Friday, March 24, 2017

Tempe's Annual Spring Arts Festival Celebrates 40 Years!

By: The Food Hunter

The 40th annual Spring Tempe Festival of the Arts is just around the corner. From March 31st thru April 2nd, 2017 Downtown Tempe will be bustling with artists, art lovers and festival attendees. Over 300 artists from around the country will be showcasing their works from 10am until 5:30pm each day. The festival is free to attend and includes food and beverage vendors, live entertainment, roving street performers, family friendly activities and more.

Those familiar with the festival will be happy to know that Sixth + Mill Makers area will be returning along with Food Truck Alley and Kids Block. Visitors can look forward to shopping popular and up and coming local vendors such as Standard Wax, Pure Life Jewelry, Lucky Air Plant and Iconic Cocktail.

Festival attendees can sip wine from Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Cellar 433 and many more local favorites while noshing on local fair and some of the Valley’s favorite food trucks and vendors. Three beer & wine gardens will be located throughout the festival as well as savory snacks on the go with an expanded selection of tasty bites in the food court area and at Food Truck Alley.

Need a break from the crowds? Check out Downtown Tempe’s famed restaurants, pubs, breweries and shops. You'll find lots of delicious options.
Making it even more exciting I've partnered with Downtown Tempe and will be giving away a local  retailers gift set worth over $100.
One lucky reader will randomly be chosen to win and will be asked to pick-up their prize at the festival!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 20, 2017

T.Cooks Cellar Series Dinner

By: The Food Hunter

Last week my husband and I attended the monthly Cellar Series dinner at T.Cooks, featuring the wines of Silver Oak and sister winery Twomey Cellars. The dinner was attended by local wine enthusiasts, area food lovers and representatives from the vineyard. Though typically held outdoors, the night we attended dinner was moved into the Vernadero room; a beautiful room featuring a large pietra stone fireplace, original estate chandeliers, and an antique mahogany table.

Silver Oak Cellars is a family-owned, California winery established in 1972 by Ray Duncan and Justin Meyer that is dedicated to producing only Cabernet Sauvignon. The also established Twomey Cellars in 1999, where they produce Pinot Noir, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.

Our evening began outside in the Mansion Courtyard where we were served Twomey Sauvignon Blanc along-side a selection of bites created by T.Cooks' Chef Allison. This sophisticated white wine  was refreshing with hints of citrus...perfect for the start of a meal.

For our first course Chef Allison prepared Maine diver sea scallops accompanied by a cassoulet of Spanish chorizo and flageolet beans. This exquisite combination was paired with the clean crisp Twomey Russian River Pinot Noir.

Our second course was New Zealand venison served with Brussels sprouts and a parsnip puree.

 This course was complimented with generous pours of the Silver Oak Alexander Valley. This full-bodied red with bold tannins is a favorite of mine.

We enjoyed a dark chocolate panna cotta topped with salted caramel and orange snicker doodles for dessert.
At $120 per person the Cellar Series dinners are a wonderful opportunity to learn about particular vineyards and their wines while enjoying a perfectly curated meal in a stunning atmosphere. To find out more information about upcoming Cellar Series Dinners contact T. Cook’s (602) 808-0766.

This experience was provided complimentary, all opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Healthy Gluten Free/Low-Carb Almond Apple Cake

By: The Food Hunter

Pureed apples and almond flour gives this cake it's moist texture and delicious taste along with making it somewhat healthy. This is a wonderful dessert option for those following a gluten-free or low-carb diet. And if the amount of sugar is an issue, it can easily be reduced and substituted with cinnamon without sacrificing flavor. Either way, this cake is hard to resist!

Healthy Gluten Free/Low-Carb Almond Apple Cake
(adapted from Nigella Lawson)
For the Apple Sauce
2 apples
1 squeeze fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar 

Peel, core and chop apples. Put apples in a saucepan with sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Bring to a boil and cover. Cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes or until apples are soft enough to smash with the back of a fork. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
For the Cake
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 9 inch round pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Put the cooled puree in the bowl of a food processor. Add eggs, almond flour, sugar and lemon juice. Mix until combined, scraping bowl as needed,  Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle with the slivered almonds. Bake 30-40 minutes. 

