Phoenix Ballet’s ‘Rising’ at Mesa Arts Center awes

Last night, the Phoenix Ballet put on an emotional, innovative, entertaining performance melding traditional and contemporary ballet dance styles in its Rising show at Mesa Arts Center. The performance included five segments by five different choreographers, with music ranging from Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” to a very cute and humorous take on Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee.”

Phoenix Ballet at Mesa Arts CenterPhoenix Ballet at Mesa Arts CenterPhoenix Ballet at Mesa Arts CenterPhoenix Ballet at Mesa Arts CenterThe hour-and-a-half show touched on themes including love and death, with a cast of about a dozen graceful dancers whose technical movements never ceased to amaze. Their second show, today at 2 p.m. at Mesa Arts Center, is inexpensive to attend for the level of talent you’ll see — tickets start at only $20.

Phoenix Ballet at Mesa Arts Center Phoenix Ballet at Mesa Arts Center Phoenix Ballet at Mesa Arts Center Phoenix Ballet at Mesa Arts Center

The nonprofit takes its act on the road next to the Sedona Performing Arts Center on Thursday, May 21, then to Poland for the Lodz International Ballet Festival May 26 and May 27. The troupe has more in store for the Valley, too, and I can’t wait to see what’s next by this group whose talent is reaching worldwide destinations.

Learn more about Phoenix Ballet here, and get tickets to today’s show here.

Fired Pie in Scottsdale a fast, casual, custom pizza destination

The idea of a fast casual pizza joint is definitely intriguing, and I was grateful to be invited to dinner at Fired Pie in Scottsdale last week to check out the concept myself. There are 10 Fired Pie locations in the Valley, and I visited the Northsight Boulevard location.

Fired Pie in Scottsdale

Walk in, and you’ll see a list of ingredients, including sauce type, cheese, toppings and seasonings. I’ve never had alfredo or pesto sauce pizzas, but you can get those here, as well as buffalo and barbecue sauces, which I thought was unique.

Fired Pie in Scottsdale

Cheese include everything from feta to gorgonzola, and a variety of meats, veggies and fresh herbs are available for toppings on the gluten-free dough. The 11-inch pizza ($7.95) is ready in about five minutes, and it’s nice beer and wine are available as drink choices.

Fired Pie in Scottsdale

Fired Pie in Scottsdale

If you’re not into carbs, load up on a salad instead. One of my favorite parts of the meal was the $3 “pookie,” a baked cookie pie topped with vanilla ice cream. It was absolutely perfect to share and mighty tasty.

Fired Pie in Scottsdale

I liked my fresh mozzarella, kalamata olive, artichoke and tomato sauce pizza (my friend got sausage, spinach and artichoke with alfredo — she loved it), and it was really filling for one person – I ate all of mine because I was starving but would normally take a couple slices home. The only thing I’d try next time is asking for it a little less crispy — I’m a doughy pizza lover.

I loved the patio seating options, and the atmosphere was relaxed, friendly and fun.

Learn more about Fired Pie here.

Strawberry Hedgehog Beauty Detox 101 workshop teaches why loving your skin is important

Your skin is your largest organ, and accordingly, what you put on your body is just as important as what you put inside it. That was one of the biggest lessons I learned at Tracy Perkins‘ Beauty Detox 101 workshop at Strawberry Hedgehog natural body care shop in Phoenix this past weekend. The workshop provided lots of valuable advice when it came to being aware of the toxins your body ingests through products, with informative sessions covering ingredients to avoid and beauty myths to squash.

Tracy Perkins of Strawberry HedgehogAs founder of Strawberry Hedgehog, which includes soaps, body butter and deodorant, Perkins is highly knowledgeable about the value of vegan beauty products — learn more about Perkins here on Phoenix People. Perkins used to work at a major beauty brand before getting sick from their products. Now she creates her own adorable goodies, using natural ingredients with no harsh chemicals or toxins. I’m a huge fan of her line, which you can learn more about here.

Besides getting to know ingredients to avoid on labels (fragrance is a HUGE one), workshop participants were also treated to delicious vegan eats and tea, and we even made our own facial and body scrubs using essential oils. The two-hour workshop was so much fun, and we left with a ton of recipes to continue healthy beauty rituals at home.

Strawberry Hedgehog Strawberry HedgehogPerkins regularly hosts workshops on a variety of topics, and you can learn all about them here. Her next one, Saturday, April 18, is Essential Oil First Aid and costs $40 — get tickets here.

