Vegas Uncork’d 2019 Day 2 – Sushi Perfection with Chef Nobu

Oh dang, if my dad was still alive to see me now, he just may have passed out. As a youth, I was what some refer to as a finicky eater and literally ate maybe five different staples without question, well three really. If I watched someone cook and there seemed a questionable item, there was no way I would attempt to acquaint my taste buds with such flavors or textures. My father would attempt to get me to try sushi or many other dining options at the various restaurants he took me too, but I would realize the menu type, then think of my minimal list. In this case, I would have attempted to find teriyaki anything and raw preparations outside of salads would be a hard no. Somewhere in the last fifteen years my sense of adventure took over my palate and there has been no looking back.

My entry into the delicate and divine world of sushi was at Hana Japanese Restaurant, a local gem in Rohnert Park, California. It was here I would initially swoon for the texture and flavor of otoro, the highly desired fatty bluefin tuna belly. This would eventually lead me to one of the best dishes I have had the pleasure of enjoying, the toro tartare at Morimoto, Napa. This dish was served as part of the Omakase tasting menu that we indulged in for the new year a few months after the restaurants initial opening. We felt extra fancy as David Beckham and Gordon Ramsay sat behind us with their wives and children. I have been back to this restaurant a few times and always make sure that the toro tartar is part of my menu choices. I generally like to pair this dish with the Copain Wines rose when it is available on the wine menu because I can be comfortable that the wine plays well with other items on the Omakase menu, should I choose a tasting menu over individual dishes.

In the beginning of the year, for my husband and my collective birthday dinner, I chose PABU Izakaya in San Francisco, which is part of the Michael Mina empire of delicious restaurants. It is here I discovered the dish called the Happy Spoon. At this location, the oyster is presented with uni, ikura, tobiko and ponzu creme fraiche. I can say that the variety of textures and flavors on the varied iterations I have tasted at this and other restaurants is a joyful dance upon the palate. So, to the topic of this article, the only place left on my immediate bucket list for Japanese fare was Nobu. For the years of following Vegas Uncorked I would see offerings from lunch to dinners with a glimpse into the magic of Chef Nobu. For those that say they are hungry after small plate courses, I am unable to relate. I actually had to take small bites and share a few of these dishes with my husband as I was beyond satiated at the conclusion.

This year the Master Series lunch called Beyond the Blade with Chef Nobu Matsuhisa was decided as a not to be missed event when we finalized our Vegas Uncorked itinerary. Quite honestly, we decided the prior year we would attend any Nobu option, should it be offered. As we waited in line we ran into some lovely ladies we met last year at the brunch with Giada (read that prior post should you like) and enjoyed catching up. Upon entry to the restaurant we decided to sit together for the dance of precision we were about to witness. Greeted by a lychee martini our friend wished she could bathe in; we were salivating with anticipation. Our new Vegas Uncorked friends had experienced this event in prior years and the fact they returned was noted in my memory as I recalled dietary preferences from last year. Yes, I have that kind of memory. Names, not so much in my wheelhouse. Faces, more my skill set. I also have an uncanny memory of flavors too, but I have fallen off track.

As the chefs began their preparations in front of us, Chef Nobu discussed his view of sushi and how one should enjoy these dishes freshly and promptly. With intense focus and quick movements each individual plate was created then delivered to each person at the table. My only sadness was that the dishes arrived in a more rapid pace than I was able to notate. First dish, first sake and with that being said I will proceed with photos.

As lunch concluded, we were gifted a polite box of chocolate and the second we saw the packaging we knew it was from Le Belge, a chocolatier in Napa, California. We’re fans, what can I say. So grateful to have enjoyed this whirlwind feast we were suddenly happy that we decided to forgo the Grand Tasting event this evening in order to attend a Cirque Du Soleil show instead. This way we could walk off all those bites we consumed. We may have gone back to our suite to enjoy a little nap since I had slept lightly the prior evening and I laughed as this was a first for me. Napping is a foreign concept to me, but this one had me feeling refreshed in the evening and ready to enjoy a show. After the show we decided to peruse Mandalay Bay’s shark exhibit as I had always wanted to see it. Full of food, I must have appeared to be delicious to the piranha because they all eerily stared at me. Creepers!

As I entered the room with rays and jellyfish, I may have begun to sing the Sponge Bob theme song as I viewed the jellyfish. That induced a giggle from my husband, but we do enjoy a daily laugh even in the oddities. Later, as we entered the final shark tank my tune changed to one that my niece enjoys…any guesses. Yup, Baby Shark. I may have got a few giggles from others as this jingle passed my lips quietly.

All silliness played in my mind as we began our return to our room, we had a quick snack on our way, then off to rest up for the next day’s brunch. I found the days unplanned ending full of swimming fishes sickly humorous considering the beginning of the day dining on seafood. I do love a good shark steak! Sorry to my more squeamish readers.

Sake full cheers to under the sea!


