Castle Hot Springs re-opens with Harvest, serving crop driven cuisine

Arizona’s first luxury resort, Castle Hot Springs has re-opened for its first full season. Originally opened in 1896, the 210 acre property will be opened from October til late June offering guests the opportunity to detach from the digital world while rejuvenating and healing in the resorts 120 degrees thermal hot springs. Hiking, horseback riding, foraging and star gazing are a few of the many activities guests can enjoy at the iconic resort and its surrounding desert and mountains.

Harvest, Castle Hot Springs signature restaurant

Castle Hot Springs is home to Harvest, the signature restaurant and farm offering crop driven cuisine. Executive chef Christopher Brugman’s menu rotates daily based on what’s available at the resorts one acre farm. The farm and greenhouse are overseen by resident agronomist Ian Berger. He oversees over 150 fruits and vegetables native to the desert along with the properties groves that are home to 36 types of citrus trees. Included in the farm are over 35 varieties of heirloom tomatoes.

Working together Brugman and Berger choose ripe fruit and vegetables for each days menu. What they don’t grow they  get from local vendors to fill in the gaps. Harvest also adheres to zero waste and sustainable guidelines. Guests can participate in daily foraging and learn about “flavor farming” that covers the sweet and savory tastes through a foods color. Dishes such as Coconut Carrot Bisque and Tandoori Octopus Grilled over Juniper Wood have been on the menu. The culinary team also has an in-house pickling program and creates concoctions such as Brugman’s Onion Ash.

Food & Beverage Manager and Sommelier Thomas Burris has created a beverage program to complement Brugman’s cuisine. Signature cocktails such as the Trade Secret and Lady & The Tramp also use ingredients sourced from the property. Trade Secret is made with rosemary infused vodka, Elderflower and pink grapefruit. The savory Lady & The Tramp combine Pecorino Romano infused vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup and fresh basil leaves. Castle Springs Lithium Lager is made exclusively for Harvest and uses natural elements of the resorts hot springs.

The resort is at 5050 E. Castle Hot Springs Rd. Castle Hot Springs AZ. 85342. For more information and to make a reservation head to their website.

New menu and new look as a re-vamped Zuzu re-opens

Hotel Valley Ho’s Zuzu is back open after getting a new look and menu. Hotel guests and locals will notice the restaurant’s new mid-century modern look is in-line with the hotels 1950’s style. Designed by Mendil + Meyer Design Studio, new features include a Zuzu neon sign, 1950’s inspired wood screens and new lighting. The lounge and dining room has been combined for welcoming space and the hotel’s signature circle design is noticeable.

“We are beyond excited to re-introduce ZuZu, not only to our wonderful Scottsdale community, but also to the guests of Hotel Valley Ho,” said Executive Chef Russell LaCasce. “Our new menu is meant to surprise and delight, while still satisfying those classic cravings.”

look
Crispy Pork Shank. All photos courtesy of Kristin Heggli at Hotel Valley Ho

Look at the new menu

LaCasce’s new menu features smaller, shareable plates with a few guests’ favorite dishes remaining. Many of the menu’s ingredients come from the restaurant’s new 240 foot herb and vegetable garden. Zuzu continues to work with local farmers and purveyors including Pinnacle Farms, Schreiner’s Fine Sausage and Hickman’s Family Farms.

New signature dishes include Oxtail Pappardelle with foie gras & Parmesan and Crispy Pork Shank with sour apple molasses glaze, cucumber tarragon yogurt and pita. Two new monthly revolving dishes will be available….. Cut of the Moment will be a savory dish with a unique plating design and Farmer’s Plate will offer seasonal vegetables making for a great vegetarian meal. Those looking for a unique dining experience can let LaCasce Take the Wheel. For $75 per person chef will create a hand selected meal. Weekend brunchers will notice a few changes and brunch is now served all day during the week.

Zuzu Chocolate Bar

Save room for dessert as Zuzu’s famous Show Stopper Shake is still available along with new desserts. Le Cordon Bleu trained Pastry Chef Clarissa Robinson brings her chocolate expertise to new desserts Zuzu Chocolate Bar, a Donut Sundae and Buttermilk Pie. Adults can add their favorite spirit to dessert to spike it up.

Private dining, wine room and more

Speaking of spirits new cocktails have been added including the Zuzu Mango Tango along with a new wine room. The new “Vine Vault” house wines from around the world. “The Rosie Room” is a new hidden private dining room named for Rosalyn “Rosie” Bennett Lyon, the matriarch of the family that owns the hotel. Her grandchildren called Rosie “Zuzu” and the inspiration for the restaurant comes from her cooking and warm hospitality.

