Perhaps some of you know the name Brett Ottolenghi. If not, you should. He’s the proprietor of Artisanal Foods at 2275 E. Sunset Road, and a purveyor of luxury items such as fresh truffles, Iberico ham and foie gras for local chefs, all of which are available online, or in his shop, which is open to the public, as well.
Ottolenghi furiously champions such causes as raw milk, taking it all the way to Carson City for a vote. But his latest passion is lion fish, a predatory fish that has ravaged reefs up and down the Atlantic coast, but one that tastes good, and is finally being harvested as a food source.
Harvesting the lion fish helps sustain reef life on the Atlantic Coast, and is a good cause unto itself. But until now, few Las Vegas chefs have bothered to serve it. One restaurant that does, however, is Michael Mina’s American Fish in Aria (877-230-2742). Here, it is grilled, and served with pork-belly croutons, steamed mussels and Yukon Gold potato chowder. It’s pricey at $44, but well worth it, especially when one considers the environmental contribution.
Down the street at The Mirage, the oft-overlooked Italian restaurant on property, Onda (866-339-4566), has a new executive chef in Bradley Ogden protégé Michael LaPlaca and a new menu with a number of creative dishes that make a visit worthwhile. Don’t miss the arancini “crab cake”; burrata agnolotti with lobster, corn butter and chanterelles; and an interesting snapper en cartoccio, which is baked in a paper bag and swathed in fregola Sarda (a rustic, pearl-shape pasta from Sardinia), artichokes, olives and white wine tomato broth.
Finally, it’s not as well publicized as many of our local food events, but Aki Matsuri, the traditional autumn festival celebrated in Japan, is also celebrated here, and is a way to experience Japanese culture without actually flying trans-Pacific.
Japanese food is much more than sushi, and this event demonstrates it beautifully. Look for the tasty octopus balls called takoyaki, ramen in many forms, teriyakl and a variety of other street foods. In addition to the food, there will be karaoke, cosplay (where people dress up to resemble anime characters) and martial-arts demos. The festival will be from 11 a.m.-midnight October 19 in the parking lot at the Rio, featuring food vendors from many of our best Japanese restaurants, such as Monta and Raku. Admission is $5 in advance and $8 at the door (LVAkiMatsuri.com). Last year, more than 4,300 people attended. This is truly one of the cross-cultural happenings that makes Las Vegas such an exciting place to live.