Growing up with whisky

Dad loved whisky so much that he named his German Shepherd, Whisky. And when his beloved canine crossed the rainbow bridge, he named the next dog Whisky, too. As you can imagine, I was around Whisky a lot – the dog(s) and his favorite spirit.

As an only child, I was carted around to many social functions with my parents.  Dad was an advertising executive in the 60s and early 70s, working for a mega agency, J. Walter Thompson, out of the Tokyo office. (And if you ever want to know what that lifestyle was like, just watch an episode of Mad Men.)

As a result, I was around a lot of adults, adult foods and adult drinks. I was also exposed to many brands, but the one that stood out most from those days was Suntory, Japan’s first whisky distillery.

In Japan, the whisky highball was the drink. Because whisky was mixed with a great deal of club soda and ice,  it was easy to enjoy many glasses of them. And so as the night went on at these gatherings, I’d hear giggles, then bursts of laughter, quick exchanges in both Japanese and English languages, and of course, the ice clinking against their glasses. It must have been refreshing.

Thirty-five years later, I hadn’t given this drink a second thought, until I attended  Now Drink This Live, a series of immersive spirits-tasting experiences on the Las Vegas Strip, hosted by award-winning spirits writer Xania Woodman with special guest educators.

This particular evening her guest, Suntory’s U.S. brand ambassador Johnnie Mundell, took us on a virtual tour to Suntory’s first distillery, Yamasaki, located in the Osaka prefecture. He taught us everything we wanted to know about Japanese whisky, the history, the culture and the brand. He also introduced us to Toki, Suntory’s newest groundbreaking blended whisky.

By the end of the evening, I was completely enchanted. Not just from sipping Japanese whisky, but from the overwhelming resurgence of the fondest memories I had of my dad.

Ironically, the word “Toki” means “a connection in time” in Japanese. Whoa, I’ll take it as a sign!

The quality of the ice and water make all the difference.

The next day, I visited my mom’s house and I took notice of all the Suntory bottles she had saved over the years.  According to her, these were very rare and special gifts given to dad during his days in the advertising business.

750 ml. Released in 1989
An incredibly rare, “60 month old” Yamazaki single malt from Suntory bottled for the Japanese market. Circa 1970s

Indeed, that night was very special for me. I always embrace these educational experiences, as they further my education and appreciation for the field of food and beverage writing. But I had no idea, it would offer such a convergence of intensity and harmony. Needless to say, the next time I come up to the bar,  I’ll be ordering a whisky highball and having that drink that dad and I never had a chance to enjoy together. I know he’ll be there in spirit.

How to make the PERFECT Japanese Highball (courtesy of SeongHa Lee, lead bartender, Zuma in The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, who was a bartender at a Suntory Bar  – Keihan Kyobashi Hotel, Osaka, JAPAN)

  
Danielle DeBruno Photography

  1. Fill a clean highball glass with ice to chill the glass
  2.  Discard the ice and melted water
  3. Fill the glass with GOOD (clear, not cloudy) ice
  4. Add 1.5 oz of Suntory Whisky
  5. Stir 12 and a half times
  6. Add club soda along the glass to the top
  7. Stir 2 and a half times
  8. Say “Kanpai” and drink with friend

My battle with turkey

I’ll just come right out and say it. I don’t love Turkey. I love Thanksgiving, though, and in honor of the first Thanksgiving in 1621 and respect for tradition, I understand why we eat turkey. And I’m grateful. But, I’m willing to bet that many would agree that turkey is just not high on the scale of deliciousness  – or else we’d actually be eating it more than once a year.

As far as I’m concerned, no amount of creativity can make it palatable. It has proven to be invincibly banal, whether roasted, deep-fried, broiled, braised, cooked on a beer can upside down, what have you.

Just consider what you have to do to make it taste better in the most traditional way.  Brine it for at least 24 hours, butter the holy heck out of it (ok the skin’s pretty good), stuff it with bread pieces, that when done, typically comes out like gummy goo held together with traces of turkey blood of sorts (nice),  and then drown it in gravy moments before it enters our mouths.

The problem is with the turkey itself, so cheating yourself of the one thing it’s good for — a spectacular presentation — is really silly behavior.

