This past Saturday was quite eventful as far as culinary experiences are concerned. April seems to be the most popular month for festivals of all kinds in Phoenix, maybe because the weather is beautiful and sunny with the perfect breeze, the flowers are blooming and the mountains are bursting with greenery. April is the month when Arizona comes alive and everyone craves the outdoors. This past Saturday was no different; hundreds of people attended both the Phoenix Gluten Free Expo and the Scottsdale Culinary Festival. I didn’t want to miss either one, so I made them both fit in to my schedule!
Phoenix Gluten Free Expo
First, I stopped by the Phoenix Gluten Free Expo. I paid the $10 admission fee and was rewarded with a green reusable bag to fill with coupons, magazines, restaurant menus and tons of samples! My entire bag was full! Sprouts Farmers Market (my favorite grocery store ever) sponsored the event, and the line for their booth was the longest because Sprouts gave away an incredible amount of samples! Some other sponsors and booths included popular brands like Udi’s, Glutino, and Van’s, alongside lesser known brands and local restaurants which also offer gluten free options.
I’m so excited to use some of my restaurant coupons to discover some new locations in Phoenix and Scottsdale, and my other coupons will come in handy when I want to go buy more of my samples- I’m already in love with Pamela’s Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies and the thinkThin Crunch Coconut Chocolate bars. Also, if you’re looking for a quick and convenient breakfast fix to keep in your office, check out the Bakery on Main Maple Instant Oatmeal! Holy Yum!
Scottsdale Culinary Festival- Great Arizona Picnic
Feeling accomplished with my goldmine of loot from the Phoenix Gluten Free Expo, I hopped in my car to meet with friends and enjoy the beautiful weather and delicious food at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival’s Great Arizona Picnic. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and the flowers were astonishingly beautiful at the Scottsdale Civic Center.
We had such a blast trying foods from various valley restaurants. Our favorite was Sushi Roku’s Hanabi (spicy tuna on crispy rice), which won “Best Food” of the festival in 2012. It featured a crispy rice base that had a beautiful, satisfying flavor which is normally lacking in similar dishes. The abundance of flavor was due to a sauce or glaze on the rice that was both sweet and a bit salty, much like an eel sauce. It was topped with incredibly fresh tuna and scallions. The resulting dish was impeccably mouthwatering; the crispy rice reveals a soft interior, coupled with a tantalizing combination of sauce and luscious fresh fish. If we had to choose, they would win best food for 2013 too!
I also enjoyed Chicken Tiki Masala from Bombay Spice, Mango Lassi from Jewel of the Crown Cuisine of India, and a delicious shrimp ceviche (but I didn’t catch the restauran’t name).
To finish, I indulged in an icy-cool blackberry lavender popsicle from Paleta’s Betty. I’ve written briefly about my adoration for lavender, and this was no different; with sweet floral flavors alongside succulent blackberry chunks, this popsicle was divine. Paleta’s Betty is a must-visit if you are in Tempe. They feature seasonal popsicle (paleta, in Spanish) flavors and combinations that will make your mouth water. You’ll want to try them all!
It was a really fun event, complete with live music and dancing. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to go and enjoy the event with such great company, I’ll be looking forward to the 2014 Scottsdale Culinary Expo!
Next Saturday: The Arizona BBQ Festival!
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All opinions are my own; this is not a sponsored post.