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Page Springs Cellars is a family owned winery tucked into the volcanic landscape overlooking pristine Oak Creek. Visit our Tasting Room located just 15 minutes south of Sedona for a true taste of Arizona.

something for Everyone Wine Tastings • Wines by the Bottle or Glass • Artisanal Food Pairings • Live Music • Vineyard Massage • Weekly Vineyard Tours with Barrel Samples • Outdoor Games: Bocce, Horseshoes, Chess, Cornhole • Beautiful Vineyard Property Overlooking Oak Creek

TasTing Room HouRs

The

“Hidden Gem” of 11am-7pm the Verde Valley• Thu-Sun: 11am-9pm • Open 365 Days A Year Mon-Wed:

Join us in our TasTing Room for our fun Weekend specials! SEDONA

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For more information, current events or to check out our promotions - PageSpringsCellars.com Visit, tag and keep up with all of the latest from the PSC crew at: UP THE CREEK RESTAURANT 1975 N. PAGE SPRINGS RD CORNVILLE, AZ 86325

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Page Springs Cellars Winery & Vineyards CAMP VERDE

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upthecreekaz.coM 260 (928) 634-9954 1975 N Page Springs Rd 1500 North Page Springs Rd, Cornville, AZ • 928 639-3004 • PageSpringsCellars.com Cornville, AZ 86325

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Fusion Magic at Up The Creek Story by Stacey Wittig Photos by Grace Stufkosky

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In this issue, Vagabonding Lulu visits Page Springs to talk with the new owners of Up The Creek , Chef Jim O’Meally and Mario Aguilar, who’ve been at the helm of the historic tavern and grill since December 2014

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Grilled Scottish Salmon, Salsa Emiliana, Rice Pilaf november

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“This is one of the best Petite Sirahs, and the grapes were grown right across the river,” said Chef Jim O’Meally as he motioned with his wine glass to the huge windows overlooking the creek and the wine country beyond. The D.A. Ranch vineyard is one of many vineyards situated along this limestone canyon formed by Oak Creek in scenic Page Springs. Up the Creek, an Arizona landmark, sits right in the middle of all the action that includes vineyards, tasting rooms, bed and breakfasts and a fish hatchery. Chef Jim O’Meally and Mario Aguilar bring fresh, proven concepts from California’s Eastern Sierra, where they operated a restaurant outside of Yosemite National Park at Mono Lake. The property, owned by the Ansel Adams family, was a seasonal operation, open only six months of the year. The duo, along with a third partner, was thrilled to discover Up The Creek — another rustic, historic property that offered year-round clientele just outside of Sedona. “I prepare a lot of game, like venison and wild boar,” said Chef Jim as he described the fine cuisine and casual dining now found at Up The Creek. “A lot of what we do with the menu has to do with the seasons,” added Mario, who operates the front of the house. The menu morphs and changes throughout the year as different foods become available, temperatures change and taste buds acclimate to seasonal shifts. And just as Chef Jim and Mario refine their menu by adding new items and keeping old favorites, the locals keep coming back for more. After nearby wineries close for the evening, you may see the owners of Javelina Leap or D.A. Ranch enjoying dinner at Up The Creek. Senator John McCain and his wife, who own a ranch just upstream from the restaurant, are known to sup here as well. “I am using international styles to create my own style,” described chef Jim, who classifies his fare flair as “International Peasant Food.” Dishes specific to particular cultures, like Louisiana etouffee, braised short ribs and French rack of lamb are on the menu. Spanish influences are seen in his romesco, a nut and red pepper-based sauce, and in the green chilies on the Page Springs burger. The grilled polenta cake has its origins in the provincial villages of Italy. “I like fairly basic, traditional cuisine,” he added. This accomplished chef admits that his first love was music. “If I didn’t have the restaurant, I’d be playing music somewhere,” he laughed. In fact, before training as both a chef and a sommelier in San Francisco, chef Jim worked his first career as a musician. “But once the restaurant business bites you, you’re hooked,” he revealed. A connoisseur of fine food, wine and music, Jim taught music at Northern Arizona University in the early 1990s. Today, you may see

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Photo by Stacey Wittig

hile swirling and sipping a fine D.A. Ranch Petite Sirah, the new owners of Up the Creek described their innovative directions for the time-honored restaurant. From where we stood at the new, granite-topped wine tasting bar, we could view Oak Creek and all the colorful wildlife that it attracts.

