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Photos: Devoured culinary festival – Day 2

Near-perfect weather and the arrival of some of the Valley’s most buzzworthy restaurants drew an even larger crowd to Sunday’s finale of the two-day Devour culinary festival at Phoenix Art Museum.

About half of the restaurants from Saturday’s lineup returned, but Sunday’s newcomers stole the show, particularly the four East Valley participants – Kai, Caffe Boa, SanTan Brewing and Udder Delights.

Because I covered Saturday’s restaurants in my Day 1 report, I focused on the new ones Sunday.

I started the day by running into Caffe Boa chef Payton Curry, who brought a special friend for his cooking demonstration later in the day.

In the meantime, Caffe Boa was handing out pork rillettes with Maya’s Farm micro-arugula, heirloom carrots, house-cured pickles and a mustard-horseradish cream. It also sampled Curry’s hand-pulled mozzarella.

Irony of the day: Caffe Boa, which has locations in Tempe and Mesa, was paired with vegetarian eatery Green in a corner of the museum’s scultpure garden.

Owner Casey Stechnij and chef Jennifer Johnson were manning the Udder Delights tent, where they were showcasing cheese curds, farm-fresh butter, lime-coconut ricotta cookies and several kinds of ice cream, including apple pie and lemon bar …

… but the Gilbert ice cream shop’s showcase item was called “Rockin’ Beets,” a three-layer terrine. A yellow beet/mango layer was separated from a red beet/raspberry layer by white chocolate. It was sprinkled with Pop Rocks candy and doused with port. Definitely one of the day’s highlights.

Chefs Cullen Campbell and Brandon Crouser teamed up at the tent of their Scottsdale restaurant Crudo

… and had some fun with a dish they called “School of Fish.” It consisted of small pieces of butterfish, tuna and yellowtail with olive oil and a vinaigrette.

SanTan Brewing partner Aaron Sanchez was passing out samples of the Chandler brewery’s Epicenter Ale and Hefeweizen …

… the latter of which was paired with chef Dennis Martinez‘s outstanding achiote-scented pork pibil sopes with lime-marinated red onion slices.

Executive chef Michael Dowd explains the offerings from Kai, the award-winning Wild Horse Pass Resort restaurant just outside of Chandler.

Kai’s dishes included Red Inca quinoa with caramelized pineapple, avocado and chipotle aioli and a chia seed fig bread with goat’s meat and wild game machaca. The resort restaurant also made a Native seeds granola and its own version of Ding Dongs filled with Fair Trade coffee cream.

But Kai’s most popular item seemed to be its hibiscus-flavored push-ups.

Honey Moon Sweets brought a quartet of desserts, including chocolate almond pudding tarts, a blackberry whipped cream puree with a honey tuile and fresh tarragon strawberry shortcake. Not pictured: honey lollipops with lemon oil.

Phoenix’s Tuck Shop served chorizo-stuffed date on arugula.

James Porter, chef-owner of French restaurant Petite Maison in Scottsdale, was pushing his classic Beef Wellington.

Scottsdale’s Cowboy Ciao was typically playful with house-made Frosted Flakes ice cream with Frosted Flakes brittle and a malted oatmeal cookie …

… a dessert that the restaurant’s “schmooze diva” Marianne Markogianis dubbed the “Cereal Killer.”

Host extraordinaire Pavle Milic was manning the tent for his Scottsdale hangout FnB, which …

… impressed with a Double Check Ranch grass-fed beef meatball with fennel, arugula and radish from local farms on crostini from Tempe’s Jonathan Robins Bakery. Dessert was butterscotch pudding with grated nutmeg.

Anthony Canecchia, brewmaster at SanTan Brewing, and Josh Hebert, chef-owner of Posh in Scottsdale.

Phoenix’s Barrio Cafe also participated on Saturday, but brought a new item Sunday: Oaxacan-style mole negro.

The Breadfruit, a Jamaican eatery in Phoenix, tempted with a Red Stripe shrimp curry and sweet potato pudding.

Estate House chef Gio Osso presented shaved beef with pecorino, baby fennel, pea shoots, black olive oil and chile oil.

Former Cowboy Ciao chef Bernie Kantak, who’s working on opening his own restaurant, showed up with shrimp curry and smoked coconut.

