Saturday, May 31, 2008

Vegas Uncork’d: Payard Patisserie & Bistro

Bon Appétit’s conference, Vegas Uncork’d, started on Thursday night (8 May 2008) with a dinner inside Caesar’s Palace at Payard Patisserie & Bistro, hosted by François Payard and Dorie Greenspan.

It was a small, intimate gathering of about thirty people.

And I finally got to meet Dorie Greenspan! Dorie comes across as a very wonderful lady, very pleasant and down-to-earth. More later ...

I dined with a lovely couple from Canada.

As I was told, the husband didn’t know the real reason for going to Las Vegas until his wife told him ... two hours into their flight.

Attending the food conference was the gentleman’s surprise birthday gift from his wife. Nice little surprise, ehh?

As I was implying, the Payard Patisserie & Bistro is not a huge place,

which made for a nice, comfortable evening.

Dorie Greenspan introduced chef François Payard.

And now, onto dinner ...

Tomato Gelee with Monk Fish & Tomato Salsa
Chartogne-Taillet “Cuvee St. Anne” Merfy, Montagne de Reims, Champagne, France

Asparagus Salad, Artichoke & Tamarind Dressing
Skouras Moschofilero 2007, Peloponnese, Greece

Braised Short Ribs, Mashed Potatoes and Baby Carrots
Trapiche Single Vineyard Malbec, Vina Francisco Olive 2005, Mendoz Argentina

Actually, the short ribs were not beef short ribs.

It was boneless veal. It tasted very good, but they were not short ribs.

At this point in the evening, Dorie Greenspan sat at our table.

That's correct, I had ...

Dessert with Dorie

Seared Pineapple with Thyme & Coconut Sorbet
Slow Baking Apple, Cardamine Streusel, Granny Smith Sorbet

Milk Chocolate Payard Candy Bar with Gianduja & Caramel Glaze
Palet d’Or, Hazelnut Succes, Marquise Chocolat & Crispi Wafer

Lustau Moscatel Emilin, Jerez, Spain

My opening Vegas Uncork’d experience started out well. It gets better later.

Payard Patisserie & Bistro
Caesar’s Palace

3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 731-7292

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Las Vegas Luncheon at Fish Camp, y’all

On a Thursday morning, I made my way over from the MGM Grand to the Monte Carlo Resort to check-in and get myself ready for a few days of Vegas Uncork’d. Although it wasn’t part of the official conference, my luncheon appointment at Fish Camp at the Town Center was spent in the presence of culinary celebrities. Local food critic John Curtas, Chef Louis Osteen of Lous’s & Fish Camp, and food writer Alan Richman were seated in one of the booths at Fish Camp, good ol’ boys havin’ a good ol’ time and eatin’ good Southern food and talkin’ about ... (Hey! What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas, you know what I mean??)

My friend and I were at another booth across the room, watching them from a distance. I was chompin’ on one of their salads: Peppery arugula greens, buttermilk blue cheese and candied pecans tossed in a roasted pecan oil, cane vinegar and molasses vinaigrette. Afterwards, it was on to "the Lowcountry's finest shrimp and grits." It tasted great. However, the shrimps could have been spicier for me.

After I finished my lunch, I decided to walk over to the other table where the three culinary celebs were, in order to see what they were eating for lunch. I went back to my table with a plate of fried oysters and fried alligator. I rarely eat fried oysters, usually the fresh raw oysters. The fried oyster tasted okay. I’ll try them again, in limited portions for now. And as for the fried alligator, it tasted like chicken, sort of ... It’s really a mind-over-matter issue. Our server told us that eighty per cent of their customers order the fried alligator.

The three gentlemen walked on over to our table to sit and chat for a while. We had a good conversation. Chef Carlos Guia came by our table later and introduced himself. The former executive chef of Commander’s Palace is now at Louis’s/Fish Camp. I’m glad things seem to be working out for Chef Guia.

No, I didn’t have any dessert for lunch. I’ll be having dessert later that night over at Payard Patisserie & Bistro, one of the opening events of Vegas Uncork’d.

Fish Camp
Town Square
6605 Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas NV 89119
(702) 463-3000

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The night before Vegas Uncork’d

Twas the night before Vegas Uncork’d and all through the town,

Hotel rooms along the Strip were seemingly not to be found.

Until I talked with a reservationist from MGM Grand

And she pulled out a room for me upon demand.

Now for a little repast, a bit of repose,

Time to wash up and put on some nice clothes,

And off to dinner with a member from eGullet,

To L’Atelier, to Robuchon, Man! You got to love it!

I arrived at the restaurant and noticed at the end of the bar

An older gentleman waiting from afar.

We greeted each other, I mentioned my name,

But in Vegas, we could change to someone else or stay the same.

I’ve eaten at L’Atelier previously, but him, never before,

I’m surprised, I’m amazed, quelle scandale, what an uproar!

Admittedly, to this French restaurant he had to be swayed

By a local friend, a lawyer, the decision was made.

The question of the moment: What’s for dinner, what to eat?

Small plates, a la carte, a glass of wine to make things complete?

At L’Atelier, we chose the discovery menu,

That would be a great introduction to this foodie venue.

Le menu découverte, mon ami l’a choisi

Et j’ai voulu le même chose, moi aussi.

But for the main entrée, differently we selected

He the quail and I the lamb, We’re ready! Let’s get connected!

Le citron, le thon rouge, le homard, l’asperge verte,

Each course beautifully presented in this culinary concert.

L’oeuf, la sole, et moi, l’agneau (au lieu de la caille),

We savored each course, gastronomically pleasing to the eye.

Le thé glace vanille et la mangue,

Desserts that tasted so soothing to the tongue.

After finishing dinner at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon,

I wouldn’t mind repeating this, like a culinary chaconne.

What creativity! What a genius! Joël Robuchon he is.

Continual innovations one must have to stay in this biz.

Now to get ready for Vegas Uncork’d at its various sites,

And Bon Appetit to all, and to all a good night!

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
MGM Grand
3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, Nevada 89109

(702) 891-7358