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That's him behind the counter, chopping garden loads of fresh vegetables that grace so many of his broths, and yelling at customers, "Eat more soup! Now!" This guy's not shy, smiling and shouting at guests who take too long to order.
With up to a dozen varieties offered daily, choosing can be a challenge. All the soups are made from scratch with recipes handed down from the Doctor's mother and grandmother. Vegetable beef barley swims with whole mushrooms and tender steak in a rich tomato broth. Chicken noodle is stuffed with shell pasta, cooked to perfectly slimy softness. And pasta fagioli is smitten with soft bean, orzo and celery in a salty base.
Take it from the Soup Doctor: You need more soup. Now!
(The soup -- but not the Doctor -- is also available at Arizona Bread Company, 23587 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, 480-515-9440.)
Or at least that used to be the case before this fry bread fortress pitched tent inside the west Valley's SwapMart.
Angelina's makes pouf-perfect fry bread from a recipe handed down through generations of Native Americans, rolling the dough, working it into ovals, puncturing its middle and dropping it into fryers. The bread emerges glistening, puffy and impossibly light. Topping options include vigorously seasoned red or green chile, ground or shredded beef and shredded white meat chicken, as well as simple shakes of powdered sugar and sticky squeezings of honey.
Alas, the swap mart is only open on weekends, but we're willing to wait: It lends new meaning to TGIF -- Thank God It's Fryday.
The search is worth the effort, unveiling a completely charming, comfortable room seating up to 25 people around a grand, copper-topped table and at comfy booth tables lining the wine-bottle-lined walls. Our favorite spot is curled up in front of the kiva fireplace.
As pretty as the place is, the experience is low-key. Dick's Hideaway is brought to us by the folks at Richardson's, and that's the same menu from which we select. That means creative New Mexican dishes like chimayo chicken (stuffed with spinach, sun-dried tomato, poblano chile and asiago cheese); pork tenderloin (marinated and pecan grilled with red and green chile jelly); and even posole (hominy and pork in red chile broth).
Best of all, Dick's Hideaway doesn't stick guests with a fixed menu, like most private rooms do. Everything's flexible -- individual meals, custom requests, open or hosted bar service, even birthday cake.
Now that's casual with class.
The birds are lightly rubbed with paprika and spices, then roasted in their glass-fronted coffin for up to three and a half hours. The fat drips through the skin, touching the chicken with its rich flavors, then drips harmlessly into a metal pan below.
The result? A tender, juicy fowl so near-greaseless (and Heart Smart Restaurant endorsed) that we may never eat chicken out of a bucket again.
Like all other salads, it can be ordered in small or large portions ($2.45 and $3.45, respectively), or by the pound ($5.95) as carry-out.
Tuber or not tuber? At Sabuddy, that is not the question.
No matter, we've got a back-up with the ultra-luxe private dining room we can reserve at the Phoenician resort. Happily, it looks just like a castle, replete with Renaissance-era decor, barrel-vaulted ceilings, brick archways, European antiques and a full wall of wines. It's just spacious enough -- we can park up to 16 of our friends' premier posteriors on tapestry-upholstered chairs.
Adjacent to the resort's fabulous Terrace Dining Room, it also serves as the Terrace's working wine cellar. And when it's time to eat, we can have anything we want from the resort's flagship restaurant, Mary Elaine's. The magnificent modern French cuisine and highly polished service are just what we need to take our minds off our employment troubles at home.
It makes for such a peasant -- uh, pleasant -- evening out.
After tasting the produce of Quiessence chef-farmer Hallie Harron, we're right there in the dirt with him.
These are veggies of uncompromising virtue, grown under Harron's own hand in pretty little beds scattered across a 12-acre farm. The focus of her family-style meals, they're selected based on what the garden offers each day.
The only thing better than being a stalk of celery would be to exist as Harron's fennel, braised al dente and glossed with a thin red pepper marmalade. Or as her albino beets, roasted shallots, gloriously sweet and sour roasted onions, rich flavored grape tomatoes, or a curl of earthy daikon radish.
Finish our vegetables? Just try to stop us.
That makes Don & Charlie's pté a winner in our world. The fact that it's served free as a prelude to a gut-busting steak dinner including salad, potatoes and all the bread we can handle doesn't hurt, either.
The appetizer is pure beef liver, smooth but studded here and there with little liver chunks for interesting texture. It's served in the classic way, crumbled with hard-boiled egg, cozied up with lots of chopped white onion, and plopped in a big scoop on romaine. Sides of roasted red pepper and hot pepper tomatoes cut the richness when we need it. The pté's almost a meal in itself, spread on crisp lahvosh, rye bread and toast crisps.
At Don & Charlie's, we liver for the moment.
It's reassuring to know that any salesman trying to push these pseudo-pasta products on the folks at Il Pescatore would likely find a horse's head in his bed. That's because this charming, almost Victorian-looking restaurant is dedicated to excellence in the kitchen. All pastas are made fresh, from traditional family recipes.
Knowing that variety is the spice of life, Il Pescatore offers plenty of choices, too. Our favorite (fresh, of course) sauces, vegetables, meats and seafood can be paired with our heart's desire of cappellini, farfalle, fettuccini, gnocchi, linguini, penne, ravioli, rigatoni or tortellini.
We don't want pasta fasta. We want Il Pescatore, where they take the time to care.
Estrella Mountain Ranch
11800 South Golf Club Drive
Estrella Mountain Ranch
11800 South Golf Club Drive