Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Its that time once again for Vegas Uncork'd by Bon Appetit in Las Vegas May 5-8 2011

Food and Wine events are held all over the world. In our opinion the finest if not one of the finest events in the world  is Vegas Uncork'd by Bon Appetit . Last years event drew 5175 guests to 29 spectacular events up and down the Las Vegas strip. It is that time of year and   ticket sales have been launched  for its fifth annual event, May 5-8, 2011, during a spectacular press event held in the Great Hall of Fashion Show on the Las Vegas Strip.

 With a light breakfast of Croissants  and  Petites Baguettes provided by non other than Restaurant Joel Robuchon and French 75 cocktails from the Bellagio,   Chefs and Master Sommeliers , Rick Moonen, Jason Arbusto, Tina Wilson, Claude Le-Tohic, Stephane Chevet, Frank Pellegrino Jr., Bradley Ogden, François Payard, Randy Sebastian, Jet Tila, Theo Schoenegger, Edmund Wong, Sylvain Bortolini, Robert Smith MS , Julian Serrano, Steve Benjamin, Carlos Salazar, Flora Aghababyan and David Walzog from partner resorts Bellagio, Caesars Palace, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay and Wynn Encore gathered for the festive occasion.

 Accompanying the announcement was the dramatic unveiling of a first-ever culinary masterpiece, comprising sculptural interpretations of each partner resort hand-crafted in-house using pastry and other confection, all created to celebrate the epicurean artistry that is one of the world’s most exhilarating dining destination.

“Our ever-increasing numbers of attendees have spoken,” said Rob O’Keefe, executive director of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit. “Vegas Uncork’d has distinguished itself by offering unparalleled access to chefs and a superior resort experience to that offered by any other culinary event on the calendar—not just in Las Vegas, but anywhere in the world.”

The four-day extravaganza held each Mother’s Day weekend draws the world’s culinary superstars while celebrating Las Vegas as a global culinary destination with truly international appeal. Year after year, Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit draws gourmands, luxury travelers and extraordinary chefs from around the globe to Las Vegas, all lured by the prospect partaking in this epic foodie extravaganza.

“There’s a reason why the world’s elite chefs and enthusiastic food lovers look forward to this event every year,” said Adam Rapoport, editor-in-chief, Bon Appétit magazine. “Through their visionary culinary programs, Las Vegas resorts not only elevate the standard for hotel dining everywhere, but also inject a singular kind of excitement into the global culinary scene.”

This year, in addition to the wonderful events held over the past 4 years, There are some intriguing new additions.

At Bellagio a new event , Eating Las Vegas lets guests can  get in on the Culinary Conversation with top Las Vegas food critics and Eating Las Vegas authors John Curtas, Max Jacobson and Al Mancini. Moderated by a Bon Appétit editor, the tasting trio will dish about their book covering the city’s 50 essential restaurants while guests enjoy small plates from top Bellagio restaurants on Saturday, May 7.

Also at Bellagio  , ¡Que Viva España! with Julian Serrano at Bellagio Guests can take a culinary tour with acclaimed chef Julian Serrano at this Masters’ Series Luncheon as he explores the regional cuisine of Spain where Pablo Picasso spent part of his life. The elegant restaurant named for the artist is home to paintings and ceramics by Picasso that inspire the senses. On Friday, May 7.

At Caesars Palace  an Elegant Bistro with Francois Payard Masters’ Series Dinner. Guests can settle into Caesars Palace’s intimate Payard Pâtisserie and ; Bistro for this Masters’ Series Dinner combining the very best of the legendary Chef François Payard’s sweet and savory repertoire on Thursday, May 5.

A lovely Sparkling Brunch at Restaurant Guy Savoy is offered to give Mom a reason to brag about you all year long by indulging her at this exclusive brunch presented by Chef Guy Savoy at the Michelin Two-Star Restaurant Guy Savoy on Sunday, May 8.

The MGM Grand has added A Night of High Spirits with Tom Colicchio at Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak where you Enjoy a lively evening tasting exceptional spirits and fine wines complemented by sumptuous steak preparations—all while enjoying live music performed by dueling pianists on Thursday, May 5.

A French Connection with Joël Robuchon will give those that attend a chance  Rub elbows with the Chef of the Century at Las Vegas’ only Michelin Three-Star restaurant, Joël Robuchon, during this imaginative Masters’ Series Luncheon on Saturday, May 7.

