Jun 11

More Gnocchi Please! Italian Food, Facts & Fun

Bruschetta with tomatoes - yum!

Bruschetta with tomatoes – yum!

With roots dating back to the Roman Empire, it is no wonder why Italian cuisine is highly desirable around the world. Today, Italian influenced restaurants are commonplace in cities such as New York, Moscow and Beijing. The foundation of Italian cuisine dates back to the fourth century B.C., where ancient Greek, Arabic, Byzantine and Etruscan cultures influenced the cooking techniques and ingredients of the Italian Peninsula. With the close proximity of the Mediterranean, early Italian food was heavily influenced by ingredients such as sardines, olives, artichokes and basil.

I heart pizza with arugula

I heart pizza with arugula

While many regional cuisines were developed by highly skilled and well known chefs, Italian food was developed by communities, meaning that chefs are not often associated with the development of innovative cooking techniques and recipes. The first noted collection of Roman recipes was compiled into a book titled Apicius. This book served as a collection of popular dishes of the Roman Empire, and was written in the fourth century. Some of the common recipes listed in this book include boiled eggs, fried veal, stuffed sardines and whipped pear cake.

Modern Italian cuisine varies greatly from the early Roman influences. Perhaps the greatest influence of Italian cuisine can be traced to the New World. Soon, new ingredients such as tomatoes, potatoes, corn and peppers were widely used in Italian cooking. Perhaps the greatest influence of the New World was the tomato, with Marinara Sauce, Pizza and Sauce Bolognese being tomato derived dishes of Italian descent.

Heaven... Italian pizza and glasses of white wine in Chianti, Italy.

Heaven… Italian pizza and glasses of white wine in Chianti, Italy.

Italian cuisine is considered a highly regional cuisine. In the South, Sicilian food gave way to culinary innovations such as pasta and deep fried rice croquettes. With over 2,000 years of development, Sicilian food was influenced by many cultures such as the Greeks, Spanish and North African tribes. Ingredients such as apricots, saffron, clove, pepper and pine nuts were common among Sicilian cooks. From these influences, popular cooking techniques such as Caponata, Zabaglione and Granita were developed.

In the Northern part of Italy, Germanic influences merge with the techniques of Roman cooking. Since the climate of Northern Italy is colder, there is less influence from staples such as olive oil and tomatoes. Instead, butter, cheese, rice and beans are more popular in regions such as Tuscany, Val d’Aosta and Lombardy. Risotto became a staple of Northern Italian fare, with the Lombardy region being the most popular area for rice inspired recipes such as Minestrone alla Milanese. This dish contained a creamy mixture of risotto rice along with meat, broth, saffron and cheese. In Val d’Aosta, fontina cheese is the regions specialty. This fermented dairy product is used to create classics such as Costoletta alla Valdostana, a dish consisting of veal covered in fontina cheese.

Since Tuscany boarders the Mediterranean, fish is a major staple of this sub regional identity. The cooler climate also allows ingredients such as asparagus and truffles to influence regional specialties. Common dishes found in the Tuscany region include Tortellini al Brood and Zuppa Toscana. Another city in the north of Italy which is known for its food is Bologna. Perhaps the greatest culinary influence of this city is Sauce Bolognese, a sauce made of tomatoes and meat. Ragu is another popular invention of Bologna, giving this region a reputation for hearty dishes, cured meats and craft cheeses.

Gnocchi is my favorite... Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter

Gnocchi is my favorite… Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter

Another region of importance when it comes to Italian cuisine is Naples. In fact, Naples has influenced global Italian cuisine more than any other region on the peninsula. Pizza originated from the region of Naples as well as the slender form of pasta known as spaghetti. With tomatoes, olive oil and herbs influencing the cities cuisine, Neapolitan cuisine is known for its rich and savory dishes.

While the traditional culinary innovations of Italy were developed by local populations, there are a number of famous Italian chefs who have made their mark on the international culinary scene. Benedetta Vitali, is a modern day Italian chef who applies her trade in Florence, Italy. Along with her husband, Fabio Picchi, Vitali opened the restaurant Cibreo in 1979, a restaurant which remains one of the most popular in the entire country. The first Italian chef to earn three stars in the prestigious Michelin guide was Carlo Cracco, who’s restaurant, Ristorante Cracco, is known for its culinary innovation and simplicity.

