Six days of food, wine and music, sounds like a recipe for a great week to me! Celebrating it’s 34th year, the Scottsdale Culinary Festival’s “Great Arizona Picnic” is the place to indulge your taste-buds and give back to the community. (100% of net proceeds go to local arts programs). I have just returned from this event (which takes place every year in April) with the highlights. Next year if you find yourself in The Phoenix area and you have always wanted to try several different restaurants but haven’t had the time, the Picnic is the perfect opportunity to sample fare from over 50 food and beverage exhibitors. Food and beverages are sold separately but the portions are small (so you can try lots of different things) and the prices are reasonable).
Inside the Center for the Performing Arts, is an Epicurean Expo with cookware, knives, cutting-edge appliances and the latest cooking gadgets. There is more food, of course, in this area for you to taste but it’s free (included in Picnic ticket). I sampled everything from olive oil, balsamic vinegars, cheese, breads, sauces and chocolate to name a few. I purchased a wonderful 6 mushroom and white truffle oil balsamic and a marvelous melt-in-your-mouth cheddar. I will be experimenting with these and post the recipes I come up with. (Stay tuned). Local and national chefs were present to demonstrate tricks of the trade. Food Network’s Robin Miller, Host of Quick Fix Meals was there as well as Executive Chef, Akira Back of Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant at the Bellagio Las Vegas.
The Arizona Bartender Guild did “Cocktail Culture” demonstrations and there was something called the Tequila Experience. For beer lovers, a sampling of over 200 beers to complement your snacks was the place to cool off and listen to music. The cute miniature beer mugs were on ropes and worn around the neck.
The Family Zone and live entertainment on multiple stages made for a fantastic foodie family fun day which I completely recommend.
Looks like future food bloggers!
The highlight for me was two special ticketed events. The first was Adam Richman of the Travel Channel’s Man v. Food. He is all about comfort food, has a vast knowledge of mouth-watering local specialties across the country and shared some entertaining food travel stories. His new series is called “Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America”.
The second event starred Andrew Zimmern, also of the Travel Channel. Whether traveling the Amazon or gallivanting around Thailand’s street markets, Andrew finds the most bizarre foods to eat. Not only is he the host of the show appropriately called Bizarre Foods, he is also the co-creator and consulting producer. He is a fabulous story teller and entertained the crowd recanting some of his culinary travel adventures. I concur with his thought that visiting local markets and participating in cultural feasts is an insight into that particular country and her people. I have always believed that through food we really get to taste what is most authentic about a place. But the day would not be complete without Andrew being Andrew, so in true bizarre food form, he prepared a goat recipe, a raw goat recipe … a kind of goat tartar. Yum???
A beautiful day in a beautiful place with friends and family eating, drinking, laughing … did I mention eating?