Arts & Culture
Bridging a dining gap between the local and homespun, with the highbrow and forward, is no simple feat for a culinary festival with freshman status. And, despite any initial hesitations, the newly minted Devoured Culinary Classic this past weekend proved just that — an ability to be everything to nearly every mindset.
Devoured is the new food festival to be held each spring at the Phoenix Art Museum. Though technically it was a brand-new event altogether, Devoured unofficially replaces the previous event held annually at the Midtown museum, West of Western. To say that casual comparisons between the two illustrations of sophisticated, urban food festivals by attuned locals wouldn’t happen, would frankly be naïve. So, thankfully, by all respectable accounts (and the palpable vibe of the crowds on both days), Devoured not only one-upped West of Western, but it also was an honest improvement.
Orchestrated in large part by local advocacy and growing nonprofit Local First Arizona and its supreme leader, Kimber Lanning, Devoured encouraged an agenda-driven undercurrent of all things local and “independently edible.” Though there were definite exceptions throughout, Devoured was also intended to be a weighted showcase of participants located within the loose radius of Central Phoenix — a tip on the local dining scale that usually leans Scottsdale. To those living outside the urban bubble of Central Phoenix traveling inward to attend Devoured this past weekend, it was representation done well.
With a range of interesting guest speakers (former New York Times and Wall Street Journal restaurant critic Raymond Sokolov was a particular big-ticket draw) and cooking demonstrations, as well as over 70 local restaurants and 25 wineries (mostly Arizona bred) taking part, Devoured’s inauguration was a near perfect food-themed storm that would respectfully cater to both food snobs and casual eaters alike.
Though worth the ticket price for both Saturday and Sunday, if one day had to champion the other for ultimate food hierarchy, the latter, Sunday, would have to take the rank. Participating restaurants and chefs jockeyed not only for prime grassy real estate in the Phoenix Art Museum’s beautifully landscaped and spacious sculpture garden, but also for prime scheduling. Sunday unofficially became a magnate for some of the most sought-after eateries in town, and, for the headlining chefs, the most overt flashes of showmanship and craft, as well.
Some of Saturday’s highlights included an exceptional (as expected) charcuterie and cheese selection from Uptown’s Petit Fromage; a standout tuna tartare from the Phoenician’s J&G Steakhouse (one of the best such examples of tartare, of many similar, all weekend), served tightly atop avocado and a bright ginger broth; and Christopher’s Crush‘s other-worldly gâteau Marjolaine, a decadent and laborious pressed cake created with, among many other things, layers of almond meringue cake, separated by intermixing levels of chocolate, coffee and vanilla flavored creams. Gallo Blanco Café’s carne asada tacos and Hana Japanese Eatery’s waloo (think Hawaiian butterfish) tataki were both equally confident but simple pleasers.
Sunday brought even more standouts. Former Cowboy Ciao chef Bernie Kantak helmed a booth representing not a specific restaurant, but his own creative, skilled abilities with curried, smoked shrimp and coconut. Shrimp paella from Lola Tapas was another immediate, well-executed sell. Nationally decorated restaurant Kai’s breadth of offerings made an intimidating impression with wild goat machaca and fry bread, seared rib-eye slices over a pineapple-avocado quinoa and two playful (and very popular) additions to their otherwise serious buffet — housemade, decidedly elevated versions of Ding Dong desert cakes and icy, citrus-bright hibiscus push-up pops.
Sweet Republic, with its locally iconic, retro orange Chevy van parked in full view, served an array of ice cream flavors both seen and new — think flavors like bacon, salted butter caramel and white truffle. Different Pointe of View (at Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort) served a near-unanimous crowd favorite: seared, cupcake-sized diver scallops with a creamy, emerald English pea risotto. Honey Moon Sweets‘ collection of perfectly executed dollhouse desserts earned definite points for yum factor (let alone for presentation) with jewel-sized chocolate almond cups, tarragon and strawberry shortcake cookies and a near effervescent blackberry purée folded with homemade whipped cream and garnished with shavings of pistachio. Not to be outdone, easily maintaining one of the festival’s consistently lengthiest lines of hungry visitors, Old Town Scottsdale’s FnB restaurant was on hand with some premium miniature meatballs molded from Arizona-bred beef, as well as its popular shaved fennel salad and a thick butterscotch pudding for a welcomed sugary finish.
