Saturday, October 29, 2011

National Seafood Month Teams Up Two Of Las Vegas's Best To Show Off What Providing Sustainable Dishes Means To The Future


 October is National Seafood month.  This month is a time to reflect on the abundance of the ocean and about the importance of taking care of our greatest natural resource.  By eating sustainably caught fish, and dining in restaurants that promote that ideology, everyone can “Dish on Fish”.
 Recently we had the great privilege of dining at two outstanding Las Vegas restaurants that not only stand by the philosophy of maintaining and sustaining our oceans, but deliver a meal that is healthy and harmonious with the planet.  Our First venture was with the amazing American Fish Restaurant at the Aria Hotel and our next stop was the acclaimed Aquaknox at the Venetian / Palazzo Resorts.
American Fish is a Michael Mina Restaurant and with a great chef at the helm only the best is expected.  American Fish focuses on using the freshest ingredients and incorporates the traditional American cooking techniques.
As we approached the restaurant we were struck by the luminous quality of the restaurant with the  faux birch tree forest  that accented the back of bar, and the ceiling that looked like a hundred mantra rays floating above us.  We had the feeling of being surrounded by beauty of the natural world.
 We were escorted to our booth and greeted by the lovely and energetic general manager, Tiffani Cioe.   Tiffani wanted to make sure that we had no dietary restrictions. With that in mind, we knew that we were going to enjoy an amazing culinary experience.  Tiffani wanted us to try the lobster tasting menu: a menu that was created especially for National Seafood Month. Our Sommelier, Kathleen, brought us the carefully selected wines that elevated each dish, revealing new levels of flavors.

Lobster Carpaccio; Radish, sea beans, ginger-lime vinaigrette
 We started with a Lobster Carpaccio; Radish, sea beans, ginger-lime vinaigrette.  This “Carpaccio “of succulent delicate slices of lobster with the bright acidity from the vinaigrette, and the delightful crunch of the sea beans was a fantastic first course.
This was paired with a Heidi Schrock Muscat; Rust, Austria 2007   The Muscat was austere and steely and provided a balance to the light flavors of the dish.
Second Course: A Soup and Sandwich that was unlike any we have ever tried before.
Here was a great take on an American classic dish;

Heirloom tomato soup, with a lobster grilled cheese
Heirloom tomato soup, with a lobster grilled cheese.  The cheese melted perfectly with the lobster meat, giving us the perfect bite sized sandwich.  The Heirloom tomato soup was rich and creamy with a nice bite of pine nuts which added to the texture of the soup and a touch of basil oil brought forth wonderful aromatics that made us stop and savor the smell of the soup.
This was indeed one of our favorite courses of the evening and was a great take on comfort food.  This was paired with a Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet, Burgundy, France 2008.  All we can say is Oui (Yes) to this pairing and Merci (thank you) to our sommelier.
Third Course: Ocean Water Poached Seasonal Shell fish with Buckwheat noodles, and sake broth.  This dish held a little of something for every seafood lover.  There were perfectly cooked shrimp, scallops, and of course the decadent lobster in a light and refreshing Sake Broth.

Ocean Water Poached Seasonal Shell fish with Buckwheat noodles, and sake broth
 This was served on a bed of Buckwheat noodles which gave heartiness to the dish and a boast in texture.  This was an interesting hearty, yet delicate dish that the aromatic Selbach-Oster Spatlese, Mosel-Saar- Ruwer, Germany2007 added a refreshing quality with its tropical and spicy notes.
 Fourth Course: Bacon Wrapped Lobster Tail, roasted eggplant with a Priere De Montezargures Rose, Tavel, Rhone, France 2010.   Although we loved the Rose on its own we felt that this pairing could have been elevated further with a Burgundy or Pinot Noir.

Bacon Wrapped Lobster Tail, roasted eggplant
The richness of the bacon and the dense flesh of the lobster combined could have used a wine with a little more structure and ambience.  However, the Rose held essences of watermelon and strawberry and nice acidity which was a great drinking wine in its own right.  We did enjoy the dish but wanted a little bit more structure with the pairing.
Fifth Course:  Maine Lobster Tail, Filet of Beef with a Pinot Noir reduction, Wood grilled Surf and Turf.  A maine lobster tail, filet of beef, pinot noir reduction.

