As promised, I attended the Great Arizona Picnic yesterday as part of the Scottsdale Culinary Festival. This was one of those great summer events – even though it’s ‘summer’ (weather) here for the majority of the year. But it seemed like everyone was there – families, students, young professionals, retirees, and more. The event was held near Old Town Scottsdale and was expected to have up to 40,000 people attend. It was definitely well attended, but the great thing was that it never seemed too crowded. Lines were very reasonable, and there was always a place to sit. It really did feel like a picnic with lots of people lying out on the grass with blankets. There were 50+ restaurants and vendors at the event with a wide range of products and cuisines. I took lots of pictures to share, but keep in mind this wasn’t a gourmet food festival! There were actually a lot of ‘chain’ restaurants with booths there – from Kona Grill (they brought an entire fish tank!) to Sushi Roku to The Melting Pot. But there were a few artisan places like the Arizona Bread Company, The Gelato Spot and The Lollicake Company.
All in all, not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon – eating good comfort food, catching up with an old friend, and people watching
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Posted in American Cuisine, Food Events, tagged Arizona, BBQ, cheese, chicken wings, food festival, pork, ribs, Scottsdale, tacos on April 16, 2010 |
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Last weekend I attended my very first BBQ festival right here in Scottsdale. Something that I’ve learned about Arizona is that, due to its almost-year-round sunny weather, locals are really into putting on outdoor festivals. They range from various music festivals (jazz and blues, etc) to cultural festivals (Asian themed or just ‘international’) to foodie festivals. Although this was the first time this event was put on, it seemed like it was a success.
Theme of the Day = Pig!
It was located down by the Scottsdale waterfront, across from Fashion Square mall on a large dirt parking lot with tents set up. With a $10 admission charge and $2 tasting tickets, it was a pretty decent set up. I liked that it wasn’t too spread out nor did it feel overcrowded. My cousin and I arrived around 2pm and there were still loads of people (the tasting ended at 4pm). We decided to just make our way around with no agenda other than to eat and get a cold beer (it was in the mid 80’s!). Our obvious approach was to go to the stands that had the longest crowds (assuming they’d have the best food).
First up was The Mission which is a modern, Latin restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale. They were not in the competition but were selling small versions of dishes from the restaurant. Tiff had already told me that I had to try this place as it’s one of her favorites. So we got the combo platter with a chicken taco, pork shoulder taco and grilled sweet corn. As we waited for our tacos the smells coming from the grill were intoxicating and made us all the more hungry. I must admit I am not a huge BBQ (sauce) person, but once you get that smell in your nose you really can’t say no. Plus you just think about the tender, smoked pork melting in your mouth and that memory reminds you that you’ll eat it even if you’re not hungry. As Tiff promised, the tacos were delicious. The pork shoulder taco is served with pineapple glaze, cilantro and cotija cheese. The chicken taco is served with oregano, lemon, aji Amarillo, cabbage and more cotija cheese. If you’ve never had cotija cheese, it’s a slightly salty yet mild Mexican cheese. The texture if very much like feta in that it’s firm and crumbly. One of my favorite ways to eat cotija is with grilled corn on the cob and lime juice. Both tacos were so refreshing and were packed with lots of flavor. I will definitely be making a trip to The Mission some time soon.
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