Fired Up Grill celebrating it’s 4th anniversary this Saturday June 1st.

Owner and chef Joe Busone is all fired up, that’s because his popular Chandler restaurant Fired Up Grill is celebrating its 4 year anniversary this Sat. June 1st. That’s a big victory in this day and age as many restaurants struggle to stay open after a year in the Phoenix area.

To celebrate Joe is offering up $4.00 draft beers, $4.00 glasses of house wine and $4.00 appetizers all day long. At 6 p.m. valley singer Kristy Dee will be providing entertainment for the evening. Fired Up will also be highlighting its New American cuisine and favorite menu items of some of their regular customers.

“This past year has been really great,” says owner and Chef Joe Busone. “We plan to continue doing what we do best, and that is create great food, and provide guests with a fun place to unwind and an enjoyable atmosphere.”

Fired Up Grill’s menu is seasonal and creative and includes the Seared Asian Salmon, Chicken Souvlaki and a Jalapeno-Ginger Chicken Salad. Joe offers Happy Hour everyday from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. and has live entertainment on weekends.

Reservations are suggested, but not required. Please call 480-940-4040 for more details. Fired Up Grill is located just east of Interstate-10 in the upscale Shoppes of Casa Paloma 7131 W. Ray Rd. (56th St. & Ray) Suite 45, Chandler, AZ 85226.

Chill out with a cold coffee class with Coffee Chop.

As summer arrives, cold thoughts and beverages are what keeps us going for the next few months. Cold coffee offers good alternative for summer time drinking and Coffee Chop want to show how to make that perfect cup of cold coffee. As the 3rd and final part of “The Knowledge Series” secrets to cold brewing will be revealed on Sat. June 8th at The Crepe Bar in Tempe.Cold Brew Pitcher Phoenix coffee advocate Perry Czopp will show you how to, and share recipes for cold coffee, or “iced coffee” & “toddys” as they’re sometimes called and coffee cocktails made with and without alcohol.

“Cold brewing is a very different way to think of making coffee,” says Czopp. “There’s absolutely no heat involved. Instead you bring out the flavors from the beans by slowly seeping them overnight. The resulting flavor is sweeter and stronger – and perfect over ice.”

In addition to sipping on cold coffee guests will get to taste coffee inspired food from The Crepe Bar as well get a bottle of cold coffee to take home with them.

$5 of every ticket purchased will go to United Food bank and Mesa Hydration Donation campaign water drive.

Cold Brewing will be from 8:30 – 10 am on Saturday, June 8 at Crêpe Bar at 7520 E. Rural Rd. in Tempe. Cost is $45 per person for advanced registration and $52 per person on the day of the event. Pre-registration is available at or at Crêpe Bar.

San Tan Brewing to host tornado relief fundraiser “Cans for Oklahoma” Tues. May 28th.

San Tan reliefWith the tragedy in Moore, Oklahoma still fresh in our minds, Chandler’s San Tan Brewing Company is doing something to help those in need and one of their own. On Tuesday May 28th between 11 a.m. and midnight purchase a can of Epicenter for $3 or take a six-pack home for $5 and San Tan will donate ALL of the proceeds to the American Red Cross Relief Fund.

“One of our own employees, Jennifer Simson, has family that was affected by the devastation. This tragedy hits very close to home for all of us and we are doing what we can to help,” said Anthony Canecchia, owner and head brewer, SanTan Brewing Company.

If you can’t stop by for a beer you can donate to the Red Cross by texting REDCROSS to 90999 and a $10 donation will be made.

SanTan Brewing Company is at 8 S. San Marcos Place, Chandler, AZ.

First look at Renegade MOD in Scottsdale

Tonight Renegade MOD (formerly Renegade Canteen and Renegade Tap & Kitchen) opens to the public, last night a handful of people including myself got a first look and taste of several of the menu items. Most of the interior has stayed the same with the exception of several large murals on the walls in the dining room and over the bar by local artist Lalo Cota. The biggest change has been in the menu as former Kai executive chef Michael O’Dowd (the MOD in Renegade MOD) has come on board not only as executive chef but as a partner. Previously chefs Robert McGrath and Aaron May were involved but more in a consulting role. While at Kai, Chef O’Dowd garnered numerous 5 star and diamond reviews making it one of the best restaurants in the state and based on what I saw and tasted last night diners can expect more stellar reviews along with his outside of the box menu and creative presentation.

As guests mingled throughout the dining room, bar and patio we were served several samples of a few of the menu items brought to us by the attentive servers and we sipped on rum punch served in a plastic bag and drank through a straw and kept cold with a Kool Aid ice-cube. All of the samples were very good with my first taste being of the Grouper “Fish Stix”($26) is chef O’Dowd take on Macaroni & Cheese that is topped with Blue Crab and Shaved Cabbage and Ginger Slaw and is tossed with Toothpaste of Rouille. Creamy and good I found myself not turning this sample down when asked a couple of more times.

