Write On Rubee

An Arizona-based food, beverage and travel writer since 2008,  I launched this website in 2015 to document my culinary adventures, beverage escapades, gardening endeavors, and travel in the Phoenix area and beyond.  Also find a comprehensive calendar of Phoenix-area food and drink-related events on my Events page.

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RUBEE TUESDAY: November 27-December 5: Drip Coffee Truck, Coconut's Fish Cafe, Jade Bar, L'Amore, Sicilian Butcher, Pita Jungle, Market Street Kitchen, Brunch Club, Crujiente Tacos

A semi-weekly feature, Rubee Tuesday is a recap of my week's adventures in dining and drinking in the Phoenix area. 

Drip Coffee Truck.jpg

Monday, November 27: Phoenix's newest mobile coffee truck, Drip Coffee and Espresso, debuted on October 10th and I attended a media introduction last Monday. We met the friendly owner, Jeff Rorvig, at his beautiful new mobile station as I sipped on a nitro dark coffee and my husband enjoyed his espresso Bananas Fosters frappe. Jeff serves locally roasted coffee and tea from CULT Coffee Roaster and offers dripped, iced and nitrogen-infused coffee, espressos, cappuccinos, lattes, frappes, teas, Italian sodas, energy drinks (on tap!), pastries, and more.  You can check out his weekly routes on Facebook, Instagram, or azdripcoffee.com.

Afterwards, we joined friends Susie and Eric for dinner at Coconuts Fish Cafe. The original, famous for its fish tacos, was founded on Maui and opened its first mainland location in North Scottsdale, with currently three AZ locations. I had heard good things about this fast-casual spot and it didn't disappoint - fresh, flavorful seafood dishes at a friendly price point.  

Tuesday, November 28:  I met the team of Nirvana Food and Wine at Jade Bar at the Sanctuary resort. Nirvana, a culinary festival hosted by Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, debuted last year and returns in April, 2018, and I will be working with the organizers to spread the word. Last year featured culinary and beverage luminaries for a series of special events, dinners, a cocktail competition, and a celebrity golf tournament. Renowned guest chefs included Robert Irvine, Todd English, and Scott Conant. Check out the video below for a peek at last year's events (and stay tuned for 2018 details).

Of course, as we chatted, we also enjoyed cocktails (a Negroni for me) and delicious small plates - thank you Chef Andrade

On the way home, we made a first-time visit to L'Amore Italian Restaurant. We've passed it countless times over the years, so this time instead of driving by, we pulled in. What a great spot! Cozy atmosphere, Italian classics, friendly owner, and excellent service (ask for Sal).  

Caesar salad L'Amore Arizona

Wednesday, November 29:  The eagerly-anticipated Sicilian Butcher held their friends and family soft opening last Wednesday, and officially opened on Friday. I'm a big supporter of the Maggiore family (read my feature on Tomaso Maggiore here in this month's Phoenix Home and Garden magazine), and their newest venture is another winner.

Chef-owner Joey Maggiore and his wife Cristina

Chef-owner Joey Maggiore and his wife Cristina

Thursday, November 30: I'm a fan of Pita Jungle (as I've mentioned here), and when I received a media invitation to try their fall Seasonal Kitchen Crafts Menu, I knew who I would be bringing. My parents moved here from Massachusetts last year and I had been wanting to introduce mom to Pita Jungle. I was sure she would love their healthful and fresh dishes, and she did. "This so good! I could eat here every day," she said, so I know we'll be coming back often.  

Avocaco beef shawarma lavash

Avocaco beef shawarma lavash

In October, Pita Jungle introduced eight new dishes rooted in Levantine cuisine. I tried three delicious items: Baked Kibbeh made with ground turkey, potatoes, and quinoa topped with a walnut, onion and golden raisin compote and served with a beet and greens dressing tossed with a tahini-beet dressing, Mujaddara with beluga lentils and brown rice topped with a kohlrabi, cucumber, tomato, and jalapeno salad with a mint-sumac-apple cider vinaigrette, and the Avocado Beef Asada Shawarma Lavash Pizza with Arizona grass-fed beef (it was a nice bonus to meet the employee whose family ranch supplies the beef) with cheddar, and cilantro-avocado crema, cumin yogurt sauce. I thought the kibbeh would be my favorite, but it was actually the mujaddara that we couldn't stop eating. Look for the winter Seasonal Kitchen Crafts Menu to introduce eight new dishes in January. 

Friday, December 1: The Henry. After a meeting with the vivacious Sarah Benken regarding her KNOW Tribe Phoenix project, I enjoyed a quick lunch at The Henry: An Italian Mezcal Sour, and smoked Norwegeian salmon with potato hash browns, crème fraîche, and arugula.

