Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Join Cuisineist Editor-in-Chief Elaine Harris and Sunset Magazine Editors at SAVOR the Central Coast 2011


Join Sunset Editors and Vino Las Vegas on Cultural and Adventure Tours at Sunset SAVOR the Central Coast 2011 and Experience California’s Central Coast Like Never Before

Elaine Harris , Editor-In-Chief , Cuisineist
Tickets for the West’s newest food and wine destination mega-event are going fast

Riding high on the phenomenal success of last year’s first-ever Sunset SAVOR the Central Coast, event organizers Sunset magazine ( and the San Luis Obispo County Visitors and Conference Bureau ( have expanded opportunities for visitors to experience the quintessential California lifestyle at this destination food and wine event taking place September 29 through October 2, 2011.

“Not only is the Central Coast on the front edge of the farm-to-table movement, but it’s also a stunningly beautiful region to explore,” said Katie Tamony, editor-in-chief of Sunset. “We wanted to match unique cultural and adventure experiences to the food and drink that are getting the region so much attention.”
Among such experiences are new “Adventure Tours” that bring visitors up-close and personal with San Luis Obispo County’s natural and historic attractions, punctuated by a gourmet lunch to enhance the beauty of the surroundings. All Adventure Tours will take place Friday, September 30, from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. and cost $50 per person. Examples include:
  • A tour and lunch at the Happy Acres Family Farm ( with Sunset Food Editor, Margo True. This small, artisan dairy in the rolling hills of Templeton nurtures over 200 goats and uses their all-natural, hormone-free milk to produce a line of high-end cheeses, ice creams, lotions, and soap. This will be a hands-on tour with opportunities to milk the goats and make cheeses. After the tour, enjoy the breathtaking countryside while savoring a beautifully prepared luncheon along with select wines from Wild Horse Winery.
  • A kayak and paddleboard tour of the Morro Bay National Estuary with Sunset Publisher, Peter Medwid. The protected wetlands of the Morro Bay Estuary host one of the most remarkably rich wildlife habitats in California as a fish nursery, an important stopover on the Pacific Flyway for numerous bird species, and a marine protected area. Experienced guides will set a relaxing pace to glide along quiet waters and enjoy the great outdoors, followed by a sumptuous oyster luncheon overlooking the bay at Miss LoLa’s Southside Grill.
  • A gourmet lunch and coastline walk in Montaña de Oro State Park with Central Coast Outdoors Guide, John Flaherty. Montaña de Oro is among California’s greatest natural treasures, with over 8,000 acres of rugged cliffs, secluded sandy beaches, coastal plains, streams, canyons and hills. This tour will explore an area long beloved of naturalists for its solitude and raw beauty, and will culminate in a gourmet lunch paired with fine local wine at Spooner’s Cove.
  • A hike, tour and lunch at the Point San Luis Lighthouse ( with Sunset Associate Garden Editor, Julie Chai. To visit the fully-restored Point San Luis Light Station is to walk back in time to the 1890s when this beacon was the main protection for ships at sea from meeting with rugged cliffs. A four mile hike from Avila Beach along a private stretch of shoreline, the Point San Luis Lighthouse will provide knowledgeable docents to guide visitors through the property, after which wine, fresh local cuisine, and an unparalleled view of the Pacific Ocean will await in the old Horn House.
In addition, the 2011 Sunset Western Wine Awards Gala will take place during the SAVOR festivities on Friday evening, September 30 from 6 P.M. to 10 P.M., under a grand tent on the historic Pismo Beach Pier. Focusing solely on wines produced in the West, Sunset Western Wine Awards are recognized as the highest honor for Western winemakers. Attendees will join Sunset Wine Editor, Sara Schneider and Sunset Editor-In-Chief, Katie Tamony, as well as a professional panel of judges including wine writers, sommeliers, and winemakers as they announce the winners throughout the evening. For $85 per person, guests will partake in a locally-sourced gourmet dinner, sip the nominated and award-winning wines, and hob-nob with the West’s best winemakers.
For tickets or more information on Sunset SAVOR the Central Coast 2011 Adventure Tours or the Sunset Western Wine Awards Gala, please visit Tickets are also available for purchase at Farm Supply locations. See you there !

