We made it back safe and sound after a whirlwind eating and drinking extravaganza at Bon Appetit's Vegas Uncork'd weekend. Now in its second year, the organizers are still tweaking things with the event---it's more of a living, breathing organism than a static template---but one of the largest parties is always the Grand Tasting at Caesars Palace. It's also one of the few that doesn't sell out, at least not yet, and with restaurants like Guy Savoy, Payard Patisserie, Joe's Stone Crab, Spago, Mesa Grill, Joel Robuchon, Batali's B&B Ristorante and Carnevino, Fleur de Lys, Bouchon, Alex, Bartolotta, RM Seafood and Michael Mina all represented, the $150-$175 ticket pretty much pays for itself. We liked last year's poolside location, but it's a windy time in Vegas, and with so much construction at Caesars and around town, the crunch of dirt and dust in your foie gras isn't so appetizing. And, oh yes, will there be foie. Some highlights from the tent, next.
1) You Know You're in Vegas When... The Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich restaurants---B&B Ristorante, Carnevino and Enoteca San Marco--- have to explain that "mortadella" is "bologna" via homemade masking-tape signage. By the way, the mortadella three ways---a cube of homemade bologna, a thinly sliced piece stuffed with cheese and fried, and a mortadella dumpling in broth---is no Oscar Mayer.
2) You Know You're at a Batali Table When... The crocs are there even when the man is not.
3) Man of the Hour. Doesn't matter where Wolfgang Puck is---at the Guy Savoy table, for instance---people still stop him for his autograph. Guy didn't mind.
4) Chef BFFs: Not only is it fun for fans of the restaurants to see the chefs, especially the marquee chefs, in person, but there aren't a lot of events for cross-country restaurateurs to see each other. Spotted: Franck Savoy (son of Guy, GM of the Caesars restaurant) and Daniel Boulud were walking arm in arm smiling at everyone, greeting their peers; Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken took care of a scooter-bound David Burke and helped him get to the blackjack tourney later that night.
5) Best Dishes: The king crab roll and homemade sweet potato chips at Joe's Stone Crab was damn good, the Thai catfish lettuce wraps from RM Seafood were delicious, and the finesse (and hot chef de cuisine) at the Guy Savoy table was unmatched. But you know you have the best dish when all the chefs and Bon App editor in chief Barbara Fairchild (and us) can't stop talking about it: Wing Lei's pork belly buns from Richard Chen's Chinese restaurant at the Wynn makes our David Chang envy just that much less.
6) You Know You're In Vegas When...Part 2: Girls baring almost everything hand out mini burgers from Hubert Keller's Burger Bar table. You most certainly won't see that at Taste of Los Angeles.
· All Uncork'd Coverage [~ELA~]