Later that evening, we had dinner at Market Street Kitchen. When we heard that it would be the last night behind the bar for one of our favorite cocktail talents (who recently won the 2017 Top Mixologist Foodist Award), we immediately made plans to head over. Garrit Guthrie had made his mark at Market Street Kitchen, but now he's moving on to a new position at Young's Market. Congratulations Garrit! 

Garrit Guthrie

Saturday, December 2:  Hosted by The Scottsdale League for the Arts, the inaugural Brunch Club took place on the lawn terrace at Mountain Shadows resort and featured some of the Valley's best chefs along with beer, Chandon champagne cocktails and Tito's vodka mules and Bloody Marys.  

Monday, December 4: I attended a Belvedere Single Estate Rye Launch Party at the MercBar. Belvedere recently unveiled two new vodkas, Smogóry Forest and Lake Bartężek.  I've previously posted how impressed I was with Smogóry Forest, and now I'm also a fan of Lake Bartężek, very different but no less remarkable. Industry guests were invited to sample tastes of both and enjoy them in cocktails. My favorite of the evening was the The Vespężek, a Vesper with Belvedere Lake Bartężek, Lillet Blanc and Nolet's gin. I also learned that Belvedere has chosen only three states to release this signature vodka this month - Phoenix, DC, and Denver. 

Both unique and richly-nuanced vodkas draw their names and terroir characteristics from single estate regions, Smogóry Forest made with rye grown in a village in rural western Poland, and Lake Bartężek and its rye grown on a farm in a lakeside village in northeastern Poland. 

Dinner that night was at Crujiente Tacos, an award-winning restaurant and one of our go-to spots. It's always a special treat if owner Jason Morris is working as he always introduces us to new spirits. We also met Laura, a new cocktail star at Crujiente, and be sure to order the special taco of the week - fried Kumai oysters with remoulade, romaine lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, and house pickles. We ordered two rounds.

Fried oyster tacos

I also tried a couple new-to-me cocktails last night and highly recommend the JapaKnees, a riff on the Bee's Knees with Japanese whisky and hopped honey. 

To browse past Rubee Tuesday recaps, visit this link. 

RUBEE TUESDAY: August 22-28: Cartwright's, 5th Floor Pop-Ups, Fabio on Fire, EVO, Avanti

A semi-weekly feature, Rubee Tuesday is a recap of my week's adventures in dining and drinking in the Phoenix area.

Chef Matthew Eck's yellowfin tuna with mango, avocado, yuzu, Fresno chile, and microgreens on forbidden black rice cracker at Fifth Floor Pop-Ups

Chef Matthew Eck's yellowfin tuna with mango, avocado, yuzu, Fresno chile, and microgreens on forbidden black rice cracker at Fifth Floor Pop-Ups

Wednesday, August 23:  Two of my favorite chefs joined forces at Cartwright's Modern Cuisine for a "Food Without Borders" collaboration dinner. Cartwright's chef/owner Brett Vibber invited Chef Fidencio Alatriste of Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess for a special dinner showcasing his Mexican roots. Look for a detailed recap, but here's a sneak peek, including a fabulous Niman Ranch NY strip with cilantro gorditas, mole poblano and pipian verde.

Chegfs Fidencio Alatriste and Brett Vibber

Thursday, August 24:  Chef Matthew Eck, sous chef at The Mission Kierland, invited a group of media and fellow food-lovers to the launch of his new concept, Fifth Floor Pop-Ups. We gathered at sunset on the the Fifth Floor Skyview Lounge at The View at Cascade and were greeted with Arizona Sunset cocktails before diving into a wonderful dinner featuring Chula Seafood and Twisted Infusions Farm. This is just the type of spirit and passion that I feel makes our city such a great food mecca. Look for a full recap here on the website next week and follow along 5th_floor_pop_ups for future events. 

Chef Matthew Ecker

Friday, August 25: We were back at Fabio on Fire, which I first visited last week (see that here).  Once again, Fabio wowed us with his food and I think his rosemary foccacia with burrata, arugula, pacchino tomatoes, and olives might be my new favorite dish. A round of puffy, chewy, charred pizza dough was brushed with fragrant olive oil and rosemary and then topped with peppery argula and creamy burrata imported from Italy.  I also loved the porcini mushroom ravioli special, so be sure to order that too if it's on the menu!

Rosemary foccacia Fabio's on Fire

Monday, August 28: Would I like to spend my Monday night sampling cocktails at EVO (a favorite Old Town spot I've mentioned before). Why, of course! Six of us gathered at the bar for a media tasting as Jake Russell introduced us to his cocktail creations, along with Chef Steven Fowler's fantastic polpettini with grana padano and roasted mushroom pizzas.

