WorldFEST Heavy on the Pour, Weak on the Global Cusine

The Phoenix Sister Cities sponsored the 6th annual WorldFEST this weekend, and promised a celebration of cultures from around the globe, or at least from Phoenix's nine sister cities. Unfortunately, if you weren't a small child or a beer lover, it's likely the festival offered very little for you to enjoy. 

At times it seemed like there were more people waiting in line at nearby Pizzeria Bianco than hanging out at WorldFEST, held at Heritage Square in downtown Phoenix.

If you showed up at the sister cities festival hoping to try some Israeli, Canadian, French, Italian, Japanese, or the most exotic choice of them all, Mexican food, you would have been better off staying home and watching the Travel Channel. The promised "tastes from around the globe" were apparently limited to the dredges of the state fair circuit. There were five measly food tents, only two of which tried at anything more than run-of-the-mill fair food.

(get the low down and check out the photo evidence after the jump)

One of the worldwide tents was dedicated to greasy, Americanized pan-Asian food like meat-on-a-stick and eggrolls. We tried an order of the eggrolls, because we assumed that was what the tent did best, based on the screaming size of the font on the banner. We should have skipped right over these eggrolls, which were literally weak sauce. Shredded cabbage interspersed with glassy rice noodles and accompanied by some of the blandest, most watered-down sweet and sour we've ever encountered.

The other mildly interesting tent was nearly empty, Irish-themed, and served either corned beef 'n' cabbage or a Reuben sandwich. Because nothing screams "Erin go bragh" like sauerkraut and thousand island. After St. Patrick's Day, we felt a little green even considering this tent, and it appeared that most of the fair-goers were in the same shape because we saw hardly anyone swing by for a pile of corned beef.

That left a kettle corn stand, a basic hot dog cart, and various overpriced chocolate dipped treats from the San Francisco Chocolate Company. We decided to play it safe (much like the organizers of the festival) by rounding out our "foods of nine different countries" with pure American hedonism: Chocolate-dipped cheesecake-on-a-stick and a chocolate-dipped banana-on-a-stick. The only way to make it more American would have been deep frying those suckers before dipping them in chocolate.

The World of Beers was a much more impressive affair, with over 50 beers and wines from around the world. No cover to enter the festival and a mere five bucks for four beer samples or an entire 16 ounce cup of our fave? That rivals some actual beer fests.

The selection at WorldFEST included whole tents devoted to lagers, ales, and wines, and another entire line of tents featuring a variety of stouts, porters, Hefes, Belgians, barley wines and strong ales. There were even half a dozen ciders and fruit-flavored sippers for those that think beer tastes icky.

Our guess is that the food vendors were nursing a major hangover courtesy of the ridiculously awesome beer selection, and just forgot to show up.

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Erica O'Neil