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Clever Koi – December 2016

Clever Koi – December 2016

Clever Koi

384 N Gilbert Rd #101

Gilbert, AZ 85234

http://www.thecleverkoi.com

Organized by: Ann and Jay

Happy Holidays from the Double Ds! This year we celebrated our annual wine exchange at another new hot spot in Gilbert. Located in the booming metropolis of downtown Gilbert is a delicious asian inspired kitchen and craft cocktail bar that is tummy-making-happiness delicious! When you pair that with good service by people who have a good appreciation of the magic coming out of the kitchen, it makes for a memorable end to 2016.

In true DD fashion, we tried a whole host of tasty items. For starters we had Wok Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Black Bean and Celery Root Pancakes, and Duck Fat Sriracha Wings. Be warned, these wings are amazing and with a little kick. The Soft Shell Crab with crispy fingerling potatoes, apple, and smoked daikon is also very good, especially coming from a girl who doesn’t like shellfish! And yes, you eat the crab shell. Also do not miss out on a chance to try the Pig Face Dumplings served with kimchi, sriracha, and pickled peppers.

Speaking of kimchi…it is the freshest kimchi I have had in a long time! We even ordered a few sides of kimchi which when perfect with our ramen bowls.

For dinner, there was the Thai Chili Beef that is made of grilled sirloin steak, veggies, and a spicy (to some) sauce. We also tried the Fried Forbidden Black Rice made of Gojuchang Roasted Shrimp, snap peas, asparagus, bok choy, and a fennel and pickled ginger salad. Next time I definitely need to try the the Kimchi Fried Rice!

Do not miss the noodle bowls! You can top them with lemongrass chicken, shrimp, tofu, steak, or pork belly. The world is your oyster! Each one comes with a host of delicious fresh veggies and a savory broth. One of the big hits was the Spicy Seafood Hot Pot. A steamy bowl of shrimp, calamari, scallops, cilantro, scallions, and lime but with a nice flavorful kick in the taste buds. Be warned, these noodles bowls are big and hearty, so you may not be able to finish them…

If you haven’t filled up yet on amazing dinner dishes yet (doubtful) there is a variety of dessert options. A new one to try is the kimchi waffle churros. Before you squirm away, it isn’t kimchi on a churro.

There are so many options to try, I am going to have to go back a whole bunch of times just to try everything on the menu! You should do the same too. 🙂

See you at the Koi!

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Posted by on 12/17/2016 in Asian fusion

 

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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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Flames and Saki – October 2016

Osaka Japanese Steakhouse
6730 E Superstition Springs Blvd
Mesa, AZ 85206
(480)830-8884
http://www.osakaaz.com

Organized by: Bill and Sarah

This month we tried a local hibachi restaurant. You can either sit on the regular restaurant side or wait for a table at the hibachi grills. The wait can be long but they take reservations so that helps. We arrived a little early to take advantage of the happy hour that ended at 5pm but service was terrible in the bar and we barely got any drinks so we asked them to seat us early. Normally they are supposed to wait for the full party and we were still two shy, but they got us to a table. Thankfully they also honored happy hour prices at the hibachi tables. That was a nice gesture to help offset some of the bad service.

The food was really good and was pretty standard hibachi options that you find at any type of these restaurants. Our chef, Daniel, was funny and half of our group even got into the Saki shots, including Janice! There was a moment that I was worried that Jay was going to take all the Saki. 🙂

The downside of going to a place like this, is that it seems like everyone in town comes here for their birthday. I think we counted at least 8 times the birthday song played before we lost our minds. Ha!

Service was pretty quick except for the beginning of the evening at the bar and Janice and Pat’s initial missing wine order. I think they tried to make it up to us by giving us happy hour pricing on all our appetizers and drinks. That was a nice gesture and much appreciated. Besides the over-played birthday song, it was a fun night with food, good times, and friends.

Cheers!

