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.

Filtering by Category: Rubee Tuesday

RUBEE TUESDAY: January 9-16: Rott n' Grapes, Kawaii, CRUjiente Tacos, Mowry and Cotton, Tomaso's

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

Mowry & Cotton at The Phoenician Resort

Mowry & Cotton at The Phoenician Resort

Tuesday, January 9: Rott n' Grapes Wine and Beer Bar. On Tuesday night, I attended a media introduction for Rott n’ Grapes, a wine and craft beer bar in Uptown Phoenix. It's a gem of a bar tucked away below Landmark Towers on N. Central Avenue offering bar snacks and 80 craft beers and 95 wines by the glass. Husband and wife owners Patty Gii and Keith Shanks chose the name to represent their love for both their pet Rottweilers and wine. Wine flights are $15 (more for those on the reserve list) and feature three 3-oz pours you can choose from 95 options. They also have a grazing menu with charcuterie and cheese, meatballs, hummus, mini pizzas, and other bites.

Rottn Grapes Phoenix

Settle in at the intimate bar, outdoor patio, or cozy lounge, and Patty and her team will help you choose wine and beer flights from the extensive list. Stop by for Happy Hour all day until 8 pm, and special events such as Bubbly Bliss SundaysWednesday Board & Bottle Night, live music, and wine classes. In fact, they are so popular, look for a second location - Rott n' Grapes Bistro - to open downtown on Roosevelt Street this summer.

Wednesday, January 10: Kawaii Sushi and Asian Cuisine. Kawaii is a busy spot in our NW Phoenix neighborhood for sushi and Chinese dishes, but we hadn't visited since it changed ownership a couple of years ago. Conveniently located just minutes from our house, we stopped in on Wednesday night, ordering crab puffs, chicken tempura, and rocky shrimp off the Happy Hour menu. For dinner, my husband enjoyed his shrimp and lobster sauce with pork fried rice, while my salt and pepper shrimp, a special, was my favorite of the night. Owner Kelly says they are introducing more authentic dishes to the menu, and suggested I try their Shui Zhu Beef (a Sichuan dish that is a personal favorite) when I return. Will do! 

Salt and pepper shrimp at Kawaii

Thursday, January 11: CRUjiente Tacos. Back to Cru for a media night to sample new menu items and cocktails (I love this restaurant; see some prior visits here and here).  

CRUjiente chicken taco

CRUjiente never disappoints, and this visit was no exception. Delicious dishes included:

  • Crunchy pork chicharrón with house hot sauce, guajillo aioli, and cotija, and served with a roasted poblano pepper salpicon
  • Mixed green salad with fig-balsamic vinaigrette, jicama, spiced pecans, and local Crow’s Dairy goat feta
  • Mexican Caesar salad with roasted poblano Caesar dressing, romaine, cotija, spiced pepitas, escabeche, and croutons
  • Charred ejotes (green beans) with Hatch chile salsa, a slow-poached egg, pickled jalapeño and red onion, cotija, and cilantro
  • Green chile chicken taco on blue corn tortillas with mole verde, charred red onion, jalapeños and micro cilantro
  • The Taco de la Semana (taco of the week) was grilled Colorado lamb with Crow's Dairy goat cheese feta, golden potato puree, pickled red onions, and chimichurri

Great cocktails are also crafted for your sipping pleasure at Cru, which has an extensive list of hard-to-find and boutique spirits. Currently, my go-to is the JapaKnees, a riff on the classic Bee's Knees, combining Suntory Toki Japanese whisky, lemon, and hopped honey syrup. Other must-orders are the new Cru Paloma with smoky mezcal and pink grapefruit, and the Cherry Sour (the crowd favorite) shaken up with Traverse City Whiskey Co. American Cherry Edition, a bourbon infused with Montmorency cherries. 

