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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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September 19, 2015 – Cyclo Vietnamese

Cyclo Vietnamese Cuisine

1919 W Chandler Blvd.

Chandler, AZ

http://azeats.com/cyclo/default.htm

Organized by: Fred and Karna

September brought us on another foodie adventure but this time over to Asia. Cyclo vietnamese is an awesome gem with the best kind of feature, BYOB. This place is small but cute with modern décor. Being able to bring in your own drinks sure does help keep the cost down and is another fun surprise to see what everyone is going to bring.

Cyclo is a small place run by a very animated owner who is not shy with dishing out the sarcasm but who has a zest for having a good time. Water is served to everyone with chopped up fresh fruit for a tasty and refreshing twist.

For starters, we had the spicy garlic green beans and the spring rolls (both regular and vegetarian). For entrees, we tried a variety of dishes like the Hanoi Rice Vermicelli, a broth with veggies and meat and rice noodles that you add together for a tasty soup. I was super proud that I ate everything with chopsticks, never mind that I wanted to avoid the wrath of the owner by asking for (gasp!) a fork. J

We also had the spicy crispy lemongrass chicken, mixed grill, and chicken with bok choy. There was also a great crisp rice crepe filled with shrimp, pork, sprouts, and served with large pieces of red leaf lettuce. The lettuce is used when eating many of the dishes almost like a tortilla.

For dessert, many of us ordered coffee but it wasn’t the regular coffee we thought of. Instead, a Vietnamese coffee is brewed slowly in a metal drip cup and then mixed into sweet cream and poured over ice. It was like dessert and coffee all in one! (Note: even better when you add a splash of Bailey’s) The mango sticky rice was made with purple rice that I have never seen before. It wasn’t as sticky as normal, but was still delicious.

There was also a heated debate over the best kind of Cheetos with crunchy inching out over puffy as the winner (but I might be biased in the voting).

The best line of the night still belongs to Jenn “filter can’t fix crazy”, oh but we can try. J

Ăn ngon nhé! (Bon appetit!)

 
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Posted by on 10/11/2015 in Vietnamese

 

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5 years and counting: a celebration in the most appropriate way

Lawrence Dunham Vineyards Wine Gallery and Tasting Room

6951 E 1st St.

Scottsdale, AZ 85251

http://www.lawrencedunhamvineyards.com/

Organized by: Don and Jen

Who can believe we have been hosting Dinner Club for 5 years this month?! It is not often that random ideas said over a bottle of wine and a casual Italian dinner would turn into a monthly engagement that could bring together people with such different backgrounds. This is the power of connecting. This is the power of a good meal and a bottle of red. This is the power of people.

Don and Jen – brimming with class and creativity – helped us celebrate our 5 year anniversary in style with a wine tasting at the LDV Wine Gallery in Scottsdale and catered by Triple Dot Food Truck. The weather was amazing and that made the setting the epitome of relaxing and magical at the same time. Chef Josefina – who is from Argentina – runs Triple Dot Food Truck with her Dutch husband and is seen cruising around many parts of the valley. They cherish the ability to do things out of the ordinary and truck menus provide a random mixture between Argentinian street food and Dutch favorites with a mixture of other random favorites. This evening we started out with a charcuterie board and then moved to a delicious helping of chicken paella with red peppers and saffron rice. Yum! For dessert, there was a very rich but decadent tiramisu pudding. All of the dishes were paired with wines – both new release and some old favorites – from Lawrence Dunham. Curt and Peggy also spent time with us sharing a history of the wines and talking about the process. What a couple of awesome people!

After the dinner, Don surprised everyone with personally engraved wine glasses for every DD which celebrated our 5th Anniversary. He even had the great idea to incorporate our logo, created by our very own Fred K! What a memorable and special 5 year anniversary!

Thank you to Don and Jen for putting all this together and a big CHEERS to the DoubleDs!

Here is hoping for 5 more wonderful years with all of you lovable rascals! I wouldn’t change us for the world.

 
 

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January 24, 2015 – Tuck Shop

Tuck Shop: neighborhood comfort food

2245 N 12th St Phoenix, AZ

602.354.2980

http://www.tuckinphx.com/

Organized by: Ann and Jay

 

In 2015, the DDs will celebrate 5 years of dining shenanigans! 5 years, people! I think this is a testament to the amazing group of people that we have. Love them all 🙂

Since we are at a milestone year, we did a little reminiscing by going back to an oldie but a goodie, Tuck Shop in Phoenix. The first time we visited this cozy home of deliciousness 3 years ago was after seeing it on an episode of Check Please Arizona. Now a few of us have made this a frequent haunt but we haven’t been back as a group since. It can sometimes be scary to revisit a love from the past because time and memories have a way of exaggerating our feelings, but today’s trip did not fall prey to that possibility.

The first time we visited was the first time I had experienced the gentrification that is happening in the historic Coronado district of old homes being turned into cozy dining places. I remember feeling like a behemoth the first time. Like some giant trampling around a quaint village and trying to fold myself into a small cube in order not to disturb other diners. Since then, we have visited many different locations that are “creative” with the limited space they have and I was pleased to see that Tuck Shop this time seemed roomy and welcoming yet intimate. Funny thing is that they didn’t change, I did.

Luckily the food hadn’t changed and was just as delectable as I remembered. As usual, we started with some cocktails such as my personal favorite the 12th&Oak, made with a dangerous mix of Southern Comfort and orange liquor. It is just sour enough for me and just sweet enough to make you forget that this should not be consumed in great quantities – if you plan on being upright tomorrow. We also really enjoyed the French75 that is made with bubbly, a rum cocktail, and a ginger mule. Muah!

