29 Sep 2009 01:42 pm


On October 4th Veritas will resume their regular Sunday hours from 5pm to 10pm



In celebration of Veritas’ Anniversary they are pleased to announce that they are
continuing our 25% discount on all bottles of wine sold through the end of the year.

For the full scoop on Veritas read our listing here.

Veritas is located at 43 E. 20th St. NYC, For Reservations call 212-353-3700.

28 Sep 2009 03:02 am

Kerry Simon hosts Italian microbrew dinner

at Simon Restaurant & Lounge at Palms Place




Celebrity chef Kerry Simon and beer expert Jon Lundbom.



A culinary presentation in five courses where original dishes are masterfully paired with a collection of small-production artisanal ales from Italy:

Friska - Crisp white ale made with coriander and orange peel styled after a Belgian Witbier.

Nuova Mattina - Italian saison brewed with coriander, ginger, green pepper, chamomile and licorice.

Strada San Felice Chestnut Ale - An amber-colored beer bottom-fermented with distinctive flavor and aroma from wood-fire roasted chestnuts.

Malthus Baluba - Complex double malt stout fermented with dried apricot, pineapple and ginger. 

Scires - A refreshingly sweet-tart beer combining sweet dark cherries with a blend of two sour ales, one old and one young. 


Wednesday, September 30, 2009, 7 p.m.


The Herb Room inside Simon Restaurant & Lounge at Palms Place.


$75 per person, which includes a five-course dinner and all beer pairings.


Space is limited.  For reservations, please call (702) 944-3292.  Simon Restaurant & Lounge is located inside Palms Place, 4381 West Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89103. 



Jon Lundbom’s enthusiasm for all things beer dates back to his college days in Chicago’s fertile world of home brewing and beer appreciation. Many years and several degrees later, Jon began working for Artisanal Premium Cheese in New York and more seriously studying fine food, drink and, of course, cheese. Today Jon teaches beer, wine, spirits and cheese classes all over Manhattan and works for B. United International, one of the nation’s foremost importers of beer, sake, mead and cider, while traveling the world on a never-ending quest to learn more about its newest and most exciting beverages.


25 Sep 2009 07:24 am


Derek Fisher, Danica Patrick, Jeremy Piven, Bruce Jenner, Beth Ostrosky Stern and more!



On Friday, September 25, Chef Emeril Lagasse and The Palazzo will celebrate the grand opening of LAGASSE’S STADIUM with the Ultimate Tailgate Party. Emeril Lagasse has lowered the lights and turned up the heat at Lagasse’s Stadium - a ground-breaking new place to dine, watch and play at The Palazzo. The invitation only event will welcome athletes, celebrities and sports fans along with other special guests to get in on the action, and check out Emeril’s game-day fare.

Expected to attend: Renowned Chef Emeril Lagasse; Star of PEEPSHOW and previous member of Danity Kane, Aubrey O’Day; Model, television personality and actress, Beth Ostrosky Stern; U.S. track and field legend, Olympic gold medalist decathlon winner and TV personality, Bruce Jenner; Professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Clippers, Craig Smith; TV personality, Carson Kressley; Actor, Dan Cortese; Auto racing driver, Danica Patrick; Olympic gold medalist swimmer, Dara Torres; LA Laker starting point guard Derek Fisher; TV actress from Law & Order and Angel, Elisabeth Röhm; UFC fighter, Frank Trigg; Retired professional basketball player, Gary Payton; Major League Baseball pitcher legend, Greg Maddux; MMA Fighter Gina Carano; Actor from hit HBO series Entourage and movie star from The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, Jeremy Piven; Actor from HBO series Entourage Kevin Dillon; previous Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and contestant on ABC’s The Bachelor and Dancing with the Stars: Season 8, Melissa Rycroft and fiance Tye Strickland; Actor from hit HBO series Entourage, Rex Lee; UFC fighter, Tyson Griffin; MMA fighter, Urijah Faber; Retired NFL defensive tackle and contestant on Dancing With The Stars: Season 7, Warren Sapp


Friday, September 25, 2009: 8:30 pm


The Palazzo Resort-Hotel-Casino

Lagasse’s Stadium

3325 Las Vegas Boulevard South

Las Vegas, NV 89109


Additionally On Friday, September 25, sports enthusiasts and fans of LA Lakers point guard Derek Fisher will have the chance to meet Fisher during his book signing event at Lagasse’s Stadium inside The Palazzo from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Fisher will be present greeting fans and signing his new compelling book CHARACTER DRIVEN: Life, Lessons, and Basketball in the ultimate sports bar and sportsbook at The Palazzo. Copies of Fisher’s book will be available for purchase the day of the event for $24.99 plus tax.