Friday, January 12: Mowry & Cotton at The Phoenician Resort. I've been wanting to visit Mowry & Cotton, part of the multimillion dollar renovations at The Phoenician, and lunch with my friend Stephanie was the perfect excuse. Its name is a homage to two Phoenix pioneers, George Mowry and James Cotton. With the powerhouse team of Chef de Cuisine Tandy Peterson and Executive Sous Chef Rebecca Tillman (who I first met here), this restaurant is serving an impressive menu of fantastic dishes packed with flavor. I would order each and every one again, which will make it hard to explore more of the menu on my next visit! Look for a future in-depth feature when I return for dinner. Excellent cocktails are poured here too, thanks to Phoenician Beverage Director Jared Sowinski. If you're visiting with fellow libation lovers, be sure to share a carafe of rum punch - perfect for an al fresco lunch on a sunny day. 

Mowry & Cotton serves breakfast, weekend brunch, lunch, and dinner, and after a discussion about their brunch menu and a recommendation from Chef Becky for their Bloody Mary, I had to try that too. Another winner! Made with smoked tomato juice and garinished with brisket and house pickles.

Blood Mary Brisket garnish

No time spent at The Phoenician is complete without visiting one of my favorite craft bartenders, Robert Porter (you can find my prior interview here). Since I wrote that, he has gone on to win the title of Arizona’s Star Bartender in 2016 and was tapped by Cocktail Artist to create his own Manhattan syrup for their line of all-natural premium bar ingredients. 

Robert Porter The Phoenician

The new Thirsty Camel bar and lounge with its stunning floor to ceiling views is the perfect setting for Robert's cocktails, including his Sandia Martini with Hangar One vodka, Cointreau, tomato and watermelon shrub and basil oil, or the Cortez with Partida Blanco tequila, Sombra mezcal, and hibiscus syrup.

Sunday, January 14: Tomaso's. Sunday night dinner with friends found us at Tomaso's, a Phoenix institution which opened its doors 40 years ago (read my feature on chef/owner Tomaso Maggiore here in last month's Phoenix Home and Garden magazine). This upscale restaurant is the place to enjoy traditional Italian dishes, and the five of us feasted on fritto misto, escargot, beef carpaccio, veal piccata, veal marsala, and pistachio cheesecake. TIP: Ask about the off-menu pasta combination sampler, which on this visit was stuffed sacchetti, filet mignon ravioli, and gnocchi showcasing Tomaso's handmade pastas.

Beef carpaccio Tomaso's

To browse past Rubee Tuesday recaps, visit this link. 

RUBEE TUESDAY: December 7-11: Glenfiddich Dinner at Blue Hound, Fabio on Fire, The Boulders Resort, Stock and Stable

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

The Boulders Resort and Spa

The Boulders Resort and Spa

Thursday, December 7: Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails at the Hotel Palomar Phoenix Kimpton is one of my favorite spots, so I accepted a media invitation with no hesitation. Last Thursday featured a special Glenfiddich event showcasing the Solera Reserve 15 year old (a personal favorite. aged in sherry casks) and two unique whiskies, part of their Experimental Series - the Glenfiddich IPA Experiment, finished in Speyside IPA barrels (with the IPA a collaboration between malt master Brian Kinsman and a local craft brewer) and Project XX, a blend by Kinsman of 20 malts chosen by 20 whisky experts from 16 countries.  Note: You can read my prior interview with Brian Kinsman here.

Glenfiddich Bue Hound Phoenix

Our educational evening was led by the knowledgeable and enthusiastic Michael Anderson, Luxury Spirits Specialist at Young's Market Company, and Chef de Cuisine Chris Neff made sure each pour was paired with a delicious dish. 

I started with an excellent Glenfiddich Blood and Sand by Phil Clark, head bartender, before a great dinner of: 

  • Course one: Pork belly with apple butter, pistachios, mustard greens, honey, and a wonderful beer vinegar made by Chef Neff. Paired with the Glenfiddich Solera Reserve.
  • Course two:  Diver scallops with fresh spinach tagliatelle, brown butter, butternut squash and fennel salad.  Paired with the Glenfiddich IPA.
  • Course three: Short rib with parsnip puree, smoked mushrooms, and cherry jus.  Paired with the Glenfiddich Project XX.