Next up: Vegas Uncork’d 2019 Day 3 – Getting Baked for Brunch with Christina Tosi
























Vegas Uncork’d 2019 Day 1 – Vanderpumped

We had such a great time last year during Vegas Uncorked, hosted by Bon Appetite, that we planned a do over as soon as we returned home. We knew the approximate dates are usually around Mother’s Day weekend, per a kind tip from a celebrity chef, so we blocked off the time on the calendar for 2019. We already have friends planning to join us for 2020 and at this point we have made a few friends along the way that we hope to see again. May is my second favorite month, as all the spring growth is beginning, vacation vibes hum, post tax season calls for my soul to rest and it’s my anniversary month. Being that my husband and I met Memorial Day weekend, we celebrated each anniversary of the day we met, it was only appropriate to keep the date from escaping my mind by getting married five years later. Since we met around dancing and fun, Las Vegas is a good fit sixteen years later.

This year’s event schedule released in February and I immediately scanned it for event options, narrowed by times and prior experience, then discussed with my best half in order to optimize the plans. Our hotel was booked for a while so that was not of any concern. My husband has little amusement in the Beverly Hills Housewives franchise, but was aware of how much I admired and respected the work Lisa Vanderpump is doing for dogs in need with The Vanderpump Dog Foundation. I enjoyed the Vanderpump Rose during the Wine Bloggers Conference the year it was in Santa Rosa and was ready for my wine-soaked food love to pair with philanthropy and beauty I could stand behind. I pounced on the event for Lisa Vanderpump’s Roses and Rose because I like pink wine and I cannot lie (especially the sparkly kind, but I digress).

Life seemed quite busy for the Vanderpump brand as Lisa was on Vanderpump Rules and the Beverly Hills Housewives as well as opening two restaurants, with the most recent being the Vanderpump Cocktail Garden in Caesars Palace. The space required the move of some slot machines and is located between the casino floor and the entry to the glamorous Forum Shops. I was so impressed with the beautiful garden appeal that had an English charm with mesmerizing industrial fixtures. A little secret about me is that I am a wee bit in love with lighting and various options, this place did not disappoint. As we were close to the front of the line, we enjoyed watching the finishing touches of event set up as well as the arrival of the guests of honor. Ken Todd arrived with Puffy in tow, while Pandora & husband Jason Sabo arrived seeming to dot I’s and cross T’s before Lisa Vanderpump appeared.

As people began to arrive it became difficult to truly capture the scene in photo, but that’s why marketers have professional photos online to view if you decide to visit. After a long drive that began in what I love to call, oh shit o’clock in the morning, we had stopped by Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips when we arrived in Las Vegas for a snack a few hours before this event and I was definitely a little thirsty for a glass of sparkling or still wine. Ladies greeted the guests with the option of Vanderpump rose, Ferrari rose sparkling or The Vanderpink Margarita (which I did have later in the evening). So, glass of rose in hand for me and into a small line for photos with Lisa we went. She asked if my hair had red pink hue for the occasion or always and we made small talk regarding dogs and congratulations on the restaurants opening success. The glory of being the first in is that while everyone looks for their seat of choice, I look for opportunity to take in the space and mingle.

As Vegas Uncorked is a food event, we enjoyed the dishes being passed around throughout the evening. From manchego stuffed bacon wrapped dates with citrus micro greens to the famous goat cheese balls with Belgian endive salad and poppy seed dressing heard about on Vanderpump Rules being served at SUR restaurant. There was plenty to take in with visually fun and palate enticing flavors. Most dishes where nice and light without the heft to make one sleepy after a travel day. One of my favorite bites was the goat cheese beet towers, though my husband says beets taste like dirt, I choose to say they have flavors of terroir. The best bite to pair with the rose for me was a coin toss between the ahi tuna tartare crispy plantain tacos with chili ginger citrus glaze, avocado and crispy capers or the spicy salmon tartare cones with caviar and micro chives. For flavor I vote ahi tacos with the crispy plantain crunch touched with citrus brightness yet, for more glamour I lean towards spicy salmon cone that had the beauty only fresh salmon can with the salinity caviar dances upon the tongue.


Note to self, do not write about delicious food when you have not had lunch. Drooling!

The hours flew as we mingled with other guest, finding out what brought them to the event, how they heard about it and details of their joie de vivre for Vegas. We were surprised to learn, as Lisa was addressing everybody, that Pandora’s birthday was the day before and she was presented with a lovely cake that brought delight upon seeing her pups’ photo was on it. I cannot say enough about how gracious, kind and charming the whole family was and I didn’t realize until I was talking to him later that Jason was the kind gentleman that asked if I would like to take a picture with Ken earlier. As the event concluded we lingered for a few more cocktails before being surprised by a late rain shower on our way back to the room.











Should you decide to check the place out I highly recommend the following cocktail, not previously mentioned, A Sidecar Named Desire with the divine texture of egg white (no mustache please), Remy Martin 1738 and Asian pear. If you desire something with a spiced note to keep you peppy, than the Checkmate Bitch was fun with the party on your palate flavors of grapefruit liqueur, jalapeno vodka and pink peppercorns tempered in hushed tones by fresh pineapple and vanilla. Whether you chose a cocktail and a small bite in the garden area or want to keep the libations flowing by the bar this is a great spot to enjoy, sip and savor.











Cheers! Next up will be Vegas Uncork’d 2019 Day 2 – Sushi Perfection with Chef Nobu