Friday, February 24, 2012

First day, Late evening and first bites in Vegas













Arrived late evening and decide to surf couple of place for apps. First place, I was trying to get was Jose Andreas , Jaleo for tapas, no luck packed , no room even at the bar. Ok Second choose, was Jose and read other new restaurant China Poblano. Was thinking, kind of weird concept, but if you know Jose Andreas, u have to realize that man does everything well thought and most of the time takes very unpredicktible path . China and mexico ..C' mon ...but let me tell it works ..only complain I have from this place is maybe prices ( like all the food prices in Vegas was cosmic ) and small portions..but the food itself was perfeckt ..hand rolled shumai skins...tortillas made to order... Shumai dumplings one with pork belly other with shrimp was perfect and succulent good , U can never get anything like that in a most chines restaurants in US . Mojito shrimp with black garlic was little grease ...well very greasy ..but caviche ..oh my..loved the twist for added crunch with amaranth seeds and toasted pecans, had very nice clean , lime flavor, perfect balance . Oh and his margharita ( sorry no pix , was too thirsty ) with salty " air " or cloud was a nice twist . Even my siad she likes traditional salt on rim better, I do too was a nice twist specially from the man who bought us here from Adria El Bulli lecithin technique ....as much as I'm sick of clouds and airs this man has all the rights to do this , and do this right .
Next stop Jasmin, fancy chines restaurant in Bellagio . Iwanted to try there famous pecan duck and pancakes, and see table side duck carving presentation. Too bad they were packed so we just ordered at the bar all available small plates . Since we did not liked the bartender , and atmosphere was very cold and unpleasant , we pounded small plates in no time and left . Was good, nothing memorable..Scallop, trio ( hot n sour, wonton and egg drop) soups, spring roll ...kobe short rib skewer and miso chilean see bass lettuce wrap was a highlight to me .
Circo is famous Le Circue, more casual place. Most of the time if me and my wife see italian on a menu as a concept we always run away . As much as we love true regional italian food, I can not stand bad american italian . I also seen enough people with home made italian cooking restaurants rolling stacks of frozen lasagnas at a restaurant depot, but thats another topic :) but back to Vegas..but Circo C mon we loved it ...and let me tell you it was simply perfection. There is a reason why this family have been in this business for decades . Simple elegant , clean presentations, perfect balance, cooked just right , calamari with tomato sauce ( ohhh who knows me know about my feelings about bad italian frozen breaded callamaris ...to veal marsalas made with cooking marsala and chicken base, yak) ..this one simply crisp , clean, sweet ..My wifes Beef Carpaccio, classic presentation made just the way it should look and taste. What I loved about it was classic old school presentation and flavors , was just perfect way to finish our evening, folowed with a glass of Chianti and cheese plate finale . Day two to be continued ..



Monday, February 20, 2012

On the mission and have a plan !!!


My name is Vytauras Sasnauskas, Im a cook and love and breathe food. Besides my family, my dog and good glass of wine with friends , I don’t like and love anything else …I like food…eat, cook ,share … I feel theres no other city in the word , where you can find all famous places soooo close together like this …Vegas ..baby ..yehh !! But stop !!

I’m on a mission here. I’m stepping out of my kitchen and going on business trip 4 days in Las Vegas, city which has nothing to do with my personality, other than lots of celebrity chefs restaurants and a lots of good food. My mission is to taste best of the best, find unique flavor combinations, discover new techniques and bring home fresh ideas the ones I can adapt to my cooking. Im not going to be looking for seared scallops or lobster tail or even steaks, foods I’m surrounded every day. I need fresh air , which can boost my mind with new unique flavors combinations and give me inspiration for my further culinary adventures in kitchen. I’m very hungry, lets put one man to test to see how much he can eat in four short days. People who know me , they know…boy …I can take some food down !! Here , what I have in my mind , first :

Julian Serrano, Spanish tapas place , dishes to try ( coco mallorquina, chorizo bites, deconstructed fish stew ), also has place in Bellagio Piccaso

Sage , Crsipy sweet breads

Rao’s, Italian could be very boring to me, and lets out it that way , I have never tasted better Italian food the one I cooked in my home kitchen… Pizza and chicken Scarpariello, seafood salad, but this place …is a legend !!

Rm Seafood, as seen on top chef masters Rick Moonen one the best seafood guru’s in U. S., have his book and loving it !! Should be good one! Tried his cat fish sloppy joe, in a past it was fantastic.

Charlie Palmers Aureole, I don’t know we shall see ..!!

Debating between two French Legends Alan Ducasse ( Mix) and Pierre Gagnaire (Twist ) but there is also Guy Savoy !!