I’ll be visiting Zuzu next week to check out the new menu and more. Be sure to follow me on Instagram @SandyWass for pictures.

Zuzu and Hotel Valley Ho is at 6850 E. Main St. Scottsdale 85251.

Arizona Good Food Expo continues to promote locally sourced foods

Arizona Farmer + Chef Connection is now the Arizona Good Food Expo and returns for its 10th year promoting Arizona sourced foods. This years event will be Monday August 26th at the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort. The event brings Arizona farmers and food & beverage producers together under one roof to meet face to face with buyers. The event from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. is followed by a reception at the resorts signature restaurant, A Different Pointe of View.

“Changing the name to Arizona Good Food Expo better reflects the mission behind the event, to showcase Arizona’s best local food and build lasting relationships between food producers and wholesale buyers, but is more inclusive of the state’s broad range of food buyers who aren’t necessarily chefs,” says Emily Bell, Good Food Programs Manager at Local First Arizona Foundation.

Speakers at Arizona Good Food Expo

Over 75 vendors will provide samples and information for local restaurants, resorts and retail buyers. James Beard award-winner and “vegetable whisperer” Charleen Badman owner and chef of FnB will deliver the keynote speech. Other speakers include chefs Tamara Stanger of Tempe’s Cotton & Copper, Stephen Jones of the larder + delta and Shanti Ride, owner of Whipstone Farm.

“The Arizona Good Food Expo is the ideal setting to ensure the freshest Arizona-grown foods are being served on your plate – whether you shop at the grocery store, are eating at the school cafeteria, or dining out,” says Kimber Lanning, Founder of Local First Arizona Foundation, “The Expo makes it easier for our great chefs and food buyers to source local ingredients and be leaders in Arizona’s food scene. Sourcing Arizona’s homegrown foods is essential to build a healthier Arizona, and the relationships made at the Expo will leverage our agricultural bounty for the benefit of all.”

Tickets for the event are $25 for all day access and $99 for vendor packages. Vendor packages include 2 all day passes, reserved parking, table space and a listing in post event follow up. The deadline to purchase Vendor Packages is August 22nd. Information and purchasing tickets can be found at their website. The Pointe at Tapatio Cliffs Resort is at 11111 N. 7th St. Phoenix 85020.

 

Crow’s Dairy and Deep Sky Vineyard tasting at Farmboy Market

Farmboy Market, Meats and Sandwiches will be hosting a “Meet the Producers” tasting Thursday July 18th at their shop. The tasting will pair wines from Deep Sky Vineyard with cheeses from Crow’s Dairy along with meats, grains and produce.

Deep Sky Vineyard is located in Elgin and specializes in Malbec and Rhone varietals. Crow’s Dairy specializes in goat cheese at their dairy in Buckeye.

The casual tasting will include a reception followed by three courses with owners Wendell Crow of Crow’s Dairy and Kim & Phil Asmundson of Deep Sky Vineyard.

The menu of pairings is as follows.

Reception: Chevre & 2016 Nebula (Rosé) Crooked Sky Farms Watermelon and  Feta Cheese with Fresh Mint

1st Tasting: Chevre & 2015 Aurora Viogner 2017 Crooked Sky Farms Sweet Corn and Crow’s Dairy Cotija Cheese Dip with Sourdough Crostini

2nd Tasting: 2015 Supernova Mourvedre (Red) with Goat Herbed Chevre and Shaved AZ Grass Raised Pecan-Smoked Sirloin with Hayden Mills Blue Beard Flour Crackers

3rd Tasting: 2015 Eclipse Malbec-Grenache (Red) and Goat Quark Cheesecake with Seasonal Fruit Topping.

The tasting will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and tickets are $45 per person and can be purchased at Eventbrite.

Farmboy Market, Meats and Sandwiches is at 1075 W. Queen Creek Rd. #1 Chandler 85248.

6th annual Tilted Earth Music & Wine Festival returns to Verde Valley

To celebrate the Summer Solstice, Page Springs Cellars will host the 6th Annual Tilted Earth Music & Wine Festival. The evening of Friday June 21st will bring a wine dinner & Saturday 22nd will offer guests the music festival. The events will benefit of the Arizona Culinary Institute of Scottsdale and local Verde Valley charities.

