Tag Archives: Crudo

Micah Olson, Courtesy of Crudo

Thirsty Thursday: Micah Olson of Bar Crudo and Okra

Micah Olson is set out to do bartending right.

Just by seeing him in action, behind the bar, it’s clear Olson loves what he does. He’s part-owner of Crudo and runs the bar program, for which his enthusiasm is more than evident. He greets customers he knows by name and shakes the hands of those he doesn’t.

Olson appreciates the independence the bar allows him, whether it’s experimenting with new flavors and mixtures or taking care of his own guests.

A bookcase sits off to the side of the bar, one shelf full of books on the specifics of bartending: drinks, taste, flavor.

Olson started as a line cook, eventually moving to the front of the house. As a server, he became interested in wine and after two years of learning about wine, got his Introductory Sommelier Certification from The Court of Master Sommeliers. He’s worked at Phoenix staples such as the Royal Palms Resort and the Sanctuary on Camelback, where he was the wine buyer.

It was at the Sanctuary that his mixology career began. Olson got the chance to take a mixology class, learning about the use of fresh juices, making in-house syrups and going back to basics with classic cocktails. He was offered the bar after that, finally allowed the freedom to come up with his own menu.

“A wannabe cook” is what he calls himself, which explains some of the books on the bookshelf: he has both The Flavor Bible and The Flavor Thesaurus, which he consults often but is familiar enough to know what goes well with what.

The bar computers have a button for Micah: “Dealer’s Choice,” the one Olson uses when he makes up a drink, after doing a bit of question and answer with the patron. Whether it’s regulars who’ve had everything on the menu and want to try something new or indecisive newbies, Olson’s personal touch gets thrown in, when he makes a drink just for them.

This improvisation isn’t a new skill for him. During Arizona Cocktail Week in 2014, Olson won the high-energy competition Last Slinger Standing.  It’s “March Madness bracket formula meets Iron Chef”, and with single elimination, it’s a tense few hours. With a creation he can’t even remember, Olson won last year and served as a coach during this year’s competition in February.

His menu at Bar Crudo is unique, but he’s not striving to be different, he says. Using the classics as stepping-stones, Olson relies on fresh and house-made ingredients to solidify a signature’s style. Fruits and herbs are common on the menu, allowing him to be even more creative with flavor profiles.

“I’m looking just to do things in a correct manner,” Olson says.

While Olson will be adventurous when visiting a new bar and drink specials and favorites, he has his own favorite drink. Because it’s guaranteed to be what he asks for, whiskey on the rocks is what he drinks most of the time.

“I know what I’m getting and that’s very comforting,” he says.

Customers at Bar Crudo will have the same response. Whether ordering a drink from the extensive menu or having Olson come up with a new drink, patrons will know what they’re getting, thanks to Olson’s vast knowledge of the mixology world.

Crown on 7th 3

Crown on 7th adds eateries and retail

The former Crown Imports building on 7th St., between Missouri and Bethany Home in Central Phoenix, is getting a major facelift. Dan Noma, Jr., principal of Venture REI, has joined real estate development veterans Buzz Gosnell and Niels Kreipke in investing $6 million to redevelop the mixed-use project.

The project will be renamed Crown on 7th and will include 18,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, open air patio dining areas and 144 parking spots. A central, lushly landscaped courtyard will serve as the heart of the complex, which will include private patios for the restaurant concepts. The development team purchased the project last year for $1.8 million. Construction began in November, 2014, tenant improvements will begin next month and a grand opening is tentatively slated for late summer 2015.

Crown on 7th 1

Venture REI, Noma’s brokerage firm specializing in commercial and residential investment properties, is handling leasing the nine tenant suites.

“We’re focused on leasing to unique restaurant tenants and specialty retailers that will bring value to the neighborhood and local residents,” said Noma. “We see a lot of opportunity in this area and plan to be involved in this property for a long time to come.”

Okra, the Crudo team’s new concept, is Crown on 7th’s first confirmed restaurant tenant, which will offer a mix of southern cooking and signature Italian food.

“Years ago, I used to box in Mack’s Boys Gym in this very building,” said Gosnell. “I’m a native Phoenician, and have always loved this area. I want to help it thrive.”

In addition to focusing on redeveloping and leasing the Crown on 7th project, the development trio is actively pursuing other adaptive reuse projects in the same area.

“We’re interested in properties that can have a long-lasting positive impact in the community,” said Kreipke. “Our goal is to pay homage to the original architecture and history of the area, while making significant improvements utilizing today’s building standards and materials.”

