Uncorked: AZ returning to Scottsdale for its third year

Wineries from around the world will be represented when the 3rd annual Uncorked: AZ wine festival makes its way back to Salt River Fields, Saturday April 18th 2020. The national tour brings over 40 wineries pouring more than 100 wines to town along with local gourmet food trucks serving wine friendly sweet and savory dishes. Dueling pianos and other entertainment will make for a fun evening with friends under the stars.

A few wineries in attendance include Chronic Cellars, Etude, Smith & Perry and K Vintners. Food trucks include Cousins Maine Lobster, Re Di Roma, Wok Sticks and Seoul Good and more.

Uncorked: AZ is a 21 and over (no babies) event and goes from 7 – 10 p.m. VIP tickets ($70) allow early access with shorter lines at 6 p.m. General Admission are $55. Admission includes unlimited wine tastings but food will be sold separately. No pets and no refunds. For more information and to purchase tickets check out their website.

Part of the proceeds will benefit local non profit Cortney’s Place which strives to improve the lives of individuals with developmental and cognitive disabilities.

 

Aioli Gourmet Burgers 2nd brick & mortar location coming to Litchfield Park

Come early April fans of award-winning Aioli Gourmet Burgers can head to Fry’s Marketplace when they open their second location. The Litchfield Park location will be the first in the west valley after their Shea & 32nd St. location in Phoenix. Culinary Institute of America graduate Tommy D’Ambrosio started Aioli Gourmet Burgers in 2013 with childhood friends and a food truck.

“Our entire team is so excited to finally be opening a second location in partnership with Fry’s Marketplace. This has been almost a year in development, and we can’t wait for the store to open for our westside fans. We hope that this will be the first of many Fry’s Marketplace locations across Arizona,” said Kyle Hollenbeck, Co-Owner, Aioli Gourmet Burgers.

The unique chef driven burgers are popular on the food truck and festival scene with the White Truffle Swiss and Italiano. Loaded fries, milk shakes, beer battered onion rings and more are served at Aioli. Tommy’s won “Chopped” and has won “Best Burger” in The Phoenix New Times “Best of Phoenix” and in burger competitions. Before coming back to Phoenix to start the food truck Tommy apprenticed at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. The restaurant group has other food truck concepts that will become restaurants including Modern Tortilla and Oak Wood-Fired Pizza.

Chef Tommy D’Ambrosio

“We are looking forward to Aioli Gourmet Burgers joining the Fry’s family,” says Monica Garnes, President of Fry’s Food Stores. “It’s a great operation with an award-winning history, and we think our Litchfield Park customers are really going to enjoy the experience.”

Fry’s Marketplace is at 13730 W Camelback Rd, Litchfield Park, AZ 85340. For more information visit their website.

 

Bao down at the upcoming Arizona Bao & Dumpling Festival

Update: Festival postponed, no make up date set yet.

Asian street food continues to gain popularity around the valley with the announcement of the Arizona Bao & Dumpling Festival on March 21st 2020. From 12:30 – 5 p.m. at Dr. A.J. Chandler Park festival goers can taste the popular filled bao and dumplings along with other Asian foods, Boba and desserts until their hearts desire. You’ll be able to shop at marketplace, visit with local artists and play games in between tastes and sips.

Bao
Happy Buns Coconut Bao

Tickets are now on sale for this family friendly event with General Admission tickets only $8 plus tax & fees. There are a limited amount of Early Admission tickets at 11:30 a.m. are $13 ++. Children aged 7 – 12 are $4 and under 6 are free with a paid adult. Admission is separate from food and drink purchases.

Dr. A.J. Chandler Park is in historic downtown Chandler at 3 S. Arizona Ave. 85225.

Bulleit Bourbon to again throw Derby Day party at Turf Paradise

Update: The party has been cancelled.

The Run for the Roses a.k.a. The Kentucky Derby comes early this year as the first Saturday in May falls on the 2nd. Phoenix’s only horse track, Turf Paradise is the perfect atmosphere to watch the horses run locally before the big race from Louisville’s Churchill Downs. Big hats, bow ties and fancy attire will be on full display at the track and more so at the return of the Bulleit Bourbon Derby DayClub party.

