Sunday, November 29, 2015

NYC's Artisanal Bistro is a brilliant brunch (11-28-15)

On our last day in NYC we headed to an early brunch before our flight home and joined two dear friends/clients and their 15-year old daughter, who has really grown in a beautiful young teenager.
I chose Artisanal Bistro ( at 2 Park Avenue(entrance on 32nd St,) for several reasons: the amazing cheese menu, the great brunch choices with a bit of French flair, its convenience to the Queens Midtown Tunnel so we could easily be at LaGuardia within 15 minutes and maximize time with our friends.
We arrived and I noticed the little menu box stating $20 unlimited Bellinis, Mimosas, Bloody Marys, Beer and sparkling wine. Well after 5 drinks (that's $4 each) I was really happy. The Bloody Marys are spicy with little gherkins and large caperberries skewered on top. The Mimosas are nice and since they were out of Peach liqueur, they offered up tasty Lychee flavored Sparkling, which I had for my dessert!

Our server Andre was helpful (always refilling the drinks quickly as three of us did the unlimited package) and when you order their amazing burgers you also get a bowl of soup and either a salad or frites.
Will went with the tuna burger with Sweet Aioli Mayo and Radishes, but four of us had the Artisanal Signature Blend Beef Burger with a tasty housemade Burger Sauce (kicky 1000 Island-type) as well as Tomato, & Red Onion (many of us skipped the onions). There were 19 artisanal cheeses to choose for toppings (all for a charge, of course) but those of us that had the Truffle Tremor choose a gooey intense flavorful truffle cheese that melted on the burgers so excellently it was like a bite of heaven. The burgers were all cooked to perfection and really won us over.
The Pumpkin Soup that accompanied them was slightly spicy and just the right small portion for a snack before. The salad was okay and the fries were superb in traditional paper cones.
Our friend had the Croque Madame which also got raves for its excellent gooey cheese and perfectly fried egg on top.

It was a win win brunch and we did make it to the airport in 15 minutes with 55 minutes to spare before for our flight was to take off. Luckily that platinum level got us right to the baggage check, and global entry had us through security in under 5 minutes, so that when we got to the gate it was just time for elite boarding, and we pulled away from the gate 13 minutes early making it back to DC way before the scheduled arrival.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

ANNISA is always a treat when dining in NYC's Greenwich Village(11-27-15)

After seeing new production of Fiddler on the Roof on Friday afternoon we headed downtown where I had dined at Annisa ( earlier this year and had to bring my family back for the amazing tasting menu. The price went up $3 from $85 to $88 for the 5-course tasting which is probably due to minimal costs increase, but Chef Anita Lo could easily charge more after her recent outing to cook up a storm for the Obamas at the White House.
The rolls and butter win no prizes here, but the quiet serene simple décor makes it an oasis for a superb evening of quiet and great food.
We ordered a bottle of Gelber Muskateller from Heide Schrok (they use only female vendors when possible) 2013 from Neusiedlersee-Huggeland in Austria. Our server Narendra (who hailed from Nepal) said it had great acidity and it did. A slight sweetness hits the palate at first and turns quickly and then finishes with a long mineral flavor. YUM! Amuses were Tartelettes of Piquillo Pepper Puree with White Anchovy for a salty bite.
The first course arrived and I was so happy to revisit the Steak Tartare with Bulgur, Cinnamon, Spicy Sesame Tuille and Tofu Sauce, which was so good Samuel took a fork from both Will & my plates.
Next was the also Signature dish from Chef Anita: Seared Duck Foie Gras with Soup Dumpling & Jicama. A lesson is still needed in how to eat these as I always manage to have them explode as the Shanghai style dumpling is full of flavorful soup.
For the third course Samuel has a superb rich Chestnut Gnocco which is a brick-like pate form of chestnut with Grilled Maitake Mushroom (which he would not eat), Fried Sage & Kale Sprouts. The adults had Montauk Bluefish Fillet wrapped in Pickled Grape Leaves with Black Chickpeas, Tomatoes, and a superb lemony Anchovy Vinaigrette. The fish is intense but was great with our white as well as our second wine, a delicious Rioja Valencisco 2008 Reserva from Rioja Alta made by Carmen Encisco. Lots of body but not overly intense and oh so smooth red.
The main course was Lamb Tenders which was Grilled & Smoked Lamb with Mexican flavors as Chef Anita had just returned from Mexico. A bowl of posole was on the side and there were Pomegranate Seeds and a light Pomegranate Mint Sauce. This was our looking to the future as we leave for 2 weeks in Mexico in less than a month!!
Chef Anita came over to greet us and we were awed.
Dessert arrived on four plates which we rotated around the table:
Caramelized Pineapple with Pink Peppercorn, Puffed Wild Rice & Pandanas Ice Cream
Pecan Beignets with Bourbon Ice Milk to dip
Poppy Seed Bread Pudding with Meyer Lemon Curd
and the supreme winner (they were all amazing)-Sticky Date Pudding with Mascarpone Mousse
Candied Ginger, Orange Popsicles and Chocolate Mint Truffles sent us home very happy. What a great day and great dinner.

