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Destination Vegas: Heading to Bellagio's Epicurean Epicenter

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It's just a few hours by car or practically the blink of an eye by plane--Las Vegas has long been one of Angelenos' favorite escapes for a night or two (or more for the brave) of great food, drink, gambling, and entertainment. LAist is taking a look at some of the great reasons to be lured to the Nevada desert for some sun and fun in Sin City. Here we recap our trip to check out BBQ & Beer at the Bellagio, and look ahead to the hotel's next "Epicurean Epicenter" event.

It's pretty easy to stuff yourself silly in Las Vegas, thanks to larger-than-life plates of prime rib, the ubiquitous buffet, and the spirit of indulgence the city accords its visitors. Drinks are plentiful at every turn--in hand in outlandish carry-out cups as you stroll Las Vegas Boulevard, or on trays held aloft by casino waitresses. However, it's rare that you get the chance to slow down and savor each bite, stuffing yourself silly at a more leisurely pace while learning a few useful culinary tips and tricks. Pair that with some great drinks, and you're in the Bellagio Epicurean Epicenter.

On a holiday weekend in July, in the cool lower level of the hotel and casino, seemingly a million miles from the slot machines and blazing sun on the floors above, Bellagio Executive Chef Edmund Wong guided guests through a four-course meal, preparing the dishes in a demo kitchen before each course was presented to diners for eating.

Helpful cooking tips, like how to prep items for creative grilling applications or the definition of culinary terms perhaps less-familiar to the home cook, and the pace of the event let diners really enjoy each course and drink in the information. As a bonus, all of the meal's recipes were included in a gift bag for each of the guests.

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What really made the BBQ & Beer event a pure win, though, were the thoughtful beer cocktails and pairings. A great way to be introduced to flavors and brewers you might not have ever seen before, the pairings, as selected by Bellagio Director of Wine and Master Sommelier Jason Smith along with Bellagio Master Mixologist Matt Myers, were superb.

Aside from some service snags (some garnish missing from dishes and glasses, a server with shaky hands, and servers who didn't know how to properly pour beer), the afternoon in the Epicurean Epicenter was an oasis in the insanity of Vegas, and a great side-adventure to any Vegas-bound food and drink enthusiast.

Next up in the Epicenter is a September 17th wine pairing dinner, hosted by Master Sommelier and Bellagio Director of Wine Jason Smith accompanied by Frank Husic, of Husic Vineyards. The four-course dinner will be prepared by Prime Executive Chef Sean Griffin.

Here's the menu:

Reception: Husic Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2007 Magnum BUTTER-POACHED KING CRAB
Celery Root-Apple Salad, Truffle Brioche Toast
Husic Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2009

LIBERTY FARMS DUCK BREAST
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts, Pistachios, Butternut Squash Mustard
Palm Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2008

PEPPERCORN NEW YORK STEAK
Bone Marrow Fritter, King Oyster Mushrooms, Cipollini Onion Emulsion
Husic Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2006
Husic Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2007

A STUDY IN GOUDA
Marcona Almond, Raisin Jam
Husic Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2005

ASSORTED PETITS FOURS

The meal, including pairings, is $195 per person. And, hey--you can win it all back when you head back up into the casino, right? [
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