I’m not of fan of “year in review’s” (do we really to review of 2016 again) and “best of” lists but thinking how to end the year with a post I find it would be valuable to review some of my journey of 2016 and give myself a clearer path for 2017’s journey.
The year that was 2016
The year of 2016 was a year of transition taking on new challenges in my real estate career but you don’t want to hear about that do you (if you do check my real estate blog http://www.SandySellsRealEsateAZ.com) . Leisure wise my blog and influence has found structure with regular posts on restaurants events and news, wine, beer and more for Phoenix, Arizona and beyond. My burger reviews came to a screeching stop with the Examiner as they shuttered in early July. As you can imagine my burger consumption feels as if it’s slowed and I will make up for that in 2017 I’m sure. 2016 was pretty much a fun year personally and an interesting year to be on planet earth.
2016 was the 1st year in long while in which I did not set foot on an airplane as the only travel was out-of-state heading to Laguna Beach for a weekend in February to play poker at uncle Bob’s house. In 2017 I will definitely return to the friendly skies for travel with travel planned for Florida and beyond as the year goes on.
Visits to restaurants and meals with friends this year included returning to favorites of the past such as Zuzu, Zinburger, Caffe Boa, RnR among many more and made 1st visits and bites from restaurants such as Drexyl, Char Kitchen + Bar, Ahi Poke, Worth Takeaway along with a long list of others.
Despite the running around I missed out on one of my favorites sandwiches all year…The Il Purista at Defalco’s Italian Deli in Scottsdale. A monthly visit for me, this pile of prosciutto and hand pulled mozz is a reward I will grant myself in the 1st couple of days of 2017. Other foods I’ve denied myself(not many) will find a home in my belly again in 2017.
Experience more experiences in 2017
I’m not much of a goal setter or resolution maker at year’s end but I want to experience more experiences in 2017. Simple and frivolous such as learning to like and enjoy Caesar salads or starting a new exercise regimen or months ahead a plan to do and see more via short and long-range travel in this my bounce back year. Listening to classical music is a genre I would like to enjoy more of and have already started as Kalinnikov’s “Symphony #2 In A Major” is playing as I post these words for you. Soothing and sometimes mellow classical music can be relaxing during life’s hectic pace.
Continuing to break bread and raise a glass with my Friday lunch crew & with fellow bloggers, foodies and friends, new & old, always remain high on my list.
For Pulling Corks and Forks I hope to resume and grow these words and forge new relationships & partnerships while continuing to share my experiences and provide insight & inspiration so every body can experience more experiences through senses of sight, taste, smell and hearing. Plans continue to grow my social media presence and share what I know will be high on my list.
To follow my 2017 journey of food, wine, friends and other worldly experiences please subscribe to this blog or follow me on Twitter @SandyWasserman Instagram @SandyWass or Like on Facebook www.facebook.com/pullingcorksandforks
As we are about to close the book on a memorable 2016, we turn the page to start to look at what 2017 will have to offer the sunny and warm Phoenix area in coming months. As the Barrett Jackson Auto Auction, The Waste Management Phoenix Open & the NCAA Final Four bring out of town guests to our desert, we look for more intimate and local inspired events. After our holiday hangover wears off we look forward to 7th Annual Grape Arizona Wine Event on Sun. January 29th at downtown Phoenix’s Heritage Square.
This years event has 16 Arizona wineries paired with bites of food from 10 local restaurants all raising money for the Phoenix Rotary Club Charity Youth Programs. A few of the wineries and restaurants include Dektown Cellars, LDV Vineyards, Pillsbury Wine Co., Leoni’s Foccacia, Urban Table, The Herb Box and Vincent’s.
“This is a great opportunity for wine lovers to taste the best of what Arizona wineries have to offer — all in one place, while supporting a great cause,” says Barbara Katz, the event’s co-chairperson.
Money raised will go to the Rotary’s initiatives that support youth leadership and Interact Service Club and Rotary youth Exchange.
