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.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery opens 2nd Arizona location

The one stop wine shop, tasting bar & full service restaurant open their 2nd location in Chandler next Monday September 27th. It’s their second location to open in less than a year as they opened in north Scottsdale in December 2020. See my Instagram for my sneak peek tour and tasting.

Today is Press Coffee’s “Day of Giving”

The locally owned coffee roaster & cafe is looking to raise $25,000 at its 8 valley locations today. This annual event is raising money for Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) and is donating 100% of today’s profits from on-line & in-store sales with other valley businesses offering to match Press’s donation.

Wren House Brewing beer pairing dinner at Liberty Tavern next week.

The tavern & smokehouse location at Terravita hosts a dinner with the local brewer’s craft beers paired with chef crafted dishes. On the evening of Wednesday, September 29th guests will enjoy 4 -courses that include Beer Battered Fish & Chips, Smoked Brisket Mole and more for $55++. Reservations are required and space is limited. Visit their website for more information.

Fired Pie is holding a hiring fair September 29th

The expanding fast casual pizzeria is looking to hire 2-3 people at each of its 21 locations around Phoenix and is welcoming people to come in and apply & interview next Wednesday. Back & front of the house, managers and shift leaders have openings and those interested can head to any location from 1:30- 6 p.m. on the 29th. Pay is up to $15/ hour plus $45 bonus after 45 days on the job. Shift meals and other benefits are are offered.

The Italian Daughter launches new dinner menu

The newish Italian restaurant in north Scottsdale has added several new dishes to it extensive menu. Look for dishes such as Prosciutto Wrapped Shrimp, Sicilian Seafood Salad, A Mozzarella Tasting Board, a 12 oz. Chicken Breast Marsala & Short Rib Porcini Ravioli and more.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast, Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

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.

Camp Verde Pecan & Wine Festival is back March 21st and 22nd

Downtown Camp Verde is getting ready for people of all ages for the 20th annual Camp Verde Pecan & Wine Festival co-hosted by the Verde Valley Wine Consortium and the town on Saturday and Sunday March 21st & 22nd. The festival draws people from around Arizona that will feature 15 local wineries along with a variety of pecans. Festival goers can enter a Pecan pie eating contest, enjoy a cold beer in the beer garden, dance to live music, visit local artists and purchase food from local food trucks. It’s one of the festivals coming up that feature Arizona wines.

“What started as a great way to celebrate two local products of the region has turned into an annual tradition that now draws thousands of attendees to our town,” said Michael Marshall, Camp Verde Parks and Recreation Manager. “We now have more wineries than ever, our famous Pecan Pie contest, live music throughout each day and more food and craft vendors – which means we are also expecting our biggest crowds in the festival’s 20-year history.”

 A few of the wineries pouring wine include Burning Tree Cellars, Carlson Creek Vineyards and Page Spring Cellars. The festival is FREE for all ages to attend but those looking to taste wine need to purchase tickets. Early bird tickets are $20 on-line and $25 at the door. Included are a commemorative glass and 6 tasting tickets. Additional tasting tickets can be purchased.

Saturday the festival goes from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at 75 E. Hollamon St. Camp Verde 86322. For more information visit their website.

 

Villa Pozzi & Grimaldi’s partner for new winter menu

Tis the season for wine and food and Grimaldi’s Pizzeria has collaborated with Villa Pozzi for its new winter menu. The seasonal menu, Pizza & Pozzi is available until March 2nd, 2020 and features wines, pizza, cheesecake and more.

“Winter is a great time to introduce warm, rich ingredients and flavors to our menu,” says Grimaldi’s Executive Chef, Cory Lattuca. “Through my collaboration with Daniele Pozzi, founder and winemaker for Villa Pozzi, we crafted sausage and Villa Pozzi Nero d’ Avola braised red wine onion pizza, evoking the comforting feelings we share during the holiday season.”

Villa Pozzi
All photos courtesy of Hannah Johnston of Evolve Marketing

The Sicilian winery was originally built in 1860 and has been owned by the Pozzi family for 5 generations. A new modern winery was completed in 2000. All grapes are hand harvested and picked in the evening or early morning during cooler temperatures. The winery makes 6 varietals of food friendly wines.

The Pizza & Pozzi menu includes the Winter Harvest Salad with roasted Brussel sprouts over a bed of Arugula, Sausage & Wine Braised Onion Pizza, a Resse’s Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake and Eggnog Cheesecake.

Nero d’ Avola and Pinot Grigio are the featured wines along with Winter Citrus Sangria and a Holiday Cranberry Mule.

To find a Grimaldi’s Pizzeria near you visit https://www.grimaldispizzeria.com/.

J & G Steakhouse re-opens with a refreshing new look and menus.

The Phoenician’s award-winning J & G Steakhouse re-opened this week with a refreshing new look and menu. The 3 month re-model is inspired by the desert landscape and coincides with the re-model of the resorts lobby, spa, lounge and pool.

