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.
At the mention of the word "brie," I was immediately terrified for my sister.
For the first time in our lives, Christmas Eve was not going to be at my mother's house, and my sister had stepped up to the plate.
"I've done it for forty years," my mom had announced suddenly. "Figure it out on your own."
It came as a significant shock to most of my family; how would our holiday stay intact if we changed venues? What about tradition? No one's ever decided to light a Christmas tree in front of the Empire State Building, it would be heresy! We had never had Christmas Eve anywhere else, and it was very much akin to my mother canceling the holiday altogether.
"Ugly," "loser," and "moron" may not be the first words that come to mind as a way for a restaurant owner to speak to an unhappy customer, but Amy Bouzaglo chose to use them anyway.
In 2010, the owner of Amy's Baking Company in Scottsdale reacted to a negative, one-star review on Yelp posted by web developer and foodnik Joel LaTondress with an angry tirade that, in addition to the name calling, accused LaTondress of working for the competition.
Things got worse when Chow Bella reported on the fiasco and Bouzaglo responded by posting additional angry comments and arguing with readers.
Some foods transcend being a guilty pleasure, and turn into cult classics. The king of them is McDonald's McRib. Since the sandwich wouldn't sell well as a year-round item, McDonald's concentrates the demand to a few short weeks each year. Foodies with a modicum of self-control can remind themselves that one of the ingredients in the bun is also used in yoga mats. Still, there's a surprising number of people out there who love the sandwich but won't admit it.
Chilaquiles -- a starchy, spicy, comforting dish of quartered and fried corn tortillas, ladled with or simmered in chile sauce -- are one of Mexico's favorite hangover cures. They're also the go-to for thrifty Mexican mamas who want to whip up a quick breakfast and get rid of going-stale tortillas in one delicious swoop.
This once hard-to-find Mexican standby has been co-opted in recent years by American restaurants (Over Easy, Heart and Soul Cafe, FnB and Chelsea's Kitchen come to mind), but for this particular battle, we're going old school, pitting 50-year-old La Tolteca against 45-year-old Comedor Guadalajara. Let's see whose chilaquiles are more chill ...
Gourmet-minded fans in the Valley now have one more reason to celebrate Gina Buskirk's dedication to small batch, scratch-made goodies made with premium ingredients: Her shop, Gina's Homemade, has been named a finalist in the 2013 Good Food Awards.
Established in San Francisco in 2010 and the first national award program honoring small food companies that meet the criteria for "tasty, authentic, and responsibly produced," the Good Food Awards, now in its third year, features nine categories of food products: beer, chacuterie, cheese, chocolate, confections, coffee, pickles, preserves, and spirits.
Of the nine categories, Gina's ricotta has been selected as one of 14 finalists in the cheese category and will compete with cheeses from states such as Wisconsin, California, and Vermont. Moreover, Gina's Homemade is the only finalist from Arizona.
And if you think that's impressive, wait until you hear how many entries were submitted.
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Don't forget to check out Chow Bella's list of 100 Tastemakers.