One of the great benefits of visiting Las Vegas is seeing the family. Trying to get as much time with the families as possible without smothering them, preventing my kids from working and also trying to prevent the grandchildren from attending school. The other thing is that as the grandchildren get older, they get used to eating certain foods and we kind of upset the apple cart. They have a Grandmother that is quite level-headed and eager to please, but they have a Grandfather that is a pain-in-the-arse about certain things, especially restaurants and especially fast-food, and I am hardly a nutritionist. So, getting everyone to agree on a restaurant is a bit of challenge, and even I must bend. I really enjoy going to independent restaurants, but the grandchildren have been indoctrinated to understand chain operations. In Las Vegas, chains abound with Five Star Chefs and their restaurants to the coffee shops and burger-joints that seem to be everywhere.
One night we ended up at P.F. Chang’s which has locations in Detroit and Las Vegas. In the 1960’s Cecilia Chiang had two restaurants, and the second one was in Beverly Hills, California and it was successful. Her son Philip took over the administration of the business and continued with success. The first one in Los Angeles was called Mandarette and the newer one was called Mandarin. Mandarette was a special treat for an Arizona restauranteur named Paul Fleming and he and Philip Chiang created a new restaurant called P.F. Chang’s in 1993 and today there is over three-hundred restaurants across the United States and in twenty-five countries around the globe. The wok is the star in the kitchen, but the food is all fresh and their credo is “Farm to Wok.” In fact, it was kind of amusing that one of the grandchildren enjoys wontons, but she kind freaked out when she found out that they were “crab” wontons and not “cream cheese” wontons, but I do think that she survived. There were plenty of dishes on the table and everyone was sharing and exploring, in fact, I even tried something different, but if and when we go again, I will probably go with my tried-and-true entrée. The desserts were fun, I am not quite sure what the connection there is with a Chocolate Lava Cake and Vietnam, but it was popular around the table. The “Fire and Ice” dessert was the one that captivated the crowd with the presentation. It was Bread Pudding and Vanilla ice cream encased in chocolate, ignited with run and served flaming.
Since P.F. Chang’s is affiliated with Fleming’s Steakhouse, the wine selection is rather interesting and usually better than one finds in plenty of restaurants. We had a bottle of Weingut Markus Huber Sparkling Rosé Niederosterreich NV. The family run winery of Markus Huber was founded in 1648 and is in its tenth generation from the Traisental Valley and the entire winery is certified as “Sustainable Austria.” They have forty hectares and also have seventy contract growers. In 2007, Traisental DAC with three designations was granted, but it is only for Gruner Veltliner and Riesling wines. This region has had a history of grapes going back thousands of years to the Bronze Age. This wine is a blend of Pinot Noir and Zweigelt and this blend is found not only in Austria, but Slovenia and the Czechoslovakia. Zweigelt is a crossing of Saint-Laurent with Blaufrankisch, and is the most widely planted red wine in Austria. This particular wine had the fruit harvested from two small vineyards in the Traisental Valley was aged for four months on the lees. The wine was a very pleasant salmon-pink with a small number of bubbles, so it could have been aerated, as there is no mention other than “sparkling” on the label. It was very pleasant with a touch of cherries and berries, not too acidic or too tart. I thought it worked well with the dinner and I think that it would be nice with almost anything dish, especially with appetizers.