Friday, December 8: Back to Fabio on Fire, a neighborhood favorite (I've previously mentioned it here and here). This time I started with a special of mozzarella di bufala (Italian mozzarella made with buffalo milk) flown in from Naples with arugula, prosciutto di Parma, and a balsamic drizzle. For my main course, I ordered another special, a fantastic rack of lamb roasted in the wood-fired oven with rosemary and garlic potatoes. My husband had his regular order of an appetizer of meatballs and then the lobster ravioli with crabmeat sauce.  We ended with strawberry gelato and puff pastry diplomatico, and took home a dozen cookies, sfogliatelle, pandoro (a special holiday cake), and cannolis for my dad.  

Fabio on Fire

Saturday, December 9. I'm working on my next feature for Experience Scottsdale, an Aperol Spritz round-up.  I've chosen five great spots to enjoy this cocktail or its variations, including the Discovery Lounge at The Bouders Resort. Thanks to Culinary Director Chef Brian Archibald, I not only fell in love with their libation (made with a house barrel-aged Aperol), but spent the afternoon dining and imbibing. Look for details on those dishes and drinks on an upcoming recap here, and my Aperol Spritz list on ExperienceScottsdale.com.

Aperol Spritz Brian Archibald

One highlight was a new Boulders Flask cocktail for two, made with smoked ice cubes, the Boulders' exclusive Casa Noble Anejo, El Silencio mezcal, Aperol, Shrub & Co Blood Orange Shrub, lime, and honey water...and it needs a title! Want to win free cocktails and dinner? Enter the Facebook contest here by suggesting the name for this new drink. If yours is chosen, you'll win an etched Boulders glass flask containing cocktails for two, and two entrees from the Discovery Lounge menu at the Boulders Resort. Winner will be announced at 5 pm Monday, December 18, 2017 (UPDATE: Congratulations to Laura R on Facebook who won with El Corazón de Silencio, "The Heart of Silence") 

Dinner that night was a media invitation and return to a favorite, Stock and Stable (see past visits here and here, and a Rubee Tuesday visit here). I'm a big fan of Executive Chef Joe Absolor, so a special treat was having a chance to spend some time chatting with this talented chef. 

Joe Absolor

We grazed on kung pao cauliflower, corn dogs made with TenderBelly franks, and Philly cheesesteak rolls before diving into a double cheeseburger with garlic and rosemary frites and chef's spot-on suggestion of the Beer Butt Chicken (super juicy from a beer marinade and served with a lemony jus), ordered with a side of Brussels sprouts and Hasselback potato. Another great night at Stock & Stable, though too full for dessert! 

To browse past Rubee Tuesday recaps, visit this link. 

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 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

A memorable dinner and gorgeous sunset, what a grand finale to the weekend! (video below): 

For last week's Rubee Tuesday recap of visits to Desert Mountain Club for the Arizona Foothills Magazine Best of Valley Party, Cafe ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho, Arrowhead Grill, and The Mix Up Bar and T. Cook's at Royal Palms Resort, see photos at this link

To browse past Rubee Tuesday recaps, visit this link. 

 

RUBEE TUESDAY: May 17-23: Arizona Foothills Best of Valley Party, New Menu at Cafe ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho, Arrowhead Grill, Mix Up Bar and T. Cook's at Royal Palms

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

Cafe ZuZu: Chef LaCasce's Hokkaido scallops with shellfish butter, asparagus, fried meyer lemon, and toasted pearl couscous

Cafe ZuZu: Chef LaCasce's Hokkaido scallops with shellfish butter, asparagus, fried meyer lemon, and toasted pearl couscous

On Wednesday, March 17th, I was honored to celebrate two wins at Arizona Foothills Best of Our Valley party - Write on Rubee as Favorite Local Food Website, and my Instagram as Best Food Feed! I am so grateful for the support. The cocktail party was held at the beautiful Desert Mountain private golf club. 

We couldn't be in the area without stopping at a favorite for a nightcap on the way home - Liberty Station. Thanks to Kyla who chose two excellent cocktails for me: A Gimlet (lime-infused vodka and housemade lime cordial) and the Spaghetti Western (Altos Reposado tequila, mezcal, Aperol, orgeat, lime juice). 

