I was fortunate enough to score a reservation for the second locavore dinner held at Tapino Kitchen & Wine Bar, owned by Chef James Porter. I had heard about the first locavore dinner back in February of this year and I was so disappointed that I was unable to attend. When I saw mention of a second one I was on the phone getting reservations as fast as my fingers could dial!
The dinner was underwritten by several sponsors so the cost of the event was almost too good to be true - $40 per person with paired wines plus tax and gratuity. Seriously?! I still don’t know how Chef Porter pulled this off so it’s worth mentioning the generous sponsors of this event:
Arizona Farm Bureau
Greater Phoenix Economic Council
Local First Arizona
Tapino Kitchen and Wine Bar
City of Scottsdale
This dinner was all about celebrating the bounty that Arizona has to offer from fruit, vegetables, cheese, shrimp, beef, pork and yes, even wine! The resounding chorus throughout the night, championed by Chef Porter was, “Eat Local!” He urges everyone to support locally owned restaurants and shop for local food. We are giving back to our own economy when we as consumers do this: “For every $100 spent locally, studies show that $42 stays here at home. For the same $100 spent with a national corporation, only $13 remains here to circulate” (tapino.com). It really is something I am striving to do and it was exciting to be in a room full of 160 like minded individuals.
So, on to the dinner….
Chef Porter along with his Sous Chef, Christopher Phipps created a vibrant six course meal to showcase all that Arizona has to offer:
First Course – Arizona Desert Sweet Shrimp Lumpia with Arizona Citrus Ponzu: Wow! This was one of my favorites. I loved the thinly sliced cucumbers which served as a bed to nestle the shrimp lumpias. The flavor of the lumpias exploded with each bite. I really don’t know what was inside the lumpia’s other than shrimp and I spotted some mushrooms but the flavors melded together perfectly. Wine Pairing: Pillsbury, Rose 2006
Second Course – Desert Roots & Duncan Farms Vegetable Terrine with Sunizona Yellow Tomato Coulis: This was a wonderful, light vegetable course, bursting with farm fresh flavor. I’ve never had a terrine before, though I’ve read a lot about them so I was really excited to try this. Wine Pairing: Arizona Stronghold, Tazi 2007
Third Course – Konrath Farm Roasted “Whole Pork” Duo: Both servings of pork were incredibly tender and delicious garnished with some micro greens and what must have been housemade pork rinds (I'm not sure as I forgot to ask our server). Wine Pairing: Pillsbury, Roan Red, 2006
Fourth Course – OX Ranch Grass-fed Angus Beef with Desert Roots Vegetable Sauté: I was really looking forward to this course because I spent the hour before the dinner talking with the rancher from OX Ranch, Jay Murphy. Jay is very personable and his excitement in talking about his ranch was apparent. The beef, like the pork, was incredibly tender. Paired with the vegetables and potatoes it was a well rounded dish. The sauce – amazing! I would have licked my plate had I not been surrounded by 159 other diners!! I’m all about grass-fed beef and what that means for the health of us humans, the animal, and our environment so it was nice to see how good grass-fed beef tastes when cooked correctly, something I’m slowly learning to do at home. Wine Pairing: Pillsbury, Diva 2006
Dessert Course: Fossil Creek Goat Cheese and Green Valley Pecan Fudge Tartlette: What a way to top off a wonderful meal – creamy fudge paired with a knob of tangy goat cheese. Yum! Wine Pairing: Page Springs Cellars, Zinfandel 2007
I’m not educated enough about wine to discuss the nuances of each but I will say that there wasn’t one I didn’t like. My favorites though were the Rose and the Zinfandel. Oh, and the Roan Red!
If my experience has peaked your interest, don’t worry, Chef James is planning Locavore 3! Its scheduled for August 21st and will feature other Chef’s from around the valley. I already have reservations so I hope to see you there!
*I did my best at providing links to all the sponsors and the wonderful farmers who provided their food. If I missed you and you'd like to be included please leave me a comment or send me an email and I'll update the post.