Saturday, March 27, 2010

Renowned Chef , Author Carla Pellegrino shares her recipe PENNE WITH CAVOLLINI E PANCETTA with The Cuisineist

RAOs in New York as always been known for their spectacular Neapolitan cuisine. It's also notorious for being one of the most difficult restaurants in New York in which to get a reservation. Year-long waits for one of its ten tables are not uncommon.

For decades Rao's existed as a neighborhood restaurant. Its local customers would fill the tables with such regularity that eventually they were given standing reservations - bookings that persevere to this day.

The Rao's phenomenon exploded in 1977, when New York Times food critic Mimi Sheraton gave Rao's a gushing, half-page, three-star review in front of millions of readers.

Since Rao's NYC location only has ten tables, and only one seating per evening, the resulting demand would have been overwhelming even if the tables weren't already spoken for.

That the tables were "owned" like a condominium translated to almost no empty seats in the house, night after night.

At Caesars Palace in Las Vegas , RAOs has brought their New York Best and is accessible to a whole new generation of foodies. Two ten-table rooms duplicate the original Rao's saloon in New York. At the helm of RAOs in Las Vegas is Chef Carla Pellegrino.

Chef Carla Pellegrino was born in Rio de Janeiro to a Portuguese father and a second-generation Italian mother. As early as age 10, Carla was cooking daily for her family and helping run her mother's catering business. Carla moved to Liguria, Italy, at 17, where she owned and ran a fish store, and conducted cooking demonstrations three times a week. A graduate of the French Culinary Institute and cookbook contributor, Carla has appeared on The Isaac Mizrahi Show and The Food Network.

"I had the honor of learning with the best people," she says, "like Jacques Pepin, Alain Sailhac and Andre Soltner. But the chef that was really working closer to me at the time was Dominique Cerrone, former chef de cuisine of Le Bernardin and one of the deans of FCI now; I like to think of him as my mentor."

The Cuisineist has had the pleasure of dining and meeting Chef Carla Pellegrino on several occasions and her dishes and dynamic personality keep us coming back for more. Carla has graciously shared one of her wonderful dishes for all us to enjoy .


Penne pasta in Brussels sprouts and Bacon sauce – serve 4 pp


Brussels sprouts (quartered) 2lb

Slab of bacon (cut off the rime and dice) 1lb

Extra virgin olive oil .5 cup

Tomato paste tea spoon

Vegetable oil table spoon

Kosher or sea coarse salt to taste

Ground white pepper to taste

Penne rigate Dececco 1lb


fill a sauce pan with 3.5 quarters of water, add kosher salt, put it over a hi-medium flame to bring it to a boil

cut out the Brussels sprouts roots, quarter them and washer in cold water – set it aside

Cut off the bacon rime and dice it in about 1cm cubic –

Set a sauté pan over a medium-hi flame, let it heat for about 2 minutes add the vegetable oil, after another 30 sec add the bacon, give a quick mix and lower the flame a bit

Let the bacon render it’s fat first and then turn the flame up to give the bacon some color, once it gets to a golden color, drain and discard the fat; add the extra virgin olive oil and the tomato paste – lower the flame and let it cook for about 2-3 minutes

Go back to the pasta water, once it gets to a roiling boiling point, add the Brussels sprouts and the pasta at the same time, let it cook for about 12 minutes –

After 8 minutes cooking, bring your bacon back over flame to reheat it

Strain the pasta and the Brussels together in a colander let about half cup of the cooking liquid aside , once dry pour it into the sauté pan, mix it well, add the remaining cooking liquid in the pan, cook it for another 2 minutes and serve hot

This dish is light , healthy and of course delicious. Our Thanks to Chef Carla Pellegrino for sharing.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Executive Chef Budi Kazali of the Ballard Inn in Santa Barbara provides World of Pinot Noir guests a Gala Dinner to remember

The World of Pinot Noir 2010 was not just about world class Pinot Noirs but featured some of the most talented and renowned Chefs of California's Central Coast and the country at the event.

Whether it was the gourmet lunches at the seminars, the appetizers and tasty tidbits at the tastings in the tents, the multi-course gala dinners or the small plates at the Paulée, the group of chefs each year just get better . The 10th World of Pinot Noir provided some of the best yet.

Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa is an elegant all-villa resort set along the rugged California Coast, just south of San Luis Obispo. Midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles on California's Scenic Highway 1. Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa is located in Shell Beach.

