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Enjoy fabulous fare and local lore at Arizona history dinners

S'Mores in a jar
S'Mores in a jar
Cartwright's Sonoran Ranch House

Cartwright's Sonoran Ranch House is hosting the fourth annual Arizona History Dinners now through October 2014. The Cave Creek eatery presents some of the best Arizona storytellers and balladeers every other Wednesday night. The evening begins with cocktails in Cartwright's Sonoran Ranch House Ranch Room. After a 3-course dinner and dessert prepared by Chef Montez Crane and Pastry Chef Amanda Crick, the storyteller or balladeer for the evening will regale you with songs and yarns about Arizona's history.

Cartwright's Sonoran Ranch House at night
Cartwright's Sonoran Ranch House

As you sit in the restaurant, designed to feel like an early-1900's ranch house, you can feel right at home surrounded by the rustic wooden beams, tables repurposed from vintage boxcars, a stone fireplace and small wooden stage. Below are the upcoming events at Cartwright's Sonoran Ranch House as part of the Arizona History Dinners.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014: Arizona: Lens, Lyrics & Lore with Dolan Ellis

Dolan Ellis has been Arizona's official State Balladeer for over 45 years. Ellis has won a Grammy Award, been inducted into the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame and played major venues in the US and abroad. Ellis will present live musical performances of Arizona songs and stories, accompanied by a large screen photography presentation from five decades of Arizona adventures.

For the dinner, appetizer is margarita salmon ceviche with candied chilis, fresh cilantro and plantain crisps. Entrée is wild boar chops with annato citrus glaze, tomatillo mint jelly, sweet onion and Manchego cheese panade with sautéed dandelion greens. Dessert is an Arizona citrus tart: buttery pie crust layered with fresh raspberries, lemon curd and white chocolate sour cream filling topped with Arizona-grown orange segments, raspberry coulis and almond Florentine twist.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014: Related to Outlaws: The Crazy Stories My Family Told Me with Bob "Boze" Bell

Bob "Boze" Bell is a long-time Cave Creek resident, executive editor of True West magazine and respected Arizona historian and artist. Bell will enlighten folks with new and original stories.

For dinner, you start with an appetizer of pan-fried red trout, Marcona almond butter sauce, soft grits and 21-day bread & butter pickles. Entrée is grilled duo of Sonoran blackened beef tenderloin and Mexican white shrimp, charred tomato and New Mexico chili sauce, sweet potato tortilla hash, grilled chayote squash and guacamole. For dessert, enjoy mason jar campfire s'mores with house-made graham crackers and flamed marshmallow.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014: Arizona: Tall Tales, Lost Trails & Heroes with Dolan Ellis

Once again, join the state balladeer after a delightful dinner. For appetizers, you can sample red chili elk balls of ground elk and pork, crushed corn tortillas, red chili cream and Cotija cheese. Main course is mesquite wood-grilled jidori chicken, summer squash and pepper jack cheese calabacitas, Romesco of roasted garlic, pine nut and guajillo. Save room for dessert of prickly pear cheesecake: vanilla cheesecake with graham cracker crust and prickly pear jelly center served with orange cream anglaise and tuile cookie.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014: Rural Arizona: You Can Take the Boy Out of the Country, But You Can't Take the Country Out of the Boy with Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is the multi-talented "Ask the Marshall" columnist, humorist, and Arizona State Historian.

For dinner that night, you'll start with an appetizer of watermelon and cactus salad with wild arugula, prickly pear vinaigrette and roasted jalapeño Boursin relleno. The entrée is mulato chili and molasses lacquered pork shoulder, cowboy beans, cipollini onions, green apple and pork cracklings. Dessert is coconut pound cake with pineapple chutney and vanilla bean gelato.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014: Wyatt Earp: A Life on the Frontier with Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp is a true living relative of the original Wyatt Earp. Earp will delight local audiences with his nationwide and international performances of one-many plays about Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Earp is a member of the Arizona Gunfighters.

For dinner, you can start with an appetizer of chicken fried baby back ribs, blackberry habañero BBQ, braised Anasazi beans and vegetable escabeche. The entrée is bacon-wrapped buffalo and dried cherry meat loaf, roasted shallot and green chili gravy, cheesy gratin potatoes and wood-grilled zucchini. For dessert, you can enjoy chocolate pots de crème with fresh whipped cream and chocolate shavings served with sun-dried cherry and chocolate chip biscotti.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014: Forty Miles a Day on Beans and Hay: The Frontier Army with Marshall Trimble