The restaurant has an all new interior that include wall to ceiling windows offering guests a beautiful south-facing view. Neutral earth tone colors are visible in the main dining room and lounge along with new stylish decor. Shiny metals, new mid-century modern booths and chandeliers were added to offer guests  new look and ambiance.

J & G Wagyu Tomahawk Ribeye. All photos courtesy of J & G Steakhouse at The Phoenician

The new interior was designed by Parker Torres Designs who also designed the resorts luxurious recent re-model.

The outdoor dining patio includes new fire pits, seating for more guests and ceiling fans for year round outdoor dining.

New seasonal menu at in the steakhouse

Serving dinner daily from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. guests will enjoy an exciting new seasonal menu from Executive Chef Jacques Qualin. The new menu offers a 30 ounce Wagyu Tomahawk Ribeye, Roasted Red Snapper with baby leeks & mushroom vinaigrette and an impressive Alaskan King Crab Legs entrée. Additional new menu items include Roasted Porcini & Chestnut Risotto, Grilled Beef Tenderloin and Rack of Lamb.

steakhouse
Roasted Porcini & Chestnut Risotto

Head mixologist Robert Porter has created a new handcrafted cocktail menu including the jalapeno spiced Fiery Mandarin and a classic with a Mexican twist, the Mezcal Negroni. J & G Steakhouse was awarded the prestigious “Best of Excellence Award” for 2018 from Wine Spectator magazine for its worldly wine list.

Fiery Mandarin

J&G Steakhouse at The Phoenician is at 6000 E. Camelback Rd. in Scottsdale. For reservations call 480-214-8000 or visit https://www.jgsteakhousescottsdale.com/

Hall Wines to be paired at The Market Restaurant + Bar by Jennifer’s

After a short holiday hangover the first week of January, 2018 starts quickly on the Phoenix food and wine scene. The Market Restaurant + Bar by Jennifer’s is hosting its first wine dinner of 2018 Wednesday January 10th as it pairs with Hall Wines from Napa and Sonoma Counties at the Arcadia Lite neighborhood restaurant.

Hall Wines & pairings

The 6-course family style meal will be paired with 5 wines from Hall Wines and its Sonoma partner Walt Wines.

The first 3 courses paired will be paired with Walt Wines chardonnay & pinot noirs from Sonoma with the bigger reds saved for the last 2 courses from Hall Wines in St. Helena.

Walt Chardonnay                                                                                                       Seared Diver scallop with a citrus beurre blanc, blood orange, crispy shallots and chive oil with corn nut dust

Walt Pinot Noir Blue Jay                                                                                            Pan-seared breast of canard duck with sweet potato fondant drizzled with a balsamic cherry reduction topped with kale crisp      

Walt Pinot Noir la Brisa                                                                                                         Pappardelle pasta  with porcini mushroom crème and dehydrated prosciutto, Cherve and oregano leaves

Hall Merlot                                                                                                                         Coq au vin prepared with  pearl onions, baby root vegetables and lardon in classic presentation

Hall Cabernet                                                                                                                     Tri-colored peppercorns and flakey salt crusted rib eye with wilted greens and potato crème and Chef’s red wine reduction

Sweet                                                                                                                                            Chocolate shortbread cookie with macerated berries and dark

This classic pairing dinner starts at 6:30 the evening of the 10th. $85 per person.

RSVP to 602-626-5050. The Market is at 3603 E. Indian School Rd. Phoenix 85018. http://themarketphx.com/

 

Wines of Croatia & Slovenia



Some of the most exciting new wines coming to the United States are the delicious and racy wines from Eastern European countries such as Croatia & Slovenia. Situated on the north and eastern side of the Adriatic Sea and across from Italy both countries have centuries of wine making tradition that has only recently become evident in the U.S. Making both wines from grapes only found in their respected countries and grapes that are internationally known, both Croatia and Slovenia wines are being widely accepted by great retailers and restaurants around the country. Many are practicing natural methods of wine making using only grapes and natural yeast, which allows for the terroir to speak through the wine. So don’t be surprised to see some of these wines at your local wine shop or restaurant. And more importantly give them a try.

Coronica Malvasia is a crisp, acidic white wine that offers good fruit, minerality and is a well balanced food wine. Grown in nutrient rich soil & near the sea, it benefits from the Mediterranean climate found in the Istrian region of northern Croatia. This wine would go great with both fish and lighter fare foods. Retails for about $20.

Kabaj Sivi Pinot is known as pinot grigio outside of Slovenia and is made by Frenchman Jean Michel Morel and his wife Katja Kabaj at there western Slovenian winery, not far from Collio Italy. The Kabaj family has been selling grapes for generations and only started making wine in the 1993 after Slovenia disbanded from Yugoslavia. With vineyards near the Italian border, Kabaj makes wine in a very old world style using clay vats (called “Qveri amphora”) for fermenting and aging in some of their wines.
This full bodied pinot is crisp, lively and dry also shows good fruit and complexity rarely found in pinot grigio’s. It is aged for a year in oak and held back 3 years prior to release. It would go well with shellfish, cheese’s and fruits. Retail is about $20.

