Delight to the delicious selections of a dozen entries in the 2014 Taste of Rim Country event at the Payson Public Library.
The Library Friends of Payson, which sponsors the popular food fest, have announced it now has a dozen participants: Ayothaya Thai & Sushi Café, Cedar Ridge Restaurant of the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino, Cocktail Cheescakes, Dimi Espresso Café, Gerardo’s Firewood Café, Miss Fitz 260 Café, PHS Culinary Club, Payson Senior Center, Pinon Café, The Randall House, Rim Country Health and The Sweet Shoppe.
During this fun-filled evening, guests can sample delicious appetizers and desserts, and enjoy a variety of beverages, including wine and sparkling cider. As in past years, Fred Carpenter has agreed to serve as deejay.
A highlight of the night is the opportunity for guests to vote on their favorite chef with the winning chef receiving the Best of the Best trophy.
Guests can also bid on unique silent auction items donated by individuals and local businesses, such as a large original oil painting by local artist and LFOP President Conrad Okerwall; a gift card for two first class tickets for the Verde Canyon Railroad donated by James and Romaine Brophy; gift certificates from Bob’s Western Wear, Club USA, Boutique, Peggy’s Payson Place; countertop refinishing kit from Neumann Paint & Supply; 6-foot-by-3-foot wool runner from Dan Good Flooring; Tempur-Pedic pillow and queen size sheets from Mattress Experts; and several gift baskets fashioned by Library Friends board members.
Get your tickets now for A Taste of Rim Country. The annual fund-raiser is from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, March 8. Tickets are $30 each, of which $15 can be considered a tax-deductible donation, and are available at the Payson Public Library, 328 N. McLane Road, (928) 474-9260. Tickets are limited and will not be sold on the night of the event.
About the participants
Dimi Espresso Café
Its very name tells you everything you need to know: Dimi comes from the Italian word dimmi, meaning “tell me,” which is a phrase used by baristas for “Tell me what you want,” but also as in “Tell me about your day, what you think of things, what are your plans…” all the things good friends share while enjoying each other’s company. That is the atmosphere that owner Tom Plets has created with Payson’s newest espresso café located in the Swiss Village shops. Couches, easy chairs and natural light provide a comfortable setting for customers to enjoy the café’s main product — coffee.
Coffee preparation is an art to the experienced barista, says Tom. Choosing the very best bean, knowledge of how to properly roast and brew it, and knowledge of the customer’s preference make the entire experience pleasant and satisfying. Beans from around the world are used by Dimi’s roasters to provide the best products, made in the traditional style of an Italian café. The restaurant’s chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut and caramel syrups are all 100 percent organic. They also offer an assortment of fine teas.
Dimi’s deli-style menu includes wraps, sandwiches, and paninis, fruit smoothies, and a complete bakery of fresh made pastries, including a gluten-free menu made from the café’s own flour.
As a community center, Dimi Espresso hosts weekly events in the store: ballroom dancing from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Open Mic Night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday for local poets, storytellers and musicians.
Dimi Espresso also now offers a Coffee Corner right on the campus of Gila Community College at 201 W. Mud Springs Road, preparing fresh coffee from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
Gerardo’s Firewood Café
If you are looking for truly authentic Italian cuisine, look no further than Gerardo’s Firewood Café next to the Swiss Village Shops. Owner Gerardo Moceri has one of the few brick ovens in northern Arizona in which he bakes his specialty pizzas. Gerardo uses the freshest products, grown locally in all his dishes. Even the oak wood used in his oven is from Payson!
“You won’t find a canned item in our pizzas,” he says. His mozzarella cheese and Italian sausage are made right on the premises and most of his produce comes from a Camp Verde farm. His son, Gerardo, Jr., is the pizza expert, and is constantly creating new variations, including a Trifecta pizza, a 3-fold, open-faced pizza that will be on the café’s new menu, scheduled for release later this month.
Gerardo helped Devon Wells at PHS establish the Payson High School Culinary Club, and uses local high school students or recent graduates on his staff. He enjoys teaching them every aspect of the restaurant business, from waiting to bussing to cooking, even how to cut the meat and fish he has delivered each day.
Gerardo caters private and public events, and can offer gluten-free versions of his cuisine. He holds periodic cooking lessons open to the public. On March 30, Gerardo’s will host a special dinner highlighting wines from a Napa Valley vintner.
See future issues for more profiles.