Before the Arizona State Historian speaks, you can start off the evening with an appetizer of turquoise salad of Arizona Field greens, artichokes, grilled asparagus, green goddess dressing, local piñon nuts, avocado, crispy spinach tortilla and roasted peppers. The entrée is mesquite wood-grilled top sirloin marinated with garlic and herbs, drunken pinto beans with applewood-smoked bacon and queso fresco, cilantro rice, charred cherry tomatoes and chimichurri. For dessert, it's apple date chuck box with sassafras anglaise and candied pecans.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014: The 66 Kid: Growing Up Bent on the Mother Road with Bob "Boze" Bell

Join the Cave Creek resident and True West editor for the evening after a meal starting with grilled shrimp salpicon, avocado saddle, black beans, sweet corn and baby spinach with cilantro lime dressing. The entrée is local brew London Broil flatiron steak, pan-roasted mushrooms, roasted red potatoes, grilled asparagus and crispy onion ring. Dessert is an inside-out carrot cake with dulce de leche sauce, candied walnuts and gingersnap cookie squares.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014: On the Road in Arizona with Robin Sewell

Robin Sewell is the much-loved hostess of television's "Arizona Highways." Sewell has spent the better part of her career exploring the people and places that make Arizona unique. Sewell will be sharing what it's really like to travel Arizona's highways and byways and discover history from in front of a camera.

You will start the evening with an appetizer of rattlesnake chili with rattlesnake beans, cornbread croutons, ancho chili crema and red onion marmalade. The main course is carne adovada with black-eyed peas, hominy and collard greens braised with salt pork. For dessert, enjoy margarita cake with pretzel crust and saguaro fruit whipped cream icing and tequila-marinated berries.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014: The Evolution of the Silver Screen Cowboy with Marshall Trimble

Join the Arizona State Historian for another great evening that begins with an appetizer of pan-roasted quail with chorizo stuffing, smoked peanut mole and crispy sage. The entrée featured soulful caldo: braised stew of beef shank and short ribs, cabbage, chayote squash, white beans, sweet corn and roasted chilies. Dessert is peanut butter truffle cake with bruléed bananas and chocolate sauce.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014: The Hopi Tribe: From the Place of Emergence to the Southwest with Lance Polingyouma

Lance Polingyouma is the project recorder for the Hopi Migration Project and a Hopi cultural interpreter. He will share what he knows best: the stories and philosophy of the Hopi culture as well as the petroglyphs, songs, crafts and practices that make the Hopi culture so interesting to explore.

Before you learn about the Hopi, you'll start the evening with appetizer of butternut squash soup with roasted pumpkin, tepary beans, braised rabbit and spiced pepitas. The main course is roasted churro lamb with rosemary, chickpea fritters, stewed prunes with Serrano chilies, honeyed Marcona almonds and lamb's tongue lettuce dressed with sorghum vinaigrette. For dessert, sample stuffed chayote squash with house-made raisin bread, Arizona pecans and cream cheese drizzle.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014: Why is Arizona so Crazy? with Bob "Boze" Bell

Once again, the Cave Creek resident and historian will regale you with stories after a dinner that starts with Mother's pickled beet salad with Fossil Creek goat cheese, field greens, Spanish sherry vinaigrette and toasted walnuts. The entrée is braised elk hunter's stew with roasted fall root vegetables, chochoyotes with Hatch chilies and puffed amaranth. The dessert course features icky sticky date bread pudding with roasted apples and caramel sauce.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014: Arizona: Land of Superlatives with Marshall Trimble

End the summer history series with stories from Marshall Trimble. The final dinner begins with an appetizer of grilled antelope bandeleros, buckskin bread, green tomato jam and pickled sunchoke relish. The main course is roasted heritage turkey breast and braised leg, poblano mole, sweet corn tamale and sautéed green beans with roasted sweet peppers. Dessert features seasonal sweet potato pumpkin tortes with candied cranberries and vanilla anglaise.

If you go...

Cartwright's Sonoran Ranch House is located at 6710 E. Cave Creek Road in Cave Creek and is owned by Eric Flatt and John Malcolm. The restaurant is named after one of the area's most prominent and influential pioneer families. The cost of each history dinner is $55 per person plus tax and 18% gratuity for the three-course meal with appetizer, entrée and dessert. The cost includes the evening's program. Beverages are extra. Reservations are required and can only be made by calling 480.488.8031. You will be charged for the dinner at the time of the reservation.

The event every other Wednesday begins with cocktails at 5 pm. Gourmet dinner is served at 6 pm sharp followed by the history presentations and discussions at 7 pm. There will be live music during dinner.

While you're at Cartwright's be sure to check out the bar selection. The restaurant features a large array of hard-to-find whiskeys, tequilas and elixirs of apothecary-infused jars, including a great line up of craft beers. You'll also find your favorite gin and vodka selections alongside vintage bourbons and rums, plus a wine selection selected from some of the finest vineyards from great wine-growing regions around the world. For more about Cartwright's, you can visit online at

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