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molto e

Quiessence Restaurant & Wine Bar / Phoenix

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Quiessence Restaurant & Wine Bar

The Farm at South Mountain

6106 S. 32nd Street Phoenix, AZ 85042

(Just south of Southern on the west side of 32nd Street)

(602) 276-0601

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

There has been a growing buzz about the fare of Chef Gred LaPrad and Sous-Chef Anthony Andiario of Quiessence Restaurant & Wine Bar located at the Farm at South Mountain. I had been to Quiessence right after Chef LaPrad had taken over but after a quick glance of the menu, it was clear many changes had taken place and it was time for a re-visit. The Farm at South Mountain was a snap to get to from Scottsdale taking the 202 West to the 143 South, right on Southern, left on 32nd and the entrance is immediately on the west side of 32nd st, which can be slightly cloaked come night time. With the Fall nights upon us, there is no better place to dine "al fresco" than one of the outdoor tables at Quiessence. There is also an outside table that is set off by itself, if one is looking for the perfect spot to be secluded. The restaurant benefits from the guidance of General Manager and Sommelier Dustin Christofolo as the "front of the house" ran very smoothly and all the servers were quite knowledgeable about the food and wine. As we settled down at the table, we started to peruse the evening's offerings.

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Menu

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Cheese Menu

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Dessert and After Dinner Drinks Menu

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Cigar Menu

I was having a hard time deciding what I was going to order so I asked if the Chef would prepare a tasting for the table so I could get a chance to try as many of Chef LaPrad's offerings. There was no doubt in my mind that we had to start with "The Chef's Spread", which is a tasting of house-made charcuterie that I had been hearing raves about.

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Our Tasting Menu

Amuse

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Maya's Farm Deviled Egg

Tasty treat from the kitchen...

Dustin came with a large serving platter that held "The Chef's Spread"

Dustin had suggested pairing a sherry with the charcuterie plate but I asked him to switch that because sometimes sherry and I do not get along so he subbed in the Christom Pinot Noir "Eileen Vineyard" 2004 that was outstanding.

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Tuscan salami aged for two months

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Spicy Coppa with McClendon's desert blossom honey mixed with black pepper

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head cheese served on lavosh cracker with marinated shallots, underneath the lavosh-pickled vegetables with sunchokes from Sunflower, AZ, One Windmill Farms red onions & yellow bell pepper and McClendon Farm cipolini onions

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Pork Rillette, pickled red onion, celery leaf

This sampler was outstanding, the art of charcuterie is for the most part lost in this country. The difference between commercial product and hand-crafted is like night and day, in fact one local Italian maker that I know likens the commercial makers to terrorists (that is extreme but he says they make the product without any respect to the way things should be done). I must say that I am very sure that commercial head cheese has not crossed my lips but this head cheese was outstanding. I found the spicy coppa to be top-notch and the addition of McClendon's desert blossom honey with the coppa to be a nice match of sweet and spicy. The pork rillette was made into a spread like consistency which I liked more than if it were left as shards of meat. The salami was served at the proper temperature so the nuances of the seasoning are easier to pick up.

First Course

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Roasted Acorn Squash Soup...with apple and I’Itoi onions paired with Hller Estate Chenin Blanc 2006 (Certified Organic)

Great fall soup, so comforting...the roasted acorn squash lends a depth to the soup that makes it a bit hearty. All the bowls at the table had nothing in them by the time everyone was finished.

Second Course

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Aravaipa Asian Pear Salad with Golden Beets Toasted Walnuts (Ft. Bowie) and Creamy Point Reyes Blue Cheese Dressing paired with Albertus Gewurztraminer 2004

Third Course

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House-Made Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Berkshire Pork Sausage

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Hand-Made "Nichi" Farmer's Cheese (Maricopa) Stuffed Pasta with Fresh Tomato and Basil Sauce paired with Fontodi Chianti 2004

This was my favorite course of the night and may be the best hand-made pasta that I have eaten in Phoenix (that should probably be capitalized as I feel that strongly). The toothsome orecchiette in the buttered sauce with broccoli rabe and pork is a classic dish but this rendition is my lifetime best. By using a perfectly hand-made orecchiette in the first place raised this dish up but the sauce was so good as it was balanced not only in flavor but in amount of sauce used. The hand-made "Nichi" were perfectly constructed and again the use and flavor of the sauce was outstanding! There is no question that I will return to Quiessence in the very near future to have more of their pasta.

Fourth Course

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Grilled Baja "Harpoon Caught" Swordfish with Tepary Bean Puree (Maricopa), One Windmill Tomatoes, Gila Bend "Dessert Sweet" Shrimp and Red Wine Vinaigrette paired with Hawks Merlot 2003

I thought the use of the tempary bean into a hummus was interesting.

Fifth Course

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Slow Roasted Berkshire Pork Belly, with Butternut Mashed Potatoes, and Pickled Red Onion

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"Pasticcio" of Power Ranches Beef and Farm Egg with Gravy and Creamed Greens paired with Stags Leap Petite Syrah 2004

My enjoyment of this course was tempered by my appetite's fatigue though the next course got me going again :biggrin:

Cheese

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Black Mesa Ranch Brine Cured Feta, Old Chatham Hudson Valley Camembert, Marin French Cheese Co. Rouge et Noir Triple Cream Brie, Great Hill Blue Cheese, Upland Cheese Co. Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Three Sisters Farmstead Serena Cheese, Bravo Farms Silver Mountain Cheese, Fiscalini Bandage Wrapped Cheddar, Beecher's Flagship Handmade Cheese with a streak of sweetened vin santo reduction down the middle of the plate

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Mascerated raisins, fuji apples & asian pears, honey walnut & pecans not pictured sliced toasted baguettes

The cheese program at Quiessence is definitely one of the best in town. The accompaniments of the mascerated raisins and honey walnuts and pecans were fantastic and went so well with the cheese.

Dessert

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Chocolate Fourless Torte with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

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Apple Toffee Cake

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Pear and Cranberry Cobbler with Creme Anglaise

It's amazing just when you think you are full that the capacity of the dessert portion of the stomach can easily accomodate some sweets. My Favorites on the platter were the chocolate flourless cake and the apple toffee cake.

Quiessence is one of the restaurants in town that is striving for and delivering a special experience; picturesque setting, great service, wine program and a kitchen truely based on "from farm to table". I look forward to my next meal there and recommend that you get out there while the weather is accomodating to dining outdoors (though the indoor of the restaurant is nice as well).


Edited by molto e (log)

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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