Holiday Cheers Fleming’s Introduces Two Cocktails to Celebrate the Season

Haute Holiday & Merry Mint Spice cocktails

December is a time to commemorate the past year with friends and family while looking forward to what’s to come. Maeve Pesquera, Director of Wine at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, has created two holiday cocktails just for these memorable occasions. The Merry Mint Spice ($11.95) with Gentleman Jack and POM Juice is warming comfort with a hint of sweetness. The Haute Holiday($10.95) with Mionetto Prosecco and Quady Elysium is pure celebratory sparkle. Both are available at Fleming’s from December 1 – 31.

Scottsdale: 6333 N. Scottsdale Rd. / 480-596-8265
DC Ranch-North Scottsdale: 20753 N. Pima Rd. / 480-538-8000
Chandler: 905 N. 54th St. / 480-940-1900
Peoria: 9712 W. Northern Ave. / 623-772-9463

Please visit FlemingsSteakhouse.com for more details about your closest restaurant.

CHOMPIE’S COOKING UP TRADITIONAL CHANUKAH DINNER FOR DINE IN OR TO GO

Traditional Chanukah dinner prepared from scratch available after 4 pm during all 8 nights of Chanukah.

Chompie’s Chicken w/ Matzoball soup

Chanukah — the eight-day Festival of Lights in which Jewish people celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, begins on December 8th and runs through December 16th of 2012. Chompie’s, Arizona’s New York Deli is once again providing the traditional Chanukah dinner for diners to eat in or take out.

The made from scratch Chanukah meal includes:

• Tender Sliced Beef Brisket with Gravy, or Savory Roasted Chicken, or Apricot Glazed Chicken

• Famous Matzo Ball Soup

• Potato Latkes with Applesauce

• String Beans Amandine

• Fresh-Baked Dinner Rolls

• Homemade Holiday Cookies

The Chanukah meal is only $15.95 per person.

Traditional Chanukah foods such as Crispy Potato Latke’s, Brisket of Beef, Matzo Ball Soup, Chanukah Cookies and more are also available for purchase by the pound, pint or piece.

Pre-order full course Chanukah to-go meal packages serving 12-15 people for $169.95 with 24-hour notice by contacting the Chompie’s nearest you.

Chompie’s Chanukah menus are available at www.chompies.com.

Chompie’s is also selling Chompie’s gift cards good for the purchase of food for dine in or take out or in-store merchandise at Chompie’s. Anyone who purchases $50 in Chompie’s gift cards will receive an additional $10 Chompie’s gift card for free. Gift cards are available to purchase at all four Chompie’s Phoenix area restaurants and on www.chompies.com.

P.F. CHANG’S LAUNCHES NEW DESSERTS, SEASONAL COCKTAILS & GIFT CARD PROMOTION

P.F. Chang’s has expanded their dessert menu with new Sweet Treats including: Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake, Blueberry Cheesecake, Tiramisu, Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch, Chocolate Torte (gluten-free) and the seasonal favorite, Pumpkin Cranberry Cake. Each item is $2.95, or guests can enjoy a combination of any three for $7.95.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake topped with Salted Caramel

Complementing dessert, P.F. Chang’s introduced three seasonal cocktails on November 19. The Holiday Sangria ($8) offers a twist on the traditional, the Spiced Whiskey Punch ($10) is a classic cocktail with modern flair and the seasonal Sam Adam’s Winter Lager ($4.50) is brewed with savory spices.

A holiday gift card promotion also launched on November 19, rewarding buyers with a $20 bonus card for every $100 purchased in gift cards, whether in-restaurant or online.

“We’re very excited about this upcoming holiday season,” said Larry Ryback, Chief Operating Officer of P.F. Chang’s. “From new desserts and seasonal cocktails to our gift card offer, we hope to give our guests even more reason to visit P.F. Chang’s this year.”

For more information, please visit www.pfchangs.com

Holiday Wine Tasting Party with Tom’s Thumb Fresh Market

Find Gift Ideas and New Favorites at The Thumb

Is it possible to relax and do your holiday shopping? Chuck Hesson of Tom’s Thumb Fresh Market thinks so. All you need is glass of good wine and noshes. Hesson, the Cellar Master for Tom’s Thumb, is hosting a Wine Tasting Party on Thursday, November 29 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm to prove his point. He’ll share five wines from the gas-station-turned-corner-market. Guests will also enjoy appetizers from the award-winning Bistro and snacks from some of the market’s artisan products.

