Elbow-rubbing with Portugal’s Michelin stars, and Gordo finally says Go!

I am in Albufeira, Portugal, attending Tribute to Claudia, the sixth annual International Gourmet Festival, which attracts Michelin-starred chefs from every major European market and U.S. luminaries such as New York’s April Bloomfield. It’s an amazing event, and I feel privileged to be here.

Every time I’m in an E.U. country, I’m struck by a few fundamental differences in how much better certain foods taste, particularly dairy products, eggs and chicken. I’m a fan of raw-milk cheese and organic chicken, products available in Las Vegas, but real farm-fresh eggs are hard to come by here. But not in Portugal. Even a breakfast buffet at my hotel, CS Sao Rafael Atlantic, served eggs with bright orange yolks.

The only places in Vegas to get eggs of comparable quality are at Valley Cheese & Wine at 1770 Horizon Ridge Parkway in Henderson (owners Bob Howald and Kristin Sande will sell them, if they aren’t already allocated), and from Overton’s Quail Hollow Farm (QuailHollowFarmCSA.com).

The kickoff dinner was incredible. It featured the host, two-Michelin-star chef Dieter Koschina of Vila Joya and 10 other Michelin-starred chefs working in Portugal such as Henrique Leis, who offered his signature dish, turbot in oyster cream.

Yesterday, I ate one of this country’s specialties, frango a piri-piri, rotisserie chicken brushed with fiery peppers from Angola, at O Ramires, a restaurant that serves 1,000 people a day. Will someone please do one of these places in Vegas? I promise you, there will be lines!

The big local news, meanwhile, is that Las Vegas has finally landed a big fish, Gordon Ramsay, the TV bad boy from shows including Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares. I’ve eaten at Gordon Ramsay in London, and I know he’s got chops. His restaurant on Royal Hospital Road has three Michelin stars, so he’s earned those tantrums.

Gordon Ramsay Steak will open at the Paris Las Vegas in the spring in the former home to Les Artistes Steakhouse, and will seat 274. The chef will personally direct the restaurant’s beef-aging program and serve British fare as well, such as fish and chips and shepherd’s pie.

Finally, add Valentino in the Venetian to the list of top-drawer Strip restaurants offering Sunday brunch. It will be served in the restaurant’s Grill, its casual dining venue, from 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

James Beard award-winning chef Luciano Pellegrini is doing creative, Italian-inspired fare. Dishes include wild-boar sausage scramble, house-smoked salmon omelet with sour cream and dill and veal scaloppini with Principe ham, poached eggs and a rustic potato Napoleon.

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Steamed Juicy Pork Buns, China Mama

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Steamed Juicy Pork Buns, China Mama

By Grace Bascos

Dumplings are a must, as they signify togetherness. China Mama’s variety, better known as xiao long bao, holds steaming soup along with a nugget of ground pork inside a paper-thin wrapper. To eat: carefully extract the dumpling from the steamer without tearing the bottom, and place into your spoon. Bite off the top of the dumpling, then slurp out the hot soup. Pour a little bit of the accompanying black vinegar into the now-dry wrapper, and eat. Gung hay fat choy! $7.25, 3420 S. Jones Blvd., 873-1977.

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