La Paz

La Paz

  • La Paz: As Jake shared with us, this is his version of a margarita. He told us how he tried 30 tequilas before deciding to barrel age one himself to get the right amount of oak. For this, he ages Corazón tequila and shakes it with Aperol and lime before finishing with an aromatic elderflower foam (nitrous oxide-whipped elderflower cordial, egg white, and lemon juice).  
  • Limoncello Rosa.  Jake starts with his housemade limoncello, fresh lemon juice, and gin.  But there is also "pomegranate syrup on the bottom and soda water on top, so you want to make sure you give that drink a good swirl to mix it. It tastes light and refreshing but is also something you can drink dangerously."  My kind of of drink. 
  • Barrel Roll:  This barrel-aged cocktail was started in February and inspired by a barrel-aged Manhattan.  The addition of a Campari sphere makes this cocktail uniquely evolve - "it starts as a Manhattan, essentially, but as the Campari melts, it transforms into a Boulevardier." 
  • Calling for Clarification:  I had my first, and only (until now), clarified milk punch at Bitter and Twisted last year, so was impressed to see Jake serving this labor-intensive cocktail. Yes, milk is an ingredient but it undergoes a process where it becomes clarified or clear. Fascinating, right? You can read more about this centuries-old libation technique here.  At EVO, Jake uses three kinds of rum - white, spiced, and overproof.  
  • Bronze Boar:  We finished our cocktail adventure with this spirit-forward cocktail made by mixing up Pig's Nose blended scotch with Luxardo Sangue Morlacco and a dash of Angostura bitters before pouring into an absinthe-rinsed glass. 

EVO serves an Italian-inspired menu with a popular happy hour (4-7 pm). Night owls like me and industry pros love the late-night hours with Chef Fowler's full menu served until 1:30 am. EVO is located at 4175 N Goldwater Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251. Menu: evoscottsdale.com

On the way home, my husband had to look at a property which happened to be right next door to Avanti, one of Phoenix' iconic Italian restaurants (it has been open for 43 years). He suddenly had a craving for carbonara, so in we went.  I started with a Negroni, of course. My plan was for a light second dinner of carpaccio, but when I noticed the $27.95 lobster special, how could I say no? This summer special is a delicious bargain - a perfectly-cooked one-pound lobster cut in half and claws cracked for easy access, with soup or salad, garlic bread, pasta, and sauteed vegetables. Take advantage of this deal through the end of September. We also had great service - thank you Jerry!

To browse past Rubee Tuesday recaps, visit this link. 

RUBEE TUESDAY: August 16-21: Second Story Liquor Bar, Crudo, Char, Fabio on Fire, Hearth '61, AZRW Fall Preview

A semi-weekly feature, Rubee Tuesday is a recap of my week's adventures in dining and drinking in the Phoenix area.

The Local at Second Story Liquor Bar

The Local at Second Story Liquor Bar

Wednesday, August 16: I'm working on my next assignment for Experience Scottsdale and spent the afternoon with Executive Chef Jordano Sessions of Second Story Liquor Bar. This talented young chef has a background in botany nutrition and sustainable agriculture, and I can't wait to share his story and food philosophy.

Jordano Sessions

SSLB will be rolling out a new menu of global small plates and I had a sneak peek at some of the delicious dishes, such as his carrot and turmeric arancini with gochujang aioli and tomato jam. Tip: Pair it with Andrew's "Local Roots" cocktail with turmeric-infused gin, chamomile grappa, lemon, and watermelon syrup.  

Falafel at Second Story Liquor Bar

Afterwards, we joined our friends Margo and Norman at Crudo. A Wednesday night special encourages you to gather with your friends and family to share a refillable Polenta Board. Dinner includes a market salad, platter of polenta (local Hayden Mills) topped with a weekly sugo, garnishes, and a bottle of wine for four people.  All this at only $20 per person. We feasted on polenta topped with pork belly, brisket, and shishito peppers, and rounded out our dinner with excellent cocktails such as Brenon's "Just a Snip" pictured below and small plates like a wonderful yellowtail collar

Polenta board Crudo

Thursday, August 17:  I attended a special media sampling of new fall dishes at Char Kitchen + Bar.  More photos and details can be found by clicking the photo of their Mediterranean Chef's Board below.

Friday, August 18:  My friend chef Fabio Ceschetti and his wife have long had a dream of opening their own restaurant, and it has come true with the opening of Fabio on Fire! Although Fabio just opened in June, he's already received great reviews (such as this one) and a busy restaurant every night. In fact, plans are already in the works to add a 30-seat patio. I finally had a chance to visit with my parents and wow, we loved it! And the best part? It's on my side of the valley in Peoria. You'll find Italian pastries, pizzas, pastas, and salads, and Fabio also bakes his own bread and makes gelato.  Look for a future feature, but for now, here's a glimpse of some of the fantastic dishes we enjoyed.

Farro salad with shrimp, golden raisins, roasted pinenuts, arugula and shaved Parmesan cheese

Farro salad with shrimp, golden raisins, roasted pinenuts, arugula and shaved Parmesan cheese

Sunday, August 20.  I was invited for the third installment of the monthly Sunday Supper series at Hearth '61, the signature restaurant at Mountain Shadows Resort. Special guest Jason Raducha of Noble Bread joined Executive Chef Charles Wiley for a four-course wine dinner ($74 per person). It was my first time at Sunday Supper, but not my last! The next one is scheduled for September 17.  Look for a detailed recap of my experience to post next week. 

Mountain Shadows lobby view

Monday, August 21: Arizona Restaurant Week kicks off next month and I joined fellow media for a progressive dine-around to preview the menus at The Herb Box in DC Ranch, Market Street Kitchen, and Fleming's Steakhouse. Here are some of the great choices you can expect.

We started with appetizers at The Herb Box.  

Trout beignets

Trout beignets

Next was Market Street Kitchen for the main course

Rotisserie fried chicken with cheddar mashed potatoes and cream gravy

Rotisserie fried chicken with cheddar mashed potatoes and cream gravy

Our last stop was Fleming's for decadent desserts

We ended our stroll around DC Ranch back at Market Street Kitchen for a Garrit Guthrie nightcap.  

Garrit Guthrie Cocktail Market Street Kitchen

To browse past Rubee Tuesday recaps, visit this link. 

RUBEE TUESDAY: May 31-June 6: Crujiente Tacos, Pita Jungle, Market Street Kitchen

A weekly feature, Rubee Tuesday is a recap of my week's adventures in dining and drinking in the Phoenix area.

steak taco crujiente phoenix

On Thursday, June 1st, I met with my friend David for an upcoming feature involving Glenfiddich in Modern Luxury Scottsdale.  I'm usually conducting the interviews so it was nice to be on the other side this time, and it's always a fun time with David! Chef Hinojosa sent out some fabulous dishes he has just added to the menu as we sipped on his limited-edition Blood Orange Gose-style beer, a collaboration with Pedal Haus Brewery, and shared some Yuu Baal Pechuga mezcal. 

Hallmarks of Chef Richard Hinojosa's cooking are rich flavors in even the simplest dish. His street corn starts with ears of corn poached in "corn tea" for double the punch, and his fantastic gazpacho (my new favorite in town) requires multiple steps of pureeing and straining to concentrate the flavor. 

Afterwards, I joined my husband at the bar, where he ordered the taco of the week - marinated chicken with beans and pico de gallo. In fact, he liked it so much, he ordered...four more! Wise man. As usual, Chef Hinojosa packs so much flavor into a simple bite that it was the best chicken taco I've ever had. 

Chicken taco crujiente Phoenix

We ended another great night at one of my favorite restaurants being schooled in some new-to-us spirits by co-owner Jason Morris. 

On Sunday, June 4th, we stopped in at Pita Jungle for a quick dinner while running errands. We shared baba ganoush and hummus topped with grilled marinated chicken and pine nuts. 

On Monday, June 5th, I returned to Market Street Kitchen for a media summer menu preview. If you're a regular reader of this website, it's no secret that I'm a huge fan.  In fact, I was just there last week.  Look for an upcoming photo recap, but here's a sneak peek. 

Inigo Montoya's G&T

Inigo Montoya's G&T

To browse past Rubee Tuesday recaps, visit this link. 

RUBEE TUESDAY: May 24-30: Gertrude's, Christopher's, Rock Springs Cafe, Mariposa in Sedona, Proof, Market Street Kitchen, Different Pointe of View

A weekly feature, Rubee Tuesday is a recap of my week's adventures in dining and drinking in the Phoenix area.

Mariposa Latin Grill in Sedona

Mariposa Latin Grill in Sedona

Wednesday, May 23.  My aunt and uncle from New Hampshire were visiting Arizona for the first time and we had a fun week of exploring Arizona, including a visit to the Desert Botanical Garden.  

Temperatures at 105+ were a little too warm for me, my husband, and my dad, so we relaxed at Gertrude's, the on-site restaurant, where we enjoyed snacks and cocktails.  