The tasting starts with a sparkling wine, perfect to pop open on New Year’s Eve, and features two white wines and two red wines. Cost is $15 for those who pay in advance or $20 at the door. Guests can arrive at anytime from 5:30 – 7:30 pm. Reservations can be made by calling the market at 480-513-8186.

And if guests like what they taste, everything is for sale to take home that night. Holiday shopping completed!

Thursday, November 29
5:30 – 7:30 pm
$15 paid reservation
$20 at the door

Tom’s Thumb Fresh Market
9393 E. Bell Rd. • Scottsdale 85260
480-513-8186

www.TomsThumbFreshMarket.com

Arizona Wine Growers Association’s 2012 Festival at The Farm

Having sold Arizona wine as a retailer or as a wholesaler of the last 18 years it’s been good to see the industry come all this way from a gimmicky tourist souvenir to a world-class, well-respected industry where there is a passion and camaraderie. With that Governor Jan Brewer proclaimed Nov. 11th – 18th Arizona Wine Week and the Arizona Winegrowers Assoc. www.arizonawine.org held it’s 4th annual Festival at The Farm on Sat. the 17th.

Preceded by the evening before with a “Celebration of Arizona Wine Growers” event which was an opportunity for 150 guests to mix and mingle with wine makers from across Arizona. Guests had the opportunity to sample appetizers prepared using local produce by Quiessence executive chef Greg LaPrad and his team, that included Nantucket Scallop Crudo paired with 2011 Arizona Stronghold’s Tazi white blend, Chicken Liver Pate topped with Crisp Sage with 2011 Page Springs Cellars La Flor Rose and gnocchi tossed with Rainbow Valley Farmers cheese, wild mushrooms and Rosemary Fennel Sausage with Arizona Stronghold’s “Nachise” Red wine. Assorted deserts that included Lavender Marshmallows and were paired with Carlson Creek’s “Sweet Adeline” Riesling. All the wines paired well with the food presented and tasted good when tasted by themselves. The wines served on this beautiful night were winners from the 2012 Arizona Grower’s Cup and Winemakers Medal Competitions of which all the award winners were announced later in the evening by host Richard Ruelas of the Arizona Republic and poured during the Saturday festival.

Crudo of Nantucket Scallops w/ Arizona Basil and Meyer Lemon
Chicken Liver Pate w/ Crisp Sage

On Saturday we returned for a gorgeous afternoon for tasting wines from more than 30 of the states 63 licensed and bonded wineries representing all the states growing regions including the Verde Valley up north, Sonoita and Elgin to the south and Willcox in southeastern Arizona. “Whether they are a novice or an aficionado, this is a can’t miss event for wine lovers to meet the folks behind the rising Arizona wine movement,” said Peggy Fiandaca, president of the Arizona Wine Growers Association. The festival also helped celebrate Arizona’s 100 years of statehood as it is a sanctioned Centennial event.

In addition to tasting some new wines from Sand-Reckoner Vineyards and 1st release from Saeculum Cellars amongst others I had the chance to speak with several people to see what has changed in the local wine industry since we last met a year ago. Speaking with the ladies from Coronado Vineyards they were very excited about the custom crush facility now opened in Willcox that will help many others looking to produce wine without the investment of equipment and a winery. We’re also seeing the diversity of wines being made including that of ports and bigger California style wines. The respect, critical acclaim and competitiveness with other world-class wines continues to grow with every vintage as does more local vineyards coming on-line to meet the growing demand not only in Arizona but across the country and beyond.

Highlights from my tastings included….
2011 Saeculum Cellars Sauvignon Blanc– Made by Arizona assistant winemaker Bob he sources his grapes currently for all 3 wines, also Syrah & Sangiovese, from central coast vineyards in California. Starting with 2012 vintage all wines will be made with grapes from the Rolling View Vineyard in Willcox. This soft and crisp S.B. has nice balance of fruit and acidity and makes for very pleasant drinking wine. This was his 1st release of his wines and having won a few awards on Friday night, he has a great future in front of him. www.saeculumcellars.com

2011 Saeculum Cellars Sauvignon Blanc

2011 Sierra Bonita Vineyards Rose is a blend of 60% Grenache, 38% Syrah and 2% Tannat which make for a lively and fuller bodied rose. All estate grown on their 11 acres of vineyards, 3 generations of the Smith family work at all aspects of from the vineyards to delivering the wine. All under the guidance of Gerald and Jane Smith. www.sierrabonitavineyards.com