Expected to attend:

LA Lakers point guard Derek Fisher


Friday, September 25, 2009:

12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Derek Fisher Book Signing

Media Check-in at 11:45 am/Arrival at 12:00 pm

Check-in in front of Lagasse’s Stadium located on the lower level of The Palazzo





24 Sep 2009 07:52 am



Vin Bar, the eclectic and more informal dining environment of Valentino Houston, opened September 21 at Hotel Derek, followed by Valentino Houston, the fine dining restaurant on October 1.  Innovative dishes served in a small plate or “primi” format and an ever-changing array of assorted cold crudo at the Italian raw bar; kind of like Italian sashimi, will be featured.  Vin Bar will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, daily and will also offer a unique bar menu with drinks focused on food, like the sophisticated BLT martini.

The new Italian restaurant concept, masterminded by James Beard award winners, Piero Selvaggio and Chef Luciano Pellegrini, will offer diners not one, but two exquisite experiences in the dual concept restaurant, stressing that food should be fun, fresh, and flavorful-like a true taste of Italy. 


The Italian Raw bar will be a welcome addition to the Houston dining scene, featuring more than 17 cheeses and an eye-popping display of Crudo di pesce, a large variety of Salami and Piadine (Italian flat breads) and some typical, regional Italian finger food.  Vin Bar menu also offers original pastas, Carpaccio and Tartare as well as dishes like Swordfish “Braciole” with fresh tomatoes, olive and caper salad. And, this is Houston after all, so no menu would be complete without beef-Italian style, of course.  Try Executive Chef and Partner Luciano Pellegrini’s favorite baby back ribs cooked slowly in a smoker and basted with an original Tuscan barbecue sauce.

Expect stark contrasts in the appearance and the flavors served in Vin Bar and the more elegant Valentino fine dining room.  Selvaggio’s philosophy is to present a variety of exciting experiences. 

“Good food and wine accompanied by spirited conversation - the gracious meal is the continuity in my life,” Selvaggio said.

Prepare for a parade of colorful plates.  Diners will fall in love with original Italian dishes inspired by the Valentino cookbook; daily specials entrenched in the locale fare; and of course the innovative “primi” menu.  Selvaggio and Pellegrini love to create and experiment with food, fusing authentic Italian cooking with the best that local food markets have to offer. 

Boasting an enormous wine collection, Selvaggio is an ardent wine collector, and diners can count on Valentino for a vast wine list including an extensive variety of Italian and California small producers-hard to get little gems-and a special selection of verticals and rare vintages.

Vin Bar opened on September 21, followed by the opening of Valentino Houston, the fine dining restaurant, on October 1.  Restaurant patrons can use the West Loop entrance or the main hotel entrance.  Complimentary valet parking is provided when dining at Vin Bar and Valentino. To make reservations or inquire about special events call 713-850-9200; toll-free at 1-877-484-4244.  Or visit www.valentinorestaurant.com. Keep up with the Valentino Restaurant Group on Facebook.

23 Sep 2009 05:01 am

Because they taste like them, only a tad tarter, kiwifruit are commonly seen alongside strawberries in popular beverages and desserts. Think Kiwi-Strawberry Snapple or Ben & Jerry’s Strawberry Kiwi Swirl sorbet. If strawberry’s the man of the hour, kiwi is his loyal leading lady, often in tow and always attached at the hip, like strawberry’s best friend or lover.


As most married couples know, however, even the most dynamic duos need some time apart. Although it works well as strawberry’s date, therefore, kiwifruit must sometimes break out on its own. And when it does, it’s absolutely delicious.

