Gayle’s Chocolates & Carlson Creek Vineyards plan Vortex Crunch Event

Arizona isn’t just home to many great restaurants, it also is home to many small artisan food producers. One of those is the newly re-located Gayle’s Chocolates in Cottonwood. Gayle’s started in Michigan in 1979 but was recently sold to Sedona residents, Michael and Andrea Portnoy. Friday September 20th will have the Portnoy’s introducing their chocolates at one of their first events, Vortex Crunch Event.

“Six years ago, when we tried Gayle’s we knew it was love at first bite. Now we are taking her creations and bringing them to the southwest. Taking inspiration from the Sedona Vortex’s our newest treat, the Vortex Crunch is sure to be a sweet and salty spiritual experience,” said Co-owner Michael Portnoy.

Carlson Creek Vineyards is partnering with Gayle’s Chocolates for the first of what hopes to be an annual event. Vortex Crunch is the newest addition to the line of homemade chocolates. Loaded with rice krispies, Michigan cherries, almonds, cashews, toffee, glazed orange peel, toasted coconut and a layer of semisweet chocolate. All ingredients combing for a sweet and salty taste.

Carlson Creek will pair their 2014 Rule of Three red blend and 2017 Muscat with the chocolates.

The Vortex Crunch Event will from 12 – 3 p.m. at Gayle’s Chocolates Willy Wonka like factory in their flagship store at 541 N. Main St. Cottonwood 86326. For more information visit their website.

 

Downtown Mesa to host 2nd annual Southwest Cider Festival

Over 300 cider enthusiasts including myself made their way to downtown Mesa last year for the inaugural Southwest Cider Festival. I’m happy to announce that tickets are on sale for the 2nd Southwest Cider Festival on Saturday October 19th at Cider Corps. Refreshing samples of local and out of state ciders will be poured along with live music, food trucks and more. People are still discovering this new and unique beverage according to Cider Corps co-owner Josh Duren.

“Craft cider is so different from mass produced drinks and even from traditional European ciders,” Duren explained. “We’re experimenting with flavor profiles and techniques that make this a really unique beverage without artificial flavoring or added sugars. The festival is a chance to sample the variety out there and really support the craft cider community.”

The festival goes from 4-8 p.m. and General Admission tickets are $35. Tickets include 15 sample tickets and a commemorative glass. VIP tickets are $50 and get early entry at 3 p.m., a t-shirt, 20 sample tickets and commemorative glass. Tickets can be purchased online at Eventbrite.

The event will be outside at Cider Corps in downtown Mesa at 31 S. Robson St.  85210. For updates check out the Facebook page.

Serrano’s celebrates 100 years in business with Centennial Fiesta

Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant celebrates 100 years of the family business with a week long celebration at their 5 locations. There will be a week’s worth of food and drink specials and a Centennial Fiesta.

The family business started in September 1919 when there were less 1,000 people living in Chandler. At first the family business was as a retailer with The Serrano Brothers Popular Family Store and switched to Mexican restaurants in 1979 as department stores and indoor shopping malls gained popularity.

“The Serrano family is ingrained in Chandler’s history,” said Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke. “Their entrepreneurial spirit, hard work, dedication and family pride has sustained them throughout these past 100 years. We honor their strong ties to the community and their heart of service as they celebrate this incredible milestone.”Centennial Fiesta

To celebrate the 100th anniversary, the week of September 16th will offer specials at all 5 locations.

  • Monday, 9/16:$1.00 Margarita Monday 10 oz. house margarita
  • Tuesday, 9/17:$1.00 Taco Tuesday (street taco or shredded beef/chicken crunchy taco)
  • Wednesday, 9/18:$1.00 Hump Day Heavenly Bites
  • Thursday, 9/19: $1.00 Throwback Thursday (shredded beef or chicken taco, rice and beans entree)*
  • Friday, 9/20: $1.00 Fried Ice Cream Friday
  • Saturday, 9/21: $1.00 Cerveza Saturday 10 oz. draft Mexican beer

*Limit of one special per person; all specials are dine-in only

Centennial Fiesta

On Thursday the 19th at the Chandler location the family will celebrate with a Centennial Fiesta. Guest will be treated to $1.00 shredded beef and chicken tacos and beans and rice. At 7 p.m. there’s a taco eating contest with local mayors, fire and police representatives competing for $1,000 grand prize donated to the 100 Club of Arizona. There will also be face-painting for the kids and raffles and prizes.

