blanco tequila, Cointreau, St. Germain, fresh lime juice, agave and is garnished with an edible flower. Sierra Bonita Grill is located at 6933 N. 7th St., Phoenix, AZ 85014. For reservations, call 602-264-0700 or visit www.sierrabonitagrill.com.

The Herb Box
The Herb Box features savory twists on tried-and-true cuisine and fresh, seasonal ingredients that unify regional flavors. For Valentine’s dinner, The Herb Box will be serving a five-course, plus cocktail “Honey and Date” prix fixe menu featuring local ingredients. The dinner is $89 per couple. The meal begins with a Spicy Shrimp, Corn, Leek, and Sweet Potato Chowder, with Corto olive oil and honey-fennel roasted pepitas. The next course is a shard Petite Brioche Fromage with Seahive sea salt and honey cheddar, capicola, gouda bechemel, honeycup dijon, with a salade rouge of radicchio, red oak, red onion, avocado, golden raisins, and Sphinx Farm dates. The intermezzo is a Champagne-Grapefruit Sorbet with date syrup. For an entree, choose from a Date-Balsamic Roasted Free Range Chicken with Maya Farm baby turnips, petit carrots, and watermelon radish, or Grilled Spring Garlic Lamb Lollipops with warm butter beans, feta, fresh mint and sumac-honey vinaigrette. Finish the meal with a Sweet Honey Date Cake, served with a blackberry swirl goat cheese ice cream, bourbon sugared pecan pieces, honey “dust”, and blackberries, topped with a drizzle of honey-bourbon syrup. Included with the dinner is a My Darling Lemon-Thyme cocktail featuring Singh Farms Honeycomb. There are two locations of The Herb Box: Southbridge in Old Town – 7134 E. Stetson Dr., Scottsdale, Ariz., 85251. DC Ranch on Market Street – 20707 N. Pima Rd., Scottsdale, Ariz., 85255. For more information, email www.theherbbox.com.

RA Sushi Bar Restaurant
A sushi dinner is meant to be savored and shared, making RA Sushi the perfect Valentine’s date night. Splurge with the Lobster Salmon Roll ($13.45) featuring lobster, mango, avocado, and cucumber, rolled and topped with lobster, salmon and a lobster cream sauce. Spice up the night with the Zonie Roll ($9.95), featuring spicy salmon, cucumber, lettuce, cilantro, and jalapeño, rolled and topped with avocado and Sriracha. Fall in love with the Red Heart Roll ($10.95), featuring crab mix, fresh avocado and cucumber, rolled and topped with crispy spicy tuna, spicy mayo and Sriracha. Pair dinner with a tropical cocktail meant for sharing. The Passion Punch Bowl ($18) is a fruity and refreshing drink featuring Amaretto Di Saronno, pineapple vodka, aged rum, passion fruit, pineapple and citrus juices, and coconut water, served in a giant fish bowl. For dessert, share a sweet with your sweet, such as the Sweet Mochi Trio ($7.69), a traditional Japanese dessert of mango, strawberry and vanilla ice cream wrapped in sweet rice cake with sliced kiwi and strawberries. For more information, visit www.RAsushi.com

RA Sushi has five Valley locations in Mesa, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Old Town Scottsdale and North Scottsdale.

Ahwatukee: 4921 E. Ray Road; Phoenix, 85044
Dana Park in Mesa: 1652 S. Val Vista Drive; Mesa, 85204
Tempe: 411 S. Mill Ave.; Tempe, 85281
Kierland Commons: 7012 E. Greenway Pkwy., Scottsdale, 85254
Old Town Scottsdale: 3815 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 85251

