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ON THE ROAD Eating and Drinking Our Way across America DURING OUR 12-CITY VOYAGE FOR THE TASTING PANEL TOUR, WE CAME ACROSS AMAZING RESTAURANTS AND BARS. HERE ARE SOME OF OUR FAVORITE STOPS by Anthony Dias Blue / photos by Allison Levine Minneapolis: Vincent - A Restaurant We met owner Vincent Francoual, a native of Cahors, France’s region for big, rich Malbecs. His charming French restaurant has been a local star for nine years. He honors his roots by featuring Cuvée Vincent, a special Cahors made especially for him by a boyhood pal at Domaine de la Presqu’île. Oklahoma Joe’s. Chicago: Sable Kitchen & Bar Master Mixologist Jacques Bezuidenhout and Lead Bartender Mike Ryan have created one of the best and most comprehensive spirits lists ever for shiny new bar Sable in the Hotel Palomar. For starters, there are 135 different single malts on the menu. Add to them an amazing selec- tion of bourbons, brandies, tequilas, rums and absinthes . . . and Sable’s able stable of mixologists will wow you with intricate cocktails. Miami: Scarpetta Kansas City: Oklahoma Joe’s Kansas City is the place for real American barbecue so, when there, we seized the opportunity to sample KC’s best. The locals recommended Oklahoma Joe’s, an unpretentious place situated in a gas station. Winner of many major barbecue contests, their BBQ sauce has been voted “Best Sauce on the Planet.” After ordering at the counter, we sat down at a table already provisioned with squeeze bottles of the stuff. The pork ribs in slabs were exquisite—chewy, intense and falling off the bone. The Z-Man sandwich—brisket and smoked provolone topped with onion rings on a Kaiser bun—was incredible, as was the Carolina sandwich: pulled pork on a bun with spicy slaw and Bubba’s sauce. Totally soul-satisfying! 58 / the tasting panel / november 2010 The south Florida version of Scott Conant’s iconic New York restaurant is located in a handsome space in the Fountainbleau Hotel. Overlooking the white sand of South Beach, we dined on crudo, burrata with cherry toma- toes, chewy mozzarella in carrozza, short ribs, black cod and, of course, the signature creamy polenta with truffled mushrooms. Scarpetta’s wine list is stunning as well. New York: Nuela Nuela is a bright new restaurant featuring chef Adam Schop’s modern Latin American food. Our favorite dish was arroz con pato, an amazing paella featuring duck breast, foie gras and duck confit with a duck egg and gorgeous rice. The wine list features appropriate wines such as Argentine Malbec at very reasonable prices, and the bar is muy bien. Las Vegas: Michael Mina’s American Fish American Fish at glam hotel ARIA is one of Michael Mina’s newest and most American Fish Bruno Bonnet, American Fish Sommelier. ambitious restaurants. It features a sus- tainable and seasonal menu. Fish from across the country is cooked using four methods: ocean water–poached, cast iron–grilled, salt-baked or wood-grilled and smoked. Wine Director Raj Parr and Lead Sommelier Jeffrey Bencus have built an international wine list of 450 wines—31 by the glass—with prices ranging from $35 to $45,000 per bottle. —AL Sage Las Vegas: Sage Sage, also at ARIA, is the large and beautiful new restaurant featuring the refined American food of Chicago chef Shawn McClain. We loved the breathtak- ing foie gras custard brûlée and the agnolotti packets stuffed with Maine lobster and sweet corn. Cocktails were masterful, and the wine list a delight.

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