Tasty local news bites to whet your appetite.


Written by Craig Outhier, Pavle Milic Category: Amuse Bouches Issue: June 2017
Group Free

First Sip: Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
Impish mixology maestro Ross Simon is back with his fourth annual Book o’ Cocktails, which for devotees is every bit as exciting as a new iPhone release. Following last year’s vintage arcade theme, B&T’s 2017 edition – which runs 32 pages and includes more than 100 cocktails – is inspired by classic childhood fairytales and young adult fiction. Some of the highlights, minus the Rapunzel/Jägermeister martini we plan to custom-order:

• Taste the Rainbow
House-infused kaffir lime gin shaken violently with sloe gin, fresh lime, pineapple and strawberry, and dusted with a kaleidoscope of rainbow sugars. We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto – unless Kansas is code for “nicely buzzed.”
• Rum DMC
Banks 5 Island rum shaken with dark rum, lime, guava, cinnamon and grapefruit, completed with house-made passion fruit foam, served frappé-style. No discernible fairy-tale connection, but the pun is winning.
• Just Right
It’s nap time for Goldilocks after sipping this union of Calvados (apple brandy) and Cocchi Americano (a Lillet-like aperitif) with a grapefruit cinnamon syrup, citrus and a splash of sparkling prosecco.

Bitter & Twisted
1 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix, 
602-340-1924, bitterandtwistedaz.com


The Tip Line: EV Resto Boom
The East Valley was long a passive observer as Phoenix and Scottsdale drag-raced for culinary supremacy, but judging by the impressive swell of restaurant openings in Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa over the past several months, those days may be over. EV-ites are eating out more and creating their own collective culinary identity.
We’ll be reviewing some of these restaurants in the months to come, but here’s a teaser of intriguing newcomers.

Hurts Donut
2161 E. University Dr., Tempe
480-765-2101, hurtsdonutco.com

Smokin Fins
900 N. 54th St., Chandler
480-508-5971, smokinfins.com

Elvira’s Belizean Café
2386 N. Alma School Rd., Chandler

Why We’re Intrigued
The name! Hilarious! Also: Supporting artisan donuts is our moral and civic duty, and we’re not about to renege.

By our reckoning, the Idaho-based mini-chain is now the Southernmost sushi joint in the Valley. And smoked oysters are an all-too-rare event in Phoenix.

No brainer: It’s the Valley’s first Belizean restaurant. Look for pseudo-Caribbean treats like oxtail stew, tostada-like salbutes and spicy stewed chicken.

Pav on Juice: STAR Somm
A monthly look at Arizona wine with Valley dining impresario Pavle Milic.

Remember the 2012 documentary SOMM, wherein a handful of hopeful sommeliers prepared to test their palates against the most rigorous standards in the world? Well, Arizona has a new member of the super-exclusive advanced sommelier club – a big deal in the wine world, just one step below the master sommelier diploma.
Meet Jason Caballero, who hangs his hat as lead sommelier at Bourbon Steak at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort in Scottsdale. I had the opportunity to chat with him after his Advanced Sommelier Examination with the Court of Master Sommeliers.

When did you become enamored of wine?
“My first real romance with wine happened when I opened Olive and Ivy. The haymaker, knockout punch were two wines with a great regular who had a killer cellar. He opened a 1985 Le Chambertin and a 1959 Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Rioja. Those two ruined me in the short term for wine enjoyment. Even to my obtuse, inexperienced palate, it made me see the whole world in color.”

Passing the advanced level examination is a pretty big deal. What was the most humbling part?
“The entire experience has been surreal. It still hasn’t fully hit me that I passed that thing. I still have nightmares I overslept for the tasting portion of the exam. The most humbling part would be the realization there’s so much more to know about wine, especially what is needed to have success for the master’s exam, so there’s still the hardest part of Mt. Everest that needs to be climbed.”

What are some qualities about Arizona wine that you talk about tableside at Bourbon Steak?
“There has been a small stigma about quality, and when the subject comes up, I get to show someone that it has far exceeded expectations. Arizona wines overall tend to have a little more tension and grit that makes them very successful to pair with food.”

Pav post-script : Sommelier Jason Caballero’s “Last Supper Wines”

• 2013 Dos Cabezas Aguileon
• 2016 Pierce Cellars Sauvignon Blanc
• 2012 Nagual del Marzo Caduceus
• 1970 Château Chasse Spleen
• 1974 Ridge Vineyards Montebello
• Miani Saurint Sauvignon Blanc… or “any vintage I can get my hands on”