At Mandalay Bay guests can Run for the Roses with Michael Mina and Celebrate the Kentucky Derby with a four-course lunch and wine pairings hosted by Chef Michael Mina and Michael Mina Group Sommelier Raj Parr. Signed copies of “Michael Mina The CookBook” and Raj Parr's “Secrets of the Sommelier” will be available for purchase. On Saturday, May 7.

Staying up late will be fun with Late Night with Hubert Keller as we Join Vegas Uncork’d chefs and host Chef Hubert Keller who will also be manning the DJ booth to enjoy Champagne, wines, savory snacks and dessert at Keller’s new Fleur restaurant at Mandalay Bay on Saturday, May 7.

At Wynn /Encore Resorts  guests can go back in time at the the “Come Fly with Me” Wine Dinner at Sinatra – Steve Wynn joins the Sinatra family to host an exclusive, wine-lavished evening celebrating the inaugural release of ‘Come Fly with Me’—the 2007 Sinatra Estates Cabernet Sauvignon. Star chef Theo Schoenegger salutes Ol’ Blue Eyes with “Sinatra—HIS Way”—a menu of the legendary entertainer’s favorite dishes, created in collaboration with the Sinatra family. On Thursday, May 5.

Also , Viva Las Vegan!. Celebrity chef Tal Ronnen has created masterful vegan meals for the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Chelsea Clinton and Ellen DeGeneres. Now a consulting chef for Wynn’s vegan program, he joins Wynn /Encore’s all-star chefs, in partnership with several of the unique, distinctive boutique farmers and growers who supply their kitchens, to create a lively, interactive reception-style tasting featuring vegan and vegetarian dishes. On Saturday, May 7.

For those who have attended in the past , many of the  old favorites will be available as well  such as Masters’ Series Dinners by Bradley Ogden and Guy Savoy (Thursday, May 5) and the Garden of the Gods Grand Tasting (Friday, May 6) at Caesars Palace; Better by the Bay featuring Chefs Alain Ducasse, Charlie Palmer and Rick Moonen at Mandalay Bay Beach (Saturday, May 7); Wine Immersion at Bellagio (Saturday, May 7); and the Celebrity Chef Blackjack Tournament at Wynn Encore (Friday, May 6).

Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit is a one of a kind , four-day culinary extravaganza featuring 30 intimate luncheons, dinners, tastings and other  entertaining culinary experiences up and down the famed Las Vegas Strip. Its five partner resorts comprise Bellagio, Caesars Palace, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay and Wynn Encore; the event is made possible by its title sponsor, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, major sponsors Travelocity, Infiniti and other national brands.

Among the famous names joining Bon Appétit magazine Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport at this year’s events are chefs Paul Bartolotta, Tom Colicchio, Alain Ducasse, Hubert Keller, Michael Mina, Rick Moonen, Bradley Ogden, Francois Payard, Joël Robuchon, Guy Savoy, Julian Serrano, Alex Stratta and many more This is an event like no other you will attend and will be 4 days very well spent. We hope to see you there ,. To purchase tickets, visit

Monday, January 24, 2011

EL CARAJO , a best kept secret in Miami

For decades Miami has been known for its vibrant night life and world class dining featuring cuisine from every corner of the world. Being a third generation Miamian we were anxious to return and explore some of the latest dining options offered in South Florida.

We were very aware of some of the big names now in Miami but when we hit the road we also explore as many unique local restaurants as well. Our first call was to local wine expert and consultant Barry Alberts who has been “in the know” of the Food and Wine scene in Miami for over 30 years. He suggested we join him at El Carajo for some wine and tapas . Of course we jumped at the opportunity to sample dishes from NBC Miami’s Gold award winning restaurant.

The directions to EL Carajo startled us to say the least. Barry told us to go to 17th and US1 and pull into a gas station. The restaurant that he was so anxious to show us was inside! Yes , walk past the gas pumps , chips , beer , candy and soft drinks and at the rear of the store is El Carajo. If it would have been anyone else who suggested eating in a gas station on our first night in Miami we would have graciously declined . However trusting Barry and knowing is passion for Wine and Food we went . After all , it was HIS reputation that was on the line.