Long Island's KYMA is cool cuisine with Greek flair in chic setting (11-26-15)

After arriving in NY the holiday, we headed to Roslyn out on the island to join my brother-in-law, his sister-in-law and a friend of theirs from the UK who helps care for his dog Gibbs that we have known for a couple of years now. I chose KYMA ( as I knew there would be a wealth of items Samuel would enjoy. On arrival we were escorted into the almost all white room to a table with benches on either side and lots of cushions. The all white room and tables were offset with black cloth placemats. It was cozy and comfy, except for a draft from the nearby floor to ceiling windows overlooking the street. The manager closed the curtain, we ordered drinks and warmed up. I had a White Cosmo of Belvedere Vodka, white Cranberry juice, St. Germain & fresh lime that was delish. Will's Afros of Crop Cucumber, St. German, Lime and Pineapple was too pineapply for moi. Warm pita and bread arrived with yummy lemony hummus. The lighting was subdued, but there's always a cellphone to light the menu these days. The walls are white brick and a huge bar in the middle of the room was as busy as could be for the night before Thanksgiving.
We ordered a bunch of starters to share:
Samuel wanted the Kyma Chips of paper thin zucchini & eggplant fried and served with tztziki dip which was enough to feed 4 people and tasted amazing. Ocotpus was sushi grade from the Mediterranean and grilled with onions and capers to a tenderness that was like butter. The taramasalata was okay, but too creamy and not fishy enough for our tastes. A huge Greek salad was amazing and had tons of gorgeous ripe red tomatoes as well as romaine, dill, and feta.
Maryland Crabcakes were tasty and used our Maryland Blue Crabs.
A superb Assyrtiko/Sauvignon Blanc blend Biblia from Chora Estate 2014 in Pangeon was a great pairing for all the flavors and then we moved on to a Talbott Sleepy Hollow Chardonnay 2013 from Santa Lucia Highlands, because I know my brother-in-law loves California Chard.
Main courses were all excellent save for the Skewered Swordfish Cubes with Tomato, Onion & Bell Pepper which Will had and did not complain about until the next morning; too late for a change or credit for sure.
Sam gobbled up his Grass-Fed Veal Greek Style with Fries and everything else was gone as well save for the huge portion of Double Pork Chops & fries.
Garides Tiger Shrimp were huge and served in a sauce of EVOO & Lemon.
My whole Mediterranean Pink Snapper with capers, lemon, oregano, salt & pepper was perfect with only about 3 little bones to boot. The fish was sweet and tender and the sauce simple and perfect. I chose the side of Leek & Rice Pilaf, which was nice but needed more leek.
We decided to all split one dessert of Chocolate Molten Cake which was okay, but served at room temperature and hence not very molten.
Glasses of Samos dessert wine were offered complimentary which was a nice treat before heading out into the cold near freezing temps. By this time, the place was over jammed and the music had gone super-loud disco and you couldn't get near the bar. It was a good meal, but it was time to leave.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

5 proteins with Pinot Noir make a party at The Partisan with Native Flora's fabulous wines (11-11-15)