Crown on 7th 2More information about the project principals:
·         Dan Noma is principal of Venture REI, a Chandler, Arizona-based full-service real estate brokerage firm specializing in residential and commercial investment properties.
·         Buzz Gosnell is former president of Woodbine Southwest Corp., which developed the Kierland master-planned community, including the Westin Kierland Resort and Kierland Commons project in Scottsdale.
·         Niels Kreipke is owner of the Desert Viking family of companies, which is primarily focused on the real estate industry. Kreipke was responsible for much of the redevelopment of downtown Chandler from a boarded up historic square, to a thriving entertainment and restaurant destination area. He also redeveloped numerous projects in the Roosevelt District near Downtown Phoenix, including the Historic Gold Spot Center that currently houses Pita Jungle, Lola Coffee and other tenants.

Crown on 7th is located at 5813 N. 7th St. Brick & West designed the project, Alexander Building Company is the contractor, and Arizona Bank & Trust is the lender.

Crudo

Owners of Crudo opening Okra this summer

n5Oppr4-DU6uyBJGKPVZlocMMozATOegJgUP4APbQxk,qvxz_EI2uDeHS3UMUqQPVzEXBQdPwmTinuosJIHLJ-YThe trio behind the award-winning Crudo & Bar Crudo have announced the plans for their sophomore effort, Okra, an all-new offering that blurs the lines between Southern and Italian cooking.  Led by chef Cullen Campbell, wife/co-owner Maureen Campbell and co-owner/mixologist, Micah Olson, this project represents a return of sorts for Chef Campbell, who was inspired to reconnect with his family’s deep Southern roots that occupied his formative culinary years.  After splitting time between Phoenix and his family’s cotton plantation in Forrest City, Arkansas, Campbell attended college just across the Mississippi River in Memphis, where he was steeped in the city’s classic culinary traditions, including the secret to true Tennessee Hot Chicken (hint: if the key to French cooking is butter, down South it’s lard).  Okra will serve as a showcase of these experiences, and much like Crudo, will combine modern takes on traditional dishes with a hint of classic Italian influences.

The bill of lunch & dinner fare will be served daily and will include some immediate standouts, like Southern Fried Chicken served two ways: Buttermilk-brined or Tennessee Hot, plus rib-sticking eats such as Pig Pot Pie, Ham Hocks and the Redneck Burger, accompanied by classic accouterments such as Mississippi Comeback Sauce and Alabama White BBQ Sauce.  You’ll find the subtle, and signature, Italian influences throughout, with focaccia bread pizzas and the aforementioned Southern Fried Chicken topped with a rustic Umbrian meat sauce.  Wash it all down with an expansive collection of wines, craft beers & cocktails, including a seasonal selection of Mint Juleps hand-crafted by Olson to feature the finest small-batch bourbons.

Now under construction inside Crown on 7th, a striking rehab of a midcentury modern strip in north-central Phoenix, Okra’s (5813 N. 7th St.) 100-seat space will blend indoor and outdoor environments while sporting an open kitchen, a first for this culinary team.  The result will be a rich, intimate experience that connects the front and back of the house like never before.

Crudo

Crudo dinner series crisscrosses chef creations

Crudo of Phoenix is in the middle of a dinner series, inviting a guest chef into its kitchen once a month to cook alongside Chef Cullen Campbell. Because of the freedom each chef is allowed, the series is being called Blank Space. Guests at the dinner get only a name of a local chef and then come in to be surprised as to what comes from the partnership of the two chefs.

The surprise ends upon arriving to a table, with a menu at each place, reminding diners of the guest chef and allowing them to read what they’ll get to experience within the next few hours. Guests sat themselves at communal tables, furthering the intimate feel that Crudo is striving for with these dinners. By choice, the dinners are kept at around 35 people to contain the intimacy and close-knit community feel.

March’s dinner featured Chef Paul McCabe of T. Cook’s at the Royal Palms in Phoenix. Some of the dishes were clearly Campbell’s creation, like the shell filled with grouper cheeks, live scallops and Kauai shrimp, a seafood amalgamation with ham hock and pork skin in it. Ahi with horseradish, smoked oyster crema and rye chips went with the Crudo name, a word that means “raw” in Italian.

