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.

Ring in 2017 with dinner on New Year’s Eve around Phoenix

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.

The EVO salad photo courtesy of EVO

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.

 Salad (one to share)

Pomelo Chopped—Dinosaur kale, artisan greens, tomato, corn, edamame, roasted peppers, gold raisins, toasted sunflower seed, feta and tossed in Green Goddess dressing. (suggested wine pairing) Lagaria Pinot Grigio | 2014, Veneto, Italy

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

Pan-Roasted Wild Salmon *M—Black rice, shaved fennel and wild arugula salad with citrus Pomelo beurre blanc. (suggested wine pairing) Damilano Nebbiolo | 2013, Piedmont, Italy

DESSERT (one to share)

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….

Charcuterie Plate

Corn and Shishito Fritter with Honey Drizzle

Soup Taster

Braised Mustard Greens with Lentils and Crostini

Roasted Pork with Parmesan Risotto

Coffee Glazed Donuts with Vanilla Whipped Cream

Sorso Wine Room 15323 N Scottsdale Rd #150 http://www.sorsowineroom.com

Zuzu at Hotel Valley Ho

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.

Photo courtesy of Hotel Valley Ho

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.

To see the full menu and to make a reservation visit https://www.hotelvalleyho.com/hotel/hotel-events/new-years-eve

Tavern Americana

New Year’s Eve at Tavern Americana will be served from 5pm- 10 pm with a course dinner for $55 per person ++ with limited seating available. To reserve your seat call 480-502-6740.

1st Course 

Caesar Salad | Parmigiano Reggiano | Lemon | Brioche | Black Pepper

Avocado & Grapefruit Salad | Radish | Champagne Vinaigrette | Arugula | Candied Almonds | Cranberries

2nd Course

Herb Crusted Hanger Steak | Roasted Root Vegetables | Swiss Chard | Green Onion | Port

Roasted Half Chicken | Charred Broccoli | Parsnips | Spinach | Lemon | Burnt Thyme

3rd Course

Chocolate Lava Cake | Champagne Berries |

Grand Marnier Crème Brulee | Caramelized Pineapple

Tavern Americana 20469 N Hayden Rd. Scottsdale http://urbantaverngroup.com/tavernamericana/

EVO

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.

STARTERSChoice of One

ARANCINI- CRISPY RISOTTO / PEAS/ MOZZARELLA / POMODORO/ PARMESAN

TUSCAN BEAN STEW- WHITE BEANS / SHERRY / OVEN DRIED TOMATOES / KALE

*POACHED SHRIMP- EGGPLANT RAGU/ THYME OIL

OXTAIL TORTELINI- LEMO/ GOAT CHEESE/ BRAISED REDUCTION

POLPETTINE- HAND ROLLED MEATBALLS/ POMODORO/ GRANAN PADANO/ BALSAMIC/ BASIL

INSALATEChoice of One

EVO SALAD- CRISPY BRUSSELS SPROUTS / DRIED KALE / CHÈVRE/ PEAR/ PANCETTA/ PINENUTS/ BALSAMIC

CAPRESE- TOMOATO/ BASIL PESTO/ PISTACHIO / ARUGULLA / REDUCED BALSAMIC/ CIABATTA

CAESAR- ESCAROLE/ GARLIC DRESSING/ PARMESAN / CROUTONS

WARM KALE- BELUGA LENTILS/ CANDIED PECANS/ PARMESAN / PANCETTA/ VINAIGRETTE/ RED PEPPERS/ GOLDEN RAISINS

ENTRÉEChoice of One

SKILLET LASAGNA- MOZZARELLA/ STRATCCIATELLA / BOLOGNESE/ PARMESAN / BALSAMIC / HERBS

*LOBSTER RISOTTO- POACHED LOBSTER TAIL/ CORN/ ASPARAGUS / WHITE WINE/ PARMESAN

ORECCHETTE- KALE/ FENNEL SAUSAGE/ CALABRIAN CHILI / PARMESAN

PIZZA- ROASTED GARLIC / ROMA TOMATOES / PROSCUITTO / MOZZARELLA/ BASIL/ SABA

GRILLED FILET- TRUFFLE WHIPPED POTATOES/ ROASTED ZUCCHINI/RED PEPPER PESTO

*SQUID INK- TAGLIATELLE/ SHRIMP/ MUSSELS / CALAMARI/ SCALLIONS / SAFFRON BUTTER/ CALABRIAN CHILI

PORCHETTA- PORK TENDERLOIN/ HOUSE PANCETTA / CRISPY FINGERLINGS / HOUSE PANCETTA/ SHALLOT DEMI-GLACE

*SEA BASS- BASIL GASSE/ ROASTED TOMATOES / POACHED SHRIMP/ GARLIC CREMA

DOLCI- Choice of One

NUTELLA CANOLI- MASCARPONE / CARMELIZED PECANS / HOUSE FRUIT PUREE

BROWN BUTTER BABY CAKE- BAKED TO ORDER 20 minutes / VANILLA CRÈME ANGLAISE / CHANTILLY / RASPBERRIES

CITRUS OLIVE OIL CAKE- OATMEAL CRUMBLE/ VANILLA GELATO / CANDIED LIME ZEST

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CAKE- MIXED BERRY CULIS / HOUSEMADE MARSHMALLOW/ RASPBERRY GELATO

CHEESE PLATE- GORGONZOLA/ POACHED PEAR/ BRIE/ DATE JAM/ DRUNKEN GOAT/ BLUE SKY HONEY

EVO  4175 N. Goldwater Blvd. Scottsdale, AZ 85251. 480-265-9814 www.evoscottsdale.com

Joe’s Midnight Run

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 info@joesmidnightrun.com

Opening Course: Choose 1

 Pulpo-grilled fingerling potatoes, paprika oil, garlic and lemon

 Tuna crudo-grapefruit-apple-fennel-chile/sundried tomato oil

 Grilled Romaine Salad-romaine, red bell peppers, lemon buttermilk dressing

 Main Course: Choose 1

 Salmon-truffle celery root-shrimp-cauliflower-crab/lemon buerre blanc

 Duck Mole-squash, corn, braised duck, spiced chocolate mole

 Filet-grilled beef tenderloin, cognac, creamy porcini mushroom and leek ragu, grilled asparagus and potatoes

 Dessert Course:  Choose 1

 Poached Pear-pisco-vanilla-almond/raisin crumble

 Chocolate cheesecake-graham cracker dusting-chocolate

 

 

 

 

 

Bloody Mary’s with a twist on New Year’s Day 2017

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.

Vintage 95’s Miss Mary

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.