Amuse-Bouches – September 2015

Mike MeyerSeptember 1, 2015
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Eat With Your Eyes: The $10 bottle of wine
The one legitimate knock on Arizona wine has always been price-point. Succinctly put: You don’t always get what you pay for. “Arizona wines make up less than 1 percent of the wine consumed in Arizona, and here’s why: We’re not price-competitive,” Page Springs Cellars owner Eric Glomski says. Glomski’s price-point remedy: creating the first $10 bottle of homegrown Arizona wine. Dubbed Provisioner, the new label debuted in August and could be a game-changer in the industry.

The Challenge: Getting $20 down to $10. Even the largest Arizona winemakers are small by industry standards. PSC produces about 8,000 cases a year. By comparison, California macro-producer Beaulieu Vineyard produces 400,000 cases a year. Thus, per-unit production costs are greater for Arizona wineries.

Solution #1: Inexpensive, plentiful grapes. To supply Provisioner, Glomski struck up a partnership with a farm in Fort Bowie to revive a 40-acre vineyard. Favorably planted on flat ground with canopy positioning, the vineyard is inexpensive to harvest. “My typical cost per ton (of grapes) is $2,200. That will produce 65 cases. In Fort Bowie, we can do it for $700.”
Per bottle savings: $2

Solution #2: Economies of scale. As a 10-year producer, Glomski already owns the necessary bottling and labeling hardware for Provisioner. Thus, his overhead and per-unit costs are reduced.
Per bottle savings: $3

Solution #3: Streamlined distribution. Provisioner will be distributed exclusively through his wholesaler; no online or tasting room sales. This allowed Glomski to negotiate more favorable terms.
Per bottle savings: $2

Solution #4: Lower profit margins. Glomski sees Provisioner as an investment in the Arizona wine consumer. “If I make one quarter on a bottle… that’s OK.”
Per bottle savings: $3

Solution #5: Good wine. With its dry-fruity duet of Colombard and Chenin Blanc grapes, the Provisioner white is as pleasing as any $10 Trader Joe’s special. And Glomski says its Merlot/Barbera red counterpart was ruthlessly R&D’d. “We gave [our distributor] four different blends to try and this one blew them away. It’s silky, but has muscle.”

Available at Bashas’ and AJ’s Fine Foods this fall.

PHM0915EBAMBO023 Best things to drink for September: Craft Coffee Concoctions
Watch out, fancy-shmancy cocktails: These caffeinated counterparts are coming for you.

1. Nitro Cold Brew at Songbird Coffee + Tea House: After Portland’s Stumptown Coffee drew national headlines this spring with its canned nitro cold brew, the trendy treat made its way to the Valley. At Songbird, local Cortez Coffee Company beans are steeped in cold water for 18-24 hours and then the elixir is infused with nitrogen for a silky, creamy finish and a Guinness-like tint and head ($5).
812 N. Third St., 602-374-4192,

2. Flight o’ Mornin’ Moonshine at Vovomeena: Can’t commit to one flavored cold brew at Vovomeena’s coffee shop spinoff Mornin’ Moonshine? Head back to the mothership and get a flight of three sampler pours ($5.95) with your biscuits and gravy. Flavors vary daily.
1515 N. Seventh Ave., 602-252-2541,

3. Cascara at Peixoto Coffee: Julia Peixoto says her shop is the only in the Valley to brew cascara, a tea made with the skins of dried coffee cherries. Light, fruity, herbal and with one-quarter of the caffeine of brewed coffee, it’s technically coffee and tea. Add Peixoto’s lemongrass lemonade for an Arnoldo Palmer, or try one of Peixoto’s rotating happy hour concoctions ($3.50-$5.50).
11 W. Boston St., 480-275-2843,

Fall Tweaks
The hot trend at owner-operated Valley restaurants: Seasonal menu items. We took the liberty of revisiting some of PM’s better-reviewed restaurants from the last few years to try them.
>>Clever Koi
Old Dishes We Like: Pig-jowl dumplings; kimchi fried rice
New Dishes We Like: Roasted corn dumplings; wood-grilled octopus
The Asian-fusion bistro is going global in a big way, adding surprising stops in Peru (fork-tender grilled octopus with a telltale Szechuan dressing/potato salad sidekick) and Tunis (roasted corn dumplings with spicy harissa yogurt). Delightful diversions, both. 4263 N. Central Ave., Phoenix,602-222-3474,

>>Citizen Public House
Old Dishes We Like: Pork-belly pastrami; Original Chopped Salad
New Dish We Like: Chicken-fried duck leg
We lost our pork-belly virginity at Bernie Kantak’s hands, and we will always be grateful. Almost as wonderful: duck leg confit, deep-fried and served with a pillow-soft steamed bun and burnt maple syrup for dunking. Hong Kong, meet Kentucky.
7111 E. Fifth Ave., Ste. E, Scottsdale, 480-398-4208,

>>Second Story Liquor Bar
Old Dishes We Like: Mushroom flatbread; lobster corndog
New Dishes We Like: Cornmeal-crusted fried pickles
Owner Tommy Plato changes his Med-Mod menu almost as often as he takes out the trash, so keeping abreast can be très difficile. Our current favorite: super delish, dipped-and-battered fried pickles. Plato also has a new seared foie with goat cheese and chai tea-pickled grapes we’re saving up for.
4166 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-945-5555,

>>Bitter & Twisted
Old Dish We Like: Ramen “Momo” burger
New Dishes We Like: Yum Yum noodles; pretzel burger
Arguably the Valley’s premier small-bites-and-drinks establishment, B&T has a revamped War and Peace-size cocktail menu to go with its new modern-Asian noshes. Pair the smoky, soy-kissed Yum Yum noodles with a cocoa daiquiri for a brooding bonanza of dark-toned flavor. Insanely good.
1 W. Jefferson, Phoenix, 602-340-1924,


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