Lola Tapas dished out shrimp-and-chorizo paella with black beans.

Patrick Bol, chef at Il Vinaio in Mesa, was checking out the Caffe Boa tent.

Different Pointe of View nicely dressed up the ubiquitous seared scallop with sweet English pea parmesan risotto and a peppadew pepper sauce.

Talavera chef Mel Mecinas arranged small dishes of basil-and-burrata panna cotta …

… but the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale restaurant also did lamb chops with a spring pea puree and herb spaetzle.

Phoenix Asian restaurant Nine/05 offered its festival usual: chicken vindaloo.

I ran into Valley food enthusiasts Rhonni Boss-Moffitt and Christina Barrueta. You can find them on Twitter at @AZVinesAndWines and @Rubee100, respectively.

It was finally time for Payton Curry to demonstrate how to butcher that pig. He drew the biggest crowd of the entire festival before returning to the Caffe Boa tent to grill the meat.

Sweet Republic co-owner Jan Wichayanuparp chats with a festival-goer from the window of the Scottsdale artisan ice cream shop’s 1959 Chevy van. Ice cream flavors included white truffle oil, bacon and salted butter caramel swirl.

Valley food blogger Ty Largo (www.juxtapalate.com) enjoyed a dessert as the festival neared its end.

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Photos: Devoured culinary festival – Day 1

The two-day Devoured culinary festival debuted Saturday at Phoenix Art Museum, where food enthusiasts sampled foods and wines, watched cooking demonstrations and attended seminars. The museum’s sculpture garden was set up in much the same manner as last year’s West of Western culinary festival, which as supplanted by Devoured.

There were a several nice improvements from last year’s fest. Most notably, the wine-tasting tables have been moved from inside the museum and are now scattered among the food tents, making it easier to sample wines and foods together.

My first stop was J&G Steakhouse, where the Phoenician Resort steakhouse was serving tuna tartare with avocado, spicy radish and ginger marinade. Nice presentation, but not exactly inspiring.

Heirloom, chef Michael DeMaria‘s restaurant in north Scottsdale, offered artisan fusilli pasta with carrot-and-chicken Bolognese and parmesan. Not-so-nice presentation.

Rita’s Kitchen, located at Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, didn’t exactly wow me with a chicken quesadilla. They also had fresh guacamole and tamarind aqua fresca.

Things started to get interesting at The Parlor, where bruschetta was topped with a chickpea puree or an olive tapenade.

It’s kinda simple, but banana caramel French toast from Arcadia breakfast spot Over Easy hit the spot. Sweet, rich and delicious.

Besides his Over Easy, chef Aaron May was representing his Mabel’s on Main in Old Town Scottsdale.

His Mabel’s offering: more tuna tatare, this time with avocado and blood orange.

Another Phoenician restaurant, Relish Burger Bistro, stepped up with beef sliders, as well as crab cake sliders with chipotle cole slaw.

Crescent Moon, from the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale, delivered yet more tuna tatare, this time served in small tacos.

I did, however, really like Crescent Moon’s other giveaway: chorizo and mole pizza. Nice and spicy.

I love the pizzas and sandwiches at Cibo in Phoenix, but I wasn’t much impressed by spoonfuls of burrata and speck on chopped arugula. There also were gnocchi in a white cream sauce.

Poblano hummus made for a pleasant stop at Green, the fabulous Tempe vegetarian eatery.

Green also brought its famous “spicy buffalo wings” – actually made with mushrooms but just as good as the real thing. No one believes it until they try them.

While most restaurants identified their dishes on plain cards, Green was a little more hip.

Next stop was Phoenix’s Gallo Blanco, where I tried carne asada tacos and shrimp ceviche.

Chef/owner Doug Robson also enticed with chocolate chip and white chocolate chip/macadamia nut cookies from his Hillside Spot in Ahwatukee.

Silvana Salcido Esparza, a nominee for this year’s James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest, got the festival’s most remote tent for her Barrio Cafe.

The Phoenix restaurant dished out cochinita (pork) pibil and shrimp pibil.

A masked luchador works on a large painting at the Barrio tent.

Phoenix sushi favorite Hana Japanese Eatery scored with chicken meatballs it calls Hana Tsukune and pieces of seared walu (“white tuna”).