From the communal seating to the overall point of the event – to invite another chef into the Crudo kitchen – the community feel of the dinner was present throughout the evening. Many guests had been to Crudo before, but many were using this event as an excuse to visit the restaurant for the first time. Maureen Campbell, owner with Chef Cullen Campbell and bartender Micah Olson, greeted people by name but offered the same graciousness to first timers as regular guests.

Joanna Eland of Quench Fine Wines gave an introduction before each of the six courses about the five wines she had paired, all sourced from Wind Gap Winery in California.  As with the chef, each month a new sommelier is invited to the dinner another way to introduce guests to the local food and drink culture.

Chef Cullen Campbell came up with the idea for the series and then picked the guest chefs who would cook with him. Furthering the community feel of the dinner, both chefs walked around greeting the guests, and like Maureen, recognized and knew many.

The series’ next dinner is April 13, featuring Chef Josh Hebert from Posh in Scottsdale. Chef Gio Osso from Virtu will be the celebrity chef May 4, and Kevin Binkley of Binkley’s, Café Bink and Bink’s Midtown will finish the series on June 1.

Crudo is located at 3603 E. Indian School Rd. in Phoenix.

Fall fashion trends

Get your sips at Arizona Cocktail Week

Seven days a year, people from around the country come to Phoenix to celebrate and appreciate cocktails at Arizona Cocktail Week. When half of the country is freezing or hidden under snow, parties and events are being held outdoors and at venues all over the Valley. Arizona Cocktail Week is more than just drinking, though. It’s about the community, education and exposing the public to a profession that hasn’t always received its fair share of respect.

In its fourth year, Arizona Cocktail Week continues to foster the community that it saw at with its inception. With participants coming from all over the country to take part, Arizona Cocktail Week serves as a meeting ground for many people who see each other only once a year. The founders get a chance to get back together and see where their work has taken them.

Damon Scott and Ross Simon, both co-founders, recognize the sense of community the event has. Unlike cities with bigger markets, attendees at the event will be rubbing shoulders and squeezing lemons with the big names in cocktails, Simon says. When participants see the intimacy that Arizona Cocktail Week is able to offer, they go back to their own cities and to try to replicate it, Scott says.

But the event doesn’t cater to only those already in the cocktail community and looks to educate those who might not know much about the bartending career. “I think it shines a light on what we’re doing here,” Simon says. “The most important thing is getting people’s awareness up and having a vessel where we can teach that there’s more to alcohol than getting drunk.”

Despite many people’s stereotypes, bartending is looking to get a better reputation. “It’s been a respectable career for years but now we’re finally getting some of that respect back” says Micah Olson, part-owner of Crudo in Phoenix. Olson has participated in the event every year and won last year’s Last Slinger Standing, Arizona Cocktail Week’s biggest event. In charge of menu development, Olson sees seasonality playing into many drinks here, with lighter drinks doing better, though Phoenix is still a young city and developing its identity as a cocktail market.

Last Slinger Standing, held this year at Bitter & Twisted in downtown Phoenix, was the idea of Jason Asher. Asher started out in the industry trying to merge culinary arts and the bar. Several years later, he came up with competition that’s part Iron Chef, part March Madness. Similar to bartending, “it’s about listening, and it’s about understanding ingredients,” he says.

With participants from Flagstaff, Phoenix and Tucson, 2015 is the first year the entire state of Arizona will be represented at Arizona Cocktail Week. Throughout the week, many local bars and restaurants will hold more than 50 events, looking to expose people to what their bars and kitchens have to offer.

“I think this is one of the best, must-go events for anyone in the Southwest to eat, drink and learn,” Simon says.

Arizona Cocktail Week will be held from February 14-21. Main events will be held at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, the Cocktail Carnival on Saturday, February 14. The Last Slinger Standing Competition will be held Monday, February 16 at Bitter & Twisted in Phoenix. Wristbands can be purchased online or at any Bevmo store.

Take a ‘leap of faith’ with monthly dining series

Chef Cullen Campbell, Crudo

Chef Cullen Campbell, Crudo

Crudo To Host Star-Studded, Mystery Menu Monthly Dinner Series
Co-hosted with fellow Valley chefs such as Jared Porter & Bernie Kantak, Crudo’s Blank Space dinner series takes tastebuds on a tasty leap of faith, starting October 6.

Who: Daring diners, local food lovers and anyone else looking for a new, ever-changing culinary adventure.

