Did you make a resolution to learn a new skill this year? Since it’s still a little chilly for underwater basket weaving, now’s as good a time as any to learn a few tricks of the food trade with An Executive Chef’s Culinary Classroom (in Bellagio, $125 per person, 866-406-7117, Bellagio.com). Executive chef Edmund Wong leads the educational series, held once a month in the hotel’s state-of-the-art cooking demo space, Tuscany Kitchen. At these interactive, two-hour sessions, you’ll learn to cook your way through three courses, usually covering whatever food holiday coincides with the season. The February 13 class, therefore, is dedicated to Valentine’s Day with I Heart Food. Then, get sprung with spring flavors on April 3, or become a grill master in time for Memorial Day on May 28. And slow and low aficionados will want to don their aprons for the three-course Father’s Day barbecue menu on Thursday June 12. Once you’ve prepared your masterpiece, you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor, complete with wine pairings.
Speaking of eating in season, it’s currently prime time for sea urchins. Once you get past the spiny exterior, the jiggly orange delicacy known as uni (the gonads of the animal, to get graphic) is at once creamy, sweet and briny. It’s definitely an acquired taste—many are put off by the texture and funkiness—but right now it’s as good as it gets. For a taste of uni at its best, try it over fresh, chewy, hollow pasta in the uni and crab percatelli from Rose.Rabbit.Lie. (in the Cosmopolitan, 877-667-0585). Or go simple with the uni nigiri at Nobu (in Caesars Palace and Hard Rock Hotel, Nobu.com), which contains the delicacy tucked into a wrap of nori and on properly made sushi rice.
’Tis also the season to say “Gung hay fat choy” as the new Lunar New Year begins January 31. We welcome the Year of the Horse with auspicious dishes that invite prosperity, longevity and happiness, so that means lots of dumplings, fish and noodles. China Poblano (in the Cosmopolitan, 698-7900) rolls out an entire menu for the festivities, which includes Wealthy Pork Noodle—made with a hand-pulled infinity noodle and served with braised pork belly—and the fun Leaping Over the Dragon’s Gate, a whole fried snapper sauced with scallions and ginger. Poppy Den Asian Bistro (in Tivoli Village, 802-2480) offers a prix fixe menu on the 31st, featuring Peking duck with scallion pancakes and hoisin, and steamed fish with black mushrooms and ginger. With food like this to celebrate future success, there’s no need for the long face.
How Would You Welcome Bobby Flay?
If you want to meet Bobby Flay for the opening of his new joint, Bobby’s Burger Palace (3750 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 598-0191), you’ve got until 3 p.m. PST on Friday, January 24 to submit your best “Welcome” sign to the contest’s Facebook page. Should you win, you’ll get into the restaurant January 28, a day before it opens, for a private meet and greet with Flay along with dinner for you and a guest, plus a complimentary overnight stay at Aria that night.