MJ Bread put out barbecue beef sliders …

… while tent-mate Tammy Coe Cakes dunked chocolate-coconut lollipops into chocolate glaze and served with coconut-tapioca pudding.

Scottsdale’s Roka Akor had two winners with its butterfish tataki and ribeye from its robata grill.

Chef Wade Moises was manning his Pasta Bar tent …

… where options included orecchiette puttanesca, gnocchi with tomato ragu and cavatelli with lemon butter.

Scottsdale newcomer Modern Steak did ahi tuna poke – why do steakhouses insist on showcasing raw tuna? – and a beet salad.

Matt Carter (Zinc, The Mission, Nine/05) was one of five chefs who gave cooking demos.

Olive & Ivy, one of Modern Steak’s Sam Fox siblings, seems to roll out veal-and-spinach ravioli at every festival. But I always seem to like the Scottsdale restaurant’s desserts, and a small Guinness cupcake with Guinness icing was no exception.

Yet another Fox restaurant, True Food Kitchen, did edamame dumplings and kale salad.

Former Wall Street Journal restaurant critic Raymond Sokolov answered people’s questions during one of the day’s seminars.

Arcadia Farms brought its usual – pulled pork on a corn cake.

Tarbell’s had a crew of a half-dozen just to scoop sloppy joe sliders with aged cheddar. But I didn’t see chef Mark Tarbell all day.

Fossil Creek Creamery didn’t splurge on the size of its goat’s milk fudge samples, but they did taste great.

Cheese maven Lara Hardwick, on the other hand, handed out nice-sized pieces of several different cheeses …

… as well as thinly sliced charcuterie from her Petit Fromage shop.

Scottsdale’s Taggia offered a crab-and-ricotta ravioli.

District chef Nathan Crouser was a hit at last year’s fest with his playful takes on comfort foods.

He created one of my first-day favorites – mini cheesy corn dogs made by battering pieces of Schreiner’s cheese dogs.

District also served red velvet whoopie pies.

Sam Pillsbury (on right) was one of several Arizona winemakers pouring their wines.

Phoenix’s Cheuvront Restaurant and Wine had salmon pate topped with caviar and served on crostini.

Phoenix’s Chelsea Kitchen had shrimp ceviche and brussels sprout salad.

Curry lamb sliders from Phoenix’s Fez were flavorful.

This year’s festival featured more comfortable seating, but it still was hard to get.

Switch did something a little different with its beef-and-veal meatloaf, serving it Wellington-style with house-made ketchup. I would have liked it better if it wasn’t cold.

Ticoz offered grilled shrimp and “guacammus” tostadas.

The most colorful dish of the day had to be Arizona sweet shrimp with yellow tomato gazpacho, cilantro pesto and smashed avocado from the Arizona Biltmore’s Frank & Albert’s.

Maizie’s Cafe‘s Chili Roja de la Casa.

Chef Christopher Gross (right) chats in front of the Christopher’s Crush tent.

Gross catered to the sweet tooth with his fabulous gateau Marjolaine.

Prado chef Claudio Urciuoli apparently had a cold head.

Prado dished out a mix of baby artichokes, olives, parmesan and balsamic vinegar.

Last stop: Postino Wine Cafe had a selection of its popular bruschetta.

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Il Vinaio hosts Gourmet Donut & Beer Pairing

Beer goes well with a variety of foods — pizza, burgers, wings …

But doughnuts?

Find out for yourself when downtown Mesa restaurant Il Vinaio holds its second annual Gourmet Donut & Beer Pairing next Saturday (March 20).

From 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., you can get a flight of four different doughnuts, each paired with its own 4-ounce beer sample, for $10, including:

• Ricotta fritter (with Four Peaks Hefeweizen);

• Beignet with vanilla sugar (with Firestone Double Barrel Ale);

• Strawberry filled (with Firestone Union Jack IPA)’

• Ibarra chocolate cake (with Firestone Velvet Merkin).

Chef Patrick Bol will be cooking all doughnuts to order. Reservations are requested so the restaurant can determine how many doughnuts Bol will need to make.

Il Vinaio, 270 W. Main St., is located on the northeast corner of Country Club and Main. Info: (480) 649-6476 or www.ilvinaio.com.