2009 Sierra Bonita Syrah

2009 Coronado Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon– This higher elevation Cab is medium to full-bodied with good fruit and lingering tannins. With a smooth oak mouth feel, makes a very versatile food wine going well with beef to chocolate. www.coronadovineyards.com

2010 Sand-Reckoner vineyards 5– This is one of 3 new wines tasted from Sand-Reckoner and is a Sangiovese based blend using the Brunello clone of Sangiovese Grasso. Combined with 18% Syrah and aged for 15 months in a 500 liter French oak puncheon this wine has good character and complexity along with nice fruit structure. Only 55 cases were made of this wine. Their “11” Zinfandel is a delicious fortified port style wine great for sipping by the fire and would go well with dark chocolate and blue cheese. www.sand-reckoner.com

It was also good to see the ‘veteran’ winemakers of Kent Callaghan, Eric Glomski and others who have paved the way for years helping to get the Arizona wine industry on the map. Here is to raising a glass to the Arizona wine industry and looking forward to what the near and long-term future brings us. Cheers!

Where to eat on Grand Cayman Island

Whether you’re heading down to scuba dive, check on your money or warm up from the winter blues Grand Cayman Island has its variety of dining for everybody. Considered by many to be the culinary capital of the Caribbean (say that a few times after a few Pina Coladas), Grand Cayman is a rather small island in the western Caribbean Sea with several influences native to island or imported. The majority of the dining scene is on the western side of the island near George Town, but throughout the island you’ll find several other restaurants (in some cases barely that) frequented by locals which is the best way to taste the flavor of the island and the region. This is exactly what we did on a recent visit.

Surrounded by turquoise blue water, you’d be correct if you guessed that a lot of seafood is being served along with “jerk” food. “Jerk” is a mildly spicy seasoning found throughout parts of the Caribbean including Jamaica and Grand Cayman. The use of cloves gives it a distinctive flavor than most other spicy seasoning and it’s most commonly found on chicken and pork.

After getting some recommendations from hotel employees and checking local guide books we made our way to Rankins Jerk on Shamrock Rd. on the border of Bodden Town and Lower Valley. No big menu at this walk up restaurant just a few daily specials and couple of staples that include Jerk chicken($8), Jerk pork ($10) both w/ red beans and rice and small salad which were very tasty as was the Mahi Mahi filet and the chicken soup. We knew it would be good as we walked in to the minimal looking dining room to await our food, which was packed with locals eating lunch. So quiet you could hear a pin drop. It was also one of the few places I saw goat on the menu but decided to pass.

If you’re craving kangaroo or crocodile Make your way to the Gun Bay area of the Eastern Districts to Tukka www.tukka.ky where Chef Ron who hails from the Queensland area of Australia will introduce you to Australian food with a Caribbean flare at his beach side restaurant. With an extensive menu we were there for his Walkabout Wednesday tasting menu which included 3 courses for $40 C.I plus gratuity. Crocodile and Conch Fritter, Breaded Brie and a Lobster & Shrimp Spring Rolls were the 1st course followed by a choice of pan seared Barramundi, Grilled Mahi Mahi and Prawn Skewer, Mixed Grill Brochette consisting of lobster, shrimp, chicken and lamb cutlet or Angus beef filet and Kangaroo sausage. All the food presented tasted great and the presentation was the best we’d seen on the island. The Date & Walnut pudding w/ Butterscotch sauce was my choice for dessert delicious and had me wanting to lick my bowl. This was by far the fanciest restaurant of our visit.

Walkabout Wednesday appetizer sampler at Tukka
Tuuka’s Date & Walnut Pudding with ice cream and Butterscotch sauce.

If you make it to the North Side be sure to visit Over the Edge Restaurant www.over-theedge.com over looking Old Man Bay. With a variety of sandwiches, salads and main courses served in a nautical setting this was the restaurant we kept saying we had to get to and finally did for our next to last lunch. With a nice variety of fish that included Snapper, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Codfish and Lobster just to name I few. I went with the Fish & Fries (fish n chips). This was not your battered and fried fish that I was expecting but a seasoned and breaded then pan-fried filets which was a pleasant surprise. It was also the only place I noticed turtle steaks on the menu for those that crave it. Also be sure to ask for the jar of pickled peppers if you want to add a spicy kick to your meal.