Walking into EL Carajo with its lovely aromas of spices, meat sizzling on the grill and attentive host , we forgot we were literally inside a working gas station. Rack after rack of fine wines at affordable prices called out to us to make a selection. EL Carajo also features a “high end “wine room where Caymus and many Champagnes are available for the most discriminating tastes.

With Barry’s expert guidance we joined him in a palate pleasing bottle of Senorio De Sarria Navarra Reserva 1998. This was the perfect selection for what was to come.

Looking over the menu,  is was not an easy choice  with many selections to choose from. Ensalada de Camarones ( mixed greens and Shrimp ) Potage de Colorados ( Red Bean Soup ) stood out for starters. Cold Tapas like Combinacion Meson ( ham , sausage and Manchego Cheese from Spain and Boquerones Espanoles en Vinagreta ( Spanish Anchovies in Vinaigrette sauce ) caught our attention as well.

Over 20 hot tapas from Chorizos de Cangrejos (Crab meat Crepe ) to Chistorras al Vino ( Spanish Mini Sausages in Red Wine ) are sure to please.

We settled on one of their larger entres , Tabla de Carne . This assorted meat plank featuring Chuletilla de Cordero , Chuleta de Cerdo , Carne de Res , Morcillas, Pollo , Chorizo Criollo and Papas y Tostones is a Spanish carnivores delight that was one of the best meat dishes we have had in a long while.

 Of course being in Miami one cannot dine without finishing a meal without Flan and Café con Leche . El Carajo ( not far from Little Havana ) is as authentic as it gets.

We feel very lucky to have dined in some of the world’s best venues. After our experience at EL Carajo , we can see why is has become a big hit . Our advise, get there early and spend more time exploring gas stations. You never know what hidden secrets they may reveal.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

FLEUR by Hubert Keller takes Tapas to a whole new level in Las Vegas

Chef Hubert Keller

Chef Hubert Keller does it again in Las Vegas with his name sake Fleur by Hubert Keller located in the Mandalay Bay in the venue previously occupied by his renowned Fleur de Lys. Chef Hubert Keller is known throughout the world not only as a classically trained French Chef but an author and TV host has well. We really can’t talk about his newest venture without taking a look on how this incredible Chef got his start.

Keller was born in Alsace, France, and graduated from the École Hoteliere in Strasbourg. Beginning as a pastry chef, he worked in various restaurants including Auberge de L'Ill, the cruise liner Mermoz, Domaine de Chateauneuf, and Moulin de Mougins in France, and La Cuisine du Soleil in São Paulo, Brazil. He trained under Paul Haeberlin, Paul Bocuse, and Roger Verge before coming to San Francisco in 1982.

By 1986 he was already well known as one of the Top French Chefs in the world and began setting his roots down in the United States. He became co-owner and executive chef of the original Fleur de Lys in San Francisco. He later opened a gourmet Burger Bar in Las Vegas, Nevada, which features a $60 "Rossini Burger" made of American Kobe beef, sautéed foie gras, and shaved truffles.

He then opened a second Fleur de Lys, at Mandalay Bay and also branched out to St, Louis where he opened a French influenced steakhouse in Downtown, SLEEK, which is regarded as the best steak house in St. Louis. Chef Keller also was the consulting chef at the Club XIX, at the Lodge in Pebble Beach in Pebble Beach, California.

And as if being a Chef / Restaurateur did not keep him busy enough he also authored The Cuisine of Hubert Keller and is the co-author of Dr. Dean Ornish's Eat More, Weigh Less.

He was the first guest chef with Jean-Marc Fullsack to cook a dinner for a president (Clinton) in White House history and to train the White House chef in healthy cooking with the guidance of Jean-Marc Fullsack.

Chef Keller has been recognized by most of the prestigious culinary organization and publications in the United States. In 1988 Hubert Keller was ranked as one of the "10 best new chefs in America" by Food & Wine magazine. In 1997 he won the James Beard Foundation/Perrier-Jouët award for America's Best Chef in California.

He also received the James Beard Foundation's Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America lifetime achievement designation in 2003. In 2006, Keller was named the best culinary ponytail award winner, according to Men's Hair magazine. His Restaurant Fleur de Lys has been ranked as one of the top 40 restaurants in the United States in 2004, 2005, and 2006 by Gayot restaurant guide, and was awarded one Michelin star in 2006. Fleur de Lys has also been ranked as one of the top 25 restaurants in the United States by Food & Wine magazine.

