Erik Kabik / ErikKabik.com
Wednesday, June 3, 2015 | 5:29 p.m.
Hot off the grill!
Real-estate mogul Donald Trump has upped the dining experience at his Trump International Hotel here opposite Fashion Show. With more than 10 years of culinary experience at five-star hotels and resorts, executive chef Sydney Jones is now overseeing all aspects with his cutting-edge and progressive cuisine techniques.
He’s developed a delectable contemporary menu at the signature DJT Restaurant. Although there are Italian influences, you also can taste his family upbringing in Mississippi to the new, innovative cuisine.
Staying true to his roots, Sydney said: “We’ve crafted a variety of new dishes for these warmer months and are working with local farmers in Southern and Northern Nevada to highlight the most exceptional seasonal products. Those producers include Pahrump Honey, Boulder City’s Herbs by Diane and Northern Nevada’s Peri & Sons.”
The billionaire hotelier, his new chef and sous chef Justin Kalaluhi are to be commended for making such a commitment to local and sustainable ingredients with menu items proudly featuring Nevada products. The Tahoe cheeses are from Carson City, breads and pastries are fresh every morning from La Belle Terre, and the first distillery in our Silver State, Las Vegas Distillery, presents spirits crafted from two beautiful pot stills and the luscious ambrosia aromatics from sleeping barrels.
Its apple moonshine is used as a glaze on the breakfast menu chicken & waffles. The Nevada Huevos Rancheros with organic farm eggs uses the Tahoe white cheddar cheese. Sydney added: “As a farm-to-table restaurant with a focus on utilizing the best locally sourced ingredients, it’s important that we re-create our dishes regularly to showcase how abundant our region truly is year round.”
The Donald even has his own half-pound angus beef Signature Trump Burger with a choice of cheeses, bacon, mushrooms and onions. It also comes as a free-range turkey option. A new mixology program means a slate of cocktail choices before dinner.
I went for the chilled English pea soup, which had a mild wasabi kick to it and was topped with local lavender flowers. The caramelized watermelon salad was grilled and chilled in a red curry vinaigrette with goat cheese cream — total perfection and so refreshing on a hot summer desert night.
My other favorite of charred octopus made it all a meal to remember. Now if we can only figure out a way to farm octopus in the Silver State, we would have it made in the shade!
MAREN’S MAGICAL MARTINIS: Las Vegas entertainer and Las Vegas Weekly columnist Maren Wade ( “Confessions of a Showgirl”) was the best hostess imaginable for the “My Perfect Martini” launch of Absolut Elyx vodka.
“The Influencer” took over a private dining room at Hakkasan in MGM Grand on Monday night to invite a select group of friends to learn how to make the indisputable king of classic cocktails. For the record, I stuck to sparkling bubbly — prosecco with pamplemousse liquor, lychee raspberry ponzu shrub, fresh lime juice and Moaning Rose syrup!
But I noted that the martini goes back to the Bartenders Manual published in 1888 when it was equal parts gin and Italian sweet vermouth. The dry martini using dry vermouth instead of the sweeter Italian version began life in 1903.
It wasn’t until the 1950s that vodka was introduced as a new, fresh alternative to gin as the base spirit — and often vermouth was simply omitted from the drink. Now vodka martinis outsell gin martinis, although it’s safe to say that our former Mayor Oscar Goodman would probably disagree vehemently. As James Bond would tell you: “Shaken, not stirred.”
Maren should be a Bond girl the way she hosted her dinner party and ensured that her guests tried all manner of experimental martinis! Call this the drinking of “liquid silk.” Maren says here’s what you need to make your perfect martini: a mixing glass or shaker, bar spoon, good quality ice, julep strainer, garnish of choice, dry vermouth, stemmed cocktail glass and of course her favorite Absolut Elyx.
BEST HOTEL POOL: Hotel industry experts nominated 20 hotel pools across the country for USA Today readers to vote on, and the 4.8 acres of tropical poolside oasis at the Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas just off the Strip won top honors.
Rehab, Nirvana and Breathe placed first as America’s Best Hotel Pool in the reader’s choice contest and was the only Las Vegas property featured in the Top 10.
It has previously been praised by the Los Angeles Times as “the best-known, biggest and craziest pool party.” The Hard Rock Hotel pool area features 50 Tahitian-style cabanas, 25 daybeds, six new poolside VIP bungalows, more than six banquettes and a regular roster of celebrity hosts and performers.
LATIN GRAMMYS: The superstar nominees of Latin music haven’t yet been named, but it’s now definite that the 16th Annual Latin Grammys will be Nov. 19 at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
It’s going to be a Latin Grammy week of events starting in our schools Nov. 16 and Special Awards Presentations and Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year Gala the night before the Nov. 19 Univision telecast.
2015 NHL AWARDS: MGM Grand also is the site for the 2015 NHL Awards, which will have a two-hour primetime airing on NBC Sports at 7 p.m. June 24 with expanded broadcast throughout Canada on Sports Net. Actor and comedian Rob Riggle hosts with Daughtry providing the musical entertainment.
This is the seventh year of a successful partnership with Las Vegas and the 65th time Las Vegas honors the best hockey players in the world, but it’s the first time the awards are at MGM Grand after previous events at the Palms and Wynn Las Vegas. It all bodes well for our bid to secure an NHL expansion team for the new MGM Arena behind New York-New York and Monte Carlo.
Dick Dale and Franks & Beans play Hard Rock Live! on the Strip.
Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano spin the DJ decks at Wet at Night at Wet Republic in MGM Grand ahead of their upcoming 2015 Electric Daisy Carnival gigs.
Our exclusive interview with Electric Daisy Carnival chief Pasquale Rotella as he unveils surprises for this year’s 400,000 partygoers at Las Vegas Motor Speedway from June 19-21.
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.