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Category Archives: American

April 30 – Brickyard Chandler

The Brickyard Downtown 

85 W Boston St |Chandler, AZ 85225|480-963-1373

http://brickyarddowntown.com/

Organized by: Pat and Fred

For April, the DDs went to a great gem in Chandler that is known for their craft cocktails that are paired with tasty small plates. We started out with cocktails ranging from gin gimlets, pineapple and pimms and their special take on a margarita using saline solution instead of salt and citric acid instead of sweet and sour. It was really tasty but strong, so some of us all switched to wine for the rest of the night.

We also shared their pork tacos and new fish tacos, pork belly skewers, olives, shishito peppers, loaded fingerling potatoes and new mushroom mini bricks. For dinner we had shrimp and grits which were creamy and cheesy, squash ravioli, and spiced rubbed tenderloin that was cooked perfect.  It was all so good we forgot to take pictures but in classic Tony style, he went over to the neighbors table to take a picture of their creme brulee. Ha!

For dessert we had a couple of each: the mini churros were light and with great sauces, crème brulee and the new lavender panna cotta. The last two were light and perfect for summer.

Everyone enjoyed the idea of the smaller plates and sharing. The small patio was nice after the sun went down and perfect because we could actually hear each other. Sometimes I even think the patio is more comfortable than the inside. It feels like a secluded little garden with a fireplace. I could spend hours out there, certainly doesn’t help that that cocktails are delicious 🙂

 
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Posted by on 05/01/2017 in American

 

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Humbleberry surprise

We have been going to Laughlin, Nevada for many years and, just as many others do, we had our regular favorite spots. For us, this did not include the Pioneer Hotel and Casino. In our past experiences, the rooms had paper thin walls, the roof is low making the casino seem small and cramped and the restaurant was not a place that a foodie would hang their hat.

The saving grace for the Pioneer, used to only be the Sassy Sue Saloon that has good craft beers on tap, quarter poker machines at the bar, a jukebox that plays both rock and country, and a fantastic view of the Colorado River.

This year we were surprised to find another hidden gem at the western themed casino, Bumbleberry Flats restaurant. Serving food labeled as “comfort food”, they have renovated the previous greasy spoon diner into a scratch restaurant who provides flavorful versions of American classic recipes with a twist.

Do not be fooled, these dishes are rich and hearty and they do not skimp on the serving size. You may be eating enough to carry you through a couple of meals! We stopped by once for breakfast complete with a very tasty 3 huge breakfast sausage links, a fresh and airy Belgian waffle topped with fresh apple and cinnamon compote plus Chantilly cream, and hash browns that were clearly fresh. I have loved grits all my life and sadly the cheddar grits were not up to snuff with the grits one might find in Charleston, SC. The biscuits and gravy were good but we weren’t thrilled with the toasted cheddar biscuit that it was served on.

Later on we found ourselves back at Bumbleberry for Round Two. This time we tried the dinner menu and sat at one of the tap booths. This is exactly what you might be thinking. It is a booth with beer taps built into the wall. There are only two types offered, but you can keep pulling beers and a small meter keeps track of how much you enjoy!

The place is open 24 hours on Wednesday to Sunday but beware, they may run out of many of the items. It may have been a busy night and many of the favorites such the fried chicken, pot roast, ribs, or brisket were all gone. Instead we tried the bone-in pork chop that was topped with fresh apple and cinnamon bourbon sauce and griddled mashed potatoes; and the ribeye, which was a little thin, and served with a fresh and tasty oven baked potato (and yeah, there IS a difference that you can taste.)

All in all, it was a great surprise to find a second great reason to add the Pioneer to our regular rounds each year. Looks like we are going to have to keep going back until we get to try all those dishes that were so popular that they ran out of them!

 

 
 

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Playing in Park City

As a surprise, I kidnapped the hubby and took him to Park City, Utah for a long weekend. Neither one of us had been there, but with so much publicity about it, especially during the Sundance Film Festival, I figured it would be fun to go check it out.