What: It’s just like murder mystery dinner theatre, without all the hammy acting, rubbery chicken dishes and, you know, murder. Hosted on the first Monday of each month starting on October 6 at 6 pm with chef Jared Porter of Clever Koi, Crudo’s new Blank Space dinner series is a can’t-miss, wildly-creative and no-holds-barred culinary throwdown. For $75++ per person, guests will receive a time, date and the name of the celebrity guest chef, and that’s about it. Make sure to call 602-358-8666 to save your seat and pay in advance. The rest, from the gourmet multi-course meal to the handcrafted cocktail or fine wine pairings, will be left to the discretion of Crudo’s chef Cullen Campbell and his talented chef co-host.

It’s the ultimate leap of faith for daring diners, but also a great way to get inside the head of your favorite local chefs, to see what they’d make if they had no rules or parameters or a set menu to follow. Plus, with a chef lineup featuring names like Fletcher, McCabe, Curtiss and Binkley, guests can rest assured that their tastebuds are in for a treat. Full lineup below.

Crudo’s Blank Space dinner series chef lineup:

  • Jeff Kraus (Crepe Bar) Oct 6, 2014
  • Bernie Kantak (The Gladly/Citizen Public House) Nov 3, 2014
  • Chris Curtiss (Bourbon Steak) Dec 1, 2014
  • Kelly Fletcher (The Revival) Jan 5, 2015
  • Special out of town guest Feb 2, 2015
  • Paul McCabe (T Cook’s) Mar 2, 2015
  • Josh Hebert (POSH Restaurant) April 6, 2015
  • Gio Osso (Virtu) May 2, 2015
  • Kevin Binkley (Binkley’s/Café Bink/Bink’s Midtown) June 1, 2015

Cost: $75 per person (plus tax and gratuities) including cocktail/wine pairings

When: The first Monday of each month, October 6 2014 – June 1 2015, at 6 pm

Where: Crudo
3603 E. Indian School Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85018
602-358-8666
www.crudoaz.com

Crespelle

Crudo Unveils New Seasonal Food and Drink Menus

The kids may be back in school, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep the summer celebration going. Crudo Chef Cullen Campbell and Mixologist Micah Olson have opened up their big bag o’ tricks and created an all-new seasonal food and cocktail menu to end the summer on a high note. Crudo features several new taste adventures including pecan wood-grilled mozzarella, and the new Whole Roasted Pig Head, served for the entire table with gourmet sauces and accompaniments for $60 (72-hour notice). Bar Crudo also features new late-summer cocktails including the Salt River Project (Tapatio Reposado Tequila, salted watermelon syrup, lime, ancho reyes chile liqueur, Peychaud’s Bitters & Galliano Authentico served tall over ice).

Who: Fine food lovers, craft cocktail sippers, and anyone else interested in trying Crudo exciting new food and drink menus.

What: Turn off your oven and let Chef Cullen Campbell do the cooking for you with Crudo’s all-new seasonal food and cocktail menu. Once again, Chef Cullen Campbell and Mixologist Micah Olson have dug deep into their bag o’ tricks to whip up exotic new twists on classic foods & drinks. Over at Crudo, enjoy bold new tastes such as Ahi tuna served with celery, seaweed pesto and shallots, or a smoky, savory pecan wood-grilled mozzarella plate. However, the truly adventurous will want to try the Crespelle, or Italian-style crepes stuffed with snails, soffrito and battuto. Not to mention, the Whole Roasted Pig Head, served for the entire table with gourmet sauces and accompaniments for $60 (72-hour notice required).

Over at Bar Crudo, Micah Olson has also been busy shaking up an all-new menu of late-summer delights. Highlights include the Arizona-centric, Violet Femmes (Arizona Distilling Co. Desert Dry Gin, cucumber, violet, lemon & sparkling wine served in a flute), and the Salt River Project (Tapatio Reposado Tequila, salted watermelon syrup, lime, ancho reyes chile liqueur, Peychaud’s Bitters & Galliano Authentico served tall over ice). Go green with the Chartreuse-spiked Wycked Sceptor (Zucca Rubbarbaro Amaro, John Taylors Falernum & Lime Juice served in chilled coupe). Or pucker up with a Blue Steel cocktail (Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Blueberries, Tarragon Lemon & Fever-Tree Bitter Lemon Soda served tall over ice).

When: Crudo’s Late Summer 2014 menu is available today.

Where: Crudo, 3603 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ 85018, 602-358-8666.

