Tasty local news bites to whet your appetite.Tasty local news bites to whet your appetite.

Amuse-Bouches

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

First Bite: Poki Bar Central

What’s the difference between “poke” and “poki”? We’ll refer that question to Ty Chu, co-owner of Slanted Rice Vietnamese Bistro in Scottsdale and this latest addition to the Valley’s ever-swelling armada of Hawaiian-style sushi-salad pushers.

The Scene
Located in the same Arcadia Lite strip mall as Giuseppe’s and Angry Crab Shack, PBC is a minimalist shoebox of a place done in whites and grays, with post-modern high-top seating that looks like it was designed by a sadistic Scandinavian ab trainer.

The Food
Glibly, it’s the poke bowl version of Chipotle. Assembly-line-style, customers select a “base” (e.g. kale, rice), a protein (e.g. tuna, octopus, barbecued eel) and toppings (e.g. seaweed, daikon sprouts), topped by a drizzle of sweet miso or one of three other dressings. Pick, pay, scarf. The protein portions are a little skimpy, and the shrimp in our shrimp/tofu/nori creation was of the less-succulent “bay” variety, but it all tasted fresh and the greens were on point.

The Verdict
Not the Valley’s best, but Chu’s poke is a party in your mouth. Or par-ti, if you prefer.  

2836 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 602-687-8442

 

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

If the D.A. Ranch in Cornville is not on your wine radar, it should be. In 2002, the Petznick family purchased the historic Verde Valley Dancing Apache Ranch as a retreat, a place where the whole clan could gather during the hot summer months. Soon thereafter, the family planted a block of Syrah grapevines with the help of Eric Glomski of nearby Page Springs Cellars. The grapes that eventually came from those vines were used to make a private label for the enjoyment of friends and family. When enough friends began asking to purchase the wines, the family transitioned into a full-fledged wine business. You might recognize the head winemaker, Joe Bechard, from famed Arizona winery Chateau Tumbleweed.

Less than two hours from Phoenix, the ranch and event space is replete with mature trees, ponds and gardens. If you enjoy extricating yourself from the city to decompress, the D.A. Ranch should be on your list of Arizona places to visit. It doesn’t hurt that the wines are super tasty, too. Below are two of my favorites.

 

• 2015 D.A. Ranch “Willow White” Seyval Blanc
A hybrid of Seibel and Rayon d’Or, this white zipper has minerality that reminds me of Chablis. Aromas of mandarin and melon come flying out of the glass, and the texture is light. With a bright and clean taste, it is a suitable match for salads and seafood. ($30)
• 2014 D.A. Ranch “Capra” Tannat
Tannat is widely found in the Basque country and in Uruguay, brought there by immigrants. Intensely fruity, this brambly grape is perfect for those who love Zinfandel or Malbec. The tannins, though grippy, are well integrated. This one would be worthy of Chef Francis Mallmann’s Garzon restaurant in Uruguay. ($40)
D.A. Ranch
1901 Dancing Apache Rd., Cornville, 928-301-0791, daranch.com
The ranch is open to the public by appointment only.
 

Eater’s Triangle: Beermuda Triangle North

Valley brewheads love the beer trail in Central Phoenix affectionately known as the Beermuda Triangle (beermudaphx.com), but it’s really more of an arc than a triangle, or a trapezoid if you include Mother Brunch Brewing. For a truer triangle, head up to North Scottsdale, where the recent debut of Mesquite River Brewing has local sippers seeing the shape of things.

Mesquite River Brewing
Start your odyssey at this four-month-old nano-brewery, where IPAs rule the day, along with interesting off-styles like an 8.2 percent ABV Imperial Amber. No kitchen, but guests can order from adjacent sports bar The Hanger or – no joke – bring their own meals from home. Or In-N-Out?
13610 N. Scottsdale Rd., 480-656-7696, mesquiteriverbrewing.com
McFate’s Tap + Barrel
The excellence of Steve McFate’s beer is by now a matter of public record – pundits are raving about his seasonal Gingerbread Stout – but his wood-fired pizza program is an underrated gem. Split a “Jess”: garlic oil, mozzarella, spinach, bacon, roasted garlic, ricotta and parmesan.
7337 E. Shea Blvd., 480-994-1275, mcfatebrewing.com
Scottsdale Beer Company
A good place to conclude your triangulation project, given its diverse dinner menu – where else can you get walleye with chips and Korean bibimbap with pork belly? – and emphasis on high-gravity conversation-enders like the Barley Legal Barleywine. At 11 percent ABV, it’s one and done.
8608 E. Shea Blvd., 480-219-1844, scottsdalebeercompany.com