Feast of the Seven Fishes at Grapes in Arizona

Traditional Italian Christmas feast planned in historic Jerome

Once-upon-time stage stop now Grapes Restaurant &  Bar. Photo by “AZ Native”

A number of years ago, I prepared three courses and my neighbor, Jim, prepared four for a Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian Christmas Eve celebration. Very few restaurants seem to have served it (Zamparelli’s in Lafayette, Colorado, being one of the few I know of). I’ve just learned of another one — Grapes in the old mountainside mining town of Jerome, Arizona.

Wine Dinners at Grapes are sellouts every other Tuesday night, when Chef Michelle Jurisin prepares her creative cuisine with generously poured wine selections throughout each meal. Jurisin designs each menu and personally oversees the preparation of every appetizer, entrée and house-made dessert. The Feast of Seven Fishes has been a part of Chef Michelle’s family for generations, and she has recreated family recipes for this special Wine Dinner for the past three years at this restaurant, located in a building that since is construction in the early 1900s has been the telegraph and pony express station, the Reese and Amster White garage and machine shop, a Shell  station servicing travelers on historic 89A from Phoenix to Flagstaff and Route 66, and the Jerome volunteer fire department’s fire station.  In 1996 Eric and Michelle Jurisin, owners of the popular Haunted Hamburger, bought the building and opened Grapes Restaurant & Bar.

Chef Michelle Jurisin
Chef Michelle Jurisin

The next Wine Dinner is Tuesday, December 18, and if I were anywhere near Jerome, I’d sign on. The menu begins with fried calamari, shrimp cocktail and a crab cake — coincidentally, dishes that Jim and I between us made.. The second course will be a traditional Baccala Salad with cod, pimentos, kalamata olives, parsley, capers, seasonings and greens. The main course is a trio of baked stuffed calamari, baked halibut or filet of sole and stuffed shrimp in an Italian flag sauce. Dessert is Venetian hot chocolate and traditional Italian cookies. A selection of wines accompanies with each course. Chef Michelle says “The number seven has great significance with Italian culture and traditions such as the seven blessed Sacraments, God resting on the 7th day after creating the world, and many more that we talk about at the dinner.”

Price Check: The December 18 dinner is a modest $39.99.

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