While there are many modern day Italian chefs with global popularity, there are a number of chefs who greatly influences Italian cuisine over the centuries.  Bartolomeo Scappi was a sixteenth century chef who was the personal cook for Pope Pius V. Scappi wrote the culinary text, Opera, a five volume text which gave a comprehensive view of Italian cuisine. Scappi collected communal recipes to create a record of a national Italian cuisine.

The famous restaurants of Italy are as diverse as the cuisine itself. In Rome, Antica Pesa is perhaps the most famous restaurant. Dating back to the nineteenth century, this restaurant is situated in a very historic building. In San Pellegrino, Osteria Francescana is considered one of the best restaurants in the world and is the most modern restaurant in the entire country.  Another famous Italian restaurant is Dal Pescatore. The chef, Nadia Santini, is one of the most renowned female Italian chefs. The restaurant, located in Mantova, features its own helicopter pad to whisk away its exclusive clientele.

Let's not forget dessert - Tiramisu!

Let’s not forget dessert – Tiramisu!

With over 2,000 years of culinary innovation and regional development, it is no wonder why Italian cuisine is highly desired around the globe. From early Roman influences to modern day restaurants and food practices, a visit to Italy will certainly impress even the most gourmet of foodies.

Mar 29

Fabulous French Cuisine & How it Has Shaped the Culinary World

Homemade French Bread

Homemade French Bread

French cuisine, one of the world’s most exquisite and detailed styles of cooking, has a long history of culinary innovation and regional pride. The formal system of French cuisine can be traced to the sixteenth century, when Catherina de Medici married into the French royal family. The Italian princess brought her cooking staff to Paris, where they began forming the foundation of traditional French cuisine. From these early roots, French cuisine developed into one of the most desirable styles of cooking among global populations.

Quiche with mushrooms, chicken and herbs - typical French Fare

Quiche with mushrooms, chicken and herbs – typical French Fare

Within one hundred years after the arrival of de Medici in Paris, French borne chefs began to create innovative cooking techniques using local and regional ingredients. The first French chef to propel to international fame was Francoise Pierre de La Varenne (1615-1678). As the author of the culinary book, Le Cuisinier Française, La Varenne distinguished French cuisine from the cooking techniques of Italy by creating French staples such as the bisque and an early version of the Béchamel sauce. A chef serving French Royalty, La Varenne developed techniques that were soon being used by the common population. The next great chef of France to increase the innovative nature of this regional cuisine was Marie Antione Careme (1784-1833). Known as the father of Haute Cuisine, Careme introduced innovative cooking techniques such as the meringue and a group of sauces named the “Mother Sauces”. This group of sauces includes the modern day Bechamel, Espagnole, Veloute and Allemande. These sauces use butter and flour as a thickening agent that combine with liquids such as milk, cream and broths to create savory sauces for meat and fish. The foundation of French cuisine culminated in the work of Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935). Considered the greatest French chef of all time, Escoffier modernized the techniques of Careme and La Varenne into recipes that are used in today’s most prestigious French restaurants.  Escoffier wrote Le Guide Culinaire, a text which is still considered the best reference for French cuisine. In addition to innovative culinary techniques, Escoffier was credited with organizing the kitchen into what is known as the Brigade system. In this system, the cooks are organized into different levels of responsibilities including the Executive Chef, the Chef de Cuisine, Sous Chef, Chef de Partie and Commis.

Lobster Bisque

Lobster Bisque

While France has a long history of celebrity chefs, the regional cuisines which formed over four hundred years is staggering. The borders of France extend from the North Atlantic to the Mediterranean. In addition, the proximity of Germany and Spain added to the sub-regional identities of the nation. In Northern France, seafood, apples and dairy products reign supreme. One of the most popular dishes of Northern France is the Tart Tatan, a dish consisting of Puff Pastry and Apples. In Southern France, Mediterranean cuisine and ingredients define the regions taste preferences. Ingredients such as rosemary, basil, olives and garlic significantly influence the cuisine of Southern France. Common recipes include Scallops Provencal as well as Ratatouille. In the landlocked eastern region of France, meat and stews are the most popular foods. The city of Lyon and the Burgundy region are the birth place of recipes such as Coq au Vin and Beef Bourguignon. In Western France, the cuisine is influenced by the offerings of the Atlantic Ocean as well as Spain. Duck fat is the major cooking oil of this region and duck influenced recipes abound. Foie gras, duck confit and smoked paprika are popular additions to the foods found in Western France.

