I spent my Spring Break eating my way through Salt Lake City

Most people spend their Spring Break heading to beaches or somewhere exotic. I spent my Spring Break road tripping to Salt Lake City to explore the city and food scene. I enjoyed meals at locally owned restaurants based on the recommendation of my friend who has spent the last year living in the area.

The 10 hour drive from Phoenix to Salt Lake City we knew we’d have to stop for at least one meal on the way up. Heading through Page and past Lake Powell into southern Utah you don’t have a lot options once you cross the border. Most meals were under $20 with a couple just above.

First 24 hours in Utah

We decided to stop for dinner in Kanab and pulled into Big Al’s Burgers Drive-In. Kanab is the main route as you head from eastern Arizona to the national parks of southern Utah and points north. A nice little town before you head up the back roads towards I-15. Big Al’s is exactly what you’d expect, burgers, fries, shakes and a few other drive-in favorites. I went with Double Rustler Burger value meal, a cheeseburger, fries and chocolate shake. Friendly service and made to order food made for a positive first impression of the Utah food scene. It was also my first experience being asked if I wanted “Fry Sauce”. Expect to be asked for this mayo ketchup combo in Utah when ordering fries and other fried foods. I declined as I prefer only ketchup but did taste my friends sauce. It was exactly what you’d expect.

After we made our way through the canyons and over the mountain pass into the night and a snowstorm we arrived late in the night at our destination.

After sleeping in and eggs and coffee at my friend’s place for breakfast we made our way for a mid-afternoon dim sum lunch at Cafe Anh Hong. In a small strip mall full of far east restaurants Anh Hong wasn’t the traditional dim sum restaurant. No ladies pushing carts full of dim sum delicacies but a picture menu under the plexiglass table top. Tell them what you want and everything is made to order. Many dim sum favorites to satisfy your dim sum cravings.

A late dinner was a homemade 24 hour sous vide short rib over risotto prepared by my host was so good I had to mention it.

Breakfast & lunch in Salt Lake City

Waking up the next morning we made our way to the Draper location of La Barba Coffee. Considered one of the if not the best coffee in SLC we sat there sipping our coffee pondering where to go for breakfast. Sipping on a Guatemalan drip coffee I paid more attention to it than I normally would a cup of coffee, it was good cup.

Desiring a breakfast burrito we drove to Taqueria El Gallo Loco in Sandy. I went with Chorizo burrito which was a little light on chorizo for my liking. My friend went with a bowl of Tripe thoroughly enjoying it. We ordered the Flan for dessert (yeah at breakfast) and glad we did, it was topped with toasted coconut and was so good. The owner and our server were friendly and offered good service. I’d give them another shot at a Chroizo burrito.

A mid-afternoon lunch had me desiring an Italian deli sandwich and my friend knew right where to go. We made our way to the 15th & 15th location of Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli where I went with The Caputo. Prosciutto, mortadella, salami, provolone and all the fixings. They dress it with balsamic vinegar as opposed to red wine vinegar which was an interesting choice. Served on an artisan roll I’d come back again. Check off Italian deli off my list.

Enjoying the neighborhood that Tony’s is in we went across the street to Sweetaly for a cup of gelato. It hit the spot after my meaty sandwich.

Park City here we come

With the ski town of Park City less than an hour away we headed into the mountains for lunch. It’s “Mud Season” in Park City so some restaurants close down for a few weeks. We found out the hard way when we wanted to grab a bite to eat at High West Distillery & Saloon. We wound up the brew pub of Wasach Brewing with brunch in full effect. Sipping on an Apricot Hefe with my Wasach burger made for a tasty Park City experience. The Wasach burger is made with buffalo meat and topped with a spicy Cajun remoulade.

I vetoed lunch a Tekila for the brew pub but my friend highly recommends it.

In case you’re wondering dinner at friend’s house back in SLC for homemade corn chowder and cake.

Final day in Salt Lake City

A lazy Sunday morning had us getting a slow start and finally motivating in early afternoon. We picked up a friend and decided to head for something new to me.

A couple of doors down from dim sum was Kungfu Hotpot where I experienced Hotpot cooking for the first time. A pot of mild and spicy boiling broth we filled it with beef, pork, mushrooms, vegetables and more letting it cook to our desired temperatures. The All-You-Can-Eat restaurant had us ordering more piles of beef, greens and seafood balls until I threw down my chopsticks and said “no more”. An interesting experience I’m not sure I could find in Phoenix.

