Fall for these October Events

Sorry for the cheesy title, but hopefully, I’ve got your attention. Although the day temps might still be warm, that feeling of fall is in the air. There’s something about it being October that just makes you want to get out and do “fall” things. Well, we’ve got a list of  things to keep you busy this month and get you in the spirit (pardon the pun). Happy October!

PUMPKIN & CHILI PARTY AT SCHNEPF FARMS
Thursdays – Sundays in October

Hay rides, miniature golf, four-acre Sonic Burger Maze, honeybee adventure, carousel rides and much, much more. Wear a costume the last weekend and get in for 1/2 price.

$15 pp at the gate
$12 pp at any Fry’s Food Store
Children 2 and under FREE

For all of the details, click here.

THE NEST HAUNTED HOUSE AT RAWHIDE
Dates throughout October

Rated the #1 scariest haunt in America by MSN, THE NEST returns with an all new and improved location for 2010. Guests begin their Nightmare on Rawhide’s Main Street with a “Monster Midway” where they will be greeted by freakish characters that freely roam the grounds. The Midway will also feature concessions, photo opportunities, things to do for the little ones and stunt shows (Main Street activities require an additional fee).

General admission is $25

For more details and specific dates and times, click here.

PUMPKIN FESTIVAL AT MACDONALD’S RANCH, October 1 – 31

Hay maze, a GemMine, Western golf game, two Horseshoe pits and lots more. Enjoy a horse or mule-drawn hay ride to and from the pumpkin patch.

$7 entrance fee per person (Children 12 months and younger are FREE)

Pumpkins are between $3 and $12 (depending on size)

For all of the details, click here.

OKTOBERFEST AT CITYSCAPE, October 22 & 23

CityScape will be howlin’ with live music and dancing, the aroma of sausages and sauerkraut, and tables stacked with steins of cold German beer.

$10 pp, or you can pick up free tickets in advance at the following CityScape businesses: Lucky Strike Lanes; 5 Guys Burgers; Gold’s Gym; CVS Pharmacy; Designer District; Par Exsalonce Salon and West of Soho.

For more details, click here.

HALLOWEEN BLOCK PARTY AT KIERLAND COMMONS
October 30

From 10am to 12pm, enjoy Halloween cookie decorating, a pumpkin patch, candy buffet and festive Halloween music.

Click here for more information.

La Piazza Al Forno

So, it’s another Saturday and the big question looms: What are we going to do for dinner tonight? We wanted to try something new and we love discovering local, quaint little Italian spots. These two things added up to La Piazza Al Forno. I had read that it had Guy Fieri’s stamp of approval on Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives, so we decided, “What the heck, let’s give it a try.”

This little gem is located in the Historic District of Glendale, which totally enhances the quaint factor. We only had about a 20-30 wait and was it ever worth it! It didn’t take me long to settle on the Baked 4 Cheese Ravioli while my husband opted for their Margherita Pizza. His pizza was really, really good, but my ravioli was AMAZING! In fact, it’s best I’ve had in a long time. And there was plenty left over for lunch the next day. Before we even left the restaurant, I was dreaming of more ravioli (and I’m not really a left over kind of person).

Well, we couldn’t leave without dessert. We decided to just go for it and ordered two, to share of course. The Chocolate Cannoli was yummy, especially the filling, and the Italian Almond Wine Cake was downright melt-in-your-mouth dreamy.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the service was really good too – friendly and quick. Oh, and it’s very reasonable. So, the next time you’re looking for an Italian fix, head to La Piazza Al Forno.

La Piazza Al Forno
5803 W. Glendale Avenue
Glendale, AZ 85307
www.lapiazzaalforno.com

WEEKENDER – 9/25

Wow, there’s lots going on in Phoenix this weekend! Whether you are a wine connoisseur, a nature lover or a festival goer, there’s something to picque your interest. Here are just a few suggestions of things to keep you busy:

Urban Wine Walk – September 25

Explore Camelback Corridor, Downtown Phoenix and Tempe restaurants during the Urban Wine Walk. Enjoy three wine samples and a snack at a special price, available only to the Urban Wine Walk participants. From 11am to 6pm.