A beautiful salad served in France

A beautiful salad served in France

As France grew into a culinary powerhouse, a number of regional cities became well known for their culinary prowess. In the south of the country, Nice became the center of Provencal cuisine. In the West, Boudreaux not only added to the culinary tradition of the country but pioneered the developed of modern day French wines.  In the East, Lyon became the culinary epicenter of inland cooking. While these regional cities contributed to French cuisine, the greatest culinary capital of the country is certainly Paris. Influenced by all regions of France, Parisian cooking is known for modifying regional tastes to create a nationalistic style of French cuisine. It is for this reason that Parisian cuisine is the most well know and replicated form of French food.

Lobster Thermidor

Lobster Thermidor

France has provided the world with some of the most well-known restaurants. In fact, the restaurant considered to be the first food service establishment can be dated to Paris in 1765. The owner, Monsieur Boulanger, distinguished his business from taverns of the day by serving daily specials to the Parisian population. Today, France has some of the most prestigious restaurants in the world. In Paris, La Tour d’Argent and Taillevent are known for their long history and haute cuisine. Modern day restaurants of note include Paul Bocuses’ L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges as well as Restaurant Pierre Gagnaire. No matter where you decide to travel in France, you are sure to find a famous restaurant which serves exquisite food.

Thank you France for Creme Brulee!

Thank you France for Creme Brulee!

French cuisine has developed into one of the world’s most desirable forms of regional cuisine. With a rich tradition of culinary innovation for nearly four centuries, it is not wonder why the French have pioneered so many cooking techniques and recipes. With sub-regional cuisines spanning the four corners of the country, French cuisine is certainly impressive.

Dec 29

Curry, Nan, Kebabs & More – The All About Indian Cuisine Post!

Indian cuisine is a fascinating regional food culture to say the least. With influences coming from the ancient spice route, colonial Britain and Hindu beliefs, the subcontinent of India produces some of the most flavorful dishes of all global cuisines. Humans have occupied the region known as modern day India for over 5,000 years. Because of the long history of the region, deep traditions abound when it comes to food, family and culture. Indian food has evolved over the past five millennia, as travelers and rulers brought new culinary concepts and ingredients to this vast and complex civilization.

Indian Food Selection

Indian dishes offer a wide variety of choices!

The first known civilizations of India were the Mohendo-daro and Harappan cultures. Beginning around the year 3,000 B.C, these cultures relied heavily on eggplant, sesame as well as dairy cows for nutrition. Local spices such as turmeric, cardamom and black pepper were also used within these cultures to flavor foods. While game and other animal meats were widely consumed, the cow has always been a sacred animal to the Indian people, making this meat prohibited for consumption. In fact, vegetarianism was common among Indian cultures, even 5,000 years ago.

Indian food is pretty as well!  Here is a beautiful fresh Indian chicken tikka masala dish.

Indian food is pretty as well! Here is a beautiful fresh Indian chicken tikka masala dish.

As the middle ages approached, Western cultures became very interested with the spices of the Far East, marking the beginning of global trade. To transport spices from East Asia to Europe, India became an integral part of the spice route. During this time, the Gupta Dynasty saw the introduction of international travelers to the region. New Spices, such as saffron as well as tea, were introduced to the subcontinent. Cooking techniques also flourished during this period, with the Dum (a sealed pot method of cooking) becoming popular. In addition to foreign travelers, the region of India was invaded by Afghan and Asian tribes, heralding the arrival of the Mughlai cuisine. This form of Inidan cuisine is the style often associated with India today. Mughlai cuisine, heavily influenced by Persian and Turkic cuisines, is best demonstrated through the cooking styles of Uttar, Pradesh, Delhi and Punjab. Mughlai food is tasty food which can vary from the very mild to the very spicy. With distinct and powerful aromas, this form of cuisine is known for its use of ground and whole spices.

Spicy lovers look no further!

Spicy lovers look no further!

