Charlie Trotter Instructs, Food Critics Listen, ELV Eats

When Charlie Trotter is in town and offers to hand-make a few creations at Bar Charlie, it doesn’t take much coaxing to get ELV there. As good as his tidbits were….we thought sticking around for The Full Monty was in order — especially since sommelier Des and bartender Jeremy were insistent, adamant, and wouldn’t-take-no-for-an-answer that we stay and taste some of their food and booze matches — not to mention Vannessa Garcia’s always-tempting desserts, a 1988 St. Emilion, and various insundry other wonderful things to eat and drink.

In other words, it was just another day at the office for ELV…..

RESTAURANT CHARLIE – Desserts

We’re not saying Vannessa Garcia is the best pastry chef in town (there’s a lot of stiff competition), but her deconstructed desserts at Restaurant Charlie blew us away as few have done lately. Some may not care for the scattered, haphazard construction, but they’re just indicative of the youth movement (and┬árebellion) against the strictures and formality that have hamstrung this genre for too long.

ELV thinks the depth of pastry talent in this town beats any city in America. Ask yourself: When’s the last time you had anything but a drop dead delicious dessert in any top-shelf Vegas restaurant?

Vannessa tells us she is self-taught — or at least on-the-job-taught — but no matter where her training comes from, she has a way with flavors and combinations that are both homey and avant-garde — not an easy trick to pull off.

In other food news: This is the time of year the staff at Eating Las Vegas pulls in its nominations for the restaurant awards it hands out on KNPR and KLAS in about six weeks. If you have any suggestions or nominations, now is the time to let us know.

And we’re not saying Vannessa is a lock for Pastry Chef of the Year, but she’s definitely the early favorite.

RESTAURANT AWARD CATEGORIES for 2008:

Restaurant of the Year

Chef of the Year

Pastry Chef of the Year

Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year

Ethnic Restaurant of the Year

Sommelier of the Year

Excellence in Management and Service

Cocktail Bar of the Year

(plus a few other catagories we make up as we go along….)