Tequila Pairing Dinner

Passport LaunchOld Town Scottsdale’s Barrio Queen

Restaurant launched the largest tequila

program in the state and

WhereShouldWeEat.com was treated to

a special Passport Launch Party and Don Julio Pairing

Dinner. Barrio Queen’s Tequila

Passport is a fun and creative new way for restaurant

patrons to track their tasting journey. Housing more

than 400 tequilas, rare mezcals, sotols and bacanoras,

Barrio Queen’s tequila program has been personally cultivated by “The Queen’s” four-time James Beard-

nominated chef, Silvana Salcido Esparza.

 

Chef Silvana  Famous Guacamole

First Course: Chef Silvana’s famous Guancamole. Chef Silvana demonstrated how to prepare her mouthwatering guacamole as we sipped on our first taste of Don Julio’s Blanco which was mixed into a La Guerita Margarita (see picture at bottom of page). Smooth, Sweet and a little hint of sour, this ”Margie” was a perfect mate to the fresh guacamole which gave off its own tartness with dried cranberries.

 

Scallop Quesadilla

Second Course: Seared Scallops Quesadilla. Arriving open-faced on a tortilla, a huge scallop was complemented by tomato, onion and a chowder-like sauce complementing this delectable seafood sample. The quesadilla was paired with Don Julio’s Reposado which was mellow with hints of citrus and spice. This particular tequila seemed to warm my checks and chest as I swallowed each sip.

 

Mango, Avacado and Jicama Salad

Third Course: Mango, Avocado and Jicama Salad. A refreshing summery salad with sweetness from the fruits and cool from the avocado made this bright salad a nice choice for this hot evening. Don Julio’s Anejo paired perfectly with this course.  Anejo was full of fruity flavors like grapefruit, mandarin and lime but had light honey-spice finish.

 

Halibut

Main Course: Halibut in a pipain verde mole. The white flakey fish is subtle in flavor which allowed the pipain verde mole to be the star. The Pepitas, sesame seeds and cilantro were nice finishing touches. This course was paired with Don Julio’s Anejo 70th Anniversary Tequila. Celebrating their 70th anniversary Don Julio decided to age this tequila in reclaimed American white oak barrels for 18 months, then carefully filtered which brought out unique flavors and extra smoothness.

 

Don Julio REAL

Dessert: Homemade Churro with Mexican Chocolate, Kahlua Crème and Cajeta. The traditional flavors of a Churro amped up with chocolate and Kahlua Crème was sinfully good. Paired with Don Julio’s REAL which gave off hints of vanilla, carmel and chocolate with coffee undertones made this the sweetest and my favorite tequila of the night.  Its warm and flavorful impressions lingered on your palate and made the ideal end to the meal. I could have sipped on this tequila well into the night.

 

Tequila Dinner

As we tasted each tequila our Passports were stamped with a unique stamp representing each spirit. Over the next several months, Barrio Queen’s Passport Program is poised to attract both tequila aficionados and those who want to learn more about the spirit that is ever increasing in popularity. Check their website for more events planned throughout the summer and be sure to take part in this entertaining journey through tequila. (I have 5 down…395 to go!)

See Barrio Queen’s “Ingredients” page here: Barrio Queen

The Heard Courtyard Cafe

Heard MuseumTucked inside the center of the Heard Museum is a little foodie treasure, The Heard Courtyard Café. Priding themselves on serving natural, organic and locally sourced products you can find a variety of southwest specialties. Open to the public, the café’s outside courtyard would have been prime choice to sit and enjoy our lunch if it wasn’t 106 on this particular day.  Inside, the café has about a dozen tables and gives off a relaxed vibe with a hint of sophistication.