To participate, tell your server you are on the Urban Wine Walk. (must be 21 to participate)

Click here for more information.

Grand Avenue Festival – September 25

Get ready for the Second Annual Grand Avenue Festival, coming up on Saturday, September 25. There are lots of activities planned for this day-long celebration of Lower Grand Avenue!

Click here to download the official festival guide to help plan your day.

Mariposa Monarca Monarch Butterfly Exhibit – Starts Sept 25

Visit the Desert Botanical Garden and surround yourself with hundreds of live monarchs at Mariposa Monarca. This engaging exhibit features interpretive displays about the life cycle, migration patterns, environmental threats and conservation efforts of the monarch butterfly. The exhibit runs through November 14 so no sweat if you can’t make it this Saturday.

For more information, click here.

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

Kierland Commons

 

If there’s one thing I love to do, it’s S-H-O-P! And Kierland Commons happens to be one of the places I enjoy the most. I love it’s selection of stores along with its openess and beautiful setting. It really sets the mood for a great day of shopping. They also have an amazing selection of restaurants, so there’s always a place to rest your feet and refuel between stores (never underestimate the need to refuel during a shopping excursion – energy is crucial).

My most recent visit to Kierland Commons was for Fashion’s Night Out. I needed a little retail therapy after a long week and this was the perfect solution. Kierland is fun any time of day, but evening is especially “magical” with all of the white lights, people strolling around and patios full of happy hour aficionados. Thanks to the celebratory nature of Fashion’s Night Out, there was music playing, drinks flowing, deals to be had and a slew of live models showing off the latest must-haves for Fall. The stores really got into the spirit of the evening (Note: although tempting, I steered clear of drinking and shopping – it’s hazardous to my wallet!).

Kierland truly has a little bit of everything. Some of my favorite stores include Anthropologie, The French Bee, Michael Kors and Charles David. Of course, they also have the good ol’ stand bys like Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware, J. Crew, LOFT, Banana Republic and Tommy Bahama (which includes the Cafe). Basically, I can meet all of my shopping needs in one place.

As mentioned, the restaurant selection is stellar as well. Some of my personal favs are The Greene House, Zinc Bistro and Ocean Club (the pretzel bread is to die for.)

But don’t just take it from, be sure to check it out for yourself. To see all of their stores and restaurants, go to www.kierlandcommons.com.

Kierland Commons
Greenway Pkwy. and Scottsdale Rd.

 

5th and Wine

I just recently discovered this little gem of a restaurant/wine lounge in Old Town Scottsdale. As luck would have it, a friend decided that this was the perfect spot for her birthday celebration. Since I’m not one to pass up a celebration or the chance to try a new restaurant, I grabbed my husband and we headed out to Old Town.

This is such a cool spot! The atmosphere inside just begs you to sit down, relax and enjoy the company of good friends, good food and good wine. The walls are adorned with the artwork of renowned animal artist Ron Burns. As an animal lover, I was excited to see his whimsical prints. For me, it just added a little something extra. They also have a great outdoor area that I plan to check out once we ease into our version of winter.

 I was just as pleased with the food and wine as I was with the cozy atmosphere. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m not a terribly picky wine drinker but I really enjoyed the Pino Grigio I tried (for the life of me, I don’t recall the name). They have lots of food choices on the menu for sharing. We opted for the Crispy Calamari (with a delightful chile basil dipping sauce, but not too hot) and the “Choose 2” Bruschetta. We went for the Tomato, Mozzarella, Basil, Balsamic Reduction and Hummus, Chive, Saffron Oil – both were yummy.

If you’re in the mood for some delicious eats, good drinks and a comfortable, laid back atmosphere, give this place a try.

