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

Louisiana Fried Chicken & Wings

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So I believe Louisiana Fried Chicken has opened a location here in AZ on a couple of occasions. I remember reviewing one awhile back in Phoenix during my Urbanspoon days and then it abruptly closed without any notice when I tried to return. So the Chandler area is now their newest experiment. Louisiana Fried Chicken & Wings actually came out of LA in the 70’s and has over a hundred locations in the US. The Louisiana name comes from how the chicken is cooked –  Cajun battered and deep fried. They also have fried shrimp, chicken tenders and fish. There are several entree combinations to choose from with or without sides and whatever quantity you want. Side items include mashed potatoes, okra, red beans & rice and coleslaw. There’s a bit of an Asian influence with rice combinations and egg rolls. And they have gumbo too! The family pack combos must be popular because there were several people waiting in the lobby for large to-go orders. The restaurant itself isn’t very large but pretty clean. I thought the chicken was pretty tasty with just a hint of spice and a nice soft crunch to it. They have bottles of hot sauce available that you can spice your chicken up with. Overall Louisiana Chicken is a nice fast casual chain if you are looking for a quick affordable bite of some Cajun chicken (a 3 piece combo will run you about $8). It will be interesting to see how they do in Chandler across from Food City. Btw… they have a couple different slices of pie for dessert and boba tea.

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3 Piece Combo

Louisiana Fried Chicken & Wings Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Black Rock Coffee Bar

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I just found out recently that this Portland-based coffeehouse opened in Chandler. In fact, we currently have three locations in AZ. Black Rock Coffee offers a variety of drink options, from drip coffee to mochas to espresso to hot tea. So what makes this coffee chain different from other ones? They really strive on connecting with people and creating an atmosphere to craft those stories. This location is very spacious and located in the southern part of Chandler. They have both walk-up and drive-thru service. The latte I got was pretty good and I thought the staff was really friendly. Black Rock seeks to build connections with the local community and were donating their proceeds of the day to a family of a local teacher that had been killed recently. I love hearing stories of local businesses seeking to make a difference and thought I’d stop in and show my support.

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Black Rock Coffee Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

When Grunge Broke into Phoenix

“Pure grunge! Pure noise! Pure shit!” – Mike Arm

Grunge (sometimes referred to as the Seattle sound) is a fusion genre of alternative rock, punk rock, and heavy metal and a subculture that emerged during the mid-1980s in the Pacific Northwest U.S. state of Washington, particularly in Seattle and nearby towns – wikipedia. 

As a Generation Xer (the MTV generation), I grew up during in the grunge area. It never was my favorite term for this style of music, but it had a profound effect on my life in the early 90’s. In early 1991, I was really heavy into glam rock music (Def Leppard, Van Halen, Warrant, Poison, etc) and quite a concert junkie. I graduated from Tempe High school in May of 1991 and started dating a girl who change both my music and clothing taste. She introduced me to Alternative rock music (another term I’m not a fan of). At first I was resistant, but later would find myself listening to R.E.M., Depeche Mode, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Violent Femmes and U2. She helped me expand my music taste and it freed my mind to be more open to new things. My parents just divorced and I was officially on my own. I was an angry teenager as the result of the brokeness in my family and was suffering from a lack of self-worth. MTV, booze, girls and music were a big outlet for me. I was a frequent visitor to both Zia Records and Tower Records and built myself a huge collection of CD’s. The concert scene was big here in the Valley of the Sun, but people were unaware of what was going on with the music scene in Seattle. Even though a year earlier on February 19, 1990, an unknown band by the name of Nirvana opened for Tad in a small club in Phoenix, AZ (Nirvana’s first AZ show was actually at the Sun Club in Tempe in 1989 – video below of Cobain outside the club). The story goes that when Nirvana played this gig in Phoenix, the cheap-ass owner of the Mason Jar charged them a rental fee for some of the equipment that they used.

