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Local influencer Jessica Otstot shares her experience during the 2018 Devour Culinary Classic at Desert Botanical Garden, from the delicious dishes to the stellar scenery.

The Scene: 2018 Devour Culinary Classic, featuring award winning chefs providing extraordinary culinary experiences.

The Challenge: Eat and drink all the amazing things Phoenix has to offer in a picture perfect setting at Desert Botanical Garden.

Devour Culinary Classic, otherwise known as the Valley’s premier food festival, is truly a sight to behold. Devour Phoenix has genuinely created an event for the people, in its two-day affair. Formerly held at the Phoenix Art Museum, the event relocated to the Desert Botanical Garden this year.

 

“WITH ITS RELOCATION, DEVOUR OFFICIALLY ENCOMPASSES EVERYTHING WONDERFUL OUR GREAT STATE HAS TO OFFER IN FOOD AND DESTINATION.”

 

The coveted festival is known for being the “Best of the Best” on the local culinary scene. With its relocation, Devour officially encompasses everything wonderful our great state has to offer in food and destination. Devour week continues to be a true celebration of local talent as well as unity of local food and beverage enthusiasts, and it was a delght to experience it all.

Immediately upon entering the event, we were greeted with an amuse-bouche in cocktail form from Windsor, part of the Upward Projects brainchild group, and then it was off to the races! Handlebar Diner was first to tempt us with a buttermilk brined chicken wing smothered with white Alabama sauce and served with jalapeno fried ice cream and sweetcorn dulce de leche cornbread.

Just a hop, skip and jump away we encountered the most delectable flourless chocolate cake topped with peanut butter mousse from Beckett’s Table/Southern Rail. Around the corner, a chicken parm bite with balsamic tomatoes and Calabrian chili aioli from Federal Pizza, another Upward Projects favorite.

We could not have asked for better weather to enjoy all things Arizona. Topping out at a comfortable 67 degrees, it was as if the universe knew it was a day for leisurely strolls through beautifully manicured desert trails, with cocktails in hand. In the Celebrity Eden VIP experience, Devour sponsor Celebrity Cruises was pouring a most refreshing Pisco cocktail dubbed “The Llama.” A mix of Pisco, Fino, lemon, and thyme made for an invigorating mid-afternoon sip, while basking in the sun.

After taking a quick peek into Dorrance Hall to sample some whiskey from Hamilton Distillers, we were met by a quaint little booth hosted by Practical Art, where we scored some intriguing coasters branded with the molecular breakdown of all our favorite vices.

A final stop in Sunset Plaza rewarded us with gorgeous views of the Papago Mountains, a wide array of wine tasting and by far the best dish of the entire event served by The Parlor Pizzeria—a simple cacio e pepe being peppered and tossed in a gigantic wheel of parmesan cheese, right before our eyes.

Other culinary highlights:

Below, left to right:

  • Verrine with passion fruit panna cotta and chocolate cremeaux topped with coconut cookie crumble and guava gelée from Deseo.
  • Szechuan pepper-mezcal braised short rib tacos with doubanjiang, charred scallion and pickled red onion on a cilantro scallion hand pressed tortilla from Crujiente Tacos.
  • Steam buns filled with braised pork belly, wasabi fennel slaw, and bread and butter, pickled jalapeño from Sel.

Below, left to right:

  • European style frites with black truffle aioli from Frites Street. This was another favorite of the day.
  • Anasazi beans with Hayden Flour Mills barley under mesquite cornbread from Elote Café. (Winner of Sunday’s “Excellence in Taste” Award)
  • Wagyu beef with corn pudding and avocado mousse from District American Kitchen.

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DESERT BOTANICAL GARDEN WILL BE CLOSED, NOV. 22 FOR THANKSGIVING.