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the chef at Up The Creek’s piano playing a favorite classical After our conversation with the owners, my husband Dan piece. and I were seated in the newborn creekside dining room. “Art, music and food are at our roots,” explained Mario. What was once a screened porch now is repurposed and “We fuse it all together. In the Eastern Sierra we were very polished into a space for the wine tasting bar and increased successful with that concept for the San Francisco clientele.” sit-down dinner seating. From our treetop window table, Up the Creek’s wine list and menu reflect Chef Jim’s we watch hummingbirds, herons and ducks reveling in Oak remarkable ability to pair just the right wine with his menu Creek. We started our feast with the roasted cauliflower items. “I see wine, I think of food,” stated the chef/sommelier/ prepared with roasted red pepper, capers, toasted almonds, musician. “What’s more, I like to add music to my wine date puree and balsamic drizzle; and the mushroom pairings.” When I asked for examples, he matched the perfect bruschetta with sautéed shallots, garlic and Marsala cream balance of food, wine and music: sauce. For the main, my tender venison medallions were • Venison with berry gastrique, Chopin and Cab Franc; served over a pyramid of heavenly rice soubise and artfully each earthy yet romantic. drizzled with a sweet-sour blueberry gastrique sauce. Dan • Wild boar with roasted pear chutney, early devoured his cooked-to-perfection ribeye with mushroomBeethoven and off-dry Riesling; classic and flowery with a shallot sauce, bacon and spinach, alongside a loaded baked colorful German heritage. potato. The chocolate espresso tort was the perfect finale to • Scallops with beurre blanc, Claude Debussy and a fabulous meal in the new, picturesque dining room. Sancerre; all light, white and produced in France. When you see Chef Jim at the piano, ask him to “When Jim played piano at the five-star Ahwahnee play some Led Zeppelin for you. And then ask for his Dining Room (in Yosemite National Park), he would mix in The recommendation of a wine to be paired with that music. Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin or Red Hot Chili Peppers with Chances are, he will have that special wine in his growing classical music,” said Mario with a smile. “People would come wine cellar. It’s all part of the fusion magic at Up The Creek in up and say, ‘That was great – what was that?’ ” Page Springs. Back in 2014, when the Mono Lake restaurant temporarily closed for the 2013-14 winter season, their sous chef secured a position at Up The Creek in Page Springs. “He got a job here and when we came to visit him, we discovered just how special this place is,” recalled chef Jim. “We met Dawn and Greg, the former owners. The restaurant wasn’t on the market, but they told us that they’d be interested in selling it to the right people.” He, Mario and their third partner, Michelle Mebine, secured a loan and took over the restaurant in December 2014. “We own the building and we own the property. That’s what we wanted – we didn’t want to continue to pay rent,” he added. Besides the menu and music, Venison Medallions, Soubise Rice, Blueberry Gastrique other fresh directions for the restaurant include wine tastings at the new tasting bar, a Up The Creek, 1975 N Page Springs Road, Cornville remodeled dining room and a novel wine club. Their recently www.UpTheCreekAZ.com 928-634-9954 Stacey “Vagabonding Lulu” Wittig is an Arizona travel writer who acquired off-sale liquor license allows guests to order wine loves to write about emerging wine regions. Follow her escapades at and beer by the case or bottle and bring it home as part of VagabondingLulu.com the wine club. november

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AZWINE Lifestyle - Up The Creek  

While swirling and sipping a fine D.A. Ranch Petite Sirah, the new owners of Up the Creek described their innovative directions for the time...

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