I started with a Prickly Pear Lemonade, sweet and tart this cacti based beverage was the perfect way to cool off (also, a great drink to show tourists Prickly Pear is not only edible but delicious!) For lunch I ordered the Indian Fair Salad. Grilled squash, red bell pepper, corn, tepary beans, red onion, pepitas, tortilla strips over crisp romaine with a cilantro lime dressing (I added shrimp for protein.) You could taste the freshness in every bite as the veggie combination represented flavors of the traditional southwest and the cilantro lime dressing gave a light summery finish. Perfect salad for this sweltering July afternoon. I stole a bite of my dining companion’s Oven-Roasted Turkey & Melted Brie Sandwich with sliced Granny Smith apples, chipotle mayo on cranberry-walnut bread that is freshly baked daily.  The brie was perfectly melted by the warm turkey as it oozed out of the delightful homemade bread, the crisp apples gave a cool finish to this perfect combination of flavors. Other items that caught my eye were the Posole’, Smoked Shredded Chicken Street Tacos and the Totopos. For dessert we indulged in the Fry Bread Sundae, traditional fry bread topped with hot fudge, caramel and vanilla ice cream. I already am a huge fan of fry bread, add these scrumptious toppings and you get a sinful treat!  The café is open daily from 11am to 3pm and Heard Museum members receive 10% discount off their bill.

Taking in some of the 130,000 square feet of the Heard Museum was a great way to walk off this wonderful meal. This beautiful museum has been showcasing arts and culture of the Native peoples of the Americas for more than 80 years. One current exhibit caught my eye: “Chocolate, Chili & Cochineal: Changing Taste Around The World.” This fascinating exhibit displays edibles native to the Americas and the role these edibles have played throughout history. I also couldn’t resist the fun of the Lego exhibit: “Build! Toy Brick Art at The Heard.” This exhibit is a sure way to feel like a kid again as you enjoy this colorful and playful art.

So if you are touring the museum or just stop there on your lunch hour, the Heard Courtyard Café is a unlikely delicious choice for an afternoon meal!

Heard Musuem
2301 N. Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(602) 252-8840
www.Heard.org

 

*Special Thanks to Mark Scarp for taking the time to show me The Heard!

Visit Phoenix”s “It’s Cooler Than You Think Tour”

 

WhereShouldWeEat.com was invited along on a 2 ½ day adventure through Downtown Phoenix full of activities, sights and most importantly FOOD! We documented each stop to give an inside look into some HOTspots you may be missing out on in Downtown Phoenix.

 

Herberger Theatre

The Herberger Theatre is showcasing a

Lunch Time Theatre series. Recently

dubbed “Best Culture On Your Lunch

Hour,” Herberger offers a simple lunch

menu and on arrival your pre-ordered

meal awaits you in a quaint, air

conditioned theatre. We enjoyed a Piano/Storytelling

Presentation followed by Tribal Belly Dance Program

integrating an educational spin

into our afternoon.

 

 

 

Lustre Bar    Lustre Bar                                             If the arts aren’t your thing, you can always head up to the Lustre Rooftop Bar, located

on the 3rd floor pool deck of the Hotel Palomar. Stunning views of Phoenix surround you

as you quench your thirst on creative cocktails.Misters kept the outdoor space cool as

we watched planes landing, people bustling on the streets below and even a yoga class

starting by the Palomar pool.  I ordered the Café Racer which combined Jasmine

infused Hanger One Vodka, Bols Elderflower and Lemon. It was the perfect summery

adult beverage on a sizzling AZ day.

 

 

Arrogant ButcherAfter sitting pool side we were getting a

little hungry. Arrogant Butcher is a

favorite of WSWE and this visit was more

than the usual great meal. We sat in one

of the three private dining rooms and

heard stories of  how Arrogant Butcher was originally

meant to be a chop/steak house

named after Sam Fox’s  childhood neighborhood Butcher,

but the public wanted

something more casual and the downtown favorite Arrogant Butcher was born.  Our

waiter was extremely knowledgeable and helpful as we ordered many dishes from the

menu. Menu highlights include the Spicy Shrimp and Pretzels and cheese, it would be

hard to leave without trying one of these signature dishes. For dinner I chose the

Tabouli Salad. Light and invigorating with many dimensions of refreshing flavors which

were filling but not so much that I felt stuffed.

Arrogant Butcher Shrimp Cocktail      Arrogant Butcher Oysters

Arrogant Butcher Steak & Scallops   Arrogant Butcher Tabouli Salad

For dessert we sampled three favorites:  The Warm Peanut butter Cup, Hot Chocolate Cake and

the Salted Carmel Pudding. Each decedent dessert was worth the sweet tooth ache,

Arrogant Butcher Peanut Butter Cup but the Salted Carmel Pudding was

my personal favorite. Combing sweet and salty

mix into a good ol’ fashion rich thick pudding and

served in a mason jar just adds to the rustic

charm of this place. Once you visit you’ll see why

Arrogant Butcher is known as one of the few

places in Arizona where sports fans or theatre goers can enjoy

burgers and beers next to some of AZ’s top politicians. It truly is a

Downtown Gem.

 

 

 

Bitter & Twisted   Bitter & Twisted

Next up on the tour we visited Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour; which is housed in the

Phoenix’s historic first ever high-rise. Combining a neighborhood bar with a world-class

swanky lounge makes this a perfect stop anytime/any day for cocktails. As you sip and

dine you can feel the bustle of the city outside. The extensive drink menu can be

overwhelming but I narrowed it down to the enjoyable Lemongrass Collins. It’s bold and

sour combination was refreshing as I kicked back and took in the beautiful architecture

and décor.

 

 

 

DSC_1004The next morning we visited Matt’s Big

Breakfast and it was the perfect way to

start the day. After its exposure on

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, the word got

Matt's Big Breakfastout and it hasn’t been a slow day since.

One of the most popular breakfast spots

in town Matt Pool prides himself on using

farm fresh ingredients and organic

produce. Boy, you can taste it in every

savory bite! I got the Daily Special which

on that particular day was a Spicy Three

Meat Scramble. Fiery and peppery this

scramble had a delicious kick! Served

with tortillas giving you the option to roll it into a

breakfast burrito. Breakfast Potatoes accompanied

the Scramble and I was sufficiently

full as I devoured the last bite. I had

heard The Waffle at Matt’s was spectacular and couldn’t resist stealing a small bite from

my dining companion. Fluffy, decadent and oozing with homemade comforting flavors,

Matt’s waffle was stellar!

 

Chips and Guac          Taco                                      Cocina 10 at crescent ballroom is serving up “Mexican-accented Road food” which

is a perfect cuisine type for this rustic hot spot. The straightforward menu offers

traditional Mexican favorites we all love. We started with the chips and guacamole and

for lunch street style tacos in many flavors filled the table. The casual tacos were the

perfect choice for this unpretentious lunch. We finished the meal with some Churros.

Crisp on the outside moist on the inside, these cinnamon and sugar treats finished off

our Mexican meal.

 

BurrataRegina Pizza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Piazza Locale is a cute quaint pizzeria in the heart of

Downtown. This award winning pizza is traditional brick

oven Neapolitan style. This family owned spot has

been using secret methods and recipes dating back  many years. Importing ingredients

straight from Italy and home making their mozzarella clearly shows why this Pizza is an

Arizona favorite. I ordered the Regina Margherita D.O.C. with San Marzano Tomatoes

D.O.P., Mozzarella di Bufala, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Fresh Basil and I added some

prosciutto. This Pizza was exploding with flavor. The cheese was stringing with each

bite and the crust had the traditional crisp outer rim but doughy middle showcasing all of

the fresh ingredients on top. You can taste the family tradition in every bite at La Piazza

Locale.

 

 

Phoenix Public Market     Phoenix Public Market                               The last stop on our tour was breakfast at Phoenix Public Market Cafe. This casual

urban hangout offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The goal of Phoenix Public Market

Cafe is to bring the local food community closer together by offering fresh dishes crafted

with seasonal ingredients mostly sourced directly from the farmer’s market held nearby.

I could identify all the fresh ingredients as I devoured Suny’s Breakfast Burrito.