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Chandler restaurant giving away $500 meal

Cork, the award-winning restaurant in south Chandler, is celebrating its second anniversary by giving away a $500 dinner for four, complete with wine pairings.

Every bottle of wine you purchase at the restaurant through March 27 enters you into a raffle for the five-course dinner. Each bottle, regardless of price, is worth one entry.

Second- and third-place winners will receive $100 and $50 gift cards. The winner will be drawn March 28.

Also, Cork will be hosting a five-course Jordan wine dinner — featuring the California winery’s outstanding chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons — at 6:30 p.m. March 22.

The menu will include chilled duck breast salad, a surf-and-turf combo of Japanese mero and Wagyu short rib, a roasted boar chop, an almond-and-spinach-crusted prime tenderloin and olive oil sherry pound cake.

The dessert will be paired with Jordan’s 1982 late-harvest Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend, which the winery sells for $250 for a 750-milliliter bottle.

Cost of the dinner is $95 plus tax and tip.

Cork, 4991 S. Alma School Road, Chandler, is open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner and Sunday for brunch. Info: (480) 883-3773 or www.corkrestaurant.netChandler.

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Devoured culinary fest makes debut this weekend

Here’s the excuse you were looking for to put your diet on hiatus: The inaugural Devoured culinary festival debuts this weekend.

Chefs from more than 50 of the Valley’s top restaurants will offer samples of their most popular dishes Saturday and Sunday in the sculpture garden of Phoenix Art Museum.

The event, initiated by Local First Arizona, also will include wine and craft beer tastings, food seminars, cooking demonstrations, art exhibits, films and live music.

Admission, $65 for one day or $90 for two, includes all food, drink and activities.

Some restaurants will participate both days; others will be there either Saturday or Sunday. A sample of their scheduled offerings:

• Chicken mole, cochinita pibil and shrimp pibil from Barrio Café’s Silvana Saloido Esparza, who was just nominated for a James Beard Award;

• Fresh-pulled mozzarella, local farmers market ragout and homemade pasta from Caffe Boa’s Payton Curry;

• Reconstructed Monte Cristo sandwiches from SanTan Brewing’s Dennis Martinez;

• Double Check Ranch meatballs from FnB’s Charleen Badman;

• Crab cake sliders with chipotle cole slaw from The Phoenician’s Paul Carter;

• Breakfast of Champions (pound cake with house-made frosted flake ice cream) from Cowboy Ciao pastry chef Country Velador;

• Goat milk fudge from Fossil Creek Creamery’s John Bittner.

Aaron May (Mabel’s on Main, Over Easy), Matt Carter (Nine/05, The Mission, Zinc), James Porter (pictured at top, Petite Maison), Christopher Gross (Christopher’s Crush) and Damon Brasch (Green) will be among chefs giving hourly demonstrations on stage.

Hourly seminars will be held by speakers ranging from Raymond Sokolov, author of the Wall Street Journal’s Eating Out column, to Arizona winemaker Eric Glomski.

“Blood Into Wine,” a new documentary featuring Glomski and business partner Maynard James Keenan, will be shown at 11:30 a.m. both days.

Festival attendees also will have full access to museum galleries, including the current “Ansel Adams: Discoveries” exhibition.

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N. Central Ave.
How much: $65 for one-day admission, $90 for two days; free parking in Viad garage across Central Avenue.
Info: (480) 657-7333 or www.phxart.org/devoured

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Gilbert's NYPD Pizza, Tempe's La Bocca host fundraisers

A couple of East Valley restaurants are hosting fundraisers for worthy causes Wednesday.

From 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., volunteers from local fire departments will be waiting on tables and donating their tips to the Muscular Dystrophy Association at NYPD Pizza,  211 E. Warner Road, Gilbert. Info: (480) 632-6973.

From 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., La Bocca Urban Pizzeria + Wine Bar, 699 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, will donate 25 percent of all sales to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Info: (480) 967-5244.

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5 to try: Where to go after Cactus League games

I don’t need a calendar to tell when March arrives. I can tell by the frequent phone calls all asking the same basic question:

“We’re here from out of town to watch some Cactus League baseball and were wondering if you could recommend some good places to eat after a game …”

Typically, these callers aren’t asking for a list of the top restaurants in town. After all, there are plenty of Valley dining guides where you can get that information.

No, they’re looking for affordable places that complement their game-watching experience. With that in mind, here are five places I love to hit after a game:

Diamond’s Sports Grille: Chicago Cubs fans have been flocking to this restaurant and sports bar since it originally opened as Harry and Steve’s (owned by then-Cubs broadcasters Harry Caray and Steve Stone) in the mid-1980s. The place has undergone several name changes over the years, but the menu of burgers and sandwiches has remained basically the same, making it still a favorite post-game destination for fans and players alike. 161 N. Centennial Way, Mesa, (480) 844-3888.

Pier 54: If you don’t know a game of pepper from a can of corn, the allure of Cactus League games for you probably has to do with soaking up sunshine during the middle of the afternoon. There’s no better place to continue the “action” than at this all-outdoors restaurant on the shore of a small urban lake. Enjoy tasty salads, burgers, paninis and pizzas on the three levels of patio before making your own s’mores for dessert. 5394 S. Lakeshore Drive, Tempe, (480) 820-0660.

Il Vinaio: Recently remodeled and renamed, this all-day restaurant and wine bar stands next to the Mezona Inn, the longtime spring home of the Cubs. Every day, as many as 80 of the young players who stay at the motel grab breakfast before heading to the ballpark. Lunch is mostly sandwiches. Generously portioned dinner entrees, such a pork chop Milanese ($17) or braised lamb ragout with fettucine ($15), are outstanding as well as reasonably priced. 270 W. Main St., Mesa, (480) 649-6476.

Don & Charlie’s: The 800 autographed baseballs lining the entryway (pictured at top) are just beginning at this landmark Chicago-style steakhouse, a low-key destination for famous athletes, politicians and celebrities for decades. Check out the photos, magazine covers, jerseys and other memorabilia that cover the walls (and some of the ceiling) in the bar and dining room while waiting for a delicious steak, prime rib or barbecue ribs from the dinner-only menu. 7501 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale, (480) 990-0900.

Teakwoods Tavern & Grill: Why pay inflated ballpark prices for food and drink when there are four of these neighborhood favorites all around the Valley? The buckets of roasted peanuts are free, and every day offers a different set of drink specials. Burgers, such as the baseball-themed Teaks Touches ‘Em All Burger ($10.99), take center stage, but a huge menu also includes appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrees.  Locations in Chandler, Gilbert, Phoenix and Maricopa.

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Romeo Taus joins Chef du Moo series Saturday

Romeo’s Euro Cafe owner Romeo Taus (pictured above) will be the guest chef for Superstition Farms‘ second Chef Du Moo farm-to-table dinner, part of a monthly series that  showcases local meats, produce and other ingredients.

The four “Euro-West” courses Saturday will be:

• Smoked ham savory cheesecake, brazed Tuscan kale, pancetta gastrique, confetti slaw (pictured below);

• Roasted beets, fennel, scallions, red cabbage, oranges, herbed cheese, honey, extra-virgin olive oil, citrus dressing, sea salt buttered cibatta bread topped with radishes;

• Grilled pork tenderloin and bacon pinwheels, cauliflower puree, roasted carrots, red chard-wrapped garlic flan, Sonoran BBQ sauce.

• Beet terrine with white chocolate, palmiers and “a rockin’ surprise.”

A cocktail hour starts at 5:30 p.m. with dinner at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $40 person or $65 with wine pairings.

Superstition Farm is located off Elliot Road, between Sossaman Road and the Loop 202. Reservations: (480) 380-1277 or www.superstitionfarmtours.com.

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EVIT's Mystery Chef Dinner to be held Thursday

The East Valley Institute of Technology‘s annual “Mystery Chef Dinner” will be held Thursday. Twelve Valley chefs will create a meal around this year’s theme ingredient: cheese.

Chefs aren’t revealed until the dinner. Past participants have included Beau MacMillan (Elements), Mark Tarbell (Tarbell’s) and Richard Dupere (Ritz-Carlton).

Guests also won’t know which chef’s table they’re seated at until the dinner begins.

The evening begins with hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $65 with all proceeds going to culinary student scholarships. The dinner will be held in the culinary department’s banquet room at EVIT, 1601 W. Main St., Mesa.

For reservations, call Tracie Guerrero at (480) 461-4139.

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