Last night we joined our friends Denise & Scott Flora for the amazing wine dinner set up by the team at the Partisan under Chef Nathan Anda. They worked hard to pair the amazing wines and did a pretty awesome job.
All those in attendance had a ball. While we arrived quite early (no traffic on the holiday and a free space out front) I ordered a drink called The Regulator made from Cabeza Tequila, Hagman's Sloe Gin, Dolvin Genepy (a type of vermouth) and lime; think softened margarita without the salt but much more punch and no sweetness at all. I loved it.
We sat down (there were 30-something total attendees) and the first wine was poured:
2014 Native Flora "Solstice Skies" Riesling (all the wines are from Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon) which Scott explained was their second vintage of the wine, The first vintage was to "get rid of the diesel" and this was to see "how dry we can make it." Success for sure, because even Will loved it and only likes super-dry Rieslings. There is a mineral intense nose and I loved the intense mineral finish on the tongue as well as the wine's real strong acidity. It was paired with Smoked Mackerel Crudo, Pickled Apple & Celery Leaf (which seems to be such a silly garnish for my taste, or lack of it). The fish was fatty indeed and the wine fought that, but every now and then a large salt crystal was too much for the wine and indeed the palate. I love mackerel sushi and this was supreme, but a little less salt would have been welcome, or perhaps a finer salt.

Milk-Poached Pork Loin arrived with persimmon, Walnut & a Celery Root Puree. This dish was heaven as it was cooked in milk, sous-vide and then seared so the edge was a bit crusty, even if there were large pieces of fat (which I cut out). It was tasty and the persimmon actually reminded me of a slightly sweet potato with tropical finish. The wine was 2014 Native Flora "Karsts of the Andaman" Pinot Blanc and the tropical finish was a perfect match.

I love carpaccio and the 35 Day Aged Beef Carpaccio came so simply prepared with EVOO, Arugula, Salt & Pepper. The pepper was negligent and Scott grabbed the pepper mill and hit the carpaccio with a splash at every table giving it just the pop that it needed as this was served with the 2014 Native Flora "Jolly Rancher" Rose that we all adore so much and can live up to any spice.  It is so structured and made from a blend of co-fermented Pinot Nor & Pinot Blanc, but then floated with Malbec berries on top (which carbonically ferment and explode) for that Jolly Rancher punch, so aromatic of the candy, but bone dry. Scott calls it "heresy in a bottle." I asked our super-handsome server (that's another story), Russell, where the meat came from and we were told a farm in Maryland called Laurel Delight.

The best course all night was the Autumn Spiced Boar Sausage with Squash Puree which was quite spicy, full of flavor and declared by us all, "what a boar!!" I adored the fried sage leaves on it and the intense flavors which paired so finely with 2012 Native Flora "Next Time" Pinot Noir.

The superb and elegant 2013 Native Flora "Jaguar Reserve" Pinot Noir arrived with the Boar Ham with Foie Gras Grits and Red Wine Shallots. The grits were the highlight og this dish and the Pinot Noir was a perfect match yet again. The meat was a feral wild heritage pig (a lot was spoken about the animal and it's heritage back to the times of Columbus) which was brined 5 days and cooked 9 hours. Tasty yes, but a bit on the chewy side.

There was no dessert, but we were all full anyway and we all had a great time enjoying these novel dishes paired with these blow-your-mind wines that again are only available by direct sales from Native Flora due to the extremely small production. Well worth getting your hands on it. We do! 


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

back in DC, CENTROLINA states a great case for some of the coolest cuisine around (11-10-15)

