Laura’s Gourmet Granola celebrates 15 years with continued growth

You’ve probably had Laura’s Gourmet Granola if you’ve been to OverEasy, Scramble or Fox Restaurant Concepts locations. They’re just a few local restaurants who serve the popular healthy mix of nuts, oats, fruits and other ingredients. As the company celebrates its 15th anniversary it expands to accommodate the growing demand. The new west Phoenix location is triple the size of its original production facility.

“Our sole focus always has been to make unparalleled, classic granola using only all natural ingredients and prove that healthy and delicious can coexist in every artisan crafted, gluten-free bite,” says Laura Briscoe, founder and executive chef of Laura’s Gourmet Granola.

The growth is not only due to local restaurants using her granola but consumers supporting it in Arizona markets including AJ’s, Tempe Public Market, Whole Foods and others. Until recently Laura’s Gourmet Granola was only found in Arizona specialty retailers, now it’s available in Texas, Chicago and Wisconsin. In 2012 Laura’s started working with hotels, restaurants and healthcare organizations around the country.

Started in 2004 with the classic Vanilla Almond Crunch, there now six flavors including AppleLicious Crunch and the newest, Sinful Cinnamon Crunch. The seasonal Pumpkin Pecan is available through the end of the year. “We are committed to creating granola flavors that will delight the palate without compromising one’s health or sending one to the dictionary to understand our ingredients. We have done this for 15 years with seven flavors and look forward to more.” says Briscoe.

The granola is low in sugar, has healthy fats and proteins with nut free, vegan, dairy free and gluten free options.

To find Laura’s Gourmet Granola near you visit her website.

 

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.

Hatch Chiles are here and AZ Food Crafters is preparing meals with them

With the arrival of Fall and people on the go AZ Food Crafters offers prepared meals that are fresh and delicious. With the availability of Hatch Chiles the Chandler based food kitchen is offering Green Chile Pork Stew with other meals coming soon. The seasonal pork stew is made with pork shoulder, onions, green Hatch Chiles and homemade green chile sauce. A 16 oz. container is $7.

Other meals soon to be available include…..

New Mexico Red Chile Pork aka Pork Adovada — Slow cooked pork shoulder in New Mexico red chile mixed with seasonings and love. $16 for a 24-ounce container

Red Chile Beef Hand Pies — Red chile-braised grass fed beef in a savory homemade crust. Frozen three-pack, $12

Roasted Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese — Available beginning Friday, September 13, this dish features squash cheese sauce, roasted squash and sage. $10 for a 20-ounce

Shepherds’ Pie Entree – Gluten-free beef, onion, carrot, celery, butternut squash, and sage in butter sauce, topped with mashed gold potatoes. $14 for a 24-ounce container

Chicken Pot Pie – Enjoy chicken pot pie in a variety of ways! The hand pies offer a hand-held version of this comfort food favorite (frozen three-pack, $12) or enjoy a single serving pie-tin with homemade crust topping for $8.

Prepared meals are available until the end of October in limited quantities at their Chandler store or at farmers markets below.

Roadrunner Park Farmers’ Market 3502 E. Cactus Rd., Phoenix. Saturday’s from 7:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. through September; 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. beginning October.

Gilbert Farmers’ Market 222 N. Ash St., Gilbert. Saturday’s from 7:00 a.m.-11a.m. through September; 8:00 a.m.-noon beginning October.

Ahwatukee Farmers’ Market 4700 E. Warner Rd., Phoenix.  Sunday’s from 8:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. through September; 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. beginning October.

AZ Food Crafters 961 W. Ray Rd., #1, Chandler 85225. You can pre-order by calling 480-264-2532. Pick up hours are Tuesday-Friday 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. and Saturday 8:00 a.m.-3:00p.m.

 

 

1/2 off Signature Cuts at Hand Cut Burgers & Chophouse

“Out with the old and in with the new” they say and Hand Cut Burgers & Chophouse is doing just that next week. Tuesday October 1st is not just the start of a new month but the day the restaurant at the Scottsdale Waterfront rolls out its new menu. Most sections of the menu will see new dishes including appetizers, salads, pastas, Signature Cuts (entrees) and dessert. To celebrate the new menu the evening of the 1st give guests the chance to order any of their signature “Cuts” for 1/2 off.

Reservations are highly recommended for dinner that starts at 6 p.m. on this special evening. Select bottles of wine will be 1/2 off during the night as well.