Grouper "Fish Stix"
Grouper “Fish Stix”

The Heirloom Tomato, Soy Beans and Crab Gazpacho($9) had kick to it and it’s cool temperature makes it a perfect starter for the hot summer months. Served for us in a shot glass made for a nice touch.
Heirloom Tomato, soy Beans and Crab Gazpacho
Heirloom Tomato, soy Beans and Crab Gazpacho

The Venison Lollipops Dusted w/ Dry Mole ($14) has a hint of a gamey taste along with traditional mole flavor. If your fan of Mole this is not to be missed.

The chunks of Simply Put…Pork Belly ($11) are infused with Mexican Vanilla, Blis 9 & Peach Cobbler. Nothing else need be said, after all it is pork belly & the name says it all. Get some!

The Kale & Chard Kim Chee on Braunschweiger Pate ($12) looks like a sliced sushi roll and it’s uniquely topped with a poached free range egg, cured meat nuggets and rendered duck scented black bread made for one of the more creative dishes of the evening.

Kale & Chard Kim Chee on Braunschweiger Pate
Kale & Chard Kim Chee on Braunschweiger Pate

All though we did not taste the Big Azz Burger ($12) as a whole we were served meatballs using the combination ground pork, chuck and buffalo meats that is forged with roasted Poblano peppers, Maple bacon and spices. A great way to tease us as you know I have to go back and check it out as the meatballs were awesome.

A couple of other menu items sounded very interesting including Seafood In a Bag ($33), Kobe Chicken “Jerked” with Sweet Potato Casserole ($28) and the Re-Imagined Panzanella Composition ($16).

This dinner only restaurant should definitely tempt the palate of local foodies and be one of the more innovative experiences that the Scottsdale restaurant scene has been exposed to and with Chef O’Dowd’s reputation it should make the 3rd time a charm for this Renegade.

Renegade MOD is at 9343 E. Shea Blvd. Scottsdale 85260 (480)614-9400 and hours are 5:30-10 p.m. Tues. – Thurs. 5:30 – 11 on Sat. and 5:30 – 10 on Sun. Closed on Mon.

Culver’s declares next Tues. May 28th National Burger Day & celebrates with $2.00 ButterBurgers

Culvers logo

Did you know May is National Hamburger Month, well it is and you have 9 days left to celebrate if you have not already. Culver’s is making it a bit easier for you by declaring next Tuesday, May 28th National Hamburger Day. They will be celebrating by offering their famous, never frozen ButterBurger for only $2.00 with or without cheese at any of their 14 Phoenix area locations. You can get this delicious burger all day long at a Culver’s near you, see ya there.

Culver's ButterBurger
Culver’s ButterBurger

Cool off with these 5 white wines from the Finger Lakes region of New York.

5 NY WinesHaving been in the wine industry for over 15 years I get to taste a lot of wine, wines I have sold or other wines that are available locally. On occasion I have the opportunity to taste some wines that are not on wine shop shelves or wine lists here in Arizona and that is why I was anticipating my shipment of 5 wines from the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance for an online tasting recently. Unable to participate online (had to host a wine tasting in person, go figure) with other wine enthusiasts from around the world, I grabbed a friend and 5 lbs. of mussels (great pairing) and we tasted these 5 white wines.

First a bit about the Finger Lakes region, it was established as an A.V.A. (American Viticultural Area) in 1982, has about 11,000 acres planted to vines and just over 100 wineries. With its cool climate in western New York white wines excel in the region and are compared to the Rhine region in Germany due to the similar growing conditions. Riesling is king here with more acres planted by more than 2-1 over the next most planted, Chardonnay. OK here we go with the wines in no particular order…..