The Grape Arizona Wine Event runs from 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm with early bird tickets on sale for $55 & include 20 wine tasting tickets, food samples, a silent auction, raffles with thousands of dollar of prizes and purchase wine related merchandise. Tickets are available at http://www.grapearizonawineevent.com/
It’s 10 days until we can kiss 2016 good bye and welcome the excitement 2017 will bring us. Those that like to ring in the new year in style can find plenty of places around Phoenix to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Below is a list of several restaurants that are offering dinner on the big night.
Pomelo at The Orchard
Chef Javi Perez will be serving dinner from 5pm – 10pm on New Year’s Eve with limited seating for the prie fix menu. The cost is $120 per couple with 2 glasses of Veuve Cliquot champagne included. To make reservations call 602-633-2600.
Starters (one to share)
Calamari & Shrimp Fritti—Crispy calamari and shrimp served with pomodoro and buttermilk dressing.
Chef’s Board—Assortment of cured meats, artisanal cheeses with toasted baguettes.
Wedge—Half head of iceberg lettuce, bleu cheese buttermilk dressing, crispy bacon, hard-boiled egg and tomato confit. (suggested wine pairing) Saint Louis Sancerre | 2014, Loire Valley
Specialties (one per person)
New York Strip *MR—(12 oz.) angus beef grilled over Arizona Mesquite served with shrimp in a parmesan sauce, seasonal vegetables and scalloped potatoes.(suggested wine pairing) Poggio alla Guardia Super Tuscan | 2012, Tuscany, Italy
Short Ribs—Braised to perfection served with a peppercorn demi glaze sauce and served with seasonal vegetables and mashed potatoes (suggested wine pairing) Milbrandt Merlot | 2014, Columbia Valley, Washington
Salted caramel cookie—Warm salted caramel over shortbread cookie served with vanilla gelato, chocolate sauce and fresh strawberries. (suggested wine pairing) Veuve Clicquot Rose | NV, Reims, France
Pomelo at The Orchard is part of The Orchard PHX, a two acre venue located at 7100 N 12th St. in Phoenix. http://www.pomelophx.com
Sorso Wine Room
North Scottsdale’s Sorso Wine Room will offer 2 seating’s for their celebration at 6:30 & 8:30. Chef Paige Murphy will prepare a 5 course prie fixe menu with a wine or beer pairing. The cost is $100 per person and includes tax & gratuity. Additional bottles of wine are 1/2 all night. To make a reservation call 480-951-4344. The menu may include the following….
Zuzu will over 2 seatings at 5:30 for $75 per person and 8:00 for $95 per person for a 3 course dinner. Those who attend either dinner are invited to a complimentary rooftop Champagne toast at midnight. Tax, gratuity and alcohol are additional at dinner.
A few of the options for dinner include a choice of a starterhttps://www.hotelvalleyho.com/hotel/hotel-events/new-years-eve, entrée and dessert from a special menu. Delicious options include Lobster Bisque with crème fraiche and brioche croutons, Herb Roasted Wagyu Beef Striploin with roasted fingerling potatoes, and Huckleberry Crème Brulee.
EVO ends 2016 with a 4 course Italian feast starting 4pm going til 2am for $55 per person. The menu below will be the only menu served on New Year’s Eve and those in the bar can order a la carte. To RSVP call 480-265-9814.
3 seatings will be available on New Year’s Eve at Joe’s Midnight Run in central Phoenix. 5:00 & 7:30 seatings are $65 per person and the 10:00 seating is $75 per person and will include party favors and a champagne toast. Reservations can be made by phone at 480-459-4467 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Opening Course: Choose 1
Pulpo-grilled fingerling potatoes, paprika oil, garlic and lemon
Two weeks from today many of us will be waking up with cob webs in our head while waiting for the coffee to kick in after ringing in 2017. New Year’s Day 2017 falls on a Sunday and it’s also National Bloody Mary Day. There’s no way better to cure the hangover while continuing the celebration than with the traditional hangover cocktail. Put your New Year’s resolution to get in shape or drink less on hold for another day or 2 and head to these restaurants that will be offering Bloody Mary’s with twist.
