Some go for the naseau/adrenaline-inducing rides. Some go for the chance to win a massive Scooby Doo. Others go to pet the cows and llamas. Everyone goes for the food. The Arizona State Fair is in its first full week and crazy-food lovers won't be disappointed by this year's concessions offerings. There's the normal fare of funnel cakes and fry bread of course, but for the more daring, there's plenty to give your tastebuds their very own ride on the whirligig. Read on for a rundown of the sweetest, messiest and whackiest grub at the fair.
Tucked in-between an Italian sausage concession stand and a beer “garden” in section 114 of University of Phoenix Stadium, a chocolate fruit kebob stand feels like a welcoming oasis, surrounded by the smoky smells of typical stadium grub. Sporting an assortment of different delicious delicacies, including frozen cheesecake, a caramel apple blossom and the most popular, strawberry banana kebob, YumShack is offering football fans with a sweet tooth a chance to treat themselves during the game.
As the Valley takes a collective breath of relief and Phoenicians start to venture out from their air-conditioned caves, chefs across town are rolling out fall menus loaded with hearty autumnal foods – gourds galore! The Thirsty Lion debuted six fall dishes in September, including this Grilled Shrimp & Butternut Squash Risotto.
Executive chef Keith Castro says the dish is great to prepare at home, depending on how much time you have. “Risotto is a labor of love,” he says. “The actual risotto part of the recipe takes the better part of an hour to do it correctly.”
Pringles Pumpkin Pie Spice potato chips: These limited edition crisps debuted in 2012, were quickly discontinued, and are now much sought-after (and probably very stale) on sites like eBay and amazon.com.
Fans of Bobby-Q in Phoenix will find some familiar flavors at the new East Valley outpost – wood-fired steaks, saucy St. Louis-style ribs, and the cheesiest, most gooey mac and cheese around (made with five different cheeses). The menus at the venues are the same, but the new Bobby-Q -- which opened to the public on October 3 -- has some fresh amenities, too.
The Feel: Like sitting in a really cool collage of Americana. Restaurateur Bob Sikora has a big personality and favors several seemingly disparate design elements that somehow comfortably come together. He’s big on lighting, and before the new restaurant opened, he sat in every single seat and booth to check the spot’s luminousness. There’s soft blue lighting under the bar and around the bar racks. He also loves big, leafy green indoor plants, and they hang around and over various parts of the massive restaurant, along with too many flat-screen TVs to count, custom-made sconces with bent silverware sculpture bases, and old timey light fixtures. The social lounge features gorgeous handcrafted juniper tables inlaid with turquoise and copper, custom leather chairs and sofas, and antique steel mirrors. Brick and wood abound. A DJ turns the lounge into a disco dance hall late at night, but during the day, classic rock rules the restaurant speakers.
When you think about eating a salad, you probably envision cold, crisp lettuce in a bowl brimming with fresh vegetables. But have you ever cooked your greens on the barbecue? At Nook Kitchen, Executive Chef Nick LaRosa grills up a warm romaine salad and it’s hearty enough to serve with a steak knife.
“I put everything in there that I like to eat – bacon, tomatoes, cucumbers and hard boiled eggs,” he says of the recipe. Customers sometimes add poached shrimp, grilled chicken or a short rib. “That’s a serious salad.”
#1: SunUp Brewing Co. Oktoberfest
The only Oktoberfest beer on this list tops it by virtue of its perfect balance of crisp hops and lightly toasted malts. A medium-bodied, effervescent, eminently drinkable amber. 6.2% ABV. sunup.beer
#2: Perch Brewery Rosemary IPA
This golden IPA has a frothy head and a slightly hoppy nose but no bitter finish whatsoever. There’s a slightly spicy rosemary bite at the back of the palate, but so gentle it’s more like a nibble. 6% ABV. perchpubbrewery.com
The leaves on the trees may not be changing color, but the vibes of autumn are all around in the Valley of the Sun – the cooler temperatures, the Halloween decorations, the Thanksgiving recipes, the pumpkin spice-flavored everything, and best of all – the flavorful fall craft cocktails at local lounges. Here are five favorites, with nary a pumpkin spice-anything among them.
El Segundo (The Parlor): mezcal, watermelon, Apertivo Capalletti, lime, black pepper. $11
With a subtle spice pinch and smoky tones from mezcal ebbing and flowing into a soothing, mellow melon finish, El Segundo’s like an Autumn equinox of cocktails. Served with mint leaves and a thick watermelon slice garnish over lots of ice. (pictured, left)
Many nights when I’m running late, I’ll stop at the grocery store and buy a roasted chicken. When I get home, I make a quick salad and voilà, dinner is done. But really, with a little advanced planning, roasting my own chicken isn't that much extra work for a simple, delicious dinner at home.
According to Chef Sal Zappone, owner of Zappone’s Italian Bistro, “Everybody loves a great roasted chicken.” His recipe is a take on his mother’s version. “It’s all about using the rosemary and the garlic and letting it marinate so the flavors really develop,” he says.
The 3rd Annual Garlic Fest takes place at Queen Creek Olive Mill this weekend, September 24 and 25, and in anticipation of this fragrant and flavorful festival – and in celebration of this diverse bulb used widely in both cooking and natural medicine – we present five fun facts about garlic. It doesn’t just keep vampires away.
#1: You can make glue with garlic. Crush the cloves, and it’s sticky city. The adhesive agent works especially well for small projects involving fragile material.
Eat and drink your way through the Valley with our delectable daily dispatches on everything from craft cocktail bars to mom-and-pop neighborhood spots. To get food-and-bev news delivered to your inbox, sign up for our Eat Beat newsletter.