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

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

The Old Spaghetti Factory

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I grew up going to the Old Spaghetti Factory here in the Valley. I went to school in Tempe and we dined at the old location (now closed) on Mill Ave quite often. The Dussin family opened the first Spaghetti Factory in Oregon in 1969. It’s a family friendly environment with decor that includes antique lighting, stained glass displays and an old-fashioned trolley car (that you can eat in). One of things they love to boast is that they serve a complete meal that includes bread, soup or salad, and dessert with your entrée. My family came to the Chandler location to celebrate my son’s bday and we had a good time. I really enjoyed the Minestrone Soup and Toasted Ravioli (one of my favorites), but found the pasta a little bland. But being a local favorite, I will for sure come again for the family experience.

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Minestrone Soup

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Toasted Cheese Ravioli

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Chicken Parmigiana

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Spumoni Ice Cream

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The Old Spaghetti Factory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato