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Five Outstanding Dishes From The 2010 Vegas Uncork'd Grand Tasting

The culmination of all that is Vegas Uncork’d is the Grand Tasting.  Held at the gorgeous Garden of the Gods pool complex at Caesars Palace, there are over 70 chefs representing over 50 restaurants, 100 vintners and other variants of booze producers with 2,300 people loosening their belts ready gorge on a whole bunch of delicious bites, all the while rubbing elbows (or throwing full blown body checks) with the amazing chefs that cook them.  In a word; it’s unfuckingbelievable. (please pardon, it’s the only French word I know)

2010 Vegas Uncork'd Grand Tasting at Caesars Palace

2010 Vegas Uncork'd Grand Tasting at Caesars Palace

Going from booth to booth, juggling empty plastic plates and cups and trying to navigate through a sea of people, I severely failed in the photo and note taking department.  With the throngs of people pushing their way to the front of Restaurant Guy Savoy’s booth as if the Artichoke Black Truffle Soup shooter came with a live performance by The Beatles, I found that the priority of life preservation deemed more of a dine and dash technique rather than getting all Ansel Adams on the food.

Fountains in the middle of Vegas Uncork'd Grand Tasting

Fountains in the middle of Vegas Uncork'd Grand Tasting

Although I don’t have photographic evidence that all but one of these dishes even existed, I can only hope that my sensationalized prose will adequately paint the picture.  Keep in mind that I don’t know if this is what the chefs actually called these dishes, but this is what I remember from the best of my ability to remember such things.  Without further adieu, here are Five Outstanding Dishes from the 2010 Vegas Uncork’d Grand Tasting:

5.) Shrimp Tempura Roll with Yuzu, Miso and Eel Sauce from Wazuzu

Chef Jet Tila of Wazuzu

Chef Jet Tila of Wazuzu

So this is one of the dishes that stuck in my memory even though about 15 minutes after I ate it I couldn’t remember what the hell was in it. I remember that I loved it and why I loved it.  Through the magic of the internet, I got the details from Chef Jet Tila of Wazuzu himself.  Beyond the flavor, which was masterfully put together, the most extraordinary thing about this bite of food was the texture brought on by the bubu arare or Japanese Rice Pearls.  The bubu arare, crunchy rice pellets about the size of Dippin Dots, coated the outside of the roll.  It was like a little dog with a studded collar; cute yet with a don’t-mess-with-my-shit aura.  This dish to me personified how I view Tila’s cuisine; traditional Pan-Asian cuisine with a dash of unapologetic attitude.  I like that.

4.) King Crab Stick from Joël Robuchon

Executive Chef of Joël Robuchon at the MGM Grand, Claude le Tohic (photo by: Kevin Stout)

Executive Chef of Joël Robuchon at the MGM Grand, Claude le Tohic (photo by: Kevin Stout)

At first glance, the King Crab Stick offered up by James Beard Award Foundation Winner Chef Claude le Tohic seemed simple enough, but then you put it in your mouth and wonder how the hell he did it.  At about the girth and length of a golf pencil, he managed to wrap a perfectly flaky, impossibly thin buttery crust around lusciously sweet King Crab.  It was extraordinary, and among the barrage of tartares and crudos at every turn, it was one of the most technically perfect bites of food at the entire shindig.

3.) Lamb and Olive Sliders by Cat Cora

Chef Cat Cora on the Red Carpet of the 2010 Vegas Uncork'd Grand Tasting

Chef Cat Cora on the Red Carpet of the 2010 Vegas Uncork'd Grand Tasting

Listen, I know it isn’t cool to like sliders anymore, but I don’t give a shit.  I like sliders and can rarely get enough of them.  In my opinion, the cheeseburger is the greatest food known to man and the slider is fabulous because of the ability to try multiple renditions of this greatest food known to man at the same sitting.  Don’t you look your nose down at me because all of the fancy frou-frou guys break the slider’s balls and jumped over to the ramps and pork belly bandwagon.  I, too, love me some ramps and pork belly, but there is always a place on the menu for a slider or two. Now that I think of it…why not a Ramp and Pork Belly Slider?!?

