Peter Kasperski returns to the valley’s dining scene with Character

2020 brought many surprises good and bad to the valley’s dining scene. One of the biggest surprises was the return of restaurateur Peter Kasperski in December. He and valley mixologist Richie Moe III have again joined forces to open Character Distinctive Dining in the Roosevelt Arts District. The two have known each other for over 30 years going back to their days in Chicago when Moe’s father was Kasperski’s mentor.

Moe helped Kasperski open Cowboy Ciao in the 1990s then Kazmierz Wine Bar before they went their separate ways. Moe had gone on to open and run cocktail programs at Citizen Public House, The Gladly and Bourbon and Bones. Kasperski has been lying low the last few years plotting his next move since he closed Cowboy Ciao.

Photo courtesy of Modern Vision Media

Downtown Phoenix’s Character Distinctive Dining is a classic American dinner house with cuisines from around the world made using modern cooking techniques. Kasperski’s love for eclectic wines and Moe’s inventive cocktail list have also made their way downtown from Scottsdale. Some will see similarities with Cowboy Ciao especially the popular dinner events. One of those events is the monthly Somm Showdown with Peter Kasperski and a local wine sommelier go head to head picking the best pairings for a five-course dinner. The first Somm Showdown is Sunday January 24th 2021 with Synergy Fine Wines’ Steve Cannon. Seating is limited to 30 people and dinner is $90 ++ per person.

The pair are also opening Alias, a speakeasy, later this year out back of Character. Three nights a week Moe and Chef Justin “Red” Hauska will create mixology/gastronomy dinners pairing cocktails and food with science and surprises. After dinner starting at 9 p.m. Alias will become a craft cocktail bar until 2 a.m.

Character / Alias is at 218 E Portland St. Phoenix, AZ 85004. For more information check their website, Facebook and Instagram.

 

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant opens in Scottsdale

The first Arizona location of Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant opens in Scottsdale this week offering upscale dining, a tasting bar and wine shop. This is the western most and 43rd location of this unique dining concept that opened its first location in 2005.

“Scottsdale and the surrounding Phoenix area has gained a national reputation for fine-dining experiences, making it a natural fit for the Cooper’s Hawk brand,” founder Tim McEnery said. “The year-round beautiful weather, scenic surroundings and its residents’ active lifestyle were also very appealing.”

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant food and wines

The menu has something for everyone no matter your diet and dishes have wine pairing recommendations. Signature dishes include Mexican Drunken Shrimp, Dana’s Parmesan-Crusted Chicken and Shrimp & Scallop Risotto. The menu includes an impressive choice of 4 risotto dishes.

Cooper’s Hawk wines are sourced from across the country then crushed, fermented and bottled at their Illinois winery. Master Sommelier Emily Wines, yes really her name, helps grow the wineries wine club, trains staff staff on wines and helps guests enjoy their experience. Currently there are over 450,000 wine club members, the largest wine club in the country who enjoy discounts, perks and unique experiences and travel opportunities. A full bar is available for those looking for something other than wine.

Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant
Mexican Drunken Shrimp

Entering the restaurant you’re welcomed in the Napa Valley styled wine bar and wine shop before entering the restaurant. Guests can try wines with the help of well trained staff with wines and accessories are available for purchase. One need not dine at the restaurant in order taste wines or make a purchase although the aromas coming from the kitchen will easily change your mind to stay and enjoy a meal.

A Chandler location is planned for 2021 and is in development with a Phoenix location to follow. Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant is at 7361 E Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85260. For more information visit their website.

 

Domaine Carneros dinner hosted by Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort

Champagne house Taittinger will be showing it’s Napa Valley sparkling wines off at a dinner on Thursday December 10th. Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa hosts Domaine Carneros for the 4-course dinner as part of the resort’s monthly Winemaker Dinner Series. The evening starts at 6:30 with an appetizer and wine reception followed by dinner at 7.

Domaine Carneros was created in the 1980s to create sparkling wine in California’s Napa Valley using the same methods used in making champagne in France. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes are grown on the property used to make the award-winning bubbly. During the dinner you’ll hear about their newest project, being the first champagne house to plant vineyards in the United Kingdom. The vineyards were planted in 2015 in Kent South-east England and planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay & Pinot Meunier. No tasting of these sparkling wines, as the first release is set for 2024.

After the dinner wines will be available for purchase for guests to take home at a discount. The dinner is $99++ per person with limited seating and reservations being required. To reserve your seat call 480-629-6231.

 

The Mick Brasserie & Bar, a welcome addition to McCormick Ranch

Any restaurant that’s opened in 2020 faces more challenges than the day to day challenges associated with the restaurant industry. Open in an Arizona summer and you could be behind the eight ball even more. Those challenges haven’t seemed to put a damper on the opening of The Mick Brasserie & Bar in Scottsdale’s McCormick Ranch neighborhood. The modern French inspired restaurant opened last August and on a recent Wednesday night guests seemed to be enjoying as if were 2019.