Then we moved onto some appetizers that obviously included a few orders of cheese curds. This almost seems like an unwritten law when visiting Tuck Shop. Made from local dairy farmers and beer battered, they are light and creamy yet rich with taste. We also had the parsnip and potato poutine but this was not one of my favorites. I like my poutine to be a little messier. A little more sinful. The poutine at Tuck Shop was too clean. Too well behaved. The Fontina Sticks of cheese with panko & walnut crust were good but a little light in flavor however the sweet pear sauce was a nice touch. The Stuffed Medjool Dates with Schreiner’s chorizo, melted gruyere and dressed arugula was delish. The chorizo was a bit spicy but having it as the surprise middle of the dates made for an amazing balance of spicy and sweet.

For the main dish we had quite a variety of fantastic options. There was the Eggplant Parm which is not the standard dish you would imagine; the citrus-brined chicken (and a hint of honey) paired with white-cheddar waffles and green beans; the Pine AZ Spiced Steak dry rubbed and served with parmesan lentil mashed Yukons; and the red beans & rice made with fresh linguisa sausage and topped with a skewer of grilled creole shrimp.

There was also the Ropa Vieja Chili with corn johnnycakes, cojita cream, and super fine sweet potato haystacks. It had had a flavorful spice and even a green olive surprise. The roasted Brussel Sprouts with white wine, mustard cream, and crushed almonds were such a delight. The magicians at Tuck Shop turned something that is a childhood nightmare and made it into the stuff of dreams. Some of the guys also ordered the Meat and Three special which tonight was tender lamb shanks with tortilla soup and a Yukon Gold potato stuffed with bacon. Result = fantastic!

For dessert, we ordered both the chocolate bread with hazelnut frosting and the pear tart in a French pastry crust with homemade whipped cream. The chocolate bread was good but was a little dry and improved greatly when we tried it with the whipped cream. The pear tart was amazing and the crust was buttery and flaky. I typically don’t like whipped cream because it can taste empty and soul-less but this whipped cream was the real deal. You know, the kind that is rich yet delicate and mixed with the flavor of mom’s kitchen and sprinkled with Christmas.

Our trip down memory lane was not a scary episode and Tuck Shop made sure that they served up a dose of the magic that made us love them 3 years ago. The only thing missing was the rest of our group who couldn’t make it or else it would have been a perfect evening.

 May the roof above us never fall down and we friends below never fall out. – an Irish toast

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Posted by on 01/24/2015 in American

 

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September 27 – The Market by Jennifer’s

The Market by Jennifer’s
3603 E Indian School Rd Suite A
Phoenix, AZ 85018
602.626.5050
http://themarketbyjennifers.com/

Organized by: Janice

The DDs (minus Fred and Pat who couldn’t make it) made our way to Arcadia this month to check out a local kitchen right in the same parking lot as Beckett’s Table and others. Hidden a little on the side of the plaza the restaurant had a cozy charming feel with an open seating area that is clean and simple without being stuffy, a beautiful wrap around patio, and a view into the kitchen to watch the magic happen.

Fred S demonstrated some of his playa skillz and hung out with the ladies at one table while the rest of the boys pretended like it was the playground at grade school hiding away from the girls and telling dirty jokes. 😉

Originally started as a catering company, Jennifer Russo-Fitzgerald used her magic to create a fun place to showcase her culinary innovations. Not only do they offer a great dine-in experience, there is also Curbside Catering offered as well as a Grab N’Go counter.

With a seasonal menu that offers fresh local ingredients, you are sure not to get bored by a variety of dining options. We started with some happy hour wine selections and some cocktails. The Black and Blue Mojito made with blackberries was divine and dangerous. It would be so easy to enjoy way to many of that refreshing beverage.

For starters we tried some of the options from the rotating “Bites” menu. This week it was the Meatball sliders with roasted San Marzano tomato sauce, the Fried Prosciutto/Provolone Balls with Garlic aioli, Grilled Chipotle BBQ wings, Cheddar & Italian Parsley nachos and Chili & Chive “Dirty Pop” popcorn. Very tasty way to start the evening!

Market by Jennifer’s was participating in Restaurant Week so some of us decided to try to prixe fixe options. This included selections such as the butternut squash & crème fresh soup; grilled cheese with white cheddar, gruyere and honey on a fresh brioche; fresh pasta with pancetta, parmigiano reggiano, poached egg and crisp prosciutto; and free range chicken with skin & crispy artichoke hearts paired with grilled corn polenta. All of these dishes were divine, but none made me swoon like the pasta with pancetta and poached egg that Ann so brilliantly chose.

Some other excellent choices for dinner was the roasted asparagus soup (which was better than the butternut squash if that was possible); the perfectly cooked ricotta gnocchi with peas, fava beans, Parmesan, and prosciutto; and the crispy salmon with roasted baby zucchini, saffron, baby onions, and natural jus. (FYI we heard that this was Jennifer’s signature dish! )

For dessert we ordered the lavendar crème brulee which was sadly a little disappointing, the HUGE chipwich ice cream sandwich, and the mason jar of lemon meringue pie.

In addition to watching a huge summer storm rage outside, we were also entertained with some live indie music by a guy who looked like he was channeling Johnny Cash. Thankfully, the music did not start until we were well into dinner and the volume so it did not drown out the good time we were having, but it was nice to add to the fun evening with some good music!

Pretty soon we were forced to say adieu and try to race the next wave of storms back to our part of the valley. Thank you Janice for picking a delicious place that also supports local farmers and merchants!

 
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Posted by on 09/27/2014 in American

 

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