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Holsteins in the Cosmopolitan offers Buns, Shakes , Beer and a TOP Chef Contestant for a satisfying culinary experience

Holy Cow !  we landed in the pasture of Holstein’s restaurant in Las Vegas.  This time we were invited to try some new items that will be coming soon.   Under the careful creation of Chef, Anthony Meidenbauer,  we were given  a sneak preview to the fall additions on the menu.   

We were pleasantly surprised with our small version of shakes, snacks, tiny buns, big buns and desserts.

 We started out with three mini shakes:  pumpkin, candy cane, and the “cereal bowl”.   The pumpkin was a holiday feast in a glass.  With a rich, dense silky pumpkin infused milk shake with a spicy gingersnap cookie nestled in  the bottom of our glass.

Tasting of Shakes

 The candy cane shake was one that would also fit into a holiday theme but it’s cool deliciousness is perfect anytime of the year, especially in the summer heat of Las Vegas.  The cereal bowl brought back memories of sitting at the breakfast table as a child eating good old Capt’N Crunch. 

Yes, the captain is back but in a glass with some of the cereal sprinkled on top for a little sweet crunch.

Artichoke 'GUAC' and Pizza Twinkies

After our mini-tasting of the three shakes, we were ready to commence with the snack part of our tasting menu.  The snacks  were a Artichoke ‘GUAC”, in other words, a hummus dip loaded with artichokes, olives, paquillo pepper, capers and olive oil served with spiced pita chips.
And to add to that we had a Pizza ‘Twinkie’ a mozzarella, pepperoni, ricotta cream ‘Twinkie’.  The little bite was somewhat doughy, with a cheesy tomato fondue center.  

Now, we were able to try these snacks with some refreshing beers that were paired with each bite.  We were given Indian Wells Mojave Red and the Firestone Double Barrel.  Both beers drank well with our tasty morsels.  And for the rest of the evening we were able to sample many other fine and interesting beers with each portion of our tasting menu.
Now onto the Tiny Buns which included a Crispy Pork Belly Bun; Asian flavored wrapped in a Chinese steamed bun with hoisin sauce, cucumber and pea shoots. 
Crispy Pork Belly Bun and Maine Lobster Roll

The fatty crispness of the pork was delicately flavored with the hoisin sauce which paired well with the Ommegand Abbey Ale.   The Maine Lobster Roll was cooked lobster mixed with a chive aioli in a grilled mini hot dog bun with Cole slaw.  To this we were given a Blanche De Bruxelles or “Pissing Boy” beer.
Unto the Big Buns:  A trio of burgers, of course, ours were  in the mini-me version for the tasting, but full sized versions are available .  The first burger was the Gold Standard; a dry aged beef sirloin burger with smoked bacon, aged goat cheddar cheese tomato confit, baby arugula and garlic-chive aioli, paired with a Haviestoun old engine oil beer from Scotland. 
Holsteins Big Buns

 A Dry Aged Burger, now that is what I believe is worth calling the cows home for.  No wonder it is called the Gold Standard, not many can measure up to this juicy, flavorful burger.    The ‘Rising Sun’, a Kobe beef burger with a teriyaki glaze, nori furikake, crispy yam, and spicy mayo and tempura avocado. 
 The sun does shine upon the deliciousness of this Kobe burger.  The last burger we had will soon be added to the menu and this was a take on Christmas dinner. The Ham’burger  is a delicious pork that is cured ,smoked and made into patties.  Topped with a coco-cola brown sugar glaze, grilled pineapple and maraschino cherry mayo. This burger is everything you could ask for of  an old fashioned holiday meal but in this case it is on a bun .