RA Sushi in North Scottsdale and Ahwatukee Hosting Valentine’s Themed Painting Parties:
From Rodin to Klimt, artists have used love as their muse, and now RA Sushi invites couples to celebrate love by bringing out their inner artist at a painting party on February 15. Pinot’s Palette and Uptown Art will set-up at RA Sushi for a fun afternoon of painting, sushi, sake, and romance! On February 15 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Kierland location in North Scottsdale, Pinot’s Palette will teach aspiring artists how to paint the chosen artwork, Mandarin Sunset. The Kierland Commons RA Sushi is at 7012 E. Greenway Pkwy, Scottsdale, AZ 85254. For the Kierland class, the cost $39 and includes a 16×20 canvas, painting supplies and step-by-step instructions. Register at http://www.pinotspalette.com/paradisevalley or call 480-696-7220. On February 15 from noon to 2 p.m., Uptown Art will inspire with the themed painting, Love is in the Air, during an al fresco class on the patio at RA Sushi in Ahwatukee. The Ahwatukee location is at 4921 E. Ray Rd., Phoenix, Ariz., 85044. The Ahwatukee class cost is $25 and includes a 16×20 canvas, painting supplies and step-by-step instructions. Register at www.uptownart.com/chandler or call 480-813-8059. Besides making beautiful art, guests can enjoy RA Sushi’s new Sunday offering made for two: Sushi for 2 for $25. Choose four food items from a select menu, plus edamame for just $25. A wide variety of rolls from the Tootsy Maki to Crunchy Shrimp Tempura to Spicy Tuna are available, as are appetizers like Pineapple Cheese Wontons and Chicken Yakitori.

The Shout House
A fun option for couples looking for a entertaining night out on Valentine’s Day, head to the Chocolate Wasted Party at The Shout House! For dinner, order a variety of dishes meant for sharing, such as the BBQ Pork Short Ribs, featuring a half a rack of ribs with a housemade rub in a slow cooked BBQ sauce, served with coleslaw, or the Chokes and Hummus Plate, served with artichoke hearts, garlic citrus hummus, kettle chips and a balsamic drizzle. Set the mood with a signature cocktail, such as the Sex on the Piano, a mix of Stoli peach vodka, Razzmatazz, melon liquor, cranberry and pineapple juice, or the Pear-A-Dise City with Absolut pear vodka, malibu rum, frangelico, pineapple juice, and ginger ale, topped with a champagne float. For dessert, indulge in all things chocolate, such as $5 Chocolate Martinis, $4 Chocolate Cake Shots, and $3 Chocolate Covered Strawberries.The Valley’s only dueling piano bar, at The Shout House musicians play classic rock ‘n’ roll hits to today’s popular music. An adult-oriented, 21-and-over, non-stop, audience request driven show, the performers involve the audience in sing-alongs, roasts and on-stage interaction. The party will be from from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Reservations can be made beginning at 7 p.m. and pianos will start at 7:30 p.m. The Shout House is located in the Westgate Entertainment District at 6770 Sunrise Blvd, Ste. 207, Glendale, Ariz. For more information, visit www.theshouthouse/az.

Paul Martin’s American Grill
Indulge in a romantic dinner during Valentine’s weekend at Paul Martin’s American Grill. From February 12-16, Paul Martin’s will be serving a variety of appetizer, entree and dessert specials. Begin the meal with a shared appetizer of a half a pound of Chilled Alaskan King Crab Legs ($25), served with house cocktail sauce and lemon. For a main course, choose from a variety of options, including the Herb Rubbed All Natural Filet Mignon ($45) with mashed potatoes, Bloomsdale spinach, and garlic confit, or Seared Ahi Tuna ($28), accompanied by bok choy salad with watermelon radishes, snow peas and sesame-ginger vinaigrette. For the seafood lover, try the full pound of Alaskan King Crab Legs ($48), served with crispy red potatoes, drawn butter and lemon. Grab two spoons and finish the meal with a Campfire Sundae ($9), featuring vanilla ice cream, warm fudge, smoked almonds, and toasted housemade marshmallow fluff. Paul Martin’s American Grill is located at 6186 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, Ariz., 85253. For more information, visit www.paulmartinsamericangrill.com.

