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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New Year treats and predictions, the other Oscar’s, and top Indian

Diner's Notebook

New Year treats and predictions, the other Oscar’s, and top Indian

By Max Jacobson

The year of the dragon begins Jan. 23, and lasts three weeks. China Poblano (in the Cosmo, 698-7900) chef Shirley Chung has developed a special menu for the occasion, including cocktails and creative dim sum. The most interesting libation might be Huang Di’s Kir Royale, named for the first emperor of China, a reputed health faddist. The drink uses cava (Spanish sparkling wine) instead of French Champagne and substitutes goji-berry liqueur for the traditional crème de cassis and employs goji-berry pearls that burst in the mouth.