The Mick Braaerie & Bar
Pate de Campagne. All photos courtesy of Shoshana Leon

Owners John Krause and Chef Brent Menke are serving colorful, small and shareable plates that’s globally inspired and locally sourced. The menu aims to please all with vegan and vegetarian dishes along with plenty for meat and seafood lovers. The two longtime friends date back to The University of Arizona where they were fraternity brothers before both wound up in Rhode Island. Menke cooked on yachts before opening The Farm Table in northwestern Massachusetts. Krause has had several careers and this is his first foray in the restaurant business.

The Mick Brasserie & Bar menus

On my recent visit my guest and I arrived towards the end of happy hour and enjoyed glasses of house wine with our Pate de Campagne, a healthy portion of pork pate wrapped in bacon with pistachios, Shiitake mushrooms and foie gras. Served with pickled red onions, stone ground mustard, cornichons and toasted sourdough bread. A fan of wild mushrooms we ordered Wild Mushroom Napoleon which I was left to enjoy myself as my companion isn’t a fan of the earthy delights. The Bacon Tarte was plentiful and filling.

We split the Duck Confit Moroccan Pastilla which we both wished we had all to our self. The pickled pineapple was unique touch to the filo wrapped duck, julienne vegetables and agrodolce. In typical European style The House Julienne Salad was brought after our meal. Chef Menke loves to say, “Food is better when shared.”

The Mick Brasserie & Bar
Duck Confit Moroccan Pastilla

The Mick has an extensively researched wine and craft beer list from around the world including 50 wines by the glass and 24 beers on tap. Four retail refrigerators allow for wines and beers can be sold to take home with you. The spacious patio allows for comfortable outdoor dining while the modern art filled indoor interior offers a well-lit enjoyable dining experience.

The Mick Brasserie & Bar is at 9719 N. Hayden Rd. Scottsdale 85258. Hours are Tues.- Fri. 3 p.m. -9p.m. Sat. 10 a.m.- 9 p.m. and Sun. 10 a.m. – 3p.m. Brunch is served early on weekends and happy hour is from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. To view the menu and more information check their website.

 

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

September brings the return of Arizona Restaurant Week

One of the most popular events among the Arizona restaurant community is Arizona Restaurant Week. The 10 day culinary event returns Friday September 18th – Sunday the 27th around the state. Like the June event participating restaurants will offer dine-in or take-out 3 course meals along with liquor to-go. According to the Arizona Restaurant Association almost 80 restaurants have already signed up to participate.

“We feel not only gratitude but also great pride in the fact that the local dining community has showed up again and again in support of our industry since closures and limited re-opening mandates,” says Arizona Restaurant Association President and CEO Steve Chucri. “We are thrilled to see that dining out — whether that means in-restaurant or getting take-out — is still such an important part of people’s lives.”

The modified event started to include take-out options due to the uncertainty of 2020’s Covid – 19 pandemic. Restaurants create 3-course menus for $33 or $44 per person for the September event with wine at an additional cost. Reservations are recommended for those looking to visit a new restaurant or return to a favorite one.

To see participating restaurants and menus head to the Arizona Restaurant Association’s website. The website is updated as new restaurants sign up.

Facebook Live cooking classes & pairing tips from LDV Winery

LDV Winery owners Peggy Fiandaca & Kurt Dunham are doing more than making wine and running a winery, they’re hosting Facebook Live cooking classes. Every Thursday at 4 p.m. MST thru May 7th the couple is hosting “From the LDV Winery Kitchen”. Join them on their Facebook page to learn how cook these special meals and learn about which wines pair best with each. There is no cost to participate in the classes.

Guests are encouraged to cook with them while you SIP (shelter in place) on a glass of wine or 2. Wines are for sale on their website with the LDV Winery Kitchen package of 10% off . Wines can be picked up at their wine gallery in downtown Scottsdale or shipped to you for a $5 fee. Recipes will be posted on their Facebook page every week.

The schedule for the Facebook Live cooking classes are as follows.

April 16 — Spicy Shrimp Pasta paired with 2014 Sky Island Syrah

            23 — Flatbreads Three Ways paired with 2013 Sky Island Petite Sirah

            30 — Grilled Ribeye Steak with fire cracker onions with roasted potatoes paired with 2014 The Signature Petite Sirah

May 7 — Pork Tenderloin with two fire roasted peppers sauces and Mexican corn paired 2015 DECADE Red Wine Blend

 

Epicuriad 2020 has 15 chefs cooking for children’s brain tumor research

Billed as where “Top Chefs Vie for Food-Pairing Glory”, Epicuriad 2020 will have more than 15 local chefs competing to win the coveted Epicurean chefs jacket while raising money for the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation. Harley Davidson of Scottsdale will host the 8th annual event on Saturday May 2nd at 6 p.m.

Each chef will be tasked with creating a dish that will pair well with a specific beer and wine. Attendees will vote for ” Best Plate” and “Best Pairing” crowning a winner. Money raised will benefit research and programs for brain tumor and patients put on by the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation.

