Wednesday 23 May, 2012

VIDEO: Vegas Uncork’d 2012 Grand Tasting


Beijing Noodle No. 9 at Vegas Uncork'd 2012

I am sorely tempted to just let the visuals do the talking on Vegas Uncork'd 2012's Grand Tasting–starting with the video above of Beijing Noodle No. 9's noodle master showing you how they hand pull them, old school style. Looks easy, doesn't it?

As always, Vegas Uncork'd's Grand Tasting, held every year at Caesars Palace's Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis (yes, that's the official name, humble isn't it?) was an embarassment of riches, a fantasy bazaar for foodies, both in terms of the sheer number and variety of bites, and an array of Star Chef talent so daunting one could call it a Top Chef Masters/Iron Chef reunion. If I start to sound like Robin Leach, you could hardly blame me. Really, even in the realm of food festivals, it's pretty impressive.

Of course, there are some weak spots, too. Not to belabor, but wine has always been unimpressive for some reason at this "ultimate wine and food experience," and this year it may have been worse than ever. Not only was the selection so mediocre that the best bottles were mid-level Californians, but the people pouring were so indifferent that, well, let me quote one of them: "I've got a red here, and a white." Really, one of each!! The white was a serviceable Riesling. But I digress.

Mixology also suffered–for such an important element, cocktails were kind of shunted into the bar under the VIP pool, which might make sense logistically but in terms of presentation made them seem so insignificant that I frankly just breezed past. This in comparison to last year's very impressive drinks presentations, that were unfortunately largely missed because they were staged in the Venus pool. It can't be that hard to find a proper spot for a bar platform, folks.

Every year, there is some ingredient that tends to be repeated a bit too much, and usually it's a sign of a peaking trend. Without fail, I stopped counting how many booths were offering pork belly this year. Hey, it happens.

On the other hand, at least two offered Ox (Andre Rochat and Beijing Noodle, very different dishes!) and though there was the usual surfeit of shrimp, at least much of it was nicely prepared. One of the best, ironically, was from a non-Vegas chef, cooking at the demo booth for Texas Pete hot sauce.

And I'm not sure what the planners did, but crowds flowed, overall much better this year.

Feast your eyes...


Matt Duckor in Bon Appetit Online

Robin Leach in Las Vegas Sun

Our Favorite Bites in Las Vegas Weekly

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