Pesto Pasta. Photo credit Riot Hospitality Group- Aaron Bowman

New dishes

  • Grass Fed Meatballs – Arizona grass fed beef meatballs baked in a red pepper tomato sauce with burrata cheese and served with garlic bread
  • Crab Cakes – Lump crab cakes, fresh herb cucumber salad finished with avocado lime vinaigrette
  • Baby Iceberg Wedge – Baby iceberg, Monforte blue cheese, Campari tomato, pickled shallots, crumbled bacon with a buttermilk basil dressing
  • Vegetable Chopped Salad – Chopped romaine, candied tomato, red pepper, crow’s dairy goat cheese, grilled artichokes and shaved cauliflower in a red wine vinaigrette
  • Beets and Brussels Sprout Salad – Roasted brussels sprouts, golden beets, parmesan cheese, shaved red cabbage, garlic dressing and herb croutons
  • Filet Sandwich – Spice rubbed filet served sliced with melted blue cheese, bacon jam and arugula pesto
  • Bone-in New York Steak –18 ounce Cedar River Farms bone-in, grilled with a side of signature Hand Cut steak sauce
  • Bison Loin – 8 ounce pasture raised bison loin, spice rubbed and served with hibiscus butter sauce
  • Seasonal White Fish – Served sautéed with lemon herb chardonnay sauce
  • Scallops and Mushroom Fettuccine – Roasted wild mushrooms, scallops and egg fettuccine in a white wine mascarpone sauce
  • Crab Mac and Cheese – Lump crab, parmesan cream, cavatappi pasta, chili breadcrumbs and fresh herbs
  • Meatball Mac and Cheese – Cavatappi pasta, red pepper cheese sauce, grass-fed meatballs and crispy basil
  • Fettuccine Genovese– Imported Genovese pesto, parmesan cheese, slow roasted tomato with egg fettuccine
  • Seasonal Cheesecake and Affogato

New cocktails too

Their award-winning cocktail menu will also be adding new cocktails that include two new dessert cocktails. New cocktails include….

  • Barrel Aged Manhattan – Bulleit Bourbon, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth and Angostura Bitters aged in French Oak.  Served up but can be served on the rocks upon request.
  • Scottsdale Sunset – Bombay Sapphire Gin, fresh lemon juice, Simple Syrup, egg white, Angostura Bitters and topped off with a touch of Cabernet.
  • Kir Royale – Poema Cava Brut, blackberry syrup, vanilla Bean, Yucatan Honey Shrub
  • Cold Brew Martini – Fugu Horchata Vodka, Passport Cold Brew Coffee, in house cinnamon syrup and almond milk
  • Key Lime Martini – Smirnoff Vodka, Vanilla Giffard, pineapple syrup, condensed milk, fresh lime juice, finished with a graham cracker rim

Hand Cut Burgers & Chophouse is at 7135 E. Camelback Rd. # 154 Scottsdale 85251. To make a reservation call 480-494-2008.

Weekly dinner series starts at Nico Heirloom Kitchen

Thursday nights will be better than most the next 12 weeks at Nico Heirloom Kitchen. The downtown Gilbert restaurant is launching a weekly dinner series on Thursday, July 25th. The chef driven restaurant will offer 4-courses with drink pairings for $70 which includes tax and gratuity.

Guests can expect dishes that may include hand-rolled pastas, fresh and locally grown produce and family recipes. Below is a preview of the first weeks dinner.

  • Sweet Corn Fritter | Green Chili Aioli |Tomatillo Chow Chow | Ferrari Carano Rose
  • Warm Cauliflower | Crispy Kale | Caper | Golden Raisin | Girard Sauvignon Blanc
  • Porchetta | House Made Sausage | Tomato Barley | Arugula | Jackson Estate Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir
  • Strawberry Olive Oil Cake | Burrata Cream | Picked Rhubarb | Pink Peppercorn | Inniskillin Late Autumn Riesling

To reserve your spot for the weekly dinner series head to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/travel-the-us-nico-heirloom-kitchen-dinner-series-registration-65133691625

Nico Heirloom Kitchen is at 366 N. Gilbert Rd. Gilbert 85234.

Desert Ridge Marketplace to get Arizona’s 4th Thirsty Lion Gastropub

Thirsty Lion Gastropub announced that it has chosen Desert Ridge Marketplace for it’s fourth Phoenix area location. The 6,500 square foot restaurant will open in the fall of 2019 on the southwest side of The District. This will be the tenth restaurant to occupy Desert Ridge Marketplace since it’s $22 million upgrade in 2017.

“Desert Ridge Marketplace continues to establish itself as the place to be in the North Valley, evidence of how we chose where to open the fourth Arizona location,” said John Plew, Owner of Thirsty Lion. “We know our bold flavors and creative cocktail program will resonate with the Desert Ridge community, and we look forward to showing them what Thirsty Lion offers.”

The restaurant will have a larger dining room and outdoor bar with a fire pit. The restaurant has locations at Scottsdale Fashion Square, Tempe Marketplace and Gilbert’s SanTan Village.