We stayed in a villa at Marriott’s Summit Watch which is right on Main Street. They also have another location up on the mountain but, since it was low season and no snow, I am really glad that we stayed in town.

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The room was very cozy and, in true Marriott fashion, the bedding was super plush and there was a large soaking Jacuzzi tub that tall people will relish. We arrived really late on a Saturday night but took a quick walk around the deserted Main Street enjoying the crisp air before bed. On Sunday morning, we woke up late and enjoyed a cup of coffee while lounging by the fire. Being in search of a sports bar to watch the Steeler’s game, we headed over to Collie’s Bar and Grille.

As dog lovers, we appreciated their slogan of “Where good food is herding people together”. J Clearly Collie’s is the place to watch games because they had EVERY game on and a chart of what tables to sit at depending on what game you wanted to watch. Talk about a serious operation! We hoped to try their Green Chili Cheese Fries but were told that they were out so we settled for some chips and queso. They were good and the queso had a small amount of spice, so it wasn’t as bland as just melted cheese sauce. We wanted to try some of their BBQ so we split the Devils Friend with brisket and burnt ends and paired it with the coleslaw and corn bread. I think the winner of this plate was the brisket and coleslaw. The corn bread was okay, a little dry and not served with any butter. We washed lunch down with a local Park City’s Hooker Blonde Ale and Moab Brewery’s Oatmeal Stout.

Then we went out for a stroll to see historic Park City in the daylight. Being low season, there was not the rush of people that I assume arrive in the winter or in January for the film festival. This made for a nice leisurely walk. We took the free trolley up to the top of the hill and walked down stopping at all the shops along the way. There were lots of shops selling high priced winter gear, art, and other Park City tourist items. It was fun to look at but since we are from the warmer Phoenix valley, I decided to avoid spending $200 on a pair of furry boots that I could never wear, even if they were made in Canada from the tears of polar bears.

 

Since we were not used to being at 7,000 feet and it seemed drier than the Arizona desert, we were starting to get a little altitude headaches so we headed back to the room for a nap. We stopped on the way at a fun little doughnut shop called Peace, Love, and Little Donuts. I had never seen a shop where they create your donut toppings when y14925641_10209436713467194_1549364469874266443_nou order! They dip the donut into the warm frosting and then into the desired topping giving you fresh and creative made to order donuts. Since we like to try different flavors, we order a six pack with black and gold sprinkles (Steelers, baby!), maple bacon, chocolate chip, cherry pie, and banana Nestle crunch. I am glad they are small because they pack a rich sugar punch for sure!

 

After our nap, we tried to decide on a place to have dinner. Since many of the places were closed on Sunday and Monday and we didn’t have a car, we thought we were limited to options so we stopped for pizza and wine at Vinto Pizzeria on the Marriott property. Big mistake. Firstly, every child in town seemed to be in the restaurant with their family and all of them seemed to think words needed to be shouted. Secondly, we were tucked way back in the forgotten corner and I seriously thought I was never going to see a waiter. Remember, this is “low season”, imagine how they handle it when they are busy. Yikes! I ordered a cup of tomato basil soup and got a bowl. Then we ordered a bottle of wine, but were finished with our starter of goat cheese and pesto on pita before it ever came to us. We were told the bar was backed up but we didn’t see a single other table with drinks. So either that was a lie or they were sooooo far behind that no one had their drinks yet. The pizza was fine enough and afterwards we ended up at High West Distillery Saloon for a cocktail. Man we should have started here for dinner!

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High West is a large operation that we just learned was sold recently for $160M dollars to Constellation Brands making them a sibling to other high quality brands like Prisoner Wine Co. and Ballast Point Brewery. For such a big operation, the saloon in Park City was so charming and comfortable. The décor recreated an old-west saloon feel and all the servers looked dapper in their buttoned shirts and vests or denim and boots. Even the music fit the vibe playing some bluegrass and folk songs like Mumford and Sons and other bands in that genre. Bill ordered an Old Fashioned Old Fashioned which was the less sweet version and made with their Rendezvous Rye and an orange twist. I wanted to try something a little different so I got the Rusty Miner, which is made with their Double Rye! and smoked honey syrup. I was so sad to learn later that the smoked honey syrup was a special creation and not something that I could pick up at home.