Just a few miles from downtown SLC we made our way to Temple Square to see the gardens, the state capitol and the University of Utah. One last stop before we headed to my friend’s place for the night, Dolcetti Gelato. The Blueberry Balsamic & Rosewater treat to finish my foodie visit to SLC hit the spot after the spicy hotpot.

SLC looks to have a great restaurant scene as I scanned local magazines and websites. Locally owned restaurants and several chains I’ve never seen before looked interesting. I hope to return one day to eat my way through more of what there is to offer. If you find yourself in Salt Lake City on a Sunday be aware that many restaurants aren’t open, even those you’d expect to be including coffeehouses.

To see pictures of my trip to SLC follow me on Instagram @SandyWass

Festival in the Pines makes its return to Flagstaff after 10 years

It’s never to soon to plan a summer getaway out the the Phoenix heat in the summer. Flagstaff is a easy getaway for Phoenicians and the 4th of July is one of the more popular weekend. Flagstaff will be bursting this year with the return of The Festival in the Pines after a 10 year hiatus. The popular festival if formerly know as “Summerfest”.

Festival in the Pines is from supporter of the arts Andrew Maguire. “We really felt a need for the return of a family-oriented festival that presents art enthusiasts with some of the country’s finest artists along with great entertainment, food and fun for all,”. “We had been doing the festival for 23 years prior to its hiatus and we’ve received such demand for its return that we’re thrilled to make it happen.”

The festival will be held at Fort Tuthill Coconino County Fairgrounds on April 4th -6th from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Local food trucks will keep festival goers fed while enjoying over 150 artists and their collections and live music.

The festival will coincide with other 4th of July festivities in Flagstaff which was named the “#1 destination in U.S. for Independence Day festivities” by Travel & leisure magazine.

The fairgrounds are at 2446 Fort Tuthill Loop off I-17. For more information go to http://www.888artfest.com/flagstafffestivalinthepines/

Taphouse Kitchen Phoenix now offers weekend brunch

The new location of Taphouse Kitchen at Shea & 32nd St. has started serving weekend brunch. The brunch menu offers classic breakfast favorites and cocktails. Taphouse Kitchen favorites including Fish Fry Everyday Baby !!, their Signature Burger and more are available at brunch. Brunch is available on Saturday from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Taphouse Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Taphouse Kitchen

Here are a few highlights from the brunch menu.

  • Eggs Benedict. Sourdough, smoked turkey, poached eggs, guacamole, smoked tomato, hollandaise sauce
  • Croque Monsieur. Sourdough, ham, gruyère, béchamel sauce
  • French Toast. Challah bread, cinnamon, vanilla bean crème brûlée, fresh berries
  • Pastrami Hash. Shaved pastrami, TapHouse taters, two sunny side up eggs, whole grain mustard hollandaise
  • Grilled Cheese. Sourdough, mushrooms, fontina, applewood smoked bacon, avocado, fried egg
  • Biscuits and Gravy. Cheddar biscuits, jalapeño sausage gravy, two eggs any style
  • Simple Breakfast. Two eggs any style, TapHouse taters, toast, choice of bacon or sausage

Brunch Cocktails

  • Mimosa. Blood Orange, Grapefruit, Orange Mango
  • Sangria. Seasonal red or white
  • THK Bloody Mary with local Paddington vodka
  • Strawberry-Peach Bellini
  • Basil Grapefruit Gimlet
  • Cucumber Press

Pizza at Taphouse Kitchen

The Phoenix location also serves “forno” style thin crust pizza. The handcrafted pizzas come with traditional pizza toppings including Meatball, Pepperoni and a White Pizza.

Taphouse Kitchen Phoenix is at 3131 E. Shea Blvd. 85028 and in Scottsdale at 6137 N. Scottsdale Rd #108 85250. For more information go to their website.

GinWorld calls Phoenix home for Gin Week in April

Connoisseurs of gin make their way to Phoenix in April as the 5th Annual GinWorld sets up shop. During “Gin Week Phoenix” restaurants and bars around Phoenix and Scottsdale will host seminars, tastings and competitions from April 22nd-28th.

“Phoenix is the perfect location to bring our Gin Week festivities,” says Natasha Bahrami, founder of GinWorld and Gin Week events, which has roots in St. Louis, Missouri. “The people, the culture and let’s not forget the weather, are primed for exactly this type of event that celebrates the spirit and spectrum of gin while bringing people together in a fun and engaging environment.”

