Top Chef John Tesar coming to 2020 Nirvana Food & Wine Festival

Update: Rescheduled to October. Purchased tickets good then, details to come.

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa has announced the dates and schedule of events for the fourth annual Nirvana Food & Wine Festival. April 16th -19th Chef and Nirvana host Beau MacMillan welcomes celebrity chef’s Robert Irvine, Scott Contant and Bravo Network’s “Top Chef” winner John Tesar. Celebrities including Rob Riggle and The Bella Twins and other chefs will be hosting and having fun with guests along with chefs and mixologists from around Arizona.

“This event is one that is so near and dear to my heart,” said MacMillan. “Having the opportunity to celebrate outstanding culinary talent, mixology, music and more alongside some of my closest friends and fellow foodies is a true privilege. Nirvana really offers something for everyone and that’s a big part of what makes the festival such a special experience.”

The annual festival celebrates food, wine, music and spirits in a most luxurious resort in the valley and has become a very popular festival in only three years.

Top Chef

Tickets for the five headlining events are available with additional events and after parties still may be added to the weekend’s festivities.

Thursday, April 16- Wood, Wine & Wagyu presented by Far Niente 

The 2020 festival kicks off with this ever-popular event, featuring superstar culinary talent from across North America preparing Snake River Farms American Wagyu cooked over open-wood flames while celebrity mixologists craft whisky-based cocktails utilizing Woodford Reserve. Guests will then be invited to take their places at the table for an intimate, family style dinner with wines hand selected by Far Niente. Country music superstars D. Vincent Williams, Dillon Dixon and Joe Diffy will provide musical accompaniment. Tickets start at $350.

Friday, April 17- Flutes & Coops

Experience the ultimate Champagne campaign and fried chicken feast headlined by DJ Miss Mixx, Fosterson and 17 of the Valley’s best chefs preparing their best fried chicken recipes. This indoor/outdoor event will feature full bars and cocktails shaken by some of the Valley’s best mixologists with one chef being crowned king of Flutes & Coops by popular vote. Tickets start at $150.

Saturday, April 18- Tequila & Tortillas

Grab the salt and limes! Held at the iconic Hotel Valley Ho, this year’s Dia de los Muertos-themed Tequila & Tortillas event will feature nearly 20 locally and nationally recognized chefs cooking up the best of the best in southwestern fare. Since no fiesta is complete without tequila, several of the Valley’s top cocktailers will be on-site mixing up delicious tequila-based cocktails.

This year’s event also features a team “taco takedown” competition, tequila luges and a stunning art presentation by the renowned Gennaro Garcia. Tickets start at $125.

Saturday, April 18- Best of the West

The biggest event of the weekend, Best of the West will be hosted by Scott Conant and Tony Abou-Ganim and will offer 20 live-action stations showcasing cuisine from the most talented chefs of the Valley and greater Arizona. Set to the backdrop of the stunning Camelback Mountain, this not-to-miss event will also offer live musical performances from Double D and the Nashville Allstars to close out the night. Tickets start at $175

Sunday, April 19- Rosé Parté  

The star-studded rosé-all-day trend continues with Rosé Parté, co-hosted by Robert Irvine and the Bella Twins. Guests will have the opportunity to mix and mingle with some of the Valley’s top culinary talent as well as taste two-dozen different rosé wines. This brunch-style party will also include craft cocktails, ice carvings, a raw bar and beats by DJ Miss Mixx. Giving new meaning to the term “Sunday Funday,” this is a not-to-miss closing experience. Tickets start at $150.

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale announces 2020 Winemaker Series Dinners

With five weeks left in 2019 restaurants and resorts are looking beyond the holiday season as they plan for 2020. The Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa has announced their monthly Winemaker Dinner Series schedule of featured wineries for the first six months of 2020. The six wineries featured are from premiere California growing regions of Napa Valley, Russian River Valley and Paso Robles.

The popular dinners take place on the 3rd or 4th Thursday of every month beginning at 6:30 p.m. Dinner starts with hors d’oeuvres at a wine reception before the featured wines are paired with a four course dinner.

January 23rd Grgich Hills Winery

Grgich Hills Estate is a winery located in Rutherford, California in the heart of the Napa Valley. The winery changed its name (from Grgich Hills Cellar) in 2006 when it first began producing only “estate grown” wines made from grapes grown exclusively in vineyards owned by the winery.