Rise Up Bakery opens in Gilbert

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When husband and wife Jay and Danielle Lunt decided to re-locate to Arizona from Las Vegas to be closer to family it meant selling their successful 10 year old bakery. After 11 years in Arizona the couple decided they “kneaded” to get back to their baking roots and opened Rise Up Bakery www.riseupbread.com in December.

The cozy, neighborhood bakery is located at Gilbert Tuscany Village and features the couples specialty, bread along with cookies, muffins, scones and more. Their bread is made from scratch and use all natural ingredients and is prepared with out no added oils, eggs and preservatives.
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“We missed being in the bakery everyday and seeing the faces of our customers enjoying what we baked,” said Jay. “We pride ourselves on offering the best classic treats, and hope that we can offer something new to the amazing Gilbert community. Our goal is to create something both beautiful and delicious using simple ingredients.”

Rise Up is opened Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. and is located at 861 N. Higley Rd.(at Guadalupe) in Gilbert. 480-264-3026.

German Osio’s Kale & Clover: Mindful Kitchen to open soon in north Scottsdale

The newest entry into the Scottsdale restaurant scene will be Kale & Clover: Mindful Kitchen from Osio Culinary Group. It will be the 4th restaurant from restaurateur German Osio which include Central Bistro in Phoenix, SumoMaya & Local Bistro in Scottsdale. Kale and Clover will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and will feature clean and healthy food and drinks available to dine in or carry out making it convenient for all.

Chris Mayo will be executive chef and be moving up north from Central Bistro and has spent the last few months planning the mostly vegetarian, vegan and gluten free menu. Diners will have the option to add protein if they like.

“We are using responsibly-sourced, seasonal ingredients and have taken special care to focus on nutritional balance and flavor,” Mayo said. “It has been a treat to work on Kale & Clover’s menu, to sink into the taste of the high-quality ingredients we have selected and combine them in complementary ways so that the food pops with flavor.”

A few of the menu’s signature dishes include…
· Superfood salad: kale, romaine hearts, shaved local vegetables, avocado, almonds, apricots, lemon dressing.

· Faux Pho: red miso shiitake broth, rice noodles, tofu, Thai basil, sprouts, chilies, lime.

· Avocado summer roll: pickled veggies, mint, house made sambas.

· Caramelized cauliflower: caper-raisin jam, lentils, local carrots, curry vinaigrette.

· Seared Salmon: red quinoa, marinated cherry tomatoes, avocado, light herb vinaigrette

Cold pressed juices, agave sweetened drinks and espresso drinks will be available along with craft beers and wines.

“My hope is that Kale & Clover makes it easier for people to eat healthily. Our menu is chef-crafted, so it will appeal to everyone—even those who shy away from healthy ingredients,’’ Osio said. “We offer breakfast, lunch and dinner so that the option for clean food is always available. And our grab-and-go and eat-in components are intended to provide utmost convenience.”

Kale & Clover: Mindful Kitchen will be located at 20511 N. Hayden Road at Hayden Peak Crossing in Scottsdale, the same shopping plaza as Osio’s sister restaurant, Local Bistro. Kale & Clover will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Re-unite at SumoMaya for a Andre House fundraiser the day before Thanksgiving.

Hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just 2 weeks away and SumoMaya is helping you start the celebration the day before and at the same time helping to raise money for Andre House. Come into SumoMaya on Wednesday, November 26th at anytime between 11 a.m. – 1 a.m. as they will be selling a “Happy Hour Pass” for $10. All proceeds will go to Andre House and those purchasing will be given a complimentary Margarita and enjoy Happy Hour pricing on food & drinks all day. There will be $5 cocktails, surprises and a Mariachi band.

Andre House of Hospitality serves up to 800 meals 6 days a week plus offers clothing, showers and transitional housing to those who need it. www.andrehouse.org

This day makes for a great opportunity to re-unite with friends & family while at the same time helping a good cause as we give thanks for what we all have.

