photos by Shelley Stepanek    

What a busy month for all of us, especially food writers. Today I was at GREAT GREEK MEDITERRANIAN GRILL on W. Craig. This is their 3rd Las Vegas location, along with one in West Palm Beach and they have plans for 60 more this year alone in the country serving fresh wonderful fastly-served Greek Food. I tried a lemon chicken soup, a wonderful salad with plenty of the famous Feta cheese, a chicken and a shrimp wrap, which I will love tonight for dinner, some rice pudding and lemony Greek cookies. Open from 11-7, give them a try. 7031 W. Craig

Last night was a tour of the GLOBAL WINTER WONDERLAND at the Rio. Spanning 15 acres, giant illuminated lanterns of famous holiday scenes were sky-high. The Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, Chicken Itza, Egypt and Mt. Rushmore were featured. It was a chance to take the kids out and order hot chocolate or cider, sandwiches, burgers and plenty of Xmas cookies. 

FRESCO at the Westgate was the previous night. This Italian eatery signed us up for a 3-hour meal. Seven of us wined and dined with the best Fresco could offer. Starting with gamberi & polenta, a great carpaccio plate, and a Fresco and Caesar salad, the service was fast and professional. We tried chicken parmigianino along with the best of filetto di manzo and penne Bolognese. Dessert of tiramisu and gianduia cake ended the evening before moving into the showroom for a concert by John Prine.

EATALY was the best bet for the whole month. A 40,000 sq. ft. culinary destination, almost as large as Italy itself, will officially open on Dec. 27. Right in front of the Park MGM, this unusual and fantastic Italian marketplace carries everything Italian. From huge blocks of prosciutto, to over 300 kinds of cheese, wines, meats, breads, fresh oysters and seafood, you move from stand to stand creating your own fantasy of food. Salamis, over 100 types, breads, and all the spices to go along. There is pizza and other areas for fresh-made pasta, all the typical Italian desserts and more than 5,000 retail items to take home. Vegas has never, seen anything to equal this. Some parts of it are open 24 hours; this is their 6th location in the US. Don’t leave without a coffee and at least six desserts!

LAST FRIDAY in Henderson was another thing on my agenda. I got to be a celebrity chef judge. Last Friday’s local celebrity Chef Challenge continues to thrive and pitted two Southern Nevada head chefs against one another. The competition was thrilling, with fresh seafood heading up most of the dishes. Each chef came up with a couple of dishes which we blind tested with New Zealand mussels and plenty of salmon. Chef Alex, of Once Las Vegas inside The Palazzo, versus Chef Hemant Kishore of Toddy Shop was a great event to watch, with Chef Alex being the winner of the night. There are plenty of food booths, with holiday desserts and Greek food along with hamburgers and baklava. There is a fresh produce market at the event. 

Nordstrom at the Fashion Show Mall has a new restaurant, called JEANNIE’S. Chef Tom Douglas and Vincent Rossetti are working with this new venue and invite you all to come in and see what they have done. 

The GOLDEN CIRCLE SPORTS BAR at Treasure Island serves plenty of appetizers to team up with your drinks. With a giant 24 x 5 video wall they have over 20 beers on tap and FREE parking. 

BUDDY V’S at The Venetian is celebrating 5 years with its fabulous menu. Don’t just stop at the cocktails there, take a while to explore their marvelous eats. And, The Venetian is also still one of the few places on the Strip offering FREE parking.