We are thrilled that our new friends from Oregon's Willamette Valley, Denise and Scott Flora, are in town this week for a big wine dinner tonight that we helped to organize.
We decided to start the celebration with them early, by heading to CENTROLINA ( at the hip new CityCenterDC where Chef Amy Brandwien reigns supreme.
I had only been to Centrolina once before back in June, and now I think it's even better as they are about to celebrate their 1/2 year anniversary and are going as strong as ever.
Scott brought some of his superb, rare and novel wines from his winery NATIVE FLORA, and we started with an amazing sparkling wine dubbed "Cuvee Lussier" 2011 Dundee Hills, Oregon, which is their first vintage of the delicate yet yummy wine made from 90+% Pinot Noir and the balance Pinot Blanc, innovative yet delicious.
Our server Shannon explained the menu and we perused the choices for quite a while and then tasted the Burrata which here is served with caramelized onions and greens over slices of Purple Sweet Potatoes as well as Olive Oil. I loved this new take on the cheese everyone adores and might even venture to try it at home.
Next up was one of the first reasons we fell in love with the Floras a year ago when at their home for a wine dinner. Native Flora Rose "Jolly Rancher" 2014 is the newer vintage of this superb dry rose made from Blanc de Noir & Malbec and it is simply superb. Chef Amy, Manager/ Sommeliere (I always thought it was sommelieuse!) Kristin seemed to be quite thrilled with these wines which incidentally are only available by direct sale from Native Flora and sold at no wine or liquor stores due to the very small production quantities, making this an even more desirable wine for your cellar or table (there is also a wine club
We ordered our first white wine, and I managed to intrigue Scott into a Virginia Vermentino Reserve 2013 from Barboursville, which we all agreed had amazing taste at first, but Scott noted that the finish virtually  disappeared within seconds. Kristin opened another Vermentino from Corse made by US winemaker Oren Swift, but from Corsica (hence the name). The label was so poorly created it was nary impossible to read, but we all agreed that for less money, it was far superior with a creamy finish that was so well suited to the milder dishes. The Barboursville, however, did go very well with my spicy Tunnina, or seared tuna belly with bottargo aioli (the spicy element) and broccoli raab that was a tasty treat indeed. The other starters were Carolo or basically a Savoy Cabbage Slaw with Parmesan & EVOO that was refreshing and tasty; the signature POLPO which is octopus soffocato with potato confit, cotechinata and celery salad, which we know will always be on the menu. The Grilled Mortadella was a novel dish with red onion, frisee and pistachio that reminded me of a sophisticated spam (please forgive me for using that word).

Next we tasted Native Flora's 2012 Next Time Pinot Noir which is one of four that they make. We had not yet tasted this present release which has a huge vanilla aroma up front and some of the best body and flavor you will find anywhere in a Pinot Noir! 
We ordered several pastas to share and this is always a treat from Chef Amy:
Raviolini celebrated the autumn and were filled with Roasted Pumpkin & Ricotta Cheese in a Butter & Sage Sauce with Amaretti Cookie crumble.
Quadrucci were filled with Crab, Cod & Potato and served in a simple yet elegant Lemon Butter Sauce.
Neri is Squid Ink Pasta, which had been exhausted on my previous visit since all the pasta is made fresh in house and is often gone by later in the evening! Here is has Sushi-grade Yellowfin Tuna and Nonnaral di Pesce or a spicy fish sauce (think halfway between spicy Thai fish sauce and Puttanesca) on the side of the dish that you can take as much of as you like; I loved it.

The main courses arrived and we decided on two orders of the Grilled Swordfish with Tuscan Kale and two of the Anatra or Cured Duck Breast with Tuscan kale, Pancetta-wrapped potatoes with a tasty Persimmon Marmellata (foto on my FB page). Most of the duck was cooked perfectly rare and tender, but a slice here and there on each plate was a bit chewy, but not beyond edibility. Will enjoyed a glass of Ruche Crivelli 2013 Ruche di Castignane from Monferrato while I loved my Produttori del Barbaresco 2011. By this time, no more wine was an option!

Desserts here are excellent and we decided to share two:
Apple Crostata with Hazelnuts, Lemon Meringue (which comes in the form of cute little balls) and Prosecco Gelato. The dish had a super perfumey smell that announced the apples and spices and we all agreed the pastry was superb. Chocoholics will adore the Cioccolato which is a Chocolate Semifreddo with tasty autumn-influenced Pumpkin Seed Brittle, Chocolate Crouton and Maple Candied Ganache.

Candied Hazelnuts covered with Chocolate Powder sent us home quite full and happy to starve ourselves today before the exciting Native Flora Wine Dinner tonight at The Partisan!