 

Monday we used the free bus service again and took a trip to Kimball Junction to visit the Olympic Park. After taking the long way back on the bus and seeing some of the neighborhoods, we came back to downtown for dinner at Adolph’s. A former Swiss ski racer, Chef Adolph Imboden opened this amazing restaurant more than 30 years ago. The inside looks like a mixture of a ski chalet  and a memorabilia shop with all the pictures of skiers who have come to dine at Adolph’s. Again since it was low season we were lucky that we could walk right in and get a table at this warm and welcoming place. We were even greeted by Adolph himself who was answering phones and seating guests.

We started with the house specialty of Swiss Onion Soup that was divine! Creamy, delicate, and flavorful. It was like French Onion Soup but only four times better and without the soggy bread. We also tried the Swiss specialty of Bündnerfleisch, which is dried beef sliced thin and served with prosciutto, pickles, tomatoes, bread, and butter.

For dinner, Bill ordered the veal chop special served with a morel mushroom sauce and mashed potatoes. He couldn’t get over how tender and flavorful the chop was and had to resist licking his plate clean. I ordered Veal Adolph’s, which was thin pieces of veal in a creamy mushroom wine sauce and served with a hash brown type of potato. It was so incredible! The flavors and the textures all blended together so perfectly.

Dinner had been so amazing; we couldn’t pass up trying one of the desserts. We ordered the Viennese Apple Strudel, which came with a warm vanilla sauce, and I tried a glass of the pear brandy. I normally don’t like dessert cocktails, but when in Rome, right? The brandy was strong but went so nicely with the rich and flaky strudel. Such an incredible end to a great meal.

We were relishing the cool crisp air and the evening had been so amazing that we didn’t want it to end. After getting a cab back to downtown, we found ourselves back at High West for another cocktail (or two or three).

Now it was day three and we have to head back later on that evening. I made another trek on the trolley to the top of the hill and stopped at Wasatch Brewery to buy Bill a Polygamy Porter sweatshirt he wanted and decided to stop at the bar for a quick pint of the smooth porter on draft. I paired it with a cup of creamy ham and pea soup and some fried pickles with a spicy dip for a quick lunch.

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Determined to get in one more restaurant visit, we stopped by Butcher’s Chop House for an early dinner before heading to the airport. Besides having a beautiful wood bar, there is also a nice view of the mountain and part of downtown. It is great to people watch while enjoying some happy hour treats. Their slogan of “Elegance without arrogance” seems spot on. It was comfortable and welcoming while being good quality. Since it was low season, we even enjoyed a special pricing on entrees and got one dinner free. Naturally, we tried some steaks since we were at a chophouse. Bill and I both ordered the prime rib with a mixture of bacon Brussel sprouts, jalapeno mac and cheese, or sautéed asparagus. I am not sure when Brussel sprouts started coming back in fashion but I do know that over the past few years, I have regained a new love for the small little cabbages and now crave them sautéed, roasted, broiled, or flash fried. Especially if it comes with some bacon or pancetta. Nom nom nom!

After a quick three days in Park City, it was time for us to head back home to Arizona. While the shopping and some of the tourists we ran into may be a bit pretentious, the spirit of the town and the people that work there make this a place we would love to come back to see again. Maybe next time there will be snow and those cocktails at High West will be even more enjoyable while we warm our toes by the fire.

Until then – cheers!

 
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Posted by on 11/13/2016 in American, Pizza, Southern

 

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A little southern comfort – August 2016

Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails
2 Jefferson St
Phoenix, AZ 85004
602-258-0231
http://www.bluehoundkitchen.com/

Organized by: Jenn

We spent a stormy monsoon evening trying out Blue Hound in downtown Phoenix. This was a fun cocktail bar and restaurant with dishes that reminded us of our trip to low country.