Our Desserts were prepared by Pastry Chef and soon to be contestant on Bravo T.V.’ s Top Chef Just Desserts, Carlos Enriquez.  This pastry chef will be a prime contender considering the quality of the desserts he presented to us during this tasting. 
Pastry Chef Carlos Enriquez

We were given some very creative takes on Americana.  For example, the “Apple Pie A La Mode” with Slider and Fries was a take on something very similar having to do with those golden arches.  This delightful dessert came in it’s own version of the familiar but with a unique taste and bite. 
We also were let into a miniature candy store, but at this time many of us were at a point of pushing the dessert cart away, but who can resist candy?   

Our favorite on the candy display was a miniature macaroon type cookie which tasted just like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and when washed down with the miniature glass of milk, it was absolutely delightful. 
Last but not least was the “Dragon’s Breath”, something Puff the magic dragon would be proud of. 
A tiny mound of piped meringue put in liquid nitrogen to produce a smoky surreal effect, that when put in your mouth one can actually have the experience of expelling the ethereal “smoke”

Elaine Harris , Editor-in-Chief , Cuisineist

 We  enjoyed this whimsical experience, leaving everyone in a good mood but with all this great food how could one not be a Happy Holstein?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

JAPONAIS Restaurant in The Mirage Resort on the Las Vegas Strip takes guests on a Culinary journey featureing a Robata Grill , Sushi and Sashimi that is sure to please

The Mirage Resort in Las Vegas  is home to many fine restaurants, among those is Japonais, an Asian themed restaurant that offers patrons extensive dining options.  One of those options is the Robata Grill which is located in the middle of this sleek, yet comfortable, restaurant. 
We had the delight of trying their eleven course Robata signature tasting menu.  Robata grilling is a popular method of cooking in Japan and has become popular worldwide.

  In Japanese, ro means fireplace and bata means around or surrounding, so robata describes a meal prepared around the fire.  Japonais embraces the ancient tradition of robata with all the modern flair and culinary ambiance. 

The chef stands behind a horseshoe-shaped counter, with the charcoal grill in front of him.  Diners can chose from dozens of offerings including:  Kobe beef, chicken, and vegetables.  Embracing robata origins, the grilled skewers are presented to the diner on a wooden paddle.  Robata style also known robatayaki originated hundreds of years ago amongst Japanese fishermen.

Chef de Cuisine Sean Collins
  By grilling their catch on the boat fishermen created communal dining amongst themselves by passing food from boat to boat on wooden oars.  Chef, Sean Collins, kept in true tradition with passing us sumptuous mounds of grilled fish and meats in the same manner as the ancient Japanese fishermen.  Each robata course was grilled to perfection and served with a expertly selected Sake.  We also were able to enjoy several sushi dishes at the end of “ Robata” Grilling.

We started our Robata journey with a Chilean Sea Bass with a miso soy marinated with shishito peppers.  The delicate saltiness of the sauce and the spiciness of the peppers mingled perfectly with the precisely cooked smokey, yet firm Chilean sea bass. 
Chilean Sea Bass , Shishito Peppers
 The fish was placed on a traditional skewer, as the other courses were also presented in the same manner as according to Robata tradition.  It was a most satisfying way to begin the evening. Along with our tender sea bass, we were presented one of three Sakes for the evening’s pairings. 

A Dassai 50, Junmai Ginjo, Yamaguchi, was well balance, light, and clean which held a little sweetness, with some tropical notes. This Sake was a good accompaniment to the fish.

The second and third course: an Australian Rock Lobster with smoked sea salt and drawn butter and Asparagus with maldon sea salt . In Robata cooking, the chef will turn every skewered item by hand, which can be labor intensive.
Australian Rock Lobster , Asparagus with Maldon Sea Salt
The chef must constantly hover over each order to keep everything evenly and precisely cooked.  We watched Chef gingerly cook the lobster tails over the wood burning Robata grill, turning each Lobster tail amongst the delicate asparagus spears insuring grilled perfection.