Just ask New Zealanders. Although kiwifruit originated in China — and were originally known as Chinese gooseberries — they migrated to New Zealand in 1906 and have been one the country’s largest commercial crops ever since. In fact, New Zealand currently supplies 99 percent of the world’s kiwifruit crop.

Here in the United States, most kiwifruit comes from California, which provides 95 percent of the U.S. kiwi crop. Harvests are typically in the fall (now is the perfect time for kiwifruit, actually) but because California and New Zealand are on opposite growing seasons, the small fruit — which is brown and fuzzy outside, and characteristically green inside — is available year round.

It’s a good thing, too, because kiwifruit is versatile, flavorful and long lasting, keeping for up to six months in the fridge (store kiwifruit uncut at a 95 percent humidity level inside a plastic bag with a few small holes in it) or for up to a year in the freezer, so long as it’s peeled first and covered with a heavy sugar syrup.

Because it tastes like a strawberry, but with a pineapple kick to it, kiwifruit can be eaten — alongside strawberries or instead of them — for breakfast or dessert, atop cereal, cake or ice cream, for instance, baked in a pie or blended in a smoothie. Because it’s highly acidic, kiwifruit works well in savory dishes, too, particularly when it’s used as a meat tenderizer in marinades. Try adding it to chicken salad for a tropical take on the traditional lunch, or serving it chopped with pears and jalapeños in a sort of salsa for fish.


By far the best way to enjoy a kiwifruit, however: Eat it by itself — sorry, strawberry — by cutting it in half and scooping the flesh out with a spoon. It’s simple, sure, but it couldn’t be sweeter.

22 Sep 2009 06:04 am

For all of the bakers and chocolate enthusiasts out there, it’s very important to know what brands are best to work with when creating delicious desserts. As an avid baker, I’ve dealt with a number of varieties of baking chocolates over the years and have weeded out the brands that can be detrimental to even the best dessert designs. It is important that the chocolate you use for baking be creamy, smooth, and flavorful. Some brands have delicate undertones of flavors that can add a wonderful layer of complexity to any recipe. This Top Five Baking Chocolates list will, hopefully, help you decide which chocolate to include in your next dessert related endeavor.


#5 Callebaut

An excellent choice for budget bakers at about $8.75 for 17.5 ounces, this Belgian brand is sure to add richness to your desserts without breaking the bank. Callebaut’s dark chocolate balances bitterness and sweetness to create a complex, rich, almost earthy flavor with caramel undertones, making it a great choice to use in brownies. Unfortunately, Callebaut is not typically found in most supermarkets but can be purchased online or at gourmet shops and boutiques.


#4 Scharffen Berger

At about $4.50 for 3 ounces, this San Francisco-based brand is a bit more expensive than Callebaut but is worth every penny. Splashed with a number of fruity undertones, cherry being the most prominent, Scharffen Berger is best used in cakes, particularly if you happen to be making a Black Forest cake or any other similar recipe that would benefit from the added complexity of this chocolate’s unique, natural flavors. This brand is becoming easier to find in supermarkets across the country but can always be purchased online, as well.


#3 Ghirardelli

Also based in California, this brand can be found in just about any neighborhood supermarket at the reasonable price of about $3.00 for 4 ounces. Ghirardelli’s products can be described as ‘intensely chocolatey’ which sounds redundant unless you’ve actually tasted some of their chocolate or even something made using this premium product. It has a uniquely assertive flavor that will assure any taster that they are eating pure chocolate.


#2 Valrhona

Approximately $4.00 for 2.6 ounces, this is one of the pricier chocolates on this list but, like all of them, is worth every penny. Based in France, Valrhona produces the Manjari bar, my recommendation, a chocolate that is rich, balanced, creamy, and deep, with fruity and lightly floral undertones. The embodiment of all we search for in chocolate, use this bar in any recipe with the word ‘bliss’ in the title. This brand will most likely be found in gourmet stores.