Page Springs founder and winemaker at Page Springs Cellars says of the festival “Tilted strives to accomplish these goals by tilling the “soils” on and around the Summer Solstice each year by producing the Tilted Earth Festival. The “seeds” will be sown in this soil by the hands of attending artisans from the fields of craft drink, food, music and fine arts. After planting, the fields will be “watered” by the local community – Arizonans from far-and-wide – and eventually people from all over the country and world. The cultural and economic fruit grown and harvested from this effort will strengthen our people, our families, our community and our economy.

The Henry Schuerman Commemorative Wine Dinner

Five chefs will prepare a five course dinner honoring the father of Verde Valley winemaking, Henry Schuerman. The dinner will be paired with wines from local wineries. The chef’s will draw inspiration from Schuerman’s family vintage cookbook from the late 1800’s. Schuerman’s descendants will be on hand to speak about the families winemaking history.

The dinner will be under the stars on Page Springs outdoor deck and will start at 7 p.m. Tickets will be $105+ and proceeds will benefit student scholarships.

Music at Tilted Earth

Saturday evening brings a line-up of 4 bands, a wine garden, a food truck, games, massage and a silent auction. The doors open up at 5:30 with Ill Ego taking the stage followed by House of Stairs, Joe Novelli & The CloudWalls and Gerado Continos and The Habaneros. Festival goers are invited to bring blankets and chairs but no pets.

Tickets for the rain or shine festival are $65 on-line and $75 at the door. Tickets include a free parking (at DA Ranch) and a shuttle to Page Springs, water and a stemless wine glass. To purchase tickets for one or both events head to the festivals website.

Silent auction items include wine pairing dinner, original artwork, Verde Valley railroad rides and signed bottles of wine.

Page Springs Cellars Tasting Room & Bistro will be open both days but will close at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Page Spring Cellars is at 1500 N Page Springs Rd. Cornville 86325.

 

 

 

Limited seating for the return of Taste of Quiessence

The award-winning farm to table restaurant Quiessence at The Farm is bringing back its popular Taste of Quiessence dinner experience. As with previous years there is limited seating for the dinners created by chef Dustin Christofolo. The twelve dinners will feature dishes prepared with ingredients from The Soil & Seed Garden at The Farm along with ingredients from local vendors.

12 diners per evening will enjoy the special dinners offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays June 4th – 27th. The three course dinners will change weekly based on ingredients available in the farm. An amuse bosche may be prepared from chef Christofolo. Possible dishes may be…..

limited seating
Cucumber soup. All photos courtesy of Quiessence at The Farm

Chilled Armenian Cucumber Soup with Soil & Seed Garden Tomatoes, Cucumber Ribbons, Grilled Melon Relish, Crème Fraiche, Frito Misto Pineapple Mint.

Hand crafted Potato Gnocchi with Zucchini, Oven Dried Tomatoes, Parisian Carrots, Leeks, Mint.

As one of the more popular Phoenix restaurants and because of the limited seating guests wanting the Taste of Quiessence dinner must call 602-276-0601 and mention the dinner. The three course dinner is $45 per person plus tax and tip. The in-house sommelier will pair your dinner with wine for an additional $20.

Shortly after the conclusion of the Taste of Quiessence the restaurant will close for 5 weeks in July & August for research and development.

Quiessence at The Farm is at 6106 S. 32nd St. Phoenix 85042.

Chef + Farmers Market series returns to Hotel Valley Ho

Don’t let this weeks cooler than normal temperatures fool you, the triple digits are coming. When the heat returns many of the Phoenix area farmers markets take the summer off but not at Hotel Valley Ho. Summer is when their Chef + Farmers Market returns indoors at their Sands indoor venue.

Saturday’s from June 22nd – July 13th from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. guests can enjoy tastes from local chefs, purchase fresh produce and more goodies from local purveyors. While shopping and tasting enjoy live music and sip on Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s or taste wine and spirits. Valley Ho’s chef Russell Lacasce will provide the tasty bites along with Matt Taylor of Mora Italian and Rene Andrade of Ghost Ranch.

Save room to taste the milkshakes made by contestants of the Battle Freak Shake contest to see who makes the best “Show Stopper” Shake.  The winning shake  will be featured in Augustin Zuzu. All attendees will receive a voucher for 25% off a summer visit to Zuzu.

Each weeks Chef + Farmers Market will have a theme from food to music, here is the schedule.