The Dolphin Bay's signature restaurant, Lido, provides an ocean front venue for casually elegant dining and drinks. The Lido Restaurant features California Coastal Cuisine and showcases the bounty of local and organic farms and ranches in the Central Coast area region. The Lido's elegant dining room showcases expansive breath taking views of the ocean. On this very special night , Lido was the venue for a World of Pinot Noir Gala dinner featuring Guest Chef Budi Kazali of the Ballard Inn and Restaurant in Santa Barbara.

Recently named Central Coast Magazine Ultimate Chef for 2009, Chef Kazali, a graduate of the California Culinary Academy, has worked in some of the best restaurants on the West and East Coasts. Early in his career he worked in San Francisco’s renowned La Folie and the boutique Campton Place hotel.

After relocating to Boston, Chef Kazali helped to open the James Beard Award winning Blue Ginger with Chef Ming Tsai, where he gained expertise in melding the flavors of Eastern and Western cuisines. After five years at Blue Ginger, Chef Kazali returned to San Francisco, and refined his proficiency with French cuisine and technique at the acclaimed Restaurant Gary Danko. At Ozumo, a lively and upscale Japanese restaurant, Chef Kazali returned to his appreciation and dedication to producing fine Asian cuisine.

In 2004, Chef Kazali took over the Ballard Inn & Restaurant in Santa Barbara County, this Zagat-rated, AAA Four Diamond property allows Chef Kazali to bring his vast experience to light in his own innovative way, creating memorable and delicious dishes to please the most discriminating palates.

Born on the island of Java in Indonesia, Kazali moved to the United States with his family when he was in sixth grade because his parents wanted a better life for their children. It was at college that he began to develop his crowd-pleasing cooking skills, although he says any innate talent he has comes from his mother.

After he graduated with a degree in economics, he headed to the California Culinary Academy and its Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts program, a 60-week program from which he graduated in 1994. The rest is culinary history.

World of Pinot Noir Gala Dinner , Lido at the Dolphin Bay Resort


Big Eye Tuna and Hamachi Tartar with Tsar Nicoulai Caviar & Cucumber-Creme Fraiche


Local Butterfish with Wild Chanterelles and Ponzu Butter


Grilled Pork Belly with Hudson Valley Foie Gras and Star Anise Scented Asian Pear


Carpenter Ranch Squab Two ways with Parsnip Puree and Pinot Demi Glace


Coconut Financier with Blueberry Balsamic Syrup

Each of the delicious and fresh courses was paired with at least two great Pinot Noirs and presented and served by "cream of the crop " sommeliers from some of the renowned dining venues from around the country. Chef Budi's culinary artistry shined through with every dish.

The World of Pinot Noir is not only a Meca for Pinot lovers but for foodies as well. Its beautiful location over looking the Pacific Ocean at the the Cliffs resort for the two tastings as well as the seminars , dinners and much more make the World of Pinot Noir the ONLY place to be the first weekend in March . Mark your calendars for 2011, we certainly know we will.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Corner View Restaurant & Bar in San Luis Obispo has become a favorite of locals and visitors alike

When The Cuisineist visits a new town or even a town that we have been to many times before we seek out where the "locals" dine. On a recent visit to one of our favorite towns , San Luis Obispo we did just that. We spotted the Corner View Restaurant on the morning of our first day in town as we strolled along "SLOs" intimate creek .

A PR friend invited us out for cocktails and she took us to what can best be described as a locals favorite. We learned that owners, Patty and Bill Carpenter have made quite a name with locals and visitors alike with their great food and friendly atmosphere. The decor features an elegant mission style interior accented with vintage photographs of old time SLO and scenic photos of the vineyards of Edna Valley and Paso Robles. The Corner View has fast become known as one of town's best restaurants being named one of the "Best of SLO" in the annual New Times readers poll.

Upon entering , the first thing we noticed was their U-shaped bar made of Solid red oak, accented by gleaming brass. They pour over 25 wines by the glass, featuring many from Edna Valley, Paso Robles and the Santa Ynez Valley. We even heard that at times a local winemaker may be behind the bar as a guest bartender for the evening. Of course classic Martinis are available as well.

Once the site of a local bank, the high ceilings and Spanish tile floors in the dining area evoke an airiness that is warmed by the abundance of sunlight pouring through the windows. During the evening the atmosphere changes as the light from the suspended mission style chandeliers glow illuminating the outside corner. Mahogany tables and comfortable chairs contribute a sleek elegance to enhance the overall dining experience

Serving Lunch and Dinner as well as a weekend brunch offers us the opportunity to dine at the Corner View at all times of day and sample their varied menu. And speaking about their menu , all we could say is WOW ! . We sampled a few appetizers on our visit that would rival any we have had in Las Vegas or elsewhere in our travels. Delivered by the Chef himself , The Roasted Duck Quesadilla with creamy fontana cheese , roasted pasilla chilie in a fresh flower tortilla , drizzled with a chili sauce garnished with toasted pepitas, cotija cheese and fresh guacamole was truly mouth watering and could even be a meal in it self.

