The Rafter Room offers cocktails upstairs in Tempe’s Social Hall

The Rafter Room opened this weekend offering guests a rum and tequila focused cocktail list. The newest cocktail hideaway is upstairs in the loft of Tempe’s Social Hall which opened in January. With the completion of The Rafter Room the two-story facility offers guests over 10,000 square feet of space perfect for happy hour and hanging out.

Social Hall cocktails

The Rafter Room design

The Rafter Room was designed Camila Gibbs and offers ” a moodier, edgier evolution” compared to downstairs. The converted barn has triple vaulted ceilings, vintage voting booth lights, patina walls and a raised stage for presentations and live music. According to co-owner Mike Kenney “The space has an industrial, secret hideaway type of vibe that really sets it apart from the restaurant down below.”

All photos courtesy of Social Hall

Social Hall cocktail and food offerings

The Latin inspired menu downstairs will be available upstairs with Pork Belly Street Tacos, Chicano Steak Frites and Huevos Rancheros and more. “Expect an elevated tequila and rum bar program, small-batch and barrel-aged spirits, among other offerings,” said Kenney.

The cocktail program was created to compliment the menu of Social Hall.

Social Hall is at 715 S. McClintock Dr. Tempe 85281. 480-747-3851. For more information see their website.

Aridus Wine Company winemaker Lisa Strid is ready for 2018 harvest.

The summer months are a busy time of year for wineries and their winemakers and Arizona’s Aridus Wine Company is no different. With the growing season in full bloom winemakers and employees will be getting ready in the next few months to pick the grapes to make wine. At Aridus there is great anticipation for this years harvest as winemaker Lisa Strid spent the “off-season” in Australia working harvest in the Clare Valley.

Lisa has always been interested in Australian wine making so when the opportunity presented itself she jumped at the opportunity to spend 3 months learning techniques down under.

Lisa’s time in Australia

With Australia being in the southern hemisphere they have the opposite growing season and harvest than we do in Arizona. It’s not un-common for winemakers from up north to travel below the equator to work harvest and learn something new and build new relationships. Upon her return from Australia, Lisa answered questions about her trip and what she learned.

Why were you intrigued to go do a harvest in Australia?

I mostly wanted to learn.  The more you expose yourself to different ways of doing things, at different wineries in different regions, the more you learn.  Since I jumped right into full-time, year-round winemaking right out of school, I never had the experience of a harvest-hopping endless summer.  I’d definitely been itching to make it to the southern hemisphere for a harvest, but the timing hadn’t been right until this year.

What are Kirrihill’s specialties?

Kirrihill is the second largest winery in the Clare Valley, so they produce a whole range of wines, but they’re mostly focused on Riesling (which the region is known for), Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.  They do make a few small batch wines – my favorite amongst them being a Nero D’Avola made from fruit sourced from McLaren Vale.  Their Peacemaker Shiraz is very nice as well.

What practices were different?

Simply being at a larger scale in a region that’s well established meant that there were a lot of differences to how things are done in Arizona.  Nearly all of the grapes brought in were machine harvested.  So that means no whole cluster pressing of whites, and no stem inclusion on red fermentation.

They had a number of different cap management strategies for the reds – both open and closed top fermenters with automatic pumpovers that could be very easily adjusted and customized on the fly, fermenters with pulsed air systems and rotary fermenters.  Because of the sheer volume moving through the winery, it was necessary to get things through fermentation and stabilized as soon as possible, so there weren’t many cold soaks or extended macerations.

By the time I left, the regional Riesling we’d made early in the harvest season was ready for bottling. Also, everything’s measured in a different scale there – not just metric, but also sugars were measured in Baume rather than Brix. So I was doing a lot of mental conversion, especially at first.

What was the most fun while you were there?

I liked getting to know everyone.  It was a crew from all corners of the globe, and everyone had such great attitudes.

Do they have harvest customs food-wise?

Not really, but The Sevenhill Pub did a harvest worker special every Wednesday evening – burger and a pint for $20.  That’s about $14 USD.

What would Americans be surprised to learn from your ‘immersion’ there?

I didn’t even realize how great the rodeos are here in the US until I went to one there.  The Aussies have us beat hands down in things like education, public safety, health care, and quality of life, but our rodeos are way better.