Holding a double-day presence, Barrio Café was on hand with its drool-inducing cochinita pibil (slow roasted, citrus marinated pork), crowd-pleasing guacamole and on Sunday only, served its infamous mole.
Besides a couple of liquor outposts and some tasty local brews from SanTan Brewing Company, the majority of alcohol consumption at Devoured belonged to wine. And, with the exception of a few participants, nearly all wineries present were Arizona anchored — another admirable trait of Devoured — like Pillsbury Wine Company, Page Springs Cellars and Arizona Stronghold, among several others.
Cooking demonstrations were also popular at Devoured on both days, with acclaimed chefs like Christopher Gross, Aaron May (Over Easy, The Lodge, Mabel’s on Main), Matt Carter (Nine|05, Zinc Bistro, The Misson), James Porter (Petite Maison), among several others, drawing large audiences. An unofficial climax occurred during Sunday’s few remaining hours when Caffe Boa’s Payton Curry carried a whole pig (head, hooves and all) over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes to the demonstration area, where he cheekily butchered the carcass in front of a highly entertained audience, readying it for preparation and samples. Showmanship at its finest.
There were many, many other participating restaurants, chefs and wineries not mentioned that served great products. The entire crowd was food focused and full of positive, respectful energy. At any given time, circulating eaters could witness firsthand notable local restaurant critics, restaurateurs, off-duty chefs, winemakers, bloggers and food-focused tweeps intermingling, gushing about what they tasted with great energy.
Devoured was easily a success, and this new annual food fête more than delivered on its intended angle that independent and local should always be a diner’s prerogative when out to patronize. Phoenix should be proud — the talent is here, the ingredients are being grown here and finally it seems, the enthusiasm to support it all is here as well.
DPJ is proud to bring you the best Yelp reviews of your favorite Downtown restaurants, boutiques, venues and everything in between. Every Tuesday, visit DPJ for a finely crafted, tell-all account of a Downtown spot straight from the experts: the people!
Let’s face it, Phoenix does not have the most amazing music scene in the universe, and with that we get crappy music venues… although out of the few we have to choose from, the Rhythm Room might be my favorite.
Even though it’s kinda small, they have everything you could ask for in a music venue… great sound system, decent bathrooms — yeah I said it, really cool bartenders and really great drink specials. I actually just saw a Tweet that called their specials “infamous.” Either way, this place is the jam, literally.
- It’s hot as balls inside.
- The door girl has the personality of a napkin and is extremely unfriendly.
- You can’t take your drinks out to the closed off patio and unless it’s some zoning law or whatever, that’s pretty lame.
Aside from that, I’m a fan! Now if only we could get more bands to stop out here.
The Rhythm Room is located at 1019 E. Indian School Rd. in Midtown — 602.265.4842
The DPJ Yelper of the Week offers honest insight on a Downtown business to help you explore your core. DPJ hopes that by partnering with Yelp to spread the good word about well-loved Downtown spots, you’ll spread your patronage and support local business.
Yelp is a social networking and local search engine that provides the reviews of places and things that matter to you. Simply log in, pick a place and queue up your inner critic. You can write a beaming review of your favorite gelato spot, or a scathing portrayal of that rental car facility you had to use after that curb came out of nowhere. Yelp’s reviews are at once honest, uncensored, wildly hilarious and true. Heck, the site must be doing something right — it had 26 million viewers just last month!
The quintessential self-guided tour of artist studios, art spaces and other art venues in downtown Phoenix organized by Artlink, Inc. in cooperation with the participating venues.
Imagine that you are a scientist and you think you have found the cure for cancer. What is the next step besides letting the world know of your discovery?
