Archive for the ‘Travel’

Tasting Menu Tyranny

September 19, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Critics, John Mariani, Rant, Travel 2 Comments →

ELV note:  A quick aperitivo of opinion to whet thine appetite for the flurry of essential eateries to come:

(ELV’s worst nightmare)

A few of our ardent Facebook foodie friends (and we have many of them) have asked why we didn’t make it to Coi, Crenn, Benu or Saison on our just-finished, four-day trip to Frisco.

Our answer is simple (and – with apologies – a bit insulting): The last thing ELV wants or needs at this point in his insatiable existence is to be enslaved for 3+ hours by a team of 30 year old cooks assaulting his senses with dozens of “wildly inventive” teeny-tiny plates of overwrought tweezer food.


ELV Leaves Town; Food World Mourns

September 15, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Critics, Travel 4 Comments →

Eating Las Vegas in general, and ELV in particular, will be heading out of town for the new few days to San Francisco, where he will be asserting and defending the legal rights of the City of Las Vegas in his new job as Deputy City Attorney.

Therefore, his posts on this Web site will be taking a short sabbatical. If you wish to follow his eating adventures in the City by the Bay (where he plans on squeezing in at least a half dozen spectacular meals), please feel free to join him on either Twitter @EatingLasVegas or Instagram @JohnCurtas. (Sorry, but our Facebook fan following is filled up with frolicking and fulsome foodies.)

That is all.

This Just In: EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants to go On-Line

July 24, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Critics, Reviews, Travel 2 Comments →

  • Order the Eating Las Vegas Book Here

Attention all foodies and Las Vegas food fans. What remains of EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants will soon be available on this Web site.

By that we mean the portions written by yours truly will soon become an integral part of, and will be available for your delectation and commentation(?), as well as being continually updated by ELV to provide readers, locals and tourists with the most current information and opinion available on the top restaurants in town.

Our staff will soon be posting the entire text of our top 50 picks from the 2013 edition, and over the next few months we will endeavor to revise and update the list, restaurant by restaurant.

The first thing we’ll do, however, is publish a new list of our 50 Essential Restaurants — as soon as we’ve had the opportunity to glean through and edit the old one.

And finally, before you ask: Al Mancini had no interest in doing another book (so we’ll leave him to pursuits more befitting a man of his talents), and Max Jacobson continues on his slow road of recovery from his terrible accident. That’s why the book will continue with yours truly at the helm for the time being.

Sipping and Savoring Santa Barbara (County)

May 11, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Food, Travel, Wine, Zines 5 Comments →

This article first appeared in John Mariani’s Virtual Gourmet a few weeks ago. Click here to read it in the original format, or continue as you wish with the text below.

Solvang, California used to be a paragon of kitsch, corny architecture and lots and lots of butter cookies. When last we visited a little over ten years ago, it was at the tail end of its “outlet store phase” (as one local put it to us), and the Danish bakeries barely outnumbered the vacant storefronts – which is really saying something. These days, a great ableskiver, cheese Danish, or thin, Danish pancake accosts your waistline on almost every corner, but the real reason to come here is that this (formerly) sleepy little hamlet – known affectionately for decades as “Little Denmark” – has quietly become the wine capital of central California.


This Just In: ELV Spreading Rumors, Settling Scores and Set to Salaciously Sip

March 12, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Rant, Travel, Zines 12 Comments →

Good evening Mr. and Mrs. North and South America and all the ships and clippers at sea….

Item: Honey Salt Expanding Empire.

As predicted on these pages over a year ago, the entrepreneurs behind Summerlin’s Honey Salt are set to open two new stores in northwest Las Vegas. If our sources are correct, one will be called Honey Q and will be taking over the old Hops & Harvest space. (Good luck with that.) The other, we hear, will be called Honey Salt Steak and will be located in the new Red Rock Mall. (Another steakhouse in Vegas? What an original idea?)

Here’s hoping all this brand-expansion doesn’t result in another episode of  “Honey, I Shrunk the Profits.”


Our Favorite Italians

December 09, 2013 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Critics, Events, Food, Travel 1 Comment →

In Italy, the whole country is a theatre and the worst actors are on the stage. – George Bernard Shaw

Dario & Faith

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Dario Cecchini and Faith Willinger are two Italians of a different stripe.

Cecchini — the Master Butcher/Intellectual of Panzano – has been called the world’s best butcher. (“To beef, or not to beef?” is his rallying cry.*)

Willinger is a born-again Italian who has spent 35 years exploring Italy, from its Alps to Sicily, searching for the best food this giant, slurp-worthy isthmus of eatability has to offer. (“Good wine and bad wine have the same amount of calories.”  is one of her sayings.)

