The Las Vegas Taste Tour: Prologue

Photo Credit: Scott Roeben

The best croissants that I’ve ever had on this side of the Atlantic.  A tour of the kitchen of one of the top French restaurants in America.  Exclusive tastings of the world’s premier champagne and top flight tequilas.  Unprecedented levels of access to executive pastry chefs and chefs de cuisine. A treasure chest made of chocolate and filled with ice cream and cheesecake.  A tower of nachos that would defeat even the most gluttonous of Americans.  A scantily-clad woman, a volcano, and a vat of water.

These are a few of the highlights of four days spent in Las Vegas as invited guests of Caesars Entertainment on their first-ever Taste Tour, a whirlwind array of restaurant visits, cooking demonstrations, and behind-the-scenes peeks at the inner mechanisms of the culinary machine that drives the food service behind 11 properties.

Faced with a stack of business cards, a notepad full of scribbled observations, and a flash drive that’s been thoughtfully packed with professional photos that are much better than anything that I could have ever taken, my task becomes clear: document this adventure for you, the readers of The Best Food Blog Ever.

Over the next few weeks, I beckon you to join me as I share my insight into a world that is rarely seen by most members of the public.  I’ve got a whiteboard that’s overflowing with entry titles, and it’s time to start crossing them off, one by one.

January 14, 2011   Comments

There’s No Place Like…

I’m going to take the unconventional route here and start my updates with the end of our trip.  I’ve got lots of pictures that need to be loaded from the camera, and lots of words that need to be loaded from my head.  It’s going to take some time to sort through.  Please bear with me.

It’s absolutely wonderful to be back home after five nights away.  Last night was the first “normal” night that we’ve had since last Tuesday (and maybe Tuesday doesn’t count, either, because we were packing).  The fridge and cupboard are fairly bare, but I was able to put together something resembling dinner – a sauteed chicken breast, some barley, and a bag of peas that I found in the freezer.  It’s welcome relief from vacation food.

Speaking of which, you’re probably curious about our Southern Culinary Adventure.  All will be revealed in due time, but off the top of my head I can tell you that it involves wings, ribs, barbecue, fried pickles, fried shrimp, hush puppies, boiled peanuts, ham, beer, beer and more beer, and the best cornbread recipe we’ve ever had, so good it’s bumped my tried-and-true recipe from our barbecue lineup. 

And, oh yes, pimento cheese.

So, I’ve got all of that to talk about, plus the continuation of the Talulah’s Table series coming up, plus preparations for the Big Pig Gig 2008.  Stay tuned.  Stuff’s happening.

July 9, 2008   Comments

Off to Charleston

I met my wife for the first time in Charleston, South Carolina fourteen years ago.  We loved the town so much that, two years after that, we held our wedding there and made everyone fly in for the ceremony (we were, after all, in a long distance relationship and not only was Charleston beautiful, it was also neutral territory).

Since that time, we’ve only been back to Charleston once, and that was several years ago.  Even then, we could see the town beginning to change – at its heart, Charleston is a college town filled with small, independently owned shops that compete for space with majestic homes and hotels.  But on that visit, we saw that some of the shops on King Street were starting to yield to nationally recognized franchises like Starbucks.

We’ve got a small list of spots that we want to hit, some of them old standbys and others that have cropped up in the intervening years of our absence.  The very first thing on the list is the Wild Wing Cafe, which takes the concept of a college town buffalo wing joint and turns it up to 11.  Then there’s Jestine’s Kitchen, a small soul food restaurant that serves up killer chicken, fried green tomatoes, and Coca Cola cake.

As it turns out, Robert Stehling, this year’s winner of the James Beard award for Best Chef in the Southeast region, is in Charleston, cooking at Hominy Grill.  I spent yesterday afternoon studying the menu, and it all looks awesome.  Reservations were easy to come by.

So, we’re getting on the plane tomorrow and won’t be back until Monday.  If I have internet access in the hotel, I’ll try to post content from the road.  Otherwise, it’ll just stockpile on my hard drive and updates will resume a week from today.  Given that I can’t do many of these places justice without pictures, I may decide to wait anyway.

If I’m really motivated, I’ll create a Twitter account for The Best Food Blog Ever and give quick updates with my greasy buffalo wing and fried chicken coated fingers.

UPDATE: I was, in fact, really motivated and now have a Twitter account for The Best Food Blog Ever.  It’s over on the column to the left.  Twitter updates will show up here, and you can click on the little RSS icon to subscribe to the Twitter feed.

July 1, 2008   Comments