Thirsty Lion at Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall serves tasty eats, wait staff

My experience from beginning to end at the new Thirsty Lion at Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall was great — attentive hostesses who greeted me as soon as I walked in, a waitress who eagerly gave recommendations off the menu, a team-effort staff that checked on our table even when it wasn’t theirs, delicious food (spinach dip with pita chips and a caprese sandwich), hoppy beer that made me crave more, and a spacious patio that lent itself to enjoying this beautiful spring Arizona weather.

Thirsty Lion in Scottsdale

Thirsty Lion in Scottsdale

Thirsty Lion in Scottsdale

Thirsty Lion in Scottsdale

Thirsty Lion in Scottsdale

The spot, with an attractive mostly female wait staff, should surely be a hit in the Old Town Scottsdale area, and it’s nice there’s an affordable restaurant with quality food connected to the mall. If you like sports, there are plenty of TVs to keep you entertained, and I’d recommend it for its generous portions. Learn more about the restaurant here.

Tara Logsdon’s ‘BEARial Ground’ at Frontal Lobe Gallery presents things to ‘beary’

Tara Logsdon believes values and practices such as slavery, torture, money and gender should be eliminated from society. She’s conveying that belief by using teddy bears at her current BEARial Ground Frontal Lobe Gallery show in Phoenix.

Bearial Ground at Frontal Lobe Gallery

The multimedia artist assembled colorful bears on crucifixes with shovels attached, covered in symbols relating to their ideologies.

Bearial Ground

The result is a thought-provoking exhibit, complete with a meditative center visitors can enter after they’ve made the gallery rounds, to contemplate how they can speak up against negative issues in their own lives.

Bearial Ground  at Frontal Lobe Gallery in Phoenix

I love seeing local artists who use innovative methods to promote a positive agenda. Logsdon is an amazingly creative visionary who founded DIE Bearmy, where she “rehabs” forgotten bears from places such as thrift stores and garage sales and turns them into unique new stuffed animals for loving homes. Learn all about her cause here.

Nicki Escudero Tara Logsdon Bearial Ground

Check out BEARial Ground through this Friday, Feburary 20. The third Friday reception goes from 6-10 p.m.

Insider’s Point of View at Different Pointe of View a delicious wine-paired dinner

Last night, I had one of the most delicious meals of my life at Different Pointe of View in Phoenix. I’ve never been to this gorgeous AAA Four Diamond restaurant overlooking Phoenix, part of the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort, and we were immediately treated to beautiful skies and glittering city lights.

Different Pointe of View in PhoenixDifferent Pointe of View in PhoenixI went there for the Insider’s Point of View dinner, where Chef Anthony DeMuro prepares a four-course dinner tableside for only 12 guests. Attendees are treated to a wine reception with appetizers out at that breathtaking patio before heading in to the chef’s table, with each course paired with a complementary wine. The dinner is held every month besides summer months, and this season goes through May 1. Every featured winemaker is different depending on the dinner, and last night, we were treated to the delicious J. Hofstätter wine from Italy, a winery dating back four generations.

Different Pointe of View in PhoenixWe started out with Pinot Grigio out of the patio with an artichoke appetizer (Different Pointe of View was kind enough to offer vegetarian alternatives for me outside the regular menu — they’ll work with any dietary needs.) The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, with lots of room for guests to spread out and take in the view.

As an introvert who gets nervous at group dinners, the chef’s dinner was so much fun and low-stress. Diners are spread out around the makeshift kitchen, and Chef Anthony lets diners know exactly how he’s cooking dishes — it’s like a live cooking show in such a romantic setting overlooking the city.

Chef Anthony DeMuro Different Pointe of ViewI love cooking but definitely can use all the tips I can get, and I learned a ton from Chef Anthony, especially in regards to risotto, a difficult dish to perfect, even for the pros. He advised to aim to get the rice crackling when it hits the oil-filled pan, and to treat it like pasta — get it to the consistency you desire in the broth you’re simmering it in, then drain it.

As someone who regularly botches any type of rice, I appreciated his tips. I also had purple cauliflower for the first time, in the absolutely amazing course featuring a spinach polenta cake, abalone and yellowfeet mushrooms, and a smoked tomato sauce. It was paired with a great Pinot Noir that was devoid of a heavy oak-y flavor, because J. Hofstätter wine is housed in stainless steel, not wooden barrels.