On Thursday, May 18th, I joined fellow media at the Hotel Valley Ho for a delicious introduction to Executive Chef Russell LaCasce's new dishes and Executive Pastry Chef Audrey Enriquez' latest dessert creations. Chef Russell debuted a wonderful menu which offered his sophisticated take on familiar and approachable ingredients.  Think scallops draped in shellfish butter and complemented with Meyer lemon slices cured and then fried in tempura batter, or burrata partnered with pickled green strawberries and mint pistou. Loved our sampling, and I'm already making plans for a return visit to explore more of the new menu. Bravo chefs! 

Here are some of the fantastic dishes, desserts, and cocktails we tried:

The signature Showstopper Shake! Currently it is a Banoffee Cream Pie shake featuring roasted banana ice cream, a banana cream pie, banana bread, caramel-dipped banana, vanilla wafers, candied walnuts, dulcet ganache, toffee crumbles and toffee sauce...all made by Audrey in-house.

Showstopper Shake ZuZu Hotel Valley Ho

On Friday, May 19th I joined my parents for one of our favorite neighborhood happy hours at Arrowhead Grill.  We shared filet mignon sliders, lamb chops with goat cheese fondue, and BLT deviled eggs (our usual Happy Hour order).

On Saturday, May 20th, we met friends for cocktails at the Mix Up Bar before dining on the new summer menu at T. Cook's at the gorgeous Royal Palms. Look for an upcoming detailed recap, but below is one of my favorites - lamb with fava beans, morel mushrooms, green garlic and leeks.  

Stay tuned next week as I visit Gertrude's at the Desert Botanical Garden, Jamie's Wine Bar, take a trip to Sedona, and celebrate my parents' and my aunt's and uncle's anniversaries at Different Pointe of View.

For past Rubee Tuesday recaps, visit this link.  

RUBEE TUESDAY: May 10-16: Il Capo Pizzeria, Hearth '61, Hyatt Regency Scottsdale, The House Brasserie,Tacos Chiwas

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

On Wednesday, May 10th, I was invited to attend an advance screening of the culinary film "Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent".  Wow, loved it! It's a powerful documentary about fascinating legendary chef Jeremiah Tower.  Produced by Anthony Bourdain, it opens Friday, May 19th.  Here's the trailer: 

Afterwards, we walked over to Il Capo Pizzeria, owned by the Rana family, whom we got to know when they owned Cuoco Pazzo in Old Town Scottsdale. James Rana told us about their brewery, State 48, in Surprise, with a second location soon to open in downtown Phoenix. Thanks to James, we sampled their Blueberry ale (my husband's favorite), Belgium blonde, blood orange Belgium blonde, brown ale (my favorite) and oatmeal stout. We each had a slice of pizza - for me, Grandma's Square. Great service from Maryann at the bar, and a treat to chat with Jack Blanton who left the kitchen to say hello.  

On Thursday afternoon, May 11th, I filmed with news anchor Olivia Fierro of AZFamily Channel 3 for her segment on her dream job as a food writer. We spent an afternoon at the newly opened Hearth '61 at Mountain Shadows Resort with Chef Christopher Brugman and had so much fun! You can watch the segment by clicking the photo below.    

That evening, we were invited by our dear friend Kirti Dwivedi to a fundraiser and cocktail dinner, with 100% of the proceeeds going to LLS. She has been nominated as Woman of the Year for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and this special event as part of her campaign was held at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale. Chef Brian Contreras of the Hyatt Gainey property joined Cullen Campbell of Crudo, Keenan Bosworth of Pig & Pickle, andAaron James-wayne Ward of Brat Haus, with cocktails created by master mixologist Luke Detraz. 