From classic lunch sandwiches made with fresh local ingredients to seafood dinner entrees straight from the nearby Pacific Ocean, The Corner View has become OUR favorite stop in San Luis Obispo for Lunch , Dinner or just a glass of wine or cocktail at the bar. For more information about the Corner View , please visit

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A " SMASH" hit in Summerlin , Smashburger makes a big impression.

Smashburger , a burger restaurant that has been making its way into the hearts of cities from coast to coast has arrived in Las Vegas on the corner of Lake Meade and Buffalo and is introducing its fast-casual approach to building “a better burger”. Smashburger sets itself apart from other burger restaurants by bringing to Las Vegas a great tasting, cooked-to-order $5Classic Smashburger.

The Cuisineist had the wonderful opportunity to visit the kitchen and sample these very unique and tasty burgers along with Celebrity George Wallace who ended up becoming "Chef" George on the grill.

“We’re excited to bring our ‘better burger’ to Las Vegas,” says Smashburger Founder Tom Ryan. “Smashburger’s big flavors and unique concept will make Smashburger a favorite among area residents.”

“Smashburger is great for any occasion. Whether out for a date night or having lunch with the kids, there is something for everyone. It’s a great product at a great price and we’re excited to be introducing Smashburger to Las Vegas,” says Kim Gunderson, vice president of marketing for SB Las Vegas LLC.

Smash, Sizzle, Savor means a dedication to creating the best-tasting "cooked-to-order" burger. Named for the cooking method used to create the perfect burger, Smashburgers start with a one-third or half-pound ball of 100-percent Certified Angus Beef smashed on a flat grill to sear in the juicy flavor. To further the “better burger” experience, Smashburgers are served on a toasted artisan bun and topped with a selection of real cheeses, the freshest produce and top-quality condiments

Las Vegas Headliner Comedian George Wallace was on hand to try out his culinary skills in the kitchen . Now in his fifth year at the Flamingo with his "I be thinkin’” show Wallace is no stranger to trying new things.

In 1978, Wallace moved to the West Coast and started working as a writer for “The Red Foxx Show.” He also became a regular performer at the legendary Comedy Store. Wallace made his debut in Las Vegas as the opening act for Diana Ross in 1982. Afterwards, he performed as the opening act for Tom Jones for more than five years.

He was awarded an American Comedy Award for “Best Stand Up Comic” in 1995 and has been featured in a number of TV shows including “Seinfeld,” “Chelsea Lately,” “Late Show with David Letterman” and “Oprah.” Wallace has also appeared in various movies including “The Ladykillers” and “Batman Forever.”

After a quick lesson George took well to the grill. Using all of his new found skills he smashed , and seasoned his own burger to Smashburger perfection with of course many laughs along the way .

The Sin City Smashburger , named after Las Vegas itself starts with a one-third or half-pound ball of 100-percent Certified Angus Beef, fried egg, applewood smoked bacon, American cheese, grilled onions, haystack onions and smash sauce on an artisan egg bun. The Sin City is also available as a Sin City Smashchicken sandwich.

The Classic Smashburger is a mouthwatering 1/3 or 1/2 burger featuring Angus Beef , American cheese, lettuce , tomato , ketchup ,onion , pickle , and their special smash sauce on an egg bun.

Smashburger also serves delicious Smashchicken sandwiches, Smashdogs, and Smashsalads, with sides like veggie frites and rosemary and garlic–seasoned Smashfries. Burger lovers can pair their meals with beer, wine, Häagen-Dazs shakes and root-beer floats

Smashburger is perfect for eating in or having a better burger to go, a quick workday lunch, the weekend burger and beer, date night, a family dinner, or with the team after the game.

Along with their great-tasting burgers and smashfries ,smashchickenfrites and haystack onions and Häagen-Dazs shakes they will even offer bottled beer and wine.

Smashburger will have a home here in Las Vegas. What a better combination than fresh ingredients , Angus beef , a very personable staff and of course Haagen-Daz shakes to make all of us repeat visitors. To find out more about Smashburger please visit

Friday, March 12, 2010

Society Cafe's Executive Chef Kim Canteenwalla pulls out all of the stops at the ENCORE in Las Vegas

The Cuisineist is always looking to introduce our readers to a variety of Restaurants , Chefs and experience their unique spin on what are many times classic dishes. On this visit we drop in on Executive Chef Kim Canteenwalla at the Society Cafe .