If you are determined to cook it as perfectly as possible, try smoked turkey… Then, chop the meat up and make chili… with lots and lots of beans, peppers, onions, spices, a sprinkle of grated chocolate, then simmered for a very, very, very long time. At serving, garnish with cheese, cilantro and onions.

Now you’re asking, where is the turkey in this dish?  Exactly.

 

Photo: courtesy of shoboxlog.com

Bocce & Bottles 2016

For a long time, the game of bocce was purely for old Italian men. They wanted to get away from the wives and kids so they could smoke, cuss, scratch themselves when they wanted to … you know, the court was where they could do this all freely.   After all, women would just take the fun out of everything, right?

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These days the game of bocce has evolved to gather all ages, all genders, all abilities, making it one of the most social games, and it has truly become a personal favorite of ours. With a glass of wine in one hand, a ball in the other, it’s a symbiotic relationship that fosters hours of entertainment and laughter.

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Finally, this year, we hosted our first annual “Bocce & Bottles” tournament.  The games got quite exciting!  Those with even the most minimal experience were able to get right next to the pallino. More vengeful players strategically knocked their friends’ balls out of the way. And when two balls were in question, we’d unravel the string from the copper cup to determine whose ball was closer. Yes, so much fun!  We are so fortunate to have such wonderful friends. Times like this is worth capturing and sharing. Here are photos (taken by Shawna Quenneville) to re-cap the event…

THE PLAYERS:group-shot

(L-R): Ada Feliciano, Craig Finetti, Eduard Ajdini, Marisa Finetti, Lisa Ajdini, Alison Bradley, Bill Bradley, Michelle Tenazas, Jared Cooper, Corinne Leo,  Liz Davar, Henry Davar, Kirk Peterson and Allison Bernhardt (George Chambers and Mini not pictured)

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“Cup the ball” with our homemade measuring device.

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Looks like victory!

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THE BOTTLES:

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glasses

Egly-Ouriet, Brut Tradition, Grand Cru NV
Wind Gap Trousseau Gris 2013
Giovanni Rosso, Barbera, Donna Margherita 2014
Contratto For England Rosé 2008
Contratto Millesimato Extra Brut 2010
Jean Foillard, Morgon, Cuvée Corcelette 2013
Chateau Tourans Saint-Émilion 2010
Nigl Grüner Veltliner 2005
Unanime Gran Vino Tinto 2012
The Prisoner 2014
Contadi Castaldi Rosé Franciacorta
Chateau Touran Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2010
Portal Reserva Douro 2010
Leeuwin Estate Riesling 2010

THE FOOD:
An array of delicious food brought by friends, plus local restaurant favorites, like Daily Kitchen’s family meal, which included Brussels sprouts, macaroni & cheese, Mary’s all-natural rotisserie chicken, Certified Angus tri-tip beef, kale salad and flourless chocolate cake.

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Chicharonnes from China Poblano
Chicharonnes from China Poblano

THE WINNERS:

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1st Place – Liz & Henry Davarimg_1586

2nd Place – Lisa and Eduard Ajdini
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3rd Place  – Yours truly – Marisa & Craig Finetti

 

Photos:  Shawna Quenneville

Get personal with Chef Pierre Gagnaire

When I asked the illustrious Chef Pierre Gagnaire to articulate his sheer genius in the kitchen, he leaned over and with a gentle smile that came through his deep steel blue eyes, to say, “I try to create an emotion.”

Clearly, Gagnaire has such an ability.  His food is as artistic as it is delicious. Edible art that is simple, and also ingeniously creative, his creations are capable of drawing out feelings of love, happiness, inspiration, delight, curiosity, ultimate pleasure.

Yet, Gagnaire is modest in every way.  Though he has gained a cult of international devotees and owns highly-acclaimed restaurants worldwide and has garnered three Michelin stars for his eponymous restaurant in Paris, he finds himself short of expressing his brilliance. But he understands that his business is a process and that constant evolution has allowed him to stay at the forefront of the international culinary scene and remain relevant in an ever-changing world.

Gagnaire is the type of individual that is present at every front. By example, this is one of the reasons for his visit to his only U.S. restaurant, Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, located on the 23rd floor of Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas. Working alongside his kitchen team, Chef de Cuisine Frederic Don, and wine director, Master Sommelier Will Costello, he says that consistency is supremely important – one that takes patience, the ability to empower his team to envision his idea, then organically allow their magic to take place in the kitchen.