Spinach polenta Different Pointe of ViewOur first course was light and refreshing but still really flavorful. My seafood-eating companion had lobster tail with a frisée salad with lemon zest, herbs, roasted garlic oil and garlic chips, while I had mine sans lobster.

Frisse with lobster tail at Different Pointe of ViewFrisse at Different Pointe of ViewI loved the crunchy texture, and it paired wonderfully with the J. Hofstätter Pinot Bianco, a crisp white wine. My companion doesn’t normally prefer white over red wine, but he loved the Pinot Bianco.

Pinot BiancoLike Chef Anthony did a wonderful job at explaining the cooking process, winemaker Martin Foradori talked about the winemaking process and reminded diners how important acidity is when pairing wines with food. His vineyard has altitudes up to 6,000 feet, and it was really neat to hear about making wine in Italy while we sipped his vino.

Anthony DeMuro and Martin Foradori at Different Pointe of ViewWhile we noshed on the veggie polenta dish, our companions enjoyed wild boar.

Wild boar Different Pointe of ViewMy favorite dish of the night was the herb risotto with golden beets, artichoke hearts and a broccoli rabe sauce — meat-eaters got short ribs braised in veal stock. It was paired with J. Hofstätter’s Lagrein red wine, which is generally related to a Syrah, compared to the elegant Pinot Noir. Foradori described this wine as fresh and fruity, and it was a great addition to the tasty dish.

Herb rissoto with truffle shavings, golden beets, artichoke hearts and broccoli rabe sauce at Different Pointe of ViewOf course, dessert was a treat, a chocolate cherry balsamic cake with chocolate ganache and a chocolate balsamic sauce. The texture was moist and creamy, and I tried to get every last drop of sauce to cover the cake. I loved the cherry flavor, which related well to the red wines, too.

Different Pointe of View dessertThe dining experience was more than a two-hour feast, and it was so much fun, in addition to making my stomach so happy. The wine dinner is a great value at $99 a person, because you get unique one-on-one time with the chef and so many tasty glasses of wine in addition to the farm-fresh dishes that are incredibly healthy.

Anthony DeMuroThe next dinner is Friday, March 6, with wine’s from Italy’s Tedeschi Wines. Reservations can be made by calling (602) 866-6350, and you can learn all about the gem of a restaurant here.

Brewer’s Bowl in Old Town Scottsdale features all-local beer line-up

Last night, I headed to Bad Water Brewing in Old Town Scottsdale to check out the Brewer’s Bowl, an event featuring 15 Arizona breweries where attendees could taste samples galore in mini-mugs, plus food trucks, corn hole and live music.

Brewers Bowl in Old Town Scottsdale

Tickets were wicked inexpensive, only $25 for 20 tasting tickets (I was full after 10 mini-mugs), and the atmosphere was lively and friendly. The crowd was chatty and loved discussing the beers, and there was such a great variety, everyone could find a new favorite.

I especially liked the light Oak Creek Hefeweizen from Oak Creek Brewing in Sedona (my companion enjoyed the Nimbus Rillito Red Ale from Nimbus Brewing Company), and I really enjoyed the chocolaty Piehole Porter from Historic Brewing Company in Flagstaff. If you ever go up north and love beer, try the Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail — it features Historic Brewing Company and is a lot of fun. I did the tour a few years ago, and you can read about my experience here.

The Brewer’s Bowl was deemed the “first annual” event, and hopefully it will indeed continue in the future. Find out more about organizer Bad Water Brewing here in my blog review, and visit their website here.

Burst of Butterflies art studio in Chandler has all things crafty

I love personalizing functional items by hand-painting them at pottery studios. Burst of Butterflies recently opened in downtown Chandler, and the space is a charming spot featuring affordable pieces you can make your own however you’d like.

Burst of Butterflies in downtown Chandler

I made salt and pepper shakers ($16 for the set), while my companion made a one-of-a-kind mug. You’ll pay a nominal painting fee, but in January, it’s waived.

Burst of Butterflies in downtown Chandler

The atmosphere was relaxed, the staff was friendly and helpful, and we had a great time painting.

Burst of Butterflies also has canvas painting, ceramics, soapmaking, glass fusing, drawing, jewelry, scrapbooking, quilting, needlepoint, crochet, sewing, metalwork and candlemaking offerings. No matter what type of arts and crafts interest you have, there’s something for everyone.

