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.
Mystery Diners, the cheesy new reality TV show on Food Network, has been focusing its high beams on metro Phoenix for the past month, featuring Haus Murphy's in Glendale, The Groves in Gilbert, Caffe Boa in Tempe, Blue Moose in Scottsdale, Big Earl's Greasy Eats in Cave Creek and Amaro Pizzeria and Vino Lounge (also in Cave Creek) in endless loops of restaurant drama.
And, apparently, people are watching. This can be a very, very good thing or a very, very bad thing, depending on the premise and details of the episode. Read the full story.
When an argument broke out on Twitter on Thursday over whether it's appropriate for a food critic to sell ads on his blog to restaurants he's also reviewing, something sounded awfully familiar.
So we reached into the Way Back Machine (a.k.a. Google) to pluck a gem from the July 8, 1999 edition of Phoenix New Times.
The topic? "Journalist" Jess Harter -- and the line (or lack thereof) between editorial and advertising departments.
Harter, former food critic for Tribune Newspapers, has run his own food blog, Mouth by Southwest, for years. He's also been doing some reviews for the Arizona Republic and azcentral (and wrote for an extremely brief time for Chow Bella, a couple years back).
MXSW is a one-man operation -- Harter writes the copy and sells the ads. So eyebrows zoomed when he posted the link to his latest Republic review of BLD (he loved it, 4 stars) -- a restaurant that advertises on his personal blog. Read the full story.
Allen and Traci Thompson, owners of The Grind and next-door neighbor Chick Rotisserie & Wine Bar near Arcadia, appear to have branched into Tempe territory with their newest restaurant, Mad G's Grill & Tavern.
Located at 19 East Broadway (Broadway and Mill), Mad G's opened Friday, June 15, describing itself as "a neighborhood establishment that serves quality food," "a quality dive," and "'pub grub' at a higher level."
Along with drink specials and weekly events, chef Bevin O'Neil has created a menu of American favorites like wings, Angus beef burgers, sandwiches, and pizzas. And Mad G's says its beer isn't only for drinking -- it's for cooking too. There's Stone Smoked Porter in the chili, Lumberyard IPA in the braised mushrooms, and the restaurant's house brew is used in the pizza dough.
The Guilty Pleasure: (Double-) Dirty Grande Soy Chai Frappuccino The Place to Get It: Starbucks Coffee; countless locations Valleywide The Cost: $5 to $7, depending on how dirty you like it and how you pay What You'll Really Pay: 350 calories with whipped cream, 240 without. Counts more as dessert or siesta-time snack than beverage.
I need to start this Guilty Pleasure by saying I love the coffee culture that's developed in the Phoenix area. There are passionate artisans all over who roast beans and hone blends to create incredible coffee. But, as with bartenders who are equally proud of their craft (yours truly pleads the fifth), ordering a frozen drink is risky. If you're lucky, you'll just get a disdainful sneer as they fire up the blender. At many places, you'll get a pompous "We . . . don't do frozen drinks here," the subtext being "How dare you wish to sully my liquid gold!"
This, my friends, is where Starbucks comes to the rescue. Read this week's entry in the guilty pleasure archives.
Yeah, yeah, it's hot outside, but we're not complaining. We're putting on our rose-colored glasses and looking at the brighter side of summer: eating as much ice cream as we want.
Okay, maybe we can't (or shouldn't) eat ice cream everyday, but we can try to cool off this summer with cold and delicious foods from around town. Wanna know what our favorites are? Here are 10 ways we cool off, in a culinary way. (Warning -- food porn ahead!)
Don't forget to check out Chow Bella's continuing list of 100 Tastemakers.