Wake up late, work out, deal with any outstanding matters, enjoy a leisurely lunch, catch a taxi to the airport and arrive well in advance of the scheduled boarding time, leave Vancouver at 3:00 p.m., arrive in Vegas at 5:30 p.m., check in, unwind, then head on over to Scarpetta for our 8:00 p.m. dinner reservation.
Well, that was the plan anyway. Maybe, in some ideal alternate universe, that’s the way it went down but in this reality, things went a little differently. Arrived at the airport to discover the flight had been pushed an hour. Then an hour and fifty minutes. Then two hours and ten minutes. Then two and a half hours. Apparently our plane was delayed coming out of Toronto. The reason for the delay? No one, not even the Air Canada staff, had a clue.
Finally, the plane arrived. Iwas good to go! Unfortunately, Air Canada wasn’t. We had to wait for the cabin crew to clear customs. “Wait a minute,”I protested. “The flight crew had two and a half hours to clear customs!” I was informed that because of the delay, they had to switch out the assigned crew with a crew coming in from an international flight.
We finally left Vancouver, three hours late, made up no time in the air, and finally touched down in Vegas very, VERY late. A mad rush to the hotel, a hurried check-in, followed by breakneck charge to The Cosmopolitan andI was finally sitting down to dinner – formerly scheduled for 8:00 p.m., then pushed to 8:30 p.m., then pushed to 9:00 p.m., then pushed to 9:30 p.m., but it wasn’t until 10:00 p.m. that I finally sat down.
Of course the late dinner meant I was able to enjoy the company of an old friend who made the drive from L.A. just to see me – and enjoy dinner at Robuchon and e by Jose Andres.
No, not Paul Giamatti. My former culinary wingman, Golden Boy Martin Gero, showed. Of course, you wouldn’t know he was once my culinary wingman given that he hardly partook in any of the dishes I’d ordered – two appetizers, four pasta dishes, and three desserts. Apparently, he’d eaten on the way. Eaten at In And Out Burger!
Anyway, setting aside who did and did not eat for the time being, the Scarpetta feast was comprised of
Puree of Chestnut Soup with oxtail, celery root and smoked robiola dumplings. Good although the oxtail lost a lot of its typical marbled succulence in the soup. I thought the addition of the sliced almonds a nice textural touch.
Creamy Polenta with wild mushroom fricassee. Many people I know object to polenta because of its texture, almost akin to firm mashed potatoes, but I thought it worked wonderfully here with the fricassee. One of my favorite dishes of the night.
Pasta Dish #1: Duck and Foie Gras Ravioli with Marsala reduction. Given the Marsala reduction and foie gras, I thought this dish would be sweeter, a little more robust. Instead, it was possessed of an unexpected sharpness that, ultimately, left me kind of disappointed.
Pasta Dish #2: Agnolotti dal Plin with mixed meat and fonduta, mushrooms and parmigiana. A good dish that impressed me more for its preparation (perfectly al dente as were all the pastas) than its flavors.
Pasta Dish #3: Black Macaroni with Main lobster and basil bread crumbs. Multi-layeredcolors, textures and flavors made this one a table favorite. Again, the pasta was perfectly cooked with that nice, firm al dente bite I truly appreciate - that many Italian restaurants fail to achieve.
Pasta Dish #4: Beet and Smoked Ricotta Casonsei with pistachios and poppy seeds. An utterly delightful surprise and my favorite pasta dish of the night! Subtle, sweet, and toothshome!
Apple Crostata - cinnamon-sugar brioche, mascarpone gelato and blackberry compote. Sounded better than it was. I'm not a fan of pies or any similar desserts in which the crust is so easily separated from its filling. The highlight was the mascarpone gelato but the crostata to gelato ratio was off.
Zeppole - nutella center, vanilla sauce and candied hazelnuts. Alas, a disappointment. I was missing the promised nutella center.
Amedei Chocolate Cake with toasted almond gelato and salted caramel sauce. The richest dessert on the menu (I checked to make sure) delivers a BIG chocolate hit in the form of the greatest sof-centered chocolate cake I've ever had. And using my favorite chocolate no less. My only quibble was, again, with the cake to ice cream ratio. I'm a firm believer that it should be 1:1, one spoonful of ice cream to accompany each spoonful of cake. Otherwise, a terrific dessert.
- Way past Marty G.’s bedtime.
On our way out, we passed owner Scott Conant himself, standing at the bar chatting with customers as they left the restaurant. He seems a lot more friendly and down to earth when he’s not berating you for undercooking your fish or improper plating. I told him I enjoyed my meal.
In retrospect, I should have mentioned my ice cream to dessert ratio issues.
I was exhausted by the time I got back to the hotel and just conked out – waking up at 4:30 a.m. when the hotel alarm clock went off. I eventually got back to sleep and woke up again at a far more reasonable and much later hour.
A lot of walking today which, naturally, worked up an appetite. For lunch, checked out Mario Batali’s OTTO Enoteca Pizzeria -
It was fine. Found the pizza too salty.
The sundaes to finish the meal were good.
Dark chocolate cake with graham cracker gelato and meringue.
Then, strolled through the Forum Shops at Caesar’s where I stopped by Max Brenner for the famed choclate pizza -
Milk chocolate, white chocolate, and sweet pizza dough. I found the dough had an undercooked quality that made it difficult to stomach. Oh well.
On the way back to my hotel room to get ready for dinner, I stopped by the Bouchon Bakery stand and picked up a giant pistachio macaron -
Lacked the fresh, crisp integrity of the macarons I enjoyed in Tokyo. Overly sweet and chewy.
While shopping for sunglasses, I received a call from my writing partner, Paul. Apparently, the American broadcaster has signed off and we’re officially on board this new project. Stay tuned for the grand announcement.
Or, barring a grand announcement, I’ll just fill you in on this blog in the coming days.
Off to meet up with Marty G. at Joel Robuchon. Wish us luck!
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