Cork Restaurant is one of my favorite restaurants in the Phoenix area! Every Sunday Cork offers a themed tasting dinner. The theme changes each month, resulting in a fresh, seasonal, delicious special night out. Here is a sampling from the “Taste of Spring” four course (plus an optional starter) dinner that I still dream about. Hmmmm, yum.
We started with the (optional) starter course of Braised Rabbit Risotto with Fava Bean, Taleggio, and Arugula. Bold flavors and great texture started the evening beautifully. The fava beans were a delightful surprise with the cheesy risotto.
The first course of Watercress and Asparagus Soup with Dungeness Crab Fritter and Creme Fraiche was light and refreshing. The crab fritter was slightly crunchy and paired nicely with the subtle sweet of the soup.
The candied nuts offered a sweet side to the creamy brie and tart greens in the Pen Tendril Salad with St. Andre Brie, Raisins, Apricots, Candied Nuts and Roasted Apple Vinaigrette. The salad was a refreshing mid-point after risotto and soup, giving me the opportunity to slow down and savor all of the sweet, tart, creamy, savory flavors and prepare my taste buds for the next level of mouth watering goodness.
It was a tough decision between the Mustard-Crusted Pork Tenderloin, or Char-Grilled Lamb Loin, or Pan-Roasted Halibut. We compromised on both the Lamb and the Halibut. It was a tough choice between the juicy lamb and the perfectly seared halibut, but the lamb & wine pairing exploded with flavor and even though I was getting full, I still wanted more!
The evening ended with a light & fluffy Strawberry Shortcake with Grand-Marnier Marinated Strawberries. Cork’s pastry chef recreates classic desserts and improves upon them, the shortcake was no exception. The strawberry reduction was flavorful without being too sweet. It was the perfect ending to a fantastic meal!
The four courses were only $35 per person, and worth every penny. I am excited to see what’s on next Sunday’s tasting dinner menu!
Lately, most of my grocery shopping is at farmer’s markets and small grocery stores (Sprouts and Fresh & Easy are my two favorites). Today it was raining and the farmer’s market just did not sound fun. It will be wet. I am feeling lazy and want something for lunch that is pre-cooked and warm, like soup. So, I went to one of those HUGE super grocery stores. Huge mistake. The parking lot was a crowded mess. There were tons of people wondering around looking lost, and I soon joined them. I found ricotta cheese and many refrigerated blobs of food-like product, but no cottage cheese (something on my grocery list). I found dry soups, canned and boxed soups, soups at the deli, and soups in jars. Due to food allergies, I check every label before it goes into my cart, much less my body! Every soup label I read contained non-food unpronounceable items. Same label problems for the milk, yogurt, gelato, and meat that are also on my list.
Too late for my favorite farmer’s market, I gave up on the gigantic grocery store that contains no real food in the ¼ acre building, and I headed to my comfortable little F&E. When I walked in I was struck by how tiny it really is, how quiet and clean, and how easy it is to find food. Within a few minutes I had everything on my list, including 3 kinds of lovely soup that contain food, and only food! Chemical and pesticide free food!
If you are still shopping at the large format grocery stores, give the small store and farmer’s markets a chance. It is a more enjoyable experience, I did not get lost, shopping is faster, and a dozen other reasons will keep me going back to the farmer’s markets and small shops – rain or shine!
I am a city girl. But I do like to know where my food comes from, beyond just the “store”. Due to food allergies I have a limited diet. I also really like food.
Over the last several years I am totally smitten with Farmer’s Markets. It is an awesome experience to speak to the Rancher who grew the meat for dinner, the Fisherman that caught the Salmon in Alaska, and now I can hang out with the COWS that my milk & ice cream comes from!
Superstition Farm is a family owned dairy farm and country store in the outer fringe of Mesa, Arizona.
SuperFarm is home to a goats, sheep, rabbits, chickens, and of course, cows! This is a real working dairy, so they have cute, happy, healthy cows. My studies show that milk just tastes better when it comes from happy, well adjusted adorable cows. True Story!
A local grocery store pops-up on this dairy farm every Thursday night at the SuperFarm. Ice cream, milk, and dairy from the farm are available, as well as local farmers and ranchers bring food to sample and purchase. We sampled some delicious farmer’s cheese, fresh butter, local Arizona Honey, and fresh fruit from a local orchard.
This Thursday, we had a special treat of an all you can eat “POP UP PIG OUT” for $15 per person. We ate pulled pork, coleslaw, ribs, lettuce wrap carne asada, mango pico de gallo, and washed it all down at the milk bar. For $1 you can buy fresh local milk with a flavor of your choice. Skipping the traditional chocolate or strawberry milk, I tried the pistachio and now I have a new favorite drink! After all that food we could have taken a hay ride around the farm, or toasted s’mores around the one of the firepits.
One of my favorite casual dining restaurants is Pita Jungle in Chandler. As the name suggests, they offer a wide variety of dishes with pita. In addition, they have a great selection of hot & cold salads, delicious baba ganoush, and tasty wine selection. The menu features fantastic vegetarian options, and good selection for anyone with food allergies.
Last night we enjoyed a crisp bottle of South African Chenin Blanc with Tuna and Salmon salads, and finished with a baklava sundae. Delicious! Fresh fruit and vegetables are the basis for their light meals.
The best part? The view from the patio!
Update March 2014: I still love this place and ate lunch there yesterday. The view was spectacular as always. My friend ordered the chicken special, and I ordered the grilled chicken club wrap. Being good friends, we sampled each others meals. Both were good, but the specials are almost always the best item on the menu and yesterday this was very true. Delicious.
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