#1 Dagoba

In the past year or so, this Oregon based company developed a small line of organic baking chocolate products that can be purchased for about $7.00 for 6 ounces. While these products are excellent in quality and flavor and will certainly add richness to any recipe, you may want to take at their original product line of chocolate bars meant to be eaten ‘raw.’  They have a selection of ’standard’ types, sweet, semi-sweet, bittersweet, but the true gems are the artisan bars like lavender blueberry, lemon ginger,  chai, and the ‘roseberry’ bar, made from raspberries and rosehips. At about $3.50 for 2 ounces, including Dagoba in your next dessert might be a bit costly, but the effect on your desserts is entirely worthwhile.


Much like the philosophy that states ‘One should never cook with wine they wouldn’t drink,’ you should never, ever bake with chocolate you wouldn’t eat. Whatever your preferences or expectations are, these brands will meet, if not exceed, them.


Jarrett Melendez

18 Sep 2009 06:12 am

Watch Eric Ripert in action in his new show “Avec Eric.”  If you’re in NYC its channel WNET Sundays at 4:30, if not check out your local station: http://aveceric.com/stationguide.


In this second episode, Eric visits Le Bernardin’s “garde manger”- a term that restaurants use that means ‘keeper of the food’ or ‘guard of the food’. This particular station in the kitchen is responsible for the first courses and cold plates - like salads and cold ingredients like smoked salmon or caviar. Because many times these plates are the first taste that a diner eats, it is extremely important that the flavors be at their very best.


Later, he travels to the west coast to meet David Kinch who is the chef/owner of Manresa in Los Gatos, California. Chef Kinch is so serious about knowing exactly where his ingredients come from that he has purchased his own plot of land and hired an award-winning farmer to grow the vegetables that he uses in his restaurant. Because so many people are gardening at home and because there are farmers markets popping up in towns all over the U.S., Chef Ripert thought that he would show you how to take the inspiration from California and teach you a simple, fresh seared salmon dish with something fresh from the garden - pea-shoots with ginger-soy vinaigrette.

17 Sep 2009 07:27 am

Whether you like it in wedges or in rings, crushed or in chunks, you have to agree: Pineapple is a sweet, sweet fruit.


Neither a pine nor an apple, a single pineapple is actually the fruits of a hundred or more separate flowers that grow on a pineapple plant in the center of a single spike, surrounded by sharp, sword-like leaves. As they grow, the small fruits bloat with juice and expand into one another, becoming a single pineapple that typically weighs between four and nine pounds, but can reach up to 20 pounds.

Although interesting, pineapples aren’t known for the plants they grown on. They are, however, known for their distinct appearance. In fact, given the way pineapples look — covered with sharp quills and topped with spiky leaves — it’s a wonder that someone decided to try eating them at all. Luckily, someone did. And contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t a Hawaiian, as pineapples aren’t actually native to the islands, although they’re now grown there en masse — they’re Hawaii’s largest crop and industry — at the famous Dole Pineapple Plantation, which gives daily tours of its pineapple crops via its train, the Pineapple Express.

Instead, pineapples are thought to have originated in Brazil or Paraguay. Christopher Columbus discovered them in 1493 in the Caribbean, where they were a favorite of natives who’d brought them there from South America, and then promptly took them back with him to Europe. There, they quickly became a favorite table decoration and dessert for royals like King Louis XIV of France, who famously cut himself on his first pineapple when he ignorantly bit into it without first peeling it.

It’s because they’re simultaneously so sweet and so sharp — in the West Indies, Indians used them as a sign of “sweet” hospitality and also as “sharp” and spiky barriers designed to keep out intruders — that pineapples are so revered. And — for some people, at least — so feared. If you want to cash in your canned pineapple for the fresh stuff, however, there’s no reason to be afraid. Pineapple’s in season year-round and won’t ripe further after it’s picked, so it’s easy to find one that’s fresh. Just look for fruit with green, easy-to-pluck leaves; small, compact crowns; a strong, sweet, but not fermented pineapple aroma; and a slightly soft bottom that yields to medium pressure.