7051 E. 5th Ave., Scottsdale
www.5thandwine.com

Phoenix Cooks! 2010

Calling all Foodies: Labor Day Weekend is upon us, so that means it’s time for Phoenix Cooks! This annual event has a new home this year at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa. If you attend, get ready to indulge yourself. There will be specialties from more than 50 restaurants and resorts along with the opportunity to sample wine, beer and spirits. And, if that’s not enough, there will be cooking demonstrations, shopping and “foodie” raffle prizes with 100% benefitting Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Be on the lookout for these chefs: Beau MacMillan (elements at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain), Lee Hillson (T. Cooks at The Royal Palms), Matt Carter (Zinc Bistro & The Mission), Anthony DeMuro (Different Pointe of View and many, many more!

Tickets are $75/pp in advance and $90/pp at the door. Class tickets are additional. Check out www.phoenixcooks.com for all of the details.

Happy Eating!

Ice Cream Duel

When it’s warm in the Phoenix summers, locals don’t fret. Why? Pools are abundant (and all the local resorts are the places-to-be) and cool, sweet treats are all around. The pop-up of gelato and yogurt places can’t be missed, but it’s not a fad – they’re taking a cue from two of the best spots around: Sugar Bowl and Mary Coyle. These are two of the most drool-worthy, diet-ditching parlors, who – in their “vintage” states – have become pillars of Phoenix, especially in the summer.

Sugar Bowl

So you’re in Old Town Scottsdale, moseying along, and BAM you see the big pink corner, with the colorful letters that bring so much joy: Sugar Bowl. People who’ve grown up in Phoenix all have stories about when they were little and got to go to Sugar Bowl. It’s a special place. They serve lunch and dinner, but let’s be honest – you’re going for the ice cream. It’s smooth, creamy and in any of it’s iterations – the sundaes, the parfaits, the cones – you can’t get away from the parlor feel – not that you’d want to. (A certain blogger, by the way, recommends the Old Dutch Chocolate hot fudge.)

It’s old-time dining at it’s best, and the whole experience can’t be missed.

But across town, Mary Coyle is the place to be for cool treats.

Mary Coyle Ice Cream

Similar to Sugar Bowl, Mary Coyle is a staple in Phoenix. They also serve food that you get, but it’s not what you go for. Again, it’s the ice cream. And they make no bones about the 16% butterfat content – it’s on banners in the store – but when you taste it, you don’t have a care in the world if it was 16 or 66% butterfat.

The biggest differentiator are the flavors Mary Coyle has. At any time, there are about 30 flavors, including some bright, fruity ones (black raspberry, fresh honey banana, burgundy cherry) that at least sound healthy, right? But then there are the indulgences (butter brittle, maple walnut, chocolate almond) that will send you flying. Their “standard” flavors like chocolate, peppermint chip and rocky road are done the way an Iron Chef does french fries – perfectly.

So when you need to cool down, head to Sugar Bowl or Mary Coyle – or better yet, go to both. Conduct your own taste test and see what you think of these treats.

Sugar Bowl
4005 North Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Mary Coyle
5521 North 7th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85013-1701

Giant Coffee

Tucked just slightly back from the bustling 7th Street and McDowell intersection in downtown Phoenix is a new coffee shop – Giant Coffee – that is already drawing the eye and the taste buds of locals in the know.

It’s no surprise that it’s a success, considering it’s from restaurateurs Matt and Erenia Pool. You know them from Matt’s Big Breakfast and Roosevelt Tavern, and it’s obvious that Giant Coffee is going to be as big in their repertoire.

Right away, it’s got that hip, urban but very cozy feel. The long, communal table in the middle makes it feel open and friendly, instead of crowded and invasive like other places that try the same concept. But there’s also plenty of room for private conversations with tables lining the sides. Half the reason  you go to a place like Giant is for the atmosphere, and this definitely pays off.

Inside Giant Coffee

Now to the grub: The coffee is delicious, more mild and less acidic than other places. Expect the usual offerings from the drink menu, but all are very well executed. Their specialty is their daily drip, from a single location, so you can taste beans from all over the world day-by-day. Their treats are also amazing. The blackberry-bran-honey muffin is incredibly delicious – and filling – and chock full of local ingredients.