February 27th Alpha Omega Collective

Alpha Omega, a family-owned boutique winery, features Bordeaux-inspired releases. It began its journey in 2006 being recognized as one of the great wine estates in the world. Founded by Robin and Michelle Baggett, Alpha Omega handcrafts wines from historic vineyards throughout Napa Valley.

March 19th Copper Cane by Joe Wagner

Owned and operated by Joseph Wagner in Napa Valley, Copper Cane Wines & Provisions houses a collection of brands that are crafted to offer a touch of luxury for everyday indulgence.

April 16th ZD

Founded in 1969, ZD Wines is owned and operated by the deLeuze family. Over three generations of the family showcase their passion for wine as ZD has gained the recognition of being one of Napa Valley’s favorite wineries, offering unrivaled world-class wines. The winery is located in Rutherford, a premium Cabernet Sauvignon growing region in the heart of the Napa Valley.

May 21st Silverado Vineyards

In 1981, Ron and Diane Miller established Silverado Vineyards in the heart of the Stags Leap District. They had purchased the vineyard several years earlier from Harry See who identified and propagated a special field selection of Cabernet, which UC Davis has designated as a “Heritage” clone, one of only three Cabernets in California to be given this distinction.

June 25th JUSTIN Winery

World-class wines from the heart of California. JUSTIN specializes in Bordeaux-style varieties, combined with traditional winemaking practices.

July 23rd La Crema Winery

Located in the Russian River Valley and established in 1979, the winery specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from cool-climate vineyards throughout California. La Crema Winery is part of Sonoma-based Jackson Family Estates, owned by Laura Jackson-Giron and her sister Jennifer Jackson.

Seats are limited for each epicurean experience and cost $115++ with reservations being made by calling the Hyatt Regency at 444-1234 x 8650. “Take Home” wines can be purchased after the dinner at a discount with repeat guests receive a 10% off the next dinner.

 

What restaurants are open to serve you on Thanksgiving.

Still un-decided if you want to make Thanksgiving dinner or holding out for that one special invite? If the answer is “no” but you’re still looking to celebrate with turkey and all the fixings and wondering what restaurants are open on Thursday November 28th, wonder no more.

Liberty Station American Tavern & Smokehouse- Both Scottsdale locations are open serving a 3-course dinner for $32 per person and $16 per child 12 and under. Reservations for can be made online at www.libertystationtavern.com or by calling (480) 278-7044 for seating at the DC Ranch location or (480) 595-9930 for seating at the Terravita location.

Keeler’s Neighborhood Steakhouse- From 12 noon- 7p.m. join this north Scottsdale steakhouse for 3- course a la carte menu of traditional holiday favorites. The three-course menu is $55 per person or individual pricing is available per course — 1st course is $10, 2nd course is $39, and 3rd course is $10. A turkey dinner for children ages 12 and younger is available for $25 per child. Reservations can be made online at www.keelerssteakhouse.com or by calling (602) 374-4784.

Luci’s Healthy Marketplace will be open from 6 a.m. – 1 p.m. for your morning coffee, breakfast and last minute needs. Luci’s is at 1590 E Bethany Home Rd. Phoenix.

Dave and Busters at Tempe Marketplace opens at 4 p.m. til 12 a.m. and will offer Game Day specials.

Agave del Scottsdale in Scottsdale is offering a Mexican inspired 3 -course menu for $55. To see the offerings and make reservations head to https://agavedelscottsdale.com/

Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room and Osteria- Up in Cottonwood check out a one plate Thanksgiving dinner with a Merkin’s twist from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. http://merkinvineyardsosteria.com.

Voila French Bistro is doing special Thanksgiving Brunch from 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Reservations are required. The three-course menu is $49 per person. Kid’s, 12 and under $20. www.voilafrenchbistro.com

Modern Oysterbar Chophouse is taking reservations for its traditional turkey dinner will offer a special menu crafted by Executive Chef Mike Bouwens from 1 to 8 p.m. The regular menu will also be available that day. http://modernoysterbarchophouse.com/

Fired Pie’s Tanger Outlet and Arrowhead location will open at 6 p.m. for hungry shoppers getting a head start for Black Friday.

The Keg Steakhouse & Bar at Tempe Marketplace and Desert Ridge Marketplace will be open 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. offering a 3 course dinner for $30.

