Greetings Foodies! The Scottsdale Culinary Festival wrapped up this weekend! As I mentioned in my recap of the Wine and Chocolate Event, this year they celebrated their 37th anniversary, which makes it the longest running event of its type in the nation. The Festival hosted over 35,000 guests, 20 events, 100 restaurants, dozens of top chefs and countless fine wine and spirit selections. The six day festival offered a diverse menu of luxurious dinners, themed cocktail parties and the signature event, the Great Arizona Picnic, featuring 50 restaurants, chef demonstrations, live bands and specialty tasting venues.
The festival is the primary fundraiser for the Scottsdale League for the Arts. The League’s mission is to support artists, art programs, and arts education through fundraising and special events. Since 2002, the League has donated over $4 million to arts organizations in Arizona.
This past Sunday we attended The Great Arizona Picnic. We purchased the Picnic Party Pass which was worth the money for the Southwest Festival of Beers alone. But alas, I am getting ahead of myself. Similar to the Taco Festival and the Street Truck Food Festival, the event’s food and drinks were not included but rather required the purchase of tickets. Considering the events price was significantly lower than other inclusive food events this didn’t bother me.
Mister and I each got ourselves $20 in tickets and we were set. We did a lap around the event, which was held at the Scottsdale Civic Center, and decided to start in on the Southwest Festival of Beers. After visiting with local brewery OHSO and trying the amazing grapefruit ale of Traveler Brewing Company we headed out to get some food.
We tried several places such as Roy’s (Lobster Potsticker and sushi roll), El Hefe Tacos (Duck Carnitas taco), Sushi Roku (Crispy Pork Belly, Salmon Poke, and Watermelon Gazpacho), and San Tan Brewing (Brisket Mac and Cheese). Feeling a little full, we decided to grab a few more of our beers (20 4 oz pours were included and of course we planned ahead to be responsible and took a Lyft to and from the event) before heading into the Epicurean Expo.
Once in the Epicurean Expo area we wandered around, tried some wine and waited for the next chef demo. The demo happened to be featuring none other than Chef Christopher Gross. Chef Gross demoed his lobster pasta and tomato tea. In the demo Chef Gross showed us how seemingly green lobster pasta (flavored with lobster roe) turns pink once cooked.
After the chef demo we sampled the Arizona Cocktail Week cocktails. The three cocktails offered were all quite different. We really enjoyed the Canadian Mule which unlike its cousin the Moscow Mule had whiskey instead of vodka. The drink also featured homemade ginger beer which was great!
Overall, The Great Arizona picnic was an awesome event. It was well organized, the food and drink vendors were good and the setting was perfect. One of the really nice things about this event and others like it is that you can expose yourself to restaurants you might not think to try otherwise. We really enjoyed ourselves and can’t wait to attend again next year! Until next time!
Enjoy What You Eat!