Bella Gusto Urban Pizzeria
1964 N Alma School
Chandler, AZ 85224
Organized by: Janice
Bella Gusto Urban Pizzeria
1964 N Alma School
Chandler, AZ 85224
Organized by: Janice
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,
Old Town Tortilla Factory
6910 East Main Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
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.
788 E Baseline Rd
Tempe, AZ 85282
Organized by: Karna and Fred
In April, we visited one of the three locations of Flo’s, a local Arizona restaurant opened in 1997 and focused on spicing up your experience with Asian cuisine. Their motto of “Traditions with a twist” illustrates that there will be plenty of recognizable dishes but with some twists to wake up your senses.
We made our place on the back patio and, even on this windy day, it was a really comfortable setting with the added bonus of twinkle lights. We certainly enjoyed the San Diego type weather before the Arizona summer rears its ugly head.
As with almost every dinner, we started with cocktails. Ann ordered a Pomerita-Florita, made with tequila, triple sec, pomegranate syrup, lemon juice, sweet & sour, and soda water. To cut down on the sweetness, she ordered it without sweet & sour and it was still plenty sweet and probably more refreshing. Well done Ann! We also ordered some beers like Kiltlifter and the Japanese beer, Asahi, which is similar to a Heineken and a few bottles of Riesling. Just out of curiosity, we also ordered a taster of the Hakutsuru Plum Wine. Yes, it was just as sweet as imagined, but this was different. It was a thicker, more fragrant sweetness. Sound crazy? The best way I can describe it is to say, imagine the difference between drinking the juice of a plum versus the empty, hollow sweetness of a processed candy.
Never one to shy away from apps, we tried the lettuce wraps, potstickers (chicken, pork, and veggie versions), and the spicy wontons. The spicy wontons were hands down my favorite of the night! Shrimp and pork wontons served in a chili oil plus a soy and vinegar sauce. Nom nom nom! The lettuce wraps were a nice surprise as well. Unlike the drier versions that you find at PF Chang’s and Pei Wei, the lettuce wraps are covered in a tasty sauce. Be careful of using the red chile sauce, it carries a yummy but spicy kick!
Kelly and Tony ordered the Hot and Sour Soup, but little did hey know that they would receive a cauldron! Entrees included Thai Fried Catfish and Chile Sauce; Katsu Chicken, which is panko breaded chicken on egg-fried rice with teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds; Yellow Curry Chicken; and Yuxiang Pork, a twist on an imperial dish with bell peppers and onions. The sauce on the Yuxiang was surprisingly sweet considering it was on the “spicy China” side of the menu. Perhaps I needed to order it with more spice? The Spicy Orange Chicken was delicious! If you have ever been to Panda Express, do not make the mistake of thinking this is the same. Instead, think less bread and more flavorful sauce.
Sadly, we didn’t get to try the Peking Duck which is on the “hidden treasures” menu and needs to be ordered 24 hours in advance. For dessert, we enjoyed the Chocolate Won Tons, which were little crisp pastries filled with chocolate ganache and a tasty wrap up to the night.
Overall it was good, but there were plenty of intriguing dishes that we just didn’t have the chance to try. I guess it just means we will have to go back. 🙂
House of Tricks
114 E 7th St
Tempe, AZ 85281
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.
2048 E Baseline Rd
Mesa, AZ 85204
Organized by: Tony and Kelly
Have you ever had those times that a mistake turns into a great thing? Well this is one for Kelly and Tony. One day they accidentally ordered from Guru Palace for take-out instead of another Indian restaurant close by. This turned out to be a happy accident and became their new favorite place for Indian cuisine!
Guru is a nice place hidden away on the side of a strip mall but has plenty of tables and a large bar. It didn’t seem to be too busy this Saturday evening but you could see the take out traffic was quite heavy.
For appetizers we started with Veggie Pakoras and (my favorite) Samosas, which are potatoes, peas, ginger, and spices stuffed inside crispy crusts. Yum!
Naturally, we had plenty of Naan but looking at their super convenient online ordering menu, I didn’t realize that there were so many other kinds of breads we could have tried!
Kelly and Janice ordered Vegetable Korma and Kelly added a little chicken. I must say this veggie dish was delicious! It had just the right amount of spice in the yogurt-based sauce.
For the first time, I tried Chicken Biryani, which is basmati rice with boneless chicken, nuts, herbs, and spices. The nuttiness of the rice was a perfect blend for these spices and I think I found one of my new favorite dishes!
Some of the guys went full heat and ordered Lamb Vindaloo high on the heat scale but we had plenty of Indian beers to wash it down such as Taj Mahal and Kingfisher.
It was so nice to find an Indian place closer to home than The Dhaba. Great find Tony and Kelly!
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.