3 Reasons to Attend AZCentral’s Food and Wine Experience

As the temperatures cool, the culinary scene heats up. Festival season is upon us yet again and we’re especially looking-forward to what may be the biggest spectacle of the season, AZCentral’s Food and Wine Experience. There will be food, wine and spirits plus plenty of local culinary talent, including our owner and chef Chris Collins, and world-renowned food personalities coming together for the multi-day showcase. Here are a few reasons why we think the November event is worth checking out.

Two Words: Unlimited Samplings
Over 35 restaurants will be participating in AZFWE this year. And with unlimited samplings you’ll have the opportunity to taste creations from each one. Our advice? Come hungry!

Mix With Tastemakers
The AZCentral Food and Wine Experience is a star-studded event. In 2016 TV host and restaurateur Mario Batali made an appearance and this year Martha Stewart will be showcasing her culinary skills in a special ticketed-experience. With the purchase of a Martha Stewart Experience ticket, guests have access to the VIP Grand Tasting plus they have the opportunity to get a book signed by the lifestyle mogul and get to take home two complimentary bottles of wine.

Wine, Beer and Spirits
Libations at this year’s event will be plentiful, that is for certain. The Food and Wine Experience will showcase over 200 different craft beers, distinctive spirits and fine wines for guests to enjoy over the course of the multi-day culinary extravaganza.

The AZCentral Food and Wine Experience is happening at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, November 4-5. Admission ranges from $85 to $325. AZCentral Insiders get $15 off their ticket purchase.

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Handmade Pastas Take Center Plate at Wally’s

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At Common Ground Culinary, we’re big fans of pasta. Our owner, and Chef Chris Collins said, "If you ask me and my brothers what our favorite thing is our mother makes, every brother would say carbonara." At our sister restaurant, Twisted Grove, Chef Collins offers up a classic carbonara dish, which Chef also mentions is his favorite pasta offering on the menu, that is based on his mother's recipe. But carbonara isn't the only thing they are cooking up at Twisted Grove Parlor + Bar. Our sister restaurant is responsible for all of the pastas we offer here at Wally’s American Gastropub. That means that they work tirelessly to craft in-house-made pastas for each and every one of our pasta-centric dishes. Here are the dishes that feature handmade pastas.

Bourbon Street Pasta
A southern classic, this pasta dish is comprised of grilled chicken, andouille sausage, red bell peppers, sun dried tomatoes and a tasty chipotle cream sauce.

Twisted Pappardelle
We offer a variety of Twisted Pappardelle dishes. This includes our meatballs and spinach with San Marzano red sauce and freshly torn basil, our crispy chicken parmesan, and finally, our shrimp and asparagus, a dish which features rich caper cream and dressed arugula.  

S’Mac
Widely considered our most popular pasta dish, our tempting four cheese blend becomes an instant crowd favorite when it arrives at the table. Our S’Mac, which is served up in a cast iron pan, is also available with baby heirloom tomatoes and torn basil, or it can be made with delicious cider-cured bacon. The classic cheeseburger S’Mac is also a good choice, and the andouille sausage with red bell peppers is a swell option for those with a big appetite.

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The Perfect Boiled Egg, In 9 Minutes

There’s swirling debate about how to whip up a perfect boiled egg. Dozens of cookbooks all offer different and conflicting approaches and techniques on how to achieve boiled egg greatness without much reason as to why it's deemed best. From time spent cooking to the size of the pan used in the process, there’s a lot of information out there as to what method is regarded as “best practice.” We’re here to settle the debate with our two cents on the topic.

How-To

When it comes to cooking boiled eggs things can get complicated. We’re here to make it easy. With these cooking tips you’ll be on your way to egg-cellent boiled eggs, worthy of a dinner party debut or for everyday snacking.

Choosing the right pan or pot to cook with is important. We recommend choosing one that is just larger enough to hold all of the eggs you intend to prepare -- don’t go too big or opt for one that is too small.

Boiling
Add water to your pot, keeping in mind that you only need enough to cover the eggs, and bring to a boil. Once you’re boiling, turn off the heat, add the eggs, cover and start your timer for nine minutes. A nine minute cook time is best for large eggs.

Avoid Overcooking
To avoid overcooking make sure that your water never passes the 180-degree mark and be sure to use a timer. After your timer goes off, give your eggs a cool bath under cool water for a few minutes.

Try Our Eggs for Yourself
You can find our nine minute egg on our menu under the salads and chilled vegetables section. It’s served in a simple dish alongside asparagus and prosciutto.

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4 Things You Didn’t Know About Wally’s American Gastropub

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How much do you know about our little pub? What you learn about us might surprise you.

