San Francisco chefs coming to Phoenix for cannabis infused dinner

Sous chef Frank Gama was living & working in Phoenix when he was planning a culinary experience like no other. He was then offered a job in San Francisco but didn’t forget about the dinner he wanted to do honoring the Hispanic & Latino community and heritage. He and Sous Chef Victor Aguilera will be coming to Phoenix to collaborate on this 8-course cannabis infused dinners on Sunday October 17th and Monday the 18th at Phoenix’s Jewels’ Cafe.

Both Gama and Aguilera have worked at Michelin star restaurants in San Francisco with Gama working at Atelier Crenn, Sorrel and Cafe Monarch in Scottsdale. Aguilera who’s from Venezuela, opened Arepas en Bici and has been featured in Eater SF, SF Chronicle, Good Morning America and recently won the Chopped 420 Challenge.

The dinners will feature courses spanning the culinary spectrum from molecular gastronomy to traditional French cuisine using locally sourced ingredients and Arizona grown cannabis. The dinner will start with a happy hour with snacks and each course will include drink pairings by bartender Curtis Hayes of The Monarch in Kansas City.

The all inclusive dinner is $200 per person and has two seating’s per night at 5 & 8 p.m.  More information & to purchase your seats visit https://www.bychefaguilera.com/events. Jewel’s Cafe is at 4041 E. Thomas Rd. Phoenix 85018.

 

Maynard J Keenan expands kitchen & hires chef at Scottsdale tasting bar

With the success and popularity of his Merkin Vineyards Osteria and Merkin Pizza Wagon in Cottonwood, owner & winemaker Maynard J Keenan gave the go head to expand his Merkin Vineyards Old Town Scottsdale tasting room. Keenan also hired Executive Chef Steve Zimmerman to take the helm of the new Morello Forni Cupola Dome wood-fired oven, imported from Italy and revamp the menu.

“Our dishes feature ingredients grown in our Northern Arizona greenhouses, gardens, and orchards, and we supplement with produce sourced from local Arizona growers,” said Maynard J Keenan. “Merkin Vineyards farm-to-table, vine-to-glass concept is the cornerstone of our success, and it’s a concept we intend to continue developing.”

The award-winning Zimmerman comes to Merkin Vineyards Old Town Scottsdale after a career in hotel restaurant management in his home state of Missouri and most recently at Tres Kitchen & Bar ion Tempe. “He’s the perfect culinary artist for our vision,” states Keenan.

The menu at Merkin Vineyards Old Town Scottsdale

The new menu includes ingredients from Merkins farm, citrus grove and orchard in the Verde Valley with additional ingredients sourced from local vendors and artisan producers. The new menu changes on a regular basis and includes many seasonal ingredients for its pizzas, pasta, salads and more. The Classic Margarita Pizza, the Calabrian with chorizo, schinken, bacon, calabrian chiles, fig jam and fontina cheese and the Crucifixen, features Merkin farm cruciferous veggies, roasted garlic, Parmesan spread, fresh mozzarella and fontina cheeses are part of the core menu.

Lasagna Cupcakes, gnocchi and Cacio e Pepe shows off Zimmerman’s creativity and attention to detail. Appetizers, charcuterie and few desserts round out the menu which can be paired with any of Merkin Vineyards Four 8 Wineworks and Caduceus wines along with their mead, cider and Puscifer sparkling wine. To see what I’ve tasted on several visits to Merkin Vineyards Old Town check out my Instagram feed.

Merkin Vineyards is located at 7133 E. Stetson Dr. Scottsdale 85251. Hours are Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For more information and to see the menu check out  merkinoldtownscottsdale.com.

Hot Dog Days starts Friday September 3rd at Joe’s Farm Grill

Labor Day weekend we un-offically say “good bye” to summer and “hello” to a month long of gourmet hot dogs and sausages at Gilbert’s Joe’s Farm Grill. From September 3rd til October 3rd celebrate the return of Hot Dog Days with six delicious specially created all-beef, natural cased premium hot dogs & sausages from Phoenix’s Schreiner’s Fine Sausages.

