Best food at azcentral Wine & Food Experience during Sunday’s Grand Tasting

Wild shrimp ceviche with Persian cucumber and kelp noodle salad and chile yuzu vinaigrette from J&G Steakhouse at azcentral Wine & Food Experience 2018 at WestWorld of Scottsdale, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018.

We’re not saying it’s a contest, but if we were… well, you be the judge.

Hot on the heels of some of Saturday’s best dishes, the Sunday crew brought a whole ton of deliciousness to day two of the 2018 azcentral Wine & Food Experience.

From the slick and refined to the simple and satisfying, here are some standouts from the second half of the Grand Tasting:

Smoked sockeye salmon from Cartwright’s Modern Cuisine

It was one of the simpler dishes of the day, but chef Brett Vibber’s salmon dish was dynamite, driven by a gorgeous wild-caught salmon and sweet corn with just a light touch of cream and a fresh, bright pop. A little spice on the salmon, a touch of aioli with togarashi (a Japanese chile and spice blend), and this dish was wanting for nothing.

PHOTOS: AARÓN SÁNCHEZ, MARCUS SAMUELSSON, BEST MOMENTS

Beef barbacoa taco from Taco Chelo

Chef Suny Santana’s dish was bold and confident, an unpretentious taco built on a thick, steaming tortilla and a pile of silky, rich beef barbacoa. A little onion and cilantro and a splash of salsa was all this needed. I’ve sampled festival tacos thrice as complicated that didn’t have half this amount of pure flavor.

Green chile chowder fries from Chula Seafood

Chefs Juan Zamora and Kyle Kent tag-teamed a dish that was a whole mess of tasty fun. They ladled a green chile-laced clam chowder over thick, steaming Frites Street fries, then plied them with bacon and pickled corn and jalapeños for a little tart kick. Upscale? Not exactly. Dang tasty? You betcha.

Pumpkin parmesan soup from Quiessence at The Farm

At an event like this, it takes a little finesse to make soup pop, and that’s just what chef Dustin Christofolo provided in the form of rum-poached raisins, fried sage and a juicy, crisp fried chanterelle mushroom. A pitch-perfect pumpkin soup with a nice salty lick sure didn’t hurt, either.

Aged Arizona beef carpaccio from Quiessence at The Farm

At some point I’m going to have to stop featuring Christofolo’s beef carpaccio dishes, but they’re always so thoughtfully done — a gorgeous balance of flavors and textures. Here, cool beef is in a crisp parmesan “taco” shell with garlicky aioli, crisp fried shallot rings and a bit of pickled okra.

Aleppo grilled bison steak from Different Pointe of View

Different Pointe of View always puts out a pretty plate, but their offering this year was an especially tasty specimen. They put two luscious, juicy slips of grilled bison on top of a meltingly tender polenta cake spiked with cheddar and chiles. Add a bit of sweet potato puree and a pomegranate port reduction, balance everything just so and you’ve got a really nice dish.

John & Yoko cake from Super Chunk Sweets & Treats

Oh, man. The glass is deep and if you aren’t careful you’ll fall in and drown. Country Velador’s take on tres leches cake is unabashedly gooey and creamy and sweet, soaked with cinnamon tres leches all the way down and topped with a dusty sweet crumble of honeycomb candy. It’s just good. Really good.

TOP 100 LIST:The ultimate guide to the top Phoenix restaurants

PHOTOS: SCOTT CONANT & MARCUS SAMUELSSON AT MORA ITALIAN

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *