Spring Epicurean Guide 2013

From dark-beer takeovers to wine revolutions to the HOPocalypse, it looks to be an aggressively delicious season of food and drink festivals and events!

epicurean-guide.jpgSpring forward with Vegas Seven’s comprehensive social calendar! It’s everything all you foodies, cocktailians wine-lovers and beer nuts need to savor this season. (Hint: You’ll want to take out your day planner.)

March 21

It’s the other Sweet 16! Familiar Las Vegas faces of mixology and bartending go head-to-head in a cocktail challenge at the Las Vegas Cocktail Classic, 16 cocktails from 16 brands, with winners selected by the crowd as well as by a panel of judges. Surrender in Encore, 7-10 p.m., $40 men, $30 women, free for local women. CocktailCityVegas.com.

March 22-24

True beer nuts know it: Aces & Ales doesn’t mess around. The Fade to Black Dark Beer Takeover means 13 dark brews to brighten up your day, including Ballast Point Brewing’s Victory at Sea (think black coffee with vanilla), Deschutes Brewery’s Abyss 2010-2012 and Las Vegas’ own Joseph James Russian Imperial Stout. 3740 S. Nellis Blvd., 436-7600, AcesAndAles.com.

March 25

Foodies, put your dinner to good use and dine out for a cause. Twenty percent of the proceeds generated during chef Angelo Sosa’s Meaningful Mondays (6-10 p.m. every week) benefits a different Las Vegas charity. Tonight, it’s Susan G. Komen for the Cure of Southern Nevada. 440 S. Rampart Blvd., Suite 180, 802-2480, VegasPoppyDen.com.

March 26

If communal beer dinners aren’t exactly your thing, secure a table at Amigo’s for a Ballast Point Brewing Co. tasting session. Sip Wahoo Wheat, Calico Amber, Sculpin IPA and others at your own pace. Tables are available from 4-7 p.m. for this four-course Mexican culinary experience. In the Fiesta Henderson, 440 W. Lake Mead Dr., $30, 558-7000, FiestaHenderson.SCLV.com.

Are you a Hell’s Kitchen fanatic? Catch all the Season 11 action—you know, the addictive screaming, crying and cursing—at a Hell’s Kitchen Viewing Party from 8-9 p.m. every Tuesday at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill. A three-course, show-themed prix-fixe menu is available from 7-10 p.m. In Caesars Palace, $65, 877-346-4642.

March 27

Issa Khoury of Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits has been steadily remaking his shop as a haven for beer geeks. The new bar area and taps allow you to sip a draft-only rarity while mulling over your next purchase from his carefully curated selection. Complimentary tasting events at Khoury’s—beer on Wednesdays, wine on Thursdays, occasionally spirits on Fridays—only make it more enticing to stop by, such as tonight’s Joseph James’ Citra Rye Pale Ale release at 6. Buy a growler of the Citra Rye and the growler is free. Check out Khoury’s online calendar for the draft menu and event lineup. 9915 S. Eastern Ave., Suite 110, 435-9463, KhourysFineWine.com.

March 27-29

Food University lets you rub knife kits with celebrity chefs, sommeliers and mixologists in a world-class setting. Experience three full days of hands-on instruction in knife skills, mixology, sauces and—everyone’s favorite subject—chocolate. See Page 33 for details. At Caesars Palace, $1,995 tuition, 866-840-8822, FoodUniversityLasVegas.com.

March 28

Valley Cheese & Wine’s free wine tastings are 4-7 p.m. Fridays and noon-7 p.m. Saturdays, but connoisseurs aim for the Thursdays Wine Classes. Cost varies by topic, but usually falls between $20-$50 per person. And owner Bob Howald is a Las Vegas treasure. Tonight, it’s all about the wines of Australia; try the thunder from down under! 1570 W. Horizon Ridge Pkwy., $30, 341-8191, ValleyCheeseandWine.com.

Ryan Cabrera headlines Live Music Thursdays at Hyde Bellagio, which conveniently kicks off just as Vino Thursdays, a complimentary tasting of renowned wines, wraps up. This month, enjoy wines by Cloudy Bay and Newton. In Bellagio, 7-9 p.m., call 693-8700 to reserve a table, HydeBellagio.com.

March 29

There’s nothing quite like tasting wine with the winemaker. Annual Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar welcomes winemaker Jason Ledbetter from Napa Valley’s Pine Ridge Vineyards for a four-course winemaker dinner, including grilled California peaches paired with Pine Ridge chardonnay and espresso-rubbed filet with two Pine Ridge cabernet sauvignons. 8721 W. Charleston Blvd., $85, 838-4774, FlemingsSteakhouse.com.