Allow to cool on rack. Remove from pan and serve.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Pasta With Chicken Thigh Ragu

By: The Food Hunter

Though chicken is tasty, eating the the same chicken breast dinners night after night can quickly become boring. When I want a change in my routine, but don't want to sacrifice taste I will prepare chicken thighs instead of breasts. Thighs are more flavorful, affordable, and much juicer than breasts.

Thighs are sophisticated enough to serve at a formal meal, yet easy enough to prepare any night of the week. The rustic pasta dish below features chicken thighs which have been braised, shredded and turned into a delicious ragu.

Pasta With Chicken Thigh Ragu
1 red onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb—halved, cored and chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 pounds skinless bone-in chicken thighs
salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups water or chicken broth
1 cup Pomi sauce
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
3/4 pound  pasta
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving

Combine the onions, fennel, celery, carrot and garlic in a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pancetta to a plate using a slotted spoon.

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and add it to the casserole. Cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the casserole. Add the chopped vegetables and a generous pinch of salt and pepper; cook over moderately low heat until the vegetables are softened and just starting to brown, about 15 minutes. Stir in the rosemary, and tomato paste. Add the vinegar and cook over moderate heat until almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the water/stock and Pomi tomato sauce and bring to a boil.

Return the chicken thighs to the pot. Cover partially and simmer over low heat until the chicken is very tender, about 1 hour. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let cool slightly, then remove the meat from the bones. Shred the chicken and stir it into the sauce along with the olives and reserved pancetta. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain well. In a large bowl, gently toss the pasta with the ragu and serve with grated cheese.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Marriott Camelback Inn's New Resturant: Lincoln

By: The Food Hunter

After just one bite of Chef Chris Neff's bourbon brined pork belly, several years ago at Cooks & Corks, I knew immediately that I wanted to try more of his cooking. As it turned out, it wasn't until this past Saturday night that I was able to make that happen.

Chef Neff currently leads the kitchen at Lincoln Restaurant at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn, a unique space with breathtaking views of Camelback Mountain. Specializing in both seafood and beef the menu is a creative mix of steakhouse fare. I love that they feature a seafood tower and that you can order as much or as little of it as you want. I'm a huge crab fan so I was able to get a tailored crab plate.

We started our meal with the Lincoln Chopped Salad, a delicious mix of smoked salmon, Mizuna greens, and local Hayden Mills wheat berries, lightly dressed in a buttermilk. Chef sent out an order of his signature fried cauliflower for us to try and I'm so glad he did. Served with a smoked yogurt sauce and pickled vegetables this appetizer should not be passed over.

More often than not I will order a seafood entree and that is exactly what I did at Lincoln. The bacon wrapped sea-bass with lentils tasted as spectacular as it sounds. The snow white fish was tender and moist with a hint of sweetness from the orange dressing.

The real star of our meal was the 16 ounce bone-in, 30 day, dry-aged rib-eye. Chef Neff cooks some of the best quality meats and finishes them with a dollap of Lincoln Steakhouse butter and hickory smoked sea salt.

Sides are served a la carte and include: various potato and vegetable options. We decided to try the fries which were served with chipolte aioli & horseradish chive dip. And an order of the asparagus coated in olive oil and sea salt.

For a true indulgence, and an utterly delicious way to end a meal, I would recommend the warm butter cake topped with vanilla bean ice cream and whiskey sauce. It is amazing.

If you are seeking a fine dining experience in Scottsdale and enjoy quality steak & seafood, dinner at Lincoln is a delicious option.

Lincoln Restaurant
JW Marriott Scottsdale 
Camelback Inn Resort & Spa, 
5402 E Lincoln Dr.
Scottsdale, AZ 85253

This experience was provided complimentary, all opinions are my own.