Dining In the Dark, Las Vegas’ New French Café and Chefly Holiday Gifts

225424087212864.bdA0sIXVreXfEXSs2lGX_height640Imagine embarking on a culinary journey with unknown ingredients and under the lowest illumination—rather romantic, a little mysterious and a lot of sensorial exploration. This experience is essentially what savoring with all five senses is about. Twist by Pierre Gagnaire in Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas (mandarinoriental.com) will host a series of these dining experiences called A Twist on Dining in the Dark. The twist to this experience is that you will enjoy a delicious journey aided only by the lights of the city through the dining room windows. You are in the dark both literally and figuratively about the food and wines. But by no means are you alone in this experience. It is a social gathering that includes friendly competition, as you work in teams to guess what the ingredients are. Explore a variety of textures and flavors of five courses paired with five wines selected by master sommelier Will Costello. Save the date for the next one, which takes place on January 11.

If you adore galettes, you’ll be thrilled to know that a new French café, Café Breizh (3555 S. Fort Apache Rd., cafebreizh.com), opened last week in Summerlin. The casual dining spot with its outdoor patio garden is the perfect setting for La Colombe coffee, French-inspired sandwiches, pastries and galettes. Cafe Breizh makes its galettes using flour imported directly from Breizh, France (also called Brittany, or Bretagne in the native dialect), from which the folded square buckwheat crepe delicacy hails. Try the traditional galette, which features egg, ham and cheese. Owners Pierre Gatel and Jerome Marchand were both born and raised in the historic region of Bretagne, and became friends during an apprenticeship early in their culinary education. Also a must-try is the apple turnover—an inverted puff pastry that holds a mixture of Fuji apples, fresh and compote—and the baked chicken and Gouda quiche. C’est magnifique!

You can also give the gift of creations by our local chefs this season.  By popular demand, James Richards, chef de cuisine at Table 10 (in The Palazzo), will, for a limited time, make popcorn balls with candied North Country bacon. At $3 apiece, these sweet and salty treats make delicious stocking stuffers. Stop by the restaurant or call ahead to place an order. And who’s up for an award-winning marinara sauce by Frank Pellegrino Jr. and Frank Pellegrino Sr. of Rao’s (in Caesars Palace)? Rao’s marinara sauce has been the top-selling luxury sauce in the market for more than two decades. This all-natural pantry staple can be used not only as pasta sauce but also on pizzas, as the base for soups, in braises, roasts and a variety of other dishes. The entire line is available at raos.com.