As the British began to expand their empire to include 25% of the known world, India became a major colony of the British Empire. While the British were interested in controlling the spice route by conquering the continent, they brought with them the common language of English (still the most widely spoken language of India) and technology. In turn, the British fell in love with the spicy and aromatic nature of Indian cuisine and helped to develop many of the curry blends we use globally today. A Garam Masala, or Indian curry, varies from region to region. However, many common ingredients are associated with this curry mixture such as peppercorns, cloves, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, star anise and coriander seeds.

There are many distinct ingredients associated with the food of the Indian region. Basmati rice, known for its aromatic taste and smell, is perhaps the most common type of rice used in Indian cuisine. Nan bread, a leavened flatbread make in an open oven, is extremely popular around the entire country. There are many types of cooking oil used in India, with sunflower oil, soybean oil and coconut oil being the main types of cooking fat. Another Indian staple, known as Ghee, is a clarified butter used for cooking. This Indian staple comes from the sacred cow. In addition to spices and unique cooking oils, garlic, ginger, fennel, mint and lentils are staples of all Indian regions.

Butter Chicken and Saag Paneer

Butter Chicken and Saag Paneer

Indian cuisine is very regional. While some cultures make good use of coastal ingredients, the vast size of India includes regions which are landlocked and secluded by mountains. In the coastal regions of Andaman and Nicobar, seafood plays a major role in the dietary habits of locals. In the Northeast of the country, spices are often used to flavor poultry such as duck and pigeon. In this region, known as Assam, the modern day technique of Bhuna (gently frying the spices to release the flavor) was invented. In Goa, situated on the west coast of the subcontinent, the food is influenced by Arabic cultures. Fish is a major staple of Goa, as well as rice and coconut milk. In Kashmir, the high mountains have created a cuisine with is strongly influenced by the use of lamb as an animal protein. In Punjab, ghee serves as the major cooking oil and is home to perhaps the most famous Indian dish, chicken Punjab. Tandoori chicken also comes from this region in Northwest India.

India is not a country with a pedigree of ancient celebrity chefs. Instead, the recipes and cooking techniques of the subcontinent were developed by local cultures which shared these techniques with neighboring tribes. Instead of the best Indian cuisine being found in elegant restaurants in cities such as Punjab and Delhi, Indian cuisine has a history of serving its best food on the streets or in food markets. The finest Indian restaurants can be found outside the country, with London pioneering the world of Haute Indian Cuisine.  For this, the Sitar Indian Restaurant in London is a noteworthy restaurant. In New York City, Tabla restaurant was credited with merging French cuisine and Indian flavors.

Nan Bread with Indian Delights

Nan Bread with Indian Delights

Indian cuisine is a regional cuisine with very rich traditions and history. With 5,000 years of culinary development, you are bound to be impressed with the aromatic complexity of this national cuisine. To experience this cuisine in its full flavor, it is certainly recommended that you travel to the region to explore the creative and spiritual nature of this ancient cuisine.

Jul 03

A Beautiful Breakfast at Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro

A couple months ago my friends and I had a wonderful afternoon at Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro.  Not only did we dine on some of the finest cheeses I have ever had in my life, we also enjoyed a variety of meats from their Charcuterie plate.  Morels has a cheese and charcuterie bar with more than 60 farmhouse and artisanal cheeses from around the world, as well as handmade salamis and meats.  Since that time we have talked about going back, and this time we dined for breakfast.

Located in the Palazzo hotel, Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro has a casual, laid-back vibe that is inviting any time of day.  After ordering a couple mimosas to wash down our breakfast, we scanned the menu for what to eat.  Something that caught my eye right away was the Lox & Bagels ($16).  This gorgeous version of a dish made famous by Scandinavian immigrants is served with chive cream cheese, capers, tomato, red onion, and mini bagels.  It was the perfect ratio of lox to cream cheese and the dish was large enough to feed two.  I enjoyed bites of the cured salmon with all the accoutrements.

Lox & Bagels

Lox & Bagels

My husband, Eric, surprised me by not ordering his usual French toast.  This day he decided to opt for the intriguing Turkey Hash($17).  This lovely hash is served with diced potatoes, onions, sweet peppers, poached eggs and a Hollandaise sauce.  It reminded us of the very memorable hash we had at Beast while dining in Portland.  The eggs were perfectly poached, the turkey was light, and the Hollandaise added a sumptuous mouth feel to the dish.

