Friday, May 13, 2011

Vegas Uncork'd 2011


After the February trip, I wasn't planning to visit Vegas anytime soon. But in early April, I discovered in Egullet that a great epicurean event would occur there in May. It seemed like a good time to revisit that city. In particular, I was intrigued by the planned Toques off to Paul Bocuse event, a dinner prepared by the best chefs in France, among other places in honour of the French culinary icon. Alas, this was cancelled at the last moment, but some of the other events looked good on the Uncork'd website. By the time I discovered Uncork'd, some of the dinners I would have liked to have attended were already sold out, but I put together 8 events and made reservations at Twist, Mix, Valentino and Eiffel Tower for when I wouldn't be event-hopping.
Oddly, the Los Angeles suburb of Sherman Oaks seemed to frame my trip. My first dinner, Locovore's Delight with Bradley Ogden (I thought he was a city in Utah. Turns out to be the pioneer of the Locovore movement), I found myself sitting next to a couple from Sherman Oaks, actually a few blocks away from my parents house there. My last dinner in Vegas was at the great Italian restaurant Valentino, which has a branch in Sherman Oaks. I'm positive my restaurant loving parents would have dined there. Maybe.their spirits were following me around this trip.
After all the events in Uncork'd and the other restaurants I visited and revisited (must have gone to Fleur 4 times in 5 days) I never had food as good as the Feb. trip. Obviously restaurants take dishes off the menu as the seasons change. I was expecting to eat something other than John Dory at Twist. Was looking forward to eating the Gnocchi my server had reccommended in Feb. at Mix. Delighted that Chef's Joho's vegetarian crepe was still on the menu at the Eiffle Tower and the gnocchi were the same at Fleur, though in both cases I noticed less pesto in both dishes, compared to their Feb. presentations. As the February trip was transformationl, this trip seemed more structural. Feb. was about overthrowing the pharaoh of my food expectations. Uncork'd more of an instructional experience. I left individual events, such as Viva Las Vegan and the Chef's Showdown, very inspired to make new dishes and try new techniques, which is what Uncork'd seemed to be about. When I wasn't eating interesting food and guzzling premium wines, I had the opportunity to talk to many knowledgeable people at some length, as well as meet many of the chefs whose food so delighted me. A very satisfying 5 days. Would have been better if it wasn't 97 degrees outside, but you can't have everything.

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