Coronavirus and the Phoenix restaurant and hospitality community

As we are now well into this Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic its taking its toll on every industry around the world. Here in Arizona festivals and events are being cancelled or postponed, restaurants and other business’s are voluntarily cutting back hours. As I saw this weekend several Phoenix restaurants continued to be busy with people going out to eat & drink. Many are sending out emails and posting on social media how their following deep cleaning and sanitizing procedures and following guidelines from local and state health departments.

FnB and Rancho Pinot Grill made tough decisions to close their dining rooms but stay open to provide meals for take out or delivery. I’m sure others will follow with these and other decisions while looking at creative and necessary ways to continue to serve our community and pay staff and other expenses. So far the State of Arizona hasn’t required businesses to shut down the way other states have enforced curfews and closings.

How you can help during the coronavirus

When a cure is found for Coronavirus and the risk of it spreading slows down hopefully many of our favorite restaurants and hospitality industry rebounds with no permanent closures. Sadly I feel several will close permanently due to the sudden drop in business right during our busy season. Dining out is a great way to help local restaurants whether you cautiously dine-in, have food delivered or taken- out or buying a gift card for a future visit. If you do the latter I hope the restaurant or businesses are still in business when you choose to visit.

Looking on the bright side we as a community learn from experiences like we’re going through. New processes are being learned and implemented but may become a reality for when things return to as they were. Full service restaurants like FnB and Rancho Pinot may continue to do more take-out business than traditional dining. As few businesses may fall others will be created to take their place. Hopefully this will be short lived and we can get back to gathering at festivals & restaurants and sharing meals & good times together but it’s up to us to minimize the damage by supporting local restaurants and business when we can afford to and feel safe doing so. Visit Local First Arizona for a list of locally owned businesses you can support. Be safe!

Fashion A’ Fare celebrate’s food, fashion and floral creativity

Scottsdale Fashion Square will be showing off all things edible, fashionable and floral over their 4-day Fashion A’ Fare weekend. Thursday March 5 – Sunday the 8th will see events throughout the mall with several in the new luxury wing. Foodies will want to attend on Saturday and Sunday for chef demos, a cooking competition, Sunday brunch and a farmer’s market.

On Saturday, well renowned chefs from the mall’s new restaurants Toco Madera, Nobu, Ocean 44 and others will demonstrate edible art in the new luxury wing. Guests can watch students from the Arizona Culinary Institute compete in a Food Network styled cooking competition and awards ceremony.

Sunday brings a pop-up farmer’s market to the new Grand North Entrance. Whether you’re looking for a yoga demonstration, to shop or Sunday brunch this will be the place to be. Brunch will feature dishes with de-constructed produce along with prie-fixe brunch and lunch menus at the new restaurants. Champagne bars, DJ spin- art and flower crown making are put of the celebration.

Scottsdale Fashion Square is at 7014 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85251. The luxury wing is on the north side off Goldwater Blvd. For more information and to stay up to date about Fashion A’ Fare head to 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.

The Angry Crab Shack Southwest Cajun Fest returns for its 6th year

Downtown Chandler will feel a bit like New Orleans’s French Quarter for a few hours on Saturday, February 15th 2020. This is when fans of Cajun food and culture can expect to party into the night at the 6th Annual Angry Crab Shack Southwest Cajun Fest.

AJ Chandler Park will again host over a dozen restaurants including Angry Crab Shack, Bayou Bistro and Honey Bears Cajun BBQ Cuisine serving up gumbo, crawfish, Po’boys and more. Abita beers such as Purple Haze, Hop On and more will be on draft.

“Angry Crab Shack is excited to team up with HDE Agency and bring a Mardi Gras party to the East Valley while benefiting one of our partners in Phoenix Children’s Hospital,” said Andrew Diamond, president of Angry Crab Franchise. “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

HooDoo Coasters, Bluesman Mike, NolAz Band and Souled Out Jazz Band will perform live throughout the 9 hour festival. Food eating contest, lawn games, flame throwers and a Kid’s Zone will entertain festival goers.

A portion of the proceeds will go to Phoenix Children’s Hospital as they plan to expand into the east valley. The festivities start at noon and ticket options including veteran’s discounts, general admission and the Big Easy Lounge are available. To purchase tickets for the Angry Crab Shack Southwest Cajun Fest and get more information head to their website.

AJ Chandler Park is at 178 E. Commonwealth Ave. Chandler

Polo, Champagne and French Fries make for an interesting trio

When the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships comes to WestWorld of Scottsdale next month your taste buds will be in overdrive. “The World’s Greatest Polo Party” will be the place to “see and be seen” on Saturday November 2nd when the gates open at 10 a.m.

