Las Vegas Wine & Food Festival 2012

First off, I'd like to thank the Las Vegas Wine & Food Festival and Barcelona Event Marketing for giving me the opportunity to attend and review their event. 

This event was definitely a handful for me. I only had one pass so I had to eat, drink, write notes, take pictures, and record video pretty much at the same time. I got as much as I could as far as pictures go. I did miss a few things and the lines were too long for me to go back, but I think you'll get the gist of the event with what I do have.

The event itself was very well put together and had a good energy within it. It was a little dark in some walking areas and for the cooks, but other than that, everything was pretty top notch. Please watch the video above for my recap towards the end of the evening at the event.

Now for the food! Some items I could clearly see the ingredients or could talk to the chefs, some booths were so busy I really had to guess what I was eating! Either way, here are the reviews of the items I had from most of the restaurants that attended.

My first stop was at Bar+Bistro. I had to wait about 15 mins in line while they were cooking the Chicken but it was definitely worth the wait. The chicken was cooked perfect and was very tender and flavorful. It was simply cooked and simply presented and was really a great way for me to start my evening. I can't wait do a review on Bar+Bistro after meeting the chef and seeing their full menu.

Next stop was Mastro's. I believe the fish was a seared Sea Bass which was creamy and perfectly cooked. The crust on it was stunning and the overall bites were rich and melted in my mouth. The Steak was medium rare with a very peppery crust. It was ok, but not amazing. And the bread they sat it on was definitely not necessary. The Angel Food Cake was pretty damn good. It was soft and sweet, but not too sweet. Very well done.

I did catch Ferraro's but I forgot to take pictures, but they served up a single Meatball. It was good, but a little overcooked (Which unfortunately is sometimes collateral damage from making food for events this size.) They also offered a plate with Biscotti and Cheese which was actually very rich and sweet.

Also in the forgotten picture mix was Bratalian. I was in this line for so long that by the time I got my food I just downed it and missed a picture! They served a Veal Tortelinni with a Porchini Mushroom Sauce. As much as I wanted to love this one, it was over cooked, it was 90% pasta with very little Veal. The Mushroom Sauce was good, but not enough to make up for the pasta's downfalls. I know Bratalian is better than what I had, just another casualty of mass producing plates.

Kabuki! I've had sushi at Kabuki a few times and have always liked my food and experience there. Kabuki dished out a Crab Hand Roll and raw Spicy Tuna. The Crab roll was in a seaweed wrap which was fresh and crunchy and added a good contrast to the soft sweet crab inside. The roll was very filling and the crab was plentiful. The Spicy Tuna was very well sliced and was very fresh. It was just OK, it tasted how Spicy Tuna should.

Capital Grille blew me away. I love me some cured meat, and I love me some cheese, so when I saw they were plating Prosciutto wrapped Mozzarella, I almost fainted. This was hands down the best thing I had at this event. The meat was delicious and seared to perfection with the cheese at a "just before melting" state. I wish I could have had 20 of these. Absolutely amazing. The Baby Ripe Tomatoes were very refreshing and tasty as well.

I definitely need to make it down to D.O.C.G. for a full review. Both sample dishes I had from them were pretty delicious. The Pasta was on point. The sauce was complex and great. I wanted more! And the Crustini/Bruchetta style fish and tomato bite was salty goodness from the fish and cut nicely by the fresh, sweet, tomato. I was very impressed and want more!

And now, Ladies and Gentlemen…. the worst dish of the night! A whole… entire… full... Chili Dog from Pink's. Did they not get the memo about this being a sampler style event?! And if you're going to serve complete dog, at least make sure it tastes like something. This was the worst hot dog I've ever had. Everything was bland, the dog had no snap, the chili was watery and blah, and the bun was like a damp sponge. It seemed there were only two line cooks serving the dogs, because if a manager or head chef was there for quality control, this tragedy could have been avoided.

From there, the next eatery didn't fare much better. I've eaten at Roy's before and as far as I remember, it was good. But this Sushi Roll was pretty terrible. It had snow crab with Wagyu Beef. You'd think that'd be a winning combination…Nope, this roll tasted like overcooked rice with cold meat in it. Sushi is tough to do right in a venue like this event. They should have went with one of their other signature dishes.

Origin India! A breath of curry air after two bad plates. I had Origin India first at the Epicurian Affair a few months back and have been wanting to try them again. This time 'round they had a Garlic Curry Chicken that was pretty solid.  It actually, really tasted like teriyaki beef jerky… but in a good way. The veggies and spice kick were just right and made this not only a visually stunning meal, but a good mix of flavors to boot.