There are also a ton of vehicles with massive bullbars on them, and at first I thought it was because Aussies are all just really into looking like bad asses, but it’s actually functional. It’s so common for kangaroos to jump out into the road, seemingly from nowhere, that it helps to have a bullbar so as not to destroy your car if you can’t avoid hitting one.

Did you have a favorite food?

Fresh passionfruit.

Were there kangaroos on the crush pad?!

Not on the crush pad, but pretty much everywhere else!  I’m an insect collector, and there were tons of giant rain moths – Trictena atripalpis – in the cellar starting in about mid-February.

What are you eager to try as a new technique at Aridus Wine Company?

I’ll be judiciously incorporating pulsed air into our protocols.

What did the Aussies ask you about life & winemaking in Arizona?

They were curious about the soils and the weather in the region, and wanted to know what varieties did well.  I think I forced them to be curious about Mexican food because I talked about it so much.

Did you develop an accent?!

No, but I did ask a co-worker here, “How are you going?” when I got back without even thinking about it.

2018 harvest at  Aridus Wine Company

When harvest begins in mid-July this will be the second year Aridus will be making wine from grapes grown on their own vineyards. Sauvignon Blanc and other white varietals will be the first to be picked. The winery in the Wilcox appellation of southeastern Arizona owns 40 acres of estate vineyard. The vineyard is split in to the “North Side” and the “South Side” with Turkey Creek as the dividing line.

“This estate vineyard defines a unique mix of mountain and desert fine wine grape growing,” explains winery owner Scott Dahmer. The winery also purchases grapes from other vineyards in Arizona and New Mexico.

The Aridus Wine Company winery is at 1126 North Haskell Avenue in Willcox. The winery’s tasting room is nearby, at 145 North Railview Avenue and is open Friday – Saturday from noon until 5:00 p.m.; appointments are not necessary. More info: 520/766-9463

Aridus Wine Company also has a  tasting room in the old town neighborhood of Scottsdale, at 7173 East Main Street. This tasting room is open Monday – Saturday 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Sunday 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm. The tasting room stays open until 9:00 p.m. on Thursdays. More info at 520/954-2676 or at their website.

 

 

Chill out this summer at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

Looking to get away this summer and cool off, look no further than Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa. The luxury resort in Paradise Valley offer guests several ways to chill out whether it be through exercise, food or a refreshing cocktail.

Whether you’re flying in for a few days or live here in town and want to get out of the house these escapes will make your day.

Feel good

Paddle board yoga. All photos courtesy of Jake Goodsell of EMA
  • Paddle Board Yoga                                                                                       Elevate your yoga experience with Paddle Board Yoga. Classes are held in the Infinity pool at 7 a.m. every Thursday – Sunday for just $55 per person.
  • Spa Steals                                                                                                            Guests can escape the heat at the Sanctuary Spa. The 60-minute Swedish Massage and Sanctuary Jewel Facial drop to $119 midweek and $139 weekend (regularly $175/$185). Post treatment, guests can relax in the new Women’s Quiet Room – a windowless, cocoon-like escape designed for tranquility that opened this year.  Guests that enjoy a Monday-Thursday spa treatment receive access to the spa and amenities. Included are the infinity pool, lap pool, steam room, whirlpools, relaxation lounges and fitness center—for the entire day.

The foodie in you

  • Summer in Paradise                                                                                                      Simmer down to a three-course meal by Food Network favorite Executive Chef Beau MacMillan at Elements restaurant. Available for $49 per person (plus 50 percent off select wine bottles), not including tax and gratuity from Sunday to Wednesday, June 3 through Aug. 30.
  • Lunch and Learn                                                                                                              Impress friends with new skills after a culinary lesson from Chef Carl Ruiz, Master Mixologist Tony AbouGanim and Chef Danny Grant. Lunch and dinner events will be Saturdays, Aug. 4, 11, 25 and Sept. 1.
  • Brunch at elements                                                                                              End the weekend on a high note with Sunday brunch at Elements from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Must-tries on the a la carte menu: black truffle benedict on English muffin with breakfast potatoes, nueske’s bacon, grilled asparagus and foie gras hollandaise