The ENCORE at the Wynn has many great dining venues. One of them is Society Cafe headed up by renown Executive Chef Kim Canteenwalla. Chef brought 25 years of culinary expertise to the Encore when he joined forces with Steve Wynn to open Society Café Encore as Executive Chef/Partner.

His restaurant offers a classic American menu of old school favorites with a special twist from Canteenwalla . Society is one the few restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even late night on weekends.

Canteenwalla began his culinary career in Montreal at the Institute of St. Denis. He continued to work in his native Canada as Sous Chef for the luxury five-star Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto and went on to serve in executive chef positions that took him all over the world, including Raffles International Hotel Group, Hotel Le Royal Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and Grand Mirage Resort Bali, Indonesia.

When he returned to North America, Chef Canteenwalla held the position of executive chef at Beau Rivage, and was then recruited to serve as executive chef for the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Gourmet Festival in Chef Canteenwalla has participated in international culinary events as well . He was the guest chef at the Hilton in Shanghai for the Formula One Races and appeared at the Bon Appétit Wine and Spirits focus in San Francisco and Las Vegas, the Grand Jury European and the DavidoffKitzbuhel, Austria. He was invited to prepare a Guest Chef dinner and lecture to the graduate students at the internationally famed Swiss Ecole Hoteliere in Lausanne, Switzerland. In 2005, he teamed up with chef and partner Kerry Simon for Food Network’s “Iron Chef America Series,” and came home home a winner.

The best way we could describe Society Cafe is "trying to bridge the gap". The decor definitely reminded us of a upscale Parisian cafe , however the food is fine dining all the way. What a better place to relax and hang out but in a casual cafe with very upscale dishes along with a wonderful wine list and classic cocktails.

Taking a look at Society's wine list we chose a Barbieri Syrah Colson Canyon Vineyard Santa Barbara County 2006. We know this area very well and knew this Syrah should pair well with whatever Chef would surprise us with. In the glass , this lovely full bodied Syrah showed dark intense deep red to purple colors with hints of french Oak on the nose and aromas of blackberries , smoke and violets as the wine opened with a long lingering finish.

With so many small bites to choose from, Chef Kim decided to send over a sampling of some of the most popular starters and the "hits" just came coming most of the night.

Beef & Veal, Caramelized Onions, Tomato & Horseradish Sauce

Smokey House Ketchup


Truffle Dipping Sauce

After all of these "starters" we still had to get ready for the Entrees that were soon to follow.


Yukon Mashed Potatoes, Garden Beans, Chicken Jus

This full bone in Chicken breast with the garden beans was a complex blend of delicious juicy flavors of Chicken and creamy Yukon mashed potatoes.

Slow braised lamb shank with goat cheese and polenta on top of a sauce made of red beets.

The lamb was braised for 6-8 hours and produced a mouth watering, fall off the bone meat that was extremely tender. With the hardy flavors of lamb, goat cheese and the creamy texture of the polenta, we were given a dish that was very difficult not to finish to the last bite. The Syrah paired perfectly with all the earthy and robust flavors of the dish.

And for the grand finale Chef recommended his Warm Donut " Bites " with Chocolate and Carmel Dipping sauces to finish up our culinary experience at Society. These Donuts arrived in a traditional "white sack" Even after these delicious treats were gone , the second best treat was smelling the aromas of those freshly baked donuts still trapped in the bag.

Espresso Chocolate Martini
Van Gogh Espresso Vodka, Dark Creme de Cacao and half and half

Chef Kim Canteenwalla sat down and explained his newest concept , The Society Lunch box. What a wonderful way to enjoy 3 mouth watering courses for a very reasonable $23. Chef explained to save time, all three courses are served at once.

For the first course, you can choose from two soups or four salads including a hearty market chop salad or roasted tomato bisque.

Second course options include delicious sandwiches like rare tuna or filet mignon. And for the last course but certainly not least , Society’s signature warm donut bites served in a paper bag.

Society Cafe under the guidance of Executive Chef Kim Canteenwalla is a must stop for anyone who wants to experience a real culinary journey from morning to the early morning hours , no matter what time of day, the service and menu are sure to impress.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Carnevino Italian Steak House, B&B Ristorante and Enoteca San Marco will host a screening of the international documentary "The End of the Line"

Carnevino Italian Steak House, B&B Ristorante and Enoteca San Marco will host a screening of the international documentary about overfishing narrated by Ted Danson, The End of the

Debuting at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and playing in hundreds of cinemas, aquariums, and universities across the U.S. and the United Kingdom, Rupert Murray’s The End of the Line explores the inconvenient truth about the devastating effect of overfishing on the world’s ecosystems.

