A few weeks ago many of the world’s celebrated chefs gathered in the 35 C alfresco heat at Bon Appetit’s Vegas Uncork’d Grand Tasting at Caesars Palace, part of the sold-out annual culinary weekend where more than 30 events are packed into four days, with some 60 restaurants, 50 chefs and 30 sommeliers snacking, chatting and swilling together. At the Grand Tasting, the biggest and splashiest of the weekend’s events, I positioned myself at the end of the red carpet, where I asked everyone from Nobu Matsuhisa to Gordon Ramsay what their favourite dish is at their own Vegas restaurant -- plus a dish they enjoy at a friend’s Sin City table. Then I feasted on their top picks during a chefs’ grand tour, which ran in the Globe & Mail this week.
This trip actually changed my mind about Vegas. I had been a couple of times before, and wasn’t a fan. Too much of too much – people with gallon-sized colourful frozen drinks strung around their necks, other people chained to the one-armed bandits for days -- the whole thing just rubbed me the wrong way.
But as I learned, it needn’t be so. Book a nice hotel – I highly recommend the new Cosmopolitan (it’s super cool, has great restaurants, clubs and swimming pools, and it's the only hotel on the Strip whose rooms have private terraces), go for a couple of nice meals, read by the pool, take a swim, do some light shopping, and you’ve got yourself a really enjoyable weekend.
That said, you know where I think the restaurants are even better than in Vegas? Canada! And with the fireworks, swimming, hot weather and good grub, this long weekend has been almost Vegas-like, and mighty enjoyable too.
Happy 145th B-day, Canada.