About Town: New Pastry Chef at ZuZu, Food & Wine Pairings at Hearth ’61, and RA Sushi turns 21

September “Show Stopper” Shake at Zuzu in the Hotel Valley Ho

Since December, I have photographed 9 out of 10 monthly “Show Stopper” shakes at ZuZu in the wonderfully retro Hotel Valley Ho.  Not a bad record, but my hips are showing the telltale signs.  Therefore, this month, before heading out to photograph the September shake, I hiked Piestewa Peak in the cool hours of the morning.  For those of you that read my last post on Wellness Hacks, I know what you may be thinking.  I do eat what I photograph, but fear not…I am clinging (however tenuously) to my commitment in finding balance in life.  But I digress…the big news is that ZuZu has a new pastry chef, Lisa Graf.  Lisa hails from the neighboring state of New Mexico and has worked in Santa Fe at the iconic Ten Thousand Waves and here in the valley at Roka Akor.

For September, Chef Graf debuted the Banana Split Shake, with strawberry banana ice cream, caramel, chocolate sauce, peanuts, an upside down pineapple cake, and a chocolate covered banana.  Banana shakes remind me of my father who used to tell me that when he was a teenager (circa 1932), it was the “romantic thing” to take your date to the pharmacy to share a banana split.  So grab your significant other for a date night and share one of these delectable shakes…you won’t regret it, even if you didn’t hike that day!

ZuZu at the Hotel Valley Ho

6850 E Main St., Scottsdale


Spirited Sipping Seminars at Hearth ’61, Mountain Shadows Resort

Spirited Sipping Seminars at Hearth ’61 are one more reason to love the Mountain Shadows Resort in Paradise Valley.  Food and Beverage Manager, Jim Gallen, leads these hour-long classes held two Saturdays a month (read the July Rosé tasting here).    I most recently attended a class called Food and Wine Pairing that took us through 4 wines (Prosecco, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon) to compare/contrast with 8 flavor profiles (lemon, creamy goat cheese, blue cheese, firm cheese, steak, salmon and olive oil).  Jim reminded us that what you like to drink trumps what you may be told you should to drink.  However, keeping an open mind may introduce you to some surprising pairings.  Some of my favorites?  The acid in lemons was complemented by the crisp acid in a Sauvignon Blanc.  The Chardonnay had a certain richness to it that balanced the creaminess of the creamy goat cheese – and blue cheese was pretty tasty with the Chard too!  The tannic acid present in meat paired so sweetly with the tannins in a Cabernet Sauvignon.  The underlying theme here is that acid goes with acid, butter goes with butter, and sweet goes with sweet.  And, when in doubt, Prosecco or Champagne goes with everything!  Check out some of my posts on wine pairings from the Aspen Food & Wine Classic here and here.  Some of the future tastings at Mountain Shadows are listed below and the full list can be found on their website.

October 6: Bourbon

October 20: Beer, USA vs. Europe

November 3: Gin, The Misunderstood Spirit

November 17: Wines for Thanksgiving

December 1: Holiday Cocktails

December 15: Ales vs. Lagers


Hearth ’61 at Mountain Shadows

5445 E. Lincoln Dr.


RA Sushi Turns 21

I remember when the first RA Sushi opened on the corner of Scottsdale and Main Street across from Bandera.  It is hard for me to believe that was 21 years ago.  To celebrate, I tagged along with my friend, Dana Vollmer of cocktailsandcactus.com, to a sushi making class.  We made a Spiked Sushi Roll and a Rainbow Roll.  The Spiked Sushi Roll is offered for a limited time in the month of October to commemorate 21 years.  It is “spiked” as you pour a cup of sake over the roll before eating.  It was very tasty indeed, and a great idea for a girls’ night out.  I have written about sushi making once before in Hawaii, and my sushi making skills were evident as they were ready to hire me on the spot!  Happy Weekend and Kampai!  xoM

RA Sushi Bar Restaurant

3815 N. Scottsdale Rd.



All photos by Marci Symington for texAZtaste.com.

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  • Renee Fuentes

    I still haven’t made it to ZuZu, my kids would go crazy over this shake!!!

    • TexazTaste

      The kids look forward to the new shake each month! Definitely try to check it out!

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