I also spent some time in the Garden Shop

That night I joined photographer Jenelle Bonifield and Janet Gordon of The Gordon Group who introduced me to one of her clients, Kazzit, a brilliant new winery resource.  We met at Christopher's and Crush Lounge, where I interviewed co-founder Babak Motamedi and Master Sommelier Laura Williamson. After learning about this application, I'm excited to share this indispensable tool for travelers and wine lovers.  Look for an upcoming interview and feature in June. 

Babak Motamedi, Chef Christopher Gross, Laura Williamson, MS

Babak Motamedi, Chef Christopher Gross, Laura Williamson, MS

As described on the website: "Kazzit was founded by long time friends Babak Motamedi, a wine-lover and entrepreneur, and Peter Kasperski, the proprietor of Scottsdale’s Kazimierz World Wine Bar and owner of one of the largest collections of fine wine in the United States.  Recognizing the need for a comprehensive source of information for all things wine, Kazzit was created to bridge the information gap between wine producers and consumers. Still in its first year of operation, Kazzit is helping select vineyards and wineries tell their stories to an international audience of consumers".  You can find out more at  http://kazzit.com

We chatted over cocktails and charcuterie as we learned the Kazzit story. My husband and I also stayed for dinner at Christopher's to take advantage of Restaurant Week with a three-course meal at the chef's counter, starting with foie gras torchon paired with a glass of Domaine Bru-Bache Jurancon.

On Thursday, May 25th, we began our Sedona road trip with breakfast at Rock Springs Cafe. They're known for their pies but my stack of dinner-plate-size pancakes was so good, I was too full to order a piece.  Next time! 

We then headed to Jerome to show our visitors this unique historic mining town founded in 1876. Located on Cleopatra Hill, its winding roads offers beautiful views of Arizona.  

We spent a couple hours in Jerome wine tasting at the Echo Canyon Winery tasting room with my friend Cody, aka The Wine Monk, visiting galleries and shops such as Rickeldoris Candy & Popcorn Company, and ending with a stop at the Grand Jerome Hotel. I came home with wine purchases from Echo Canyon and Caduceus Cellars

Next was the beautiful drive to Sedona with stops at photo op viewing sites. Once there, the men relaxed with beers at Oak Street Brewery & Grill while I spent the afternoon shopping with my mom and aunt at Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village

Sedona road trip

To end our family day, I had planned dinner and sunset at one of my favorite Sedona restaurants - Mariposa Latin Grill - and it couldn't have been more perfect. 

We were seated on the covered patio and greeted with complimentary appetizers from gracious chef and owner Lisa Dahl - flaky corn and queso empanadas with pineapple criolla, addictive Aguacate Frito (fried avocado) with pimentón aioli, and smoky grilled housemade chorizo (a must-order!)  We rounded out our delicious feast with dishes such as grilled rack of lamb accompanied by a roasted yellow pepper coulis and cilantro-mint pesto, a juicy veal chop with zesty house chimichurri, decadent mashed potatoes scented with lemon and draped with lobster in a buttery garlic sauce, and sweet finales of key lime pie and chocolate and pistachio gelato.  

As sunset approached, the restaurant and patio quickly filled with people gathered to celebrate the stunning view (video below). It was a glorious ending to a beautiful day in Arizona. I'll be back at the end of the month to join Mariposa as they celebrate two years with a festive party.  You can register to join in on the festivities here

On Friday, May 26th, at Proof at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale, I met friends Rich and Shayleen of Campari America. Shayleen, Regional Manager, was visiting from her home state of Texas, so this was a special treat.  I sipped on a Boulevardier (bourbon, Campari, and sweet vermouth) as Chef Del Morris treated us to his fabulous smoked prime rib special

We ended the night at Market Street Kitchen for, as usual, excellent cocktails by Garrit Guthrie and Chef Hunn's winning menu, including fried green tomatoes with shrimp remoulade, burrata with heirloom tomatoes, pasta alla vodka with lobster, and a fantastic special of fresh littleneck clams tossed with sauteed leeks and nduja.  

On Saturday, May 27th, we celebrated my aunt's and uncle's (17th) and my parents' (53rd) anniversaries at one of Arizona's gems - Different Pointe of View. Sommelier Ian spoiled us with a round of bubbly and Chef Anthony sent out fabulous oysters and scallops that had mom and dad exclaiming they were the best they ever had.  This special occasion also happened to fall on Arizona Restaurant Week.  DPOV is one of the best deals in town where the special three-course prix-fixe includes full-size dishes from the regular menu with choices in red.  

Seared scallop on polenta cake topped with herb-artichoke tapenade

Seared scallop on polenta cake topped with herb-artichoke tapenade