Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May Vegas 6: The Last of Uncork'd

The last two Uncork'd events were Eating Las Vegas, a culinary conversation, and Viva Las Vegan, Steve Wynn's vegan options for his hotels, complete with cooking demonstrations and introductory lecture by Steve. The conversation was particularly enjoyable and I have to pick up the book the 3 critics wrote together, Eating Las Vegas 2011, The Essential Guide. One critic had a great line describing Wolfgang Puck's descent into Las Vegas: that isn't cooking, it's eating, reminded me of what Truman Capote said of Jack Kerouac's On the Road: that's isn't writing, it's typing. I'll definitely get a copy of their book before going to Vegas again.
The Vegan event thankfully started with sangria (mocktails also available). It was a little bland by my sangria standards but when I dived into the vegan fare, the drink went very well indeed.
I finally learned what to do with Gardein Chick'n: put heirloom tomatoes on it. Chef Kim Canteenwalla had a tomato soup and an heirloom tasting that were the high light of the event for me. Unfortunately, in the menu giveaways and cooking demonstrations, Kim's great tomato dishes were neglected (he described making a salad that had ingredients I couldn't eat). Chef Alex, whose restaurant mysteriously disappeared before I could make good on my reservation in Feb, demonstrated making an eggless pasta and someone else demonstrated making crabless crab cakes. None of the demonstrations were that well presented. The best talk of the event was actually Steve Wynn's moving tale about how he became a vegan the previous year. I left the event very inspired.
Outside of the Uncork'd events, I breakfasted on some wonderful grapefruit (and a great apple crepe) at Mon Ami Gabbi, every bit as good an experience as the server from Robuchon had told me about. When I went back to Bouchon for its great grapefruit I'd had there in Feb, I was told it wasn't on the menu so I had a bowl of berries instead. The crepes upstairs from Mon Ami, at Eiffel Tower were as good as Feb, as was the gnocchi and little pizzas called flambes at Fleur. I only had an appetizer, the gnocchi from Mix this trip- actually I ate a lot of gnocchi, and suspect that my diet is going to become a lot more gnocchi and crepe based in the future. The only full meal I consumed during my 5 days of this trip not part of Uncork'd was the swordfish wrapped lobster at Valentino. The restaurant had come highly recommended to me and though I had intellectually known what a VIP was, I had never had the actual experience before visiting Valentino. The waiter, Shawn and the manager Joe gave me the sort of service I would have expected if I were Barack Obama, not just a customer. When nothing on the cocktail list seemed to pair well with my entree, a glass of sangria was promptly created. Later, another waiter had remembered a new lemony grappa they had just gotten in and unlike the vile spirit I'd had in Italy, this grappa was exquisitely lemony. A serious discussion about what green vegies to have with my fish brought forth a wonderful plate of green and white asparagus spears covered with Parmesan. In my opinion, the foundation of Italian cuisine is tomato sauce. Great towering structures can be built upon that foundation. This lobster was one of the towers. A great meal, greatly enhanced by the service that came with a restaurant tour. As memorable meal as my Feb experiences.
Some jumpy footage of Steve is here:

video

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