While I'm bored with the pretension that so often accompanies wines, a little knowledge is never a bad thing. For starters, I appreciate it when my server can tell the difference between the red and white varieties. Also, I like a server who doesn't yell at me when she brings me the wrong type.
Perhaps it's too much to expect high-class training from the staff at downtown Phoenix's new Dodge Theatre I can't think of any other so-called high-end Broadway-caliber "theater" that sports concession stands pushing cotton candy, soft pretzels, jumbo hot dogs and popcorn.
But the Dodge has higher aspirations. In between the table registering people to win a new Dodge truck and the stand selling tee shirts for the evening's entertainment, full bars sell overpriced spirits like Korbel Brut champagne ($8.50) and Copperidge wine (by Ernest & Julio Gallo). The wine runs $7.50 for a 10-ounce splash in a plastic cup. Just the thing to go along with a Barry Manilow concert ticket costing almost $90 (jeez).
I asked for white wine. The counter lady brought me Zinfandel, colored soft pink like bubble gum. I reminded her I wanted white. She glared, grabbed the bottle and showed me the label. "You said white. I heard you," she snapped. "This says white."
True enough, the label read "White Zinfandel." It took some coaxing to get her to pour that other white, Chardonnay. Hey, I wouldn't have made such a fuss, but everyone knows that Zinfandel doesn't go with red licorice ropes.
Grill Thrill: My new favorite cheap-casual-quick restaurant has expanded its menu for the summer. Maxie's World Grill at 40th Street and Indian School now offers topnotch items like a spicy Southeast Asian salad (romaine, Mandarin oranges, roasted almonds, spicy soy flank steak, jalapeños, organic tomatoes and sesame dressing), conch fritters with habanero mayo, and garlic-crusted voodoo pork tenders.
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An intriguing new specialty is the Cruzan sandwich (St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands), bringing habanero-marinated chicken breast or beef tenderloin with jack cheese, grilled onions and spicy habanero mayonnaise.
I'll never understand how Maxie's owner Jeff Lee can send out this fine stuff for so little money. The huge chicken Cruzan is just $4.95, including chips, salad, beans or French fries. The USDA-choice beef Cruzan is the most expensive, still a steal at just $6.75.
You go, grill.