We have dined at Morels, once at the bar and once seated at a table, and had excellent service both times.  The menu has a nice variety of dishes and we will definitely be back again, perhaps for dinner next time.  I’m dying to try some mussels, frites and an offering from their iced seafood bar.

Morels French Steakhouse is located @ The Palazzo Hotel

Jul 01

Lunch with my Friend at Mon Ami Gabi

On our recent trip to Las Vegas we spent most of our time at The Venetian, as we were staying there and the hotel has an outstanding selection of dining options.  However, after reading reviews online we knew we had to take at least one trip out of the air conditioned comfort of our own hotel/casino and go to Paris Las Vegas for the highly-touted Mon Ami Gabi.  Executive Chef Partner Terry Lynch’s Classic French Bistro is the “talk of the town” in a town that has an overwhelming amount of high class restaurants from award-winning chefs.

We started with the appetizer of the Chicken Liver Mousse ($9.95) with burgundy red wine mustard and toasted brioche.  This was an exotic treat for Christine and I as we usually don’t venture into the more gamey sort of meats, but this was excellent.  The burgundy red wine mustard made this appetizer simply fabulous as we smeared the mousse onto our toasted brioche.

Sea Scallops

Sea Scallops

The Sea Scallops ($21.95) with ratatouille and basil oil was the best scallop dish I have ever had!  In my life full of scallops!  The scallops were seared perfectly and the basil oil complemented the fresh plump scallops.  A huge surprise to me was how much I loved the ratatouille.  Sadly, I loathe almost all vegetables, but the ratatouille was a special treat that defied all of my preconceived notions of most bland vegetables.

The Maine Lobster Roll ($17.95) with toasted brioche roll was Christine’s choice for her lunch entree.  The fresh Maine Lobster meat shined in a light creamy mixture placed atop the crispy, toasted brioche roll.  The waffle-cut fries were very lightly fried and they were a big hit with both of us.  I couldn’t hold myself back from stealing several of them, as well as bites of the delicious lobster roll.

Maine Lobster Roll

Maine Lobster Roll

Mon Ami Gabi serves amazing French fare across the street from the Bellagio, and as we were eating I imagined how excellent it must be to view the Bellagio fountains while dining at night.  We look forward to Bouchon every time we go to Vegas and now Mon Ami Gabi will be a must-go as well.  The semi al fresco dining on the patio is perfect for feeling like you are sitting outside, as well as enjoying the comfort of the AC.

Mon Ami Gabi is located at 3655 Las Vegas Boulevard South.

Jun 24

Recipe: Triple Berry Mousse Tart

Triple Berry Mousse Tart

Triple Berry Mousse Tart

Triple Berry Mousse Tart

1 2/3 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
1/3 cup quick rolled oats
5 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
3 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons boiling water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (2 teaspoons)
1 (12 oz.) jar Smucker’s(R) Orchard’s Finest(R) Northwest Triple Berry Preserves, divided
3/4 cup fresh mixed berries such as chopped strawberries, blueberries and/or raspberries

1. Combine cookie crumbs, oats and brown sugar in medium bowl. Stir in melted butter with a fork until evenly moistened. Press into 8-inch spring form pan.
2. Beat 1 cup heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Beat in 2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla. Place cream cheese on microwave-safe plate. Microwave on HIGH 15 to 20 seconds or until very soft. Add to whipped cream, beating until smooth. Pour boiling water over gelatin in small bowl. Stir about 2 minutes or until gelatin is completely dissolved. Beat into cream cheese mixture until blended. Stir 3/4 cup preserves. Spread over crumb crust. Chill 2 hours or overnight.
3. Beat remaining 1/2 cup heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Beat in 1 tablespoon sugar. Place in resealable plastic bag. Cut small corner off bag. Remove outer rim of pan. Place dollops of whipped cream around outside edge of cheesecake. Stir remaining preserves with fresh mixed berries in small bowl. Spoon evenly in center of cheesecake.

