Southwest Cider Festival offers sips of local & national ciders

With the popularity of ciders the last few years, local cideries decided to showcase this refreshing beverage. The inaugural Southwest Cider Festival takes place on Saturday Nov. 10th at Cider Corps in Mesa. At the 5-hour festival Cider Corps will pour Arizona’s Stoic Cider & Crush Craft Cider and ciders from Colorado, Texas, Washington, California and New York.Operation Homefront

Guests will also be able to sample bites from local food trucks and enjoy live music.

“People are so interested to learn about and experiment with cider and that’s what this event is all about – a chance for everyone to continue to learn, sample and collaborate,” said festival organizer Josh Duren.

Brothers Josh and Jason opened Cider Corps last year and have produced over 70 ciders and have a loyal legion of fans. They push the envelope when it comes to making cider and helped put Arizona on the cider map.Tickets for the festival are $50 per with a portion going to Operation Homefront. A non-profit Operation Homefront helps local veterans and their families. Tickets include up to 20 cider samples and $5 food truck credit. The festival goes from 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.

More details are at their Facebook page.

Cider Corps is at 31 S. Robson #103 Mesa 85210

 

Sandy Takes on Kauai

I made my way for my first visit to the Hawaiian islands and chose The Garden Island of Kauai. Follow my escapades as I hope to include more travel posts to Pulling Corks and Forks.

Kauai Day 1

I tend to travel solo and on a budget so I found a great direct flight from Phoenix to Lihue for under $500. Lihue is a quiet town that’s used like the other towns on Kauai as people pass through to get around the island. The island isn’t very big so you can drive it in a couple of hours.

Kauai
Hanalei Bay

Landed about 3 p.m. island time and was starving after an 6 plus hour flight so I made my way to Kauai Beer Company for fish tacos and a cold Lihue Lager. Good food and the place was filed with locals for a lazy Thursday afternoon. After a quick bite I had time to kill before I could check in to my hotel so I went exploring in rented car. Just a couple of miles from town is Kilua Falls and spectacular view from above. A selfie and few other pictures and I continued to drive to get the lay of the land so my next day would be easier.

I decided to chill out at my hotel after exploring as I was still 3 hours ahead and getting sleepy. Not very fancy places to stay nearby so I wound up at a budget friendly hotel my first night. No bells and whistles, decent wi-fi and coffee in the morning. Good night and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Kauai Day 2

Kiluea Lighthouse
Kiluea Lighthouse

Still on Arizona time I woke up before the roosters who by the way rule the island, they’re in neighborhoods, beaches and on the mountain roads. No need to set the alarm as you’ll start to hear them about 4 a.m.

Walked Lihue waiting for a place to open for breakfast at 6:30, made it to Roland’s Mix Plate for Da Big Loco. Moco Loco is local breakfast bowl of beef patty with eggs your way and gravy over rice. Roland’s serves with crispy pork belly on top. Much needed fuel for the day exploring the island with left over rice and mushroom gravy.

Roosters rule Kauai

I left the hotel about 7:45 and made my way up towards Oloekao Falls and up the mountain road through neighborhoods to see what was a top the mountain. I pulled into the Scared Forest home to Rudraksha trees a.ka. Blue Marble Tree and shrine of Ganesha. Holy in the Hindu world. Continued my way up the mountain til the roads got a bit rough for my rental car.

Down at the bottom of the mountain I made plans to go kayaking and hiking the next day before I proceeded up the Kuhio Highway through the small towns including Kappa’a where I post this adventure. Stopping along the way to check out the surf I take pictures before I get to Kiluea National Monument and the lighthouse and continued past Jurassic Kahili Ranch where several scenes in Jurassic Park were filmed. Open fields, trees and mountains, if you’ve seen the films you should recognize the area.

I continued up the windy road through the hills pulling off at several Scenic Lookouts to view and photograph the mountains and the sea.

The road ends in Hanalei a small village situated between mountains and the Hanalei Bay. I had lunch at L & L BBQ, a Hawaiian chain serving good Hawaiian BBQ. Plenty of food trucks and other food offerings are available on the strip of less than a mile long. After lunch I went to JoJo’s Shaved Ice as shaved ice is big in Hawaii and I was told about JoJo’s from a friend in Phoenix. Hanalei is slightly touristy but nothing compared to the bigger islands and worth the drive and a visit.

