Eating Las Vegas

John Curtas is …

KLAS TV Channel 8 (CBS) Restaurant of the Week-PAYARD BISTRO and PATISSERIE

HAPPY (belated) FOURTH OF JULY! Since hot dogs and badly-grilled burgers aren’t’s thing, we thought we’d provide a patriotic history lesson with this week’s featured restaurant. We’ve chosen a French restaurant as our ROTW on our nation’s birthday because:

1) There would be no Independence Day if the French government hadn’t supplied the Continental Congress and Army with money, food, arms, clothing, ships and soldiers during the Revolutionary War;

2) The American flag is red, white, and blue as a tribute to France (and its flag) and its contribution to our independence;

3) The French gave us the Statue of Liberty;

4) Without France, there would be no: restaurants (which is a French word and a French invention), napoleons, eclairs, croque monsieur, crepes, omelettes, eggs Benedict, souffles, creme brulee, profiteroles, Roquefort, madeleines, bouillabaisse, French bread, French cheese, French fries, French wine or French pastries. Not to mention rouget barbet en ecailles de pommes de terre crousillantes or pigeon en feuillete au chou nouveau et au foie gras. Finally, and most importantly;

5) Without the French, we’d all have pasty complexions and bad teeth and still be eating flavorless food with names like toad in the hole and spotted dick.

So let’s celebrate the Fourth (and the Fourteenth – Bastille Day) in style, and give thanks to our beloved sister country that has given, and continues to give us, loads of good grub and guys who can cook it. And here’s a look at our best French bistro, presided over by the estimable Francois Payard (and his able lieutenant –
Gregory Gorreau) – two of the best chefs in America, and two guys who know how to run a top notch eatery & pastry shop.

RAKU Rocks!

Paul Bartolotta goes there. Rick Moonen goes there. Joe Isidori and David Varley just went, and uber-wine guys Jaime Smith and Ken Fredrickson can’t stay away. In fact every chef and foodie in town is making a pilgrimage these days to an obscure corner of a run-down strip mall that houses this tiny, 30-seat sanctuary of serious Japanese robatayaki cooking.

Raku has only been open two months, but it is probably the single most exciting off-Strip restaurant to open in the past two years. And in terms of finely-tuned food, nothing off the Strip can match it.

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Salmonella Surprise

Having come of age in the 60’s and 70’s, yours truly has a healthy distrust of anything the government tells him.* And when it comes to food and diet, the Feds get so many things wrong,** it’s best just to ignore them altogether.

Witness the recent mass hysteria brought on by the government warnings about salmonella in tomatoes. Turns out, blaming tomatoes was a bad idea. In fact, most of the stuff you heard a few weeks ago was not supported by any hard evidence – just conjecture and supposition – which didn’t stop the destruction of millions of dollars of tomatoes, because a few people (maybe/supposedly) ate some (actual/really) crappy food at some (possibly) bad restaurants (mostly in Texas.)

The point is, because 922 people got sick from something (nobody knows exactly what), that may or may not be related to salsa, tens of millions of people, thousands of businesses and hundreds of farmers have to suffer…..

Read the tale of government and journalistic panic-button-pushing here in the Wall Street Journal.


* e.g. Watergate, Vietnam War, Cambodia, Richard Nixon, J. Edgar Hoover, The Chicago 7, Oliver North, CIA, Henry Kissinger, Three Mile Island, Weapons of Mass Destruction, et al…

** See: IN DEFENSE of FOOD, Michael Pollan, (Penguin Press 2008)

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