Editor-In-Chief Elaine Harris , Chef Hubert Keller , Senior Editor Scott Harris

We had dined at Fleur de Lys in Las Vegas several times over the years and were always impressed with the classic décor , unique chefs table, immaculate service and of course great French cuisine as only Chef Keller could create. Fleur’s concept of tapas had us wondering how this would work as we walked into Chef Keller’s newest creation.

Walking into Fleur you first notice its “ open air “ casual tables and a lively bar with plasma TVs. As we walked past the tables near the bar guided by our hostess to our table in the main dining room we gazed upward to the Chefs table overlooking the dining room surrounded by hundreds of bottles of wine which brought back fond memories of Fleur de Lys . The décor in the main dining room features earth tones of brown and beige with lighting in the shape of trees which gives guest a warm inviting feeling.

“Fleur is about globally inspired Tapas” stated GM Owen Deignan as he met us at our table and welcomed us to Fleur. The word “global” inspired us so we put ourselves in the very capable hands of Chef Keller and his Chef de Cuisine Steven Wolf.

Our first stop as always, was perusing through the very extensive wine list. The wine list features most of the “trophy” wines that you would expect from a venue such as Fleur but also offered a nice variety of wines from $ 60.00 and up. We chose a nice Cote du Rhone that we expected should pair well with whatever Chef Keller and Chef Wolf sent out.

hummus & baba ganoush chick pea, eggplant , grilled flat bread

We started our journey with a lovely Hummus and Baba Ganoush Flat bread that tantalized our palates with layers of exotic flavors that kept us on the edge of our seats to see what was next.

tuna tacos jalapeño, lime cilantro

When our very attentive server brought out the AHI Tuna Tacos , the dish was so pleasing to the eye we just wanted to stare at before we went any further. The expression “ you eat with your eyes” could not be more true of this dish. The pepper provided just the right heat and a nice avocado foam to cool things down made this a very balanced dish and one of our favorites of the night.

salt cod fritters jamon Serrano, pickled garlic, romesco

This dish was put together very well. The salted Cod Fritters with Serrano and Garlic Romesco lived up to its name.

merguez sausage saffron couscous, harissa

We waited with anticipation to see where the Chefs would take us for our next stop . A North African dish that is also popular in Northern Europe, The Merguez sausage with saffron gave our palates at treat of some wonderful exotic flavors that Chef Keller creates better than none other.

angus sliders blue cheese, onion, bacon, pear

What would a Tapas restaurant be with out Sliders ? Fleur does it as good as anyone with juicy Angus Sliders with creamy blue cheese , onion , crispy bacon and a nice contrast of pear. We will come back just to enjoy this dish once again.

crème brulée trio earl grey, orange, cookie dough & chocolate soufflé chocolate ganache and tobasco ice cream

After spending most of the night at Fleur dining our way around the world with Chef Keller could we have “room”for anything else ? Of course ! and it was now time for the finale and what a finale it was. A Crème Brulee trio featuring Earl Grey , Orange and Cookie was a exquisite introduction into one of the best Chocolate Souffle’s we have had. The lightness of the Earl Grey was the perfect lead into the Souffle at the end. These dishes were decadant, delicious and should not be missed .

GM Owen Deignan had been speaking to us all night about some very special cocktails with quite a presentation, so we had to indulge and we were very glad we did.

Passion fruit margarita

A combination of Passion Fruit , Sea Salt and Cheyenne pepper made table side in cloud of liquid nitrogen . The end result is a lovely cocktail with a consistency you can eat with a spoon.

Fleur has a couple great specials to indulge in as well. For those who enjoy Classic French wines and a one of a kind burger Chef Keller offers his FleurBurger 5000 wagyu beef, foiruffle gras, with A bottle of 1995 Château Petrus for $ 5000.00 . If the Fleur Burger is a little out of your range. Chef Kellers “in the shower” mac & cheese lobster, brunoise vegetable is a dish that he created for Master Chefs that really shows off his creativity in layering flavors.

Chef Keller has captured what people are looking for in these days and times. His culinary artistry is now available and approachable for families and many others than may not have been in a position to dine at Fleur d Lys in the past. More people should be exposed and gain an appreciation for creative, fresh dishes from a Celebrity Chef such as Chef Keller . They can gain that knowledge and appreciation for innovative cuisine and exceptional service at Fleur.