March 30

Some call brett (brettanomyces bruxellensis) a naturally occurring beer-and-wine flaw, but there are those who like a little of that essence of barnyard in their brew! Aces & Ales hosts a Sour, Wild & Funky Fest to honor the best of brett with funk-tastic and sour beers, including the Bruery’s Sour in the Rye, Epic Sour Apple Saison and St. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition from Belgium. 3740 S. Nellis Blvd., 436-7600, AcesAndAles.com.

March 31

Celebrate Easter with a traditional English roast at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill. The brunch, available 11 a.m.-3 p.m., includes prime beef rib eye with marrow sauce and horseradish cream, seared Scottish salmon and sides, including minted peas and Yorkshire pudding. In Caesars Palace, $48, 877-346-4642.

April 5

Orange County’s Hellogoodbye and Las Vegas’ own Red Eye Radio headline the fourth annual UNLV Rock ’n Brew fest, poolside at the Palms. Sample beer from more than 15 local and national brands as well as the Nevada Brewers Guild while enjoying DJs and live bands. Proceeds benefit the UNLV Beverage Management Club. At the Palms, 6 p.m., $35 in advance, $40 at the door, Rock-Brew.com.

April 6

Jolene Manina’s weekly Saturday Night Truck Stop continues to lure food-truck fans to the Tommy Rocker’s parking lot. But it’s her Back of House Brawl that brings all the chefs to the yard for a twice-monthly culinary showdown. Tonight, Caesars Palace executive sous chef Todd Williams faces off against Naked City Pizza’s Chris Palmeri. And wild-card chefs sometimes show up with knives in hand for an added thrill. Raffles raise money for charitable organizations. 4275 S. Dean Martin Dr., 10 p.m.-2:30 a.m., competition at 1 a.m., SaturdayNightTruckstop.Tumblr.com.

Join New Vista Community for its first Spring Wine Walk at Lake Las Vegas. Sample up to 20 wines provided by Southern Wine & Spirits and Lee’s Discount Liquor. Las Vegas Wine Walks at Town Square begin April 27. The Village at Lake Las Vegas, 7-10 p.m., 457-4677 (Ext. 132), $25 in advance at NewVistaNV.org, $30 at the door, WineWalkLV.com.

It’s a bitter rivalry. More than 10 bitter brews will be on tap during HOPocalypse Now at Aces & Ales, featuring Stone Brewing’s Habanero Ruination, Big Dog’s War Dog and Tenaya Creek’s Hop Ride. 3740 S. Nellis Blvd., 436-7600, AcesandAles.com.

April 10

The second Wednesday of every month, Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art director Tarissa Tiberti teams with master sommelier and director of wine Jason Smith to host Art & Wine: A Perfect Pairing, matching art from a new exhibit, Warhol Out West, with pairings from the resort’s wine cellar. In Bellagio, 5-7 p.m., $30 members, $38 non-members, 877-957-9777.

April 12-14

Tickets to the Golden Nugget’s Wine Revolution weekend events can be purchased individually for $25-$100. Or you can go all-in on a four-pack of events during the immersive weekend themed entirely around wines from North and South America for $260 ($199 if purchased early). The package includes the Poolside Champagne & Wine Kick-Off Reception, Wine Revolution Grand Tasting, Champagne & Jazz Brunch with Live Auction and Wine Down With the Wine Makers. The weekend also includes a poolside wine dinner, an introduction to South American wine and a cabernet comparison seminar. 866-946-5336, GoldenNugget.com.

April 13

Started as a Brazilian barbecue, Vegas Loves Brazil is the largest Brazilian festival in the state, and it shows. More than 4,500 people are expected to celebrate Brazilian culture with live music, capoeira and lots of food from Texas de Brazil, Via Brasil and Boca do Brasil. At the Clark County Amphitheater, 500 S. Grand Central Pkwy., 1-9 p.m., $5, free for children under 12, VegasLovesBrazil.com.

Big Dog’s Brewing Co.’s Dirty Dog IPA might not bring about world peace, but the annual Peace, Love & Hoppy-ness beer and music festival could do the trick, paying homage to all things hoppy. Enjoy more than 50 hop-forward beers as well as live music and a barbecue. Big Dog’s Draft House, 4543 N. Rancho Dr., 2-9 p.m., BigDogsBrews.com.

Food trucks take over the parking lot the second Saturday of every month in front of Downtown’s El Cortez during Vegas StrEATs, celebrating street food and culture with the help of live musicians and DJs, artists and street-wear brands. 600 Fremont St., 6 p.m.-1 a.m., free, VegasStreats.com.