Lucille’s BBQ at Tempe Marketplace has a Thanksgiving menu and limited regular menu from 11 a.m – 8 p.m.

The Hotel Valley Ho has a Thanksgiving Buffet from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. in Sands for $69. Zuzu is serving buffet dinner from 4 – 9 p.m. for $52 – $72 depending on entree selection. Children 12 & under can eat for $22 at either buffet. Reservations can be made at https://www.hotelvalleyho.com/hotel/hotel-events/thanksgiving

Mountain Shadows Resort- Hearth ’61 is serving a seasonal brunch menu and special Thanksgiving dinner menu from 11:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Visit https://www.mountainshadows.com/resort/events/thanksgiving to make reservations.

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain has a generous buffet in the Views Ballroom from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. for $105 ++. The resort’s signature restaurant Elements offer s 4-course prie-fixe menu for $115++. Kids 12 & under can eat at either for $35. Reservations can be made at http://www.sanctuaryaz.com/

Match Restaurant & Lounge serves a chef prepared feast from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. and includes turkey and all the fixins for $29 ++, $12 for children ages 9-12 and $7 for children 6-8. http://www.matchphx.com/

 

 

CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa offers guests and locals culinary delights

In the northern part of the “Valley of the Sun” sits the village of Carefree, home to CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa. The AAA Four Diamond award resort offers guests and locals the opportunity to relax and rejuvenate from everyday life. Whether you prefer to pamper yourself at the spa, relieve stress through art or spirituality or tempt your palate with sips and bites from the resorts culinary team the resort has your best interest in mind this holiday season.

Whether you prefer to dine morning, noon or night, the resort’ signature restaurant Terras and Executive Chef Justin Macy offer several unique dining opportunities and events. Holiday dining, learning to cooking something new or visiting with out of town friends on the patio overlooking the Sonoran desert this line-up will keep you and your appetite satisfied.

Holiday Dining

Celebrate the holidays with healthy, yet indulgent culinary creations at Terras. Holiday dinners will celebrate the season’s best flavors with an exclusive prix-fixe menu complete with all the trimmings. Seating’s start at 5:00 p.m. with pricing ranging from $65 per adult and $32 per child.

  • Thanksgiving Dinner – November 28, 2019
  • Christmas Dinner – December 25, 2019
  • New Year’s Eve Celebration Dinner – December 31, 2019
CIVANA Wellness Resort and Spa
All photos courtesy of CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa

Half-Off Happy Hour

The happiest of hours is available daily 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Terras, featuring half off all beer, house wine & well cocktails along with all bar menu bites

Sunday Brunch

Make Terras the new Sunday morning tradition and indulge in a variety of healthy and comfort classics from yogurt parfaits, breakfast goods, savory creations to decadent charcuterie boards and top it off with a glass of champagne.

  • 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • $25 per person

Private Chef’s Table Experience

An intimate four-course dining experience at Terras for three to six people featuring a four-course dinner highlighting the season’s best ingredients and perfectly paired wine. Each night features a different Chef’s choice menu.

  • Available Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
  • $150 per person

Tequila Sunset

Enjoy the epic Carefree sunset nightly on the Terras Terrace with a rainbow Tequila flight and choice of 3 tacos (steak, fish or chicken)

  • Available daily from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m.
  • $20 per person

Bottle & Board

Choose from a variety of Chef Justin Macy’s featured charcuterie boards, along with a bottle of vino for a perfect shareable evening at the Terras Lounge.

  • Available daily from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m.
  • $25 per person

CIVANA Culinary School

The CIVANA Culinary team spotlights tips and tricks to create health-conscious, delicious recipes. Choose from a variety of classes available to resort guests and the public.

  • Sustainable Juicing Class
  • Shake and Stir Cocktail Class
  • Soulful Soups
  • Bake Shop 101
  • Vines to Wines
  • Culinary Clinic

To make reservations for holiday dining & classes, spa & wellness packages and for staying at CIVANA visit their website.

CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa is at 37220 Mule Train Rd. Carefree 85377. 480-653-9000

Chef Samantha Sanz joins Ghost Ranch for Guest Chef Series dinner

Tempe’s Ghost Ranch restaurant is launching a monthly Guest Chef Series starting Wednesday November 13th. Each month a local chef will join chefs Rene Andrade and Roberto Centeno for a specially created menu. Launching the dinner series will be Chef Samantha Sanz of Talavera Restaurant at The Four Seasons Scottsdale.