“Our family has seen our fair share of changes and challenges over the years, but we have always been able to adapt. Today, our business model is centered around the values we hold most dear – faith, family and food,” said Ric Serrano, president and CEO of Serrano’s Mexican Restaurants. “We look forward to celebrating this big milestone with our loyal customers and we invite new customers to come give us a chance. You can be sure we’ll be breaking out our famous bean dip!”

In addition Serrano’s will be collection new children’s books and stuffed animals for the W. Steven Martin Police and Fire Toy Drive. Anybody who donates a book or stuffed animal in September receives a voucher for a FREE fried ice cream.

In September the Serrano Centennial Sampler will be on special for $10 and $1 of every sale will go to the 100 Club of Arizona. The Sampler offers classic dishes including machaca, shredded chicken, green chile beef and red chile beef served with warm tortillas, rice and beans.

Visit their website for more information and to find a Serrano’s near you.

 

DoH! central Phoenix’s newest donut shop opens today

With Phoenicians love for donuts one shouldn’t be surprised that there’s a new shop in central Phoenix. Opening this morning is DoH! on 16th St. just north of Bethany Home Rd. DoH! is connected to the recently opened Brat Haus as it’s from the same owner Dave Andrea.

“Opening the two concepts in the same location was intentional,” Andrea said. “Adding DōH! allows us to give the neighborhood a casual yet mouthwatering place to enjoy fresh doughnuts, New York style bagels and Arizona roasted coffee on their way to work or while enjoying weekend mornings on the expansive, dog friendly patio.”

The donuts are locally sourced along with with New York style bagels from New York Bagels & Bialys and cold brew from CULT Artisan Beverage Company. The cold brew, Wild Tonic Kombucha and Zardetto Prosecco are served on tap.

Looking to inject fun to the new concept “drunken” donuts are available for $1 extra. This allows adults to inject a “pipette” of specialty liquor to the favorite donut. A signature “Manmosa” is served combining 32 oz. of Weihenstephan Hefeweissbier beer with a splash of prosecco and orange juice.

“We’re catering to a community that’s looking to add a little diversity to their morning routine,” Andrea said. “This is a sweet stop for families looking for morning treats, friends looking to let loose on their weekend mornings and anyone in between.”

DoH! is open Wednesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The shop is located at 6025 N. 16th St. Visit their Facebook page for more information and updates.

French restaurant celebrates 4 years in Scottsdale

When Chef Jean- Christophe and Segolene Gros opened their French restaurant, Voila French Bistro four years ago they were fulfilling their American dream. They chose Scottsdale for their restaurant having fallen in love with the desert after only a one day visit in 2007.  On October 20th the couple will be celebrating their 4 year anniversary of their French restaurant with a prie-fixe wine paired dinner.

Chef Jean- Christophe has been a chef in French restaurants for over 30 years working with French master chefs before venturing out on his own. He approaches his French cooking with modern twist as he adapts it for his American audience.

The three-course dinner is $79 per person and goes from 5 – 7p.m. The menu is as follows.

La Chartreuse – lump crab layered with vegetables and wrapped in lettuce leaves. Paired with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc Atlantic 2016

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Terre et Mer – Pork Surf & Turf, pork filets served with jumbo shrimp and a lobster sauce. Paired with a glass of Château Fongaban 2015 – Bordeaux St Emilion

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Chocolate Caramélia Valrhona Entremet – A flourless chocolate cake with caramel chocolate mousse. Served with a glass of Mirabelle Plum Kir Royal

To reserve a seat for this special evening go to their website or call 480-614-5600. Voila French Bistro is at 10135 E. Via Linda, Scottsdale 85258.