“He creates an environment of family which allows me to have his full support when I am creating new menu items,” says Twist’s, Chef de Cuisine Frederic Don. “Most of all, he trusts our team.”

Gagnaire has always encouraged chefs to break free of the rules that have governed the French canon for so long.

“Finally, one day I was ready to open my vision with all these chefs,” says Gagnaire, “A chef has the capacity to translate .. he or she is talented.  I’m obsessed with the quality, and I try to give the process. Not the recipe, never the recipe – just the idea.”

The feeling of creativity, design and artistry delights the senses from the very moment you enter Twist. The majestic floor-to-ceiling windows heighten the energy in the dining room and a dramatic glass staircase leads up to a suspended wine loft.  The restaurant also boasts a most striking lighting feature, which incorporates more than 300 spheres designed to look like bubbles floating across the ceiling. All this, is after being greeted by hundreds of silk purple butterflies that are seemingly an extension of the warm hospitality one receives as a guest.

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Twist by Pierre Gagnaire continues to garner accolades for its groundbreaking menu of classic French cuisine, from vegetarian specialties, like Jardinière (Fava Beans, English Peas, Spring Onions Baby Carrots in Onion and Curry Juice English Pea Soup), to Muscovy Duck from Grimaud Farm (Thinly sliced with Cassis Bigarade Sauce Celeriac-Red Beetroot, Baby Carrots Turmeric Pommes Gaufrettes, Bacon Powder), Chef’s creations are a “twist” on the contemporary.

Gagnaire admits that his life in the culinary world was specified at an early age. His father was a chef, and while his siblings opted for other careers, cooking became Gagnaire’s destiny.  After working under some of the finest chefs in the business, he struck out on his own in the town of St Étienne, where his illustrious career took flight.

Since then, he has overseen the development of a number of restaurants around the world, from London, to Paris, to Seoul and Dubai – each of which stay true to the defining quality and innovation synonymous with Chef Gagnaire.

But, working closely with his team is where he feels most at home.  He explains how relationships are made through food, not only with his guests, but also with his team.

“I didn’t have a [career] choice, but I found that it was possible to tell a story.  Food creates relationships with people, and people are the keys to my life.”

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Secrets to making the perfect popover

Once the chill hits the air, it just feels like popover season to me. And yes, I make them for self-indulgent reasons, but also for the pure entertainment factor. When they rise gloriously beyond the walls of the pan to magnificent heights, it’s a show you want to experience front and center. Then, consume at once!

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But, why do they rise like that? It’s actually the steam that is built up inside the popover, which creates a hollow pocket and rises, pushing the popover higher and higher .. oh my goodness! (Make sure you don’t have another oven rack above it). The steam also cooks the inside, creating the most supple, custard-like texture that deliciously contrasts with the crunchy  exterior.  It’s really a magical creation.

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The functional form of the popover pan.

The popover is an American version of a Yorkshire pudding. It’s a light and hollow roll that is made from an egg batter. One of the secrets to making the perfect popover is using a popover pan.  It looks like a muffin pan, but each individual well is actually separate from the others, which allows hot air to circulate evenly around each well.

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Another tip is the make the pan very hot prior to adding the batter.  This will ensure that you achieve the steam needed to push them up, up, up!

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Fill popover pan just below half-way up.
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If you choose to add cheese, add 10 minutes into baking (quickly!)
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Enjoy at once!

Ingredients to make 12 poppers (2 pans)

1 1/2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, + softened butter for greasing pans
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups milk, at room temperature
Optional: One or two  1″ piece of Gruyere cheese.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Generously grease popover pans with softened butter. Place the pans in the hot oven for exactly 2 minutes to preheat. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt, eggs, milk, and melted butter until smooth. The batter will be liquid thin. Fill the popover pans less than half full and bake for exactly 30 minutes, or until they are golden brown and tall. If you have window in your oven, watch the show. Otherwise, don’t peek.