Resort cocktail events

Singapore Sling
  • Summer Pour                                                                                                                    Cool off at Jade Bar during The Pour (a very happy two hours) with refreshing drink specials every Monday through Friday between 4 and 6 p.m.
  • Live music and Jaded Nights                                                                                   The sounds of jazz, pop and R&B vocalists take hold at jade bar on Friday evenings from 8 to 11 p.m. and Saturday/Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. When the sun sets, Jaded Nights begins (9 p.m. to midnight, Friday, Saturday and Sunday July 13-Aug. 26). Choose from food and drink specials like $9 craft cocktails, $8 Korean Wings, $10 Jade Burger or the $2.50 oyster special.
  • Saturday Mixology 101                                                                                              Perfect for a sleepy Saturday afternoon, Mixology 101 features resort mixologists sharing techniques and tastings of four innovative cocktail creations. Courses are held at noon each Saturday except Aug. 4, 11, 25 and Sept. 1. Reservations required and first timers will receive 15% off food during their class.
  • Sunday Bar Brawl                                                                                                  The heat is on for the region’s best bartenders. Sanctuary’s Bar Brawl is back for its fourth season with new additions and surprises on Sundays, July 15-Aug. 26. Details coming soon. I can tell you there will be a new chef pop-up experience, with a special happy hour menu crafted by a local celebrity chef at each Bar Brawl event. Also, each week’s Lunch & Learn celebrity will serve as a guest judge. On Friday’s, guest bartenders will create Red Bull specialty cocktails from 9 – 10:30 p.m., the guest favorite featured at Sunday’s Bar Brawl.

Sanctuary on Camelback is at 5700 E. McDonald Dr. Paradise Valley 85253. For reservations call 855-245-2051 or on-line.

 

 

Indoor farmer’s market at Hotel Valley Ho in June and July

With local farmer’s markets growing in popularity the last few years in Phoenix it comes as no surprise when it heats up many farmer’s markets take the summer off. Hotel Valley Ho’s executive chef Rusell LaCasce’s solution is to have an indoor farmer’s market and invite a few chef friends.

On Saturday June 23rd & 30th and July 14th & 21st guests can escape the heat at the hotels’ Sands event venue from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Farmer’s market chefs & vendors

Guests will enjoy small bites prepared by local chefs Matt Carter, Gio Osso and Beau Macmillan while they shop for produce and handcrafted goods. At the Zuzu booth Chef LaCasce and Pastry Chef Audrey Enriquez will be selling homemade pastries including pies, scones and other homemade treats.

Guests will also be able to sample cocktails, purchase drinks from the full bar and listen to live music from Trio Rio while they shop.

Local purveyors including MJ Bread, Crow’s Dairy, Twisted Infusion Farms and Ruze Cake House will be on hand with other Arizona purveyors.

A refrigerate bag check will be available for your purchases while you enjoy the morning.

Purchase tickets

Tickets for the farmer’s market are available on-line for $25 in advance and $35 at the door. Your ticket gets you chef’s bites, cocktail samples and a 25% off gift certificate at Zuzu. A $10 voucher for use at the market with a purchase of $20 or more is also included.

Hotel Valley Ho is at 6850 E. Main St. Scottsdale 85251.

 

 

 

Pita Jungle launches Seasonal Crafts Menu June 19th

People want options for their diet and next weeks launch of their Seasonal Crafts Menu, Pita Jungle gives customers options. With 7 new dishes, 7 protein options and 3 sides guests will have plenty of options to mix and match with.

4 new drinks will also be available on their cocktail menu along with a new Vegan and Gluten-Free menu.

Veggie-Quinoa Stir Fry with Kimchi. All photos courtesy of Pita Jungle.

Seasonal Crafts Menu

Whether your diet allows you to eat all on the menu or you prefer Vegan or Gluten Free dishes all diets are accommodated.

