So How Was West of Western?

Alright, peeps. I know a lot of you hit up the big two-day culinary festival at Phoenix Art Museum this weekend, because I ran into so many of you when I stopped by on Sunday afternoon. What did you think of it?

I thought it was a fun convergence of different crowds. Cooks running amok, media people mingling with each other, Chowhounds happily hitting up each table, and lots of random folks from the arts community getting their fill of food and wine.

There was too much to take in to stay still for very long, and it was fun to get updates from people in passsing -- which tables to hit up, which wines to try, which lines were worth waiting in.

I was taking an informal poll, and the nearly unanimous favorite dish of the day was Kai's outstanding spit-roasted churro lamb, heaped on a tiny round of frybread with some fig-date jam and a dollop of tzatziki, with a cup of chunky, spicy wild game pozole on the side. Which dishes impressed you?

The most ambitious restaurant by far was Quiessence. Chef Greg LaPrad offered up a rotating menu of 15 different things, which prompted lots of people to make many, many return visits. One of my friends was basically stalking the table to get seconds of the housemade head cheese, but she couldn't get the timing quite right. Housemade prosciutto with sliced pear made a fine consolation prize, though.

I also nibbled on fresh burricotta (ricotta wrapped in mozzarella, a la burrata) from Prado, a foie-tinged Cuban sandwich with duck-fat potato chips from Atlas Bistro, cold, creamy Meyer lemon pops from Posh, a crispy mini-panini from Simply Bread, and probably way too much of the Phoenician's decadent cherry-chocolate bread.

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