“Gin Week” kicks off at Bitters Bar in Scottsdale for the “Campari Loves Gin” competition. “Campari Loves Gin” is open to anybody 21 and over and bartenders must be working in a Phoenix area bar/restaurant.  Four recipes must be submitted by April 15th on-line at http://ginworld.com/ and must use Campari and sponsored spirits and modifiers. Winning recipe entrants will be invited to the live cocktail competition on April 22nd. Cocktails will be judged on aroma, appearance, balance of ingredients and overall presentation.

Gin Week cocktail specials will be available at Bitters Bar, Blue Clover Distillery, Monroe Bar and Unexpected Art Gallery.

Gin Week ends on April 28th with a Gin Week Festival at Unexpected Art Gallery in downtown Phoenix. Over a 100 gins will be represented at the festival and attendees can check out educational seminars, meet with distillers and taste the gins. Guest will be able to enjoy the Bloody Mary Bar and Perfect Serve Gin Tonic Bar. Tickets for the festival are $55 and can be purchased on-line.

 

“Battle Freak Shake” invites you to build your Show Stopper Shake

Ever want to have one of your homemade culinary creations on the menu at your favorite restaurant? Now’s your chance as you have until May 1st to submit your best milkshake recipe to Hotel Valley Ho’s “Battle Freak Shake” contest.

Once submitted online the Zuzu culinary team will review recipes & ingredients before picking the finalists on June 1st. The finalist will make their milk shake for them and the top shakes will go to “Battle Freak Shake”. The winner will….Have their shake featured as the Showstopper Shake in August, 3 night stay at hotel w/ upgraded guest room, Dinner for 2 at Zuzu and 2 90-minute VH Spa treatments. And of course bragging rights.

3 shakes will be featured at each of the hotel’s Chef + Farmer’s Market events. Guests and chef judges will vote for a winner who goes to the final market event of the summer to be crowned the winning shake.

Get fried on 4/20 at Fried: A French Fry & Music Festival

I know what the organizers were smoking when they were planning the first annual Fried: A French Fry & Music Festival. The 4/20 food festival will be at Margaret T. Hance Park in Phoenix. Fried is from the food festival folks behind the Downtown Donut Festival and Phoenix Pizza Festival.

Phoenix restaurants and food trucks have signed up to create out of this world french fries for only $2-$3. Larger “Sharing” sizes will be available as well. Fries topped with chorizo, lobster and kimchee are just a few of the toppings I’ve heard about.

Festival goers will enjoy French fries from the likes of The Dressing Room, Trapp Haus BBQ and Hibachibot. Make sure you find your way to Merkin Vineyards Pizza Wagon’s for their Bolognese fries before they sell out. I’ve had them and their delicious.

All fries will be fried in oil from SK Oil Sales, the local fryer oil specialist. I did not know there was such a thing.

Live music from 6 bands including Weird Radicals, Fairy Bones and Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold will entertain the crowd. DJ’s Stoneypie, Reverse Cowboy and Maintenance will be mixing it up too.

Fry fanatics are invited to ride their bikes to the festival and have them valeted by Phoenix Spokes People. Gracie’s Tax Bar will be preparing cocktails along with craft beers and Jarritos sodas.

Fried will benefit Downtown Phoenix Inc. that helps to promote the downtown community.

Tickets for Fried: A French Fry & Music Festival are $15 on only available on-line.  The festival goes from 2-10 p.m. at 1202 N. 3rd St. Phoenix 85004.

Arizona Tiki Oasis kicks off the weekend at Hula’s Modern Tiki

A recent post announced the Arizona Tiki Oasis weekend, they have now added a kick-off happy hour Hula’s Modern Tiki in Scottsdale. The Tiki Time Happy Hour starts at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday April 11th. The public is welcome to join tiki fans who are calling Scottsdale and Hotel Valley Ho home for the weekend.

Photos courtesy of Hula’s Modern Tiki

Guests will enjoy $6 Signature Tropical Cocktails, $6 Island- style starters and more until 6:00 p.m. It will be the first opportunity for guests to purchase Arizona Tiki Oasis collectible souvenirs and merchandise.

Tiki fans in Phoenix can take advantage of Hula’s Tiki Time Happy Hour at their location on 7th St. The Phoenix location is not hosting the event.

Hula’s Modern Tiki is at 7213 E. 1st Ave. Scottsdale 85251.

 

 

My Nana’s Best Tasting Salsa Challenge returns April 13th

Do your friends and family tell you that you make delicious salsa or margaritas? If so then you may want to enter My Nana’s Best Tasting Salsa Challenge or the Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix-Off. All entrants have until March 20th to to sign up for the April 13th event at Sloan Field in Mesa.