  • Avocado Hummus Tostada: baked corn tortilla, avocado hummus, Tuscan kale and cabbage slaw, avocado, pickled onions, garlic, pico de gallo, jungle damage green sriracha and cumin-yogurt sauce
  • Barley & Beluga Lentil Fetoosh Bowl: toasted barley, beluga lentils, Tuscan kale, roma tomatoes, Persian cucumbers, red bell pepper, radish, red and green onions, garlic, fresh jalapeno, fresh mint, roasted pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, pomegranate vinaigrette and pita chips
  • Veggie-Quinoa Stir Fry with Kimchi:  red quinoa, broccoli, carrots , mushrooms, baby spinach, red onions,  minced garlic and ginger, cage free egg, jungle damage green sriracha and kimchi
  • Crouching Kale & Hidden Berry Bowl: Tuscan kale, blueberry, pomegranate seeds, carrots, fresh jalapeno, white and red cabbage, red bell peppers, garlic, ginger, fresh mint, toasted almonds and Thai-tahini dressing
  • Avocado & Garbanzo Southwest Bowl: avocado, chickpeas, red quinoa, roma tomatoes, Persian cucumbers, celery, roasted jalapenos, organic blue corn chips, pickled onions, fresh mint and parsley, minced garlic, pumpkin seeds, cumin and herb-honey-apple-cider vinaigrette
  • Brownie Ice Cream Sandwich: gluten-free brownie, vanilla ice cream, strawberry and blueberry
  • Super Perfect Yogurt Delight: barley, pomegranate seeds, pistachio, blueberry, local AZ honey, Greek yogurt, cinnamon and rose-water

    Avocado Hummus Tostada

Sides and Protein Add-Ons

Add a protein or experience one of these new side dishes to satisfy your appetite.

Sides:

  • Lebanese Potato Salad (contains eggs)
  • Gingered Roasted Sweet Potatoes
  • Barley & Beluga Lentils

Protein Add-Ons:

  • Wood-Fired Norwegian Salmon
  • Grilled Marinated All-Natural Chicken Breast
  • Mediterranean Meatballs (grass-fed beef)
  • Taco Style Ground Beef (grass-fed)
  • Organic Baked Marinated Tofu
  • Cage-Free Skillet or Boiled Egg
  • Baked Falafel

To find a Pita Jungle location near go to http://www.pitajungle.com/

Quiesscence at the Farm offers “Locals Only” dining experiences

Those of us that stick it out through the long hot summer deserve an award and  Quiessence at the Farm is doing that, kind of. The award-winning farm to table restaurant is bringing back two popular dining experiences for locals before they take time off.

Locals dining experiences

Before chef Dustin Christofolo and staff shut down the restaurant from July 1st – August 9th they will be offering a limited seat dinner “Taste of Quiessence”. Tuesday-Thursday’s June 12th, 13th, 14th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 26th, 27th and 28th will offer 12 guests per night the opportunity to taste seasonal vegetables and more on a nightly changing Tasting menu. QuiessenceThe first come, first serve dinners will offer guests seasonal ingredients from the farm and from other Arizona vendor as part of the 3-course dinner.

The Taste of Quiessence dinners are $45++ per person with a wine pairing option for an additional $20 per person.

Thursday Wine Flight

When the restaurant re-opens in August after a research and development hiatus guests can join them for Thursday Wine Flights with a trio of tapas. Level 2 sommelier Alison Sponberg will select wines to pair with chef Christolofo’s special menu for the evening.

The three-week themes will be…

August 16 – “Southwest is Best”                                                                                  August 23 – “Farmers, Friends, and Friuli”                                                             August 30 – “Summer in the South of France”

Cost for the wine and food pairing experience is $40 per person++.

Guests can make reservations for both experiences by calling 602-276-0601 and can make reservations for August’s Thursday Wine Flights during the July hiatus. Be sure to mention the wine flights to receive the special menu and price.

Quiessence at The Farm is at 6106 S. 32nd Street Phoenix, AZ 85042. Visit their website for more information.

Summer menu now available at Nico Heirloom Kitchen

Restaurants around the valley are shifting gears to lighter and seasonal focused menus with the arrival of summer. Gilbert’s Nico Heirloom Kitchen recently shifted into their summer menu with the addition of 6 dishes from owner and chef Gio Osso.

Heirloom Grain Salad

Summer menu

With an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients including fruits and vegetables these are then new menu items.

