Archive for the ‘Wine’

EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – Number Nine

August 04, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Critics, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews, Wine 1 Comment →

9. PICASSO

Picasso has been so good for so long that people now take it for granted. Which is a shame since it remains one of Vegas’ most iconic and beautiful restaurants—one that will float a finicky foodie’s boat as much now as it did in 1998.

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Hot Hostesses Watch – BIN 702 + A Few Thoughts on Downtown Dining

May 25, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Food, Hot Hostess Watch, Openings, Wine 13 Comments →

LaLa and LoLo (we kid you not — those are their actual names*) are two big reasons to do all of your fine wine tasting at BIN 702 in Container Park.

The other is: all bottles of wine are 1/2 price on Sundays and Wednesdays.

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DB BRASSERIE Deliciously Beckons

May 15, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Food, Liquor/Liqueur/Libations, Openings, Reviews, Wine 8 Comments →

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ELV note: Daniel Boulud is back, and gastronomes everywhere are licking their chops. But before we dive into reviewing his new spot db Brasserie (opened just three weeks ago), perhaps a little history lesson is in order.

When it was announced ten years ago that Daniel Boulud would be coming to Las Vegas (at the Wynn Hotel and Casino), no one in Las Vegas was happier than yours truly. When the Daniel Boulud Brasserie opened there in May of 2005, no one was a bigger fan or more loyal customer.

When Philippe Rispoli — the on-premises chef de cuisine who made the restaurant hum — was shown the door in ‘o7, things went downhill rapidly. Between the Wynn’s wanting to steak-i-fy the place, and a kitchen crew that had neither the heart nor the chops for true French food, it was pretty much a relief when they closed the joint (on July 4, 2010), so as to no longer sully the name of one of America’s greatest chefs.

But Boulud — being neither a fool nor a bad businessman — knew there was still gold in them thar hills; he just needed the Great Recession to recede a bit more before throwing down for another try in our humble burg. This time he’s maintaining more control (he owns the restaurant in partnership with the hotel, we’re told), and this time he’s gonna stick.

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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.

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Letter of the Week – Fine Wine (Gouging) Times

May 01, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Letter of the Week, Wine 11 Comments →

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Dear ELV,

One of my first great dining experiences was with my father at Picasso in 1998, and it remains one of the best meals of my life. I’ve returned to Las Vegas dozens of times since then, first for the innumerable temptations your city offers a young man and, as I’ve aged, increasingly for the food.

I believe any frequent visitor to Las Vegas understands and accepts there is a surcharge for the fun. The games favor the house, “complimentary” wi-fi is $25, and food will cost a bit more than back home, even if home is New York or Chicago. What the visitor gets in return, especially folks like me who live as far from New York and Chicago as Las Vegas, is unparalleled access to things like gourmet restaurants. It’s a long, long shot that I could get a seat at Marea, Daniel Boulud, and Per Se on back-to-back-to-back nights, but I can eat at Guy Savoy, Twist, and Sage on any given trip.

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The UNLVino Rad Off-The-Hook BLOWOUT ’14

March 15, 2014 By: mitchell Category: Events, Food, Wine 1 Comment →

Hold on to your most radical of hats, bros and broettes, firmly by the brim, and make that red sucker turn a three-sixty, then another 120 degree turn, COUNTER clockwise!  Yeah, that’s right, screw time!  That’s a concept we won’t be needing where we’re going, which is NOW.

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Sniff This Cork

January 09, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Wine 10 Comments →

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ELV read some nonsense the other day about things you should never do when ordering wine.

The first one was “Don’t smell the cork.”

The second one was “Don’t beat up the wine.”

And the third one was “Don’t sniff the wine more than once.”

ELV loves reading mandates from 30-something “top sommeliers” telling 20-something feature writers exactly what they want to hear.

ELV loves it because what the naive writer and not-as-smart-as-he-thinks-he-is somm are doing is pandering to the masses — in this case those Gen X, Y, and Millennials who want to be “in the know” even if they know absolutely nothing.

ELV also loves it because both the interviewer and interviewee know they have to say something new and fresh — something that scotches all those fuddy-duddy old rules — so their desperate-to-be-with-it readers will feel smarter and cooler than all those stuffed shirts that came before them.

When those are your rules, it matters not to you or your audience whether you know what you’re talking about.

And the “top sommelier” in this article, clearly does not.

Let’s take them one by one, shall we?

Item: Sniffing the cork.

Should you do it? Yes if the bottle is an old or valued one; no if it’s some supermarket chardonnay. If it’s an old or valuable bottle such as this treasure:

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…you need to consider the cork, examine the cork, sniff the cork, smell the cork, fondle the cork…and hell, make love to the f*cking cork before you evaluate the wine. The reason you do this is to see if excessive damage or mold or bacteria or some fuzzy-wuzzy element has so tainted the stopper that some unpleasant odors or elements have been introduced into the wine.

If the cork looks older than Methuselah, no biggie. As you can see, after 30+ years in a bottle, these organic pieces of tree bark can get pretty wizened. If the darn thing disintegrates in your hand, though, all of you (the customer, the restaurant and the bottle) have problems.

Smell, however, is something else entirely. If the bottle is more than ten years old, you should always feel and sniff the damn thing. It should smell clean and winey, but not be too wet. If the bottle is really old (20+ years), it may give off whiffs of an old, dusty wine wine cellar, but nothing more. If you detect any off odors, hand it to the sommelier and ask their opinion.  Unless you’re in some kind of clip joint (and who orders expensive wine in a clip joint?) they’ll give you their honest assessment — that’s probably more  reliable, accurate and erudite than your first impression.

Item: Don’t beat up the wine, i.e., don’t excessively swirl or shake wine in your glass.