Serve immediately with breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

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Seattle’s Spinasse Charms the Palate and Soul

The moment I arrived at Spinasse (pronounced speh-nah-say), in the gastronomically-gifted Capitol Hill area of Seattle, I was in love.  On the street level of this handsome, multi-storied brick building,  an intimate spot welcomes us with charming outdoor seating consisting of wooden plank tables, surrounded by a whimsy of colorful chairs.  An old-world iron sign hangs above the quaint entrance door, of which the window is tastefully etched “Cascina Spinasse.”

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A peek through the glass is like looking into a rustic Italian farmhouse. Wooden trestle tables with knotty imperfections imply generations of celebrations with suppers and wine that had been consumed around them. Soft and delicate ivory lace curtains grace the front windows, wrought-iron chandeliers illuminate the cozy space, and mismatched wood and marble countertops suggest a sense of history and soul.  Any more rustic, and I’d have arrived by wagon.

We sit in a cozy corner table next to the window,  but this isn’t a quiet dinner spot at the 8 o’clock hour by any means. Conversations just inches away give the entire space a comforable, convivial vibe.

Spinasse Door Love and Relish

I knew that Spinasse was one of those places that is hotly acclaimed by fervent foodies. It’s easy to understand why, with robust platters of pan-roasted rib eye with plums and spring onions, lovage and balsamic, to a light arugula, fennel, prosciutto cotto and green bean salad with cherry tomatoes and fennel maioneses – everything is lovingly prepared, oiled, and seasoned.

The pasta is capable of achieving density and delicacy at the same time, in the fine hand cut egg pasta (tamarin) with butter sage – a classic Spinasse dish – or hearty cavatelli with beef short rib and shoulder ragu with marinated cherry tomatoes and parmigiana.  Everything is a masterpiece that pays homage to northern Italian region of Piemonte (Piedmont),  under the creative and passionate direction of Executive Chef Stuart Lane.

Lane attended the Italian Culinary Institute in a castle in Piemonte at Costigliole d’Asti.  He later staged at the Hotel Monte del Re in Dozza Italy outside of Bologna in the heart of Emilia-Romagna.  While there, he crafted tortellini by the thousands and was immersed in the Italian food culture. Today, Lane oversees the menus at Spinasse and the adjacent casual Italian eatery and bar, Artusi.   He is passionate about Piemonte, and you can taste it in the food and in the wine.

Photos by Suzi-Pratt.com
Executive Chef Stuart Lane Photo by Suzi-Pratt.com
Egg fonduta _Spinasse
Uovo con fonduta – poached egg with parmigiano fondue and fried sage.
Prosciutto di Parma_Spinasse_Love_and_Relish_Blog
Pio Tosini 14 month aged prosciutto with cantaloupe and laudemio olive oil. Green bean salad with prosciutto cotto.

handmade pasta

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Tarajin al burro e salvia – Hand-cut egg pasts with butter and sage. Photo by Suzi-Pratt.com
Agnolotti di melanzana
Agnolotti di melanzana – eggplant and anchovy agnolotti with peperonata and parmigiano.

handmade pasta Spinasse

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Cavatelli al ragu di manzo – Cavatelli with beef short rib and shoulder ragu with marinated cherry tomatoes and parmigiano. Photo by Suzi-Pratt.com

Barbaresco

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Mascarpone cheese cake with huckleberries.

Overall, the experience is one to remember. The interior is charming and picturesque, with the kitchen-view dining as a portrait in craft, as well as a warm welcome to this old world space. Spinasse is one of Seattle’s most delicious places. I can’t wait to go back.

Meet “Red,” my un-welcomed drinking partner

Ask anyone who has spent enough time drinking with me and they’ll tell you that before long I’ll ask them, “Is my face red?”  I know it drives them crazy, but I have to say, the idea of having “Asian Flush” is something I get quite anxious about, because not only is it unattractive and physically uncomfortable, a candy apple red face would generally appear that I’m drunk, when I’m not.

Patiently, they always say what I want to hear, which is, “No, it’s not red.”  But, I never believe them; I know that “Red” has arrived (or will very soon) because my face (and entire body) is flushed and she always arrives after I’ve had some alcohol.  And when I say “some,” I mean just a few sips. That’s all it takes to turn this girl, who started the evening in complete composure into an insecure walking red beacon, as if calling attention to everyone around.   It’s done.  “Red” has made her entrance.  She is going to stay for the rest of the night, and I never invited her.