Maine Lobster Tail, Filet of Beef with a Pinot Noir reduction, Wood grilled Surf and Turf

The richness of filet did meet with the bold Pesquera, Ribera Del Dureo, Spain 2007 but in some aspects the Tempranillo was such a hearty wine that in some aspects overpowered the lobster.  Perhaps complimenting the pinot noir reduction with a pinot made in a bolder style such as the one from the Russian River Valley would have assisted in this pairing.
 Aside from the wine the dish was well executed and we enjoyed each bite.
The Dessert Course;  Farmer market Figs , mascarpone cream, ginger beer sorbet paired with the Rwc Boston Boal Maderia, Portugal Nv.

Farmer market Figs , mascarpone cream, ginger beer sorbet
This dish was a pleasant finish to our bounty of the sea tasting.  The richness of the figs was met with the freshening and light ginger beer sorbet and the creaminess of the mascarpone.
We savored each bite and contemplated our thanks to our Executive Chef, Sven Mede, for his expertise at showcasing the bounty of the sea with finesse,flair and flavor.

Executive Chef, Sven Mede , American Fish by Chef Michael Mina
 Chef Michael Mina does indeed have another rising star amongst his many restaurants.  American Fish is the place to visit in Las Vegas for a true experience honoring the beauty and abundance of the American waters.
 Our next stop to celebrate National Seafood Month was the acclaimed Aquaknox located in the Venetian Resort and Casino.
As we entered the restaurant with is undulating hues of blue we were escorted to our table by Veteran Server, Alan, someone who has been with Aquaknox and Chef Tom Moloney since 2003.
Being consistent in the restaurant business and being successful in a town full of celebrity chefs along with hundreds of others fantastic chefs and restaurateurs, is a feat of dedication, talent and of course consistently great food, that is exactly what Executive Chef Tom Moloney brings to the plate at Aquaknox.

Executive Tom Moloney , Aquaknox
Chef   Tom Moloney is a nationally recognized chef that devoted 12 years of his career working with the Celebrity Chef, Wolfgang Puck.  Chef opened seven casual and fine dining restaurants as well as consulting and overseeing kitchen operations for the International Panda Restaurant Group.
He is now Executive Chef at Aquaknox located in the Venetian Hotel, Resort and Casino and continues to bring culinary mastery to the world of seafood.
Chef Tom Moloney is a pioneer for bringing sustainable seafood options to restaurant diners.  He has since partnered with Safe Harbor Certified Seafood, http;//www.safeharborlasvegas.com/ to bring sustainable seafood to patrons that are free of pathogens and radiation and have passed rigorous testing that surpasses the FDA requirements for safe seafood.
During this celebration, each dish was presented with information on where and what method the fish were caught.  One could even know the boat’s name, the captain’s name and the exact latitude and longitude of where the fish were caught.  Now that’s detail.  And all those little details add up to amazing food that is prepared with insight, passion and a respect for the product that is served to your table.
Safe Harbor Certification is the most outstanding seafood safety program, and is unique to the restaurant business. By using the best in seafood and local sustainable ingredients, Chef Tom hopes to raise the consciousness of each person dining at Aquaknox.  He promotes the idea that everyone can play a part in protecting our most valuable natural resource by making informed dining choices .

 We started with tuna foam Amuse Bouche that did indeed make our mouths very happy.  We then went on to try a sample of various appetizers that were all fresh, clean and vibrant.

During this month chef rotated various specials to give diners a chance to a species that many may not be familiar with and also to reacquaint them to old favorites.
We had the chance to try the Kanpache with pepronata, Gigante, beans, and saffron-tomato jus.  The Kanpache is a fish that “represents an ecologically responsible natural resource, rich in Omega fatty acids and free of detectable mercury”, according to kona-blue.com ,with this in mind, the fish was not only a delicious but a very healthy protein.

Kanpache with pepronata, Gigante, beans, and saffron-tomato jus.
The fish was cooked to perfection accented with the delicate saffron-tomato jus, and the richness of the gigante beans.
 Another favorite of the evening was a sweet shrimp and lump crab salad with a sesame and mango dressing that left us begging for more.

Sweet Shrimp and Lump Crab salad with Sesame and Mango Dressing
 Chef also presented a beet and watermelon salad with sherry vinaigrette that was a refreshing compliment to our main course.