Sacred Forest and Ganesha Shrine

I was told of the Okolehao hiking trail(about 1.5 miles) outside of town by a couple of locals and I went to check it out as it would lead up the mountain with a beautiful views. After hiking a 100 or so yards I realized with a muddy trail and no water I wasn’t ready so I put the hike on hold til I came back prepared. The highway used to continued on to Ha’ena until earlier this year for about 6 miles but is now closed from landslides and flooding in April.

I took a leisurely ride back the way I came and pulled off a Kapa’a and hung out for the night. This is where you’ll find most of the activity on the island along with neighboring Wailua. Hotel, resorts, beaches, shopping and restaurants in this 3 mile stretch that hugs the beach at times. I visited some of the resorts to check them out and most were filled with families vacationing. Kapa’a and Wailua also has a good mix of local transplants and natives here for the surf and laid back lifestyle.

So as you can see a busy first couple of days getting my way about the island. Days ahead will have activities I’ve scheduled so check back to see if I survived them. Follow me on Instagram @SandyWass for up to date food finds and scenery from each day.

Enjoy Arizona only beers, wines and spirits at 1st annual AZ Barrels, Bottles & Brews festival

Arizona is on the worldwide map with its craft beers, wines and spirits with the trophies and awards given over the last few years. To showcase all things Arizona there will be the first ever AZ Barrels, Bottles & Brews festival at Salt River Fields on November 3rd.

Arizona
Photo courtesy of Salt River Fields

The beers, wines and spirits will be made exclusively for the festival and use Arizona yeast, hops, grapes and water.

With a great view of the McDowell Mountains from the concourse of Salt River Fields festival goers will be able to sample from 2-5 p.m.

Over 30 brewers, wineries and distillers are scheduled to participate and the list keeps growing. SanTan Brewing Co., Helton Brewing, Elgin Distillery, Cellar 433 and McFate Brewing are a few of those announced.

Tickets are limited and are $50 for 12 drink samples and access to food trucks to purchase food. V.I.P tickets are available at $65 and allow entry an hour early at 1 p.m. Designated drivers pay only $19 and get a free swag bag. For more information and to purchase tickets visit the festival website.

Salt River Fields at Talking Stick is at 7555 N. Pima Rd. Scottsdale, AZ

Downtown Chandler to host Rockin’ Taco Street Fest

Food festival season is starting to get ramped up as the summer slowly comes to an end. On of the first festivals is the 7th annual Rockin’ Taco Street Fest on Saturday September 15th in downtown Chandler.

This years festival hosts 20 restaurants and food vendors making more tacos than one can eat. Restaurants such as Las Palmas, Taco Guild and Nando’s Mexican Cafe are just a few restaurants breaking out the recipe book to create unique tacos. Specialty Poke tacos, cactus and Korean chicken tacos are a few of the non-traditional tacos being served up at the family friendly event.

Downtown Chandler
Evil Waze. All photos ciourtesy of Jen Pruett of HDE Agency

More than just tacos

You can’t eat tacos for all 9 hours of the festival so entertainment from Santana cover band Evil Waze will take the stage. Metalachi, the world’s first and only mariachi heavy metal band will headline the festival.

A custom low-rider car show with In the Streets magazine will show off over 60 cars, bikes and trucks. Lucha libre wrestling and food eating contest will be going on throughout the day.

Get your tickets here

General admission tickets on-line are $10, $15 at the door with kids 12 and under free. The 21 years old + VIP tickets are $100 and available on-line only. VIP ticket holders get a private area, 6 alcoholic beverage tickets, catered food and shaded area. 

The Tequila Tavern tickets are $30 on-line get you 10 tequila samples and unlimited chips and salsa.

A portion of the proceeds from the festival will be donated to the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership. The non-profit DCCP mission is to use leadership and resources to promote the downtown Chandler area.

Tickets are available at http://www.rockintacoaz.com/ 

The festival is from 12-9 p.m. and is at Dr. AJ Chandler Park in downtown Chandler.

2018 Slider Throwdown returns to Kierland Commons

The 2018 Slider Throwdown returns for another year of tasty slider goodness on Sunday Nov. 18th. at north Scottsdale’s Kierland Commons. The Throwdown will benefit Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation.

