Last Night at AZ Wine & Dine: Balsamic-Braised Short Ribs, Salted Caramel Chocolate Lollipops, and Much More

Are you the kind of person who rushes home from the grocery store to eat a tiny nibble of every single thing you bought? It's okay; I'm like that too.

If you are, you might think a tasting event featuring lots of bites from many restaurants is for you. But for me, the usual problem with tasting events is that most of the restaurants end up serving slight variations on the same general items: sliders, scallops, and for some reason, pork belly. While that can't be helped, last night's AZ Wine & Dine (previously Forks & Corks) did offer enough variety to please everyone, and overall, the quality level was respectably high.

Check out the full AZ Wine & Dine slideshow.

The wine and beer pairings that went with each dish -- or set of dishes, since most restaurants prepared three -- were really lost in the mix of the event. Sure, every attendee had a cute plastic wine glass that fit nicely into sturdy plates for easy carrying (ingenious), but it appeared that most people didn't bother to stop and get the beverage of choice at each restaurant's station. Of the few pairings I sampled, only one stood out: the New Age White served with ice and lime, which complemented Province's spiced offerings: Moroccan meatballs and roasted papaya cupcakes with coconut frosting.

There were a few standouts at AZ Wine & Dine. Tanzy, located in the Scottsdale Quarter where the event was held, served balsamic-braised short ribs that were so juicy and tender they were falling apart on the plate. Dessert was a strawberry chocolate cheesecake that had light flavors and a super soft texture. The strawberry wasn't very evident, but it rounded out the chocolate cheesecake in a helpful way, keeping it from being plain. It was messy to eat, but totally worth having to lick your fingers in public.

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Dominique Chatterjee