Luke Detraz' sparkling rosé wine punch

Luke Detraz' sparkling rosé wine punch

On Monday, May 15, I joined fellow media as we sipped and savored our way through Billy Bessinger's new cocktails at The House Brasserie. I've been missing out! His well-balanced creations have made The House one of my top spots for craft cocktails in Old Town Scottsdale. We sampled his addictive Tequila Funrise combining Don Julio Blanco tequila, and Galliano complemented by lime juice, lavender honey, and blueberry; the crowd-pleasing Smoked Manhattan capturing the essence of alderwood and stirred with cherry Coke reduction, Carpano Antica vermouth, and black walnut bitters; the refreshing Pimm's Mule with Pimm's, Amaro Nonino, lime, demerara simple syrup, and ginger beer;  Snowbird, a tropical sipper perfect for our Arizona summers with Żubrówka (a Polish bison grass-infused vodka), dry curacao, lime juice, Coco Real, orgeat, and bordeaux syrup; and Pour Decisions with warm caramel/butterscotch notes from a combination of Brugal rum, St. George pear brandy, amontillado sherry, and housemade root beer shrub. Which one should you order? All of them! 

Billy and his Tequila Funrise

You can watch a video of Billy making his Smoked Manhattan here:

Afterwards, we hit one of our favorite casual taco spots - Tacos Chiwas (past link here).  We feasted on favorites such as deshebrada verde and raja gorditas, tripas tacos, and picadillo burritos.  

Next week's plans include visits to Desert Mountain Club, Hotel Valley Ho, Arrowhead Grill, and the Mix-Up Bar and T. Cook's at the Royal Palms Resort

For last week's Rubee Tuesday, visit this link

RUBEE TUESDAY: May 1-9: Bitter and Twisted, Mora, Casa Anejo, Proof and Onyx at the Four Seasons, Artizen at The Camby, Kentucky Derby Brunch at Bourbon Steak, North, and CRUjiente Tacos

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

On Monday, May 1st, I attended a special media preview of Bitter and Twisted Cocktail Parlour's fourth annual Book o' Cocktails along with a sampling of some of Chef Bob Tam's delicious new dishes.  Loved it! You can read my photo recap by clicking the picture below.  

Afterwards, our friend Kirti joined us for a nightap at Mora Italian, where we shared the foie gras and chicken liver pate with cippolini agro dolce.  And a special treat was chatting with one of the valley's best chefs - chef de cuisine Matt Taylor. 

On Tuesday, May 2nd, I joined fellow media at Casa Añejo Tacos and Tequila, the newest addition to The Colony.  It's a winning trifecta, with a beautiful space designed by HGTV and DIY Network's Kitchen Crashers star Alison Victoria, Riley Jones in charge of cocktails, and Chef Joe Absolor helming the kitchen. Look for a full recap later this month.  

Designer Alison Victoria

Designer Alison Victoria

On Thursday, May 4th, I was on assignment for Phoenix Home and Garden at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale.  Pick up the July issue for a feature on Executive Chef Chuck Kazmer and his special summer recipes. I was also treated to a dish on Talavera's "Spring in France" tasting menu running through May 17.  The rabbit paté with caper berries and pistachios, preserved Meyer lemon aioli, and fava beanss is amazing! 

Afterwards, I joined my fellow food writer friend Lauren Topor for Proof's Thursday-only Tiki Pop-Up.  

We sipped our way through tropical tiki drinks such as the Flaming Zombie Bite (my favorite - with Plantation overproof rum, gin, pineapple, orange, and orgeat), Pimm's Plunder (Pimm's, Wild Tonic's Tropical Turmeric kombucha, ginger beer, raspberry, lime, and cucumber) and Piña Luau (ixa reposado tequila, amaro, demerara simple syrup, pineapple, lime).  Chef Dell also shared his delicious housemade kombucha  - thank you Dell!

Don't miss out on Chef Del's rotating selection of Ono Grindz such as this Hawaaian Fried Rice with pineapple, U-5 shrimp and hoisin-glazed scallops, and the bacon bao with turmeric preserved cabbage, chicharrones, charred shallot, and garlic blossoms. Chef Dell cures the bacon for 8 days and then smokes it over black walnut. For more information about this weekly event, click this link

And we couldn't leave without enjoying the sunset on the picturesque patio of Onyx.