Again, unmitigated nonsense from someone whom, we bet, has tons of book learning (and tastings!) behind him (and every wine distributor in New York begging for his attention), but not a lot of real-life, hands on experience with the stuff. (He looks from his picture to be all of 35 years old.)

Wine is very sturdy stuff. Unless you’re talking about a 1947 Mouton Rothschild (which we’ve had – eat your hearts out), it can take a lot of abuse — especially of the swirling and shaking kind. In fact, more than once have we seen sommeliers and winemakers in Europe shake their (generally young) wine in a carafe like a martini to aerate it.

Swirl away….and don’t be shy. This is not a game of diminishing returns. You’ll be amazed at the different aromas released from the juice with every agitation.

Item: Don’t sniff the wine more than once.

Again, unmitigated b.s. Who is this guy? “The earthy smells shouldn’t overwhelm the fruity smell.” Excuse me, but in many French wines (and even a lot of Spanish and Italian ones) they do just that….and they’re supposed to.

He continues spouting idiocy: “If you think there’s something wrong with the wine there probably is.” Not if you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about (or smelling).

Unbridled pandering like this only convinces the uneducated consumer that they’re always right….which is just the kind of drivel this audience wants to hear.

Congratulations, John Ragan! You have single-handedly set back restaurant wine tasting thirty years with your overarching need to tell your younger customers that their first instincts about wine are always correct.

We know you and your employer are seeking to expand this market, and are desperate to empower this generation with the tools of winespeak (and to drink their way to your profit’s content), but feeding them this falderol is a disservice to them and the beverage you have devoted your life to.

Do everyone a favor. Teach a wine class instead of handing out erroneous sound bites that encourage people to always be wrong, but never in doubt.

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p.s. Many thanks to food and wine friend Rob Kim for furnishing the lip-smacking Sauterne above to our latest “Lunch Bunch” gathering. The bottle was everything a dessert wine should be and much, much more

And yes, everyone of us sniffed and fondled that beautiful, 32 year old cork.

Dining Out (and Wine) Options for Thanksgiving on News 3 at Noon

November 22, 2013 By: John Curtas Category: Food, Wake Up With the Wagners, Wine Comments Off

ELV note: you’ll have to scroll all the way to the end of the show (to the 5:15 remaining mark), but if you do you will be richly rewarded with some beneficent banter about baking and boozing your way through the bewitching bounty befitting our humble burg. (Not only that, we’ll also tell you where to go for some succulent supper and a super sandwich if you don’t feel live slaving over a stove.

TODD’S UNIQUE DINING

4350 East Sunset Road (near Sunset and Sunset – go figure)

Henderson, NV 89014

702.259.8633

www.toddsunique.com

CAPRIOTTI’S SANDWICH SHOPS

(Multiple locations)

www.Capriottis.com

MARCHE BACCHUS BISTRO AND WINE SHOP

2620 Regatta Drive.

Las Vegas, NV89128

702.804.8008

www.marchebacchus.com

What Should You Drink at 115 Degrees?

July 01, 2013 By: John Curtas Category: Wine Comments Off

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But it's a dry heat

They’re here food fans — the blistering, convection oven days of a Vegas summer — and nothing puts ELV off his feed like a succession of 110 degree afternoons.

But while metabolism adjusts by slowing down during these torrid months, thirsts must still be quenched, fellowships shared, victories celebrated and women seduced.  So, what is a bloke to imbibe when the mercury hits the heights that drove the Paiutes into the mountains for thousands of years?

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Yonaka: Modern Japanese, Even More Modern-er

February 09, 2013 By: mitchell Category: Food, Openings, Reviews, Wine 4 Comments →

So, dig on this new restaurant, friends: YONAKA.  It’s been open for less than a month, but already it’s starting to beat out a lion’s share of the hip Japanese-fusion restaurants on the strip by a country mile, in my opinion.  Granted, we are plagued by those paint-by-numbers sushi joints in disguise, two or three to a casino property (hopefully a tide to be turned by the recent Palazzo top-tier sushi announcement), but honestly the quality and downright artistic creativity I’m seeing here is SHOCKING.

The meal starts out with an Amuse-bouche, mine was a little square of edamame tofu with just a dab of yuzu tobiko roe and maldon salt.  The nuttiness of this, I assure you, groves of nut trees would covet.  Nice to see this small but appreciated wink-and-nod to the coming meal can be practiced off-strip without being contrived.  It’s fun, it’s simple, and the creamy/nutty tofu with just that tiniest bit of citrus and fish comes off pitch-perfect.  Hopes, consider yourselves raised.  Looking back, this was going through my mind.

I'd covet this.

A cursory glance at the menu won’t give any real indicator to the food to come, but once you start noticing menu descriptors like “apple chips” and “kafir lime vinaigrette” and “preserved lemon”, one does begin to wonder.  Mainly choosing with my empty stomach, I got the item with two types of fishes (my stomach is not logical…), Konpa: Atlantic Salmon and Hamachi, with yellow bell pepper, almonds, tiny slices of preserved apricot, super thin jalapeno wheels, and almost transparently thin dehydrated tomato chips, all in an orange ponzu.  Whew, that’s quite a list of elements, but it really is a bit of a salad in and around and highlighting some extremely superb fish.  The duo of rich, fatty fish cut into sashimi bits contrasted well with the bright, tangy ponzu (like all their sauces, made in-house), sweet preserved apricot, and surprisingly addictive tomato chips.  Perhaps most surprising was palate of textures presented, making each bite a fun little game of “find the best combo” (although, if that puzzle was solved for me and topped neatly onto the sashimi, I wouldn’t complain…).

Atlantic Salmon and Hamachi hodge-podge salad

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