And let me tell you my friends, you can do a lot worse in an evening than sharing a ginormous bistecca a la Fiorentina:

6 lb steaks? I'll take two!

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…with these two mavens of meat at a ristorante. In this case that ristorante was CUT last Thursday night — where they both were on hand to kick off the Venetian/Palazzo’s Italian Food Festival.

Cecchini was his usual ebullient self:

Old friends in 30 seconds

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….in fact he (along with some ginger friend of his in orange clogs):

The trouble with Italians is they have no personality

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….practically defines the term.

And we bonded with Faith (a lady whose guidebooks we would never think of going to Italy without) like we were old friends in a matter of minutes:

We heart Faith Willinger

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Yeah, Italians, born-again or otherwise, are like that.

Just about the friendliest people on earth.


* To beef! …and then not to beef… is his answer.

Mitchell Davis, Tokyo Pie Give ELV Hope

November 06, 2013 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Critics, Food, Travel 2 Comments →

The next time you’re hungry for great food writing, ELV suggests you google “Mitchell Davis” and read whatever he’s interested in these days.


Here’s To You, Beantown!

April 17, 2013 By: John Curtas Category: Travel 3 Comments →

ELV note: Rather than wallowing in all the teeth-gnashing/faux sympathy* that grips our media and too many people when national tragedy strikes, we at ELV thought a short love letter to a traumatized city was in order.

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How do I love Boston? Let me count the ways.


Gentlemen to Bed! For Tomorrow We Have a Continental Breakfast….at 10ish

April 04, 2013 By: John Curtas Category: Rob Brydon, Steve Coogan 1 Comment →

ELV Remains Elusive, but Wilburn is Willing

January 23, 2013 By: John Curtas Category: Commercial, Critics, Travel 8 Comments →

Where it all began, in 1962

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If you click on and look closely at the above picture, you will see yours truly settling in for his birthday dinner at Antoine’s in New Orleans last Friday night. The setting was chosen with particularity since it was at this fabled restaurant that I had my first food epiphany way back in 1962. (Over a silver dish of crab meat bubbling in a sherry-butter sauce, if memory serves. I still recall turning to my mother — Marcella Ruth Schroader Curtas – d.o.b. 08-10-24 – and asking, “Why don’t you cook like this?”).

As you may recall, I was in N’Awlins shooting another episode of “All Forked Up,” premiering this Spring on the Travel Channel. That gig has kept me traveling around the U.S.A. for the past four months (Philly, Seattle, San Diego, Chicago and New Orleans), with one episode left to go. After that, it’ll be all over except the shouting as we wait for the public to give its verdict. If ratings are good, we’ll hit the road for more episodes. If the public decides we’re not worthy of its viewing attention, it’ll be back to Vegas with a great experience under our belt and lots of stories to tell.

Truth be told, our delusions are less grand than you might think. Sin City Rules set a pretty low bar  that succeeded only in reinforcing the shallow and stupid stereotypes that surround our humble burg. Insofar as it besmirched all things Vegas with its cast of spoiled lamebrains — and believe me,  it made Hillbilly Hand Fishing look like Tennessee Williams — our show tries to edify and entertain….oh, who am I kidding? Mostly it’s just me and Mancini yelling at each other over everything from soup to nuts, hurling invectives and mining our insult thesauruses daily. But we love the cities and the food and the production is going to look MAH-VEL-ous.

Until the show airs — looking to be late April right now — our travel schedule makes covering the Vegas food scene impossible. But an un-posted blog is an unhappy blog, soooooo cue Mitchell Wilburn!

Yes, Mitchell Wilburn… a young, stylish fellow who is a spirits and suds fanatic looking to expand his coverage of our food and beverage scene. My staff and I have given Mitchell the keys to the kingdom, as it were, and you will now see occasional articles and postings from his passionate pen. (There may also be other guest writers popping up from time to time to keep all of us on our toes, and who knows? you may even see an occasional iconoclastic exclamation from moi!

Please be patient with Mitchell (and all young writers), as he’s still finding his sea legs. He won’t be as edgy and outrageous as the guy whose picture is at the top of the page, but he loves excellence in eating and drinking just as much as your favorite bloviating blowhard.

Speaking of edgy and entertaining blowhards, Michael Winner died yesterday and you could hear the sighs of relief go up from restaurateurs across Great Britain. He was opinionated, imperious and impossible, but his Winner’s Dinners column was always a great read.

R.I.P. Michael Winner.michael winner