If you haven’t experienced Twist at the Mandarin Oriental (590-8888), or the soaringly imaginative cooking of superstar French chef Pierre Gagnaire, there’s never been a better time to do so. Gagnaire was here in early April to present his newest creations on “Le Menu Espirit de Printemps,” an inspirational spring menu. I had the chance to do so, and had one of the most memorable meals I’ve eaten in our city.
I chose the smaller, or four-course menu ($145), the other option being seven courses ($205; wine pairings are extra). After a round of Gagnaire’s famous nibbles, including a curried marshmallow, the dinner began with a chantilly cream of foie gras, continued with Atlantic cod with tomato gelée and the best tomato-chorizo salsa anywhere, and was crowned by stunning veal tenderloin with green curry paired with diced veal, sorrel and ham. Grand Dessert Pierre Gagnaire, served with both menus, has to be seen to be believed.
We’re all looking forward to Vegas Uncork’d, to be held in mid-May. But the festivities don’t end there. The Las Vegas Epicurean Affair will return on May 23, poolside at the Palazzo and sponsored by the Nevada Restaurant Association. Past participants in the event include Guy Savoy, Carnevino, Tao Asian Bistro and many others. It’s a nice event, so mark that calendar and visit NVRestaurants.com for tickets; proceeds go to the NvRA’s scholarship fund.
If you are a food-truck nut, then the Flying Monkey is probably for you. This new truck offers art, music and eccentric fusion fare, such as smoked chicken wings with sweet or spicy Asian barbecue sauce and bacon lettuce wraps with fried tofu. Find their current location by following their Twitter feed @fmonkeytruck.
Finally, I was privileged to attend as a guest the Introductory Sommelier Course & Exam, held at Bellagio on March 26 and 27. The fee is $525, and it is typically conducted by master sommeliers, abbreviated to MS in the trade. We have several master sommeliers in Las Vegas, and the pre-exam lectures were conducted by six of them: Jason Smith, Thomas Burke, Jay James, Larry O’Brien and Ron Mumford, plus one you’ll find in a restaurant, Robert Smith of Picasso.
The course is dynamic (MasterSommeliers.org) and we covered lots of ground, such as an overview of the world’s wine regions, theory, a service demonstration by Smith and a final exam. Ninety students participated, from all over the country and most passed, the mandatory first step on the road to becoming a master sommelier. Would I be telling you about this if I flunked? Of course not. But don’t expect to see me uncorking your Champagne anytime soon.