The five-course dinner will be inspired by where the three chefs hail from…..Nogales. Flavors of their hometown will be on display for this special dinner. Each course is paired with a beverage.

First Course – Cured Salmon, Green chiltepin aguachile tostada, radish salad and pickled avocado mousse. Paired with: Mohua Sauvignon Blanc

Second Course – Mesquite charred local squash and sweet potato, grapes, mint, crow’s dairy feta, peanut mole, tamarind and chiltepin candy crunch. Paired with: Tamarind piloncillo old fashioned

Third Course – Steamed red chile taquitos, duck confit potatoes, pickled farmer’s market veggies and burnt salsa. Paired with: Pacifico Michelada

Fourth Course – Grilled nopal, adobo flank steak, fresh ranchero cheese, charred pineapple pico de gallo, crispy beans, fried scallions, tomatillo and avocado salsa. Paired With: Nogales Sangria

Fifth Course – Dulce de leche coyota. Paired with: Spiced Horchata

Space is limited and tickets are $75 per person. Tickets to join Chef Samantha Sanz can be purchased here.

Ghost Ranch is at 1006 E. Warner Rd. in Tempe.

 

Celebrity chef Aaron Sanchez to appear at Sanctuary on Camelback

When Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa resumes its Lunch & Learn series on Sunday November 17th their doing with a celebrity chef. The resorts own celebrity chef Beau McMillan will welcome his friend Aaron Sanchez for the interactive culinary demonstration. Sanchez is co-host of the Food Network’s “Chopped” and a judge and co-host of Fox’s “MasterChef”.

MacMillan and Sanchez will host 125 guests for the 3-course lunch inspired by Sanchez’s latest best-selling memoir, “Where I Came From: Life Lessons from a Latino Chef”. Guests will receive a signed copy of the book at the end of the event. In addition to his TV work Sanchez is chef and owner of New Orlean’s popular restaurant “Johnny Sanchez”. He’s considered to be America’s most prominent Latino chef and when he’s not working on TV he’s donating his time and money to worthy causes.

Lunch & Learn with Aaron Sanchez starts at 11 a.m. and tickets are $135 per  person and are all inclusive. Reservations are needed and can be made by calling 855-318-9009. Seats are limited so guests are encouraged to make their reservations early.

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa is at 5700 E. McDonald Dr. Paradise Valley 85253.

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.

Brie and Nikki Bella pair their wines at Hearth ’61 cuisine

Since their not body slamming their opponents in the wrestling ring anymore, twin sisters Brie and Nikki Bella are stomping grapes at their Napa Valley winery, Belle Radici. They launched the winery with partner Ryan Hill in 2017 and is Italian for “beautiful roots”. Belle Radici wines along with wines from Hill’s Hill Family Estate Winery will be poured on Sunday September 15th at Hearth ’61.

The dinner is part of the Mountain Shadows Resort’s Sunday Supper Club with food prepared by Chef Charles Wiley. Chef Wiley will be joined in the kitchen by Elements at Sanctuary executive chef Beau MacMillan. The pair worked together at Element’s when Wiley was executive chef and mentored MacMillan.

They’re collaborating on a four-course menu that includes Black Garlic Braised Beef Cheek and Honey Crisp Apple and Daikon Radish Salad.

The monthly Sunday Supper Club pairs wines or spirits with Chef Wiley’s modern cuisine. Upcoming dinners include Rombauer Vineyards on October 20th and Champagne Henriot on December 8th.

Dinner starts at 6 p.m. and each seat is 474 plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 480-624-5400.

Mountain Shadows Resort is at 5445 E. Lincoln Dr. Paradise Valley 85253.

Roca Patron tequila private label available at Spotted Donkey Cantina

Guests dining at the Spotted Donkey Cantina have the opportunity to taste the world’s rarest tequila, Roca Patron. The Scottsdale restaurant is the only Arizona restaurant with its private label bottles and first in the country to pour what is considered by connoisseurs as an exquisite tequila.

“We are proud to be the privileged Arizona restaurant to offer Roca Patron,” said restaurant manager Ron Pacioni.  “We have more than 300 Roca Patron private label bottles in stock and we are excited to offer our guests something new, rare and exclusive as we constantly evolve our bar creations.”

