As if the location of our desert dinner with Cloth & Flame wasn't magical enough — tucked away from the city lights amongst the saguaros and a dramatic Arizona sunset — the night literally ended with a display of shooting stars.
It was an apt finale for an evening straight out of an Instagram story. Set in a secluded patch of colorful Sonoran Desert about 20 minutes outside of town, the four-course community dinner is downright Pinterest-worthy — a long, wooden farmhouse table (set for 104 people on this night) decked with local greenery and overhanging twinkly lights to boot.
Our chef-prepared meal followed the sangria welcome cocktails — Bosc pear and blue cheese with candied Brussels sprouts, duck confit in a citrus reduction, and roulade of slow-roasted Mangalitsa pork belly with herbs and seasonal root vegetables. It was a tableful of would-be strangers in some cases, but the wine and the conversation flowed.
Created by Matt Cooley and Olivia Laux, Cloth and Flame's dinners highlight local culinary talent and the Sonoran Desert's bounty. With events held around the Valley of the Sun — and even in Sedona and Flagstaff — menus have highlighted the works of top local chefs like Aaron Chamberlin (St. Francis) and Brent Kille (Okra).
The gatherings are not only stunning but meaningful, too. Sustainably hosted in natural preserves and state parks, they draw attention to the West's wild beauty, plus 10 percent of every event's proceeds donated to organizations that work to preserve land and migratory routes across the Grand Canyon State. It's dinner with a view... and a cause.