John Dory on a bed Lobster succotash with Sweet Corn Nage
We were also treated to John Dory that was on a bed Lobster  succotash  with Sweet Corn Nage  to  coincide with the seasonal fare.  Each dish was indeed prepared with the insight; bringing the most harmonious, healthy and elegantly prepared food to our table.
Our night was not over until we tried some of the Chefs signature desserts.
These included a Vanilla Crème Brule and A version of The “Take 5” candy bar.  Both were rich and decadent and a little bite of each went a long way.
Our meal was indeed a pleasure and also one that caused us to reflect on the care and culinary artistry of our executive chef, Tom Moloney, and his excellent staff.  For those who appreciate the best in sustainable seafood, dine at Aquaknox located in the Venetian Hotel.
For additional information visit venetian.com or www.aquaknox.net.
National Seafood Month is all about finding dining venues in your city that reflects responsible fishing as well as dining. It is well worth the time to ask questions the next time you are dining at a seafood Restaurant . The future of our Oceans and Food depend on it.  Bon Appetit !

Monday, October 24, 2011

CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING AT THE VENETIAN® AND THE PALAZZO® LAS VEGAS WITH A FAMILY-STYLE THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY FEAST

 CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING AT THE VENETIAN® AND THE PALAZZO® LAS VEGAS WITH A FAMILY-STYLE THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY FEAST

AND SPECIAL MENUS AT WORLD-CLASS RESTAURANTS

Traditional Thanksgiving Holiday Feast spread showcases exquisite dining offerings

 Join  theCuisineist at Venetian and The Palazzo Las Vegas celebrate Thanksgiving with special menus at select restaurants and a unique, festive Thanksgiving Holiday Feast on Thursday, Nov. 24 at 4 p.m. in The Palazzo waterfall atrium gardens. Guests will sit side by side at two 30-foot picnic-style benches surrounded by magnificent décor featuring autumn leaves, bales of hay, cornucopia and traditional crops of American landscape. Executive Chef Olivier Dubreuil will prepare an exquisite feast of Thanksgiving spread served family-style while guests listen to the sounds of violinists. Featured wines include I’M, Chardonnay by Isabel Mondavi, Sonoma County 2010, Siduri, Pinot Noir and Santa Lucia Highlands “SLH” California 2010.

“This is the way Thanksgiving is meant to be done,” said Sebastien Silvestri, vice president of Food and Beverage for The Venetian and The Palazzo. “This spectacular feast is fit for royalty and we are excited to offer our guests this first-of-its-kind experience. We hope that our guests will come back year after year for this annual celebration and share in this joyous holiday occasion with The Palazzo family.” This innovative holiday experience features the following menu selections:
Champagne with cranberry juice and orange liquor
Ginger butternut squash soup with spicy pecan cream
Fresh tomato and corn soup with garlic and basil croutons
Pear, arugula and pancetta salad
Roquefort apple with ginger salad
Belgian endive and cranberry vinaigrette salad
Whole roasted Vermont turkey with sausage sage dressing
Whole roast big “Farcies”
Seared sea bass filet with shitake mushrooms and baby corn
Sweet potato soufflés
Fennel “au gratin” with pecorino and lemon
Yukon gold puree with rosemary butter
Stuffed onions
Traditional buttermilk biscuits
Artisan rolls
Zucchini cornbread
Pumpkin cheesecake with marshmallow sour cream
Caramel pumpkin pie
Blueberry crumble pie
Warm apple cobbler
Cherry tartlets
Profiteroles

General admission tickets are $100, children 12 and under are $50, and VIP admission tickets are $120, which includes a pre-party at Laguna Champagne Bar from 3-4 p.m. with complimentary selected cocktails. All ticket prices inclusive of taxes, fees and gratuity. Tickets go on sale Monday, Oct. 10 and can be purchased at www.venetian.com or at any Venetian | Palazzo box office or by phone at 702.414.9000.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chef Brian Collins A Rising Star on California's Central Coast at LIDO In The Dolphin Bay Resort and Spa

After a long day we decided to unwind at the upscale Lido restaurant that is on the resort premises with their award winning sustainable and locally grown and sourced menu.

Lido Restaurant:
The restaurant is located on the grounds of the hotel, flanked by the pristine Pacific Ocean. The interior incorporates the blues and green of the ocean and is elegant but with a casual flair.