Grimaldi’s Pizzeria. Locally owned Grimaldi’s Pizzeria recently launched a cocktail menu that has a Bloody Mary made with their secret pizza sauce. The Grimaldi’s Bloody Mary is made with Grimaldi’s famous pizza sauce and is combined with New Amsterdam Vodka, Demitri BM mix and is served ice and topped with a medley of pizza toppings. To find a Grimaldi’s near you visit www.grimaldispizzeria.com.
Vintage 95 The Miss. Mary is Vintage 95 Wine Lounge’s nod to the classic morning drink. Created with house made Bloody Mary mix that includes horseradish, Worcestershire, Sriracha and tomato juice to give the drink a nice spicy kick. Mix in Svedka vodka and garnished with Beeler’s bacon, olives and a lime wedge makes this drink a standout. $5.00 For information visit www.vintage95.com.
Twin Peaks If you like a drink that will put a bit of hair on your chest, Twin Peaks has the Bloody Mary for you. Absolut Peppar Vodka mixes with tomato juice for a spicy concoction that’s garnished with celery, an olive, and of course, bacon. www.twinpeaksrestaurant.com.
Thirsty Lion The Gastropub offers two Bloody Mary’s on their menu. Try the Sriracha Bloody Mary Vodka made with sriracha sauce, tomato juice and Demitri’s spices. If you want something even spicier try the Wasabi Bloody Mary made with wasabi, tomato juice and Demitri’s spices! For Thirsty Lion locations visit www.thirstyliongastropub.com.
Scottsdale’s iconic Hotel Valley Ho recently has made a change in its culinary operations and has named Russell LaCasce as executive chef effective January 2nd, 2017. LaCasce comes from Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa where he was the executive sous chef where he worked closely with executive chef Beau Macmillan since 2010.
LaCasce found his passion for food and cooking 20 years ago while working in Charleston, South Carolina before moving to Park City, Utah to learn the service side of the restaurant industry.
After moving to Scottsdale in 2006 he attended the Arizona Culinary Institute and went to work at T. Cook’s at The Royal Palms Resort before heading to the other side of Camelback Mountain to Sanctuary on Camelback. While at T.Cook’s he worked with executive chef Lee Hillson and rose the p.m. sous chef position.
At Hotel Valley Ho LaCasce will oversee all aspects of the hotels culinary operations including the hotel’s restaurant Zuzu, in-room dining, catering and banquets.
“We are delighted to have Russell as our new executive chef. His reputation for delivering creative and flavorful cuisine coupled with his ability to lead his culinary colleagues made him the perfect fit for this key position. We are very much looking forward to seeing how he influences ZuZu and all of our culinary operations,” said Ronen Aviram, the hotel’s general manager.
LaCasce replaces executive chef Charles Wiley who has moved to the soon to open Mountain Shadows Resort in Paradise Valley where he will be the executive chef. Wiley will continue to be director of food and beverage for Westroc Hospitality which has developed and manages Hotel Valley Ho, Sanctuary on Camelback and Mountain Shadows.
“Go big or go home” is what they say and SanTan Brewing Company is going big with 2 of its popular beers in single serve 24 oz. cans. SanTan Brewing started canning its MoonJuice Galactic IPA & MoonJuice Galactic Grapefruit IPA recently in an effort to make the beers available year round across Arizona.
Putting beers in larger cans has taken huge planning around SanTan’s brewery in Chandler as founder & brewmaster Anthony Canecchia and plant engineer Fred Marshall have had to re-engineer and reprogram the operating system with new parts. “Tinkering with machines is something we love to do at SanTan. We are never content with what we are given and are always looking to improve our game. I am extremely proud and excited to be the first Arizona craft brewer to package in a 24 oz can,” said Canecchia.
