The 41st annual UNLVino took place last weekend with three nights of wine, beer, spirits, sake, food and entertainment. The affair, as expected, brimmed with fun and fabulous faire while fulfilling its broader purpose: to raise funds for scholarship and other academic developmental needs of UNLV students.
On Thursday, April 16, the three-day taste sensation kicked off with Bubble-Licious in Doge’s Palace Plaza at The Venetian Las Vegas, and evening that began with the traditional “21 Cork Salute”—local sommeliers and restaurateurs popped 21 bottles of Dom Pérignon. Champagne and sparkling wine flowed while small plates from The Venetian and Palazzo’s collection of restaurants, including:
- B&B Ristorante’s Coteachino with Insalata Primavera and Aceto
- Mango Crunch Ice Cream Pops Dipped in Dulce Chocolate from SushiSamba
- Garlic Sausage “En Croute” from Bouchon
- Lobster Boudin Blanc by Chef Boulud’s db Brasserie
- Farro Verde with Spring Vegetables from Otto by Mario Battali
- Carlo’s Bakery’s Cake Bites, Cannolis and Italian Cookies;
- Smoked Pork Terrine with Pickled Watermelon Rind and Root Beer Syrup by Delmonico
Chef Daniel Boulud was presented with the Dom Pérignon Award of Excellence and entertainment was provided by award-winning singer and songwriter Chadwick Johnson.” Spicing up the evening were appearances by The Venetian’s Streetmosphere performers—actors, acrobats, dancers and living statues.
On Friday, night number two, Sake Fever, was kicked off pooslide at Red Rock Resort Casino & Spa with the ceremonial sake barrel cracking and a heart-pounding performance by a Japanese Taiko drum troupe.
Sakes, cocktails and spirits were served while guests sampled dishes from a variety of Asian eateries and Sin City’s hottest barbecue joints. Naked Fish’s Sushi and Grill carved fresh sashimi from a 240-pound bluefin tuna, Food Network “Chopped” champion, Katsuji Tanabe served up his famous Dirty Tacos, and “Top Chef: Season 12” winner, Mei Lin created a private dining experience for guests in one of Red Rock’s cabanas.
Throughout the evening guests nibbled on bites from 8 Noodle Bar; Aburiya Raku, District One, Double Barrel Roadhouse, Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar, Chef Heather Zheng of Shibuya, J Karaoke Bistro, Kabuki Japanese Restaurant, Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ, Lucky Foo’s Restaurant & Bar, Mercadito, Monta Ramen, Pot Liquor Contemporary American Smokehouse, T-Bones Chophouse, Tonkatsu Kiyoshi, Yusho Japanese Grill & Noodle House and Zenshin Asian Restaurant.
The Franks & Deans provided the entertainment for the evening.
Saturday, day three, was the Grand Tasting held in the Paris Las Vegas ballroom. The evening took place at Paris Las Vegas’ ballroom with celebrity chefs, endless libations, excellent food and entertainment by Frankie Moreno.
Italian-American cook and restaurateur Steve Martorano received the Dom Pérignon Award of Excellence, “Top Chef Season 12: Boston” winner Mei Lin showcased her winning snapper dish and Chef Hubert Keller personally served yellow tail tiradito and a signature bloody mary from Fleur.
Some of the bite-sized portions of signature dishes from Vegas’ favorite restaurants included:
- Meatball skewers from DW Bistro
- Foie gras mousse from Andre’s
- Meatballs and chorizo by Herbs & Rye’s
- JinJu Chocolate’s chocolate truffles and candies
- Cold-pressed coffee and ceviche shooters from Makers & Finders Coffee
- Short rib and bone marrow agnolotti by Scarpetta/D.O.C.G
- MTO Café’s mini bacon dippers
UNLVino was cofounded in 1974 by the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration and Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada, the two organizations which continue to sponsor it today. Over the past four decades, UNLVino has raised several million dollars for scholarships and other academic developmental needs of UNLV students.