Wines of Paso Robles




On a beautiful Wednesday afternoon in Paradise Valley, Arizona over 30 of Paso Robles 200 wineries were in attendance showcasing their wines as part of the Paso Robles Winery Alliance Tour.

Paso Robles is situated half way between Los Angeles & San Francisco. Although it’s not far from the Pacific Ocean, Paso does not get the cooling oceans breezes that many other coastal areas get, therefore the days are hot & nights cool down. Those conditions make for some big, lush Cabernets Sauvignons, Syrahs & Zinfandels. Though those grapes are the main attraction from Paso Robles you also see Viognier, Chardonnay and other lesser planted varietals, can you say Touriga Nacional or Verdelho just to name a few. Still with a small town atmosphere Paso grower & producers work together, trading secrets, buying & selling of grapes for the over all good of promoting Paso as a wine destination for wine producing and visiting. The most commonly asked question in Paso is “Are you on the West side or East side” as Highway 101 runs right through the town and wineries and vineyards are each side and both sides have micro climates that will affect grape growing.

Many great wines were tasted and even greater people including several owners and wine makers were in attendance to talk about their passion for wine. Some delicious Chardonnay’s & Zins were present from Sextant Wines, Robert Hall was in the house pouring his line up of whites & reds as was brewer turned winemaker & winery owner Sherman Thatcher of his namesake winery. Thatcher Winery makes only 1,800-2,000 cases and does a great job with 2004 being his 1st vintage. Former Wild Horse owner & founder Kenneth Volk was talking up his his newest wines from his latest label(he sold Wild Horse a few years back). Halter Ranch Vineyards who grows grapes for a lot of Paso producers also makes some wine themselves and gets a little crazy with their Cotes de Paso blends using rarely drank Picpoul Blanc & Grenache Blanc in the whites & tiny bits of Counoise & Cinsault in the reds. It was good to re visit the wines of Eberle winery with Marcy & Gary Eberle as it was the 1st time since I spent a birthday at their winery tasting wine & toasting the sunset. One of my final stops was at Justin Winery’s table to taste some recent offerings and wonder if the wines will be the same now that Justin just sold the winery to the Fiji Water Co.

It was great to see some of the newbies of Paso Robles wine scene and some of the veterans who have blazed a trail to put Paso on the wine map. Big & bold wines seem to be the reputation for Paso wines, but I’m glad to report that there is also an elegant side to many of the wines tasted, showing some well balanced wines. Cheers! www.pasowine.com

Some thoughts on organic wines…

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Organic wines have been available for quite some time and it’s only recently that people have become more aware of them. Organic wines need to be certified “organic” by USDA to be labeled organic. Organic in a nutshell means that the grapes used are not treated with pesticides, fertilizers. 100% Organic means ” that all grapes used are certified organic & no sulfites added”. Organic means “95% of ingredients are certified organic & may a little sufites added”. Made with organic grapes means “at least 70% of grapes are certified organic & may contain sulfites”. Some organic wines are even vegan. Organic is not be confused with Eco friendly(although most organic producers are) or sustainable. Eco friendly can be used when using recycled glass for bottle, paper for labels, no run off into streams that may hurt environment & solar power. Most retailers have organic wines but Whole Foods seems to have the best selection. Some names to look for when buying organic wines…..

CALIFORNIA
Lolonis
Bonterra
Frey
Organic Vinters (Vegan)

WASHINGTON
Badger Mountain

SOUTH AFRICA
Stellar Organics (Vegan)

CHILE
Nuevo Mondo

ARGENTINA
Vida Organica

Wines for the Holiday Season



As the holiday season starts one of the hardest decisions people are going to make is “What wine should we drink with…..”. This post will give you a quick ides of what to look for at your favorite wine retailer.

Pinot Noirs is a versatile grape that will go well with turkey, ham and and all the fixings. Oregon, California or the Burgundy region of France are the ones to look for. You’ll want a well balanced Pinot that can stand up to all you will be enjoying them with. Expect to pay about $20 for a good, solid Pinot Noir.

Beaujolais is another red wine that works well with holiday meals. Made from the Gamay grape from the Burgundy region of France, Beaujolais is lighter and fruitier than Pinot Noir. Beaujolais Nouveau is released on the 3rd Thursday of November and is from the most recent harvest and is a celebration of the harvest. Beaujolais should run less than $20 and Nouveau should be less than $12.

For the white wine drinkers at the table a Riesling works well. A Riesling from Australia, California or Germany would drink well. The crisp acidity & the mild fruit offer a great combination and should compliment your meal. Again find one that is well balanced. You can find a good Riesling for less than $18