Tickets for Epicuriad 2020 are limited and can be purchased at their website. General Admission tickets are $85 and VIP is $100. Harley Davidson of Scottsdale is at 15656 N. Hayden Rd. Scottsdale 85260.

 

New restaurants join the line-up for Arizona Restaurant Week

If you score a reservation for the 13th year of Arizona Restaurant Week you’ll be lucky you did as its one of the most popular culinary events on the Arizona food scene. Spring 2020 ARW starts Friday May 15th until Sunday May 24th where foodies can try new dishes at favorite restaurants or visit a new restaurant. Over 40 restaurants have signed to date with 7 restaurants making their debut on the list.

Twice a year (Save the date Sept. 18th- 27th 2020) the Arizona Restaurant Association hosts ARW to showcase chefs and culinary accomplishments of restaurants big or small. Each restaurant prepares a 3 or 4 course menu exclusively for the week for only $33 or $44. Several restaurants include wine or cocktail pairings for an up charge.

Returning and new restaurants

New to this year’s line- up include….Josephine, Sel, Meritage Urban Tavern, The Dressing Room, House Brasserie & Tuck Shop Kitchen and Bar. They join those returning ….Los Sombreros, Alexi’s Grill, Arrowhead Grill, Salty Sow, Urban Margarita & ZuZu Restaurant to name few.

“We are so proud that Arizona Restaurant Week continues to be such as a popular and well-attended event that our locals and out of town visitors look forward to each Spring and Fall,” says Arizona Restaurant Association president and CEO Steve Chucri. “ It is our privilege to have a hand in bringing Arizona’s culinary excellence to the forefront for 10 delicious days and to give our local restaurants a platform to present some unique and creative dishes that aren’t always offered on their daily menus. We feel this gives chefs a chance to really showcase their creativity in new ways.”

To see the full list of restaurants visit the Arizona Restaurant Week website. The list is being updated daily and menus will be uploaded once finalized.

 

 

Robert Sinskey Vineyards and Huss Brewing dinners coming to Quiessence

February is quick upon and social calendars are filling up. Quiessence at The Farm is hosting two special dinners’ pairings its seasonally grown vegetables, herbs and edible flowers with food friendly wine and beer. Chef’s Dustin Christofolo’s Tasting Menus pairs with wines from Robert Sinskey Vineyards followed a week later with beer from Huss Brewing Co. Robert Sinskey Vineyards

Robert Sinskey Vineyards dinner

Thursday January 30th at 6:00 p.m. the Napa Valley winery food driven wines will compliment Chef’s menu with much coming from the farms own Seed to Soil Garden. The five course meal is $95 per person plus tax & 20% gratuity.

First Course paired with 2016 Abraxas

Cauliflower Soup- Poached Scallops, Braised Greens, Currants

Second Course enjoyed with 2016 Vin Gris

Arizona Aged Beef Carpaccio -Bread Spoon, Parmesan Aioli, Pickled Shallots, Tempura Herbs

Third Course pairs 2014 Pinot Noir

Tortelli di Zucca- Rabbit Confit, Crushed Hazelnuts, Borage Flowers

Fourth Course paired with POV

Guinea Hen Roulade- Wrapped In Tessa, Crimson Lentils, Wild Mushrooms,  Grilled Daikon Radish, Red Pepper Jam, Fried Sage

Fifth Course paired with Pinot Gris Late Harvest  

“The Farm At South Mountain” Preserved Apple Pie- Vanilla Ice Cream, Lavender Honey Drizzle

Huss Brewing Co. beer pairing dinner

Huss Brewing’s Brewmaster Jeff Huss will join guests for this dinner on Thursday February 6th at 6:00 p.m. Starting on the patio with a beer cocktail and passed appetizers. The Arizona Beer Week celebration moves to the solarium for dinner. Limited seating is available for $85 per person plus tax & 20% gratuity.

1st Course Paired with Scottsdale Blonde

Wild Shrimp And Carrot Risotto- Roasted Carrots, Tomato Vinaigrette, Parsnip Chips, Chervil

2nd Course paired with Koffee Kolsch

Smoked Diver Sea Scallops Dusted With Espresso- Sunchoke Puree, Fingerling Potato Chips, Tempura Button Mushrooms, Koffee Kolsch Gastrique

3rd Course paired with Papago Desert Sage

Two Wash Ranch Chicken Fried Cornish Hen- Herb Aioli, Sous Vide Turnips, Preserved Farm Buddha Hand Citrus, Kale

4th Course paired With Copper State IPA

Artisanal Cheese Board- Nuts And Savory Jams Served With Grilled Noble Bread And Lavosh Crackers

Seats are limited for both dinners and can be reserved by calling (602)276-0601 or going to the Open Table links for the Sinskey dinner and for the dinner with Jeff Huss. Quiessence at The Farm is at 6106 S. 32nd St. Phoenix 85042.