Sunday, April 26, 2015

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Ensaladas Days

PHM0515 Flash EnseladasTake the fat out of your fiesta with these south-of-the-border salads.

Joyride Taco House
5202 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-274-8226;
302 N. Gilbert Rd., Gilbert, 480-632-8226, joyridetacohouse.com
Eat your way through our salute to Mexican cuisine (page 84), and somewhere near the halfway point – after countless tacos and tortas – your body will crave something less filling, less starchy. The good news: You don’t have to give up dynamic flavors to get a healthy infusion of greens and vegetables.  Joyride’s ensalada fila ($10.50; pictured here) is a riff on the “original” chopped salad – the Cobb. Pretty rows of crisp jicama, orange segments, cherry tomatoes, avocado, fresh corn and crunchy dried peas sit atop chopped kale and creamed pintos. It’s a marvelous mix of textures tied together with a dreamy quince dressing. Filling without being heavy, consider it an earnest counterpoint to the almighty chimichanga.

 

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Workin’ the Gherkin

PHM0415EB016XAs a burger topper or all by their lonesomes, fried pickles put the thrill in dill.

 

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Game On

PHM0315EB013Game On
Valley grills display increasingly boar-ish, and buffalo-ish, behavior.

 

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Breakfast Hash

PHM0215Flash-7-BreakfastCorned beef hash get upgraded at these Phoenix restaurants.

Corned beef hash – the humble diner mainstay born of leftovers – doesn’t have to be a greasy-spoon snooze fest. What if it’s made with purpose – and without corned beef? Consider the cowboy hash at Sierra Bonita Grill (pictured, $12, weekend brunch only). If the vibrant green salsa verde – made with tart tomatillos, buttery avocado, cilantro, jalapeños and other green goodies – doesn’t enliven your senses, the kicky, mouth-popping flavor of Schreiner’s spicy chorizo with roasted root vegetables will. Topped with two fried eggs, the final booyah is Schreiner’s linguiça – a firm, juicy sausage link with Portuguese roots.

 

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Infernal Yolks

PHM0115Flash-1-YolksEggs be deviled deluxe at these Valley eateries.

Proof Canteen
10600 E. Crescent Moon Dr., Scottsdale, 480-513-5085, proofcanteen.com
Deviled eggs aren’t just trendy – they’re ubiquitous. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a restaurant dishing up the classic ‘70s church-social mainstay. Blame it on the comfort food renaissance, or the enduring charm of the humble egg. We gobbled more than a dozen versions to find three not-your-grandma’s deviled eggs, including a lobster-studded specimen at Proof Canteen (four halves for $11, pictured). Chef Jesse Hansen’s whole menu is a riff on American comfort food – elevated to a higher level, of course, since Proof is tucked into the ultra-luxe Four Seasons. “We take chunks of Maine lobster, add some Old Bay seasoning, some celery, some lemon and a dash of Tabasco,” he says. Decadent lobster salad spooned over impeccable egg whites? Mission accomplished.

 

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Shiver Me Livers

PHM1214Flash-8-LiverOutlawed in California, decadent foie gras finds an enthusiastic welcome in Valley kitchens.

Lon’s
5532 N. Palo Cristi Rd., Paradise Valley, 602-955-7878, hermosainn.com/lons
Happily, foie gras prohibition is one California craze that hasn’t yet migrated east. Supremely rich and buttery, as if a filet mignon and a stick of butter had a baby, the fattened goose liver is a traditional favorite of upscale diners. Chefs can prepare the scandalous lobe in any number of ways, but frequently choose sweet and acidic accompaniments to counter the hauntingly rich fat. James Ducas, Executive Chef of the Southwestern-inspired Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn, is currently pairing a deeply seared slab of Hudson Valley foie gras with a savory cocoa-and-masa tamal, spiced with ancho chile and cumin (pictured, $18). A Mexican chocolate-tinged balsamic syrup reduction provides a balanced counterpoint. Ducas’ interpretation is all at once earthy, spicy, buttery, sweet and tangy – and plenty naughty.

 

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Rolling in Green

PHM1114Flash-8-3BitesTake the fish out of the equation with these vegetarian sushi rolls.

Sushi Roku
7277 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale,
480-970-2121, sushiroku.com
It’s time for the swimmers to stop bogarting all the love. Sure, glistening ruby red bigeye tuna is ultra sexy, but haven’t you heard? Vegetables are in – and seductive in their own dirt-candy kind of way. Any sushi restaurant worth its sea salt offers a standard vegetable roll, but these three restaurants dig a little deeper. Take the Garden Roll ($11, pictured) at Sushi Roku. Executive chef Miles Newcomer starts with nori, the familiar edible seaweed, but not just any nori –  this version has been dried for three months for a deeper vegetal flavor. It’s basically the gold standard of seaweed. Even the rice is deluxe, flavored not with typical rice wine vinegar, but the reddish akazu vinegar, a byproduct of sake production. Fresh grated wasabi, blanched asparagus and peppery mizuna fill out the roll, which is served with a ginger soy dipping sauce and garnished with hand-cut spiraled cucumber and a tangle of fried potato strings.

 

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