Looking for a low-risk investment with a high-flavor yield? Bank on the peach financier ($9) from J & G Steakhouse. Upgraded with Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s trademark Asian accents, this blue-chip French pastry (pronounced FEE-nan-cee-AY) epitomizes simple elegance.
When husband-and-wife team Alberto della Casa and Letizia de Lucia – who have 35 years of combined food experience in the U.S. and Italy – decided to launch a new gelato shop, they collaborated with a champion Italian gelato artisan. Della Casa even attended Carpigiania Gelato University in Bologna, Italy. The result is an elegant Italian dessert shop located adjacent to the Scottsdale Center for the Arts.
Take a spoon, crack the Goldbrick, and it shatters into fragments that melt on the tongue, leaving creamy pools of milk chocolate. The best part of the pecan-studded topping, which hardens like glazed brick over ice cream, is just inside the icy goblet, where the sauce gathers into chunky ores. Rich vanilla ice cream is the perfect foil for malty-chocolate. This simple sundae is simply addictive.
Another wing sauce? Don’t roll your eyes until you’ve tasted this one. It’s blow-your-socks-off good. Kay Weldon, originally from South Korea, owned a Japanese restaurant in Albuquerque for 10 years in the 1990s. To compete with chain restaurants, she launched a lunch buffet, and there was one item on the menu that always sold out: glazed chicken wings.
After moving to the Valley, Weldon took a job as a dealer at a local casino, but she couldn’t stay out of the kitchen. She took her sweet and spicy wings to parties, where everyone asked for the recipe, and when she wouldn’t part with it, they told her she should “bottle and sell it.” So she did.
Hankering for a chunk of artfully-coagulated curds? Satisfy your next cheese fix at one of these Valley fine-food purveyors.
Cheuvront Restaurant & Wine Bar
Equal parts hipster and gourmand, Ken Cheuvront retails about 45 top-quality cheeses with an American focus, and his in-house cheesemonger hosts a tasting class the last Sunday of each month. A popular cut is Barely Buzzed from Utah’s Beehive Cheese Co., a cheddar-like cheese rubbed with coffee grounds and lavender, which infuse it with notes of butterscotch
These days, beer is increasingly nudging wine aside as the preferred food-pairing potation. So it’s fitting that Scottsdale-based Sonoran Brewing Company is teaming up with four Valley chefs to brew small batch beers (1,000 bottles or less) made with local ingredients. The first offering comes courtesy of Chef Jeremy Pacheco of Lon’s at the Hermosa. It’s called 7 Wives Saison – a nod to Hermosa’s founder, artist Lon Megargee, who married seven times.
The creative genius behind restaurant Noca’s inventive desserts is Kriss Harvey, a pastry chef nomad currently based in Southern California. Thankfully for us, Harvey’s sugar-rush wanderlust often leads him to Phoenix. Noca owner Eliot Wexler contracts the pâtissier to develop desserts and train staff on how to execute them. Wexler has hired Harvey to consult and train several times a year since he opened in 2008, and Harvey’s desserts at Noca are dependably quirky and show-stopping.
Take, for example, the playful Passion & Fruit ($9) presented on a rectangular, black-slate plate. “The idea was to create a dessert that looks like real fruit, made with fruit, of course, but it isn’t really fresh fruit,” Harvey says.
Fresh dry pasta isn’t an oxymoron, even though it sounds like one. Most dried pasta available commercially – spaghetti, fettuccine and elbow macaroni, among other shapes – probably isn’t fresh and was likely mass-produced in industrial factories. But the delectable dried pastas from Pasta and Sugo in Phoenix are made fresh and air-dried naturally (sans heat) in specially made boxes, locking in flavor and freshness. Some of the company’s dried pasta tastes as if it were rolled and cut right in front of you.
Patrick Grindatto and his wife Doria Dphrepaulezz – who moved to Phoenix from Milan, Italy – own the three-year-old company and make both dry pasta and fresh frozen pasta (cheese ravioli and tagliatelle).
When Wright’s at the Biltmore reopened last November, the kitchen took the opportunity to revamp the menu. Many venerable Wright’s favorites made the cut, including the old-school chocolate soufflé. At the same time, Executive Pastry Chef Shane Ward added a few newfangled sweets inspired by traditional desserts, including an elegant mint chocolate pâté ($10), made in the manner of a French silk pie (but crust-free), and sporting layers of chocolate infused with mint. The silky-smooth, buttery dark chocolate layer is made with 58 percent-cocoa coverture chocolate, sugar, eggs, cream and a splash of mint extract. Ward then creates a lighter chocolate layer by cutting the dark chocolate silk with high-quality white chocolate. He fills the half-dome terrine mold with a dark layer, then a light, repeating until he has five layers of lusciousness.
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