BEST BALLS Phoenix 2005 - Calf Fries at Stockyards Restaurant
Come on down to the sign of E.A. Tovrea's "circle-walking-L" brand, and enter an era where the men were men, the women wore dresses, and the calves were scared. And no, they weren't afraid of any, er, animal husbandry. Rather, it was all those cowpokes walking around with buckets filled with the gonads of their brethren. See, "calf fries" are just a euphemism for the testicles of young calves, fried up and served with a spicy chipotle relish. Tastes like chicken? No, tastes like veal, which it is. Very soft and juicy veal, as you might expect considering the source. The same glands from not-so-young cattle are often referred to as "mountain" or "prairie" oysters. We get the oyster part, because there is something about the texture which is, well, oystery. And "prairie" makes sense. But "mountain"? When's the last time you saw a cow on a mountain? Anyway, the Stockyards was once the biggest feed lot in the West, if not the country, supporting 40,000 head. The feed lot came first, the restaurant second, to feed the cowboys and cattle barons, folk not terribly squeamish about eating cow cojónes. That's how the tradition began, and now that the Stockyards has reopened after a long renovation, even a tenderfoot like you can enjoy a platter of the best balls in the Valley. Yum.