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Devoured Phoenix

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Devoured Phoenix. Image by Wayne Schutsky.
The Devoured Phoenix Culinary Classic Brought Out Some Of The Best Restaurants, Breweries and Other Food-Related Businesses, Reaffirming The Phoenix Metro’s Foodie Emergence


By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine

March 14, 2013 — The must-attend foodie event of the year occurred over the weekend when Devoured Phoenix took over the Phoenix Art Museum.  Over 100 restaurants, breweries and wineries set up shop at the museum and delivered an eclectic and delicious array of fare for event-goers.

Organized by Local First Arizona, the two-day food festival provided attendees the chance to try an assortment of sample-size portions from a bevy of local restaurants. And to wash it all down, ticket holders tasted a range of wines and beers from Arizona establishments and visiting vendors from other states.

In addition to the food, Devoured Phoenix coordinators provided a display kitchen in the courtyard where local chefs like Chris Newstrom of Windsor and Jared Porter of The Parlor could demonstrate their craft for the crowd.

The capacity crowd packed the event to the brim. Cummings Great Hall, which served as an entryway to the event and housed most of the brewery vendors, also featured live music. The outdoor courtyard housed a lion’s share of the restaurants and featured narrow walkways in between tents to allow event-goers to navigate between vendors.

Despite a large crowd that cramped the walkways, most attendees did not seem to mind the close quarters. They seemed more than happy to wait for a chance to try the best that local food and drink purveyors could offer.

Even a little rain on Saturday could not stop Devoured devotees. They did not flee inside when precipitation hit, choosing to brave the moisture for a chance to try all of the food options available.

Based on the size and temperament of the crowd, this year’s event was a rousing success.

For those who were not lucky enough to attend, what follows is a compilation of some of the best selections from Saturday.

Best White Wine — Pillsbury WildChild White
Located just 40 miles north of the border in Cochise County, Pillsbury Wines manufactures this conveniently-priced ($20) white blend. The winery makes its wine from locally-sourced grapes. The wine is made up of 65 percent Chenin Blanc, 21 percent Riesling and 14 percent Pinot Grigio. With notable hints of citrus and fruity flavors, the wine is crisp and refreshing without a harsh finish. WildChild White gives off some wonderful fruity aromas, as well, making for a completely delicious experience.

Best Red Wine — Dos Cabezas Aguileon
This wine has a savoury flavor and strong notes of red fruit that would pair well with red meats. It has a very dominant flavor but does not come off as caustic. The wine is 95 percent Tempranillo, three percent Petit Verdot, one percent Souzao, and one percent Tinta Cao. Dos Cabezas is located in Sonoita, Ariz. and locally-sources all grapes for this particular wine from Cimarron Vineyards.

Best Beer — Goose Island Pepe Nero
Goose Island, a craft brewery out of Chicago, offered a few of its Belgian-style beers at Devoured Phoenix, and Pepe Nero definitely stood out. A dark farmhouse ale, the aptly-named brew contradicts what most people think of when they hear ‘Belgian-style’ beer. While the Belgian designation often conjures images of light and crisp beers, this offering is as dark as they come. Brewed with black peppercorns, Pepe Nero has a dark mahogany color and offers notes of chocolate and nuts. However, unlike other dark beers, Pepe Nero also has a bit of crisp sweetness to it, an homage to its Belgian roots.

Best Cocktail — Windsor No. 17
Anyone who has ventured into Central Phoenix’s Windsor immediately notices the extravagant bar. The restaurant does not let this first impression go to waste, offering a selection of unique cocktails. The No.17 is a mixture of cucumber-infused vodka, green tea syrup, fresh cucumber and mint. The drink is sweet and refreshing. The balanced flavor of the cucumber and strong hints of mint balance out the cocktail and prevent the the other flavors from taking over. It is the perfect summer drink, which makes it a great choice eight months out of the year in Arizona.

Best Appetizer — Postino Bruschetta
Postino offered two selections of bruschetta, and both did not disappoint. The first included asparagus, pancetta, herb ricotta and pine nuts. The other, a vegetarian option, had goat cheese, olives and arugula. The Postino team managed to craft bruschetta with soft and savory toppings, while making sure the bread stayed  crisp on the edges and not soggy. The bruschetta was light and flavorful, making it an excellent appetizer option.

Best First Course — Arrogant Butcher Shrimp, Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
This jambalaya dish was the perfect anecdote to the unseasonably cold weekend. The dish had a nice consistency, meaning its rice was soft, but not soggy. The soupy base did not gather at the bottom of the bowl and instead soaked into the rice and savory meats. The seasonings gave the dish a nice spiciness that was not overbearing. Overall, the nice mix of meats and shrimp made each bite unique and gave the dish some heartiness.

Best Main Course — The Parlor, Rabbit Sausage with English Pea Soup
It does not get more local than rabbit sausage. While most of the restaurants at the event touted their usage of locally-sourced ingredients, this item really stuck out. The sausage, which was served in a bun like a hot dog, was lightly-seasoned, which allowed the meat’s natural earthy flavor to shine through. This flavor was nicely offset by a sweet ginger carrot ketchup. The light and flavorful pea soup, served chilled, also helped open up the meal by expanding my palate.

Best Dessert — Churn, The Grasshopper
While most of the vendors served sample-size portions of food, local ice cream shop Churn really brought the sweetness by giving attendees this full size cookie sandwich. The item featured a layer of Churn’s mint crunch ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate crinkle cookies. This one nearly put me out of commission, forcing me to take a breather before venturing on to try more food.

These food items may have stood out and warranted special consideration; however, all of the Devoured Phoenix contributors deserve recognition. This was a truly enjoyable event and not one of the food or drink selections were a disappointment. If this year’s edition is any indication, Phoenix is well on its way to becoming a foodie mecca year in and year out, not just locally, but on the national stage as well.

Wayne Schutsky is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine.
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