Desert Digest

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Mardi Gras is coming up on Tuesday, Feb. 25 and if you plan on celebrating at home, we’ve rustled up an easy shrimp and grits recipe courtesy of Voodoo Daddy’s Steam Kitchen in Tempe. Sometimes customers shy away from grits, says Voodoo Daddy’s owner, Ron Lynch. “People have a negative feeling about them because their only exposure was at a Waffle House. They just serve bland, white grits,” he says. To that end, Voodoo Daddy’s...

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Some Phoenix basketball fans remember Bridget Pettis as a member of the Phoenix Mercury’s inaugural squad in 1997, and some may know her now as an assistant coach for the Chicago Sky. What most people may not know is Pettis has a passion for planting trees, growing community gardens and feeding the hungry in the food deserts of Phoenix. She recently founded the nonprofit grassroots organization Project Roots AZ to educate people about food and empower...

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For the past 14 years, Tea Light Café has been turning out fresh and healthy Vietnamese food from its location a few doors down from The Cine Capri in Scottsdale. Owner Chris Price says he’s also been a vendor at the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show for the same amount of time. “We started out as a mobile espresso van,” he says. The Prices still sell coffee and baked goods at the show, as well as...

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The Americano Restaurant, Pomo Restaurant Group’s newest outlet, is set to open in North Scottsdale on February 5, taking limited reservations until their grand opening in March. The kitchen will be headed up by executive chef Matthew Taylor, who is also executive chef at Mora Italian, and chef de cuisine CJ Kahley. The Americano will offer antipasti and pasta as well as steaks cooked over wood fire, a raw bar and caviar service, an innovative...

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Valentine’s Day sometimes presents a challenge for couples: Should we go out for a romantic dinner or make a cozy meal for two at home? For those of you staying in for Valentine’s Day and need a swoon-worthy dessert idea, Nick Ambeliotis of Mediterra Bakehouse offers a decadent bread pudding recipe that’s guaranteed to please. Ambeliotis devised the recipe for Phoenix City Grille. “I like to involve local chefs since I don’t have a café...

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A chic new restaurant has materialized in the heart of Downtown Phoenix. The newly opened Josephine sits inside a refurbished historic house off of Portland and 3rd streets, offering globally inspired cuisine, craft cocktails and an extensive wine selection. I was invited for an introduction experience and I was dazzled. The 1919 historic bungalow is a choice location for Josephine. The matte-black exterior boldly stands out among the surrounding city buildings and looks oh-so dapper....

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GuacStar Kitchen and Cantina, a new one-of-a-kind plant-based restaurant and bar, is coming to Tempe in early March. This full-service Cantina will be located at the Cornerstone Mall across from Arizona State University’s Tempe campus. “Everything is going to be edible art,” says executive chef Vincent Contreras. “It’s not going to be a plant-based restaurant, it’s just going to be a great restaurant.” GuacStar will feature Mexican-inspired cuisine that is completely plant-based, and the majority...

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The Cheetos elote at Urban Phoenix in Arcadia Lite. Roasted Mexican street corn sprinkled with cheese-flavored puffed-corn snacks? So crazy, it just might work. urbanphoenixcafe.com Going to Taco Boy’s in the Roosevelt Row arts district and having one of those mesquite-charcoal-grilled carne asada tacos everyone and their madre is talking about. aztacoboys.com Noshing on the Valley’s best regional and ethnic eats at PHOENIX-sponsored Devour the World. See page 132 for more details. devourphoenix.com Trying the...

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Scottsdale Fashion Square is becoming the ideal spot for foodies with new restaurants popping up everywhere you turn. The latest addition, Zinqué (pronounced zinc-kay) had its grand opening this past week and I was lucky enough to snag an invite to their media event. The relaxed but stylish Euro-inspired restaurant mimics cafes found in the South of France, Italy and Spain where guests can start with a latte and end with a glass of wine....

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If you have a citrus tree or two in your backyard, you’ve probably accumulated a surplus of fruit and have already run out of recipe ideas. Have you ever tried making marmalade? Chef Chris Smith of Merkin Vineyards offers an easy recipe that you can use in a variety of ways, from topping toast to glazing a ham to enhancing a charcuterie board. You can eat right away or can in Mason jars for later...

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I finally got around to visiting Old Town Scottsdale’s latest Arizona wine-tasting room: Maynard James Keenan’s Merkin Vineyards, which opened last year. It was something of a nostalgic homecoming for me, because the space served as the first home of my restaurant, FnB. And, yes, I like what they’ve done with the place. Just like Keenan’s Caduceus tasting room in Jerome, MV is posh and welcoming. General manager James Cunningham walked me through the offerings:...

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Four Peaks Brewing Co. recently announced the newest addition to its brood of award-winning brews. For fans of the brewery’s best-selling Kilt Lifter, Gilt Lifter is a lighter alternative with a toasty flavor and smooth finish, 3.4 percent ABV and only 99 calories per 12-ounce serving. A lower calorie count doesn’t mean less flavor, according to Andy Ingram, Four Peaks’ co-founder and head brewer. “You don’t find many beers this drinkable with this much flavor,”...

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Kaleidoscope Juice, a local health and wellness company, will open its eighth Valley location in Gilbert next month. Kaleidoscope offers fresh-pressed juices, nutritious smoothies, coffee, acai bowls, grab-and-go salads and gluten-free baked goods. It uses high quality, organic ingredients that are locally sourced when possible. The new location will feature a walnut wood bar, banquet seating and a community table. It will also include a baking production area that will allow the company to expand...

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Chef Donna Sites is bringing a bevy of knowledge and talent to the table at Cock N’ Tails Modern Brasserie, a rock ‘n’ roll-themed restaurant that’s slated to open in Uptown Phoenix on January 24. Decked out in eclectic rock memorabilia, the eatery features an elevated, chef-driven menu full of classic American dishes with a few twists. Handcrafted cocktails are also a key component of the concept, which will open at 7th Street and Bethany...

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Brace yourself: The internet’s favorite alcoholic beverage is about to become local.  “To keep up with demand for White Claw,” Mark Anthony Brewing, the maker of the spiked seltzer, is building a 916,000-square-foot brewing facility in Glendale off the Loop 303, planned for a speedy completion in “under seven months.” It seems White Claw is about to become even more ubiquitous in the Valley, and if you’re interested in trying it for the first time,...

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