May is over and so is our season of food festivals. We ate and drank too much at Uncork’d at Caesars Palace, then did it again (for charity) at Taste of the Nation at the Palms. Last week, we closed out the good-spirited gluttony with my personal favorite, the Epicurean Affair, organized by the Nevada Restaurant Association at the Palazzo. Why do I like it so much?
1. It’s drunker. All these events are total boozefests, where your admission fee gets you endless beer, wine and more fruit-infused liquors than you’ll ever want to sample. But EA is serious about getting you buzzed, formatting booths like drink-drink-eat-drink instead of eat-drink-eat-drink. My pick for top cocktail of the night was a fresh, crispy treat made from Absolut’s new OrientApple, which sounds kind of racist for a vodka name.
2. It’s laid back. The third-floor pool is still a fancy spot with the Palazzo, Venetian and Wynn hotel towers spiraling above you. Maybe they weren’t spiraling; maybe I had too much OrientApple. But the vibe is always fun and casual. Perhaps it’s because …
3. There are local restaurants as well as tourist restaurants. At Uncork’d, only Vintner Grill represented off-Strip Vegas. At EA, there were all kinds of familiar foodie faces. There was our old friend Ricardo’s, with its comfy plate of ceviche tostada, albóndigas meatball and chicken flauta. There was Origin India, with a terrific, spicy potato slider. Even Downtown was there, with Hugo’s Cellar handing out lobster and Binion’s serving up scallops. Bite of the night? A draw between Nobu’s braised kurobuta pork belly and home team Delmonico’s awesome pot roast. I’m full.