Pizza Expo 2010

Viva Las Vegas!  I headed off to the sparkling city of Las Vegas for the Pizza Expo, which was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center March 1-4, 2010.  The show is the perfect size, small enough to walk the whole floor, absorbing all the new products and sampling new ingredients, but large enough to bring the industry’s best.  This is also always a great opportunity to try new restaurants, and this year – with the explosion of “mixologists” hitting the scene – maybe an interesting cocktail or two. 

The restaurants are continually changing in Vegas, and in the last 10 years Las Vegas has turned into a hot spot for rising chefs and established favorites to shine.  The all-you-can-eat buffets that used to represent the Las Vegas food scene have morphed into cutting-edge, high-end restaurants that must stay on their toes to satisfy the tourists and natives alike.  I returned from the Pizza Expo a few pounds heavier, exhausted, but also full of new ideas to bring to the product development table.  My favorite dish at the Expo, which was laden with food samples, was…pizza.  Of course!  The Italians are the ones who did it first and in my opinion, it is a classic that needs no improvement.  One booth showcased the unadorned classic Neapolitan style that won me over-  simple, light, chewy and bubbly dough topped simply with crushed tomatoes, fresh buffalo Mozzarella, cooked in a wood fired oven, topped with fresh basil and served piping hot.  Magic, in the form of pizza!  And with all the food at the Expo, who would’ve thought we’d want to dine out after the show?  But the great choices of restaurants were too much to pass up, so I “put on my eating pants” as one of my (professional eating) friends is fond of saying, and headed out for the nightlife and more food.

We dined on incredibly fresh sushi at BarMasa, piloted by Michelin three-star chef, Masa Takayama.  The menu was varied, and we dined on an assortment of sizzling baby octopus, delicate grilled black cod, spicy tuna roll, and sashimi.  Served with real, freshly grated wasabi that was a treat compared to the powdered version!  Washed down with a shiso leaf Mojito cocktail and finished with black truffle or soba ice cream to complete the meal.  While the black truffle ice cream was not my favorite (bring on mint chocolate chip!), the presentation of the black colored ice cream with gold leaf flake was certainly unique. Check it out!

The next night we headed to Julian Serrano’s for a completely different flavor, Spanish tapas.  The cuisine has a twist added, small “molecular gastronomy” pieces were evident throughout the dishes.  One example was a square of Ahi tuna topped with “molecular” raspberry- a small gelled square with a bursting raspberry flavor.  Paired with an incredible Tempranillo wine and we had the perfect storm!  With all the great restaurants infiltrating Las Vegas, there was just not enough time to hit everything, but I did my best…

 Allison

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