Jun 24

Dining Faux Al Fresco at Postrio Bar & Grill

Spicy Tuna Tartare

Spicy Tuna Tartare

On a recent stroll through the Grand Canal Shoppes of the Venetian Hotel, my husband and I decided to stop in at Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio Bar & Grill for a light lunch.  The appeal to us of Postrio is that is has an outdoor seating vibe, even though it is inside the hotel.  It could help that the ceiling is painted like a sky, and is practically as high as the real sky.  The Grand Canal Shoppes also have a refreshing light and airy feel that makes you want to relax and just tinker around.  You would never know it is a 120* outside, as it seems more like you are taking a stroll of old world Italy on a Spring day.

As we were looking for some light nibbles that would not bog us down while shopping, we opted to go with two appetizers.  The first appetizer being one of my all time favorite things to order, Tuna Tartare.  Postrio serves up a mean Spicy Tuna Tartare served with avocado, pickled ginger, cucumber and crisp sesame wontons.  This is hands down the BEST tuna tartare I have ever had in my entire life.  Such an elegant interpretation of the dish, the crisp wontons were the perfect vessel for the fresh fish that had a lovely spicy kick to it.

Next appetizer on the agenda was something my husband and I simply love, Crispy Calamari.  This appetizer like the tuna was truly splendid, and came served with rock shrimp, scallions, jalapeño, cilantro, and sweet Thai chili sauce.  Incredibly light and crisp, the scallions, jalapeño and chili sauce brightened up the dish, and it felt as if we were not even eating fried food.

Melting Chocolate Beignets

Melting Chocolate Beignets

Although we were not planning on ordering dessert, the intriguing menu called to our sweet tooth like sugar sirens, and we absolutely could not resist!  After taking a scan of the menu we decided upon something so devilishy good I’m still dreaming about it weeks later, Chocolate Melting Beignets.  These magical beignets were almost like small molten lava chocolate cakes as they oozed out a delicious chocolate filling once broken open.  They are served with the perfect partners in crime, caramel espresso ice cream and vanilla Anglaise.

I liked this place so much, I had to put it in the elusive “The Perfect Bite” category.  ’nuff said.

Postrio is located in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian Hotel.

Jun 23

Firefly* Tapas Kitchen & Bar – The Best Time I Had in Vegas!

I love tapas and I knew I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to hit up Firefly* while visiting Las Vegas.  I first heard about them because according to Urbanspoon, Las Vegas, Firefly* Tapas is the number one choice of restaurants in the “Higher Priced” category. I would have to say it almost seems like it should be in the “Moderately Priced” category as the prices are great, and the food even better!

Three of us went on a Wednesday night, the place was packed to the rafters, and here are some pictures of what we ordered:

The Stuffed Dates ($4.50) were the favorite tapa of the night!  These amazing little dates come wrapped in bacon, with a red wine reduction and topped with blue cheese.  The bacon was very crisp and the dates had the perfect combination of savory and just a tad sweet.  They were so good in fact, we had to order two rounds of them.

Next tapa we tried was the Tuna Tartare ($8).  This was a classic tuna tartare of marinated ahi tuna, avocado and taro chips.  This was devoured along with the dates and a very lovely and light tapa.

The boys at the table had to have something fried, so the Firefly* Fries ($6) were the perfect choice.  They are served with parmesan cheese, herbs and a garlic aioli.  These fries reminded us the delicious garlic fries you would find at Dodger Stadium, and had a very nice kick to them!

I am obsessed with eating mussels, so of course I could not resist the Steamed Mussels ($8)  with a Thai spin on them.  They are prepared with red curry, white wine, and coconut cream.  The broth was the star of the bowl with the creamy, spicy Thai flavors.  It almost had a tomato bisque-essence to it and I found myself practically licking the bowl.  The cheesy toast on the side was a nice dipping vessel.

Finally, we ended with an order of Lobster “Escargots”, knots of lobster tail baked in garlic butter ($10).  We have to say this was probably the least favorite pick of the night.  Although they were good, it was a very small portion, and if you’re going to do tapas, fine dining seafood is probably not the way to go.

Along with all the delicious food, we had to try a pitcher of mojitos – and they were so good, we had to get a second pitcher.  If mojitos are not your thing I hear they serve a killer pitcher of Sangria as well for those wanting a refreshing adult beverage.

