Cafe Reviews

Second Helpings

Eat, Sleep and Be Merry: Several high-end Valley resorts offer summer specials to lure locals during the slow season. But once the well-heeled tourists start arriving in the fall, price breaks usually disappear. If you want dinner for two and a room at a fancy resort, you better have hit at least four out of six PowerBall lottery numbers.

This year, though, the swanky Wigwam Resort has come up with an affordable tourist-season eat-and-sleep deal. The resort's Arizona Kitchen is one of the Valley's hidden gems. Look for appetizers like blue corn piki rolls filled with shredded capon, entrees like grilled sirloin of buffalo with a cabernet vanilla bean chile negro sauce, and for dessert, the striking turquoise "bowl" of hardened sugar with guajillo chile ice cream.

Dinner for two--three courses including tip--and a casita will set you back $169, Tuesdays through Thursdays. On Fridays and Saturdays, the cost is $199. The promotion runs through Saturday, December 13.

The Wigwam Resort is at 300 East Indian School, in Litchfield Park. Call 935-3811.

Fish Everyone knows that seafood is best when it's fresh. But it seems that in New Zealand, the freshness fetish has gone a bit too far. And now the government wants to crack down on it.

Lawmakers there have introduced a bill forbidding restaurants to serve live seafood. No, this doesn't mean that you can't get, say, a live lobster out of the tank and drop it in boiling water. This bill means what it says, literally: Restaurants will be prohibited from serving seafood while it's still alive.

Apparently, that's the latest culinary rage. One noteworthy live-fish specialty is "dancing crayfish." Still-living crayfish are sliced in half, their tails stuffed with rice and noodles. They crawl around the table, while diners go after them with chopsticks.

What, one wonders, is next? How about carving your own steak from the flank of a grazing cow? Let's fry up some wings that have just been pulled off a squawking chicken. Maybe we can dig out some baby-back ribs by surprising a sleeping hog.

You don't have to be a charter member of PETA to be repulsed by "dancing crayfish." That's not gastronomy; that's cruelty.

Shake It Up: When you write about food, companies send all sorts of edibles your way. Most of them aren't worth writing about. But "Banana Frost," a new powdered drink mix put out by Produce Partners, certainly is. It's the most stupidly useless item I've run across in years.

The geniuses behind Banana Frost clearly believe the average American consumer has the IQ of a turnip. Why else would they try to sell a powdered smoothie drink to which you have to add milk, banana and ice?

What, then, is in Banana Frost? Here are the ingredients: sugar, nonfat dry milk, dextrose, natural flavor, egg-white solids, propylene glycol, alginate and FD&C Yellow 5 and 6. Yum.

H.L. Mencken believed no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. Banana Frost may be the supreme test.

--Howard Seftel

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Howard Seftel