Each Hot Dog Days special come with a side of French fries or another side from the menu. Each hot dog is $12 or a combination of 2 for $18 and a special Peach Melba Shake to wash it down is only $5.50.

Hot Dogs Days gourmet dogs

The six hot dogs are….

Cheddar Coney Dog — A grilled hot dog smothered with mild homemade Michigan Coney sauce and yellow mustard then topped by a quarter-pound mountain of finely shredded Tillamook cheddar cheese; served with diced onions on the side.

Danger Dog — A jalapeno-stuffed, bacon-wrapped fried hot dog with atomic horseradish, honey mustard, homemade sweet-hot pepper relish and a heap of finely shredded ghost pepper jack cheese; served with extra relish on the side.

Carolina Blue Dog — A grilled dog topped with a generous portion of Joe’s signature BBQ pulled pork, tangy blue cheese crumbles, and hand-cut sweet coleslaw then drizzled with Joe’s Real BBQ sauce and homemade coleslaw dressing; served with extra Joe’s Real BBQ sauce on the side.

Sonoran Dog — A long-time Joe’s Farm Grill favorite, this (slightly) new and improved recipe features a jalapeno-stuffed, bacon-wrapped fried hot dog with homemade Farm beans, queso de cotija, pico de gallo and finished yellow mustard and a sour cream-mayo drizzle; served with whole fried peppers on the side.

Big Fat Greek Dog — Schreiner’s smoked Greek-seasoned pork sausage topped with cucumber tzatziki sauce, drizzled with yellow mustard, and then piled high with Joe’s Greek fries (featuring garlic sauce, feta, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and fresh herbs); served with extra sauce on the side.

Italian Sausage Dog — A fresh sweet Italian link baked into Joe’s fresh-made focaccia dough with pepperoni, marinara, and creamy brick and pecorino-Romano cheeses, then topped with sautéed onions and peppers; served with side of mild Giardiniera (*This hot dog requires a slow hand but is worth the wait! Please allow for slightly longer service time.).

Carcara Restaurant to offer Native American & Sonoran inspired cuisine

Finishing touches are being put on the yearlong renovation at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown and will culminate with the opening of its new signature restaurant in September, Carcara. Executive Chef Chaz Frankefield has been tapped to oversee the new restaurant that will offer locally sourced ingredients for its Southwestern inspired menu.

The 7,000 square foot restaurant includes a 2,000 square foot patio that will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and hand crafted cocktails. Chef Frankenfield’s menu will include dishes such as prosciutto wrapped seared sea scallops served alongside Ramona Farms red corn polenta, wilted spinach and tangerine cranberry sauce or beef ribeye with roasted fingerling potatoes, jalapeno cilantro chimichurri, shaved garlic and lemon broccoli.

“We are thrilled to introduce Carcara not only to our local Phoenix community, but also to travelers and guests of Sheraton Phoenix Downtown,” said Frankenfield. “From the modern design incorporating lush greenery and warm earth tones to the Sonoran and Southwestern-inspired menu using locally sourced ingredients, Carcara evokes the heritage and history of the local Phoenix community and welcomes all to immerse themselves in the destination.”

New York based Celano Design Studio designed Carcara with the regions agricultural history including cotton fields and citrus groves as inspiration. A 14-foot tall Chestnut Oak tree grows in the heart of the dining room and offers a 21 foot canopy. Other feature include a fireplace, two fire pits with Cara Cara orange trees lining the patio and three private dining rooms.

To make a reservation at Carcara Restaurant call 602-262-2500.

Eat Up Drive In brings fast casual comfort food to Arcadia Lite

Jocque Concepts recently opened it newest concept, Eat Up Drive In at the busy corner of 40th St & Indian School Rd. The locally-owned company owns The Montauk, Diego Pops and the soon to be re-opened The Hot Chick in downtown Scottsdale. This is their first fast-casual concept that serves up slow cooked fast served comfort food.

Eat Up Drive In offers a small dining room and patio for dining in along with a drive-thru window for pick-up for its individual or family style meals. The menu features dishes such as a Prime Dip Sandwich, Pulled Chicken Grinder (that’s a sub sandwich) and Caesar Wrap. Salads, soups & chili and sides are also on the menu. Six baked potatoes are offered including Vegan Chili, Braised BBQ Short Ribs and Turkey Chili.

