Wine Tasting with James Callahan of Rune Wines

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James Callahan & Oren Molovinsky

I always enjoy wine tastings paired with good food. Tonight’s event was at Farmboy in Chandler. It was a reception-style evening that hosted James Callahan of Rune wines and was paired with Hors D’oeuvres from Chef Dennis Bagnasco. I just recently visited Farmboy for the first time for lunch a couple of weeks ago. Rune Wines (Rune means a mark or letter of mysterious or magical significance) was founded by Arizona native James Callahan in 2013 and is located in Sonoita – the heart of southern Arizona wine country. Tonight we got to sample four of his Arizona wines that were paired with samples of locally sourced cheeses, meats, and vegetables. Farmboy is all about using and highlighting local Arizona ingredients and was the perfect place to host this event. Both Oren Molovinsky of Farmboy (who owns Molovin Farm in South Chandler, AZ) and James Callahan of Rune wines were on hand to talk about their lasted endeavors.

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Rune Wines

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Smoked Chicken, Goat Cheese & Grilled Tenderloin

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Smoked Chicken

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Flourless Chocolate Cake & Rune Wild Syrah

Our first wine was the Rune 2015 Viogner paired with goat cheese and a rice cracker. Our second pairing was the Rune 2016 Rosé paired with a smoked chicken breast with arugula and topped with a aioli. Their third pairing was the Rune 2015 Grenache paired with a Mesquite grilled tenderloin with mushrooms. And the final pairing was the Rune 2015 Wild Syrah paired with a flourless chocolate cake topped with a raspberry. I really love the artwork on the wines and the story on the back of the bottles. The food was delicious and paired nicely with the wine samples. My favorite was the Wild Syrah – Rune’s flagship wine. Tonight was an enjoyable evening of meeting new people and supporting local businesses.

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Farmboy

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Real Food, Real Farms, Real People

This was a nice little find for lunch. Farmboy, Market, Meats, Sandwiches is a fast-casual restaurant and mini marketplace located in a popular spot that was once operated by Paradise Bakery. They specialize in sandwiches that use wood-smoked meats that are nice and tender because of the slow cooking process. In fact, the moment you walk into the restaurant you get a nice BBQ smell that immediately draws you in. All the meats, produce and bread are locally sourced here in Arizona. The restaurant itself isn’t incredibly large but has both indoor and outdoor patio seating. The ambience is casual and the walls are decorated with beautiful photos of various landscapes in Arizona that pay homage to our great state.

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The sandwiches at Farmboy are made from scratch and use only the quality portions of the smoked meats. One thing that is unique is that they are named after different locations in Arizona. Some of the names include the Verde Valley, Lake Powell, Alma School, Coconino and San Tan. If you are a native like myself, you will get a kick out of it. I ordered the Pinetop Beef and Chicken sandwich and thought it was amazing. In addition to the delicious smoked meats, the sandwich is topped with a spicy mayo and honey BBQ sauce that really make a nice blend of flavor. You have a variety of sides to choose from to go with your sandwich. Farmboy also has a small marketplace that you can purchase locally grown fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk (Danzeisen) and meats. They serve breakfast as well in the mornings. If you live in Chandler and are wanting to eat and buy local, this is the place to go. Farmboy is a nice addition to the area.

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Pinetop Beef and Chicken Sandwich

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Farmboy Market, Meats, Sandwiches Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fry Bread House

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This place is so good! I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve only recently visited here for the first time. Especially being a Phoenix native living close to Guadalupe who grew up on Fry Bread with honey and powdered sugar. Of course my expectations were high for my first visit to Fry Bread House – James Beard recognized and the Green Chili Beef Taco voted as a top dish from AZCentral’s Dominic Armato. Plus all its history here in the Valley going back to when it opened in 1992. The restaurant is located within the Melrose district (after a couple relocations). The decor pays homage to Native American culture with plenty of pictures and a Man in the Maze motif standing in place of a welcome mat. The roped off line to the ordering area at first confused me but I eventually caught on. There was a good mixed crowd here and plenty of regulars. Even though I already had my mind set on the taco, the Chumuth Burro, the Red Chili stew and the Hominy stew with plain fry bread called out to me from the menu on the wall as I waited. Service was quick and easy and they really try to move the line. The green chili taco was a lot bigger than I thought. I’m not going to lie, it was also a bit sloppy to eat. But when you stuff a fry bread with all that yummy gooey goodness it’s probably not going to hold together for long. The fry bread is light and crisp and folded into a taco shape. The chili beef was nice and tender with cheese and the perfect amount of spiciness for me. It was a pretty good meal for $9 and good first experience for me. I’m dying to try that stew next time around. I’m also looking forward to introducing some of my Native buddies to this place.

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Green Chili Beef Taco

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The Fry Bread House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tempe Public Market Café

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I am such a fan of the Phoenix location and St. Francis that I was pretty stoked to hear that chef Aaron Chamberlin was putting a location in the East Valley (closer to home for me). I thought the decision to put a location in a quiet residential part of southern Tempe with no restaurants within a mile was pretty bold for them. They are essentially sending a message that they are going to own this area and be a cafe for the surrounding neighborhoods. I’ll be honest that my first couple of visits during opening month had its issues. The lines were super long and the customer service was working through many kinks. But after a few months, Tempe Public Market is quietly settling in and becoming a staple in this area. The patio area is dog friendly and very spacious. They have plenty of misters for the hot summers and a killer fireplace for the colder winter evenings. I like that beverages (non-alcoholic) are self-serve. They have counter service for ordering your food and seating is open. These are some of those things that makes this place feel like home. So far I’ve had breakfast and dinner here now. The Blue Corn Pancake is fantastic. It’s pretty large but not too filling for a pancake. The Steel Cut Oats are good but a little on the pricey side for me for oatmeal. They also do a community night for dinner on some nights. It’s a 3-course dinner for around $13 that includes salad, entree and dessert. Overall I can see this as a regular stop for me (especially in the mornings on that patio). I love the Farmer’s Market at the Phoenix location and hope that is something that gets incorporated here someday.

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Steel Cut Oatmeal

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Poptart

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Blue Corn Pancake

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Tempe Public Market Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Helio Basin Brewing

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Quality Crafted in Phx

Helio Basin Brewing has become one of my favorite local breweries. Their slogan is Quality Crafted in Phx. They took residence in an old pool hall that I used to hang out at in Arcadia. Helio Basin is founded by Mike Conley and brewmaster Dustin Hazer. Chef Tamara Stanger creates the amazing food that is served here. It’s the perfect pairing of top quality brews with simple but innovating food. Many of the dishes here have some sort of representation of Arizona in it. For beers, their IPA and Blackberry Wheat are the big sellers. I think my favorite thing about this place is the sense of community they have created here. They have a few large tables for large parties and have the ability to open up the patio for outdoor events. From talking to many guests that I sit next to, Helio Basin had become a popular neighborhood favorite. I came here for their one year anniversary party with a buddy and my son. I ordered a beer flight got a nice variety of beers as my selection. The Robust Porter is one of my favorites. Chef Tamara put together some delicious roasted pig tacos with banana cornbread and Sonoran rice. We had a great time and enjoyed our beers and food. Hello Basin is a great addition to the Arcadia food scene and definitely check out their great happy hour and Taco Tuesdays!

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Helio Basin Brewing Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beer Dinner with Brew Masters at Helio Basin

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I came here for a Local First AZ promoted dinner with the brew masters. I was surprised Helio Basin is taking residence in an old pool hall I used to hang and drink cheap bad beer at. It’s definitely great to see an upgrade in the beer being served at this location – lol. I had blast hearing the stories from the brew masters of how this place came about and how they make their beer. You can tell these guys know their stuff and are very passionate about serving a good beer. In fact their slogan is “Quality Crafted in Phx”. Not only do they serve good beer, but the food is phenomenon. Chef Tamara Stanger just recently won the Devoured Culinary Classic excellence award for her smoked bison taquito. About thirty of us were served a four course dinner with a beer paired with each dish. Their IPA and Blackberry Wheat are the big sellers. Both were very clean, crisp and delicious. But I think the Robust Porter was my favorite. It’s not too heavy and full of flavor (a nice blend of chocolate, caramel and coffee). My favorite courses were the Palo Verde Torte and the Blueberry Tamarind Pudding. Each dish was beautifully presented and had some sort of representation of Arizona in it. Hello Basin is a great addition to the Arcadia food scene and worth another stop. They have a great happy hour and I hear Taco Tuesdays is a must. Check them out!

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Smoked Sonoran Oyster Mushrooms

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Squab filled BBQ Summer Squash & Robust Porter

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Palo Verde Torte & Blue Line Blonde

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Blueberry Tamarind Pudding & Blackberry Wheat Beer

Helio Basin Brewing Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato