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Espos – March 2017

Espos Mexican Food

3863 W Chandler Blvd|Chandler, AZ| 85226

480-588-7377 |https://www.espos.co/

Organized by: Jen and Don

Hidden right in the middle of bustling Chandler is a fast casual gem that has been serving up Mexican favorites and good times for the people in Chandler. Whether it is tender and juicy carne asada or fresh and tasty green chili pork, Espos originally started serving the farm worker community and has been dishing happiness for over 40 years.

We visited Espos on a beautiful April Sunday in Phoenix before the heat melted our skin off so we enjoyed sitting outside in the comfortable patio. There is no table service, rather you order inside and then find a seat. The margaritas are only $2 and they are quite delicious and refreshing on a warm afternoon. You can also order a bucket of beers and they will literally put them on ice for you. Even though the patio is sitting right on Chandler Blvd, it feels secluded and inviting, making you forget that a huge mall is just right down the road.

The portions are plentiful so be prepared to possibly take leftovers home or share a dish. You would think that with this kind of quality ingredients, prices would be high but they are not. A red chili burrito is under $6 and it is not a baby burrito! There are also a variety of snack options such as corn or flour chips with a whole variety of dips such as queso, green chili beef, or pico de gallo. The rice and beans are good, but unless your plate comes with it, I would rather focus my laser sights on enjoying the tasty main dishes. You won’t be hungry, that’s for sure!

So bring your friends, order some good food, and chillax on the patio with a margarita or a frosty cerveza and let summer roll on by…

https://www.espos.co/special-event-pictures

 
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Posted by on 03/26/2017 in Mexican

 

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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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Attack of the Angry Crabs – January 2017

Angry Crab Shack

8253 E Guadalupe Road | Mesa, AZ | 85212

480-373-5855 | http://www.angrycrabshack.com/restaurant

Organized by: Fred and Karna – January 2017

What is an angry crab, you ask? Well the crab isn’t so angry, but the spices you can add to this seafood boil is what gives the restaurant its iconic name. It all started in a small shop in Mesa and has exploded into six locations around the Phoenix area, some of which also offer BBQ dish options.

The atmosphere is always very casual. I mean, you literally dig your food out of a bag with your hands while wearing a bib. So trust me, you cannot be underdressed. Patrons are also encouraged to leave their mark on the walls and the tablecloth is a piece of butcher paper to soak up all the cajun spices and butter that might seep out of the bag during your devour session.

Everything is flown in fresh daily and sold at market price so don’t be surprised if they run out of clams early. That is a fan favorite and Jenn can really get down in the dumps if she don’t get her clams. J Some of our group are regulars here and even call themselves the AC crew. But the crew isn’t for everyone because they like to go hot. I mean real hot. The kind of hot that makes your neck sweat and your insides cry. That doesn’t mean that you can’t join in, just don’t make the mistake like I did and grab a sausage or corn piece out of their bag…J

As a non-crustacean person, I was excited to try the BBQ options but that was a bit of a let down. We have so many BBQ options here in Phoenix so the bar is set kind of high and I don’t think AC makes it. The po’boys are okay but the bread is so…bready. Seems like a 3:1 ratio on bread vs. filling with every bite. I think I will keep to the chicken fingers and onion rings, gumbo, or coleslaw.

Beers are good and oysters are big, fresh, and cheaper than other seafood places. They have a variety of tasty cocktails that are served in mason jars and some local craft brews on tap. They do have wines available, but it’s not the best selection. I say skip the wines and go with the good beers or the great cocktails.

Whether you like a good boil bag or prefer to get one of the other menu items, make sure you come here with friends. Half of it is the food, but the other half is the fun experience with your peeps.

http://www.angrycrabshack.com/gallery-1/

 
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Posted by on 01/21/2017 in Cajun, Seafood

 

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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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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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June 28, 2014 – Kagie Wine Pairing Dinner

June 28, 2014 – Kagie Wine Pairing Dinner
Kagie Wine Pairing Dinner
 
Organized by: Fred and Pat

The DDs have got some mad culinary skillz, yo! For the second time, we gathered together to put our foodie adventure lessons to use and made some scrumptious treats to share with everyone.

Hosted again by the amazing wine- and beer-pairing duo of Fred and Pat, we devoured our way through a four course meal with each course sporting its own beer and wine pairing! My personal favorite was the Mollydooker, but that was an unfair advantage. Mollydooker always seems to be a winner in my book.

One of the fun standouts was Jenn’s deconstructed lasagna served with mascarpone cheese in addition to ricotta. She learned this little trick from our neighbors in the North and it provided a nice escape from the expected.

Ann and Jay, Don and Jen, and Kelly and Tony outdid themselves with the appetizers. Don and Jen’s salmon ceviche was light and refreshing but not fishy. Delicious! Ann and Jay brought the crostinis with sun-dried tomato jam, baked shrimp scampi and asparagus wrapped in prosciutto. Tony and Kelly treated us to a caprese salad and blue cheese stuffed mushrooms poised on a crunchy pedestal for the perfect mix of flavor and crunch.

With so much goodness, we were almost stuffed by the time dinner came around. The Buccatini alla Amatriciana was light for a summer dinner but with some spice from the chili flake to wake up the taste buds.

Tony and Kelly’s two options of spicy and sweet Italian sausage were tender and juicy after cooking all day in a flavorful sauce. What a nice addition to Jenn’s lasagna.

We were so happy Karna and Fred made it to the smorgasbord even after a super long flight home from frolicking through Europe. The Black Forest Cake didn’t make it to the table but we did wrap up dinner with a sampling of rich and decadent cheesecake flavors.

Again we had such an amazing dinner and it was a fun departure from our normal routine to have a delectable dinner at “home”.

Cheers to all!

 

 
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Posted by on 06/28/2014 in theme party

 

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