Holiday Dining My Way

ELV note: We’ve been as busy as a beaver this fall — writing for a various ‘zines and trying to finish the copy for the fourth edition of EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants. Oh yes, and we also took a two-week trip to Germany and Alsace (that we’ll be writing about as soon as the book gets done), and we got engaged to be married AND we’ve been trying to keep up with our day job — saving the taxpayers’ money at the City of Las Vegas. As a result, our nights have been shorter and our ELV posts have been fewer. So, with all that in mind, we thought this would be a good time to post our recently published article in VEGAS magazine, highlighting our ideas for where to best have a bacchanalian blowout over the holidays. Read on, happy holidays, and we’ll resume more regular postings once all this hubbub subsides.

Upscale Egg Salad at Le Cirque Las Vegas(Le Cirque puts its spin on egg salad)

Dining in Las Vegas is extravagant any time of year, but during the holidays, our temples of gastronomic delight really pull out all the stops—and stoppers.

In Las Vegas, creating a holiday environment all year-round is our specialty. But during our winter holidays (when, granted, you might have to look for snow in the Bellagio Conservatory rather than outside), the city’s best restaurants stage the ultimate in over-the-top dining—featuring très luxe products from around the globe brought in to satisfy gourmands looking to dress up, dine out, and drink it all in, the Vegas way.

As the French invented both the modern restaurant and Champagne, you can be assured a holiday meal at Joël Robuchon (MGM Grand, 702-891-7925) will be second to none. James Beard Award–winning Executive Chef Claude Le-Tohic (pictured above with the man himself) is a truffle snob of the best kind, and by Christmas Day, his menu is usually festooned with the finest black truffles. “After about mid-December, the white truffles start declining in quality,” he explains. “That’s when we start using truffes noires, which are much better when cooked. Many of our customers request them over the holidays.” Thus can you find these gorgeous fungi adorning everything from a mousseline served with a semi-soft boiled egg with Comté cheese to a white onion tart with smoked bacon that proves the rest of the world has nothing on the French when it comes to crafting an umami bomb.

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WING LEI for the Holidays

A man cannot be too serious about what he eats. – Confucius

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to pause, collect ourselves, relax a bit, and reflect upon…Chinese food!

Yes, Chinese food. The world’s oldest and greatest cuisine.

For as big a Francophile as we are, there is no gastronomia that competes with China’s for venerability and deliciousness.

To put things in perspective, China cooks were selling food to strangers, and codifying their cuisine, 500 years before Romans started feeding Christians to the lions. It is fairly undeniable among food historians and anthropologists that Chinese culture is the most keenly food-oriented in the world. And it’s no coincidence that the phrase “Have you eaten?” is the most common of daily greetings in the Chinese language.

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WING LEI’s Ming Yu Cooks New for Chow Dawn Fat

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Ever since Richard Chen departed earlier this year, we’ve been a little concerned about the fate of Wing Lei — the gorgeous, seductive dining room tucked into a far corner of the Wynn. Under Chef Chen, it became the only Chinese restaurant in America to merit a Michelin star. Them’s  purty big shoes to fill — if you get our drift — and whether it can maintain that level of quality and consistency is something only time (and a few more visits) will be able to tell.

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