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Amuse-Bouches

Written by Craig Outhier, Pavle Milic Category: Amuse Bouches Issue: July 2017
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3 Best Things to Eat This Month: Seasonal Menu Adds
Escape – or embrace? – the heat with these seasonal menu additions at top Valley restaurants.

Grilled Venison Loin at T. Cook’s
How do you make grilled game summer-friendly? If you’re Chef Todd Allison, you plate it with spring vegetables and a clean-tasting purée of green garlic, fava beans and melted leeks. Allison also has a new cacio e pepe – i.e. pasta with cheese and black pepper – on the menu that’s actually more of a primavera. We’re not complaining.
5200 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-808-0766, royalpalmshotel.com
Seared Shrimp Taco at CRUjiente Tacos
Fusion food has never been so fresh as this Thai-Mexican mashup by Chef Rich Hinojosa. He sears and quickly sautées buttery, ocean-fresh shrimp and lays them on blankets of pliable corn tortillas with a pile of pickled veggies, a complex yet light Thai coconut green curry sauce and fresh basil. Think of this taco as a fancy, fresh and delicious cousin to greasy Chino Bandido fare.
3961 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-687-7777, crutacos.com
Snapper Cartoccio at Sassi
Red snapper cooked just so can be a transportive experience – i.e. transport your heat-addled head far, far away from Phoenix in July. Chef Chris Nicosia bundles a fillet of fresh snapper with olives, orange zest, haricots vert and other summer vegetables in parchment, bakes the lot in Calabrian chile butter, then opens it tableside. Transportation, complete. 
10455 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd., Scottsdale, 480-502-9095, sassi.biz
 

 

Trend Watch: Caffeine Altruism
By now, you’ve probably heard of nonprofit restaurants like The Joy Bus Diner and Street Café and Coffee Lounge, which donate their above-the-line revenue to charity. But have you heard of nonprofit coffee? Following celebrity trailblazers like filmmaker David Lynch – a notorious coffee fiend who released a line of producer-focused blends two years ago – Valley java fans are launching their own cause-driven coffee companies. Shug’s, a midtown Phoenix coffee cart and retail space located near Tacos Chiwas, “will bring much-needed funds to local public schools’ performing and visual arts programs,” says founder and organizer Mercedes Murrieta (facebook.com/shugscoffeephx). Similarly, G.I. Joe Coffee – a roaster concept hatched by Cave Creek resident Tony Hudson – donates a portion of every sale to veterans’ groups (gijoecoffee.com). Hudson, who scored a spot in this year’s Sam’s Club product road show, also hopes to launch a franchising service designed for veterans who want to run a coffee business. So: Do you take your coffee with a cause, or without?

 

 

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

 “Our name is quite literally a product of me blurting it out one day after months of not agreeing on a name,” winemaker Aaron Weiss says, describing the origins of Oddity Wine Collective. “It wasn’t perfect, but it was the closest we ever came to [a consensus].” 

The name fits. Weiss, along with operations manager David Baird and lab technician/accountant/cellar rat Briana Nation, are products of the new Viticulture and Enology program at Yavapai College – the first generation of locally educated Arizona winemakers. It’s a fairly momentous development, in my opinion, and I was impressed by the three wines currently offered by the trio, who each hold jobs with established wineries and know their Arizona terroir.

• 2015 Oddity Wine Collective ‘Changeling’ Riesling/Viognier Blend ($24)
The Riesling hails from the Al Buhl Memorial Vineyard and the Viognier is from Rolling View Vineyard. The Viognier provides body and textural lushness and the Riesling adds levity and lifting acidity. This is a refreshing quaff that begs for some fish tacos. 

• 2015 Oddity Wine Collective ‘SGZ’ ($32)
Rolling View Vineyard Syrah makes up 50 percent of this generous, juicy wine, which also includes Al Buhl Memorial Vineyard “Norte Block” Grenache and some Zinfandel from a backyard in Sedona. Think smoke, spice and plum. The only thing missing is some Little Miss BBQ.

• 2015 Oddity Wine Collective ‘Unsanctioned’ ($38)
Here’s another example of two grapes that you would normally see together in their natural habitat: Sangiovese and Petite Sirah. Petit Sirah is known as an inky, fruity, brambly red. Sangiovese tames all that fruit. Neutral oak makes this blend accessible. I would, without hesitation, bring this to any Fourth of July grilling gathering. 

• Find Oddity Wine Collective wines (theodditywinecollective.com) at the Four Eight Wineworks tasting room (907 Main St., Clarkdale, 928-649-2007, four8wineworks.com) or locally at Arcadia Premium (5618 E. Thomas Rd., Phoenix, 602-464-9000, arcadiapremium.com).

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