Monday, November 09, 2015

LEMONGRASS in Las Vegas' Aria is amazing (11-7-15)

My last night in Las Vegas was a Saturday and just an hour or so after three intense days of conferences, etc. I was exhausted and walked about a mile or so up the strip to the Aria complex where I had chose the very highly rated Lemongrass, a pan-Asian spot secluded in the rear off the lobby which I loved. Here at Mandalay Bay, the dozens and dozens of dining outlets, from Hubert Keller (the famous French chef from SanFran) to Wolfgang Puck and more are all facing the monstrous casino area.
We had one lunch at Noodle House which had okay food, but nothing worth writing about. Sadly the casino noise is horrendous everywhere. While Aria also has a huge foyer/lobby/casino area as well, this area where Lemongrass and several other dining spots were located, was quite serene.
The décor was quite interesting with lots of dowels on the wall, giant ropes strung all over creating a giant loom feel as if we were sitting inside the loom. The leather booths, wooden tables and floors and open kitchen were nice as well. I looked up to see a gigantic rope chandelier (several indeed) which looked like a giant woof from a loom. It was fascinating.
The service here was attentive and friendly and the portions were monstrous.
I ordered a small bottle of unfiltered Sake, Miyashita "Sacred Mist", Honjozo Nigori which was cloudy since it was unfiltered, yet milky and smooth and truly awesome with the spicy food I chose.
Tom Kha Lobster was the version of the famous chicken or shrimp soup with coconut, but here with lobster chunks abounding, coconut, lemongrass, ginger, red chilies, Galangal, cilantro and a heaping of Abalone Mushrooms. I had to ask my server for a long rest as the portion was easily a main course.
My main course was a throwback to our winter trip to Malaysia and SE Asia with Penang Red Curry with Duck which was seared tneder and rare with crispy skin and then smothered in the spicy curry with hints of cocnut, sprinkles of peanuts and some lychees.
This place, like virtually everywhere in Las Vegas was not fancy; people really dress down in most cases, but it was more elegant for sure than so many of the restaurants and the food was as elegant as one could expect in any excellent Asian dining spot. A great end to my short stay.

Vegas Dinner #2....RIVEA, gets some raves, Ducasse does in Italian (11-5-15)

On my second night in Las Vegas I was thrilled to accept an invitation from one of my favorite vendors, who happens to handle the Alain Ducasse properties in France. RIVEA, Ducasse's newest installation, just happens to be the top floor of my hotel, the Delano with outrageously wonderful views of the Las Vegas skyline. We had drinks and champagne first in the elegant Skyfall Lounge next door with even a better view and outdoor heaters aflalme in this chilly weather.
RIVEA has Chef Bruno Riou in charge and while he is in control, I do not understand why the food is Italian bistro, where M. Ducasse is indeed one of the greatest French chefs on earth.
No bread here, just excellent grissini, which we munched on with Rolle, La Chapelle Gordonne, 2013, a white Vermintino from Cotes de Provences that I adored. The starters were Mozzarella di bufala & tomato, excellent Tomato Pizzettas with Culatello, San Daniele (prosciutto) & Bresaola that was truly lean and excellent. I also loved the piquant and tasty Octopus Salad with Coco Beans and Confit Bell Peppers.
The pasta was Paccheri with superbly cooked Ox Cheek and a French Daube-style sauce which is a hearty brown sauce that worked superbly with the meat. I was ready for the red wine and it did come as I almost finished (we were a big group and the place was jammed). Domaine Triennes 2013 from Var, France is a blend of Syrah, Merlot and Cab that was smooth, drinkable and tasty with a good body to boot.
The main course was an amazing Pepper crusted Bison Tenderloin that was soft, rare and divine.
It was the dessert that blew us all away. LIMONCELLO BABA with Meyer Limoncello from CelloVia in the USA, which is as good as any Italian limoncello I have had. The baba was split, soaked with limoncello, as opposed to rum and then doused with a delightful gob of whipped cream. Nobody left a bite on their plate and then a fortified red granache akin to Banyuls arrived.
We had more time overlooking the city from the private dining room at the other side, which had just emptied out (there is also a chef's table in the kitchen with no view save to the food).
Our meal was enjoyable, for sure but I guess I wanted more sublime French and was taken aback. I have no clue what the cost was, so I can't compare, but I am sure this view and M. Ducasse's name go for a price as high as the sixty-something floor it is on!

