The Gleeful Gourmand: A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Eating

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Eating

According to the September issue of Bon Appétit magazine, Las Vegas is now second only to Paris for the number of celebrity chefs boasted:

When France’s Pierre Gagnaire opened Twist restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental this year, he joined fellow countrymen Alain Ducasse, Guy Savoy, and Joel Robuchon in transforming Las Vegas into a world capital of French dining. With a combined 58 Michelin stars among them, they have secured Vegas’s place as second only to Paris for pure star power. You could travel to the City of Light, where each of these chefs has a restaurant, but in Vegas an intrepid foodie could conceivably enjoy Ducasse’s pressed chicken and foie gras, Savoy’s artichoke and black truffle soup, Gagnaire’s langoustine five ways, and Robuchon’s decadent pommes purée in a single night. Although making it a four-day feast is more advisable.
“Top Trend: Vive Las Vegas.” Bon Appétit. September 2010: 31

Both my husband and I thought this note was incredible. As my husband put it, who would have ever thought that Las Vegas would suddenly be a contender for the culinary epicenter of the world? My husband has been going to Vegas long enough to remember a time when your fine dining choices were a buffet and a buffet. Back then the major draw was simply the casino itself. These days the casino does well, but it’s taken a major backseat to the pool parties, clubs, shows, and of course, fine dining.

When I read the above statement I immediately recognized how very true it was. I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to partake in some truly spectacular meals over the course of my life, and I can, without a doubt, rate the most spectacular as having taken place in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas never used to be on my radar. As a Christian, I often looked at it with disdain and even a little bit of fear. There is no denying that it is a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah, but when I started traveling with my husband, we found ourselves there quite often. For instance, every year the ERA (Electronic Retailing Association) trade show is held there. This is a major event for my husband and his business. It’s almost like the Golden Globes – it’s where a grand majority of deals are put into motion – and they even have awards! I’ve been very fortunate to be able to occasionally tag along with him. Also, other times we’ve coincided the trade show with our annual jaunt to see Buck’s family in Hawaii. Las Vegas is a great place to stop when you’re traveling halfway around the world with a toddler (I know that sounds strange, but I’ll get into that in another post).

Anyway, this particular dinner came about at the ERA trade show, and we were invited to dine at Le Cirque at Bellagio by a business associate and her husband. It just so happened that her husband, who is French, also owned somewhere around 30 fine dining restaurants and clubs worldwide. He also knew the chef at Le Cirque, and demanded to choose the wine for the table. Nobody objected. What followed was the most incredible meal of my life. From the impeccable service, to the mouth-watering wines, to my dinner (this was a few years ago, so what I remember was a melt-in-your mouth duck breast and a tiny, personal sweet potato soufflé), it was truly a meal to remember.

But that was nothing compared to the dessert. The chef sent out, on the house, several of their best desserts that we all shared. Among them was crème brulée, two different soufflés, and an ice cream bombe that when broken through the hard chocolate coating, revealed its creamy goodness inside. And also some sort of chocolate-within-chocolate ball that was painted with edible gold. It was dessert heaven, and I know if I have the fortune of partaking in such a meal in the future, it will be nothing short of a miracle.

Of course, I’ve had lots of other wonderful meals in Vegas as well: coffee-rubbed steak at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill (Caesar’s Palace), steak that would make a grown man weep at SW Steakhouse (The Wynn), late-night mac-and-cheese at FIX (Bellagio), and sumptuous breakfasts at Society Café (Encore at The Wynn). I could really care less about gambling, going to clubs, and crazy pool parties. But all you have to do is mention that fine dining will be a priority and I will find a way to get to Las Vegas.

P.S. - Have a favorite dining establishment in Vegas? Leave it in the comments!


Kirsten Oliphant said...

I've never thought of food and Vegas either, really, until recently. But that's not the foremost thing that comes to my mind: I think casinos and strippers. I love the show Las Vegas because it keeps me on the elliptical at the gym, and just yesterday Ted Allen was on trying to help them get a great chef for the Montecito.

I digress?

Anyway, I've never been, and if I went, I'd probably be eating at, like, Waffle House. Because that could keep me full all day for $6. But I am pressing my face up against the glass of your post, wishing one day I could do REAL food like that...

Videopub said...

I too think of food when I think of Vegas. Erica's sister lived there for a couple of years and we visited a few times. Her and her husband showed us some great restaurants.

My favorite restaurant there is Hash House a Go Go. It's basically the best brunch place ever - the portions are huge. The Eggs Benedict was actually on Man vs. Food. I had to try it when we went, and it was delicious.

Because who doesn't want fried chicken on their eggs benedict?

Jenna said...

Keeks, maybe our trip together should be to Las Vegas??

James, that sounds awesome - I love eggs benedict, and fried chicken. Sounds like a winner (winner chicken dinner).

The next time you go, try Society Cafe at Encore. From the outside it doesn't seem like much, but if you get one of their specialty cinnamon buns to share with the table, you will not be disappointed. It's roughly the size of a football, and it is heaven on a plate.

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