Wise caloric rules, a Total Wine take and vital fish talk

No matter what side you fall on with regard to the new health-care legislation, you can’t fault the idea of caloric labeling in a restaurant that has more than 20 outlets. It might be a good idea to know what the damage is if you’re eating something like the Aussie Cheese Fries with ranch dressing at Outback (2,900 calories, 182 grams of fat) or five chicken strips at McDo (a mere 660 calories). Hey, it’s just a thought.

In the March 11-17 issue, Vegas Seven mentioned the opening of our city’s first Total Wine store, and I’d like to add a few observations about the place. Yes, it’s true that some of the prices are the lowest in town, but that’s in part because the store sells many bottles that are made in wineries almost exclusively for them. These are of varying quality, and most are well priced. Novice buyers will find it convenient that certain shelves describe the characteristics of a wine, such as “Big and Robust” or “Soft and Fruity.” Total Wine is in Boca Park, the mall on the corner of Rampart and Charleston boulevards, and it is worth the trip.

Meanwhile, Rick Moonen continues to be the conscience of local chefs as he lobbies for sustainable seafood and the “Slow Food” movement. He recently handed out copies of his book, Fish Without a Doubt: The Cook’s Essential Companion (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008), at a “Super Green Dinner” put on by Slow Food Las Vegas. Giovanni Mauro of Nora’s Cuisine is the head of the local chapter. Send him an e-mail if you’d like to join: info@slowfoodlv.org.

The dinner was amazing, by the way. It started with Hog Island oysters from a facility in Marin County (Calif.) and continued with togarashi-marinated tuna—albacore, not bluefin, which is on the endangered species list. A plate of Hawaiian walu and spot prawns followed, then naturally raised lamb with the lamb sweetbreads.

After the dessert, Moonen signed copies of his book and handed out the Monterey Bay (Calif.) Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, a list that tells you the fish you should and should not be eating. “Talk to chefs and restaurant owners,” Moonen says, “and tell them you don’t want Chilean sea bass or Atlantic salmon. They will listen to you.”

The reason is simple: “Give fish a chance to refresh their species,” Moonen says. “A once-depleted swordfish population is now abundant again, and off the list of endangered species.” Moonen and his team are doing very important work in their Mandalay Place restaurant, RM Seafood. Thanks, guys.

Hungry, yet? Follow Max Jacobson’s latest epicurean observations, reviews and tips at foodwinekitchen.com.

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The high-end restaurants get all the national press, but we locals know the real score. You can eat very well and experience all types of cuisine for less than $10 in Las Vegas, as I hope this diverse list proves.[img]/sites/all/modules/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif[/img] [b]The Shrimp Pita at Crazy Pita[/b] Mehdi Zarhloul would love to franchise his popular concept, which sells lamb, beef, spiced ground beef, shrimp and veggie sandwiches wrapped up in hot pita bread.