Thursday, October 27, 2011

Jaleo by Jose Andres at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

Jaleo was my favourite restaurant in Las Vegas. I love tapa style eating. It's casual and you get to try lots of dishes. I also loved the design with beautiful benches all around the room with large rolls at your back done in boiled wool and great colours and a whole curtained wall of red chains. Our server Mary suggested the Fennal, apple, manchego and walnut salad with sherry vinagrette and it was exceptional. Manchego is one of my favourite cheeses. We also had the Empanadillas de Brandade. More salt cod. Newfie heaven. The cod was mashed with potatoes and cream, wrapped in a wonton wrapper and deep fried. Don't miss it. The Spanish Tortilla or potato and egg pie as my mom called it, was the best I've ever eaten. The seared scallops and squid stew were also excellent. Funny how growing up in Newfoundland we ate dishes that originated in Spain and Portugal and had no idea where they came from. The wine list here was also easy and accessible.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mix Las Vegas by Alain Ducasse


Mix came up as a choice as soon as we started to decide on restaurants in Las Vegas. Alain Ducasse is a French icon of cooking and I couldn't miss the opportunity. We weren't sorry. It was a near perfect meal. On the 64th floor of The Hotel at Mandalay Bay, it is a beautiful dining room. White glass balls hanging from the ceiling like necklaces and the glittery lights of Las Vegas below, white leather arm chairs. This is really French STYLE. The art of cooking with butter is alive and well. I had Cod Brandade. As a true Newfoundlander I eat it whenever I see it, this dish had the mashed brandade below and a beautiful cod piece (lol) with crisp skin on top. Mashed potatoes, wild mushroom fricasse and asparagus were served family style making the whole experience more casual and kind of decadent. Another daunting wine list with crazy expensive wines made me long for the days when I could eat a meal like that and not miss wine if I refused to be gouged. Never mind. It's a once in a lifetime experience, which in itself is crazy to say. Alain Ducasse wasn't cooking just as Mario Batali wasn't at B & B. It's a bit like going to Paris, Venice or New York in Las Vegas. Fantastic fakes.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

B & B Ristorante Las Vegas

B & B Ristorante Las Vegas. Mario Battali and Joe Bastianich might be the name on the door but Eric OWNS the bar. We arrived a little early so happily sat at the bar and it really set the mood for an excellent evening, with Flor Prosecco and Tosta, a chocolate stout from Italy getting us comfortable. Eric the bartender was excellent and a real host. We tried one of his famous Green Monk’s made with muddled cucumber, yellow chartreuse, Hendricks cucumber infused gin, honey simple and spearmint blossoms. Delicious. He also shared his latest creation, we named it the Earl of Carmen and hope the name sticks. It was Early Grey infused gin with pink peppercorn and myrtle berry amari, a unique drink that really showcased the Earl Grey gin. I don’t like gin but I tasted both and they were distinctive and interesting.
We moved into the dining room and spent some time discussing the menu with our waiter. He had opinions on how we could create the best dining experience and we all really liked that. Between three of us we tried the Calamari Fritti,. Carmelized fig salad, and the Lamb Tongue Salad for appetizer s. The Goat cheese Ravioli, Beef Cheak Ravioli, and the Spaghettini with lobster and a spicy tomato sauce for the Pasta course and the Striped Bass for two and Veal chop for the entre course.
My favourites was the fig salad, the dressing was one of the best I’ve ever tasted.
Would I go again? Probably not, but if I did I’d sit at the bar and have a single dish with a cocktail and a glass of wine.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chinese Mexican Food and Fire Breathing Dragons

We're at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas and our first stop was the Chandelier Bar, floor 1.5. The drink to try is "The Fire Breathing Dragon." It starts with a small glass of frozen raspberries and when you eat them smoke comes out of your nose and mouth along with the smell of raspberries. The drink that follows was a VERY sweet raspberry concoction. A fun novelty drink and a very happening bar.

We went for a late night snack at Jose Andres China Poblano for noodles and tacos. An odd combination all done in small plates. We tried the veggie spring rolls, a bowl of hand-cut noodles with mushroom corn truffle, a lobster taco and tuna ceviche. I can handle hot but the lobster was overwhelmed by the heat in the taco. The noodles were good, nice and chewy and the mix of mushrooms and corn truffle (??) was interesting. The best dish was the tuna ceviche with crispy amaranth seeds.

But the stand out thing at this restaurant was the desserts. We shared two. A Mango Sticky Rice, shaved frozen mango with what looked like whipped cream but was actually a dense foam made from rice and some crispy rice topping. Novel and delicious. We also tried the Coconut Tapioca Balls, tapioca pudding topped with balls of froth made from coconut and a scoop of mandarin orange sorbet.

The other nice thing about this restaurant was the staff and decor. The staff were very friendly and knowledgeable and the decorations were a fascinating blend of mexican and chinese. Masks, statues, framed pictures that changed. It was entertaining just to sit and take it all in.

There was nothing I'd particularly want to go back for but I wouldn't hesitate to go back and try some of their other dishes either. Good fun. We closed the place.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Las Vegas Too Cheap to Gamble

I'm too cheap to gamble but how much do you think dinner at Mix by Alain Ducasse will cost?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Las Vegas Ensemble Conference 2011

David, Martha, Carmen and I are attending the Ensemble conference. As soon as we booked the conference we started talking about restaurants we would visit. I have to admit that I haven’t been to Vegas in 25 years and didn’t count it as one of my favourite places. The first time, 1976 I was escorted from most Casinos for being underage but was amazed at Caesar’s Palace, the second time I was under amazed and the last time in ’83, well what happens in Vegas stays…I just don’t recall much about it.
Everyone has been telling me that I have to go back, at least for the restaurants. I’m going. We’re staying at The Cosmopolitan and eating several meals there but the real meals will be 2 dinners at some big bang restaurants. We’re booked at Alain Ducasse’s Mix at Mandalay Bay. It’s a good thing I’ve started to study the menu now. This is going to require some thought. I haven’t seen a full wine menu yet but they offered some hidden treasures and I’m especially interested in trying a ’06 J Phelps Cabernet.
We also have a table booked at B & B, Mario Battali Joe Bastianich’s ristorante at The Venetian Hotel. The wine list is fascinating. 22 pages of Italian wines divided by district with a page of champagne thrown in. No champagne for me in an Italian restaurant. I’ll be ordering Prosecco while deciding what to eat and drink.
Hoping to get Carmen to take pictures.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Winedown Shiraz, Pinotage and Bra cheese

Today we have a Jackson Triggs Shiraz. It's not THE JT best in the world Shiraz, but it's good. Also checking out a South African Pinotage called The Grinder, in honour of our TTG hikers. But the big new thing today is Bra cheese from Italy. A new one for us, it's named after the city of Bra, south of Turin, Bra is a Cittaslow city, one of the founding cities in the Slow Food, Slow City movement. My money is on the cheese being a winner.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Perfect Day - Market in the morning Winery in the afternoon

Fall harvest at the Trout Lake Market and wine tasting at Kensington Square Wines. How many times do I say market in the morning and winery in the afternoon makes the perfect day. In early October Vancouver is the perfect place to be for that. Heirloom tomato salad, pea soup, Chive scones, honey bee gouda and Fairview Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon. Salad by Cathy, soup by David, scones by Rachel, wine by Bill Eggert. Cheese by Les Amis du Fromage. Seriously. Need I say more.