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Primal Roots 2010 Red Blend

Primal Roots 2010 Red Blend ~

A blend of Merlot, Syrah, and Zinfandel; Primal Roots is a smooth and yet full-bodied offering. 

It serves up a nice combination of spice and berry, particularly raspberry, red currants, and clove.  It carries end-notes of vanilla and a hint of dark chocolate, thanks to aging in French Oak Barrels.  And, it rounds out with a velvet -smooth finish.

At the average price of $9.50 a bottle – you really can’t afford to pass this one up!

By TR Hughes, © 2012 All rights reserved worldwide.

North Scottsdale's GianFrancos Delivers Exquisite Italian Fare

GianFranco Ristorante in North Scottsdale offers unadulterated and simple, yet exquisite, Italian fare. 

“Franco”, as known by his regular customers, was born in Milano, Italy.  He received his culinary training at one of the best institutions in Lake Maggiore, Italy.

After migrating to the US, he headed New York’s Rainbow Room and Prima Donna in New Jersey.  His first venture in Scottsdale was Un-Bacio, first in Old Town and then at Gainey Ranch.  After selling in 2005, he opened GianFranco in 2007 and has been serving up the locals and passers-by, alike, with grand reviews.

The intimate atmosphere and welcoming feel greets you at the door and once inside you will experience a sense of casual comfort. 

His menu offers Classic Italian selections as well as some Signature Creations that are sure to please.  There are a few seasonal offerings and his daily features are always a welcome diversion.

Some selections you’ve got to try are:
  • Carpaccio di Manzo con Rucola
  • Scaloppine di Vitello alla Piccata -Veal Picatta
  • Fettuccine Fresche Bolognese
  • Risotto Primavera
Some of the Daily Features you can’t pass up are:
  • Osso Buco
  • Stuffed Squash Blossoms (Very Limited Season)
GianFrancos opens daily at 5:00 PM. 
Reservations are recommended.  Dress is casual. 

Visit the Website:

View the Standard Menu:

By TR Hughes, © 2010 All rights reserved worldwide.
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White Bordeaux Vairietals

White Bordeaux makes a perfect partner for a variety of foods and is quite perfect for late summer evenings.

I've had the opportunity to try several vineyard offerings recently and I have picked my favorite label.

Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) Selection Prestige Bordeaux Blanc 2010.

Obviously from Bordeaux, France - It is a very nice blend of 60% Semillon and 40% Sauvignon Blanc. 

It retails for about $14 and pairs nicely with delicate fish, pork, and simply dressed pasta.

It's got great legs and a beautiful light floral nose.

It offers a hint of fragrant gardenia and spicy jasmine as well as subtle undertones of light citrus (lemon), inviting vanilla, and a touch of honey to finish clean and light.  Let it open a bit and develop. 

I hope you get a chance to enjoy this little gem!

By TR Hughes, © 2010 All rights reserved worldwide.
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Stingray Sushi opens at Scottsdale Quarter

Stingray Sushi, The Best Sushi in The Valley, Opens at Scottsdale Quarter

I have been a fan of Stingray Sushi since moving the the valley over five years ago.
I recently visited the new Scottsdale Quarter location.

The swanky interior is pretty cool.  I like the Dijon mustard colored leather they used throughout.  At the risk of making fun of myself though...the door is super hard to find.

The bartender, Paige Smith, made me feel a little better when she informed me that a lot of people have a hard time finding the door.  Paige is an Ohio transplant, who has a lot of personality and a natural flair for bar-tending.  Whenever she graduates, into her life's career path, I'm sure her experiences tending bar will help shape her character.

She made me a marvelous "Sinful Orchid".
It was quite refreshing and had a bit of sweetness, but not too much.

I have tried multiple sushi venues around town.  I've had decent, even great food and service, but never has the quality compared to Stingray.  In my opinion, Stingray is by far the best sushi in the Valley.

It could be the Hamachi with jalapenos, in particular.  It is pretty darn awesome; they call it "Hotty Hamachi".

I will order it at Nobu (the original inspiration for the dish) or at Stingray.

I have tried Hamachi at other places, but one of two things usually happens: either they try to update the dish with some sauce or they do not properly trim the fish.  Young, tender yellow-tail must be a little tricky.   

Hamachi is actually not a standard fish offering at most sushi restaurants.  Though it is appearing on more menus - due to demand. 

The original and signature dish of Hamachi with Jalapenos was created by the Chef-Owner of Nobu, Nobu Matsuhisa.

Nobu has brought his signature style to many wonderful creations and this is one of my all-time favorites.  It deserves copying - but only if it can be properly executed.  

Stingray does it perfect, without trying to improve upon the classic signature dish, they simply nail it!

The new Stingray venue at Scottsdale Quarter  is very clean, airy, swanky, and a bit larger than their downtown location.