Single & Family Meals are popular and include Short Rib Ragu, Wood Grilled Citrus Chicken, Charred Chile Shrimp and more. Each meal comes with two side dishes with patience needed when ordering family meals as they take 25 minutes to prepare. The restaurant uses all natural proteins and supports local vendors including Maya’s Farm and Passport Coffee & Tea.

Currently Eat Up Drive In is open for dinner starting at 4:30 p.m. with lunch service coming soon. For more information, to see the menu and order visit their website. The restaurant is at 4001 E. Indian School Rd. Phoenix 85018.

The Camp Verde Pecan & Wine Festival safely returning next weekend

Festivals and gatherings are returning to social calendars after many had to cancel their 2020 events due to Covid-19. One of those festivals first to return is The Camp Verde Pecan & Wine Festival next weekend April 17th & 18th. The Town of Camp Verde and the Verde Valley Wine Consortium co-host the 20th annual event in downtown Camp Verde from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Saturday and til 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Each day 8-12 wineries will be sampling their wines and pairing them with a variety of pecans. There will also be food trucks, a beer garden, live music, local artists and a competitive pie eating contest. All activities will follow CDC guidelines of social distancing, all areas cleaned and sanitized frequently and recommended mask wearing. Page Springs, Salt Mine Wine, Carlson Creek Vineyards and Winery 101 are a few of the wineries pouring wines at the event.

“We were saddened to have to cancel last year but it was with everyone’s safety and best interests in mind, as this is normally one of the town’s biggest events,” said Michael Marshall, Camp Verde Parks and Recreation Manager. “This annual tradition is a wonderful celebration of two local products of the region and we look forward to its return, with a number of additional safety precautions in mind”.

Entry to the festival is free and for all ages. Those 21 and older can pay $20 for six tasting tickets and a commemorative glass. Additional tickets can be purchased. For more information visit these websites http://www.cvaz.com and http://verdevalleywine.org

Photo credit: Jenelle Bonifeld & Arizona Wine Guide

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Vietnamese style coffee available at Pair Cup Works

Good news for coffee lovers, Pair Coffee & Tea inside Cider Corps is offering Vietnamese style coffee through April. The dark and concentrated coffee is typically served hot, Pair’s version can be served iced and vegan. The drink is based on a Vietnamese coffee but uses Pair’s own espresso, condensed coconut milk and oat milk instead of the traditional blend of robusta and chickory. $5.50 gets you a cup that can be made with dairy or vegan milks.

Sphinx Date Co. partners with Rhiba Farms for produce

Old Town Scottsdale’s Sphinx Date Co. is your pick-up spot for fresh non-GMO and pesticide free produce from the San Tan Valley farm. Customers can order a box of produce by the close of business every Monday for pick-up Wednesday – Saturday, no weekly commitment or subscription necessary. Each box feeds about 4 people and is $36 each. To order head to the farm’s website and more info can be found at Sphinx’s website.

DT Mesa Farmer’s Market moves to a new location.

The popular Saturday morning market has moved to the Mesa Arts Center at 1 E. Main St. It goes from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. and a list of vendors can be found here.

Jax Vineyards featured at Keeler’s Neighborhood Steakhouse

The Carefree restaurant will be hosting a five -course wine dinner on Wednesday March 24th. Chef Anthony Apolinar will pair his specially created dishes with wine from Napa & Sonoma Valley. Jax Vineyards CEO and President Dan Parrott will be on hand to speak about the wines, winery and more. Seating is limited and is $95++ per person and reservations can be made by calling 602-374-4784.

Good news as Crumbl Cookies opens newest location in Mesa today

Gourmet cookies are now available starting today at 1911 E. Brown in the Mesa Groves neighborhood. Today only get each customer get 1 free cookie at the new location.

 

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria launches new Spring menu

The new menu at the 7 Arizona locations celebrates the Garden of Flavors thru June 7th. Seasonal ingredients include artichokes, asparagus, sweet peaches and more. Dishes like the Panzanella Salad, Bacon & Asparagus Pizza go well with new cocktails such as the Kentucky Peach Mule & Peach Bellini. A new cauliflower crust pizza has been added as has desserts Banana Cream Cheese Cake and Caramel Coconut Cheesecake.

Found:RE Hotel celebrates Women in Wine

The downtown Phoenix hotel and signature restaurant Match Market & Bar feature wines made by women all month long in honor of International Women’s Day Monday March 8th. 18 wines from around the world are featured with a portion of sales donated to Hope Women’s Center. Many of the wines feature also donate to women’s causes around the world.

Local First Arizona film series highlights local food economy & community

March 9th is the first of a monthly series of its Good Food Film Series featuring 12 independent short films. Each film discusses the challenges the farm and food community faces over the next year. The first film titled “The State of Arizona Farmland” about the owners of Blue Sky Farms. April 13th will be “Are Edible Landscapes and Trees the answer to Arizona’s Rising Climate Crisis?” and May 11th brings “The Business of Farm to Food Banks“.

A Su Salud virtual kitchen offers healthy Mexican food.

Pita Jungle has jumped into the virtual kitchen game with A Su Salud at its Tempe location. Meaning “to your health” A Su Salud offers Mexican wood fired specialties available for pick-up or delivery from DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grub Hub and Postmates. Bowls, burritos, salads, tacos and fajitas are on the menu along with healthy kid options and Pita Jungle desserts.

All-you-can-eat tacos at Jalapeno Inferno

Every Taco Tuesday customers visiting the Pinnacle Peak, DC Ranch and Park West restaurants can get as many tacos as you can eat for $10.99. The special price is for dine-in only.

 

 

Visit Mesa launches Fresh Foodie Trail Geotour for socially distanced fun

Visit Mesa launched an exciting socially distant way for foodies and families to learn about the East Valley’s agrotourism community. The popular activity, Geocaching is part scavenger hunt part education and the new Fresh Foodie Trail Geotour will take you to 8 local farms, orchards and businesses. At each location geocachers will collect limited edition stickers and find all 10 geocaches for Fresh Foodie Trail Geotour recipes, a Visit Mesa branded wooden spoon and a digital souvenir from www.geocaching.com

Geo Tour stops include Jalapeno Bucks BBQ, Agritopia, Schnepf Farms, Queen Creek Olive Mill and other area farms.

Want to take a few days to enjoy your geotour, consider the Escape to Mesa vacation package before it ends. The promotion is open to Arizona residents who book a 2 night stay at a Mesa hotel. The package includes $150 in incentives and runs through the end of December. Visit http://www.escapetomesa.com/ for more information.

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Mediterra Bakehouse seasonal breads available at farmers markets

Handmade breads made with grains grown on their farm in Coolidge are available in 4 seasonal varieties through December. Pumpkin Boule, Fig & Anise, Chocolate Cherry Levain & Christmas Stollen can be found 4 days a week around phoenix at local farmers markets.

Romeo’s Euro Cafe hosts 3rd Tuesday dinner

The popular downtown Gilbert restaurant offers a 3 course dinner with 3 wine pairings for its monthly dinner. Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. and is $39++ per person. Reservations can be made by calling 480-962-4224 or email

Grgich Hills wine dinner at Tommy V’s Urban Kitchen

The famed Napa Valley winery will have its wines featured with at 5-course dinner in downtown Scottsdale. The Thursday November 19th dinner will be have socially distanced tables of no more than 8 people. $90 ++ per person, to view the menu and make a reservation head to http://tommyvscottsdale.com/ .

Tropical Smoothie Cafe 1st to use edible straws

All 9 Phoenix area locations are serving their seasonal Cranberry Truffle and Cranberry Crisp smoothies with a strawberry flavored edible straw. Each SORBOS individually packed straw stays firm for 40 minutes and is biodegradable.

Winning burger & shake now available at Aioli Gourmet Burgers

The contest had lots of recipes entered but only one could win each category. The FRC burger from Francis Campos of BASIS Phoenix H.S. and The Boo Shake by Kaitlynn and Mackenzie from Adobe Mountain H.S. are now available at the burger shops in Litchfield Park and 2 in Phoenix. 10% of all burgers sold are being donated to Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Centers