Another wing sauce? Don’t roll your eyes until you’ve tasted this one. It’s blow-your-socks-off good. Kay Weldon, originally from South Korea, owned a Japanese restaurant in Albuquerque for 10 years in the 1990s. To compete with chain restaurants, she launched a lunch buffet, and there was one item on the menu that always sold out: glazed chicken wings.
After moving to the Valley, Weldon took a job as a dealer at a local casino, but she couldn’t stay out of the kitchen. She took her sweet and spicy wings to parties, where everyone asked for the recipe, and when she wouldn’t part with it, they told her she should “bottle and sell it.” So she did.
Hankering for a chunk of artfully-coagulated curds? Satisfy your next cheese fix at one of these Valley fine-food purveyors.
Cheuvront Restaurant & Wine Bar
Equal parts hipster and gourmand, Ken Cheuvront retails about 45 top-quality cheeses with an American focus, and his in-house cheesemonger hosts a tasting class the last Sunday of each month. A popular cut is Barely Buzzed from Utah’s Beehive Cheese Co., a cheddar-like cheese rubbed with coffee grounds and lavender, which infuse it with notes of butterscotch
These days, beer is increasingly nudging wine aside as the preferred food-pairing potation. So it’s fitting that Scottsdale-based Sonoran Brewing Company is teaming up with four Valley chefs to brew small batch beers (1,000 bottles or less) made with local ingredients. The first offering comes courtesy of Chef Jeremy Pacheco of Lon’s at the Hermosa. It’s called 7 Wives Saison – a nod to Hermosa’s founder, artist Lon Megargee, who married seven times.
The creative genius behind restaurant Noca’s inventive desserts is Kriss Harvey, a pastry chef nomad currently based in Southern California. Thankfully for us, Harvey’s sugar-rush wanderlust often leads him to Phoenix. Noca owner Eliot Wexler contracts the pâtissier to develop desserts and train staff on how to execute them. Wexler has hired Harvey to consult and train several times a year since he opened in 2008, and Harvey’s desserts at Noca are dependably quirky and show-stopping.
Take, for example, the playful Passion & Fruit ($9) presented on a rectangular, black-slate plate. “The idea was to create a dessert that looks like real fruit, made with fruit, of course, but it isn’t really fresh fruit,” Harvey says.
Fresh dry pasta isn’t an oxymoron, even though it sounds like one. Most dried pasta available commercially – spaghetti, fettuccine and elbow macaroni, among other shapes – probably isn’t fresh and was likely mass-produced in industrial factories. But the delectable dried pastas from Pasta and Sugo in Phoenix are made fresh and air-dried naturally (sans heat) in specially made boxes, locking in flavor and freshness. Some of the company’s dried pasta tastes as if it were rolled and cut right in front of you.
Patrick Grindatto and his wife Doria Dphrepaulezz – who moved to Phoenix from Milan, Italy – own the three-year-old company and make both dry pasta and fresh frozen pasta (cheese ravioli and tagliatelle).
When Wright’s at the Biltmore reopened last November, the kitchen took the opportunity to revamp the menu. Many venerable Wright’s favorites made the cut, including the old-school chocolate soufflé. At the same time, Executive Pastry Chef Shane Ward added a few newfangled sweets inspired by traditional desserts, including an elegant mint chocolate pâté ($10), made in the manner of a French silk pie (but crust-free), and sporting layers of chocolate infused with mint. The silky-smooth, buttery dark chocolate layer is made with 58 percent-cocoa coverture chocolate, sugar, eggs, cream and a splash of mint extract. Ward then creates a lighter chocolate layer by cutting the dark chocolate silk with high-quality white chocolate. He fills the half-dome terrine mold with a dark layer, then a light, repeating until he has five layers of lusciousness.
Eyeing the freshly baked cupcakes at Mind Over Batter’s girlie-hot-pink storefront in Tempe presents a dilemma: Of the 20-plus flavors, which should you order? Some have wacky names like Dark Vader (chocolate cupcake with dark chocolate buttercream) and the even-wackier Dark Helmet, a riff on Rick Moranis’ character in the 1987 movie Spaceballs (chocolate-chocolate chip cupcake with decadent fudge icing).
There are seriously flavorful cupcakes without winky-names, too, like the chocolate chip-studded red velvet; a delightful, tender strawberry cupcake with chocolate frosting; and a crazy-good caramel mocha with a coffee toffee topping.
It isn’t just the way Zorroz Bloody Mary mix kicks the old standby brunch libation into high gear that caught our attention – although it wakes up the taste buds with some serious zing. We also love Zorroz as a handy kitchen condiment. Use the mix to impart a little mouthwatering Southwestern flair to anything from soups to meatloaf to huevos rancheros.
The tagline for this new boutique bread company is “Born and bread in Arizona.” Though she honed her bread-baking skills at a Zen monastery in California, owner/baker Miranda Martori was born and raised right here in the Sonoran desert. Returning to Arizona, Martori decided to make bread baking her vocation, launching Panem Amici (Latin for “bread and friends”) at farmers’ markets last spring.
“I don’t call my bread ‘artisan,’” Martori says. “I’m not interested in making the best sourdough; that’s a whole other direction. I’m interested in creating interesting flavors within the breads, like my pear and blue cheese twist.”
Doc Holiday Soda & Johnny One Dog Sarsaparilla
Who knew Arizona had not one, but two, Tombstone-themed soft drinks? ...
Homeboy’s Hot Sauces
Liquid gold hot sauce tickles the tongue. ...
Señor Flaco – the gun-toting, Day of the Dead-inspired mascot for Chaco Flaco beverage mixers ...
Native Arizonan Chris Sossaman was in her forties before she ever tasted a cup of coffee. ...
Quinoa Esta Bakery
Sharon Downing, didn’t intentionally start her home-based bakery as a gluten-free endeavor. ...