Generously filled with eggs, bacon and cheese with a side of salsa which was

incredible. You could taste the garden in every bite of the salsa. Phoenix Public Market

Café is truly a wonderful addition to the neighborhood.

 

If you are itching to get out of the house this summer, venture to Downtown Phoenix, it

may surprise you…it really is “Cooler Than You Think”

 

Big Papa*A big thanks to Jay with Big Papa pedi cabs, the heat never

seemed to be an issue as Jay and his crew pedi-cabed us

around the city.

Shimogamo Experience

He Said

 

Coming Soon!

She Said

 

As I start bridging out into the East Valley, I’m realizing not to judge a book by its cover… or at least a restaurant by the strip mall it’s in. I was told to check out Shimogamo by a friend who spoke very highly of their sushi. After being oblivious to its location and mistakenly driving past it several times, we found it. It is a very small restaurant tucked in the corner of a strip mall near Dobson and Warner. Being that there seem to be less than 15 tables in the whole place (not including the sushi bar), we were initially turned away due to reservations. Second time’s a charm, though! The atmosphere inside was definitely more upscale with slate wall tiles, modern gray wall colors, contemporary artwork, and simple/ zen Japanese accents. The food is mostly what you would expect from typical sushi restaurant. The fish is fresh and the dishes are well balanced. A portion of their menu includes small dishes that allow you to taste multiple Japanese cooking styles and share with friends. I recommend this place as a date night dining experience, but if you go on a weekend, be sure to make reservations!

Read our Listing on this restaurant now.

Spring ARW 2014

 

Arizona Restaurant Week Spring 2014 has officially ended (boo). The rumors are in fact true, I was an out of control eating machine throughout the entire week…even as I write this, I feel full (sigh).

Fall seems to be the more popular of the two Arizona Restaurant Weeks, but this year Spring seemed to be the talk of the town. The “week” actually ran for 10 days with more then a hundred restaurants participating. Restaurants were adding themselves last minute to get in on the action and WhereShouldWeEat.com was receiving non-stop Tweets, texts and Instagram “mentions” updating us on all the indulging going on around the Valley.

My pants are a bit tight but it was worth every bite! Here is a “taste” of my week:

 

The Local

The Local:

Roasted Bone Marrow, lamb bacon, fennel onion jam, shaved fennel salad, garlic confit crostini

 

 

 

Pink Pony

                                Pink Pony:

        Braised Short Ribs: Dr. Pepper,

sunchoke,   fingerling potato,

piquillo  pepper  and  carrot.

 

 

 

Petite MaisonPetite Maison:

Maryland soft shell crab banh mi

 

Petite MaisonKombu steamed black bass, lobster gnocchi, english peas

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bink's Midtown

Bink’s Midtown:

Kale & Salanova Salad
garlic bread crumbs, pecorino, oregano, carrots, giardinier vinaigrette

 

 

 

Brat Haus Brat HausBrat Haus:

Pretzel Fundido and Spicy Bratwurst

 

 

 

 

If you missed your opportunity to partake in Spring’s most delicious week, don’t worry you will have a chance to redeem yourself in September for Fall Restaurant Week. I’m going to need the next few months to get ready for round two!

 

Republica Empanada Experience

He Said

 

Coming Soon!

She Said

 

Downtown Mesa is going through a small revival with several new and revamped businesses and restaurants. To be honest, I was hesitant that I would find anything with character in Mesa of all places, but this place surprised me. It’s called Republica Empanada. Their specialty is… empanadas of course! If you’re not familiar with this treat, it is a small crispy dough pocket stuffed with just about anything, but most often pork, beef, or chicken. I sampled the Capitan, Pernil, and for dessert, the Fig and Carmel. They have many other varieties, but these provided a good cross-section and were delicious. Plus, they sell several beers from local breweries (my favorite being the Sonoran White Chocolate Ale). Republica Empanada is located 1 block south of Main Street in downtown Mesa in a free-standing building. The restaurant is very comfortable and trendy and is a great place to grab a quick, hearty snack with friends.

Read ourListingon this restaurant now.