The tequila can be served side by side with  three other Patron tequilas with the restaurants “Patron Flights”. The flights come served in tequila flutes and with tasting notes for $30.

What makes Roca Patron special

The process to produce Roca Patron is extensive. It begins with a unique “Roca” (meaning rock) called a “tohona” –a giant 2-ton stone that is hand-carved from volcanic rock.  The tohona slowly crushes the cooked agave to break the bonds of fiber and release the rich agave juice.  From here, the juice and the agave fiber are placed together into wooden formation vats for over 72 hours.  It is then distilled in small-capacity copper pot stills. Later the Reposado is rested in bourbon barrels for five months and the Anejo is aged in oak barrels for 14 months. Due to the long process, this tequila has limited bottle production.

Guests can enjoy the tequila with dinner. For a more intimate learning and tasting experience the restaurants private dining room is available to celebrate special occasions.

The Spotted Donkey is located at El Pedregal at The Boulders. 34505 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale 85262.

Celebration of Summer at Four Seasons Resort at Troon North

Whether you want to enjoy a cocktail and light bites or a sit down dinner the Four Seasons Resort at Troon North have something to offer. My last post about Talavera Restaurant dining experiences offers an epicurean adventure to Spain and Latin America. The resorts other restaurants Proof, An American Canteen, Onyx Bar and Lounge as well as Talavera, offer culinary treats created in time for summer.

I had the pleasure of tasting all of the dishes and drinks below. All cocktails below are created by the resorts beverage director in conjunction with the chefs of each establishment. The dishes are light and offer seasonal ingredients and the drinks were refreshing and unique.

Onyx Bar & Lounge at Four Seasons Resort at Troon North

Just of the lobby with a beautiful view to the south you can enjoy these specially created bites and cocktails. Talavera Restaurant Sous Chef Samantha Sanz and her culinary team created the these three dishes.

Salmon Belly Tartare
Chistorra and Peppers Flatbread with charred chistorra, pipperada, caramelized onion and mustard sauce, cotija cheese.
Cheesy Arepa Bite
Salmon Belly Tartare
Illegal Anejo Mezcal Old Fashioned
Negroni Spritz
Ultimate Honeydew

Proof, An American Canteen

Everything served in this roadhouse styled restaurant is from the good ol’ U.S.A. Take a road trip around the country in June, July and August with the specially created dishes and drinks.

Prepared by chefs Dell Morris, Joey Cavaretta and Conrad Butler “Proof Across America”  along with Smokehouse Fridays where entrees are cooked low n slow in their outdoor smoker.

Four seasons Resort at Troon North
Texas BBQ Platter

June- Stone Crab Cake with sea urchin and Key lime remoulade

July– Texas BBQ Plate with beef brisket, smoky beer cheese sausage and house made BBQ sauce. Watermelon Panzanella Salad with Crow’s Dairy goat feta and mint. I love BBQ!

August- Crispy cactus fries with cotija cheese and avocado ranch.

Havasu Heat (with Ixa Tequila, pineapple and charred jalapeño)

Huss Arizona Light Lager

Le Cumbre Elevated IPA

Talavera Restaurant

The Spanish steakhouse serves tapas styled small plates, desserts and cocktails unique to the Spanish culture. More from sous chef Sanz and dessert by Pastry Chef Lance Whipple.

Four Seasons Resort at Troon North
Brazilian Carrot Cake

Pan con Tomate – Noble bread, roasted garlic, heirloom tomato and Spanish olive oil

Queen Creek Olives

Summer Corn and Tomato Tapa with summer corn, heirloom tomato with tomato butter cilantro and charred lime

Charred Tuna with grilled peach and salted marcona almonds

Summer Corn Paella with chorizo Bilbao, prawn, peas, mussels and clams, and chermoula verde

Brazilian Carrot Cake with chocolate brigadeiro icing, and summer carrot purée. This was a personal favorite, like no carrot cake you’ve had before.

Leche Frita with cajeta goat milk caramel and sherry blackberries

Rose Sangria with watermelon, tangerine and strawberry

Tarragon Gin Tonic- Did you see my Instagram video of Beverage Director Laura creating this cocktail?

The Four Seasons Resort at Troon North is at 10600 Crescent Moon Dr. 85262