The first major documentary to reveal the extent of the crisis facing today’s oceans, The End of the Line warns that the current pace of fishing will deplete most edible fish stocks by 2048. But the film also offers a powerful call to action: urging diners, chefs and restaurants to choose sustainably sourced seafood over imperiled species. With 80% of the world’s fish stocks now fully or over-exploited, restaurants who replace critically endangered species such as bluefin tuna or beluga sturgeon with sustainable alternatives take big strides toward providing diners with ecologically responsible options.

The Batali Bastianich Hospitality Group is ahead of the curve when it comes to the sustainability of their restaurants. All three of the Vegas restaurants are Certified Green Restaurants™ and have implemented such steps as full scale recycling and composting, the elimination of bottled water, energysaving light sensors, water saving aerators, energy efficient hand dryers and even our their own Farmer’s Market!

Chef Batali believes in educating his staff, “Screening this film is a way to provide our chefs, the people on the frontline with the ability to make positive change, with the knowledge they need to make responsible choices.” The screening of The End of the Line will take place in the private
dining room of Carnevino Italian Steakhouse. The 1pm screenings on March 10th and 11th are for Batali and Bastianich staff only, but the MIDNIGHT showing on the 10th is open to all industry people and press.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A new way to give back , Project Dinner table debuts Saturday April 24th

Building community one dinner at a time – that is the mission for Project Dinner Table, a series of farm-to-table dinners that begins Saturday, April 24, 2010. The idea: each dinner will feature one local chef preparing dinner served family-style with ingredients from local growers in a unique location.

Number of guests will range from 125 to 150 depending upon location but every dinner will have guests seated at one long table. Project Dinner Table is open to the public with ticket prices beginning at $150 for a 6-course meal. A portion of the dinner’s proceeds will be donated to a local charity.

The community experience is key with Project Dinner Table. White tablecloths will flow. Conversation will be enlightening. Incredible food showcasing local growers will educate guests regarding all that is grown in and around Las Vegas. Project Dinner Table guests will walk away, not only experiencing great cuisine, they will also – literally – learn more about what is in their backyard.

In 2010, the inaugural Project Dinner Table series will be comprised of seven dinners, taking place throughout the year. The first will be at University of Reno Cooperative Extension Orchard, located in North Las Vegas, with Chef Giovanni Mauro, owner and executive chef, Nora’s Wine Bar & Osteria preparing a season-inspired dinner. (Each dinner will last approximately four hours.) Locales discussed for upcoming dinners include Springs Preserve; the historic 5th St. School; Red Rock; Gilcrease Orchard; Mt. Charleston and other adventurous locations.

“Project Dinner Table was borne out of the idea people just want to connect with one another and who doesn’t love great food? The combination of unique dinners on location, the celebration of food in a simple and experiential way and the chance to connect with new people whom we are sharing our meal with, will be an unforgettable experience,” says Gina Gavan, founder, Project Dinner Table. “Everyone assumes hardly anything grows in Las Vegas. But tomatoes, apples, pears and much more are all grown within our community and for our community.”

Based on a philanthropic passion, Project Dinner Table will select a local charity to be honored at each dinner and a donation will be presented to the charity on behalf of our guests, the chef and sponsors. Charitable priorities include arts and culture; education; environmental sustainability; homelessness and food security and health and wellness. Charity applications will be available for beginning Feb. 28, 2010. Throughout the year, Project Dinner Table will also plant trees back into our community as a “thank you” for supporting the project and in the spirit of giving back.

The founding group of organizers include myriad local professionals who have been dubbed, “The Kitchen Cabinet,” further reinforcing Project Dinner Table’s sense of community. From community activists to purveyors to marketing professionals to Web designers, the committee has literally rolled up their sleeves to get Project Dinner Table off the ground.

Concludes Gavan, “This project is truly a collaborative and community initiative on all levels. It is a group of people coming together, bringing their specialized and unique talents. We unite to educate people on the importance of buying locally and to honor the celebration of gathering around the table.”

A series of once-in-a-lifetime, white tablecloth dinners hosted on-location in unique and adventurous settings, Project Dinner Table pays homage to and educating guests regarding local growers and sustainable sources. The gatherings celebrate community, local food sources and the lost art of conversation. Guests break bread with local growers, food artisans, restaurateurs and other spirited community members. Project Dinner table is a tasty reason for people to gather, give back, connect and share in a phenomenal culinary adventure. A donation will be made to a selected charity at each dinner. For more information, go to