Every week, there's a cornucopia of new 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.
Staying in town this Memorial Day weekend? You cannot be bored. Not yet. Get up off your lazy butt and do something productive -- like attending a class on outdoor cooking. Let's embrace the season, people!
This Sunday afternoon, May 27, Distrito will bring back its popular "Cook Like an Iron Chef" cooking series, this time focusing on smoking meats.
Chef Michael Fiorello -- the culinary director for Garces Restaurant Group and Chef Jose Garces' right-hand man on Iron Chef America -- will be flying out from Philadelphia to teach participants how to turn their grills into smokers, how to choose the best woods for smoking, how to make a rub that works for all meats (and goes nicely in a cocktail!), and how to smoke meat. He'll also demonstrate how to make smoked beer-can chicken (using Four Peaks Kiltlifter), BBQ baby back ribs (using Tender Belly pork), BBQ brisket (using Harris Ranch Black Angus beef), grilled onions with pipian rojo and cotija and jicama-apple cole slaw.
Find out more about Distrito's cooking class.
-- Nikki Buchanan
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Restaurant: Dottie's True Blue Cafe Location: 4151 North Marshall Way, Scottsdale Open: Almost three months Eats: American breakfast and lunch items. Price Point: Around $11 to $30 a person
There's a line out the door and the wait times can be maddening, but this isn't The Breakfast Club or Dottie's True Blue Cafe in San Francisco -- in fact, it's the second location of Dottie's True Blue Cafe in Old Town. And before word starts getting out, it might be a good idea to drop by for breakfast.
I'm glad I did.
-- Laura Hahnefeld
Read about Laura Hahnefeld's complete first taste at Dottie's True Blue Cafe.
We had so much fun chucking Chow Bella contributors Ando Muneno and Lauren Saria into the ring over Alton Brown, food trucks and movie theaters with food, we put them back at it again.
This week's topic: Pho, Vietnamese beef noodle soup. Pho joints have been growing in popularity throughout the Valley and we've reviewed more than a couple of them.
Ando: Pho is pretty much the best thing ever. I rank a good bowl of pho up there with a hamburger, pizza, and CoCo's curry. When I was in the Navy, stationed in Okinawa, Japan, I had all the curry I could eat, but I longed for a competent hamburger, a slice of pizza that didn't also have squid and corn on it, or a simple bowl of pho with all the fixings. Just as a hamburger is the culinary equivalent of the golden mean, balancing meat against bread against condiments, pho is the perfect confluence of noodle, broth, and just enough meat bits to keep it interesting. It's fresh, it's filling, and when it's done right, it'll feed your soul and clear your sinuses.
That's right, I assert pho is superior to all other noodle/soup configurations because of its health benefits. Bring it, FDA.
Lauren: I feel toward pho the way I feel toward a lukewarm piece of delivery pizza, just ... meh. The watery broth, the sides of raw veggies, the thin anemic-looking noodles -- pho starts my heart longing for a warm bowl of hearty ramen. There's no way you can tell me that pho (even the name sounds un-enthusiastic) is a better "noodle/soup configuration" than ramen! Pho is pho is pho. But there are dozens of variations on ramen, every one of which is a filling meal with delicious, salty broth and hearty noodles. I grew up on the stuff and there's no way you'll convince me pho is in any way superior.
Check out the full Point-Counterpoint: Is Pho King or Is It Pho-King Awful?
-- Ando Muneno and Lauren Saria
Here's a excerpt from part two of Nikki Buchanan's interview with Larry White, Jr. (Lo-Lo), the owner of Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles. In case you missed it, you can read part one of the interview with Larry White, Jr. of Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles.
Explain the history of chicken and waffles: The chicken and waffle thing started at Wells Cabaret in Harlem, New York in the 1920s. Customers would come in for something to eat after getting out of the clubs. At 3 or 4 in the morning, they didn't know if they wanted dinner or breakfast. Wells came up with the idea of giving them a little of both, and it blew up.
What's the proper way to eat chicken and waffles: Spread your butter over your waffles, put that warm syrup over your waffles. Cut 'em up. Drench your chicken in that Red Rooster hot sauce. Get a forkful of waffles, and with your other hand, pick up that chicken. Put the waffle in your mouth and bite into the chicken. You got chicken, hot sauce, waffles, syrup all in your mouth at once. It bothers me when somebody done ate all their waffles and now they're working on the chicken.
-- Nikki Buchanan
Those who may have heard (and believed) people who say, "You can't get decent seafood in the Valley 'cause we live in a desert," might also want to keep an eye out for while-you-were-sleeping organ harvesters and tendon-slashing gang members who wait under cars at the gas pump. It is an unfortunate myth. And given the number of non-oceanside cities known for outstanding seafood (my last home of Chicago being one of them), one that simply doesn't make sense.
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Stellar ocean fare can be found in Phoenix. And to prove it, we've listed 10 of our favorite spots to find it, for believers and non-believers alike.
Check out the full list of Ten Favorite Spots for Seafood in Greater Phoenix.
-- Laura Hahnefeld