Kickin’ Off Our Uncork’d 2011 Journey In Style…

First came the private wine tasting at some trés lûxe suite atop the Hilton (yes Virginia, there still are trés lûxe suites in this old warhorse of a hotel….who knew?):

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…involving some serious juice from a fellow named Dennis De La Montanya (whom you may not of heard of), and rock ‘n roll dude/songwriter/keyboardist Jonathan Cain, from a band named Journey, of whom you just may have.

Turns out, De La Montanya got his good buddy into the wine making biz, and their results are pretty impressive. The pinot noirs are what got ELV’s attention, but Cain’s Finale cab is a keeper too. Expect to start seeing these on lists soon — and expect a mouthful from these estate grown grapes.

From there, it was off to Caesars Palace for the now traditional kick-off Grand Masters Dinners from some of their top chefs. ELV took his usual seat at Restaurant Guy Savoy (alongside some frustrated Borscht Belt comedian named Slapsie Maxie Jacobson) and settled in for the usual French-filled festivities and fulsome fare:

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Besides the lame jokes we endured, it was a hoot and a half to hang with The Daily Blender’s Jennifer Heigl.

Jennifer, we’re looking forward to hangin’ with today and tomorrow at Uncork’d. Slapsie Maxie’s jokes we can do without.


Did you hear about the bad Jewish restaurant?

The food is terrible…and oy veh…the portions are so small!

Thankfully, we won’t have to suffer through any more comedic and (not to mention gastronomic) indignities over the next two days.

A Day with Joel, Guy, a Hottie and a Hare

Life is so brief that we should not glance either too far backwards or forwards…therefore study how to fix our happiness in our glass and on our plateGrimod de la Reyniere

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It’s no secret that ELV is an inveterate Francophile. Since the days of Thomas Jefferson, it has been French food, French restaurants, and most especially French chefs who have led America out of its uncouth culinary youth and into the promised land of good eating. China may be the greatest of all world cuisines, but it is French technique and savoir faire that have been most responsible for Americans eating well.

Because of this, as just about every food fan in Vegas knows, we’ve been in sauté/cassoulet/à votre santé heaven over the last five years — ever since Joël (as in Robuchon) and Guy (as in Savoy) planted their flags on our soil. And if you’ll forgive us a bit of local pride, neither New York nor Chicago nor L.A. nor ‘Frisco has seduced these luminaries (along with paisans Pierre Gagnaire and Alain Ducasse), the way our humble burg has.

It’s all about money of course — 38 million mouths are more tempting than the cut-throat, small bore Manhattan restaurant scene, or San Francisco’s provincial one — but because the crème de la crème are here and not there, the baseline for great cooking in the High Mojave has been forever raised and spoiled us for anything that doesn’t measure up.

To such thoughts did ELV’s mind wander as he appeared at the Fox 5 studios to watch Robuchon give his first Las Vegas TV interview (and one of the few interviews he’s ever done in America) recently. Besides kibbitzing with him, and James Beard Southwest Chef of the Year Claude Le Tohic, and G.M. Emmanuel Cornet, we got to hang with Fox 5’s foxy Rachel Smith:

(KVVU’s resident foodie), and hear Joël compliment our book and thank us for being such big supporters of Vegas’ French Foodie Revolution. To which we could only reply de rien, Mon. Robuchon.

From hobnobbing with JR, it was only a short stroll over to Restaurant Guy Savoy for its autumn menu, featuring lièvre à la royale (wild hare fit for a king). Waverly Root defines this hare-raising dish as a creation from the Limousin (Central Plateau) area of France. It is a dish so famous that in the eighteenth century, a special terrine/earthenware dish was invented for it. (If you’ve ever seen those oval-shaped, rabbit-covered terrines in Williams-Sonoma, you get the idea.) Root says: “Its chief distinction was its stuffing, into which went the liver, heart and lungs of the hare, hashed up together; cooked with goose foie gras; fat pork; bread crumbs soaked in bouillon; chopped onions previously cooked in butter, chopped truffles and parsley; a little garlic and hare’s blood.”

That blood (and those lungs, heart and liver), give this dish a wild, gamy funk that is one of the most unique in gastronomy. It is not for the faint of heart…or hare…but is one of those essential dishes to try if you ever want to establish your gourmet bona fides, or cross swords, or stubby fingers with the likes of Reyniere. Super-somm Phil Park matched it perfectly with a La Chappelle (no relation to Dave) de la Mission Haut-Brion (’99)that, like that wabbit, had a finish so long we’re still tasting it.

ELV left a $95 tip on his comped meal that would’ve been a Benjamin if he hadn’t needed an Abe for the valet.


In Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino

3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, NV 89109