Firefly* Tapas Kitchen & Bar has three Las Vegas locations – we dined at 3900 Paradise Road

Jun 19

A Mouthwatering Birthday Dinner at Public House

Heirloom tomatoes salad

Heirloom tomatoes salad

Last week my husband and I were in Las Vegas for the second time this year.  We are true lovers of Vegas, and it is primarily because of the fantastic food.  As there are so many restaurants to choose from, it is hard cramming in all the places we dream of eating in one short stay.  On this particular trip, we went to celebrate my darling hubby’s 30th birthday!  Our last night there we were looking for something casual, and also not so expensive.  We decided upon Public House Gastropub located in our hotel, The Venetian.

After pondering the menu chock-full of classy bar foods, salty snacks, and fresh sea food, we decided to start with the appetizer of Poutine ($10).  Poutine is a starter filled with french fries, duck confit, cheese curds, topped with a glorious, rich gravy.  This pretty much satisifies every naughty-craving, calorie-laden, taste bud on the tongue and goes perfectly with a cold beer.  When we ordered this the waitress advised it is a salty appetizer, and she was right.  However, it was not too salty for us, it was just right. The duck was delicious and tender, the fries perfectly crisp, and the gravy came in the form of a thicky, beefy broth that was perfect with the cheese curds.

After having a rather rich appetizer to start with I decided upon the Heirloom Tomatoes ($14) for my main course.  I love the flavor that the heirloom tomatoes bring to the table, and this dish served with herbed goat cheese, pesto, baby basil leaves, and aged balsamic was a perfect entree.  It was fresh, tangy and the perfect size for a light meal.

Eric, the birthday boy, decided to order their version of chicken and waffles that is actually served with Quail instead of chicken ($26).  The delicate quail is buttermilk fried, served with a waffle, bacon braised swiss chard, and a Moose Drool maple glaze.  This was a classy interpretation of chicken and waffles, and Eric and I both agreed the star of the show on this entree was the bacon braised swiss chard.  After all, you can add bacon to just about anything and make it better, right?

Speaking of bacon, next came the sweet, sweet, heavenly bacon-topped dessert.  We ordered the Chocolate Stout Layer Cake ($9) served with malted milk ice cream and caramelized bacon rice Crispies.  The cake was super moist and layered with what seemed like a chocolate mousse.  The ice cream was very light in flavor and the carmalized bacon Crispies added that perfect salty element to the dessert.  We were in HOG heaven!

On this particular trip to Las Vegas we dined at many fine dining establishments, and I have to admit Public House trumped most of them.  I enjoyed the fact they offer my favorite Belgium beer, Framboise, as well as a nice selection of pub foods with gourmet spins put on them.  The atmosphere of the bar was loud and fun with basketball on the TV’s, while the dining room was quieter with a more romantic vibe – something for everyone to enjoy!

Public House is located at The Venetian

Jun 05

A Divine Lunch at Emeril Lagasse’s Table 10

Table 10

Table 10

On a recent trip to Las Vegas with my lovely wife, we decided to stop in at Table 10 for a quick lunch.  In all honesty, it was a last moment choice because neither of us could actually say we’re a true fan of Mr. Lagasse, it was just happened to be the most convenient place to eat, and it also did not have a wait.  Centered around a beautiful bar, you will find casual New Orleans eatery with a menu that emphasizes market fresh ingredients.

After scanning the menu I knew I had to start with an order of one of my favorite decadent treats, Roasted Beef Marrow Bones served with toasted brioche – sea salt ($11).  Having been blown away with the marrow bones of Bouchon the previous night, my expectations were low as I thought for sure they could not compare.  Fortunately, I was so wrong. The bone marrow had that rich, delicious, sumptuousness to it, and had a nice rustic mouth feel.  I was in bone marrow heaven.

I also ordered a bowl of the Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo served with steamed rice ($10).  Although, I have only had a few gumbos in my lifetime, this is by far the best I have ever had.  The chicken was so tender, the Andouille was nice and spicy, and the depth of flavors in this dish was d-y-n-a-m-i-t-e!

My wife, Christine, decided to order the Frisee Salad which is served with a poached egg, lardons, and a champagne vinaigrette ($11).  She was in heaven with this upscale salad.  The poached egg was cooked perfectly and the champagne vinaigrette added a lovely tang to cut the richness of the egg and lardons.  She could not stop raving about the salad and was quite satisfied!

Overall, we were very happy with our trip to Table 10!  It is the perfect lunch destination to break to while shopping or playing some Black Jack.

Table 10 is located @ The Palazzo