To get into a pineapple once you’ve brought it home, use a sharp, serrated knife to cut off the base and the crown, and, using a downward vertical motion, the skin all around it. Once it’s skinned, cut around the core of the fruit, which is tough and fibrous. Use the fruit, which you can refrigerate for five to seven days, within the week. It’s good on its own, with desserts or as an accompaniment to chicken and pork — especially in sweet and sour dishes!

16 Sep 2009 06:28 am

If you’re looking for a way to celebrate Mexican Independence Day the traditional, authentic way, I would advise you to avoid Taco Bell and ground beef seasoned with an Old El Paso taco seasoning packet.  A far cry from normal Mexican food, let alone Mexican holiday food, these foods do a disservice to a cuisine that is actually fairly simple to make at home without having to resort to premixed packets of seasonings that, frankly, have the ratios all wrong.  That topic, however, is for another time.  With September 16th upon us, you’ve only got a short amount of time to prepare for your own celebration.


You may have seen claims that people make these extravagant seafood dishes like fish or shrimp tacos made with pineapple or mango salsa.  First of all, even if this were true, it would only be true for coastal Mexico.  Second of all, even in coastal Mexico, the prices of seafood are still higher than those of, say, beef, pork, and chicken so the likelihood of a large, multi-generation household being able to afford enough seafood for twelve or more people is quite low.  So far, that rules out seasoned ground beef and seafood.  You might be wondering just what the traditional food of choice for celebrating Independence Day is, at this point.  Well, the secret is in the sauce, mole sauce, to be specific.


Mole is the quintessential special occasion dish of Mexico.  It is served on Cinco de Mayo, at weddings, quinceañeras, and is even left as an offering to the dead on Dia de los Muertos.  There are about nine different types of mole and limitless variations on them but the most popular and internationally famous type is mole poblano.  The most basic version of this recipe has about 24 ingredients, including five varieties of dried chiles, crushed almonds, crushed peanuts, chocolate, and a lengthy list of other spices and herbs.  The result is a potent, aromatic, dark brown sauce that isn’t as spicy as you might think but still has enough kick to justify keeping a pitcher of margaritas handy.


This rich, complex sauce is served with chicken parts that have been boiled or fried in lard.  I can’t speak for every household in Mexico but my family prefers boiling the chicken until it is mostly cooked through and then finishing it by simmering in prepared mole sauce.  This process allows the flavors in the sauce to permeate the chicken, resulting in a more pleasant, flavorful experience.  We also serve our mole with rice and fresh, warm tortillas.


The process of making mole may seem a bit intimidating but the fact is that the recipe simply involves a lot of simmering and blending of ingredients.  However, if you’re still feeling daunted by the task, fear not.  There are a number of companies that produce jarred mole concentrate and mole cubes that can be mixed or dissolved in water or chicken stock to make homemade tasting mole poblano.  Most notable and easy to find in America is Doña Maria.  Even we keep a few jars of it around because in many cases, it’s easier to find than some of the ingredients needed to make mole the old fashioned way.  This September 16th, skip the ground beef and taco seasoning and spring for a jar of Doña Maria, a can of chicken stock, and a package of chicken parts.  You won’t regret it.  ¡Viva la independencia!

Jarrett Melendez

15 Sep 2009 08:06 am



Join us as we toast Michael Jordan’s induction and pay homage to one of the greatest basketball players of all time. 


“Eat like Mike” did prior to all of his games with his PRE GAME RITUAL DINNER with all of Jordan’s favorites: Delmonico Steak with a Baked Potato, Broccoli and a Complimentary glass of Champagne. $39


The HALL OF FAME BURGER was created by Chef Michael Vignola especially for “His Airness,” using his favorite ingredients. Made with fried green tomatoes, sliced onions, Jordan’s own blend of prime sirloin and chuck, and finished with his Nana’s dressing, it’s a slice right out of the legend’s life. Served with fries and a choice of soda or Brooklyn Brewery beer. $23


A Michael Jordan TRIVIA QUESTION card will be given to all dining guests. At the end of September, a drawing will be held and one lucky person will win two round trip tickets from American Airlines, valid to travel any U.S. flight route. * Restrictions apply.


Michael Jordan’s The Steak House N.Y.C. is located at Grand Central Terminal

23 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017. Tel: (212) 655-2300.

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