April 15

It’s a day that goes down in infamy each year without any help from the likes of Al Capone. But both he and the tax-filing deadline will be celebrated at a Mob Museum party with flappers, big-band music, food and Templeton Rye, Capone’s favorite. 300 Stewart Ave., time and ticket price TBA, TheMobMuseum.org.

April 17

If you’re ready to take your wine knowledge to the next level, the Master Sommelier’s Wine Classroom at Bellagio might be your best move. Learn about the multifaceted world of wine from Bellagio’s team of experts. In-depth classes are held the third Wednesday of every month at Michael Mina Restaurant, and are $80 each, beginning tonight with “Que Syrah & More Syrah.” (May 15 is “Simply Spain.”) 6 p.m., 866-406-7117, Bellagio.com.

April 18-21

Take a sip for scholarship and fall in love again with UNLVino. The now-four-day celebration of wine, sake, cuisine and spirits (but mostly wine) returns for its 39th year. See our story on Page 35 for an insider’s look at the festival that raises money for the students of the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration. Each event is $125 in advance, $150 at the door, UNLVino.com.

Vizzun Entertainment presents the 12th annual Pure Aloha Festival, honoring all aspects of Hawaiian culture, including Polynesian dance, music and, of course, food. (Also check out Vizzun’s Islands of the Pacific Cultural Fest on May 18-19 at the Cannery.) At the Rio, $8 adults, $6 children 5-10, military members and seniors over 55, Vizzun.com.

April 20

Paintings and locations for Wine & Canvas are announced on the 20th of each month for the following month. Classes fill up fast, so if you want to sip pinot while you paint, stalk that calendar. WineAndCanvas.com.

Save these dates (or better yet, get your tickets in advance) for this season of Project Dinner Table: April 20, May 18, June 29, Sept. 21, Oct. 19 and Nov. 10. The socially responsible community dinner series’ kickoff event has chefs from the MGM Grand preparing a family-style dinner at one looong picnic table at the Neon Museum. 770 Las Vegas Blvd. North, 5:30 p.m., $175 PDT members, $190 non-members, ProjectDinnerTable.com.

April 22

Seven tequilas will be paired with seven dishes at Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar’s Tequila Dinner, hosted by guest speaker and tequila specialist Kevin Vanegas. Guests will use the new NEAT Glass—invented right here in Las Vegas—for nosing and tasting the tequilas. Reservation required. 4950 S. Rainbow Blvd., Suite 100, 6:30 p.m., $89, ElementsKitchenAndMartiniBar.com.

April 23

The second UNLV Chef Artist Series dinner of the semester welcomes chef Barry Dakake of N9NE Steakhouse and his staff to guide students in the preparation and execution of a gourmet dinner open to the community. The four-course gourmet experience includes prime steak, fresh seafood and several of the chef’s most popular side dishes and desserts. Proceeds help fund scholarships, faculty development and new equipment. In the Stan Fulton Building, 801 W. Flamingo Rd., reception 6 p.m., dinner 7 p.m., $100, 895-3930 for reservations, UNLV.edu/Hotel/Dine-With-Us.

April 24

The Monte Carlo’s cicerone, Robert Parekh, just gets it. And he throws a great beer dinner series at The Pub that has been gaining steam since it started last year. The fourth in the series welcomes Left Coast Brewing Co. for a five-course beer-pairing dinner created by executive chef Timothy Radigan. The rest of the 2013 series includes New Belgium Brewing on June 26, Samuel Adams on Aug. 28 and Alaskan Brewing Co. on Oct. 30. In the Monte Carlo, 6:30 p.m., $64.04, 730-7421, Tinyurl.com/BeerDinners.

April 26-28

Gourmet food trucks, live entertainment, a carnival atmosphere, eating contests and a beer garden come together to make the Las Vegas Foodie Fest a must on the spring food festival itinerary. At Silverton Hotel & Casino, LasVegasFoodieFest.com.

April 27

The third annual Great Vegas Festival of Beer by Motley Brews, having outgrown its home at Tivoli Village, has relocated to the shady trees and grassy lawn along the lake at the renovated Sunset Park. Last year the festival that supports the Nevada Craft Brewers Association and local nonprofits welcomed a sellout crowd of 3,500; this year, nearly 5,000 are expected to turn out for the more than 200 craft brews from 50-plus local, regional and international breweries. There will also be about 10 one-off beers created just for the fest, as well as Pyrite Pale Ale, the first-ever collaboration beer by members of the Nevada Craft Brewers Association. Sunset Park, Eastern Avenue and Sunset Road, 3-7 p.m. GreatVegasBeer.com.