Music history would change forever on August 27, 1991 when “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hit the airwaves. I caught on when the video premiered on September 29, 1991 on one of my favorite shows – MTV’s “120 Minutes”. I remember watching that video over and over for days. Being a glam rock fan, there was nothing glamorous about this band Nirvana. They were just regular looking guys that wore regular clothes that just wanted to play rock ‘n’ roll. The video was very simple as well and didn’t look like it cost a lot to make. I was instantly hooked onto this type of music.

At the time I worked at a Rally’s Hamburgers. A co-worker of mine mentioned how the Red Hot Chili Peppers were coming in concert in Tempe. Their song “Give it Away” was another huge hit on the radio at that time. He told me how Nirvana and some band called Pearl Jam were the openers. I remember wanting to go but for some reason I didn’t make the effort and regret it today. But what a killer line-up! The show was on December 29. 1991 in Tempe and it was heavily promoted on the radio. I remember everyone raving about the show as grunge music was taking the Valley by storm. I remember going to a huge rave party in the desert and somebody was blasting Nirvana on the radio. We were all standing in the back of someone’s truck drinking from a keg and singing to “Teen Spirit”. The girl next to kept going on about how much she loved Nirvana. It was such a crazy movement at that time. Nirvana played Saturday Night Live (another show I always watched) on January 11, 1992 which really thrust them into the spotlight. By this time, hair bands were slowly phasing out.

On January 31, 1992, I went to a Guns N’ Roses “Use Your Illusion” concert tour with a bunch of friends at Compton Terrace. This was back when GNR were being assholes and making fans wait hours for them to come on stage. It was a memorable show for me because I made out with this smoking hot girl from Scottsdale named Wendy Luckett in the back lawn area. Every dude in my group wanted her and I had bragging rights for some time after that. Anyway, a band called Soundgarden opened for GNR and I knew nothing about them. It took me some time to get into them, but they were hard core. I was really into “Outshined” when they played it. I remember they ended the show with Kim Thayil leaving his guitar on stage making feedback noise. This was the next grunge band I would get into after Nirvana. Looking back. I always wondered why they opened for Guns ‘N’ Roses. Apparently GNR felt Soundgarden were too serious of a band and nicknamed them “Frowngarden”. Ben Shepherd’s response was that they weren’t rock stars and were there to play music. I guess in the 2nd show (the night after my show), GNR decided to crash Soundgarden’s set by walking out in the nude with blow-up dolls because it was the final night of the tour. The band members weren’t too amused by this which shows you the vast difference in these two type of bands at that time. One took their music serious while the other one was just there to party.

the source/ deanna

 

Boba Tea House

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Bubble tea (also known as boba tea) is a Taiwanese tea-based drink invented in Taichung in the 1980s. Most bubble tea recipes contain a tea base mixed/shaken with fruit or milk, to which chewy tapioca balls or fruit jellies are often added. – wikipedia

I’ve been to Lee Lee International Supermarket in Chandler many times, but I never noticed this little gem next to it. Boba Tea House serves up some of the best boba tea in the Valley. They have a fantastic array of flavors and drink choices to choose like fruit slushes, snow, milk tea, pudding, mango jelly, coffee jelly, etc. They even have snacks like popcorn chicken, fried tofu, and fries. The staff is super friendly and the prices are reasonable. I got the Honey Green Milk Tea and it was the perfect snack in the middle of my day.

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Boba Tea House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Si Señor Restaurant

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Deluxe Combination Plate

This place is always a favorite for my boys and I. It is some of the best Mexican food in Chandler. Si Señor Restaurant has a location here in the Valley and one in New Mexico where they get some of their famous Hatch chiles that they use for some of their dishes. Hatch Chile is a high-grade, sun-dried chile that comes from Covarrubias Farms in the Hatch Valley along the Rio Grande (the “Napa Valley of Chile”). Martin and Irene Castillo established the first Si Señor Restaurant in their hometown of Deming, New Mexico in 1984. This location in Chandler opened in 2001 and is a huge local favorite. They have great happy hour specials, four dipping sauces to choose from for your chips and a live mariachi band on occasions. They even make their own tamales and tortillas in-house. The hospitality is always great here and the food is pretty amazing. And of course you can’t leave without having some delicious Sopapillas for dessert.

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Si Señor Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato