Desert Companion

Eat this now: Black spaghetti and rabbit

Black spaghetti

at Echo & Rig

440 S. Rampart Blvd., (702) 489-3525, echoandrig.com

Of all the pastas, some of the most alluring are those al nero di seppia, or colored with squid ink. Locally, I’ve been reeled in by the black spaghetti at Echo & Rig in Tivoli Village. It arrives as a bowl of dusky semolina strings strewn with nuggets of bright color. Strips of roasted peppers and sun-dried tomatoes complement slices of Portobello mushrooms and slivers of shallot. The noodles cradle liberal amounts of sauteéd calamari (including the best part, the tentacles), a couple of sizable shrimp and a few mussels. Everything is topped with a verdant crown of basil chiffonade. And then there’s the “secret sauce” — the broth. Instead of Italianate, frutti di mare flavors, a Japanese-inspired yuzu-shiso-soy essence bumps up the dish’s already substantial umami quotient. Bonus: This is one of the prettiest pasta dishes in town. — Greg Thilmont

 

Bacon-wrapped rabbit

at Sage

3730 Las Vegas Blvd. S., (877) 230-2742, aria.com

Rabbit is one of the most underappreciated meats in American dining. Many chefs claim to love it, but only the most adventurous truly experiment with it. The new chef de cuisine at Sage, Christophe De Lellis, is one of them. In this dish, he marinates rabbit thigh and loin in a spiced French mustard called Savora, then wraps it into a log and sous-vides it, making the meat so tender it’s almost creamy. Wrapped in a thin layer of smoked bacon, it’s plated along with red wine-braised plums, smoked baby chanterelle caps and two little crispy horseradish polenta cakes, whose fruity and earthy notes pair perfectly with the rich meat. The result: a wonderfully balanced dish that truly highlights the humble rabbit. — Mitchell Wilburn

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