Guests who throw down the $35 admission will enjoy sliders from local food truck companies Buzz N Bee, Aioli Burgers, Food Diva and more. Local “Slider Experts” will decide who will be awarded the Best Slider with guests voting for the People’s Choice award.

The price of admission includes samples of all sliders and 3 non-alcoholic drink tickets. A Kierland Commons restaurant will partner with the Throwdown promoters to create an exclusive cocktail to purchase in the restaurant.

Petite cheeseburger

Proceeds will be donated to AFFCF which is dedicated to giving foster children a normal childhood. Most importantly they prepare the children for adulthood with scholarships and programs.

“Through our organization, we are able to help foster children navigate the difficult and often unchartered waters of foster care by providing them with valuable resources as well as opportunities to participate in childhood activities that promote confidence and independence so they can grow into responsible, happy adults,” says Kris Jacober, Director of the AFFCF.

AFFCF has awarded more than $5.7 million to 26,000 children in foster care.

The event will be from 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. with tickets available for purchase at http://affcf.org/sliderthrowdown

Local restaurants entice Cactus League fans with food and drink specials

The games have begun for the month-long Cactus League season and Phoenix area restaurants are tempting baseball fans and locals to stop in with food and drink specials. Here are a few local restaurants to cheer your favorite team at before or after the game.

Cactuss League
Photo courtesy of Kassidy McDonald

Cactus League food specials

Fired Pie’s locations in the Phoenix area are offering game day ticket holders 10% off when they dine in after the game. To find a location near you check their website.

Thai Chili 2 Go is giving away a free dumpling appetizer at all 5 valley locations with purchase and a game day ticket stub. To find a location and hours check here.

Photo courtesy of Cider Corps

Mesa’s Cider Corps is extending their hours thru March 31st and offering a $1 off all pints when you bring in a same day ticket stub from Mesa’s Hohokam Stadium and Sloane Park. Hours are 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Mon. – Sat. with food trucks on site Fri. & Sat. http://cidercorpsaz.com/

One of Tempe’s newest restaurants Quartiere welcomes baseball fans to come check out their community driven Italian restaurant.  Until April 1st fans can bring any 2018 Spring Training ticket stub for 1/2 off an appetizer or entrée when you purchase an entrée. Pizzas, pastas, salads and more are available at Quartiere

McFate Brewing is bringing fans attending games at Scottsdale Stadium a pop-up beer garden beyond the center field fence at The Clayton House. On game day the beer garden opens 90 minutes before game time with live music, food and of course beer.  No ticket necessary.  The Clayton House is at 3719 N. 75th St. Scottsdale.

 

Arizona wines get all the attention at 9th Annual Grand Wine Festival

Arizona’s largest Arizona wine only event grows even larger this year as the Arizona Wine Growers Association’s Grand Wine Festival spills on to 6th Street from the Heritage Square festival. This, the 9th year of showcasing Arizona wines takes place on Saturday & Sunday January 27th and 28th and grows by 15,000 square feet when 6th Street is closed off this year.

Arizona wines poured

Over 30 Arizona wineries will travel to downtown Phoenix from Elgin, Sonoita and the southern part of our state along with wineries up I-17 in Jerome, Page Springs and the Verde Valley. Dos Cabezas, LDV Winery and Burning Tree Cellars are just a few of the wineries pouring their wines at the 2 day festival while.

Winners of the AZ Central Arizona Wine Competition will be announced at the Grand Wine Gala on Friday evening which is already sold out.

In addition to tasting wine at the festival, attendees will have live music to  enjoy as well as food trucks and other local vendors to visit with.

“We already have a record number of both wineries in attendance and wines being poured at this year’s festival, but now having the extra space will allow for record-breaking attendance numbers as well,” said Brian Predmore, president of the Arizona Wine Growers Association.

Arizona wines
Kurt Dunham owner/winemaker of LDV Winery

Purchase tickets

The festival will start both days at 11 a.m. and run until 7 p.m. on Saturday and until 5 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $15 for 6 tasting samples or $20 for 10 samples can be purchased at their website.

 

 

Chef Wade’s Mac-n-Cheese truck hits the streets of Phoenix

Your New Year’s resolution to eat healthy made have hit a speed bump as Chef Wade’s Mac-n-Cheese truck is now roaming the streets of Phoenix serving every bodies favorite side dish turned entrée.