As a fan of an Old Fashioned, my favorite cocktail was The Man in Black with bourbon, china-china, sherry, and black walnut bitters. Among all the other great tasty offerings, they make a mean shrimp and grits with legit real creamy grits and andouille sausage; a hearty pappardelle with local Schreiner’s sausage ragu (my personal fav); delicious deviled eggs with bacon jam; and corn grit fries with smoked bacon and white cheddar.

For dessert, we had a sampling of all three options. The favorite was definitely the chocolate pudding with marshmallow fluff, vanilla ice cream, and peanuts followed by the apple pie with salted caramel. The chocolate cake was good but when you compare it against the other two it was hard to measure up.

In addition to the great food and drinks, the location and gorgeous large pane windows was perfect for watching an amazing monsoon storm roll through downtown. It was like putting an exclamation point on the evening. 🙂

Cheers!

 

 
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Posted by on 08/27/2016 in American, Southern

 

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March 12, 2016 – House of Tricks

House of Tricks

114 E 7th St

Tempe, AZ 85281

480-968-1114

http://www.houseoftricks.com/

Organized by: Jen and Don

House of Tricks is a well-known oasis in the middle of the bustling Arizona State University campus. Surrounded by trees, this little 1920s bungalow has a fire pit, bar, and open patio seating making it perfect for a quiet and tasty retreat.

Robert and Robin Trick opened this fine dining restaurant way back in 1987. I am sure they have seen so much change with how ASU has grown around them.

The seasonal menu changes regularly and they are known for using only the freshest ingredients from local sources.

 
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Posted by on 03/12/2016 in American, Wine Bar

 

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December 18, 2015 – Salty Sow

Salty Sow

4801 E Cactus Rd.

Scottsdale, AZ 85254

602-795-9463

http://saltysow.com/phoenix/

Organized by: Ann and Jay

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the DDs!

We celebrated the end of 2015 with an homage to our love of all things bacon! Salty Sow is another restaurant expansion from Austin, TX that is making its second home in Phoenix right behind

We sat at a great large community table right next to the open kitchen which gave a great viewpoint of watching the magic of Chef Brady Cohen in action. On a fun side note, Chef Cohen was recently named on of Marie Clare’s most eligible bachelors check it out here!

Even the cocktails have a nod to little piggies like the CurlyTail with tequila, serrano, cilantro, blood orange, and smoked salted rim, or the Smokey Sow Martini made with Tito’s (of course!) stuffed bacon and cream cheese olives, or my favorite the Salty Sow’r with Copper City Bourbon, agave, lime, and tamarind.

First of all they have happy hour every day from 4-6:30 so make sure you get there early and take advantage of some of the $5 noshes. Do not miss the Truffled Deviled Eggs, the Duck Fat Fries, or the Crispy Brussel Sprout Leaves. We ever ordered a second round of a few of them because we couldn’t get enough!

Next on the must order list are the Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms (insert foodgasm) or the Farm Salad which is not your ordinary salad. Instead it has bacon lardons, pork belly, 110-minute egg, avocado, roasted beets, mushrooms, frisee, baby spinach, radish, and goat cheese croutons lovingly covered in a white balsamic vinaigrette. Oh my!

We wrapped up the night saying good bye to 2015, happy birthday to Don and Ann, and happy retirement to our favorite English teacher, Karna.

Cheers!

 
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Posted by on 12/18/2015 in American

 

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November 21, 2015 – Moore Wine Party

After a nice holiday/winter slumber, I am back. Looks like I owe a few updates.

In November, we celebrated with friends as we do every year at the Moore Wine Party! It was a chilly evening but Tony and Kelly make it so easy to warm up with wine, BBQ meatballs, a smorgasbord of cheeses, and a decadent table of desserts.  My drink of choice this evening was a Cabernet Sauvignon by Cult out of Napa Valley.

Bill and I took on some fun rounds of pool with Ann, Karna, and Fred, but I had left my game back at the house. 🙂 Lucky for me you don’t need game to have a bundle of fun with friends.

Even so, it was a great evening of old friends, meeting new ones, and ringing in the holiday season. Oh and wine!

Cheers!