A peak wine-tasting event that brings out the industry’s heavy hitters, the annual Wine Spectator Grand Tour grants access to 225 top-rated wines from the world’s great growing areas. Included in your $200 ticket is a souvenir Riedel glass and a gourmet buffet. At The Mirage, 7-10 p.m., WineSpectator.com.

April 27-28

Put a little south in both your mouth and ears as the Grammy Award-winning Zac Brown Band plays the Chelsea, 8 p.m. April 27, followed by an authentic barbecue and country music showcase beginning at 1 p.m. April 28 at the Boulevard Pool, featuring a live performance by artist Easton Corbin at 7. Both events are all-ages. At the Cosmopolitan, $75 Zac Brown Band, $65 barbecue and showcase, $30 Easton Corbin only, 800-745-3000, CosmopolitanLasVegas.com.

May 4

Knowledge is power! Try before you buy by attending the spirit, wine and beer classes organized at both Total Wine & More locations. Hawaiian shirts are optional for Yo, Ho, Ho and a Tasting of Rum, a celebration of this classic spirit of the Caribbean. Explore rum history and why location matters while tasting and discussing the differences in character and flavor varieties. Call to reserve seats. $25, 501 N. Stephanie St., Henderson, 433-2709; 730 S. Rampart Blvd., 3-5 p.m., 933-8740, TotalWine.com.

May 8-12

Saint Gennaro must have been one really fun guy. The twice-yearly feast known as San Gennaro is a celebration of all things Italian-American, and features food, games and live performances. 4245 S. Grand Canyon Dr., SanGennaroFeast.com.

May 9-12

Forbes writer Larry Olmstead—the guy who laid the smack down on the Kobe beef controversy—has called Vegas Uncork’d “one of the world’s best food festivals,” and we’re inclined to agree. See the sidebar on Page 32 for more information. Events at Caesars Palace, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand and Bellagio, VegasUncorked.com.

May 11

Cool off with sweet treats by the scoopful—and catch some great live music—as the Springs Preserve hosts its annual all-you-can-eat Ice Cream Festival. The event will feature stations serving ice cream cones, sundaes, novelties and root-beer floats, plus entertainment for all ages. 333 S. Valley View Blvd., 11 a.m., $8 adults, $5 children 5-12, children under 4 free, 822-7700, SpringsPreserve.org.

Featuring more than 300 handcrafted beers and 70 tequilas, Lee’s Beer & Tequila Experience is a revelation for beer fans and lovers of agave-based spirits. Net proceeds from the seventh annual event benefit Lee’s Helping Hand, a nonprofit organization. At LVH, 4-8 p.m., $50 in advance, $60 at the door.

May 18

There’s a Joseph James brewery tour every month, and it includes a tasting of much of its portfolio, including some new project brews. The $5 ticket includes the tour, tasting and a commemorative tasting glass. RSVP required. 155 N. Gibson Rd., Henderson, 1-2:30 p.m., 454-2739, FoxBrews.com.

The inaugural Springs Preserve Ohana Festival is a family-friendly celebration of Hawaiian and Pacific Islander culture. The event features a variety of fun and educational activities as well as hula and ukulele performances, lei making, storytelling, games and food. The festivities will culminate with a concert by the Kalama Brothers. 333 S. Valley View Blvd., 10 a.m.-4 p.m., $5 adults, $3 children 5-12, free children under 4, 822-7700, SpringsPreserve.org.

Always a highlight of the season, Rock ’n Roll Wines’ ninth annual Reggae Pool Party will feature Natty Vibes and Headshine. Booths at the Palms Pool will offer more than 80 wines. At the Palms, tickets on sale April 3 at RNRWine.com.

May 20-June 1

May 13-19 is American Craft Beer Week, the nationwide recognition of America’s craft breweries and the local people and places that support them. Nevada does you 13 better, with an additional 13 days of craft-beer festivities. Check out the Nevada Beer Weeks calendar at NevadaBeerWeeks.com.

May 23

Many of the best restaurants in Las Vegas will unite again poolside at the Palazzo for the Las Vegas Epicurean Affair. The pre-Memorial Day weekend event, sponsored by the Nevada Restaurant Association (NvRA), gives guests a taste of the gourmet offerings that have elevated Las Vegas to an international dining destination. Past participants have included Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, Wolfgang Puck’s Cut, Delmonico Steakhouse, Restaurant Guy Savoy, Morels French Steakhouse, STK, Nobu Las Vegas, Prime Steakhouse, Table 10 and Tao Asian Bistro. Proceeds benefit NvRA’s educational and scholarship programs. At the Palazzo, 7-10 p.m., LasVegasEpicureanAffair.com.