Guests at the Derby DayClub can sit track side in an air conditioned tent to sip Mint Juleps, beer, wine & champagne, watch the horses (and people) and root for your favorite horse. Food trucks, a DJ, big screen TVs and track side betting are highlights of the Bulleit Bourbon Derby DayClub. Bulleit Bourbon

Previous years DayClubs have sold out so the sooner you reserve your seats the better. Tickets are now on sale with several ticket options available. Enjoy the Sanderson Lincoln Black Label Lounge by reserving a table for you and 7 of your friends to get a close up view of all the racing.

Front-row Reserved Tables (8 guests): $1,000 and includes a complimentary bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne. Upgrades to premier center of tent location for $100.

Second-row Reserved Tables (8 guests): $750 and includes a complimentary bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne. Upgrades to prime center of tent location for $100.

Third-row Reserved Tables (8 guests): $500 and includes a complimentary bottle of Chandon Champagne. Upgrades to center of tent location for $100.

General Admission to the DayClub are $30 before April 17th then $40 and $50 at the door. A limited amount of Reserved Seats are available for $60 until April17th then go up to $75.

 

 

Verde Valley Wine Festival is back for its 5th year Mother’s Day weekend

There’s no better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than with a glass of wine or two with dear old mom. You can purchase tickets for you and your mom for the 5th annual Verde Valley Wine Festival, Saturday May 9th 2020. Four Eight Wineworks presents the festival that will host 20 Arizona wineries along with local breweries, distilleries, food trucks and restaurants. The festival takes place at Clarkdale Town Park from 12 – 5 p.m. Each year the festival donates part of the proceeds to a local non-profit, this year’s festival benefits The Arizona Vignerons Alliance and the Arizona Winegrowers Association. Participating wineries, food trucks and other vendors is will be announced soon.

“Wine’s economic impact on our state demands more resources to defend, protect and grow this incredibly delicate, yet robust industry in Arizona,” said David Baird, festival director and co-owner of oDDity Wine Collective. “Guests fly in from all over the world to attend this festival. For many people, the first time they understand the depth of Arizona wine is at our festival. We’re honored to be a conduit for that magic.”

General Admission tickets for the Verde Valley Wine Festival are available on-line for $35 in advance and $45 at the festival. VIP tickets are $125 and get you early entry at 11 a.m., access to the VIP Lounge, additional tastings and a swag bag. Platinum VIP tickets are $199 and include dinner and live auction on Friday May 8th. Festival goers are encouraged to spend the night and accommodations for glamping are available on the website.

Clarkdale Town Park is at 1001 Main St. Clarkdale.

 

 

 

Off the Vine Arizona Wine Festival back for its 7th year

Over 25 Arizona wineries will be pouring their award-winning wines Saturday 15th 2020 for the 7th annual “Off the Vine” Arizona Wine Festival at the historic Steam Pump Ranch in Oro Valley. The Arizona Wine Growers Association is hosting the festival that will also feature food trucks, live music, local artists and more.

“Off the Vine has quickly become one of our biggest events of the year, and after seeing record-breaking attendance in 2019 we’re expecting an even bigger crowd for 2020,” said Kris Pothier, president of the AWGA and owner of Chateau Tumbleweed. “Steam Pump Ranch and the surrounding mountains provides such a beautiful setting for wine lovers to experience wines from across the state and even meet the winemakers themselves, who are often in attendance.”

off the vine
Photo credit to Jenelle Bonnifield

Pillsbury Wine Company, Rune Wines and Oddity Wine Collective are a few wineries traveling from around Arizona to the ranch built in the 1800s. The bluesy big band sounds of the Peter Swan Trio will provide the playlist for the 7 hour festival that starts at 11 a.m.

Early Bird tickets are $25 and include 8 sampling tickets and a commemorative glass can be purchased here. Day of event tickets is $30.

 

Devour the World kicks off Devour Week 2020 in Peoria

Local First Arizona’s popular Devour Week 2020 kicks off the celebration of Arizona restaurants with its first event in Peoria. Devour the World makes its west valley debut on Saturday February 15th at Peoria City Hall’s Centennial Plaza. Devour the World showcases the international cuisines, music and cultures found around Phoenix.

“From flavors that can only be found on the islands of Jamaica to the great vistas of the Navajo Nation, this is the perfect event to explore the rich diversity that makes Arizona so special and share it with friends, family, and community,” says, Kimber Lanning, Local First Arizona Founder.Devour the World

The four hour event starts at 11 a.m. and is a partnership of the City of Peoria, Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance and Local First Arizona. Beers of the world will be poured in the beverage garden and over 24 restaurants and food trucks will be offer foods from over 12 countries. Music and dancing from different countries will be performed with cultural activities and workshops with local ambassadors are also featured.