Scott Piccioni, the GM, is doing a fantastic job!
~ I hope to be back there soon sipping on a Sinful Orchid and savoring some Hotty Hamachi!

By TR Hughes, © 2008 - 2011 All rights reserved worldwide.
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Fond Food Memories –

Pictured Above - The Green Bean Fries at TGI Friday's -

I have a great food memory that engages all of the senses – not only taste and smell, but texture, feel, sight, and essence. 

I also have a photographic memory – I totally think in pictures.  I can remember this amazing dish I had at about thirteen years old in Alexandria, VA at the Seaport Inn along the Potomac River. 

It was huge and I had no idea how I was going to eat it all - as a southern belle from the Deep South – we were from the “clean plate” club. 

It was tiny shell pasta with an amazing creamy alfredo-style sauce with plump pieces of white chicken and broccoli florets and it had just a sprinkle of fresh shaved parmesan on top. 

It was mounded high on an oval white plate – that to me - looked as large as a serving platter.

My Dad eyed me as I looked down at the task ahead.  My grandmother always told me that my eyes were bigger than my stomach and she was often right, if she could only see me eat now!

I dove in as if I were famished - but then quickly steadied to a marathon pace that could get me through.

It was comfort food.  It was amazing, especially for the palate of a thirteen year old.  And it was a dish to remember…like so many others that have passed my lips over the years.  Remembering every little detail of such delectable flavors can still bring a sense of smell to my nose as I envision the experience time and again.

I also remember riding in the back of my Dad’s truck to get ice cream at Jan’s Drive-in.  My favorite: A “Ripple” cone.  Except later - I preferred it in a cup - why let that crazy cone taste get in the way of my tasty fun? Ripple was half vanilla and half chocolate from the same nozzle all swirled around soft-serve style. I can feel it on my tongue even now. Oh yeah.   

Other Fond Food Memories Include:
  •        The first time I tasted Homemade Peach Ice Cream at my Aunts’ House
  •          The Amaretto Sour at Dementi’s in Mountain Top, PA
  •          Conch Fritters at Russell’s in Murrell’s Inlet, SC
  •          Oysters at Dusty’s in Panama City, FL    
  •          The Green Bean Appetizer with Wasabi Ranch at TGI Friday’s
  •          The Best Lobster in the World at Chateaubriand in New Orleans
  •          Chicken Stuffed Mushrooms at Park Grill Steakhouse in Gatlinburg, TN
  •          The Beer Sampler at BJ’s Brewhouse
  •          My Seven Mushroom Soup – When I finally nailed it!
  •          Chicken Nuggets at Chick-fil-A

There have been some amazing dishes – I tend to forget the unpalatable or even the mediocre all-together.  But- give me something amazing and I will sing its’ praises for decades – all the while plotting to return to the scene of the crime.

By TR Hughes, © 2010 All rights reserved worldwide.
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Best All-Time Cookbooks

Mastering The Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck (Knopf, 1961)

The Joy of Cooking (Scribner, various editions 1931-2006)

French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David (Originally published in 1960. Penguin Classics, 1999)

Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant: Ethnic and Regional Recipes from the Cooks at the Legendary Restaurant by Moosewood Collective (Fireside, 1990)

Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen by Paul Prudhomme (William Morrow, 1984)

The Silver Spoon by Phaidon Press (First US edition: Phaidon, 2005)

The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution by Alice Waters (Clarkson Potter, 2007)

James Beard's American Cookery by James Beard (Little, Brown and Company, 1980)

The Virginia Housewife by Mary Randolph (Originally published in 1838. BiblioLife, 2008)

The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Shelia Lukins (Workman Publishing Company, 2007)

Southern Table: Recipes and Gracious Traditions from Highlands Bar and Grill by Frank Stitt (Artisan, 2004)

What's for Dinner?

Turkey Zucchini Lasagna
(Excellent Recipe - Healthy Too!)

Sweet and Sour Meatballs Over Rice
(Savory and Sweet - What a Combo...)

Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Baked Potatoes
(Guilty Pleasure - But NOT - A Healthy Carb Option)

Stuffed Green Peppers
(How long has it been since you've made these? - Too Long!)

Easy Beef Stroganoff
(Did I say EASY?- YES!)

Homemade French Onion Soup
(Secret Ingredient! - Must Have)

Hope you Enjoy the Above Recipes ~ I did!


Environmental Watch

Tips, ideas, and information for making your kitchen more environmentally friendly.

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Hot, new products reviewed by people like you!

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Corked - Wine Reviews/Resources

Markets - The Best Grocers

Reviews and Information about Markets...
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Who has the best prices?
Who has the freshest ingredients?
Where can you locate those Hard-to-Find Ingredients?
What markets are making a difference in the environment?

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