When Chef Wade realized there was no food truck focusing on Mac-n-Cheese he converted his Bistro on Wheels to serve only cheesy noodle goodness. The decision was made easier as mac-n-cheese was his best-selling selling item for years.

“I wanted to take something simple that everybody loves and really turn up on the volume on flavor profiles and interesting ingredient combinations,” says Simpson of his new concept. “At the end of the day, it’s about making our customers happy and feeding them great tasting, good quality food.”

Chef Wade’s Mac-n-Cheese & more

Chef Wade has created some unique options for his truck including Truffle Mushroom Mac-n-Cheese, the spicy Southwest Mac-n-Cheese with green chiles and smoked pork, Lobstah Mac-n-Cheese and Nawlin’s Mac-n-Cheese with Andouille sausage, shrimp and Cajun spices.

Chef Wade has All American options on the menu including a Tomato & Bacon Burger topped with you got it mac-n-cheese, a Grilled Ham & Mac-n-Cheese sandwich on Texas Toast.

If you’re trying to stick to your New Year’s resolution Chef Wade offers a healthy & vegan option, Mac-n- Trees with broccoli, cauliflower, Butternut Squash and Cashew puree.

Classic Mac-n-Cheese can be customized to every bodies taste with additional toppings that include pesto, hot dog, bacon and more. For the adventurous eater order the Special Mac-n-Cheese and don’t ask for any specific ingredients and Chef Wade will surprise you.

Chef Wade’s continues to cater events around the valley serving customizable menus.

For more information see his website or call 602-301-8672

 

 

Slider Throwdown returns to Kierland Commons for charity

As memories of last years Slider Throwdown fall deeper into our subconscious we are made aware of this years Throwdown that is slated for Sunday November 12th from 12-3p.m. back at Kierland Commons.

For only $30 each attendees will be able to sample all the sliders and 3 non-alcoholic drink tickets. After tasting the sliders people will be able to vote the “People’s Choice” award along with “slider expert” judges for to see which food truck will wine “Best Slider”.

Food trucks competing include:

Two Fat Guys Grilled Cheese                                                                         Mango Flats                                                                                                                     Aioli Burger                                                                                                                     Food Diva                                                                                                                        Head to Hoof                                                                                                                    Left Coast Burrito                                                                                                    Emerson Fry Bread

One restaurant will partner with the Slider Throwdown to offer a signature cocktail at the chosen restaurant.

Proceeds from this years event will be donated to Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation(AFFCF). The money raised will help foster children enjoy their childhood despite unfortunate circumstances.

Kris Jacober, Director of the AFFCF, says, “We help these children through difficult circumstances by providing them with resources and allowing them to take part in enjoyable activities that promote self-esteem.”

You can help by purchasing you Slider Throwdown tickets and having a good time enjoying the delicious sliders.

 

Drip Coffee and Espresso truck to hit the streets of Phoenix

If you don’t have the energy to walk to your nearby coffee shop to get your cup of “go-go juice” you soon will be able to have it come to you. That is if you find yourself along the route of the new Drip Coffee and Espresso truck that will start traveling the streets of  Phoenix  in late August or early September.

Owner Jeff Rorvig is combing his restaurant experience and his passion for coffee to bring this new innovative way to bring coffee to the people.

“I love coffee and I’ve wanted to be in this business for a long time. My life has taken many twists and turns, but I’m excited to follow my dreams with Drip Coffee and Espresso. We can’t wait to hit the streets!” Rorvig said.

Drip Coffee and Espresso will offer a wide selection of caffeinated and un-caffeniated drinks from CULT Coffee Roaster including drip, iced and nitrogen infused coffee, cappuccino, lattes and mochas.  Flavored & Chai teas, Italian sodas and energy drinks will also be available along with locally made pastries.

Signature drinks have been brewed up for Drip Coffee and Espresso including the “Rising Sun,” which is made with coffee, espresso, milk, Mexican chocolate and whipped cream. If you need that extra boost to get you through your day then you’ll want either the “Buzzer,” a quad shot Mexican mocha or the “Zipper,” drip coffee with quad shot of espresso or “Perk Me Up,” drip coffee with double shot of espresso.

When the truck hits the streets you’ll be able to find where it’s headed by checking Twitter, Facebook or their soon to be completed website http://azdripcoffee.com/