A few of the restaurants participating include….

Cool Vybz Jamaican Restaurant- Chef Kelso Raymond

Everest Momo- Chef Subash Yadav

Salvadoreño Restaurant- Chef Yesenia Ramirez

Happy Buns- Chef Jay Kwan

“Peoria’s events scene continues to get better and better, and I am thrilled to have this multicultural, culinary experience coming to the heart of our city,” says Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat. “I can’t wait for family and friends to gather as they ‘Devour the World’ together.”

Tickets for Devour the World are $55 and include food samples and libations. Tickets can be purchased along with more information about other events at the Devour Phoenix website. Peoria City Hall is at 9875 N. 85th Ave. Peoria 85345.

Husstoberfest with authentic German fare and fun at Uptown Plaza

Oktoberfest becomes Husstoberfest when Huss Brewing Company celebrates the traditional German eating and drinking festival at their Taphouse at Uptown Plaza. Saturday October 19th guests will enjoy locally made bratwurst and other authentic German fare from Schreiner’s and the untapping of Huss’s Bavarian style Marzen beer. The full bodied dry beer is copper red in color and has slightly malty sweet taste.

Other award-winning Huss beers will be poured in traditional German steins.  Gourmet caramel dipped apples will be available from Not Your Granny’s Apples food truck.

Husstoberfest takes place from 12- 6 p.m. at 102 E. Camelback Rd. Suite 160 Phoenix 85012.

Desert Mountain Club’s “The Mountain Chef” food truck hits the road.

North Scottsdale’s Desert Mountain Club has introduced Arizona’s first golf club owned food truck “The Mountain Chef”. Currently the food truck will be around the community for residents, club members and special events before hitting the road. “The Mountain Chef” serves dishes from the 10 clubhouse restaurants and grills around the community including the new Seven Clubhouse.

Seven Clubhouse is named for the new 7th golf course in Desert Mountain that opened a few months ago. Chef de Cuisine Greg Guerva will be serving up favorites including the Seven Burger, Glazed Short Ribs and adult milkshakes. Before coming to Desert Mountain Guerva had worked at Sumo Maya and North Italia.

“We’ve seen this trend at other high-end golf clubs around the country, but we are proud to be the first exclusive golf club here in Arizona to own our own truck and be servicing our diverse cuisine out of it,” said Chef Guevara. “Many items we create out of our 10 restaurants at Desert Mountain right now can be served out of ‘The Mountain Chef’ truck, with a little notice, of course.”

In coming weeks “The Mountain Chef” will be serving food around the valley for special events and available for catering. For more information check out their website.

 

 

 

Local eats in suburban New Jersey, NYC and Saratoga Springs

Like many of us living in Arizona, I too came from somewhere else. Across the river from New York City in suburban New Jersey I grew up on take-out pizza, diner food, and bagels. Despite many New York and New Jersey transplants opening restaurants serving food from our home state those foods just taste better back east. Whenever I head back for a visit I head for my favorite foods and I was back a couple of weeks ago.

Most people wouldn’t visit these family restaurants in suburban Bergen County unless you’re visiting family or friends in the area. But if you live there or happen to be traveling through the small towns that dot the metro area they’re easy to find.

Let’s eat

When you don’t know what you want or everybody wants something different a local diner is always a good call. So with family who flew into town we headed to to Matthews Colonial Diner in Waldwick. Wanting a char-broiled burger I opted to eat healthy knowing there would be plenty of food this week. The Beet & Goat Cheese Salad was a solid and out of the ordinary choice for me. My family knowing my eating habits gave me the “are you feeling ok” look when the word salad came out of my mouth.

Seems like Italian food reigned the week with 2 or 3 meals as we wound having pizza or pasta delivered. A favorite of my sister and her family is The Sicilian Sun in Ho-Ho-Kus. Whether we walk over to dine-in or have it delivered it rarely disappoints. Ordering take-out I went pasta free ordering Chicken Scarpello with sausage, pepperoncini, mushrooms, garlic and a touch of garlic. So good I may have to head back sooner than later to get it again.

