Vacation Mastication: Scottsdale, Arizona

Mr. S and I have had a whirlwind month! We've been traveling, working on our kitchen remodel (So excited!) and enjoying an abundance of family occasions. I have so many things to write about! I've been taking lots of pictures and recording every detail of my experiences. Here's the first of my new and exciting posts...

We ventured to Scottsdale in the dead of Summer for one reason, friendship. Nothing else would ever lure me Arizona this time of year. I tell you the trip was worth every seconding spent roasting in the searing heat. We got to make wonderful memories with great friends and try a ton of new stuff.  My husband's buddy Larry and his gracious wife Elysa showed us some of their favorite places and foods and cooked up a couple of feasts for the eyes and tastebuds. The work they put in to entertaining us was really incredible. Thanks guys!

Larry is a dedicated Yelper (Yelp Elite actually) and has tons of helpful reviews under the screen name 'Larry B.' for must-try venues in New York, Scottsdale and surrounding areas and on the island of Oahu. Look him up! This man is no slouch when it comes to knowing where and how to eat well.  You'll get a little taste of our culinary adventures below.


The lighting is low and the scene is understated, just perfect for the jazz musicians they host most nights. Some liken the environment to a speakeasy.  When we were there the place was decorated as if it were Christmastime. Christmas in July maybe? Seating is variable. There are couches, tables, chairs and some limited bar seating. The cocktail menu is a little off putting since they don't offer any of the usual suspects, but their focus is wines of the world so shame on me.

We came specifically for the Basque Egyptian Flatbread ($13) with duck confit, roasted pistachios, shallot, creme fraiche and goat cheese topped with a generous handful or arugula and a flavorful drizzle of olive oil. The dish was a bit overcooked and the ingredients dry, but you still got the gist. The flavors were stunning. Salty, creamy and bitter all at once. Looking forward to doing it all over again!  I wonder if I could recreate this at home?


The name is frighteningly appropriate.

Our Arizonian hosts are former residents of Oahu, a mecca of Asian cuisine. They know their stuff.  After visiting just about every place in Scottsdale and the surrounding area they settled on a new favorite. unPhogettable is a clean and modernly decorated mini-mall storefront. For those of you who aren't familiar Pho it's an incredibly flavorful Thai soup that's actually pretty healthy, depending on the preparation and cuts of meat you decide on. This particular place boasts they're MSG and trans-fat free.

When it came time to order I left it up to our the pros, our hosts, and was so pleased with their recommendations. We started with the Soft Spring Rolls, fresh and simple ($3.45) and Egg Rolls (fried to perfection and accompanied by a tangy sauce ($4.95). My entree was a GIGANTIC bowl of Pho with rare steak (a value at $7.50). I could only eat about half of my portion and that was pushing it. So good.  The only thing better was the service. They were incredibly attentive.!__az-home-menu


When we were headed to this place our hosts described it as a place vampires might hang out. One look at the decor and you can see what they mean. The place is ensconced in purple velvet

By the time we arrived we'd already been on a tasting tour of Scottsdale and the surrounding area but we wanted to taste something on the CD menu. All I wanted was some vegetables! Mr. S. suggested the Seared Tuna Salad ($14) with ginger vinaigrette, wasabi peas, and an assortment textural additions and it was so good.  Totally hit the spot.  I'd eat that salad everyday.

I wanted to sample an interesting cocktail too so I perused the drink menu and discovered a gem.  As a proud part-Peruvian seeing Pisco on a menu fluffs my feathers up. As a matter of fact my cousin proudly represents the brand Vinas de Oro Pisco. Pisco, a strong colorless grape brandy is expertly processed turning out a libation that resembles a very smooth tequila in flavor and is the base for the drink. You add lemon, simple syrup, bitters and egg whites. It's refreshing and strong.  The Peruvian Press ($10) was a version of the more traditional Pisco Sour and it was delicious.  This is a sipping drink so take it slow.

In MN when we say custard we're most likely talking about the creamier, fattier version of ice cream not the more classic version that's the consistency of a thick pudding. We were surprised, but not disappointed, when we dug into the Salted Caramel Custard ($7). The house made caramel corn that poured out the top of this glass was obscenely good. It was buttery, flavorful and stick to your teeth fresh. After, getting through barricade of popcorny goodness we were greeted by silky smooth custard. It tasted like salted caramel for sure. Next time I'd the Caramel Corn ($3) and skip the custard.

I just sampled a bite of the Ricotta Gnocchi ($14) with sausage and mushrooms . The light, brothy creme sauce was perfectly seasoned. Delicious. I'd try it as a main course!


I'd pick salty indulgences over sweet almost every time. However, there are those times when only something perfectly sweet will do. I love a expertly crafted baked good and these cupcakes are right on the mark. The frosting was rich and creamy, albeit a little overabundant for my tastes but that's an easy fix. The red velvet cake was moist, chocolatey and the perfect shade of burgundy. I normally don't indulge in red velvet, especially in a cupcake format because it tends to be so dry, but that wasn't the case with this little treat.

Pretty, isn't it?
I went online to investigate Tammie's operation and found that just one cupcake was $5. Unless you have a whole lot of disposable income, throwing a party and serving these treats may not be an option. Instead, next time you're entertaining, pick up a few to amp up the glamour for your guests.

YOGURTOLOGY - Scottsdale

I LOVE frozen yogurt. I'm not a huge ice cream fan, but I could eat yogurt round the clock. I love the tart flavor and the guiltless enjoyment of this less unhealthy treat. So I wasn't all too surprised when I gravitated toward Yogurtology's beautifully modern store front at the Fashion Square Mall.

 I walked into the tidy little operation and was warmly welcomed by a greeter and instructed to sample all the flavors my heart desired... and that I did. The yogurt and toppings (a veritable buffet of choices) are all self-serve. Of course, they're hoping you're eyes will be bigger than your stomach. It's brilliant!

I decided on a delicious mix of chocolate and vanilla covered in a sliced strawberries. blueberries and granola. That's my go-to concoction. Once you complete your cup just the way you like it, you take it to the register to be weighed. I think mine costed about $3. Not bad for dessert just the way you like it.


Orin Swift's Dave Phinney has quickly made a name for himself with his bad-ass line of vinos called things like Prisoner and Papillion, a label that rawly depicts the wine's name tattooed on he knuckles of a man whose wrinkles make you think 'those hands have been places I never hope see.' They're not just cool names and labels; the wines actually taste good too. If you read the origin story of the winery you'll understand why there's soul in the flavor. Now you just have to get your hands on a bottle before they're out of stock!


I learned a great twist on this glorious bottled drink from my awesome hostess, Elysa. It involves this salty, sweet and tart dried plum powder called Li Hing. Traditionally the bright red powder is sprinkled on fruit or is used to coat candy like gummy worms. Today, if you order a salt or sugar rimmed cocktail in Hawaii, often times you'll find the substitute for the traditional rim is this powder.

Good news, you don't have to be on the island to get your hands on it. Hit up for your fix. When your shipment arrives fill your glass with crushed ice, a sprinkling of Li Hing powder and pour in your Skinny Girl. Stir and enjoy. It's one of the most refreshing cocktails you'll have this Summer. Hurry up Minnesotans! Summer is almost over!!


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