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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Florencia Pizza Bistro

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Florencia Pizza Bistro is one of those locally owned neighborhood eateries. Ahwatukee has a lot of these little hidden gems because most of them are located in strip malls. This one has been around for quite some time and resides next door to the popular Melting Pot. They offer three types of pizza – Traditional, Olive Oil (Garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Mozzarella Cheese with no tomato sauce) and Pesto (Basil Pesto Sauce with no tomato sauce). You can create your own with toppings (over 40 topping choices) or choose from one of their popular specialty pizza creations. Some of the names include the Snow White, Pomodora, Valentinos, Winchester, Clevenger, Malanzane, Bo-Be and the Green-Eyed Chicken. There are many more creations to choose from and they have vegetarian options as well. The dough is house made and their pizzas are thin-crust. I’m more of a thick crust person myself but actually found their thin crust quite enjoyable. They also have panini, calzones, salads and sandwiches if pizza is not on your radar. Their appetizer menu is not incredibly large but they have a nice variety to choose from. I got the mozzarella sticks and felt they were just average. We ordered the Clark’s Classic pizza which consisted of pepperoni and chicken marinated in buffalo sauce. I was a little worried the sauce would soak through the thin crust and make it soggy but it actually held up (even eating it as a leftover the next day). There is a small bar area to the side where you can order a glass of wine or beer. The owner is a Wildcat fan (boo…) and they’ve had fun fundraisers in the past during the annual ASU/UA football game to benefit the local high schools in the area. It wasn’t very busy when I visited but service was pretty good.

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Mozzarella Sticks

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Clark’s Classic

“Duel in the Dessert” fundraiser 

Florencia Pizza Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sushi Brokers

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Heritage Marketplace in Gilbert includes restaurants like Even Stevens, Farm & Craft, Clever Koi, Nico Heirloom Kitchen and candy store Rocket Fizz. Sushi Brokers is one of their newer tenants. Sushi Brokers has locations in Scottsdale and Phoenix and offers a huge selection of sushi, vegetarian fare and dishes comprising seafood, chicken and beef if you are not into sushi. They have over twenty creative sushi rolls on their menu. They also have a nice selection of wines, draft and bottle beers, sake, and a large array of imported and domestic Vodkas. Their happy hour is what makes them so popular as they discount their prices on sushi and drinks. I came here with a buddy after an evening at the neighboring Art Intersection. We ordered quite a bit of rolls and drinks. The sushi wasn’t bad but definitely pretty pricey compared to most places. I may come back again for happy hour. 

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Cowboy Roll

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Edamame

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Sushi Brokers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Tip Jar, Vol. II

Tonight I went to Obadiah Parker’s CD release party of The Tip Jar, Vol. II at Kazimierz World Wine Bar (one of my favorites for late night music). Mat has been a long time friend and I’ve been attending his shows for years. The new EP is great so check it out!

FilmBar

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I love the Film Bar in downtown Phoenix. FilmBar is a twenty one and over beer/wine bar dedicated to screening new, classic, cult and local independent/foreign films in a microcinema setting (about 70 seats). FilmBar is a unique place in Phoenix and caters to the local downtown Phoenix culture. I saw a movie called The Ambassador tonight. I love noir feel to it and the local art displayed on the walls.

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Filmbar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Urban Beans

Tonight I stopped in at a little coffee shop called Urban Beans. I’m just loving exploring downtown Phoenix and all these little restaurants and coffee shops that are tucked away in these old strip malls and warehouses. There are so many unique places with amazing food and drinks to check out. Plus majority of these places use locally grown products – so there is a sense of community around Phoenix with a sharing of products.

Urban Beans cooks up fresh breakfast and lunch everyday. They have a bar called Bar Urban that serves up locally and internationally crafted beers as well as wine. I got a Hot Mocha and a bag of beans tonight. I really enjoyed my conversation with my barista. For me, great customer service is just as important as the product. She is a student at Grand Canyon University and is studying to criminal justice. Being a toxicologist, we had a lot in common and it made for an enjoyable conversation. I enjoyed my time and my drink at Urban Beans and look forward to my next visit.

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Beckett’s Table

I’ve been doing Restaurant Week for years. It’s my way to check out new restaurants at a good price. I’ve had a few on my list that I have been wanting to go to and the hard part for me planning them throughout my already busy week. But Beckett’s Table came highly recommended and my friend Lisa Marie was available to join. You get a choice from a 3 course dinner menu for $30. I started off with the achiote citrus poached n chilled shrimp with avocado puree and black beans. For my main course, I tried the cola braised pulled pork with cole slaw. This was amazing! The meat was so tender and I loved the cola aftertaste that followed. For dessert, I tried the bacon chocolate s’mores with caramel sauce and peanut butter mousse. Now I’m not quite getting the bacon flavor trend going on, but I can see how bacon and chocolate are paired up. You get this rich chocolate flavor at first followed by a bacon aftertaste – very interesting. I loved the peanut butter mousse. This was an amazing experience and I look forward to visiting again.

* – From Restaurant Week website 

Beckett’s Table is a new class of American eatery with chef driven food, an awarded wine list, and exemplary service. Chef Justin Beckett pairs sophisticated comfort food and international wines with genuine hospitality in a relaxed urban ambiance at an exceptional value.

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