UNLVino Shines, The Springs Café Cooks and Sambalatte Grows

UNLVino celebrated its 39th year April 18-21, and I attended the Grand Tasting and the new Sunday Bar-B-Q. As always, organizers Southern Wine & Spirits put on a great show for a huge turnout. The Saturday-evening Grand Tasting at Paris Las Vegas featured a diverse lineup of wines, spirits and food. The more than 70 brands included Grgich Hills Estates, Pernod Ricard USA and Newcastle Breweries.

Sunday’s Bar-B-Q was a brunch at the Frank Gehry-designed Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, where a smaller but no less enthusiastic crowd noshed on fare from chefs of national repute, among them Charlie Palmer, Angelo Sosa, Todd English, Gustav Mauler and Scott Conant. Southern Wine & Spirits mixologist Francesco Lafranconi’s cocktails were also a highlight.

Local restaurateur Elizabeth Blau was honored at the Saturday-evening event, and the Sunday honoree was MGM Grand president Scott Sibella. Preceding the events I attended were Thursday evening’s Bubble-icious and Friday’s Sake Fever. Proceeds from UNLVino go to UNLV’s William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration. Hope you make it next year.

Speaking about aiding our students, the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas is offering a set of Springs Café cooking workshops, where one can learn how to grill, cook veggies and smoke meats for $30 (members) and $40 (nonmembers) per class. There will be cooking demos, samples, recipes and discussions. The next two classes are May 18 (Vegetables Under Fire) and June 15 (The Art of Smoked Food: Low and Slow Cookery). Classes are from 10 a.m. to noon at the Springs Preserve (333 S. Valley View Blvd., 822-7700). Space will be limited.

Meanwhile, are you up to some serious eating? Hard Rock Hotel’s Pink Taco and Mr. Lucky’s Café have introduced menu items that can only be described as tummy stuffers.

Pink Taco is doing bacon-wrapped jalapeños ($10) stuffed with Mexican cheese, and the Ultimate Taco ($24), a 25-inch crispy shell filled with shredded chicken, steak, carnitas and assorted toppings. At Mr. Lucky’s, which is open 24/7, a dish paying homage to Elvis—The King ($23), features 14 banana pancakes, 14 strips of bacon, peanut-butter glaze and maple syrup­—has been unfurled. Let’s not forget that Elvis left us at age 42. Just sayin’.

Finally, I’m excited that MGM Resorts International is putting a Sambalatte Torrefazzione, my favorite coffee merchant, into the Monte Carlo as part of the huge, 20,000-square-foot revitalization project to be completed early next year. Of course, this means that the rumored Downtown location is not likely in the near future, but at least I won’t have to drive all the way to Summerlin for Luiz Oliveira’s superb coffees, pastries and chocolates.

Hungry, yet?

Follow Max Jacobson’s latest epicurean observations, reviews and tips at VegasSeven.com/Blogs.

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