Las Vegas (Day 2): Aria plus Food & Wine All-Star Event
I fell in love with Jean Georges Vongerichten's restaurant in Las Vegas: Jean Georges Steakhouse. Since Jean Georges if famous and travels often, we met the man who runs the restaurant too: Chef Rob Moore. We were fortunate enough to see, shake hands with and spend breakfast-eating-steak with both Chefs. The best: learning about the concept behind Jean Georges (post coming soon), and his palpable passion for the best meat and ideal ambiance---all the meanwhile setting the transcontinental bar for 'steakhouse.'
After eating steak off the bone, the best bone marrow of my life and creamed basil and spinach---we went to brunch. Not just anywhere: we tucked into American Fish with Chef Michael Mina. THIS guy takes his cooking seriously. Always seeking to make food better by 'cooking out of the box' Chef Mina showcased his multiple cooking methods... and taught THIS chef a thing or two (thanks Chef---I love learning innovative culinary techniques). Here is a hint: Big, big grill. Perforated hotel pan full of large granules of salt and seasonings [right on grill]: fish plus citrus slices and herbs. Pour hot salt over fish/prawns and create a salt-encrusted experience right on the grill.
What? You want to know about my gambling? I made $1.60 on slots. I know, right? Shoulda plunked down some more on roulette.
Two more: butter poached steak. Chef Mina was looking to cook a perfect steak by keeping the moisture in while having a perfect sear. Since he has a hotter-than-life wood-stoked grill, he decided to butter poach the steak first (45 minutes in clarified butter plus seasonings); then it hits the grill for that perfect sear. The result? Less shrinkage, perfectly seared, juicy rare steak . . .... ... need I say more?
Finally: sous vide. Chef takes fish, adds a dollop of butter and herbs or seaweed. Plus sea-water. Seals and boils it [in package] at specific temp. He doesn't need to add salt, since the sea-water flavors and seasons the fish perfectly. Don't you love it when nature does that? And when we figure it out? Well-done Chef. I mean: rarely done---and kudos to you.
During the day I soaked up Aria's pool, browsed Jean Philippe Patisserie, played a few slots. Wouldn't you? Then we dolled up and went to dinner at Lemongrass, where we were hosted by executive chef and Krairit Krairavee (affectionately called Chef K), who brought spices and sauces from his homeland to open the first Thai restaurant on The Strip. We were spoiled with whimsical cocktails (Chai tea cocktail, watermelon-infused vodka), peanut-sauce chicken skewers, brilliant pad Thai, lobster salad. Happiness.
Breakfast, brunch, lunch, pastries and dinner. More: now comes the big kick-off of the Food & Wine All-Star Tasting Event where we dropped in at a pool-side tasting with Top Chef celebrities and World class Chefs from Aria Resort and Casino. Booths were restaurant quality from food to decor and manned by bow-worthy chefs. I chatted with and/or ate bites from Bravo’s Top Chef cheftestants Yigit Pura, Stephanie Izard, Hosea Rosenberg, Angelo Sossa and Sam Talbot plus restaurants of ARIA: Jean Georges Steakhouse,Sirio Ristorante, Julian Serrano, BARMASA and Sage. Samplings of signature dishes, cocktails, wines, ice sculptures, Vegas lights. Uncanny.
As if the day weren't full enough: we topped it all off with a quintessential visit to HAZE Nightclub. Dancing, chumming, drinking---all in Vegas style. I decided not to stay up until the WEE hours, since I had an early massage scheduled (at Aria).
Goodnight Day 2: I love you.
See all my pictures from Las Vegas in this flickr Las Vegas Food & Wine album.