Day One of Devoured
I have to start by saying despite the menopausal weather and what must have been record breaking attendance, I had a great time at Devoured. While I wasn’t able to stay for the entire event, based on not being able to tolerate the crowds (that’s mostly my issue, not the organizers’ for sure) the dishes that I tasted were mostly impressive and the vendors were enthusiastic, informative and welcoming. The crowd was plentiful yet patient, which was a huge plus.
The list of participating restaurants and vendors was impressive; a total of 46 based on the Devoured website. I think I made my way through at least half of that.
The best thing that I tried? That’s a tough call…how about the top five? *in no particular order*
Sushi Roku | Hanabi This crispy rice cake topped with spicy tuna was just lovely. When I approached the table they had just been cleaned but in the time that it took for me to jot down some information a fresh batch appeared before my eyes. It was hot and crispy with the perfect tinge of spice from the tuna. No wonder they received the 2012 Best Food award from the Scottsdale Culinary Festival.
Tonto Bar and Grill | Ancho Chile Seared Diver Scallops These little rounds of perfection were served with a smoked Arizona sweet corn puree, crispy Berkshire bacon, avocado foam and a hand-picked prickly pear gastrique. Word must have traveled fast as the line was long for this offering but definitely worth the wait.
Arrogant Butcher | Shrimp, chicken and sausage Jambalaya With the weather being slightly chilled as when I first arrived, this was the first offering I tried and it definitely hit the spot. Slightly spicy and a comforting mix of flavors combined with the slight crispiness, this dish set the bar for the rest of presentations.
Taggia at Firesky | Vitello Tonnato The veal with smoked tonnato emulsion, pickled locally farmed eggs and a gherkin pesto. An absolute perfect bite. This classic Italian summer dish left me with a strong desire to scrap my Disneyland plans next week and get myself to Milan immediately. Since that’s not a possibility, I will just need to be sure to get to Taggia more regularly!
Davanti Enoteca | Porchetta sandwiches Delectable little packages of multi layered flavor reside within these generous portions. Detailed with broccoli rabe pesto and giardiniera on an au jus soaked house made bun elevated this sub sandwich to exquisite heights. Chef Peter DeRuvo never fails to amaze my taste buds.
Speaking of Chef DeRuvo, I gained some respite from the crowded walkways and paths and grabbed a seat in anticipation for his presentation at 12:15pm. Always guaranteed to put on a show, I knew that his instructional session on creating Uovo in Raviolo ‘San Domenico’, which consists of a large ravioli filled with ricotta, spinach and a touch pecorino romano topped with an intact egg which is then boiled and adorned with a brown butter sauce. Chef called for three volunteers from the audience and three lovely women stepped up. He was accompanied by his Sous Chef Jordan, which he noted that his wife claimed to be his ‘work wife’ and you could see that their relationship was one of complete understanding and encouragement. Chef even noted at one point, shortly after the anecdote regarding his wife, that he loved her and while note on mic, you could see that Chef Jordan noted that she loved him more. Ever the charmer, he cat-called to passer bys as well as encouraging audience participation with multiple questions throughout his presentation. He quizzed the audience on what regions specific cheeses came from and from what animal. The volunteers participated in the rolling of fresh pasta, to blanching the spinach and creating the brown butter sauce. All three ladies were great sports and were subsequently rewarded with gift certificates to Davanti Enoteca.
The day was enjoyable, even with my personal limitations. I enjoyed the fact that they opened up a bit of the space within the museum for sweets and wine sales. I am hoping that feedback regarding the setup (which more than likely could not have been avoided based on current developments within the property) will be addressed for subsequent events.
I love the festival and all that it represents and look forward to additions and developments each year. Kudos to all the participants, not only on Saturday but Sunday as well. Looking forward to next year already!
Written by Taryn Jeffries, PhoenixBites Staff Writer