If you find yourself hungry in George Town or along Seven Mile Beach and want to avoid the touristy places you can watch the waves rolling in at The Royal Palms Beach Club www.royalpalmscayman.com Part beach club, part patio restaurant this was slightly more mainstream with burgers, pizzas, salads and sandwiches. I went with the Mahi Mahi sandwich ($10.50 C.I.) with the Jerk mayo which was very good.

We also ate a couple of good meals where we stayed at the Morritt’s Grand Resort on the northeast corner of the island at Colliers Point. At David’s Restaurant the seafood risotto and coconut shrimp salad were winners.

Other good choices we visited was the Wreck Bar and Grill at Rum Point www.rumpointclub.com for eating at picnic tables and under the palm trees after a visit to Sting Ray City. On one visit I went with the Traditional Style Jerk Pork ($11 C.I.) which was a generous portion
of pork along with red beans and rice, corn on the cob and coleslaw. For my final meal of our trip we returned I had the Jerk Chicken Wrap off the special board which was very flavorful. Definitely the most kicked back place of our visit with its hammocks and clear blue water to stare into.

A few other places were recommended to us that we could not get to were Chester’s Fish Fry in Bodden Town, South Coast Bar & Grill on the water by Frank Sound and Vivine’s Kitchen in Gun Bay that looked like someones home and identified by a sign hanging on a street side mailbox. All of these were in the Eastern Districts part of the island.

The Cayman Islands have their own currency (C.I.), some places quote both C.I. & U.S. dollar prices & U.S. prices are 20% higher due to the exchange rate and any change given from U.S. dollars is given in C.I.

So whatever your reason for visiting Grand Cayman Island be rest assured you won’t go hungry and if you take these recommendations and others from the locals you should be leaving very satisfied and a few pounds heavier.

Grape Stomp Festival in Fountain Hills

If crushing grapes conjures up visions of Lucille Ball in the classic grape stomping episode, then this event is for you. The Great Grape Stomp returns to Fountain Hills on Saturday, November 3, from 10-4 p.m. The full-day event kicks off with a 5K race at Fountain Park (race-day registration or check-in starts at 9:00 a.m.). The Stomp festival include wine tastings ($15 tasting fee, guests receive 8 tastings plus a commemorative glass) featuring wines from Arizona’s four main wine regions. The event includes a Farmer’s Market, Fine Artists displaying their original art, cooking and wine-pairing demonstrations, entertainment featuring vocalist Donna McGee, and a grape stomping competition. Executive Chef Paul O’Connor of Alchemy Restaurant at Copperwynd Resort and Winemaker Curt Dunham will provide a wine pairing demonstration with Lawrence Dunham Vineyards’ wines and a variety of small bites offerings featuring products from the Farmer’s Market.

Donna McGee will be providing listenable vocals throughout the event. A veteran of the café scene in Tucson, she brings her easy but elegant style to the Valley. Over 40 vendors will be on display with all manner of snacks and meals, starting with a variety of healthy breakfast items from Eat me Catering. Desserts, from whoopie pies to fudge and popcorn will abound.

A wide variety of juried artists will be selling original art and wearable art pieces throughout the show and an award ceremony at center stage on the Avenue of the Fountains will announce the winners of the 5K race. But the most fun will be the Grape Stomping Competition. For a $10 fee “Stomping Teams” will compete for the Phoenix Area Great Grape Stomp Championship. After expenses, proceeds from the “Stomp” will benefit the Arizona Wine Growers Association. This is a family-friendly adventure, and team-members will join a harvest tradition that spans centuries. (Hint: dress in black or dark clothing!)

Grape Stomp Schedule of Events:

9:00 a.m. 5K race check-in; race start at 10:00 a.m. at Fountainside Plaza. For more information and online race registration ($35 includes race, t-shirt, goodie bag, & festival wine tasting fee) at http://www.arizonawine.org/grapestomp.html.

Winemaker Curt Dunham/ Chef Paul O’Connor from Alchemy at Copperwynd sessions between 11:30 – 1p.m. featuring Farmer’s Market products and wine from Lawrence Dunham Vineyards.

Grape Stomping: Starting with local celebrity teams, the grape stomp will occur between 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. Teams (three or more) can pre-register by email to info@lawrencedunhamvineyards.com or at the Festival entry gate.

For more event information: http://www.arizonawine.org/resources/FtHills_Grape_Stomp_Poster_10-22-12.pdf or contact, Peggy Fiandaca about the Grape Stomp festival email info@LawrenceDunhamVineyards.com or contact the AWGA Office at (623) 236-2338.