Secret Order, now playing at the Actors Theatre, guides the audience through the journey of a young scientist and his new discovery. Along his path, he faces the many trials and tribulations that come with such a significant breakthrough. From starting at a meager university to being funded by an accredited cancer research and learning facility, he faces many obstacles along the way that center on the worldwide interest in finding a cure for cancer. The play touches on faith versus science issues, moral and political dilemmas and even sex in the workplace. In a world full of hungry people that just want to get ahead, you learn that it is all about being published first and getting your knowledge out there before anyone else possibly can. Poor William Shumway, played by Cale Epps, learns a hard lesson when in the end all fingers point to him for withholding pertinent information. All the while, he was merely trying to please his mentor and help out an undergraduate colleague.
After the play, we were graciously invited to stay and speak with the cast. It was acknowledged that the writer Bob Clyman is a clinical psychologist whose brother is also a scientist; one had to wonder, since the play seemed so accurate. I thought at first I might be lost in all of the scientific terminology, but the play is written so well that it made more sense to me than when I took biology in college. Well, OK, maybe not, but you can keep up with every bit of this play without worry if you don’t happen to be a scientist. Although many questions were asked and a discussion ensued, I still left with much to think about. With the motto of the Actors Theatre this season being “Entertain Your Brain,” I think it was sincerely achieved with this play.
Secret Order is playing at Stage West at the Herberger Theater until March 21, 2010. If you care to tease your brain a little and see a very interesting and entertaining play that makes you feel like you are right in the lab with the scientists, I highly recommend seeing it!
The Herberger Theater is located at 222 E. Monroe St. in Copper Square (light rail station at 3rd St & Washington/Jefferson) — 602.254.7399
Devoured is a new culinary event inspired by Local First Arizona and the Phoenix Art Museum, and produced by R Entertainment Co., showcasing Arizona’s finest restaurants, chefs, wineries and industry purveyors in a unique, yet distinctly Phoenix, location. Devoured’s mission is to further position metro Phoenix as a fabulous culinary destination. Sponsors include The Arizona Republic, Alliance Beverage, Sub-Zero/Wolf, Fiji Water, BPI (Beef Products International) and Red Bird Poultry.
Saturday and Sunday, March 13-14, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N. Central Ave. Free parking is available across Central at Viad, or take METRO light rail to the Central/McDowell station.
01. Arcadia Farms Cafe
02. Barrio Café
03. Chelsea’s Kitchen
04. Christopher’s Crush
05. Cheuvront Restaurant & Wine Bar
07. Crescent Moon at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale
09. Espressions Coffee Roastery
11. Fossil Creek Creamery
12. Frank & Albert’s
13. Gallo Blanco Café
15. Hana Japanese Eatery
16. Heirloom An American Restaurant
17. J&G Steakhouse
18. Mabel’s on Main
19. Maizie’s Café & Bistro
20. Modern Steak
21. Olive & Ivy
22. Over Easy
23. The Parlor Pizzeria
25. Petit Fromage
26. Postino Wine Café
27. Prado at Montelucia
28. Relish Burger Bistro at The Phoenician
29. Rita’s Kitchen at Camelback Inn
30. Roka Akor
31. Switch Restaurant & Wine Bar
34. Tammie Coe and MJ Breads
35. Ticoz Resto-Bar
36. True Food Kitchen
37. Tuck Shop
11:30 – Roy Pell, executive pastry chef, The Phoenician
12:30 – Christopher Gross, chef, Christopher’s/Crush Lounge
1:30 – Matt Carter, chef, Nine|05
2:30 – Aaron May, chef, Mabel’s on Main
3:30 – Jacques Qualin, chef de cuisine, J&G Steakhouse (at The Phoenician)
11:30 – Gary Spadafore, Director of Education, Alliance Beverage. Topic: Deconstructing Rombauer Chardonnay and Alexander Valley Vineyards Sin Zin. Viticulture, vinification and taste of both wines.
12:30 – Pam Swartz, author, Dine Out Phoenix: Where to Eat from Chic to Unique. Topic: Developing Sophistication of Arizona’s Dining Scene, Recent Trends, and New Interesting Restaurants Opening Around Town
1:30 – Raymond Sokolov, author, Wall Street Journal column “Eating Out.” Topic: The Splendors and Miseries of a Restaurant Critic’s Life. Stories from the Corner Table. One Man’s View of Today’s Food Scene
2:30 – Tania Oseguera, brand ambassador and foremost expert in Agave, certified as a “Distintivo T” by the CRT (Consejo Regulador del Tequila). Topic: Cazadores Tequila Tasting. Known the world over, Cazadores is the #1, 100% blue agave tequila in the world.