Knapp winery Gewürztraminer
Knapp winery Gewürztraminer
First up the 2011 Knapp Dry Gewürztraminer, 1st impression was its fresh flavor, soft, good fruit, a hint of grapefruit and crisp finish. A beautiful wine or as my friend said “f**king lovely”. Knapp produces 116 cases of this wine from vineyards on the west side of Cayuga Lake. This wine paired well our mussels and would also go well with Asian, Cajun and Latin food.
Thirsty Owl Wine Company Pinot Gris
Thirsty Owl Wine Company Pinot Gris
The 2012 Thirsty Owl Wine Company Pinot Gris is a dry style with nice acidity, crisp that is well-balanced. On the finish there you get some pair and a hint of stony minerals.The grapes are all estate grown in 2 separate blocks and goes through a cool and slow fermentation in stainless steel. A very good wine, perfect for hot summer days.
Fulkerson Winery Gruner Veltliner
Fulkerson Winery Gruner Veltliner
With just over 18 acres planted of Gruner Veltliner planted in the region I was surprised when I saw the Fulkerson Winery in Dundee was bottling it. I felt lucky to get 1 bottle of the 253 cases produced. The Fulkerson family has been farming this land since 1805 and opened the winery in 1989. They have over 100 acres under cultivation with the most being Riesling along with other traditional white varieties along with some hybrids and native varieties. To the eye it was a bit cloudy, on the palate it was light, clean and lively. With citrus and mineral this is a very food friendly wine pairs well with white fish, chicken and salads.
Stony Lonesome Estate Reserve Gruner Veltliner from Three Brothers Wineries & Estates.
Stony Lonesome Estate Reserve Gruner Veltliner from Three Brothers Wineries & Estates.
A 2nd Gruner was tasted and this one came from Stony Lonesome Wine Cellars, which is one of three wineries owned by David and Luanne Mansfield on their Three Brothers Wineries and Estates they purchased in 2006. This Gruner is a pretty wine but it was hard to tell it was a Gruner. It was soft and creamy with fruit and nuances of green apples. They were one of the first to plant Gruner in the region back in 2006. They chose Gruner for its style, versatility and being food friendly. All 300 cases come from their 2 acres of Gruner on the northeast end of Seneca Lake.
Dr. Konstantin Frank Gewürztraminer
Dr. Konstantin Frank Gewurztraminer
The final wine of the evening was the 2012 Dr. Konstantin Frank Gewürztraminer which is probably the most well know winery in the Finger Lakes. It is the only wine from the area found here in Arizona and several years ago was my introduction to Finger Lakes wine. Dr. Frank founded Vinifera Wine Cellars in 1962 and gained a reputation for his Riesling and his passion and knowledge helped pioneer the Finger Lakes region to what it is today. Eric Volz, grandson of Dr. Frank is vineyard manager of the 90 acres of estate vineyards found on the west side of Keuka Lake. A team of wine makers from around the world contribute their expertise from their region around the world.
The Gewurztraminer has a nice floral nose of orange blossoms and citrus with good fruit, and a soft, dry finish in the mouth. This wine would go well with white meat(pork & turkey) along with Asian and Indian foods.

Overall, these wines show firm acidity counteracting the flavors throughout making all great food wines along with being bright, crisp & clean, good mineral structure and all very pleasant. All also had a bit of residual sugar. The wines are meant to be drank young but I would be curious to taste older vintages as I’m sure they have and would hold up well.

The Finger Lakes wines will never surpass California in production of fine wines and nor do I think they want to but they should be well received and deserve the critical claim they have been getting as the whites I have tasted rival any white wines from the U.S.A. and abroad. If you see some, buy a bottle or order a glass and see for yourself, you’ll be glad you did. Cheers!

Cool weather & Arizona wines as “Wine in the Pines” comes to Pinetop in June.

Arizona Winegrowers Assoc logo

Cool weather and Arizona wines make for the perfect pairing as the Arizona Winegrowers Association will be hosting the 1st Annual “Wine in the Pines” Festival with the Grand Tasting at Charlie Clark’s Orchards in Pinetop-Lakeside on June 15 & 16. Set amongst apple and cottonwood trees, The Grand Tasting will take place on both Sat. and Sun. from noon – 5 p.m. and attendees can taste the wines of 18 Arizona wineries. Wines will also be available for purchase. Guest can purchase tickets for $30 in advance or $35 at the door. Tickets will be valid for both days and include 10 drink tickets and a commemorative glass. A perfect way to escape the summer heat by sipping on award-winning wines in a cool atmosphere. There will also be several off site opportunities to sample the wines leading up to the tasting. Below is a list of winemakers that will be in attendance.

– Robert Carlson, Carlson Creek Vineyards
– Mark Beres, Flying Leap Vineyards
– Gavin & Iryln Gallifant, Gallifant Cellars
– Ann Gardner, Hannah’s Hill
– Curt Dunham, Lawrence Dunham Vineyards
– Sam Pillsbury, Pillsbury Wine Company
– Jim & Marie Petroff, Pleasant Valley Winery
– Dan & Barb Pierce, Saeculum Cellars
– Lori Reynolds, Sonoita Vineyards
– Corey Whalin, Su Vino Winery
– Karyl Wilhelm, Wilhelm Family Vineyards
– Mark & Rhona Jorve, Zarpara Vineyards

Guests must be at least 21 years old to attend and tickets can be purchased at