June 22nd- South of the Border

June 29th- Bada Boom

July 6th- Grillin ‘n’ Chillin

July 13th – Sweet Treats

Hotel Valley Ho is at 6850 E. Main St. Scottsdale 85251.

“Hot Brand” awarded to Aridus Wine Co. by Wine Business Monthly

Willcox’s Aridus Wine Company received national recognition in February when Wine Business Monthly named it a “Hot Brand”. The annual list is compiled with wineries, growers, vintners and wines that are making a statement in the wine industry.

“We are enormously honored and thrilled,” said founder/proprietor Scott Dahmer, “to be recognized by this honor, which comes on a national scale and in a field of very distinguished other contenders.”

Wine Business Monthly singled out the 2015 Syrah as part of the profile which was made by winemaker Lisa Strid. The syrah comes from several local vineyards and is usually the first reds to be harvested each year. Strid likes to pioneer new varietals to the area and likes working with the challenging climate of the region.

Part of consideration for the “Hot Brand” award was the growth of the winery and its commitment to offer all “estate sourced” wines. The high elevation winery and vineyards is in Chiricahua Hills appellation of southeastern Arizona.

Hot Brand choice

Erin Kirschenmann, Wine Business Monthly editor, explains that “every year,
when Wine Business Monthly “Our goal is to always represent the American wine industry. Often, that means discovering a new winery in an established region while also paying homage to the stalwarts who continue to move the industry forward. It means we look at wineries in non-West Coast, “traditional” winemaking states, or those who might be bucking a trend or trying new techniques.”

The winery was founded in 2012 as a custom crush facility for the regions wineries in what was an old apple warehouse. Aridus is Latin for “dry or arid”  which is what the terroir offers, good for winemaking.

The Aridus Tasting room in Willcox is at 145 N. Railview Ave. the winery is nearby. The old town Scottsdale tasting room is at 7173 E. Main St. 85251. For more information visit their website.

Merkin Vineyards opens its wine bar in downtown Scottsdale

Shelves are stocked, menus have been printed and Merkin Vineyards have opened their wine bar in downtown Scottsdale. The Jerome based winery flipped the “Open” sign Thursday March 14th as the bureaucracy paperwork was complete.

Wines from Merkin Vineyards and Caduceus Cellars will be poured their 7 days week. The location has a rich history in the Scottsdale wine community as the tasting room is housed in what was the wine eccentric restaurant FnB and most recently cocktail bar Counter Intuitive.

Merkin Vineyards wines

You’ll find mostly Spanish and Italian varietals poured at the wine bar from high elevation vineyards. Grapes for Merkin and Caduceus wines are grown at the wineries estate vineyards in Verde Valley and Willcox. The vineyards encompass 110 acres and the wines are made by MJ & Jen Keenan, Tim White and Erin Center. All wines are sustainably made.

A small menu of fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses are available. The fruits and vegetables are grown at the wineries Verde Valley greenhouse, gardens and orchards. Other Arizona farmers provide for what they don’t grow.

Merkin Vineyards Old Town Scottsdale is open Sunday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. It’ s at 7133 E. Stetson Dr. Scottsdale 85251 and you can visit their website for more information.

Phoenix Public Market celebrates 14th anniversary of it’s Open Air Market

Farmer’s markets have become very popular around Phoenix the last few years. It’s hard to not to find a farmer’s market in each of the valley’s communities. One of the longest running farmer’s markets is the Open Air Market at The Phoenix Public Market in downtown Phoenix. The Open Air Market happens every Saturday morning and on Saturday February 16th it will celebrate its 14th anniversary.

All photos courtesy of Phoenix Public Market

Drop by between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. to find local vendors offering seasonal fresh produce, foods and healthy products. Many of the vendors have been there from the beginning.

For the celebration there will be live music, a special anniversary raffle, giveaways and more. Kids can have their face painted, participate in a scavenger hunt and make kids crafts.

Events include…

9 a.m. Native Seed/ SEARCH Workshop: Spring Gardening in the Desert. 10 a.m Yoga with Sutra Studios. 11 a.m. A cooking demonstration

The Open Air Market is a non-profit organization that creates a sense of community by supporting small farmers and business’s. They help strengthen the sustainable food systems and make healthy products available in the local community.

They’ve awarded vendor scholarships four times a year and work as a small business incubator. They’ve helped to support over a dozen local farms over the years.

The Market is at 721 N. Central Ave. (McKinley & Central) Phoenix 85004. For more information visit their website.