There is both indoor and outdoor seating for a most pleasant dining experience. Shell Beach has no shortage of small locally owned restaurants that provide outstanding dishes. However, LIDO in the Dolphin Bay resort takes dining to a whole new level.

This Restaurant with its large widows, and magnificent views, offers fine dining that would be comparable to New York, Chicago , Miami and Las Vegas; some of the finest Culinary cities in the United States. Lido Restaurant and Lounge has become one of the top sought after dining locations in the area and we could attest to that fact.


Executive Chef, Brian Collins, has perfected his California Coastal Cuisine showcasing a variety of world class products that can be found right in the San Luis Obispo region. He has developed relationships with local farmers, ranchers and fishermen in order to provide the freshest and most natural cuisine.

By using only the freshest ingredients, diners are treated nightly to tantalizing flavors, textures and aromas.

Brian Collins Executive Chef, LIDO Dolphin Bay Resort and Spa

This young and very talented chef was raised on the Central Coast. His initial love of food was inspired by a dinner he attended in Rome at the age of 13. "It was my first multi- course dinner. The meal was prepared, from scratch, in a tiny apartment kitchen by the parents of my Aunt. I couldn't believe that people ate like this. There was so much love in that food! And it just kept coming and coming!"

That one meal changed his life. He aspired to become a Chef and attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Chef Brian was mentored by some of the best. He spent the years 2000-2005 cooking alongside Alice Waters and the countless other chef-artists at Chez Panisse Restaurant and Cafe.
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  In 2001, Gourmet magazine named Chez Panisse the Best Restaurant in America. “Alice taught me cooking simple, delicious food is an art, and that he who puts all his heart into satisfying his fellow men deserves consideration”. Chef Brian had honed his skills and returned to his native Central Coast roots.

Brian completed a one year stint as Sous Chef to Chef Pandee Pearson at Windows on the Water in Morro Bay. Brian then was on the opening crew at Lido Restaurant from 2007-2009 serving as Sous Chef to Chef Evan Treadwell and Pastry Chef Benjie Puga. In the spring of 2011 Brian signed on as the Executive Chef at Lido Restaurant, coming back to where it all started. Chef Brian stated “I hope to add to the tradition of serving excellent, innovative food here at Lido. I hope to build a solid team of passionate professionals to bring our guests a dining experience that is fun, inspired and truly memorable.” Brian knows that the best tasting food is organically and locally grown and harvested in ways that are ecologically sound by people who are taking care of the land for future generations.


We could not pass up the opportunity to experience this talented Chef’s dishes. We settled into a lovely table with a view of the setting sun to enjoy a nice evening with a great local wine and anticipated what would be coming our way

We started with Pacific Ahi Tartare with Sesame and Avocado ,Sashimi Grade Tuna, Windrose Farm Chilies, Citrus, Sesame Cracker. We could not have asked for a better way to start than with the Ahi Tuna that literally melted in our mouths that paired like heaven with a nice local Pinot Noir .

We had just enjoyed a local bounty from the sea and it was now time to experience the tasty bounty from the soil of the Central Coast.
Windrose Farms Baby Greens , Baked Happy Acres Farm Goat Cheese, and Beets.This dish is exactly what Chef meant when he spoke about organically grown and harvested products and the flavors they produce. The Goat Cheese and Beets came together in a symphony of flavors from the earth.

Our next dish was right from nearby Morro Bay: Six Morro Bay Oysters on the Half Shell w Champagne Mignonett.What else could be said about this dish? With Morro Bay only a few minutes away, the Oysters tasted clean and fresh, in manner that only the freshest seafood can. The Champagne Mignonett was a nice touch.


It was suggested we try the special of the evening so how could we resist: Mussels, Clams , Lobster , Shrimp and Sword Fish ,on Top of homemade pasta with a savory, yet spicy white wine broth topped with local micro greens.

This was one of those dishes that we will remember and still talk about. The fresh gifts from the Sea, on top of Pasta made in house and some heat from the Chilies all combined for a dish that seemed to sum up what entire area is all about; fresh local ingredients.


In this one dish, Chef Brain showed off what the best of central coast dining can be. The Wine list at Lido is a wine lovers dream, representing over 300 wineries from the Santa Maria and Santa Ynez Valleys to the Edna Valley, Paso Robles and Monterey appellations. These areas produce some of the finest wines in the country and provide countless and exciting local wine pairings with Chef Brian’s cuisine.