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Las Vegas' GUY SAVOY truly worthy of 3 Michelin Stars++ and superb experience (11-4-15)

I arrived in Las Vegas for a 3 day business convention and have to admit that although I have been a travel agent for 30+ years, this was my first time here in sin city. I was already down on the place by the time I hit my hotel as it took 30 minutes to drive less than 1 mile to the hotel (the airport is really across the street, but you have to go the long way around!). I walked through the Mandalay Bay Complex which also houses the Fours Seasons and the Delano, where I am staying, and was completely turned off by the casino, smokers, and offensive dress that many folks sport here (simply said, there are way too many women with skirts that don't go below their waists!). So after my first meetings which ended at 9pm (midnight on my clock), I hopped a cab to Caesar's Palace a couple of minutes away and made my way to the serene oasis of Restaurant GUY SAVOY, the Vegas spot this world-famous Michelin star from Paris chose to house his gastronomic temple. I loved the fact that it was so serene, quiet and restful and I actually relaxed in the room with only twelve tables (I think there was another small room, but it was closed) of which only 1/2 were still occupied. within an hour, at 1030pm, I was the only one left until my departure after the magnificent tasting menu. The SIGNATURE menu was chosen for several reasons:

1)I was in Vegas for the Signature Travel Network meeting.

2)I am co-chair of the Chefs Committee for  March of Dimes Signature Chefs benefit this month

3)I didn't want the pricier degustation menu or the way overpriced white truffle menu.

The price tag was $250 and the accompanying wines chalked up another $175, not to mention $10 for the excellent Badoit.

I did start with a $30 glass of champagne which was offered, but not priced for me. There was a choice of about 8 champagnes by the glass from a huge trolley, and I stayed in the middle to lower range and avoided the vintage choices of Krug, Dom Perignon and others. Chartogne-Tailler Cuvee Sainte Anne was a deliciously soft brut which set me at ease and allowed me to peruse the vast menu choices. It was also delicious with my four, yes four, amuses bouches.

1)Foie Gras terrine with black truffle vinaigrette was creamy, rich and indulgent

2)Tomato concasse (that's fancy for chopped) with black olive was served in adorable little indentations on toasted bread points. It was tasty, but unexciting.

3)a magnificent petite burger (we now call them sliders) was rare and tasty with Dijon Mustard

4)a small bowl arrived with crunchy quinoa over which Carrott Ginger Soup with Espalette Pepper was poured tableside.

The bread trolley was amazing and it was impossible to choose as one does not wish to overdo this. I went for Bacon & Salt Mini-Brioche as well as the tasty Chestnut Bread and the amazing Seaweed. There were also Mustard Seed, Ciabbata (onion or plain), Lemon, and both Poppyseed or plain baguettes. There were both salted and unsalted butters imported from Normandy, fresh ground pepper and sea salt, all served under adorable mini-glass domes that had a Moroccan feel to them.

The first course on the menu was entitled "Colors of Caviar" and consisted of a gorgeous parfait like creation with vinaigrette or caviar, caviar cream, caviar sabayon, herbs and Osetra Caviar and a mother of pearl caviar spoon to dig through the vertically layered parfait to get a taste of each layer in each bite. It was rich, sublime and again indulgent. Paired with R. & L. Legras, Guy Savoy Blanc de Blancs Champagne from Chouilly which was very dry brut, but with a floral nose and herbaceous aftertaste.

I love chestnuts, so Chestnuts "All Around" or "Tout Autour de la Chataigne" was a treat for me and brought me back to my first Michelin-starred chestnut soup in Paris as Carre des Feuillantes decades ago. Here we had a combination of braised chestnuts, chestnut custard, custard chips all in a bowl filled with mushroom-infused milk (think light creamy broth). The wine was Clos Ste. Magdeleine 2012 from Cassis in Provence made from Marsanne & Ugni Blanc, a tasty earthy white that enhanced the dish to perfection.