“Red” also brings along the dreadfully numbing and buzzing sensation that I get deep in my ears, and this feeling as though my ears are going to pop off like Mrs. Potato Head after she’s been thrown across the room by a tantrumming two-year-old.  Crazy, I know.   It’s generally a miserable feeling, but not nearly as miserable as knowing that “Red” has arrived.

Why do I turn red and you don’t?  Alcohol is broken down in two steps.  Sadly, I get stuck at the end of the first step.  Without getting too scientific, once alcohol enters the body, it breaks down to aldehyde (step one).  Actually, in 80 percent of Asians, this step happens faster than the rest of the population. Then, aldehyde – which is toxic – breaks down further into harmless substances, with the help of an enzyme (step two).  I’m missing this magic enzyme.

The aldehyde that is left stuck in my body after the first step  dilates my blood vessels, essentially turning my skin red. So yeah, that’s the reason for my red face. I’m not drunk. I’m not angry. I’m not holding my breath. I’m not bashful. I’m just stuck with “Red,” the unwanted visitor who invariably arrives late to my party.

Booch in yer Bouche: Taste-testing Kombucha

I won’t forget the day when my neighbor carefully peeled off a layer of rubbery slime from her fleshy live culture, handed it to me in a jar with a splash of cool tea, and encouraged me to home-brew this stuff called kombucha (thanks).  She claimed it was a miracle drink, yet after weeks of entertaining this fermented tea “experiment,” I decided, nah. All this trouble for something that just isn’t creating miracles. Nor, did it taste any good. I prefer my tea with cream and sugar, not microbials, thank you.

Now, ten years later, with grocery stores featuring fermented products, such as kefir and kimchi, kombucha, a sweet-tart effervescent tea brewed with a culture of yeast and bacteria, is fast-becoming a drink that is moving from the natural food isle to the mainstream. I decided to give it another try, but this time, I’d purchase already-made kombucha.

I coaxed my husband, Craig, to partake in a kombucha tasting. Surely, he can remember our kombucha trials back in the day. He was patient and open-minded, almost methodical.  He would handle the SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) with extra clean hands and prepare just the right amount of tea, before securing the cheese cloth over the 8-quart, food-grade bucket.  After fermentation, he’d carefully peel off the  “friendship” layer that had grown over the week, and try to pawn it off to friends, just like our neighbor did to us. He stills gets the shakes to think that we’d actually offer what he calls “SCOBY’s placenta” as a gift of health.

I also grabbed our friend Kirk Peterson, who is like the ultimate tasteBUD.  If he were one of the X-Men, he would be “Olfacto,” with his hyper-sensitive olfactories effortlessly tearing apart and exposing subtle smells and flavors in their futile attempt to hide in food and wine.  For sure he’d enlighten us.

So, we knew that kombucha had been passed around the globe from culture to culture (pun intended) as an elixir, claiming to provide a string of healthy perks, from aiding digestion, to promoting vitality.  None of them are at present scientifically verifiable, however. We wondered why kombucha was becoming so popular. Perhaps it was all in the taste.

Original

First up was Health-ade’s  Original. (Calories: 30-40/ bottle Sugar: 2-3 g/bottle Alc: < .5%)

Contained in an old-time pharmaceutical bottle, the kombucha tasted like a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar.  It also smelled slightly of bruised apples, was lightly carbonated, and wasn’t too different from the home brew we used to make.  We also tried the pomegranate-flavored version, which tasted similar to the original, but with a sour cranberry-esque aspect.

Pomegranate

GT’s, Classic-Original(Cals: 60/bottle; Sugar: 4 g/bottle) which requires an ID at checkout for its elevated alcohol (higher than .5%) , was darker in comparison to Health-ade. It was more aromatic, with a powerful odor of fresh fermentation, higher fizz and acid, and overall more flavorful.

GTs classic originalAlways hoping for the flavored version to be better,  we also tried GT’s Strawberry Serenity, which is made of raw, organic kombucha and strawberry puree.  Personally, this drink didn’t take me to any California strawberry farm.  Kirk described it best, “The bruised strawberry character to the framework of the Original honestly seemed out of place, like the last sad basket of strawberries at the market no one will buy.” Ouch!

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Moving on,  we then tried Kevita (Cals. 35/bottle; Sugar 8 g/bottle; Alc. < .5%).  This brand does not offer an original flavor, so we tasted two flavored ones, the first of which was Lavender Melon. It definitely smelled like a lavender sachet and it was somewhat sweet on the palate, thanks to the addition of stevia, but, “it was rather artificial tasting for an “all natural” type of product and it tasted eerily like Grape Zotz – those fizzy candies you used to eat as a kid and forgot about until just now.”

Kevita LavenderMelon

Finally, we tried Kevita’s Pineapple Peach.  Tasting quite sweet, we also found that the flavors were very much at home against the backdrop of kombucha. In terms of being the most accessibly-flavored, this was clearly the winner of our tasting. Nothing like saving the best for last.KeVita-Master-Brew-Kombucha-Pineapple-Peach

So, do we like our tea with cream and sugar, or perhaps with a dose of live bacteria?  Let’s be honest.  We like fermented things, sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, miso – all good – but all fermented things considered, we prefer fermented grape juice.

Las Vegas Epicurean Affair – A Delicious Soiree

The Las Vegas Epicurean Affair is without a doubt one of the premier events to attend in Las Vegas to satisfy your inner gourmand.  It takes place one night a year in the most gorgeous setting – the Palazzo pool deck – and guests are treated to the most delicious soiree featuring nearly the city’s most renowned chefs, along with 80 restaurants, nightclubs and beverage purveyors.

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Photo: Erik Kabik
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Photo: Erik Kabik

This year, on May 26, more than 2,300 guests mingled under the stars on the most perfect night and enjoyed tastings of dishes and specialty cocktails from the illustrious restaurants of The Venetian and The Palazzo, including AquaKnox, B&B Ristorante, B&B Burger & Beer, Carlo’s Bakery, Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, db Brasserie, Delmonico Steakhouse, Hong Kong Café, Lagasse’s Stadium, Lavo Italian Restaurant, Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro, OTTO Enoteca Pizzeria, Public House, SUSHISAMBA, Table 10, and Tao Asian Bistro; as well as other local celebrated restaurants both on and off the Strip, including The Capital Grille, Carmine’s, Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant, Hash House a Go Go, Il Mulino, Katsuya, Origin India, Shake Shack, Texas de Brazil and Triple George.

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Photo: Erik Kabik
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Photo: Erik Kabik
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Photo: Erik Kabik
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Photo: Erik Kabik

In addition to culinary delights, live band The Lift with special guest star Corinne Zarzour entertained the crowd while synchronized mermaids the Water Beauties put on a show in the main pool.

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Photo: Erik Kabik

Proceeds from the evening will fund NvRA’s educational and scholarship programs, including ProStart®, a national high school culinary skill and restaurant management program.

With so many amazing restaurants in Las Vegas, this event will give you a taste of the best the city has the offer.  Then, go back and make a few reservations at your favorite picks!

Top Italian Wine Lists in Las Vegas

Sipping through Italy is as simple as selecting from the top Italian wine lists in Las Vegas: B&B Ristorante, Carbone, Costa di Mare, Ferraro’s and Carnevino Italian Steakhouse. Ambitious in their endeavors, each one offers wide-ranging diversity, plunging deeply into Italy’s favorite food: wine.  These lists are the products of imagination, energy, resources, dedication and passion for Italian wine. Below is a SMALL snapshot of wines cultivated for you, along with virtual tastings that are best enjoyed with a glass and fork.

  1. B&B Ristorante
    B&B Ristorante Las Vegas Love and Relish Blog

Marchesi di Gresy “Gaiun-Martenenga” Barbaresco, 1996
Giacomo Conterno “Monfortino Riserva” Barolo, 1958
Ca’ del Bosco “Cuvée Prestige” NV, Franciacorta
Poggio di Sotto, Brunello 2004

Tip: An all Italian and Champagne list with the most comprehensive offerings of Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello, and Super Tuscans in the city, as well as selections from every major wine producing region in Italy.