But I digress…

Known as an Iron Chef to many, but present at the Grand Tasting in her Executive Chef of Bon Appetit Magazine gig, Cat Cora banged out a magnificent dish that would make even the staunchest slider detractor crack a smile and say unto himself, “Hey, this is pretty damn good.”  Ground lamb brilliantly exploding with flavor from garlic, oregano and olives among a whole host of spices, they were serious bites of food and perfect for the occasion.  After talking with Cat (we’re now on a first name basis along with Bobby), being the Executive Chef of Bon Appetit entails pretty much what she was doing, cooking for big events like this.  Her experience in this medium of cooking was very apparent in the slider; a perfect choice that was perfectly done.

2.) Sangria Push Pops from Silk Road

Sangria Push Pops from Silk Road at 2010 Vegas Uncork'd Grand Tasting

Sangria Push Pops from Silk Road at 2010 Vegas Uncork'd Grand Tasting

It’s no secret, I love Martin Heierling’s food. He colors with spices the way Renoir did with paint.  The Sangria Push Pop, although I believe on the catering menu at Vdara and not on the dessert menu at Silk Road, was heads and shoulders the best sweet item I tasted at the Grand Tasting and one of the best ice cream flavors I’ve ever tasted.  With a burst of cinnamon up front and sweet wine in the back, the only thing keeping me from inhaling every plastic tube they put up was my own intestinal aversion to all things dairy (I did have another event to go to after this one and didn’t want to cause a spectacle).  Someone needs to call up both Ben and Jerry to let them know Martin’s Sangria should be standing along side the Chunky Monkey.

1.) Cheese Ravioli with Asparagus Cream from Sirio Ristorante

Chef Vincenzo Scarmiglia of Sirio Ristorante (courtesy: vegasuncorked.com)

Chef Vincenzo Scarmiglia of Sirio Ristorante (courtesy: vegasuncorked.com)

Of all the restaurants represented at the Grand Tasting that I haven’t been to in real life yet, this is the one dish that caused a must-visit-now reaction.  The best thing I ate at the Grand Tasting and one of the best bites of pasta I’ve had in quite a long time, I can’t wait to get The Wife and I in to Sirio Ristorante at the Aria resort and taste Chef Vincenzo Scarmiglia’s offerings on his home turf.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say he used a Sheep’s Milk Ricotta (as there was a brilliant funk to it) in a perfectly cooked pasta (how that happened at an event like this is beyond me) with this Asparagus cream that burst with a blooming springtime flavor.  It was impeccably paired with this gorgeous event, and quite an eye opener to what may be the sleeper restaurant in the still-struggling resort.

Overall, I couldn’t possibly recommend doing the Vegas Uncork’d Grand Tasting enough.  If you can handle shoulder-to-shoulder walls of humanity crowds, then there is no reason to pass up what is one of the greatest gastronomic opportunities put together on the planet.  How lucky we are here in Las Vegas to have an event of this magnitude in our backyard.  And what a beautiful backyard it is.  Next year I’ll try to actually get some pictures of the food!

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas.

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2 comments to Five Outstanding Dishes From The 2010 Vegas Uncork’d Grand Tasting

  • Donna Wilburn

    Wow, that was great. So, I’m just going to pass your article on to whomever asks me how the Grand Tasting was. Saving me a lot of repeated ‘awesome’s and ‘amazing’s. The only thing I didn’t get to on your list was the crab legs.. how did I miss that? I think there was a major traffic jam right in front of that booth. (And ok, yes, you caught me body checking Cat Cora.. whatevs!) Also, since I eat AND drink I am adding the top cocktail- the BOA infusion from BOA Steakhouse. A rum infused with pineapple and cinnamon and served shaken over ice with maybe a splash of pineapple. Sooooo darn tootin’ tasty!

  • Thanks so much, Donna! I’m bummed that I missed the drink at BOA! I didn’t have too much too drink there since I had to cover the Celebrity Chef Blackjack Tournament after the Grand Tasting. I did most of my imbibing over there, although I did have some kind of strawberry something or another at the Aria Signature Cocktail booth that I found to be quite tasty. It was pink and sweet…that’s about all I remember from it. Good times at the Grand Tasting, can’t wait for next year!

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