All Pastas Are Handmade
Dishes where pasta is front and center, like our Twisted Pappardelle, are made with handmade pasta. And it is all courtesy of our friends at Twisted Grove, a Common Ground Culinary family restaurant located just up the street that neighbors Grassroots and Sweet Provisions.

We Have Happy Hour, Every Day
We call it Happiest Hour, because how can you not be happy with discount cocktails, wine, beer and pub-style eats? Happening each and every day from 3pm to 6pm, guests can get pub cocktails and wine by the glass for $7, brews for $4, plus dishes like our Pretzel and Asiago Fondue for $5 and specials on our Peel ‘N’ Eat Shrimp with dipping sauces.

We’re Dog-Friendly
Pups are welcome at our little neighborhood pub. Just ask our friend Violet the Cavalier. We only request that our four-legged pals join us out on our shaded patio.

Wally’s Is a Family Tradition
Wally’s first debuted nine years ago, as a restaurant that Chris’ father, Wally Collins, opened. Recently, Wally’s joined the Common Ground Culinary family, we underwent a menu revamp that refined our cocktails and food offerings, and today we continue to serve up classic favorites that our community has enjoyed for almost a decade -- S’mac, anyone?

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5 Ways to Celebrate National Cheese Day at Wally's

Cheese lovers, rejoice! National Cheese Day is upon us. This national holiday celebrating all things cheesy is happening on June 4. Get your appetites ready and prepare to stick a fork, or a pretzel roll, in these five cheese-drenched dishes, straight from our own kitchen.

Baked Goat Cheese
Our delectable baked goat cheese is served alongside crispy toast points that make for the perfect cheese dipping utensil. The dish is accompanied by flavorful sundried tomatoes, fresh herbs and evo.

Common Ground Mozzarella
Done the Common Ground way, this cheesy appetizer is delivered to the table with crispy and snackable prosciutto, colorful vine ripened tomatoes, evo, a palate-pleasing balsamic reduction, fresh basil and a sprinkle of sea salt.

S’Mac
Made with durum wheat rigatoni pasta that is handmade and prepared on-site at our sister restaurant Twisted Grove Parlor + Bar located just up the street, the S’Mac is a strong crowd favorite. Served in a cast-iron skillet, this twist on mac and cheese has no shortage of ooey-gooey goodness, with its four-cheese blend and herb butter crumbs.

Griddled Cheese
A happy hour favorite, our griddled cheese pairs perfectly with our tomato bisque. And at $4 this happy hour deal shouldn’t be missed, especially on National Cheese Day.  Little ones can even get in on the cheese action -- we offer a version of our griddled cheese on our kids menu.

Pretzel and Asiago Fondue
No good gastropub menu is complete without a presentation of iconic pretzels and cheese. Our soft pretzel rolls are locally baked and are dealt out next to a piping-hot cast-iron pan of Asiago fondue that’s drizzled with tomato relish and a chipotle puree.

View our entire menu here.

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A Brief History of the Gastropub

The term “gastropub” was first introduced in 1991 by two British pub owners in London. But it wasn’t until 2012 when “gastropub” earned a spot in Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. But what’s in a name? Isn’t it the same as a regular ‘ol pub. Sure, you may think so, but a gastropub is quite different from a standard pub.

What Differentiates a Gastropub from a Regular Pub?
Most pubs, especially of the British variety, were solely drinking establishments. Little emphasis was focused on serving food. And, if there was food, well frankly, it wasn’t very good. Remember, the emphasis was on the beer. When these traditional pubs did serve food it was a commonly a simple dish, oftentimes served cold.

So, the standard pub didn’t care too much about food. This is where there’s a difference. Gastropubs reinvigorated pub dining in London and began popping up across the pond and here in the U.S. throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. From east to west, refined gastropubs became more commonplace. Today the gastropub is a dominant restaurant genre here in America.

Gastropubs Today
Today’s American gastropubs have their own separate identities, individual from that of their predecessors. It’s not unusual to find fried foods, a signature burger, cured meats and selection of seasonally-inspired offerings on a gastropub menu. So, when choosing a great place to eat, and to drink, think gastropub.

Wally’s Pub Grub
While the original pubs were famous for their standard Ploughman’s lunches, think a cold sandwich, pickle and a few other fixings, Wally’s, and pubs from near and far, are offering up elevated pub food that pairs well with the libations and spirits found behind the bar -- not just the beer, which is the focus of traditional pubs the world across.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Macaroni and cheese skillet
The local’s choice

Fish and chips
A classic pub grub staple

Short rib roast, Christopher-style
Chef Christopher Collin’s take on pot roast

View our full menu here.

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