Top Five Phoenix Food Stories of the Week

Every week, there's a cornucopia of Phoenix food news, features, and reviews to report here at Chow Bella. If you're like most people, you probably just don't have the time to get to all of it. It's kind of like those burgers at Old Town Whiskey; it just won't all fit in your mouth ... or in this case, your day. So, here's a recap of some of the top stories from the week that you may have missed.

Shaken or Stirred? Mixologist Micah Olson Explains the Difference

Park your butt on a bar stool at any decent bar in town, and you'll see a whole lot of shaking going on. These days (the third wave of the American Cocktail Revolution), lots of cocktails are shaken, though few are stirred. Questions are: why and how?

Micah Olson, bartender-owner of Bar Crudo, has some simple answers that should make the whole shaken versus stirred dichotomy as clear as crystal ice.

According to Olson, shaking is a bartender's "song and dance" and "mating call." But here's the important thing: the shake should be hard and long (don't even go there), allowing the liquid to move all the way from one end of the canister to the other.

Here are a few facts and rules to file away.

--Nikki Buchanan

El Chiltepin: Mozzarella, Al Pastor, and the "Mother of All Peppers" in One, Offbeat Eatery

El Chiltepin is as much a restaurant as it is a mad scientist's laboratory. Perfect given that Halloween is less than a week away. And at this offbeat eatery, you'll find "treats" consisting of tasty traditional Mexcian favorites as well as a parade of Frankenstein-style street food that's fun and (when it works) surprisingly flavorful.

The mix of culinary chaos and straightforward standards comes courtesy of owners Carmen Mendoza and Osvaldo Hernandez. The longtime couple (and first-timers in the restaurant business) have been training on the job since they opened El Chiltepin, in the heart of a south-side Mexican neighborhood, in March 2011.

As in any laboratory, some El Chiltepin experiments yield successful results, and others, well, not so much. But there's enough good eats on the menu -- many unheard of in the Valley -- that make the place worth popping by if you're in the neighborhood.

Check out this week's full review.

--Laura Hahnefeld

Sommelier Dave Johnson Suggests Wines to Drink with Your Halloween Candy

So, you're hosting a Halloween party. Worried your wine selection might conflict with, say, the appearance of supermarket cupcakes? Or a bag of fun-sized Snickers? We've got you covered. After a conversation with sommelier David Johnson of Davanti Enoteca we feel better about recommending the following choices that digest beautifully with sugar.

--Kate Crowley


Nikki Tries Two Dozen Tacos and Lives to Talk About It: Judging the Arizona Taco Festival

What made me think judging tacos would be a pleasant way to while away an afternoon? This is the question I asked myself -- about 12 tacos in -- at the Arizona Taco Festival held at Salt River Fields last Saturday.

Don't get me wrong. I love tacos. And I've judged competitions before, so I knew going in that it wasn't going to be a piece of cake, so to speak. I guess what I didn't understand is what eating 24 tacos -- or really, 24 anything -- would feel like.

Here's how it went down -- literally.

--Nikki Buchanan

10 Favorite Places for Pozole in Greater Phoenix

Pozole (pronounced poh-SOH-lay) just might be the ideal Mexican comfort food. Enjoyed nearly everywhere in Mexico and throughout the American Southwest, the hearty meat broth, laced with chile and enhanced with hominy (essentially dried maize kernels soaked in lime) boasts several variations. Most feature pork garnished with shredded lettuce, onion, radishes, oregano, and sometimes chicarron (fried pork skin), chile, and tostadas.

And the soup's color -- red, white, or green (pozole rojo, pozole blanco, o pozole verde) -- depends upon the color of the ingredients used. Namely, the color of the corn and peppers.

But the best part of pozole may be the many ways in which it can be prepared. From the traditional, to the more modern, to all-out gourmet, no two places prepare it exactly the same way.

Now get those spoons ready. Here are 10 of our favorites.

--Laura Hahnefeld

Don't forget to check out Chow Bella's continuing list of 100 Tastemakers.

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