 

 
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Posted by on 10/22/2016 in Japanese

 

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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July 17, 2016 – Bella Gusto

Bella Gusto Urban Pizzeria

1964 N Alma School

Chandler, AZ 85224

480.696.4455

http://www.bellagustoaz.com/

Organized by: Janice

 

 

 
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Posted by on 07/17/2016 in Italian, Pizza

 

June 11, 2016 – Kagie Wine Party

Another year and another summer tradition of the Kagie Wine Party! We missed seeing some of our DDs because of summer vacation travels, but we also introduced some new friends to “wineapalooza”.

Great food was there as usual with all the guests making some really tasty dishes to share to support Pat’s super secret and tasty meatballs. 😉 I especially loved Ann’s caprese on a stick. It was a toothpick with bite size mozarella, cherry tomato, and basil leaf all drizzled with balsamic. Perfect little bite size and refreshing as well.

This year there was a good representation of Australian Shiraz along with the regular tastings of Cab Sauv, Merlot, and white varietals. Cheese selection was extensive with lots of choices including the delectable Brilliant Savann.  

Until next year,

Salute!

 
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Posted by on 06/11/2016 in theme party, Wine Bar

 

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May 28, 2016 – Old Town Tortilla Factory

Old Town Tortilla Factory

6910 East Main Street

Scottsdale, AZ 85251

480.945.4567

http://oldtowntortillafactory.com/index.php

Organized by: Fred and Karna

Fred and Karna took the reigns again this month and organized dinner at the Old Town Tortilla Factory in Scottsdale. The restaurant is located in a very cute 75-year old adobe home. You enter through a huge flagstone patio surrounded by lots of pecan trees. Needless to say, the patio seating is amazing!

We started with the “award winning” margaritas that seemed a little watery and light on flavor. So we decided to change it up to a bottle of wine…at a Mexican restaurant with 120 tequilas. Not a good sign. Instead of tortilla chips like most Mexican restaurants, the Tortilla Factory provides warm homemade tortillas with butter. Rightly so. This was a interesting twist and the tortillas were pretty tasty.

From the starter menu we got a few orders of chips and salsa fuego and the much anticipated Chorizo Fundido. I was quite disappointed that it was light on the Chorizo, but heavy on the Fundido.

For dinner, the Red Chile Pork Chops was nicely presented and had good flavor. The green enchiladas with chicken, cheese, and tomatillo sauce was also good. Overall, I would say that the food was okay but I probably wouldn’t come back just for that. The best part of the dinner was certainly the ambiance of the beautiful patio!

We opted not to order dessert and instead part of the group walked down the block to the Hotel Valley Ho for cocktails and dessert. The Valley Ho has been a Scottsdale landmark since 1956. The hotel was renovated in 2005 and brought back to its modern 60’s vibe. The ZuZu lounge had a fun design of 60s modern bar stools, minimalist couches with clean sharp lines and yet still looked comfortable and soft. Since we were there at night, there was a soft red glo giving everything a fun artsy vibe.

We opted to sit outside at the Cafe Zu Zu taking full advantage before the Arizona weather kicked into full gear. When first sitting down, I made the mistake of asking the hostess how long the hotel had been open knowing that it was a landmark but not much else. The young girl sheepishly looked at me and said “I really should know this, but I don’t.” Yes dear. You really should.

After a rousing discussion of Scottsdale vs. Gilbert socialites, we delved into libations. I tried the Bourbon Smash which was Maker’s Mark, muddled lemon, mint, simple syrup, club soda, and lemon peel. Someone else tried the Blackberry Mule of vodka, ginger beer, lime juice, and blackberry and Tony went with a Manhattan.

For dessert, we tried the Raspberry Creme Brulee, Key Lime Pie, and Caramel Macchiat”Oh” Cheesecake. The cocktails and desserts were delicious and were a nice ending to a fun evening of heated political discussions and lots of good times and laughter.

 
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Posted by on 05/28/2016 in Mexican

 

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