The Moonjuice Galactic IPA is made with tons of Galaxy and Nelson- Sauvin hops and has the aromas of peach, apricot and tropical fruit. The Grapefruit IPA is made with a splash locally grown grapefruit from Sun Orchard in Tempe.
The 2 IPAs were chosen because of their out of this world success and growth in of them in 12 oz. cans. Pricing for the 24 oz. cans will stay consistent with 6 packs cans selling for $2.99- $3.99 per can and will be available at Circle K, Bev Mo, Total Wine & Spirits and Sprouts Market with select independent retailers and sports venues. To see where you can find the 24 oz. IPAs go to http://www.santanbeerfinder.com/
If you’re planning on visiting with family & friends over the next couple of weeks, there’s no better way to arrive than with a delicious dessert to share. This delicious and simple dessert from The Crepe Club, who with 3 days notice, will make from scratch their Buche de Noel, also known as a Yule Log.
The Buche de Noel is a traditional European dessert cake made from rolled sponge cake and decorated like a log with Christmas symbols that is served around the holidays. It’s been a family tradition of the Tarabichi brothers who own The Crepe Club and wanted to share it with their guests.
The cakes are made in chocolate or vanilla, serve 8-10 people and will be made fresh at their bakery in Tempe. Cost for the cake is $49.95 and will be available for pick up before Christmas Day when you pre-order with 3 days notice. To order a Buche de Noel you can call The Crepe Club at 602-956-0087 and more details can be found at www.TheCrepeClub.com
The Crepe Club is at 2502 E. Camelback Rd #130 Phoenix 85016 (in Biltmore Fashion Park) for pick up.
One way to Be Merry! this holiday season is to “Give”. Grimaldi’s Pizzeria is doing their part as they are collecting un-wrapped toys for Scottsdale Fire Dept’s Annual Toy Drive through Sunday Dec. 18th. All Grimaldi’s locations are collecting toys and on the 18th the DC Ranch location will host a special event to give all toys collected to the SFD.
The DC Ranch event will be from 12 pm -2 pm and will include free Cannolis. pictures with Santa and a fire truck.
This will be Grimaldi’s 10th annual fundraiser and chose the toy drive because annual toy drives give toys to kids in Arizona and all over the country who may not otherwise get a toy on Christmas Day.
To find a Grimaldi’s near you to drop off a toy go to http://www.grimaldispizzeria.com/ The DC Ranch location is at 20715 N. Pima Road Scottsdale, AZ 85255.
As we continue to eat, DRINK & be merry during the holiday season new traditions are made. Thursday December 15th will be the first of an annual tradition as the Scottsdale Wine Trail hosts a Santa Wine Around as part of the month-long holiday celebration Scottsdazzle.
Walk, visit & taste at your own pace starting at 5 p.m. at one of the 5 tasting rooms along the walk-able SWT in downtown Scottsdale. Each tasting room will be will be offering guests discounts on wine tastings, pairings with delicious treats and more. Dress as Santa or Mrs. Claus and receive a commemorative glass.
These are the 5 winery tasting rooms along the Scottsdale Wine Trail and the Santa Wine Around activities they will be featuring for the evening.
Tis the season to EAT, drink and be merry and the Original Breakfast House in Phoenix has the “eat” part covered for you. OBH owner John Stidham has added several seasonal items to his breakfast menu including Reindeer Sausage Scramble ($10.95), Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes($9.95) try saying that 3Xs after some Eggnog, Coconut Macaroons ($2.25) and Gluten Free Brownies ($3.25).
The unique & tasty sounding Reindeer Sausage Scramble comes with Smoked Gouda Cheese and roasted red peppers.
Original Breakfast House is at 13623 N. 32nd St (at Thunderbird) Phoenix 85032. 602-482-2328 & is open 7 days a week from 6:30 am – 2pm http://www.obhphx.com/