Not only could you win money with the best recipe but you’ll help to raise money for the Arizona Hemophilia Association. This is the 35th annual fundraiser for the organization.

My Nana’s Best Tasting Salsa Challenge

Anybody can win a piece of the $3,500 in prizes awarded to winner, first runner-up, second runner-up and third runner-up by the judges. You also have the chance to win Arizona Diamondbacks tickets. Individuals, non-profits and restaurants/business will compete for the winning salsa in three categories…Hot, Mild and Anything Goes.

Professional and celebrity judges will pick the winners in a double-blind tastings based on color, taste, after taste and more.

My Nana's Best Tasting Salsa Challenge

Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix-Off

At 12:30 bartenders from across the area will shake things up to win the $500 grand prize for best margarita. Audience members can bid on the winning margaritas with proceeds going to the hemophilia association. They will also be able to bid on vacation packages, sports memorabilia and more.

To enter the contest go to https://salsachallenge.com/contestants/

During the 8 hour event their will be live music, a kid’s zone, a 5K run and more festivities.

The festival starts at 10 a.m. at Sloan Park 2330 E. Rio Salaldo Pkwy in Mesa. For more information and to purchase tickets head to their website

 

Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade launches Spring Seasonal Menu

With Spring approaching the need to keep hydrated becomes necessary and there’s no better way that with lemonade. Just in time is Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade releasing their new Spring Seasonal menu of lemonades, smoothies, bowls and more.

It also celebrates the Grand Opening of their new Happy Valley location. The Happy Valley location joins locations in Scottsdale, Tempe and Ahwatukee.

Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade Spring menu

The seasonal menu will be available from March 15th – May 31st. Here is the list of new Spring Seasonal menu.

Desert Vibes Lemonade – Served raw and cold pressed, this refreshing mango, strawberry lemonade is mixed with a hint of fresh turmeric. The ombré yellow, orange, red color reminiscent of the colorful desert sunsets.

Desert Vibes Smoothie Bowl. – Similar to the lemonade, the colorful bowl is flavored high with tropical coconut taste and a hint of sparkling kombucha.

Blue Hawaii Toast – Sea inspired toast topped with house made cashew butter spread with blue spirulina, and star cut kiwi, blueberry, organic coconut flakes and local honey.

Paleo Mint Chip Smoothie – A pastel twist on the fan-favorite drink. Nutrient dense and delicious, the mint chip smoothie uses fresh mint, kale and raw cacao, with a drizzle of cacao sauce.

Pea Flower Lemonade – Served raw and cold pressed, this lemonade’s rich purple color comes from Butterfly Pea Flower, which turns a pinkish lavender when fully mixed into the mojito lemonade. It features sprigs of mint and a hint of lime.

Adaptogen Cold Brew – Cold brew mixed with the new adaptogen* blend and coconut cream is a must-try.

Breakfast Cold Brew Smoothie – A morning kick bursting with flavor and nutrients. This smoothie is hand crafted with almond butter, adaptogens*, raw cacao, MCT oil, and paleo/grain-free/organic vegan protein. The best way to start your day!

*The local lemonade shop is introducing a new adaptogen blend on the menu that offers a hybrid of four of nature’s best adaptogen mushrooms which have a wide range of health benefits including immunity support, hormone balance, energy boost and many disease fighting benefits.

To find the closest Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade to you check out their website.

 

 

Meat the Ball to open at Biltmore Fashion Park next week

Stefano Fabbri, owner of popular Phoenix restaurants Mora Italian and Pomo Pizzeria announced he’s opening a new restaurant, Meat the Ball. The full-service restaurant will open Thursday March 21st at the Biltmore Fashion Park.

Meat the ball
Photos courtesy of Kassidy Mcdonald at Evolve Marketing and PR.

The menu will include an impressive line-up of meatballs made with sausage, veal, salmon and more. In addition to meatballs the restaurant will offer appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts.

“I’m thrilled to introduce Meat the Ball, a mini restaurant with a big personality centered on the quintessential meatball and its street food friends. We will have authentic recipes prepared with locally sourced and organic products to celebrate today’s healthy dining, Italian style,” says Fabbri.

The 1,500 square foot restaurant will look like a 50’s style diner and decorated with pop-art and a retro theme.

Meat the Ball will be open 7 days a week from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Biltmore Fashion Park is at 2502 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix 85016. For more information visit their website.