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We’ve never asked Rick Moonen what the secret is to his taramasalata. In fact, there isn’t any big secret to the fish roe dip — you make it by blending grey mullet (or carp or cod) roe with stale, soaked bread, lemon juice, garlic, onion and oil — but that doesn’t explain how or why his tastes better than any other one we’ve ever had. But it just does. There’s something about the silky/coarse/creamy consistency, with just a hint of fishiness and a definite tang, that separates this Olympian offering from plebian, plagiaristic provisions. Regardless of pedigree, his version pummels all others, and is worth a special trip.

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Vegas Uncork’d Salmon Smackdown on The Early Show

It may be a bit early to be thinking about your plans for Mother’s Day 2010, but if you’re Brad Ogden, Paul Bartolotta or Rick “Fishboy” Moonen, Christmas time is the right time to promote their restaurants, their hotels, and Las Vegas’s biggest and best culinary event.

And there’s no better place to do so on the food-friendliest network (CBS) morning news show, where these uber-chefs got a full ten minutes to strut their (and Vegas’s) stuff (an eternity in TV time).

Harry Smith and his gang gave the nod to Moonen’s salmon with fennel with blood oranges, but we at ELV thought the schoolboy bickering (Ogden to Bartolotta: “You need help with that?” Bartolotta to Ogden (dripping with sarcasm): I’m sure (yours) will be okay…”) made the segment worth watching.

So bicker on boys!

It’s a lot more fun than watching Rachel Ray make a Velveeta cheese pie with Triscuit cracker crust.

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