recently i went to las vegas to visit my friend (and guest blogger) elia, who was in town to run the half marathon. you would think the night before her big run we would hit the best italian place for pasta, but thankfully we didn’t. we ate at tom colicchio’s restaurant craftsteak at the mgm casino. it was one of the best meals i have ever had. we let our server marvin run the show with the three course tasting menu and wine pairing. boy oh boy did he hook us up. it was an insane amount of delicious food, and the wines were perfect. after the meal i sought out marvin, because i was interested in the artist who painted the cow art on the walls. he came back with the artist’s card, and a bag with a complimentary copy of ‘craft of cooking.’ we were floored. not only did we just have a perfect meal, but our waiter gave us a gift? wtf?!

as we were packing to leave the next day we weren’t sure what to do about the cookbook. elia said ‘you should take it. i don’t want to lug it on the plane back to mexico city,’ where she lives, but i knew it’s because she’s incredibly generous and selfless. it dawned on me that we could share it. we decided once i made one of the recipes, i’d make notes and/or alterations in the book, and send it on to her. then in turn, she would do the same.

the first time around i was ambitious, and made four different recipes:

  • grilled hanger steak with bordelaise sauce
  • puréed parsnips
  • pan-roasted hen of the woods mushrooms
  • poached pears

the hanger steak came from mccall’s meat + fish. it was such a nice cut of meat it really just needed a little salt and pepper, and was put on the grill for less than 5 minutes a side.

the bordelaise sauce took quite some time cooking down, but was so flavorful it was worth it. i didn’t even use veal stock like the recipe called for, but just regular store bought beef stock from trader joe’s. i wonder how amazing it would be to use real veal stock?

the puréed parsnips were so simple it was ridiculous.

hen of the woods mushrooms are incredibly expensive, so i did a medley and added some oyster, yellowfoot chanterelles, and hedghog as well.

i also made a root vegetable and bok choy gratin from tamarind brought to me via the tasting table, which complimented this meal wonderfully.

i couldn’t find bartlett pears at the market, but there were bosc and red d’anjou, so i used them instead.

for now i just put my notes on post-its, but who knows how long this book will be passed back and forth, so i’m thinking i’ll just make the commitment and pen them in the book itself.

the whole meal was a huge success, and the only thing missing was my friend elia.

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