It’s that time of year again! Time to crowd into the courtyard at the Phoenix Art Museum, nearly elbow to elbow with other valley dwellers, all in the name of some damn fine food and drink. Let’s go to Devoured!
Tickets to this 2-day event sold out long ago. Luckily, I was able to snag a staff lanyard as an employee of Urban Cookies Bakeshop! So, I made my way to the museum with my foodie friend Dusty in tow, and we made a day out of stuffing ourselves with some of the Phoenix area’s finest eats.
Devoured Food + Wine Classic is held this year in the first weekend of March. This is Devoured’s 5th year, and boy is the event going strong! There’s no better place to try such a varied bunch of local restaurants all in one place. Last year was my first time attending Devoured, and it was my most favorite food-centric thing I did all year long. Could you say I was excited to attend this year? Oh yes.
Since this is the 5th year of Devoured Food + Wine Classic, I thought I’d present my top 5 favorite dishes from this year’s event. Mind you, I only attended on the first day, so I can’t say these are necessarily the best of the whole event. They are, however, the dishes that made me stop in my tracks and say daaaaaaaaamn.
Without further ado, here we go!
#5 (it’s a tie!)
Katsuura Tuna with Radish, Carrot, Cabbage + Avocado
These two offerings from Metropolis were expertly paired. A little bed of crispy radish, carrot and cabbage was topped with a perfectly fried and grease-free won ton chip, a small piece of tuna, a sprinkling of sesame seeds and a little dollop of pureed avocado. When the vegetables were scooped up on top of the tuna and the whole thing popped into the mouth, it was crispy and creamy and tender all at once. The perfect light palate cleanser, the non-alcoholic ginger-pear spritzer was full of the taste of ripe pears. Following that was a little heat from the ginger, which was not at all overpowering. The crispy tuna bite coupled with the pear drink was wonderfully light, refreshing and elegant.
Doc’s Artisan Ice Creams:
Piña Colada Popsicle
First off, I’m a sucker for anything with pineapple and coconut. Doc’s Artisan Ice Creams surely delivered with their little sample-sized piña colada popsicle! They had a whole list of flavors to choose from, ranging from strawberry, blackberry-cabernet, and coconut-lime, but I knew the piña colada was for me. The texture was what struck me first, after taking a small bite out of the corner. It was very smooth and almost creamy, with very small ice crystals. This is what a popsicle should be. The flavor came next, and it was all-natural, fresh and tart. I’m willing to bet there was some rum in there, but it didn’t overshadow the fruit at all. I’d gladly stock up on these to munch on all summer long. And Doc Brown, the company’s lead artisan? What a nice guy! It doesn’t hurt that his name made me think of Back To The Future.
Skirt Steak with Shisho Chimichurri
I had high hopes for Roka Akor this year, and they surely delivered. Last year’s offering of bison short rib was splendid, and this year was no exception. Their booth beckoned from several yards away, with their giant grill pumping out clouds of the most heavenly-smelling smoke. I couldn’t tell what sort of tasty meat they were cooking up, but I followed the smoke cloud to find out. It was an amazingly tender piece of prime skirt steak, grilled a perfect medium with an excellent char, served atop a lovely shisho chimichurri sauce. I could tell before even eating this steak that it was going to be out of this world, and boy was I right. Tender is an understatement. The chimichurri was perfectly made and was abundant with garlic, which was not at all a bad thing. Even with the strong flavor of the sauce, the steak’s flavor came through perfectly. One of the best pieces of steak I’ve eaten in some time.
“Chicken Fried” Steak
Whaaaaaaaat. This was crazy good.
The first outdoor booth I hit upon arriving at Devoured, I was super glad that the T. Cook’s booth had plenty of their samples left to try by the time I got there. Last year their lamb chop with Israeli cous cous was the hit of the first day, but they ran out before I could try it. This year, T. Cook’s was on my must-try list. Their cleverly named “Chicken Fried” Steak was the most tender piece of ribeye I’ve ever eaten in my life, cooked sous vide style and covered with a foie gras gravy and some crispy chicken skin, all nestled into a pile of impossibly creamy whipped potatoes. Oh. My. God. This was one of the few dishes I actually got seconds of, and I would have gotten thirds had I not been so full by the time I made my last lap. The chicken flavor came through well, and the ribeye was almost as creamy as the potatoes. T. Cook’s, you’ve done it again. I can’t wait to see what you’ll have next year.
Pork Belly with Radish + Cabbage Slaw and Maple Glaze
Rfdfhskvmwdngslgdksjldfkg. I think my brain short-circuited when I ate this.
I seriously had no words for a brief moment. Bootleggers‘ pork belly dish was phenomenal. You know how when you take a bite of some really really ridiculously good food, all your senses are sort of muted, except for your sense of taste? It was pretty much like that. Rich without being fatty, juicy without being soggy, this piece of smoked pork belly almost defies description. The slaw on top was accompanied by some really outstanding dill pickles which, to me, just sent the whole thing over the top. The vinegar and garlic bite of the pickles was just the thing to temper all the richness of the pork. By the time I ate this dish, I was about at the end of my eating for the day, but I would have gladly stuffed myself with this pork belly to the point of being sick. Did you know that Bootleggers offers this pork belly as a sandwich?! Sheer madness. The crew at Bootleggers really knows what they’re doing, and it shows.
Want more from this year’s first day of Devoured? Check out my slideshow!
I couldn’t have asked for a better, more food-filled day! I’m already looking forward to next year, and all the awesome restaurants that’ll be in attendance.