Giant Coffee

A couple notes: they neighbor Bunky Boutique in their new location, so stop by when you can visit both places. Also, Giant doesn’t take cards, only cash, so come prepared.

It’s great to see a new place open with a totally different vibe, it’s worth checking out for your morning – or afternoon – or evening cup of Joe.

Giant Coffee
1437 N 1st St
Phoenix, AZ 85004
twitter: @giantcoffeeaz

Cezanne and American Modernism

Going to any of the art museums in town is always inspiring, but when a big show comes to town, you just can’t miss it.

Morgan Russell Portrait of Cezanne

Morgan Russell. Portrait of Cezanne. 1910. Collection of The Honorable and Mrs. Joseph P. Carroll.

Phoenix Art Museum now presents Cézanne and American Modernism, a collection of numerous artists showing some of the best pieces in post-Impressionist modern art.

Cézanne was called “the father of us all” by both Matisse and Picasso, and in this collection you’ll see numerous works from Cézanne, Morgan Russel, Marsden Hartley and other top artists of the time. The exhibit runs through September 26.

You’ll see works like Cézanne’s Five Apples, Bathers, View of the Domain Saint-Joseph and more. You’ll also see:

Marsden Hartley, Purple Mountains

Marsden Hartley, Purple Mountains, Vence, 1925-26. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum. Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Orme Lewis.

Oscar Bluemner, Jersey Silkmills.

Oscar Bluemner. Jersey Silkmills (Paterson). 1911 (repainted 1917). Private Collection. Photographer: Peter S. Jacobs, Fine Arts Photography.

…and other amazing pieces from the late 19th century to the early 20th century.  It’s truly a must-see.

Phoenix Art Museum
1625 N Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85004
602-257-1222

Independence Day Events

Of course, there are tons of events happening for good ol’ Fourth of July, but we couldn’t list every family barbecue, so we stuck with our top events in the area, and some new events that you really should try out:

Tempe July 4th Celebration

July 4th at Tempe Town Lake

4th of July Kickoff Late Night Feast (yes, it’s  a long title)
On Friday, July 2nd, Pasta Bar in downtown Phoenix is hosting a “Whole Hog Roast” from 10pm – 2pm. It’s only $20 for the pig, pasta and phun (Phun, as Pasta Bar is calling it, is $20 bottles of wine and $3 beers, ages 21 and up for the phun, of course).  This will just be starting on the heels of First Friday, so it looks like you’ve got a whole plan for Friday night.

Pasta Bar
705 N 1st Street
Phoenix

Fabulous Phoenix Fourth

The biggest Independence Day event in Phoenix is celebrating its 25th birthday this year as well, so there’s double reason to celebrate. From 6-10pm on Sunday, July 4th, Steele Indian School Park will be bustling with games, food, activities, bands (on three stages), and a classic car exhibit. Even the Phoenix Fire Department will have a spray zone to cool everyone down. The best part – indeed – are the fireworks which are altogether amazing. If you haven’t been, this is the year to try something new. (Oh, and it’s FREE!)

Steele Indian School Park
3rd Street and Indian School
Phoenix, AZ
More Info

July 4th Tempe Town Lake Festival

Starting at 4pm on the holiday, Tempe Town Lake will turn into a wonderland of bounce houses, rock climbing walls, games, food and music. The fireworks launch off the Mill Avenue bridge and display over the water – really a sight to see. The tickets cost $8 at the gate ($15 for two), but you can get them for $6 at Fry’s stores around town.

Tempe Beach Park
620 North Mill Avenue
Tempe, AZ. 85281
More Info

“Disney” in Concert

The Arizona Biltmore is hosting the Phoenix Symphony for a 90-minute performance of classic Disney songs, from movies like Mary Poppins to The Lion King.  After the show, guests will head out to the Squaw Peak Lawn – beautiful in and of itself – for a “petite finale” of fireworks. For my advice, I’d extend the night and sip on adult beverages on the patio as well. Doors open at 6pm, show starts at 7pm. Tickets are $38, kids 12 and under are $28

Arizona Biltmore
2400 E Missouri Ave
Phoenix, AZ