Last week the Phoenix area hit 100 degrees for the first time this year and it was the fourth earliest date on record. Thus, one would think that the season for outdoor events would be coming to an end. One would be wrong, as this past weekend brought in the Scottsdale Culinary Fest and the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, an outdoor Taste of Chicago-esque festival showcasing food from all over the area and of all types.
Some were household names with tons of locations around the Valley of the Sun, like Grimaldi’s and Zoe’s, but others seemed a bit more special and I sought them out (along with some booze, of course).
The Italiano – Aioli Burger
I’d been hearing murmurings of how great this place was for a while now, and its victory at Burger Battle 2018 further cemented my desire to get there. This burger wasn’t perfect, nor would I expect it to be in such a situation, but the combination of mozzarella, bacon, basil garlic aioli, balsamic reduction and a discarded tomato made me more eager to seek out the real deal.
Mac Daddy – Tom’s BBQ
Is it proper to describe mac and cheese as wet in a bad way? Because that’s how I felt about the Mac Daddy, which is mac and cheese topped with pulled pork and BBQ sauce. Perhaps the measurements went awry in the kitchen, because a dish like this is very hard to mess up. Yet, it was underwhelming, leaving me thinking I should have hit up another spot in the BBQ region.
Carne Asada Fries – SuperFarm SuperTruck
This is a truck that knows how to make fries. The fries themselves were perfectly crispy on the outside and moist on the inside, as well as seasoned to perfection. The beef was more ground than steak, but seasoned well, and the cilantro, cheese and sauce all acted in harmony with one another. The lime juice didn’t hurt either. These were easily my booze-free highlight of the festival.
Jollybeez Wings – Good Fortune Kitchen
What can I say? I’m a sucker for Filipino food. And while I can’t say I’ve ever had wings at an actual Jollibee, I have had balut and that should pretty much prepare me for anything. That said, the wing here was pretty good, and while there may have been a little too much focus on the corn and slaw? surrounding the wing, I was definitely a fan of the crispiness, meatiness, moistness and peanut sauce.
Unfortunately, one man can only eat so much. I left the Scottsdale Culinary Festival with not just a full stomach, but also a heart full of hope for the food scene in Phoenix. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like thing are bad in any way, but the variety I saw in places like Good Fortune Kitchen tells me that better foods are yet to come.