In the “Barrett Jackson Champagne and Jazz Lounge” you’ll not only sip on champagne and Bottomless Mimosas you’ll get to snack on M Culinary’s signature French fries, an interesting yet tasty combination. The complimentary snack will be served with Chandon Aluminum Rose and Sweet Star and cocktails made with Ketel One Botanicals. Tickets for the lounge are $65 in advance, $75 at the door.

All photos courtesy of Rose + Moser + Allyn Public Relations

“We are always looking for ways to enhance the guest experience at the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships, and what’s better than champagne and complimentary French fries while watching some the greatest polo played in Scottsdale,” said Chef Michael DeMaria, Co-founder of M Culinary Concepts. “We know this is going to be a tasty addition to Barrett-Jackson’s Champagne and Jazz Lounge.”

All attendees can feast on fried chicken and champagne from the Fried & Fizzy food truck in the general admission area. A VIP experience in the Prime: Luxury Tent Experience by Steak 44 ($275 in advance, $285 at the door) is available. Riot Hospitality Group, owners of Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row and Riot House will have DJs spinning tunes in their party tents.

All photos courtesy of Rose + Moser + Allyn Public Relations

General Admission tickets are $30 and $40 at the door. To purchase tickets and tables head to their website. WestWorld of Scottsdale is at 16601 N. Pima Rd. 85260.

 

Morning Squeeze lets kids eat free until August 31st

The kids are out of school and if their not at camp one way to keep them happy is to feed them. Feeding them all summer cad add up so Scottsdale’s and Tempe’s Morning Squeeze is letting kids eat free all summer.

Until August 31st kids 12 and under can eat for free during breakfast or lunch, no purchase is necessary. The offer is good Monday – Friday and is for dine-in only.

Morning Squeeze
Egg My Way with bacon and potatoes. All photos courtesy of Morning Squeeze.

Choose from Mouse Pancakes, French Toast Sticks with maple syrup, 1 Egg My way with bacon and potatoes or Grilled Cheese Sandwich with French fries.

With a dog friendly patio, the restaurant is one of the more popular Scottsdale restaurants and has been serving breakfast and lunch since 2013. Your dog even has it’s own Tail Wagger’s menu to order from.

The restaurants are open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Morning Squeeze is located at 4233 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale 85251 and 690 S. Mill Ave. Tempe, 85287. Visit their website for more information.

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

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

 

Keep cool with the “Pie of the Month” at Chase’s Diner

Chase’s Diner in Chandler is featuring a “Pie of the Month” for the hot summer months. Customers can get some relief from the triple digits from May 1st – August 31st with one of our favorite deserts.

During the month of May customers can enjoy a slice of Key Lime Pie. Peanut Butter Crunch is on the menu in June and July offers a cool refreshing Lemonade Pie. The featured pie in August is Chocolate Mint Creme.

Lemonade Pie

Grab a slice after your meal for $4.29 or take a pie to go for $13.29.

Chase’s Diner is at 2040 N. Alma School Rd. Chandler 85224. They’re open daily at 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. Sun. – Thurs. and 10 p.m. Fri. & Sat.

Bulleit Bourbon hosts Kentucky Derby party at Turf Paradise

Many weeks and months go into preparation for the two and half-minute Kentucky Derby. Not just the horses and trainers in Louisville at Churchill Downs but at bars and restaurants celebrating around the country.

On May 4th the place to be is Phoenix’s Turf Paradise racetrack to get into the derby day spirit. No better place to show off your head wear and sip on a Mint Julep other than the All New Bulleit Bourbon Derby Dayclub. Tickets will be sold out by the time the races start at this all day party.

Photo courtesy of Dorian and LDH Consulting

The air-cooled track-side tent opens at 10:30 a.m. with live racing starting at 11:30 where you can cheer and bet on your favorite horses. The Kentucky Derby will be shown live later in the afternoon.

Tickets for General Admission for the Dayclub are $30 in advance with reserved seating $60 per ticket. Inside you’ll have access to track side betting, a cash bar for Mint Juleps, beer, wine and cocktails, a DJ and “65 inch TVs to watch the race. The Fried & Frizzy food truck will be outside the tent serving up fried chicken and champagne.

Kentucky Derby
Photo courtesy of Rose-Moser-Allyn Public Relations

Prefer to sit in the first few rows to see all the action than pony up $1,000 for a first row table with a bottle complimentary bottle of Dom Perignon, $750 for second row table with a bottle of Veuve Cliquot or $500 for third row table with a bottle of Moet Chandon Champagne.

Other Phoenix area bars and restaurants will be celebrating the fastest 2 minutes in sports. Reserve your seat at Mowry & Cotton, Dorian and Arcadia Tavern to watch all the fun.

Follow me on Instagram @SandyWass, Twitter @SandyWasserman and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pullingcorksandforks/