Lobster is often easily overcooked, but this time we were served plump juicy morsels with a hint of sea salt.  Of course, when fresh drawn butter is applied, we experienced the true bounty of the sea. The asparagus was slightly tender, yet slightly firm.  Again, we sipped on the Dassai 50, which went well with sea food dishes.

 The Kurbota Pork Loin was an evening favorite.  This ohba marinated with shaved Tokyo negi, with hot mustard and ponzu sauce, was juicy, very flavorful, with the hint of smokiness.
Kurobuta Pork Loin
The hot mustard and ponzu sauce kicked up the flavors even more, with a little “punch” of heat.   With the meat courses, we were served a SA Ichi, Junmai Ginjo, Yamanashi. This well balanced, smooth, sake was a excellent, more full bodied pairing with the denser meats.  We enjoyed this with all 3 meat courses.

Next off the grill was a lovely Spicy chicken, shiso marinated chicken thigh, which contained all the correct amount of grilled smoky richness. And the last dish hot off the Robata Grill was a mouthwatering  Togarashi Skirt Steak with shishito peppers, pearl onions and house smoked ketchup.
Togarashi Skirt Steak  , house made smoked ketchup

This skirt steak was another fine example of perfect “Robata” hand grilling.  With the thin meat delicately cooked to mouth watering tenderness.

After enjoying a great Robata experience off the grill   it was now time for  “The Rock”. This   thinly sliced new York strip steak cooked on a hot rock with steamy perfection. If you have never had the experience of cooking your own meat on a extremely hot, white hot rock, this is good way to begin. 
Marinated New York Strip Steak for " The Rock "
 The server brought us “the rock”, presented with caution in mind.  We were served thinly sliced steak which we placed upon the rock to sizzle and cook before us in a matter of seconds.  The meat is so thin that it cooks very quickly but one can easily eat it as soon as it is finished. 

 It is a fun and interesting way to enjoy the dining experience which dates back to ancient times when fishermen would leave stones in the fire to heat and then use those stones as a method of cooking their catch at high temperatures.  We were glad that we were able to enjoy this experience in the modern setting of Japonais.
Steak cooking on "The Rock"

A yet another example of Japanese culinary artistry is Sashimi . The Bin Cho, is marinated baby tuna sliced sashimi style with arugula and shaved daikon in citrus vinaigrette. 
Bin Cho , Marinated baby Tuna Sashimi
This dish was the best presentation of the evening.  The tuna was expertly rolled into fan-like structures, and then garnished in a most pleasing and artistic manner.  Now we have started with the sushi courses.  The tuna was tender and meaty and the spiciness of both the daikon and the arugula combined well with the warm flavors of the citrus vinaigrette.

King Crab is always a crowd favorite and Japonais Version is one that we will remember for Kani Nigiri a spicy baked king crab for its simplicity of flavors.

Kani Nigiri , Spicy Baked King Crab

Spicy Mono Octopus Roll
Of course we had  to have Sushi as well and the Sushi Chefs did not disappoint .Their creation  of Spicy Mono which is  a spicy octopus roll topped with spicy tuna tartare and sweet unagi sauce was a nice spicy treat with layers of flavors wrapped in each roll.   After completing our tenth course, can we possibly eat another bite?  With these rolls, we made room!

And finally the dessert which was a perfect end to hours of incredible dishes . Apple Toban Yaki, Michigan red and gold apples with honey vanilla ice cream served in a hot clay pot. 
Apple Toban Yaki

This scrumptious dessert of delicately cut apples, with the richness of the ice cream paired well with our final Sake; “Atago No Matsu” also know as waiting love.  We truly felt the love with each amazing bite and sip of this Honzo, Miyagi, and This Sake had a hit of bananas which added a tropical quality to the dessert. 

The dessert and the Sake provided a light but satisfying way to end our eleven course journey.
Japonais Signature Cocktail

For those who would like to indulge in cultural and culinary dining experience try the Robata Japanese Grill located in the Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas,
Skewered and grilled over Japanese Charcoal - 7 Days a Week from 3:00pm to kitchen close