L atelier , French master Joel Robuchon, since I have been to Robuchons already , we shall see about this, how much room I will have for this in my stomach .

Craft steak, Tom Collichio, bad reviews all around , hate Craft book , even tried to cook couple of things , like his mostarda, recipe makes no sense . No No for this

Charlie , restaurant , kick ass famous 20 $ plus cocktails ( could be better than VTR in good old Cleveland , were cocktail perfection is already reached , they better not serve frikin chocolatiinis ) and sushi, I do want to find good sushi place in Vegas. Besides Nobu, were else ??? Masa ?? Super expensive!! But famous !! Is that the , first American who beat Original Iron chef in japan ??

Jaleo, Jose Andreas, can not wait for this one. No doubt in my mind best most talented chef in a coutry from Spain. Learned a lot from his book . Can his paella stand out To Jose’s Beachwood paella …best paella I ever tasted ??

China Poblanos, another Jose’s Andreas casual chineese and mexincan fussion place. When it comes to fusion, most of the time it comes out confusion…but I believe never from this man . Jose Andreas in the Man !

Fried chicken at Blue Ribbon, I have seen couple of times on tv that this chicken is very very special..how special fried chicken could be ?? is it worth it all the callories and fat when I can be eating something better ?? 24 $$ for fried chicken ?? People in saying , I don’t care who you are …there is nothing like good fried chicken…well this better be the best one ever …for the money

Milos…some really good upscale Greek food ..worth attention

B&B , Mario Batalis and Joe’s Bastianich place…never had better pasta outside my house…and last time pasta from this place was disappointing …overpriced and very oily …will give another chance ..man is the legend

Valentinos, another famous Italian place, pasta made in house by hand ..rumours that is better than B& B’s …we shall see !!

Have a lot of respect for Daniel Boulud, but somehow never got aroundto try any of his dishes or neither bought any of his books. I need to take a closer look at this !! Country pate is in my mind !

Wish me luck , have a lot to do, lot to food to taste and bring home nice fresh ideas !

Thommas Keller , Man needs no introduction, Bouchon bistro…last time was there twice …I thing have to go one more time ..just to make is still good !!

Wolfgang puck and Emeril has a bunch of places out there as well ..could this just be a trap ?? Or there food is really good ?? hmmm..one thing I know I/m not going back to Todd Englich OLIVES and Bobby Flays Mesa grill ,sorry ..no room for those , at least in my repertoire .

Oh well , at least I have a plan, andI need answers to all these questions !! Love to cook and eat in Vegas , baby !! Is there anything else there to do besides that?? Not for me, at least !

V

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Good food and beer is Brewing !


I must Say, before I discovered world of wines , thats all I was drinking, was beer, good beer. After I left old country,about 15 years ago, good beer was quite difficult to find here. And please, Im not talking here about forced over carbonated american very popular beverage the ones give you hiccups and headache for two days. I'm talking about small production artisan craft beers here .
Seems like in a past couple of years american craft beer brewing became very popular and I was just blowed away with some results. I Found my self more and more buying and tasting, discovering new craft american and old school european beers. I must say , like with wines I personally prefer european beers and wines over american . But its just me. I grow up tasting and even as kid sipping from my parents some good chech , german, belgium of coz Lithuanian brews. But I Should give American micro brews big credit. Because all these europeans who come visit us and pushing reputation , that we don't have a good beer and drinking just miller and budwaiser , should be smacked in a face...:) maybe not !!! Now I can proudly say that We have very good beers around here, all these microbrews just popping up like mushrooms after the rain ( very rapidly )
Couple of Years ago I met Ken Belou, amazing brew master who studied his craft in Germany in one of the oldest breweries in the wold , weihenstephanen , at that time he was brew master at Bells in MI Kalamazoo . With a lot of help we created an amazing beer dinner. He got the beer , I got the food. You know...It was a Killer. After tasting couple his creations like Bell's sour Mi cherry stout, and one of my fav Two Hearted Ales ..I was hooked into a beer again...If you passionate about the beer and like good food , you can not miss this dinner at Americano Monday night. Seven courses of good food , kind of food , I would like to eat with my beer, will be paired, plus some of the latest Ken's creations, all the anwers about the beer ....home brewing etc. Monday night can't miss that, I'm very exited . Check out Americano website for menu, under events !
http://www.americanocleveland.com
Love to cook with good beer !!
V

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Millions of peaches....


