Post image for 5 East Valley restaurants competing in Girl Scout Cookie Dessert Challenge

Several East Valley eateries will be among 20 Arizona restaurants competing in the second annual Girl Scout Cookie Dessert Challenge during the month of February.

Starting Sunday, each restaurant will feature a dessert created by its chef using one of the flavors of Girl Scout cookies – Do-Si-Dos, Samoas Tagalongs, Thin Mints, Trefoils, or the new Rah Rah Raisins.

A portion of proceeds from each dessert will benefit the Girl Scout’s Camp Sombrero in south Phoenix.

East Valley desserts include:

  • Tempura Thin Mint Ice Cream at Blue Wasabi in Gilbert
  • Tagalong Shortbread at CHoP in Chandler
  • Chocolate Thin Mint Cheesecake and Samoa Cheesecake at Grimaldi’s in Chandler and Gilbert
  • Dark Chocolate Mojito Fondue at the Melting Pot in Ahwatukee
  • Chocolate Do-Si-Dos Muffins at Over Easy in Mesa and Gilbert

See the full list of participating Arizona restaurants here.

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Post image for AZ Beer Week: Handlebar Tempe to host 1st-ever Barleywine Fest on Feb. 17

The calendar for Arizona Beer Week is really beginning to fill up. The latest event: The first-ever Barleywine Festival at the Handlebar Tempe on Tuesday, Feb. 17.

If you’re unfamiliar with barleywines, they’re strong ales with 8% to 12% alcohol by volume, putting them in the same range as wines, but they’re brewed with grain, not fruit.

Like wines, they’re often marketed by vintage, intended to be aged.

Among the barleywines scheduled to be on tap at the Handlebar:

  • Four Peaks 2012 Hopsquatch
  • Stone 2013 Smoked Old Guardian
  • Stone 2015 Dry Hopped Old Guardian
  • Sierra Nevada 2012 Bigfoot
  • Sierra Nevada 2013 Bigfoot
  • Sierra Nevada 2014 Bigfoot
  • Sierra Nevada 2015 Bigfoot
  • Sierra Nevada 2015 Barrel Aged Bigfoot
  • Deschutes 2014 Mirror Mirror
  • Mike Hess 2015 Oreum Rex
  • Elevation 2014 Arete
  • Bell’s Third Coast Ale
  • Firestone Walker barleywine TBA

Entrance to the festival will be free.

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Post image for Wednesday specials & deals from MXSW sponsors

Today’s specials and deals from MXSW sponsors:

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Post image for Creole Cajun Bistro to take over former Cove Grill in south Chandler

Just in time for Mardi Gras, the East Valley is getting a new Creole/Cajun restaurant.

Creole Cajun Bistro is taking over the former Cove Grill space on the southwest corner of Gilbert and Chandler Heights (well-hidden behind the CVS Pharmacy).

The Cove Grill, which started five years ago as The Boatzhouse, closed in November.

Creole Cajun Bistro is the brainchild of Eric Rachal, a longtime real estate appraiser who moved to the East Valley from California about four years ago.

Although his father is Cajun and his mother Creole, the Louisiana native actually learned to cook from his grandmother, a New Orleans chef and caterer known as “Big Red.”

So far, he says, his menu is about “four and a half pages” of traditional dishes like gumbo, étouffée, crawfish boils, and po’ boy sandwiches.

Rachal makes his own sausages in numerous varieties. He also home-brews the beer for his beer-battered menu items.

The bistro will have a full bar, specializing in what Rachal calls “Hurricane-style frozen drinks.”

He and his son, Eric Jr., have been doing all of the renovations to the space themselves, replacing the Cove’s nautical theme with a French Quarter vibe.

Rachal says he’s hoping to book New Orleans-style jazz musicians to perform regularly.

Creole Cajun Bistro is planning a Feb. 14 grand opening.

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Post image for Arizona Strong Beer Festival releases preliminary brewery & beers list for Feb. 14 event

The 15th annual Arizona Strong Beer Festival has released its preliminary list of participating breweries and the beers available for sampling at the state’s premier beer fest Saturday, Feb. 14.

More than 140 breweries from Arizona and worldwide will bring a record 400-plus beers to Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix.

Some of the more high-profile offerings will include:

  • Arizona Wilderness American Presidential Stout
  • Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA
  • Nebraska Attack of the 50-Foot Brunette
  • Cismontane Blacks Twilight Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
  • Destihl Dosvidanya Russian Imperial Stout
  • Black Diamond Carnage Triple IPA
  • Black Market Seek & Destroy Smoked Quadruple IPA
  • Rough Draft Barrel-Aged Freudian Sip

See the full list here. Keep in mind, updates are coming.

Strong Beer will run 1-5 p.m. VIP tickets are sold out, but general admission ($45, which include 40 beer samples) and designated driver ($10) still are available online.

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Post image for The Perch in Chandler to celebrate 1-year anniversary Mardi Gras-style Feb. 15

The Perch Pub & Brewery in downtown Chandler opened last Valentine’s Day. But it will celebrate its one-year anniversary Sunday, Feb. 15, with another holiday – Mardi Gras.

The all-day, 21-and-over bash will start at 11 a.m. and feature traditional Mardi Gras food, local music, a local craft alley, and craft beers.

Chef Matt Marlowe will be preparing jambalaya, a whole pig roast, and a crawfish boil. Some regular menu items also will be available.

Head brewer Andrew Bauman will release his Oaked Bourbon Belgian Peach Ale, brewed specifically for the party.

A four-band lineup will be anchored by Valley favorite Walt Richardson from 7-9 p.m.

Cover charge will be $5.

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Post image for Learn the art of blending sour beers from New Belgium specialists Feb. 13 in Tempe

Lauren (pictured) and Eric Salazar, New Belgium Brewing’s wood beer specialists, will kick off their five-city Sour Symposium tour Friday, Deb. 13, at Culinary Dropout in Tempe.

Attendees will learn the art of blending beer – from grain to glass – focusing on techniques the Salazars use in the Colorado brewery’s cellar while enjoying a pint of New Belgium’s La Folie.

They also will get to blend their own sour beers using different samples of unblended base beers kept in individual foeders in the brewery’s cellar.

Two-hour classes will be held at 5 and 8 p.m. Cost is $50 per person. Get your ticket here.

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Post image for It’s Taco Tuesday! Here are today’s East Valley taco deals

It’s Tuesday, which means taco deals…

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Post image for Tuesday specials & deals from MXSW sponsors

Today’s specials and deals from MXSW sponsors:

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Post image for Thursday’s ‘Taste of Romeo’s Euro Cafe’ menu: Chicken Veneto & Pork Molise

The weekly five-course dinners, hosted by chef Romeo Taus and his wife, Janice, in a private dining room, highlight a rotating selection from the regular menu at Romeo’s Euro Cafe in Gilbert.

Jan. 29 “Taste of Romeo’s” menu:

  • Portobellini: Grilled portobello mushroom with roasted peppers, basil pesto, garlic, and kasseri cheese.
  • Chef Salad: Turkey, ham, Swiss and provolone cheese, crisp bacon, artichokes heart, and olives on salad greens. Feta dressing.
  • Chicken Veneto: Chicken breast, whole black peppercorns, capers, spring onion, mushrooms, and garlic in Marsala cream sauce.
  • Pork Molise: Grilled pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon, roasted garlic, horseradish mashed potatoes, honey caramelized onions, and apricot-cherry sauce.
  • Chocolate Covered Coconut Macaroons

Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $27 per person plus tax and tip. Add five wine tastes for $10. RSVP: 480-962-4224.

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