Saturday night packed some heat and a full house at The Venue of Scottsdale for the first annual, Scottsdale Spice. The name of the game was spicy tastes from a variety of Valley restaurants, paired up with cocktails, wine and craft brews. I was there as a judge alongside Chef Mike Wahlberg of Vintage 95 in Chandler and Kate Crowley from the Phoenix New Times. Tasting through 11 different offerings, there were two that stood out as exceptional. Our very first bite was from the brand new, Burgers n’ Fries, located on the southwest corner of Scottsdale and Shea. The Arizona Burger, as they titled it, was a 4 oz. burger with battered serrano peppers, chipotle aioli and all the fixin’s. From the quality of the meat to the bun to the punch of peppers, it was one of the best burgers I’ve had in a while. I have to check this place out!
But, the big winner in my book and according to all of the judges was El Palacio’s Carnitas Street Taco with citrus braised pork with a spicy jalapeno slaw. It was a balance of sweet, spicy and the presentation with a beer can made it memorable. The tortilla also had that great home-made taste that I have grown up loving being a native Arizonan.
Also in attendance was my buddy, Jerrod Harris, the man behind Sonoran Spice, a great online/local retailer for all things pepper. Ghost chilies, habaneros, I took a few power packed powders home to spice up my famous chili recipe.
Congrats to everyone who participated. Only suggestion to the planning committee for next year’s event: a TUMS booth.