Until now, Las Vegas has lacked such a venue, but a woman named Gina Gavan aims to change that with her community oriented venture, Project Dinner Table. I attended the second in a series of seven dinner parties on May 22nd, and though there are things that can be improved, I came away reasonably impressed.
The idea behind Project Dinner Table is simple. The mission is to bring locals together around the dinner table, using a local chef, ingredients, and growers, done at community locations. Diners pay for the dinner, a donation is made to a local charity, and a good time is had by all.
The May 22nd dinner took place at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, first kicking off with a cocktail party, and then continuing to adjacent Heritage Park, where a long table draped in white cloth was arranged for the guests. The dinner was prepared by Monte Carlo Chef Joe Koniski, a six-course feast accompanied by music and poetry. My wife and I attended, and made new friends. That’s the idea, after all.
We started in the museum, after hours, but minus Ben Stiller, with a host of appetizers: shrimp and scallop ceviche, mustard crusted beef tenderloin, and duck crackling crostini, the latter made with a confit of duck, goat cheese and sun pickled cherry bomb peppers.
After an hour of libations and nibbles, we were led to our table, where we were treated to five more courses, each matched with a different brew from the Anheiser Busch Corporation, each selected as a match for the individual courses. The beers were chosen and described by George Reisch, a seasoned brew master from the company, a madly passionate advocate for beer.
Our first course was a creative dish made from carrots grown at our own Gilcrease Orchards, called Carrot Three Ways, a Thai puree, and tri-colored carrot ribbons, flanked by a cured carrot. The match was a Budweiser Select 55, an amber colored, totally pleasant lager.
Then came a delicious Prosciutto Salad laced with arugula, figs and hazelnuts, topped with Pecorino cheese and a Shock Top vinaigrette. The beer, called Shock Top Belgian White, was appropriate.
The third course was a big hit, Grilled Halibut Steak with green onion salsa, Hobbs bacon dressing, sautéed leeks and a topping of shiitake mushrooms, matched with Budweiser American Ale. And so was their meat course, 12-Hour Amberbock Braised Short Ribs, pureed parsnips, and Hy-Desert roasted vine tomatoes. The accompanying brew was an AmberBock by Michelob.
After three desserts, highlighted by Colorado River Coffee Rosebud Espresso Mousse, served in little, whipped cream topped chocolate cups, and accompanied by Michelob DunkelWeisse, (not the match of my dreams, but, well, so what), we rolled out into the Vegas night.
You may have noticed that many of the products used at this farm to table dinner are available at various Farmer’s Markets around town, a boon to local growers and entrepreneurs. Gavan and her team have a good idea here, and deserve local support.
This was, by the way, the second in a series of seven planned dinners, and upcoming locales include Springs Preserve, the historic 5th Street School, and the Fremont Street Experience. For more information, go to the Website www.projectdinnertable.com.
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