Crave Arizona lives up to its name

Crave Arizona

After spending the weekend in a foie gras- and pork belly-induced haze,  my usual bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios this morning seems a little mundane. I’m referring, of course, to the Arizona Grand Tasting, the finale of the three-day Crave Arizona culinary festival in Old Town Scottsdale.

I didn’t get to every single dish Saturday, but I tried most of them. While many were impressive, here are the ones I’ll most remember:

Crave ArizonaEstate House hit the sweet spot with foie-stuffed figs rolled in gianduja chocolate and hazelnuts with a sour cherry gastrique (pictured at left on top).

Petite Maison shared one of its popular late-night treats: roasted bone marrow with a red wine gastrique (second from top).

Metro Brasserie did a nice double-take on pork with charcuterie topped with pork rind (third from top).

Talavera also brought lollipops, in this case slightly tart mango cheesecake ones coated with crushed almonds (bottom).

Not all dishes were complex. BLT Steak kept things simple yet delicious with slices of American wagyu hanger steak. Recently opened Crudo did the same with rich butterfish.

Sweet Republic literally trucked in a pair of its artisan ice creams (blue cheese and Medjool date, bacon) as well as a couple sorbets (Cabernet pear, cantaloupe).

Short ribs were popular, from Kazimierz‘s tacos to Cafe ZuZu‘s on cheesy grits. So was pork belly, whose proponents included Cowboy Ciao and Deseo.

Sassi served up the day’s most-filling samples: Italian sausages on a roll topped with “Roman slaw” and housemade brown mustard, freshly fried Yukon Gold potato chips and seasoned beans.

The wineries represented alone were worth the price of the event’s $75 ticket. I was surprised I never saw a line at the Dunn’s Vineyard table, where they were pouring from $125 bottles of 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon.

In fact, many of the more notable wines — from Justin‘s Isosceles to Quintessa‘s Faust — seemed to draw the least interest from festivalgoers. I’m not sure what that says about the Valley’s wine palate.

Did you go to the Grand Tasting? If so, what were your favorite dishes?

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