  • Stone Fruit Panzanella – Peach, apricot, cherry, arugula, chevre, day old bread and vanilla balsamic.
  • Heirloom Grain Salad – Farro, quinoa, blueberry, apply, almonds with white balsamic.
  • Salmon Croquette with capers and Calabrian chile aioli.
  • Diver Scallops with sweet corn nage, crispy prosciutto, balsamic marinated mushrooms.
  • Flat Iron Steak – Cocoa-lavender rub, summer squash hash, charred spring onion and blueberry demi.
  • Fruite de Mare – Chef’s fresh catch, tomato and white wine.

    Stone Fruit Panzanella

Summer Dining Experiences

Nico will host a series of “Summer Dining Experiences” with the first scheduled for this Thursday June 14th. The “Gin & Bear It” dinner will pair a 4- course dinner with gin cocktails. The dinner will start at 6:30 and cost $45 ++ per person.

For more information or to make a reservation visit http://www.nicoaz.com/

Nico Heirloom Kitchen is at 366 N. Gilbert Rd. Gilbert 85234 (480)584-4760.

Score World Cup deals at Over Easy Biltmore

Soccer fans are getting ready for the World Cup that starts June 15th thru July 15th and Over Easy Biltmore has the games on live. Start your mornings by coming in to  get food and drink deals when the games are on.

World Cup deals

When the games are televised live customers can score these food and drink deals.

  • $1 off Red or Green Chilaquiles with choice of pork or chicken (Reg price: $9)
  • $1 off Hot or Iced Irish Coffees (Reg price: $8)
  • $4 Biltmore Sunrises

The Biltmore Sunrise was created just for the event and is perfect for the mornings here in Phoenix when the games will be televised. It layers tequila, orange juice, pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine.

Over Easy Biltmore is at 2398 E. Camelback Rd. (NE corner of 24th St & Camelback) Phoenix 85016. EatAtOverEasy.com

Iced Irish Coffee

 

The Sicilian Butcher to end Negroni Week in a big way

Update: Shortly after I posted this I was informed that due to supply issues this event is being postponed. I hope to have a new date for you in next couple of days.

Negroni Week is coming to an end and one restaurant is ending it in world record-setting style. The Sicilian Butcher will set the record for the Largest Barrel Aged Negroni by combing 3 ingredients into a 500 liter barrel.

Making the World’s Largest Negroni

On Sunday June 10th from 2-4 p.m. customers are invited to witness history as a representative from the Guinness Book of World Records will be on hand to witness the filling of the barrel.

Sheldon Wiley and owner Joey Maggiore

Sheldon Wiley, Beverage Director of The Maggiore Group will use 14 cases each of three Italian spirits, Carpano Antica Formula, Malfy Gin Originale and Campari. Once combined the barrel will hold approximately 132 gallons, 504 bottles and 16,722 ounces of the cocktail.

Wiley currently hold the world record as The World’s Fastest Bartender and holder of two other world records.

The Sicilian Butcher gives back

Once tapped The Sicilian Butcher will be selling Negroni’s for $5 with 25% of sales being donated to CORE(Children of Restaurant Employees). CORE, a non-profit  helps to support children of food and beverage service employees going through life altering circumstances.

The Sicilian Butcher is at 15530 N. Tatum Blvd. Phoenix 85032. For more information see their website.

 

 

 

 

Ocean Prime offers 1/2 off Veuve Clicquot Rosé every Friday

Happy hour never tasted so good especially when you’re sipping on a cold, crisp and refreshing glass of rosé. Ocean Prime on High Street in northeast Phoenix offers up Veuve Clicquot during happy hour every Friday from 5-7p.m. until August 31st.

“Stop and Sip the Rosé” offers guests the opportunity to sip the Veuve Cliquot along with other rosé a reduced prices good for any rosé drinker.

Choose from sparkling, still, domestic or French                                               Miner Rosé, $16 glass/$64 Bottle                                                                              Chandon Rosé, $13 glass/$58.50 Bottle                                                 Veuve Clicquot Rosé $28 glass/$126 Bottle                                                       Notorious Pink Rosé $11 Glass/$44 Bottle

Oysters make for a perfect pairing with rosé  so the award-winning Ocean Prime offers oysters on the 1/2 shell for 1/2 price by the half-dozen for $11. Other happy hour offerings will also be available.

Ocean Prime is at 5455 E. High St. Phoenix 85054. For more information and to find an Ocean Prime near you visit https://www.ocean-prime.com/