3:30 – Winemaker Eric Glomski. Topic: Mr. Glomski will speak on his experience of cultivating a rugged, high desert Arizona landscape into fruitful vineyards. His winemaking adventures, along with business partner Maynard James Keenan of Tool music fame, are featured in the film documentary Blood Into Wine.
01. Arcadia Farms Cafe
02. Barrio Café
03. The Breadfruit Authentic Jamaican Grill
04. Caffé Boa
05. Chef Bernie Kantak
06. Chelsea’s Kitchen
07. Cheuvront Restaurant & Wine Bar
09. Cowboy Ciao
11. Different Pointe of View
13. Estate House
17. Hana Japanese Eatery
18. Honey Moon Sweets Bakery
20. LOLA tapas
21. Maizie’s Café & Bistro
22. Nine|05 Modern Asian
23. Petite Maison
24. Postino Wine Café
25. Relish Burger Bistro at The Phoenician
26. Rita’s Kitchen at Camelback Inn
27. San Tan Brewing Company
28. Sweet Republic
29. Switch Restaurant & Wine Bar
30. Talavera Restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale
31. Tammie Coe and MJ Breads
32. Ticoz Resto-Bar
33. Tuck Shop
11:30 – Roy Pell, executive pastry chef, The Phoenician
12:30 – Damon Brasch, chef, Green
1:30 – James Porter, chef, Petite Maison
2:30 – Payton Curry, chef, Caffe Boa
3:30 – Gio Osso, chef, Estate House
11:30 – Jeff McCarty, Estate Specialist, Alliance Beverage Dist. Co. Topic: When in Rhone…A quick look at The Rhone Ranger from Paso Robles featuring Rhone de Robles and Robert Hall Viognier.
12:30 – Todd DeSilva, Mixologist for The Phoenician. The Phoenician beverage team won the first-ever Devoured cocktail competition, March 2. Topic: How to concoct a “winning” cocktail. DeSilva also will prepare batches-for-sampling of “C Cooler” – the winning cocktail in the Devoured competition.
1:30 – Raymond Sokolov, author, Wall Street Journal column “Eating Out.” Topic: The Splendors and Miseries of a Restaurant Critic’s Life. Stories from the Corner Table. One Man’s View of Today’s Food Scene.
2:30 – Tania Oseguera, brand ambassador and foremost expert in Agave. Topic: Corzo Tequila Tasting Seminar. Handcrafted tequila made from 100% blue agave from the highlands.
3:30 – Jeff McCarty, Estate Specialist, Alliance Beverage Dist. Co. Topic: And now for something completely different. Introducing obscure new wine recently entering the market.
Alexander Valley Sin Zin
Anne Aime Amrita
Anne Aime Muller Thurgau
Anne Aime Pinot Noir (Oregon)
BR Cohn Chardonnay
Buehler Napa Cabernet
Cecchi Chianti Classico
Gloria Ferrer Pinot Noir
Hangtime Pinot Noir
Hess Suskol Chardonnay
Iron Horse Unoaked Chardonnay
Las Rocas Garnacha
Lockwood Sauvignon Blanc
Martin Codax Albarino
Panther Creek Pinot Gis
Robert Craig Affinity
Robert Hall Rhone de Robles
Robert Hall Viognier
Rodney Strong Sonoma Merlot
Silvan Ridge Pinot Noir
And then some
There will be craft beer tastings; screenings of Blood into Wine both days at 11:30 a.m.; live music by Steve Ansel Band, Sugar Thieves and Big Bang Theory; full access to the Art Museum’s galleries and exhibits; and food, food and more food.
$65 or $90 for both days (fees apply). www.ProTix.com or call 1.866.977.6849
$57 for Phoenix Art Museum members by calling 602.257.2124.