Notes from the Road – Scottsdale, Arizona, October 2008
Well, I have finally caught my breath after being in Scottsdale, Arizona over the last 4 days participating, judging and enjoying Eats3 – Savor Scottsdale, a new Food & Beverage Festival being held and sponsored by Food & Wine Magazine (www.Eats3.com). It was an amazing event held this past Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Old Town Scottsdale on SouthBridge. Peter Kasperski, owner of Cowboy Ciao, Digestif, etc. (www.SpaghettiWesternProductions.com) was the brains, founding father and overall Energizer Bunny who did an amazing job putting the festival together and overall. This was Year #1 of Eats3 and what an event it was from having such Food Celebrities as Jacques Pepin, Ming Tsai and Top Chef Winner Stephanie Izard, to the Art Gallery and Tasting luncheons and dinners to the Culinary and Wine panels held each day. Peter and his crew were able to execute a festival that exceeded expectations, made participants and attendees thrilled and one that Scottsdale as a city should embrace for years to come!
Interesting times, with some of the most memorable events being:
- Thursday night dinner at Digestif. Chef Payton Curry of Digestif (see website above) has created an amazing Cal/Ital menu for the restaurant including outstanding homemade charcuterie, fresh cut pastas and rustic fare. The salmon rillettes had great flavor and freshness, the flat iron steak was tender and perfectly seasoned and the fresh made cookies were a just sweet enough ending to a great meal.
- Friday Lunch at Atlas Bistro (www.AtlasBistro.com). With the Eats3 Festival, we were invited to enjoy lunch at the Atlas Bistro, adjacent to AZ Wine and partake in the wines of Ex Cellars, which included Phillipponnat Champagne, E. Guigal and Domaine des Baumard. The restaurant is usually not open for lunch, but they were doing a special feature, of which they did an outstanding job. My highlight was the Arizona Golden Beet salad with Moulard Duck confit and Snowflake, Arizona Feta Cheese – salty, sweet and a wonderful seasonal appetizer.
- Judging the Iron Bar Chef Cocktail Competition. Peter had asked me to participate on Friday evening as one of the judges for this event pitting 6 of the country’s top bartenders/mixologists for title of Eats3 Iron Bar Chef. The moderator for the event was none other than Tony Abu-Ganim, the Modern Mixologist and former contestant/winner of Iron Chef with Mario Batali. It was a fantastic event with contestants being given a ‘secret ingredient’ liquor/liqueur and having 10 minutes to create an appropriate cocktail. The winner was Eric Johnson of Beretta Restaurant in San Francisco who was the most consistent and creative throughout the evening.
- Grand Tasting Event. On Saturday, we were able to attend the Eats3 Grand Tasting, with over 100 wineries and 40 restaurants represented. It was a Convention and Visitors Bureau kind of day – absolutely gorgeous, 85 degrees with a light breeze in October!
- For the food, our favorites were Nobu Fukuda’s Soft-Shell Crab Sandwich (Sea Saw), the Grilled Lamb Chops from Roka Akor (www.RokaAkor.com), Grilled Beef Tongue (Atlas Bistro), Pork in Green Chili (Los Sombreros – www.LosSombreros.com) and Fresh Pulled Mozzarella from Payton Curry (Digestif).
- Outstanding wines included the ‘Ladies of Paso’ from Venteux (www.VenteuxVineyards.com), Bella Luna (www.BellaLunaWine.com) and Ambyth, Tablas Creek Rhone Blends (www.TablasCreek.com), Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon and Garretson.
Hang on to your hats friends; my next travels are bringing me back up to Napa Valley for a quick visit and then down to Paso Robles! It is time for the semi-annual Turley Release Party on Saturday, with a few stops to see friends at the outstanding Paso wineries. Stay tuned for updates and always remember, Keep Eating & Drinking!