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Get down and ‘derby’ deals in the Valley

If you are looking for something other than Cinco de Mayo celebrations this weekend, maybe the Kentucky Derby is more your style. Saturday, May 3, presents the 140th Kentucky Derby, which some describe as the most exciting two minutes in sports. There are several Kentucky Derby parties for women to dress up in spring dresses and giant hats and men to dress in their best seersuckers suits.

    Turf Paradise: This huge, spring party has all the Kentucky Derby musts including mint juleps and a fashion judging of traditional Derby clothes of bonnets, sundresses and suits. There are a variety of choices, depending on your budget, including a “Top of the Park” suite that encompasses a view of the infield lakes and two racetracks, a Turf Club Buffet that includes private televisions for viewing, a Clubhouse and Players’ Buffet that get you closer to the horses and the cheering crowd and finally, a Party on the Rail that lets you get up close to the race. All areas include Kentucky Derby food and drinks. Don’t forget to stay for the Hat and Ensemble contest!
    Bourbon Steak at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess: This party is comprised of a Kentucky Derby Brunch and Lawn Party. Live blues music will accompany the mint juleps, bourbon tastings, buttermilk fried chicken sandwiches, biscuits and gravy, crab Louie, shrimp and grits and truffled mac ‘n’ cheese. If you haven’t divulged enough, then continue on to dessert with lemon meringue tarts, red velvet cupcakes and chocolate bourbon pecan pies. You can also try signature cocktails including a “Seersucker” cocktail with bourbon, peach and mint, “The Derby” with bourbon, sweet vermouth, orange curaçao and lime or the “Kentucky Cousin” with Know Creek Bourbon Cherry Herring, lemon and black tea. Once you have eaten your fill, you can play horseshoes and lawn games, take pictures with four-time National Champion racehorse, Saul, or enjoy the women in their stylish hats and men in their suits.
    The Phoenician in Scottsdale: Like the other two events, The Phoenician will host a Kentucky Derby Party with a special viewing party on the Orchid Lawn. The party will include flat screen TVs covering the pre-race festivities and the race itself. Women can compete in the best hat contest and men can win the best Southern fashion contest. Festivities will also include a Winner’s Circle raffle and a delicious Southern menu.

If you want a more low-key atmosphere to watch the race, visit one of these local restaurants to try a Kentucky Derby-inspired cocktail:
    Phoenix Public Market Café: The TNT, $8, contains Arizona Distilling Company Copper City Bourbon, tamarind paste, pequin chili simple syrup and fresh-squeezed lemon
    J&G Steakhouse: Whiskey Passion Fruit Fizz, $13, is composed of Passion Fruit Chili Bar syrup, bourbon and ginger ale
    Crudo: No Name, $12, is made of Smooth Ambler Old Scout Bourbon, Montenegro, Bonal, St. Elizabeth allspice Dram and Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters, served in a chilled coupe
    Central Bistro: Old Fashioned, $10, has Wild Turkey Rye, Demerara syrup and old fashion bitters
    Del Frisco’s Grille: Tennessee Peach, $5, mixes Jack Daniel’s, fresh peaches, honey and fresh lime juice
    American TapHouse: Mint Julep, $3, is a classic drink that can be paired with a delicious BBQ pulled pork sandwich

So whether you are watching the races or just want to try something new, check out these local events and specials this weekend!

RyanZepaltas_CullenCampbell

CRUDO HOSTS ZEPALTAS WINEMAKER DINNER MARCH 20

Crudo’s Chef Cullen Campbell is flexing his kitchen creativity with a multi-course, wine-paired dinner that will feature pro skateboarder turned legitimate winemaker, Ryan Zepaltas with Zepaltas Winery.

Known for his pinot noir made from grapes that grow in his vineyards of Sonoma County, Zepaltas also produces knockout chardonnays, syrahs, and rose’ of pinot noir. The young, boutique winery just secured a 2012 Top 100 Wines by the San Francisco Chronicle for the second year in a row.

The menu for the evening of March 20 includes:

1st Course: Ahi Crudo with Guanciale, Spring Garlic, Bone Marrow

2009 Hanzell Vineyard Sonoma Valley Chardonnay

2nd Course: 
Farm Egg with Spring Herbs, Bacon and Polenta

2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

3rd Course:
 Gnudi with Brown Butter Mushrooms and Spring Garlic

2010 La Cruz Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

4th Course:
 Pork Belly Stracotto with Turnips, Carrots, Radish and Cippolini

2011 Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah

Tickets are available for $75 per person, plus tax and gratuity.

To make reservations, contact Crudo at (602) 358-8666