Desert Mountain Club’s “The Mountain Chef” food truck hits the road.

North Scottsdale’s Desert Mountain Club has introduced Arizona’s first golf club owned food truck “The Mountain Chef”. Currently the food truck will be around the community for residents, club members and special events before hitting the road. “The Mountain Chef” serves dishes from the 10 clubhouse restaurants and grills around the community including the new Seven Clubhouse.

Seven Clubhouse is named for the new 7th golf course in Desert Mountain that opened a few months ago. Chef de Cuisine Greg Guerva will be serving up favorites including the Seven Burger, Glazed Short Ribs and adult milkshakes. Before coming to Desert Mountain Guerva had worked at Sumo Maya and North Italia.

“We’ve seen this trend at other high-end golf clubs around the country, but we are proud to be the first exclusive golf club here in Arizona to own our own truck and be servicing our diverse cuisine out of it,” said Chef Guevara. “Many items we create out of our 10 restaurants at Desert Mountain right now can be served out of ‘The Mountain Chef’ truck, with a little notice, of course.”

In coming weeks “The Mountain Chef” will be serving food around the valley for special events and available for catering. For more information check out their website.

 

 

 

Brie and Nikki Bella pair their wines at Hearth ’61 cuisine

Since their not body slamming their opponents in the wrestling ring anymore, twin sisters Brie and Nikki Bella are stomping grapes at their Napa Valley winery, Belle Radici. They launched the winery with partner Ryan Hill in 2017 and is Italian for “beautiful roots”. Belle Radici wines along with wines from Hill’s Hill Family Estate Winery will be poured on Sunday September 15th at Hearth ’61.

The dinner is part of the Mountain Shadows Resort’s Sunday Supper Club with food prepared by Chef Charles Wiley. Chef Wiley will be joined in the kitchen by Elements at Sanctuary executive chef Beau MacMillan. The pair worked together at Element’s when Wiley was executive chef and mentored MacMillan.

They’re collaborating on a four-course menu that includes Black Garlic Braised Beef Cheek and Honey Crisp Apple and Daikon Radish Salad.

The monthly Sunday Supper Club pairs wines or spirits with Chef Wiley’s modern cuisine. Upcoming dinners include Rombauer Vineyards on October 20th and Champagne Henriot on December 8th.

Dinner starts at 6 p.m. and each seat is 474 plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 480-624-5400.

Mountain Shadows Resort is at 5445 E. Lincoln Dr. Paradise Valley 85253.

Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row rolls out all day menu

A new all day menu was rolled out at the downtown Gilbert location of Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row earlier this month. The new menu offers lighter and healthy options which include vegetarian and seafood dishes among popular favorites.

all day
Buffalo Cauliflower

New dishes include spicy Buffalo Cauliflower, Spinach & Berry Salad, Roasted Chicken Primavera and Grilled Salmon Jambalaya. Fans of the Tennessee Hot Slider, Fried Pickles and Southern Fries don’t need to worry as those guilty pleasures are still on the menu.

The American gastropub has also extended it happy hour to run all day Monday – Friday. Food and drinks specials start at 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. During Sidewalks Fridays they’ve extended happy hour until 9 p.m.

Salmon Jambalaya sub grilled shrimp

Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row is at 323 N. Gilbert Rd. Gilbert 85234. To see the full menu head to their website.

Middle of the week fun and exploring in Harwich Port

Mid-week on the cape finds laid back days at the beach and exploring what goes on around Harwich Port. Waking to foggy and humid mornings for coffee and my morning walk lead to sunny and warm days.

Tuesday was a beach day and lingering around town before heading to dinner in Dennis Port at The Oyster Company. A family favorite for dinner we shared quite a bit of oysters, Portuguese and Bangkok mussels and more for appetizers. Still needing to get my fill of lobster I went with the Lazy Man Roasted Lobster. The stuffed lobster with crab meat stuffing satisfied my craving for the local delicacy.

