This summer, the Fox restaurant family was invited to cook at the White House of the culinary world. The James Beard House, former Greenwich Village home of “The Dean of American Cuisine,” is HQ for the foundation that hands out the highest honors in gastronomy.Sam Fox – eight-time James Beard Award nominee for Restaurateur of the Year – brought to the Big Apple two booze czars and six chefs, representing Little Cleo’s Seafood Legend, Culinary Dropout, Flower Child, True Food Kitchen, North Italia and The Henry. The phenomenal five-courser featured Thai frog legs, blackened avocado with bonito, and steak aside oxtail and bone marrow agnoletti.
Fox’s far-flung travels have famously inspired the menus at his 15 concepts. Where does he nosh in New York?
• “I love to start my day at Sadelle’s for sturgeon, house-smoked salmon, everything bagels with scallion cream cheese, and the best sticky bun in town,” Fox says. 463 W. Broadway, 646-692-4732, sadelles.com
• “On the run I hit up Chelsea Market for some of the creamiest and most creative hummus I have ever had at Dizengoff.” 75 Ninth Ave., 212-652-2121, chelseamarket.com
• “After a long day, I like to wind down at Miss Lily’s for some amazing jerk chicken, great rum cocktails and a fun, eclectic vibe. Side note: They also have an amazing juice bar!” 132 W. Houston St., 212-812-1482, misslilys.com
– Keridwen Cornelius
• Cook and Lake. Low-key, no-frills boating spot Bartlett Lake – located north of Fountain Hills en route to Payson – just got a little more frilly. Overlooking the marina, newly opened Bartlett Lake Grill offers the familiar chorus of bar-food favorites (Buffalo wings, beer-battered onion rings, burgers, cheesesteaks, etc.) with a few nifty chord changes, like poutine. And there’s also a full-service bar. Look out, Lake Pleasant – things are getting jiggy up Bartlett-way. bartlettlake.com
• Vortex in a Bottle? Located at the Kimpton Amara Resort and Spa in Sedona, the Amara Spa is billing itself as the first place in Arizona to carry VitaJuwel, a crystal-infused water brand from Germany. Available in seven different blends – with salubrious-sounding names like “Wellness” and “Cupid’s Kiss” – the gemstone refreshers aren’t cheap: Bottles run from $48-$84. Gesundheit! amararesort.com
• Oktoberfest is Bächen. If you want to go out of town for Oktoberfest this year, Flagstaff Oktoberfest (October 1) is returning for the eighth year, and seems to have supplanted Sierra Vista Oktoberfest – which returned this season after a two-year hiatus – as the state’s top out-of-Valley celebration. Sierra Vista may still lay claim to the most authentic celebration, given its state-high percentage of German speakers, but we all can speak German after a few pints of Ayinger, nein? flagstaffoktoberfest.com
What’s new in and around the Old Pueblo? Everything from cave-adjacent tamales to vats of craft beer to resort wildlife.
Colossal Cave Mountain Park: These subterranean stalactite-stippled caverns just 22 miles south of Tucson are deep underground and under new management. There’s an expansive gift shop bulging with baubles, and a fresh cafe serving artisanal pizzas and tamales made by vaunted Tucson restaurant El Charro Cafe. But the coolest new feature? No entrance fee to use the park (cave tours cost $8-$16). Sources say Arizona craft beer on tap and a zipline are also in the works. 16721 E. Old Spanish Tr., Vail, 520-647-7275, colossalcave.com
Dove Mountain Brewing Company: “AZ Proud” is the motto of this new brewpub, which serves a sizable selection of suds from Tucson craft brewers including Dragoon Brewing Company, Barrio Brewing Co., and Borderlands Brewing Company, along with five or six of their own handcrafted beers. The recently remodeled space includes a taproom side with weathered brick walls, a “standard pub” side with a wraparound bar, and rustic touches throughout. 12130 N. Dove Mountain Blvd., Marana, 520-579-8999, facebook.com/dovemountainbrew.com
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum at J.W. Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa: Owls and snakes and rodent skulls can be found not far from the pool at J.W. Marriott Starr Pass most Saturdays, when folks from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum visit the Blue Teen Lounge with scaly and furry friends in tow. The living critters give the lounge’s Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and pair of Apple iPad 2s some competition for teens’ short attention spans. 3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd., Tucson, 520-792-3500, marriott.com
– Niki D’Andrea