I've seen billboards for Bagatelle for months now with no real knowledge of what it is. Luckily, they were at this event and I got filled in. They're basically a boutique hotel/pool/day club/night club within the Tropicana along with an outdoor restaurant that also serves to rooms and the pool. Up to bat from them was their Scottish Salmon Tartare. A mix of Scottish and smoked salmon, this was a fresh and upscale take on a typically simple dish. The green Dill emulsion the fish sat on was actually the star really tying everying together. When I get a chance, I really want to check out Bagatelle's Sunday Bunch, who's coming with me?!

Towards the end of my journey around all the restaurant booths, I landed at the Orleans Arena. I was a little confused as to why they were there, but soon learned they were showing off their catering menu to show the quality availalble for large groups and events. Their head chef was shelling out a ton of Shrimp Ceviche in martini glasses. Overall it was filling and good, just a little too sweet with not enough heat. But for something from a catering outfit, not too shabby.

Red Rock Hotel's primary restaurant offering was a Pork Belly Slider. How can you go wrong with pork belly? You can't! This one was pretty good but it was a little dry. It could have used a good 'ol slaw inside it, but the pork was tender and fatty and the bread was fresh and fluffy. 

My last stop of the night was actually a food truck…sans their truck; Sauced. Sauced provided me with the 2nd best thing I had of the night: An absolutely outstanding Cajun Chicken Salad with Andouille Sausage. I don't have a picture because I think I had a little too much wine by then, but damn it was good. The flavors were complex, it was different, and the sauce really was the boss. I am making it a point to do a review on Sauced in the very near future!

Now for the adult beverages! I didn't take pictures of the wines because of the very long lines and lack of time to spend with the vendors. But here's what I had:

Cabana Wine Red Blend: Pretty refreshing, not an especially bold body, but OK overall. 

Banzai Bunny Sparkling Sake: My new favorite. Seriously, this shit is good! I had their Natural flavor and the Yuzu. The Natural was the best taste of alcohol I've had in a while. It was fun, different, and memorable. When I find it locally, I'm getting a few. But for like $12 a bottle (350ML), it ain't cheap! But it'll be worth it! The Yuzu was good too and much fruitier, but the Natural has definitely caught my attention!

Chocolate Lovers Wine: Their light is like a melted Terry's Chocolate Orange. Their dark was a lot more like wine with heavy hints of chocolate  flavoring. Obviously these are good dessert wines, and just fun all around.

Gyanjyani Wine: I had their Chardonnay, it was very good, very even body and smooth overall. I really liked this one.

Eberle Wine: I also had their Chardonnay and it was pretty horrible. I think I dumped it out.

Pendleton Estate Vineyards & Winery: My choice from them was their Cabernet Sauvignon and it was very good. Very bold flavors throughout and an easy finish on the tail end.

Freixenet: Described to me as a Spanish version of Champagne. It wasn't too dry and was decent. Nothing special.

VnC Premixed Cocktails: I had their Skinny Pacific cocktail on ice. It was very sweet and actually not bad for a pre-made cocktail.

The Jewel of Russia Ultra Vodka: Best. Vodka. I've had in years! This was an unexpected treat! This vodka was über smooth and clean and had no aftertaste. I want more!

Pope Valley Wine: Their sparkling wine twas a tad dry, but very good. I also had their Cab and it was smooth, light, and had very welcomed sweet fruit notes.

Alta Vista Argentinian Wine: To mix things up a little I went with their Malbec. It was complex and the had a very pronounced flavor profile. This was the best wine I had of the night!

Arrow Wood Vineyards & Winery: From this Sonoma Valley winery I tasted their Cab as well. It was on the darker fruit side of things with a great nutty finish. Very complex and tasty!

Rating out
of 10
10 Location

Done at the Red Rock Hotel's posh pool and cabanas, the location was framed up well with a good flow to it.

9 Food Selection

A good mix of joints I don't typically see at Foodie events, so it was a good selection and the quality was there.

8 Price

Tickets were in the $85-$100 range. If you ate and drank like I did, you'd get your money's worth. So a little pricey but worth it.

9 Entertainment

A DJ in the front, live music in the back, a cigar roller, and a painter throughout, definitely a lot to keep entertained.

9 Overall

I really enjoyed this event. I wish I could have had help to better report my experience, but other than that it was
pretty stellar!