Harwich Port
Nauset Marsh

Fun and adventure around Harwich Port

Wednesday had us checking out a few attractions within a few miles from the house. Stopping at Cape Cod Lavender Farm was new to me and had me enjoying the aromas of one of my favorite scents. From there we needed to keep my 10 year old niece happy going to the go-kart track and bumper boats. The adults acted like kids as we all had fun trying to beat each other around the track and getting soaked on the bumper boats. A fun afternoon of playing like a kid.

Dinner had us going to the highly rated Buca’s Tuscan Roadhouse in Harwich Port. Plenty of shared appetizers including polenta, charcuterie, proscuitto wrapped artichokes and Aracini had me practically full before our entrees arrived. A grilled romaine salad before my Buca’s Bolognese arrived had me packing up it after only a few bites. It made for a great breakfast the next couple of mornings with the wild boar ragu spread on crispy bread leftovers for my homemade breakfast bruschetta. A breezy sunset made for a great after dinner walk on the beach and through town during its weekly festival with live music and more.

Gorgonzola & Bacon Burger at Mooncusser’s Tavern

Kayaking the marsh

Thursday brought out our adventuresome side with a 3 hour guided kayak tour through the Nauset Marsh. After meeting up with Matt of Cape Marsh Kayaking we made our way with the outgoing tide towards Nauset Beach. Paddling through the marsh Matt pointed out native birds looking for fish. Did you know there is no such specie as a “sea gull” as it’s a general term for the gulls found in and around the water.

Arriving at the beach 70 minutes after of paddling we had time to explore the beach and watch the seals bathing in the sun and poking their head out of the water to greet us. Before heading back Matt taught us about the different kind of clams, scallops and horseshoe crabs found in the area. Horseshoe crabs are related to spiders more than they are crabs. Paddling back to the boat launch made for quite the workout as we were paddling into the outgoing tide.

Getting hungry

Working up quite the appetite after kayaking we headed up Route 6 to Arnold’s Restaurant in Eastham. Packed with families getting their fill of fried seafood for lunch, my Wedge Salad with lobster meat was well earned. Hanging by the pool for a little while it was time to freshen up for dinner at Mooncusser’s Tavern.

Steamers at Arnold’s Restaurant in Eastham

Mooncusser’s is a inn and tavern built in the 1700s for retailer Jordan Marsh and his family. Mooncusser’s were land pirates who destroyed lighthouses and set fires on the beach so ships would run a ground to be robbed of their cargo.

My nephew and I shared an appetizer of PEI Mussel Dijonaise followed by my duck infused Gorgonzola & Bacon Burger. The first burger I’ve had on the cape in several years was delicious topped with the melted blue cheese, Crimini mushrooms, Cabernet caramelized onions, garlic aioli and smoked bacon. Saving room for dessert we made our way back to Schoolhouse Ice Cream for the homemade sweet treat.

Heading home from Harwich Port

Friday has us packing and getting ready to head out for the 5 hour drive down I-95 to NJ for the weekend before I head back to Scottsdale. Another great week on the cape full of fun, adventure and eating.

To see more of my visit Follow me on Instagram @SandyWass

Back exploring food and more in Boston and Cape Cod

If you’ve followed this blog for a few years you would’ve seen a post or two from my visits to Cape Cod. Well I’m back for another visit by way of Boston for the week to escape the Arizona heat. After my first 3 days I have enough to tell you about from my morning in Boston to the days on The Cape.

Breakfast in Boston

I flew into Boston early Saturday morning and was greeted by my friend who re-located from Phoenix to the Boston area 20 years ago. It was pretty early so we decided to head into the city to wake up and made our way to the newly built Seaport District along Boston Harbor. On the south-side of downtown Boston the Seaport District is full of high rise office and apartment buildings, restaurants and attractions. The big attraction for us was the Harbor Walk that led us towards Boston’s North End for breakfast.

Italian market in Boston’s North End

The North End is Boston’s “Little Italy” neighborhood full of narrow streets lined with Italian markets and restaurants. We made our to Theo’s Cozy Corner for breakfast on Salem St. The small cash only breakfast joint serves up traditional breakfast fare at good prices. Eggs, pancakes, etc and good portions Theo’s was full of neighborhood regulars and a few of us outsiders looking to start our day. My friend and I both went with corned beef hash with 3 eggs, home fries and toast. A good choice leaving us both satisfied.

No trip to the North End is complete without a stop at Mike’s Pastry for cannoli for a my mid-morning snack. We also stopped into a traditional Italian market for sliced prosciutto and other meats and fresh bread.

After a walk back along the harbor to the car we headed to the south bay so I could continue down to the Cape.

Saturday and Sunday on the Cape

For years my family has been spending a few weeks every August in Harwichport which is on the south side on Nantucket Bay on a part of the cape that is considered Mid-Cape. A cute town we venture to restaurants to get our fill of fresh seafood. Whether it’s $1 oysters for happy hour at The Port or trying to find the “Best” lobster roll we have our favorites and are always on the lookout for new restaurants to try.

By the time I arrived in mid-afternoon Saturday I was ready to get my fresh seafood feast going. My nephew, brother-in-law and I went across the street to The Port for the $1 oysters from Chatham and Wellfleet. The week before I hear they polished off 90 oysters during one sitting but that wasn’t going to happen on this day as the restaurant was shorthanded with shuckers and we weren’t the only ones there for happy hour. 48 oysters were good enough to satisfy us on this day.

Oysters at The Port in Harwichport

Most days on the cape are lazy with a later start than had I been home in Arizona. Sunday morning started out foggy(the weather, not me) but by late morning the sun was out we’re off to Bank St. beach for a little sand and sun. After a few hours on the beach it was back to relax and decide where to do dinner. We decided it was time to get lobster rolls so we made our way to the Sesuit Harbor Cafe in Dennis. Sesuit on the north side of the cape about a 15 minute drive from Harwichport. Like other “seafood shacks” on the Cape and in New England, Sesuit Harbor Cafe offers fried, broiled or raw seafood. Place your order, find a table outside and wait for the servers bring your food. It’s fast casual before fast casual became a restaurant trend.

Lobster rolls for most of us were served with fries and cole slaw, my nephew went with half a broiled lobster. All were happy as we sat among the sea gulls, marina plotting our next move. We saved room for desert and made our way for homemade ice cream at Schoolhouse Ice Cream in Harwichport.

Sunday or Monday its all the same

When you’re on vacation all the days run together and you realize the work week has begun when the weekenders head back. Not us as Monday has us sleeping in, getting coffee and starting the day. After coffee and my morning walk I made my way to Brew’s Coffee Bar & Beer Garden for breakfast. Disappointing as they stopped serving many of the breakfast sandwiches I remember from 2017.  Only 4 choices to choose from that we’re pre-made and warmed up. My egg and bacon burrito was good but not really worth the $9 I paid for it.

Lunch had me craving fried oysters so I drove down the road to the Original Seafood Restaurant in Dennisport. The place has been around since the 1950s and had the old school drive-in feel. Seafood, burgers, hot dogs and more, my fried oyster craving was fulfilled.

Oyster roll at The Original Seafood Restaurant in Dennisport

After a lazy afternoon walking off my lunch and visiting with family it was time to think about dinner. My nephew and I were on our own and debated which pizza place to go to. The debate was George’s or Ember Pizza and Wings. Ember won out since we’ve never been so we decided to try their coal fired charred pizza. Getting their early before the dinner rush we ordered boneless Buffalo wings which were chicken tenders tossed in Buffalo sauce. Not my idea of wings and going forward I will always order bone-in wings.

Since my nephew doesn’t eat anything green most vegetables were out so we went with the Meat Lovers Pizza. Topped with bacon, sausage, pepperoni and meatballs the thin crust pizza was good and service was good too. Time for a walk and a relaxing Sunday night before we start another day on the Cape.

Check back for more eating adventures and exploring for the next few days. For more images of my trip follow me on Instagram @SandyWass