Dining in Phoenix’s Garden – Quiessence at The Farm
The Dish: October 30 Dinner Menu – Artisan & Farmstead Fromage Board, Okra Semi Salad, Potato Gnocchi, Aged New York Strip and a bottle of 2012 Renegade, Ancient Peaks
The Place: Quiessence at The Farm – The Farm at South Mountain
The Location: 6106 S. 32nd Street Phoenix, AZ 85042 602-276-0601
When it comes to eating “Farm to Table”, The Farm at South Mountain was one of the first in the Phoenix area to establish this mantra. Among several restaurants on the property including Morning Glory Café and The Farm Kitchen, The Farm also is home to one of Arizona’s most valued sustainable agriculturalists, Maya Dailey of Maya’s Farm. Her small yet mighty sustainable operation has lead the way for much of the small farm movement right here in Phoenix.
With bountiful resources right at their fingertips, family partners, Pat and Dustin Christofolo have created a sanctuary in the middle of South Phoenix, that many could only wonder existed. Chef Dustin prepares his menus weekly and even sometimes daily, depending on what he can source from local growers. Quiessence at The Farm is one of Phoenix’s best kept secrets. With a recent expansion of their back patio, the secret can be kept no longer, as keeping this beauty inside one’s mind is just impolite.
I impatiently waited for the Arizona heat to diffuse as I knew I wanted to sit out in crisp air on a patio to enjoy a garden fresh meal. The back patio at Quiessence was serene with twinkle lights hanging in the air and sprawling up a large tree positioned in the middle of the tables.
Chef Dustin has a taste for wine, a much appreciated addition to the menu selection. Named Superior Cellar Award winner, the pairings for the Chef’s Menu are always a treat. We decided on a blend for the night; the 2012 Renegade from the Margarita Vineyard on the historic Santa Margarita Ranch.
First course was of course the always-have-to-order Artisan & Farmstead Fromage Board. This board always consists of local cheese, bread baked right at the Farm, in the outdoor brick oven, and seasonal pestos and jams. Tonight’s particulars that were worthy of calling out was the homemade pepper jam, which I am begging Chef Dustin to can and sell at Botanica (the on-site modern market). There were also dried apple, strawberry and pineapple crisps, Black Mesa Goat Cheese, Queen Creek Olive Mill Italian inspired Olives, and homemade strawberry fruit leather.
Arizona fall means a Southern flair is in the air with fresh okra in season. Chef Dustin created a dish that highlights the vegetable in two ways; fried and pickled. Alongside the okra were grilled shishito peppers bringing an Arizona twist to the dish.
You cannot eat at Quiessence without a pasta dish playing a role as one of your courses. A favorite is always the hand rolled gnocchi dishes that Chef Dustin concocts. Tonight’s Gnocchi dish was not one I had before; Potato Gnocchi with Lobster Mushrooms, Zucchini, Espellete and Mint. The gnocchi pillows melt in your mouth and the cream sauce melding all of the pieces was perfect for the cool night.
For the next course, I had hoped to try the Guinea Hen Roulade on the menu that night but as fresh supply goes, I waited too late to order. The steak dishes are always a favorite of the night, so I pointed to the Aged New York Strip. The plating for this dinner, even though a familiar name, was a great change from the usual large steak. Cooked medium, the strip was cut into thick pieces and intertwined with Yard Long Beans tied into meticulous knots, the charred Shishito Peppers and Grilled Kabocha, which was essentially a roasted sweet potato. All of these laid on top of a green I’itio Puree. Creatively placed in the middle was a closed white dish with a lime on top. Inside the dish was a fresh Chimichurri sauce to be spooned over.
When we thought no more could fit, the dessert menu arrived. The beautiful part about the Quiessence dessert menu is that there is always a savory, a sweet and a refreshing. We went for all three with the two desserts that finished our night. First that arrived was the Seasonal House made Sorbet dish. This dish was watermelon infused between the sorbet and fruity broth. The center of the dish was a vanilla bean flan and throughout the plate, fresh fruit and mint. The second dessert was a lady finger tiramisu topped with caramel popcorn and chocolate shavings.
Whether you are looking for a quiet night out, a family feast tasting or an intimate Brick Oven experience, each visit to Quiessence will be memorable evenings in a garden under the stars.
Seasonal House made Sorbet dish Photo Credit: James Burroughs Photography