Burst of Butterflies in downtown Chandler

Burst of Butterflies in downtown Chandler

Burst of Butterflies in downtown Chandler

Burst of Butterflies in downtown Chandler

Learn more about the studio here.

Misha Mendicino Designs flattering for any body type

From the moment I saw Misha Mendicino Designs’ dresses hit the 2014 Phoenix Fashion Week runway, I instantly fell in love with the resort wear line by designer Misha Mendicino for its bright and unique prints, flowing fabrics that draped so flatteringly on the models, and worthy cause five percent of the line’s sales go toward: elephant conservation through The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

It’s no surprise Mendicino won the coveted Designer of the Year title at Phoenix Fashion Week, as every look was beautiful and seemed comfortable. I ordered one of Mendicino’s dresses, the Downtown Dress, in blue and green since the orange and blue was no longer available in my size.

Misha Mendicino Designs Downtown Dress

She was kind enough to send me the orange and blue in a size larger, which ended up working quite well when I cinched it with a belt.

Misha Mendicino Downtown Dress

Not only do I love the dresses because the rayon material is so soft and comfy, the patterns are standouts that always score compliments from people. Whether you wear the garment loose as it’s intended or give it more shape with a skinny belt, the dress is versatile and perfect for day to night. Get it here, and learn more about Mendicino here on Phoenix People.

Sidepony Express Music Festival in Bisbee shows off Phoenix talent (VIDEO)

This past weekend, I went to one of the coolest Arizona music events I’ve ever experienced: the Sidepony Express Music Festival in Bisbee, Arizona.

I had never been to Bisbee, which is a little more than three hours away from Phoenix. The artsy town has a population of around 6,000 people, with an Old Bisbee historic center featuring art galleries galore, independent restaurants, and historic ghost-filled hotels. I stayed at the Copper Queen Hotel, which was super-charming, and (sadly) I have no ghost encounters to report.

The Sidepony Express Music Festival featured more than 60 musical acts in more than a dozen venues, ranging from a coffeehouse, to a dive bar, to a tiny single room in one of those historic hotels. It provided an opportunity for Phoenix music lovers to check out impressive acts from the state and beyond in super-intimate settings, and the fact the festival was free should make it an annual destination to put on your calendars now.

Festival organizer Anamieke Quinn, whom you can learn more about here on Phoenix People, played in several acts, from the band she fronts, Treasurefruit, to playing in Scattered Melodies and Sara McAllister Duo, pictured below.

SaraMcAllisterDuo

Check out videos from all three of those bands below:

I was really impressed with Melissa Reaves, a singer-songwriter who came all the way from North Carolina to perform. See a couple of her performances below:

WuT from Phoenix was also a lot of fun to watch.

Wut

He was soulful and had really meaningful lyrics, including a touching song dedicated to his mother. See a video of his performance below:

Here’s a clip of indie band Where Are All the Buffalo?:

And one of Paper Foxes:

And finally, an artist who brought me to tears when I heard her perform, the uber-amazing Korbe Canida.

Korbe Canida at the Sidepony Express Music Festival

Her songwriting is better than famous pop stars, and her voice is angelic. Check out a clip of her here:

Besides taking in all the great music, walking around Bisbee was a trip in itself. The town is the quirkiest I’ve ever experienced. Shops commemorate the ban of plastic bags in the area by adding them to the doorway:

Bisbee, AZ

A free store is in the middle of town, where people can drop off unwanted goods and pick up ones they need, surrounded by resident-art-covered walls like these:

Bisbee, AZ

Bisbee2

Empty storefronts retain life, by keeping things like these in their windows:

Bisbee, AZ

People dance in the streets. A lot of the people you encounter seem a little high — or, at least, like they used to get really high at some point in their lives.

I loved the galleries in Bisbee. I purchased a print of In the Club by Howard Kline, whose bright and colorful watercolors are incredibly appealing to me. I love that he integrates his musician history into his paintings by showing off musical themes in a lot of his works.

'In the Club,' by Howard Kline in Bisbee, AZ

I also loved Vixen Fine Art Metal Gallery, run by, indeed a vixen, Breanna Curry. Curry creates striking, colorful metal art, including really cute mirrors using reclaimed bottles. One of her works is pictured below, and you can learn more about her here.

Vixen Fine Art Metal Gallery in Bisbee, AZ

I am so happy I finally checked out Bisbee and would highly recommend it for a fun get-out-of-town trip. Fine more things to do in the town here.