Do not like too much when summer is ending , but very happy with natures products, local produce , peaches, eggplants , zucchinis, ...tomatoes- tomatos...corn ....you name it.
I'm very lucky to live here in a country where on my way to work I can stop by and pick up fresh stuff daily. I found one of ohio's largest chill pepper growers, he has 250 varieties of hot peppers in his farm. Can not wait to spice things up a bit .
But these saturn peaches from sages farms in Chardon near my house, one of the best things I ever tasted ...so fresh...so juicy...so sweet !!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Couple food shots from private tasting last weekend !!

We started with bacon wrapped dates stuffed w smoked gouda over romesco and shot of local tomato and watermelon gazpacho.
MLT salad( mozz lettuce tomato) w fresh bacon, burrata, basil , EVOO, balsamic.
Local ricotta and corn ravioli, shaved domestic truffle, 1 hour egg !
Gently cooked wild Sockye salmon, over scallop carpachio, kafir lime curry coconut broth, red wine couscous - caper salad.
All American beef Duo, 48 hour root beer short rib and grilled sirloin , parsnip puree, green bean casserole, tat or tots, home made ketchup.
Cheese corse, red wine pouched apple, cherries , bisquit , chevre .
Caramel Esspreso creme brulle ...bruleed california fig !
Love to cook !
V







Monday, August 15, 2011

Pasta has been extruded !!!







For quite some time I was looking to purchase pasta extruder for Americano, but since I have no history with pasta extrusion, I though I would give a shot at home first, with just simple kitchen Aid setting. Very simple basic pasta dough ...oo flour room temp eggs...EVOO..couple drops of water...mix rest ...second experimental pumpurnickle dough...rye, whole wheat, hi gluten flours, coco, espresso, caraway ...mix... rest !!
Now is extrusion time ...how fun..I made bucatini, spaghetti, rigatoni and fussili simple , fast with no fuss. My 7 year old son was helping me....to make it and eat it . Making pasta with extruder was a lot of fun and very easy. Sipping glass of Italian Red and dropping dough balls in to extruder was no brainer. I thought pasta was very good .
I'm still going to play with different flours , flavors and hydration levels to make it more perfect, and I think before cold weather is going to hit us here in good old Cleveland, I will definitely will look into getting one of the machines like that for the restaurant. You know pasta is is one of those things , just like pizza...could be really really bad..or if its made right ...very satisfying and delicious. Technique , ingredients and know how matters, love to cook pasta on sundays !
V

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ice Cream Obsession !!!




I must say when it comes time to have something sweet, I would rather have some kind of good artisan cheese with port or Vin Santo...or after dinner Cocktail ..or even skip the dessert and do some type of cured meats with fruit mustard and bread... anyways... But once in a while I do make or have a dessert, but it has to be worth it. Has to be small , balanced and quality. Why would people want those big overloaded ...over floated cups or bowls full of crap and more reduced fat or calorie crap...and toped with bagged or cool whipped goodeness..with plastic cherry on top ..!!!
But lately I developed habit taking my kids to Jenie's ice cream chop in Chagrin Falls. I appreciate that place uses all natural local ohio ingredients, organic milk and cream and I don't have to be questioning whats in my Ice cream ?? Last week Jenie's Ice cream recipe base caught my eye in latest Saveour magazine.
http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Jenis-Ice-Cream-Base
Since I own three ice cream makers I could not resist not to try it. I really liked the idea of using cream cheese in it too. Also in a past I ve made only egg yolk based Ice creams, i goes you can call those frozen custards , right ?? gelato normally has higher egg yolk content , and less milk fat. And ICE CREAM...should not have any eggs in it...the name says it ..
so I churn one batch Jenies recepie ( i just do not use corn syrup in my cooking, so used honey instead ) based ice cream using local organic milk and cream, simply infused it with fresh, spare mint from my garden, chopped some bananas and chocolate chips...mint chic chip banana ice cream was really one of the kids favorite...only one complaint was that it was not green ..! Even it was good I had to do some adjustment for my ice cream maker about the texture... second flavor
was.... I started with Sugar caramel, 50/ 50 milk, crew, some cream cheese, thickened with corn starch, some chopped Velrohna chocolate , little espresso, pinch of salt, cayenne, cinnamon , dutch coco powder, vanilla bean....chill ....churn .....oh MY GOD ...not the best I ever made it...but the best I ever tasted...see. when I eat things like ice cream, not only flavor maters , but the texture as well. has to be creamy, temperature just right, silky smooth with balanced flavor and nice long finish..well thats ice cream my friends !!! And for jennies, only one com pain I have, that they do not churn their stuff in a house and getting delivered from columbus...because I do not like those ice crystals in my ice cream ...also maybe goat cheese and corn sounds good ...but does nit taste good in ice cream ..sorry ..I'm too traditional..