Written by Craig Outhier, Pavle Milic Category: Amuse Bouches Issue: February 2017
Group Free
3 Best Things to Eat This Month:
Winter Additions

Between seasonal menus and expanded food programs, winter is a jackpot for Valley newbies.

Anything raw at The Gladly Bernie Kantak’s latest culinary plaything: a raw seafood bar just quirky enough to distinguish itself from the pack. Oyster selections like clean, creamy Kusshis and tart, feisty Malpeques are inventively served with Vietnamese-style fish sauce and garlic vinegar, posted on a daily blackboard menu alongside seafood-friendly sherry cocktails. The Gladly’s Wagyu burger has also been re-engineered. Out: blue cheese. In: chorizo, grilled onions and piquillo-bone marrow sauce.
2201 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix,

Arroz Negro at Joe’s Midnight Run
Sadly, chef Michael Goldsmith 86-ed the original menu’s playfully decadent PB&J foie gras, but this fall/winter dish is just as memorable: a smoky salmagundi of forbidden rice, shrimp, chorizo, corn and piquillo peppers. (Yes, piquillo again. Clearly, it’s the Valley’s chile du moment.) It’s like a tastier, more sinister paella.
6101 N. Seventh St., Phoenix,

Ribeye at Buck & Rider
As part of a major menu overhaul, LGO Hospitality scooped up former Top of the Rock chef Gregory Wiener after he was unceremoniously cut loose by Marriott late last year. First order of business for Wiener: beefing up the beef, as it were. The seafood restaurant’s newly enhanced steak menu includes a luscious ribeye sourced locally from Cedar River Farms, aged in-house and scored with sea salt. More changes are in store this spring, Wiener says.
4225 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix

Beverage Bonus
The Royal Artichoke at Clever Koi

Nobody has a more sophisticated seasonal bev program than the Koi boys. Case in point: this kaleidoscopic sipper mingling rye whiskey, cognac, Cynar artichoke liqueur and Royal Combier, a nutmeggy cordial. Frothed and served in a coupe.
4236 N. Central Ave., Phoenix,

Pav on Juice: Meet the Hammelmans
A monthly look at Arizona wine with Valley dining impresario Pavle Milic.

In 2010, Sarah and Rob Hammelman bought 15 acres of land in the Willcox “bench” area, 80 miles east of Tucson, to launch Sand-Reckoner Vineyards. They have since become two of the most well-known winemakers in the state, scoring a spot on the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 Wines list in both 2013 and 2014 for their Malvasia Bianca. Recently I sat down with Rob Hammelman to reckon out the latest news at the couple’s winery.

• How were you introduced to Arizona wine?
I was working in Phoenix out of [Colorado State University], and had Dos Cabezas Toscano at Bar Bianco. This led to me reaching out to Kent Callaghan in Sonoita. I spent the summer of 2000 working on his vineyard. This is when I got hooked.

• Since your arrival in Arizona, what have been some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the Arizona Wine landscape?
The acreage under vine has grown exponentially since we bought our vineyard in 2010. Growers are planting more obscure varietals to see what does well in our climate – what’s exciting is we can do so many varietals exceptionally well. We are getting really excited about Sagrantino, Tannat, Vermentino, Picpoul Blanc and Roussanne.

• Which grape varietals do you think Arizona will become known for?
Malvasia Bianca. It is such a unique varietal and it grows beautifully here. Also rosé. [There are] many styles of rosé coming out of Arizona and many are stunning. I think Italian red varietals are uniquely suited to our climate and, while domestic Sangiovese doesn’t get much critical attention, I think Arizona-grown Sangiovese can be superb.

• What has been your proudest achievement in wine?
Releasing the first Sand-Reckoner wines is up there... but also, working on our first release of [a robustly tannic Umbrian varietal called] Sagrantino. It was planted on our son Levi’s one-month birthday, and we took our first harvest last year. It’s going to be very special.

Drink Scene: Vitani PrÊt À Porter Martinis

Back in December, we told you how an invading force of Chicago pizzerias was colonizing the Valley. Turns out the Windy City wants us to drink their martinis, too. First conceived and marketed in Greater Chicago, Vitani is a line of pre-mixed martinis – Cosmo Martini, Dirty Martini, etc. – that come in suave, chill-conducing aluminum bottles. Outside of Chicago, Phoenix is the first market to receive the products. “We... believe our cocktails will match the enthusiasm and passion of cocktail-lovers here,” says owner Eric Gichner of the cocktails, which won two medals at the 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Available at AJ’s Fine Foods and The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa.