Dust off your dirndls and don your lederhosen – Oktoberfest events are here, and they’re bringing Bavarian beer, bratwursts and polka music with them. Of all the very many “Volkfests” in the Valley, here are the five most “fantastiche,” listed in order of occurrence:
Brat Haus Oktoberfest, September 17
Drunken competition fuels the fun at this fete – lederhosen and dirndl contests, a brat-eating contest, beer garden games and even a “Badass Beard Contest” will keep people whooping and hollering as they dance to a DJ and get their giant steins laser-etched and filled with fresh-tapped Oktoberfest beer. The food feast includes knockwurst, pork knuckle, giant turkey legs and specialty pretzels. $8 presale, $10 at the door. Free admission for wearing a dirndl or lederhosen. brathausaz.com
Scottsdale Culinary Festival is like the Oscars of local food affairs. Granted, there are no limousines or seat-fillers, but there will likely be at least a few fancy frocks and swag bags at the festival’s infamous Eat Drink, and Be Pretty fashion show opener on Friday.
Arizonans sometimes forget that we’re graced with exceptionally talented chefs at many of our award-winning resort properties. Since we live here, we often don’t think about them as dining destinations.
Bad news, local chowhounds! Tickets to Devoured Culinary Classic at Phoenix Art Museum on March 5 and 6 are already sold out. Hosted by Local First Arizona and Devour Phoenix, the annual event is a smorgasbord of local food and drink purveyors, with more than 100 restaurants including Federal Pizza, Otro Café and James Beard finalist Kevin Binkley’s eponymous Cave Creek eatery dishing up samples of their most famous foodstuffs.
Craft breweries are clearly in their prime. The Brewers Association, an organization made up of nearly 3,000 breweries and 45,000 homebrewers, set the goal of having a 20 percent share of the total beer market by the year 2020. This was considered pretty ambitious by industry experts, until last year’s beer data was released and craft brew sales hit the 19 percent mark. Achievement (almost) unlocked.
There are plenty of good excuses for needing a cocktail, from finding the perfect dinner pairing to winding down after a hellish work week. No reason is necessary at the 5th annual Arizona Cocktail Week, a series of drink-related parties, tastings and seminars taking place February 13-21 in and around Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale.
Wine and chocolate go together like Valentine’s Day and smitten kittens. But whether you adore the commercially sanctioned day of affection on February 14 or would rather angrily whack a heart-shaped piñata à la actress Jennifer Garner’s character in the 2010 rom-com Valentine’s Day, there’s no denying the sensory appeal of these two indulgences.
If you’re a food truck enthusiast, you probably already follow a couple of mobile kitchens. But if you want to try out some new chow, you can experience close to 70 food trucks in one place at the Street Eats Food Truck Festival at Salt River Fields on Saturday, January 30, and Sunday, January 31. Whether you’re hankering for pretzels or pizza, pulled pork or poutine, you’ll find it there.
‘Tis the season foe comfort food. But fall isn’t just about pumpkin spice, butternut squash and apple cider. Mild temperatures and sunny days make November prime time for Phoenix’s fall food festival season. And while some purveyors have their meals firmly planted in pre-Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing land, plenty of local cooks are gearing up to share everything from tacos and curry to sweet and savory pies.
November ushers in cooler weather and with it, a flood of outdoor festivals and events, including Queen Creek’s Bacon, Blues & Brews Fest on Saturday, November 7. There’s a little something for everybody, from bacon-inspired dishes and live music to craft beer and kids’ activities. But if you’re not a bacon or beer lover, don’t worry. There will be other food and drink options available.
“When you start with a good product and good cows, you end up with a good product,” says Kevin Danzeisen of his family's milk and cream. Next weekend, Danzeisen Dairy will celebrate its one-year anniversary of not only raising and milking the cows to produce that good product, but bottling and distributing it themselves.
Want a hands-on, root-to-table culinary experience? The Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia will hold the inaugural “Desert to Dish” culinary weekend Oct. 22-24. The food-focused lineup includes farm-to-table dining experiences, exclusive tours of Arizona farms and face time with six renowned chefs from across the country. A portion of the weekend’s proceeds will benefit the James Beard Foundation.
It’s hard to believe that the Arizona Taco Festival sprouted from a smattering of local Mexican grub enthusiasts convening on a tiny dirt patch in Scottsdale. Now in its sixth year, the event features more than 50 restaurants competing for a $10,000 Grand Champion cash prize. Smaller $1,000 checks are awarded for daily winners.
Everyone has a favorite aspect of the Arizona State Fair, whether it’s riding Zero Gravity and the Goliath Slide, checking out the seven spooky galleries of Encounters: U.F.O. Exhibit, crashing a demolition derby or catching Meat Loaf live in concert. For many, food is the gluttonous tie that binds these experiences together.
Christmas may be “the most wonderful time of the year” when it comes to gift-giving and holiday cheer, but Arizona Restaurant Week is certainly the tastiest time of year. (If Mom objects to that assertion, just remind her of Aunt Ethel’s awful fruitcake or cousin Bob’s over-baked holiday ham). The twice-yearly event is a delightful marriage of gluttony and gastronomic delight, with participating eateries offering three-course, prix-fixe dinners for $33 or $44 per person. This year’s event will take place September 18-27 at select Valley locations.