By Michele Laudig
Saturday's Eats3 Arizona Grand Tasting turned out to be a mighty fine way to spend a gorgeous, sunny October afternoon -- friendly people, tons of the best restaurants in town serving up more delicious dishes than one could possibly eat, all kinds of good wines and beer and booze, a pretty location (sprawled out on SouthBridge at the Scottsdale Waterfront, with a pleasant breeze and thankfully none of that mysterious stench that sometimes haunts the residents of the nearby condos), and just the right energy. It was bustling but not so much that there was a wait for a plate of food.
Digestif's Payton Curry and Pavle Milic served up hand-pulled mozzarella "with love" (and a thumbprint filled with olive oil). Yum.
Doughy beignets from brand-new Metro Brasserie came with vanilla and chocolate sauces.
Pastry chef Tracy Dempsey (right) made awesome little pumpkin spice cupcakes with spiced cider (see below). The weather still felt a little like summer, but the taste of fall was welcome, indeed!
Super kakkoii chef Nobuo Fukuda gave me a mini sandwich that was one of the tastiest things I ate all day: fried soft-shell crab with creamy kanzuri sauce on homemade focaccia.
It's hard to tell from a photo, but Deseo's ceviche tacos were so tiny, lined up in these cute clear display racks.
Here's the extremely entertaining Ming Tsai giving a cooking demo. Literally three different women said to me, "Did you see he's even cuter in person?" Uh huh.
The Mosaic crew dished up shrimp with a great view of the canal right behind them.
I didn't think I had room for any more food until a dude from Sassi handed me a plate of Italian pork and root veggie stew with gremolata on top.
These guys from Anchor Steam were psychic. Before I said a word, there was a beer in my hand. I was tempted to take them up on some Old Foghorn barleywine ale, but I had to reign myself in . . .
Look, it's the back of Jacques Pepin's head! Barbara Fenzl is trailing him on his way to a lecture. I was a half-second away from a great shot when he shooed me away and said, "Later." Zut!
The ladies of Edible Phoenix drink no wine before it's time.
Los Sombreros' perky mascot hung out and watched the world go by. Love it!