New Jersey
Chicken Scarpello from The Sicilian Sun

Wednesday lunch had a group of 20 family and friends at the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern for a 4 course lunch. Lots of history at this place that was constructed in 1796. The entree course had your typical, beef, chicken and fish option along with Bolognese Tagliatelle. I had the latter, I told you there was a lot of Italian food.

In the city

A trip to New Jersey isn’t complete without a visit to New York City. Thursday I caught a ride to lower Manhattan’s Financial District to play tourist and walk off the calories I consumed.

Getting into the city early I grabbed a a quick lox, egg & tomato bagel from the Park Place location of Lenwich, a local chain of sandwich shops I’ve never experienced before. Not my typical bagel and lox combination but it gave me the fuel I needed to pound the pavement.

Meeting a friend for lunch who had little time we opted for “street meat” from a food truck nearby. The city is know for it’s food trucks and carts offering a quick and reasonably priced lunch. We went for Mediterranean food and I opted for a falafel sandwich and my friend with a chicken and rice. Filling portions for only $5 each. The weather was one of the nicer days so we opted for a park bench to eat and chat.

New Jersey
NYC Falafel

Back on the Jersey side

Thursday dinner had us ordering in…… pizza from Anthony Franco’s Pizzeria. A visit to Jersey wouldn’t be a visit to Jersey without a couple of pizza pies. Sausage, onions, mushrooms and more topping our pies a few slices for now and few left for later.

In between rain drops on Friday I decided to give in to my burger craving at Red Cedar Market Season Kitchen for their RCM Mushroom and Swiss burger. This busy cafe made the best burger I’ve had in a while. Made to order and cooked to my preferred medium rare and drizzled with truffle oil and served with delicious fries.

New Jersey
RCM Mushroom & Swiss burger

Dinner had heading to the State Line Diner, a couple of miles south of the New York state border on Route 17. So much to choose from I didn’t know what I was going with until the words “Roat Beef & Swiss Cheese Triple Decker sandwich with a side of Steak Cut Onion Rings” came out. The rare roast beef was good but I wish I hadn’t ordered the onion rings as I compared them to a hometown favorite pile from the defunct Louie’s Charcoal Pit.

A quick trip upstate to Saratoga Springs

Saturday afternoon I drove up the New York Thruway to visit a friend I met in Arizona who re-located back home to upstate New York.

Once arriving I made my way to Broadway, the main drag in Saratoga Springs, waiting for my friend to get off work. The best weather of my visit had people out & about on this late Saturday afternoon and I found Druthers Brewery for a cold Raspberry Nut Brown Ale. It hit the spot before I strolled the downtown to Congress Park to taste the spring water known for in the area.

Meeting my friend at Purdy’s Discount Wine & Liquors where she got off work but not before I tasted New York State made sangria and sparkling wine.

With other friends taking the train from Boston for an overnight visit the plan was for a festive Paella dinner. After wine, a generous portion of charcuterie and realizing it was late our Paella dinner was tabled until Sunday brunch. Made from scratch with each the chicken, shrimp and chorizo cooked separately we all watched and helped prepare as we sipped on our cups of Spot Coffee, an upstate coffee roaster.

New Jersey
The Cortile at Solevo

Dinner on Sunday night in Saratoga had us paying a visit to get this, a new Italian restaurant Solevo Kitchen & Social. For an appetizer we ordered the tasty Eggplant Chips drizzled with Calabrian Chili Honey and basil. My friends ordered the Sunday Sauce, rigatoni and meatballs in a San Marzano plum tomato sauce and Gnochhi with wild mushrooms, arugula, rosemary in a brown butter sauce.

After seeing several Items I’d already had that week I went with The Cortile, a mix of prosciutto, sweet peas, ground veal in a plum tomato & cream sauce with tagliatelle. Red wine and my Pinky Ring cocktail accompanied our meal and all were satisfied for our walk home.

Back to Jersey then back to Arizona

After a fun visit upstate I made my trip back down to New Jersey Monday morning. Deciding to raid my sisters cabinets and refrigerator for late lunch and early dinner I opted not to order….Italian food for dinner. Despite my best efforts to taste my niece and nephews Chicken Parmigna their like me very protective of their food. Early Tuesday I was on a plane back to my current home, Scottsdale.

More New Jersey and New York eats on my next visit east. See my Instagram for pictures of my visit @SandyWass