SumoMaya is located at 6560 N. Scottsdale Road 85253 480-397-9520 www.sumomaya.com

Fall into the Festival at the Farm to taste Arizona wines

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Fall is in the air and the harvest is over it’s time to celebrate with the Arizona Wine Growers Association’s annual Festival at the Farm wine tasting that showcases what Arizona wineries are up to this past year. The events on Sat. November 15th will once again be held at the historic Farm at South Mountain from 12 noon- 5 p.m.

Grapes in the Lawrence Dunham vineyards

Grapes in the Lawrence Dunham vineyards

Festival goers will get to experience over 32 local wineries including Callaghan Vineyards, Passion Cellars, Burning Tree Cellars just to name a few and will get to taste current releases poured by many of the owners and winemakers who can answer questions and tell you their story.

Tickets are $65 in advance and $75 and include a commemorative glass. www.azwinefestivalatthefarm.com www.arizonawine.org

2nd Annual Live & Local returns to Scottsdale.

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The Boys and Girls Club of Scottsdale is gearing up for the their 2nd Annual Live and Local on Sunday November 9th at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall starting at 5p.m. This event features local restaurants, beers and musicians for attendees to enjoy on a great fall evening. This years participants include food from Sumo Maya, The Pink Pony, Union Barrelhouse and more. You can wash down your eats with beers from Sleepy Dog Brewery and Mother Road Brewery as well as Roger Clyne’s Mexican Moonshine Tequila and samples of wine from Arizona wineries. The libations will be showcased in libation-centric experiences that include a beer garden and unWined lounge.
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Music will be provided by Nate Williams Band, Georgia Chrome and Adam Shero. A VIP After Party will start at 9p.m. and include a fashion show, delicious desserts and adult milkshake for those that stick around. The event is being presented by Go Daddy and sponsored by the Arizona Restaurant Association and NOVA Home Loans which is helping the Boys and Girls Club raise funds for local youths tha tneed it the most.

“In 1954, Scottsdale Junior Chamber of Commerce led an effort to organize a then-Boys Club of Scottsdale. In a temporary location at Loloma Elementary, 258 boys were served in the first year of the Clubs operation. Five years later, the first branch, called the Osborn Branch was completed and served 1,186 boys from the Scottsdale community in their first year being open,” says Steve Davidson, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale.

Tickets are on sale and are $50 for General Admission that include access to the main event and tastings a VIP tickets are $100 and include additional VIP experiences and After Party access. Tickets can be purchased online at www.bgcs.org/liveandlocal And don’t miss a bite, follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more updates (@LiveandLocalAZ #LiveandLocalAZ).

It’s Baaack! Arizona Restaurant Week returns September 19-28

The Fall 2014 Arizona Restaurant Week is back with 10 nights (Fri. Sept 19th – Sun. Sept. 28th) to try 3 or 4 courses at some of the best local restaurants around that include new restaurants Sumo Maya and The Local along with well established restaurants such as Rancho Pinot Grill. Over 150 Phoenix area restaurants will be participating and offer special prix-fixe menus costing only $33 or $44 per person ++.

Customer participation is is also recommended as social media will play a role with interactive promotions, contests and more as well as a Instagram scaenger hunt and contest in partnership with Buick that encourages customers to eat out often and hashtag your photos #TourARW.

Below are a few photos of what I’ve had the chance to taste. www.ArizonaRestaurantWeek.com

Sumo Maya's Hamachi Tiradito

Sumo Maya’s Hamachi Tiradito

Roka Akor's Warm toffee cake with peanut butter ice cream and house made sorbets

Roka Akor’s Warm toffee cake with peanut butter ice cream and house made sorbets

Paul Martin's Charcuterie plate

Paul Martin’s Charcuterie plate

Paul Martin's Grilled Salmon

Paul Martin’s Grilled Salmon

Wrigley Mansion's Lobster Risotto w/ roasted fennel and shrimp

Wrigley Mansion’s Lobster Risotto w/ roasted fennel and shrimp