Red Mullet Fillet was with a Spinach and Mushroom Gratin and this famous French dish (Rouget in Europe) was delicate and tasty in a mullet fume and was served with Yves Cuilleron 2010 Saint-Pierre from Saint-Joseph in the Loire valley. I reveled as I saw the bottle approaching as I had the pleasure of meeting the late Maestro Cuilleron over 15 years ago when I visited his world famous vineyard and tasted so many of his superb wines. This white was again genius pairing, and the sommelier was impressed with my knowledge of it.

The fourth course of the tasting was another Foie Gras, here called "Bitter Infusion" and offered up the treat in a Duck Consomme with Beets, a Kumquat Puree and was paired with a crunchy piece of seared Foie Gras underneath a small cup as a finishing surprise. I gobbled it all up and loved the Domaine Albert Mann Grand Cru Furstentum 2011 Pinot Gris from Alsace that offered up a good deal of residual sugar and sweetness to pair with the "bitter" element of the dish.

As I was enjoying the previous course a glass teapot was brought to the table and placed over small flame to heat what was apparently an element of the next dish: Artichoke & Black Truffle Soup, Toasted Mushroom Brioche and Black Truffle Butter.

Here we had braised endives over crispy Puffed Rice (Chef seems to like crunchy elements) as well as a Gamache of Green Tea(the glass pot). The truffles were from Perigord and shaved over the dish and the brioche made from mushrooms sat in the middle. The broth was a rich intense reduction that was almost velvety from the truffle butter and aged parmesan was shaved over the top. I loved all the courses, but this was truly a favorite and revelation. Domaine Anne-Marie Gille Vosne-Romanee 2003 Pinot Noir from Bourgogne was a throwback to when I drank this amazing wine while at cooking school at the University of Dijon in the early 70's (of course, it was much less expensive back then).

The "main" course was an American Prime Beef Tenderloin with Braised Paleron (shoulder of beef), Potato Puree and Baby Heirloom Carrots. The Tarragon & Grape Mustard was awesome. The shoulder was nowhere near as amazing as the filet, which did not need the Laguiole steak knife as it was so tender, a fork could cut through it. The Coup de Foudre 37.2 Cuvee Merlot 2012 from Napa was way too young to drink at this time.

I was back in Europe as the cheese trolley rolled over and I debated which to choose:

Brillat Savarin was superbly salty and creamy and went best with the Verget "Les Enseigneres" Puligny-Montrachet 2003, aged to perfection.

I must note that the fine dining spots in Vegas all seem to use Spiegelau crystal which is nice, but here I would have expected Riedel. The white was refreshing after the red I did not care for, so I was happy to switch colors.

Lejeune Altize was a great goat with Ash

Onetik is a tasty earthy sheep and cow with a nettle-like rind with salt

Fleur de Maguers was a superb Corsican Sheep and my

blue was Fourmes d'Ambert

Following this was a palate cleanser of Aloe Vera Gelee with Grapefruit Meringue that was truly novel and fun and oh so refreshing.

The first dessert was Quince & Apple which had apple-wrapped ice cream amongst other multi-variations of the fruits (I'm not a quince fan) and an ice-wine gelatin. The Domaine Huet, Le Haut-Lieu, Moeulleux 2009 Vouvray was another wonderful wine choice.

As I stared out the windows onto the strip, I marveled at the lit signs for Planet Hollywood, Vuitton, Dior and the massive video screens. I was so thankful to be inside and sheltered from the craziness of Las Vegas.

The main dessert was a Samuel treat in the waiting of Chocolate Fondant, Crunchy Praline and Chicory Cream. I was worried about the bitterness associated with chicory, but there was none here. This was a miracle chocolate dish and paired with one of my favorites ice wines, Inniskillen Cabernet Franc 2008 from Niagara in Ontario, Canada.

I have a note that I was served a black pepper tea sorbet with something at one point, but it seems to have been lost in the 3+ hour trip to gastronomic heaven that ended with a bag to go of pastries, muffins, mini-cheesecakes and more which I have had with my coffee in the room every morning for the past 3 days. How I love re-living my best meal in Vegas every day as I now plan to head home.