While bell-bottoms, Farrah Fawcett and avocado green were holding their groove during the 1970s, we were also spinning Ambrosia’s “How Much I Feel” at social gatherings. And at the heart of the potluck table were inventive, homemade creations served out of Corningware and floral-print casserole dishes. The food during this flamboyant decade is what I find the most peculiarly thrilling. It was all about pineapples, molds, meat rolled within meat and stuffed vegetables. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and see what has come of these 1970s classics.
The old-fashioned dessert, which came about to commemorate the purchase of Alaska in 1867, has become popular again, and why not? An ice cream cake covered with an igloo of toasted meringue emerging from an oven is entertainment for all to enjoy. Chef Josh Smith at Bardot Brasserie inside Aria Resort & Casino creates his with banana rum cake topped with a small dome of pineapple sorbet encased in banana ice cream. The entire concoction is then toasted to glorious perfection in meringue. The balance of pineapple and banana along with rum (the original Baked Alaska was always on sponge cake) makes it an adult delicacy. Add a little flambé, performed tableside, and voilà!
Melted cheese laced with white wine and scooped with chunky cubes of bread is a shareable 1970s party favorite. But Boteco (9500 S. Eastern Ave., Henderson) took this Swiss delight and went to France for inspiration to create the bacon jam with blue cheese fondue. With origins in Lyon, the onion jam is a caramelized marmalade version of the traditional French onion soup. Boteco’s marmalade is cooked for four hours and made with red wine, bacon and aged balsamic vinegar. So where’s the cheese? A layer of luxurious blue cheese foam fondue tops the marmalade for a sweet and savory textural experience that is scooped up with house-made chips.
According to the popular version of an old wives’ tale, we owe it all to the Duke of Wellington—it was the Duke’s favorite meal for fighting the French, of course. The decadent beef dish, smothered with mushroom or foie gras, was often given a boost by Madeira and baked in a pastry. When the dish crossed over to the U.S. in the 1970s, it had risen into the gastronomic stratosphere, in part because of Julia Child, who included it in her immensely influential Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and Nixon’s presidential backing—he adored his welly so much that a recipe was featured at every state dinner during his tenure. The Beef Wellington at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. inside The Cosmopolitan is made with Cedar River beef tenderloin, seared Hudson Valley foie gras, spinach, roasted King Trumpet mushrooms and truffle veal jus, all wrapped with a puff pastry lattice. Chef Steve Gotham separates all the ingredients and combines them at the last minute, allowing for better control over the cooking of each ingredient, resulting in a flakier puff than the classic version.
Who knew that meatloaf traces back to when the Roman cookbook Apicius presented a recipe for patties made of chopped meat, bread and wine? But it wasn’t until the late 1800s that American meatloaf was born, inspired by recipes offered by manufacturers of the newly invented meat grinder. In the 1970s, the veal, pork and beef meatloaf combination came into vogue, elevating the dish to dinner party–worthy status. Today, innovations continue, but for a classic meal, Metro Diner (7305 Rainbow Blvd., 595 W. Tropicana Ave.) has a no-frills meatloaf, just like Aunt Betty used to make. Made with ground pork, beef and turkey, the loaf is soft, flavorful and moist—almost pâté like in texture—and is served with a pile of mashed potatoes and butter-grilled vegetables.
Cocktails from the 1970s have played as big a part in memory, with visions of Harvey Wallbangers and freshly grated nutmeg topping a Brandy Alexander. But, we can’t forget Pink Lady, Rusty Nail, Screwdrivers and the Sidecar, among others. Mandalay Bay and Delano Assistant Director of Beverage Dan Molitor presents a modernized Sidecar cocktail at Franklin Lounge with a more balanced approach. Cognac is the star of the drink, while a touch of simple syrup balances the tart, fresh lemon juice. Finishing the cocktail with a fresh orange peel adds a layer of citrus that pairs well with Cointreau. There are many versions of the Sidecar’s origin story. Some say it was named after an army officer who was driven around in a motorcycle sidecar. Others say the cocktail symbolizes the leftover of a punch-style cocktail, which was once put in a small glass to the side. Cheers to a classic, which hasn’t gone out of style.