Pairing: Cantina Terlano Pinot Bianco “Vorberg Riserva” 2012

“Nestled in the northeastern corner of Italy in Alto Adige, storybook vistas and vineyards are framed by the Dolomite mountain range. Pinot Bianco reaches its pinnacle of expression here. Smooth and silky in texture, it seduces you with peach, citrus, and white flower aromas that give way to delicate musk, mineral, and cedar flavors. Tremendously age-worthy and astonishingly versatile, it can be enjoyed by itself, or with B&B’s warm lamb’s tongue with chantrelle mushrooms and a three-minute egg.”

Kirk Peterson
– Kirk Peterson, Beverage Director, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, Las Vegas.

 

  1. CarboneKen Fulk - Carbone - Red Room credit-Douglas Friedman SM

Capezzana, Ghiaie Della Furba, Toscana, 1988
La Scolca, D’Antan, Gavi,  2004, Gavi 2004
Cantina Fratelli Pardi, Sacrantino di Montefalco, 2009
Donnafugata, Ben Rye, Passito di Pantelleria 2013

Tip: The wine list boasts rare old vintages of great wines ranging from Super Tuscans going as far as the 1930s, to Recioto’s from Veneto going back to the 1960s. The list also offers small, esoteric biodynamic producers from not so well known Italian regions.

Pairing: Lunae Bosoni, Etichetta Nera, Vermentino, Colli di Luni DOC 2014
What a great expression of Vermentino. Grown in this unique region stuck between Liguria and Tuscany, right on the Ligurian Sea, which reflects in the glass with bright and pleasant notes of fresh morning sea breeze, brings great complexity to otherwise powerful aromas of just ripe green apple, quince skin and acacia, still fresh and vibrant with no oak influence. Have it with Carbone’s Caesar Salad, and don’t forget the marinated anchovies.”

hristian
– Hristian Iliev, Lead Sommelier, Carbone.

 

  1. Costa di MareCosta Di Mare Wynn

Castello CONTI Boca, Piemonte, 1989
Punta Crena ‘Ca da Rena’ Pigato, Liguria, 2014
Antinori ‘Solaia’ Toscana, 1985
Benanti ‘Serra della Contessa’, Sicilia, 2011

Tip: In addition to its unique and diverse wine list, Costa di Mare features one of the most memorable Italian after-dinner Italian drink selections in town.

Pairing: Vodopivec Vitovska 2010

“Vitovska is a white grape from the Carso appellation of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. The wine has a light, amber color with an orange tint, aromas of peach, pear and slightly oxidized apple with smoke, in the mouth it is dense, with weight, yet not heavy, honeyed yet dry and full of mineral flavors. Vitovska makes a very fascinating food wine that will make you wonder why you never heard about before! Pairs very well with our grilled Langoustines- Scampi vivi imperiali alla griglia, finished with some extra virgin olive oil!”

Miklos
– Miklos Katona, Wine Director, Costa di Mare.

  1. Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar
    Ferraros Las Vegas Love and Relish Marisa Finetti

Giacomo Conterno, Monfortino Riserva, Barolo, 2008
Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, Brunello, 2007
Passopiciaro, Guardiola, Nerello Mascalese, Sicilia, 2012
Tenuta San Leonardo, San Leonardo, Trentino, 2007

Tip: Ferraro’s offers an excess of 200 different Barolo and Barbaresco – many of them as verticals of the best producers of Piemonte, including Giacomo Conterno, with eight vintages from Cascina Francia and Monfortino.

Pairing : Giacomo Conterno Cascina Francia, Barolo, 2008

“The star vintage in the last decade is the 2008, which has integrated tannins, leather, cigar box, sour cherries, beautiful balance and a long finish. Should wait a few more years before drinking, and will go well with coniglio brasato (braised rabbit).”

Gino Ferraro Las Vegas Love and Relish blog
– Gino Ferraro, Owner Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar.

  1. Carnevino24400815255_db3524d15b_z

Produttori del Barbaresco “Ovello” 2008
Vietti “Villero Riserva” Barolo, 2004
Bellavista “Gran Cuvée”, Franciacorta, 2008
Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1974

TIP:  With its vast number of options from Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello, and the rest of Italy as well as selections from other parts of the world, Carnevino is also home to one of the most extensive collection of Amari. In addition, the cocktail program offers a dedicated Farmer’s Market cocktail, which showcases the freshest ingredients of the season.