Once opened the restaurant will serve eclectic gastropub cuisine with a focus on seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Meats, seafood and fresh fruits and vegetables are all part of the restaurants core menu. Craft beers are served on tap along with uniquely created cocktails and over 20 wines by the glass.

Phoenix based Vestar owns and manages the shopping and entertainment complex. “Thirsty Lion will create an energetic and elevated dining experience at Desert Ridge Marketplace,” said Jenny Cushing, vice president of leasing at Vestar. “With extensive culinary and beverage options, we know Thirsty Lion will truly provide something for everyone in the North Valley.”

The shopping center is on Tatum Blvd. just north of the Loop 101.

Vegan restaurant Casa Terra creates new summer menu

After opening earlier this year Arizona’s only upscale vegan restaurant Casa Terra has revamped the menu in time for summer. Owner and chef Jason Wyrick draws inspiration for the menu for his plant forward cuisine from Mexico and the Mediterranean.

According to Wyrick, “As the temperature rises, our eating habits greatly change. With the summer menu, I wanted to focus not only seasonal ingredients but lighter, incredibly tasty food that would appeal to dining out in the summer in the Valley.”

Vegan pizzas and more

The new menu offers something for everybody including pizzas, small plates, soups, salads and entrees. Thin crust 12 inch pizza’s are made in a wood fired oven and can be made with gluten free dough. New dishes to the summer menu include…..

Pizza

-Margherita: marinara, heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and Aleppo chilis 
-Arizona Sunset: mole amarillo, queso fresco, smoked mushroom, epazote, cilantro, pine nuts
-Sausage and Sage: garlic cheese sauce, sausage, fennel, and crispy sage
-Pesto and Market Veg: preserved lemon pistachio pesto, ricotta, mojo roasted market veggies

Small plates

-Crispy Artichoke Tacos: gluten-free tempura artichokes, harissa, mojo aioli, cabbage, pickled saffron cauliflower & onions ($12)
-Garnachas & Smoked Pulled Porq: sweet potato masa cakes, ancho fig and mezcal salsa, queso fresco, pepitas, smoked porq, pickled onions ($13)
-Trumpet Mushroom ‘Calamari’: gluten-free tempura trumpet mushrooms, chipotle mojo aioli, grilled lemon ($13)
-Cheese Plate: ricotta, mozzeralla, queso fresco, seasonal preserves, harissa, olives, warm flatbread ($16)

House made soups, salads and entrees

-Summer Gazpacho: heirloom tomato and watermelon, ricotta, watermelon pico, and pine nuts ($8)
-Madelyn’s Salad: twisted infusion greens, watermelon, avocado, ricotta, bac’n olive oil, fig balsamic, toasted pine nuts, pepitas ($12)
-Enchiladas Mole: roasted squash & sweet potato, smoked mushrooms, huitlachoche, mole poblano, crema, queso fresco, and pico de gallo ($19)

Dessert and cocktails

Save room for dessert including Cheesecake ($12), a Churro Swirl with Ice Cream of the Moment ($10), or Seasonal Sorbet ($7).

Casa Terra now serves beer, wine and liquor with its vegan menu in mind. A few of the signature cocktails include….

-’84 El Camino: mezcal, grapefruit liqueur, lime
-Paper Cactus: reposado tequila, aperol, averna, lemon
-Seasonal Spiked Sorbet: seasonal fruit, festive garnish, mezcal or spirit of choice.

Casa Terra is at 6835 N. 58th Dr. Glendale 85301.

Mora Italian introduces a new tasty Happy Hour menu

If you haven’t made your way to Mora Italian yet like me, their new happy hour menu might convince you to head there today. Monday – Friday from 4-6 p.m. you can save some dough on pork ribs, veal meatballs, salumi & cheese and more.

For $20 choose from combos including a Rimini pizza or Salumi Board with a bottle of rose or a carafe of an Aperol Spritz.

Italian
Artichoke soup

Cocktails are also included on the new menu including Sangria & Aperol Spritz for $5, an Americano for $7 and more.

Mora Italian new summer dishes

Celebrity chef & restaurateur lends his culinary creativity to Mora Italian and is showcased in three new dishes for summer. Chef Matt Taylor and his team execute the menus in the kitchen. These new dishes are perfect for lighter and cooler summer dining.

Artichoke Soup with truffle, Parmesan bread and pignoli.

10 oz. Prime Niman Ranch NY Strip with charred potato panzanella and grilled ramp vinaigrette.

Roasted Summer Squash with smoked yogurt, Feta and neonata.

10 oz NY Strip

The Phoenix restaurant offers guests a modern osteria experience with Neopolitan pizzas, pasta dishes, satisfying entrees and delicious desserts. Progressive cocktails and a wine list round out the experience.

Mora Italian is at 5651 N. 7th St. Phoenix 85014. (602)795-9943

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.