Summer Menus Alight With Shrimp, Corn, Fruit

LAS VEGAS ( MainStreet) -- It's midsummer and the living is easy -- easy for all but the chefs who are spicing up the season with menus showcasing new trends and experimenting with the year's top ingredients. TravelsinTaste sought out some of the more interesting trends and menus for you.

Small plates have been the craze this year, but summer elevates their popularity, since eating light in the heat is definitely the way to go -- especially in Las Vegas, where it is too hot to get stuffed. Three notable Las Vegas restaurants have made our picks of the top small plates for summer:

Executive Chef Drew Terp at Bar Masa in the Aria Resort & Casino ( MGM) is serving up wakame and cucumber salad and kobe beef skewers, while Blossom is showcasing chicken corn chowder topped with cilantro and a crisp fried beef roll with enoki mushroom and a Mandarin brown sauce. Executive Chef and creator Julian Serrano, known for his exquisite Spanish tapas, is offering gambas, sauteed shrimp with garlic, and arbol chilis at his eponymous restaurant.
Bar Masa has an extensive $49 early evening menu featuring small plates.

Shrimp and corn happen to be particularly popular with chefs this summer, as a combination and independently. Michael Mina's American Fish has crafted the perfect shrimp and corn tasting menu, featuring shrimp poached in ocean water and heirloom melon with sweet corn, shaved fennel and sake vinaigrette, cornmeal-fried rock shrimp and barbecue pork cheeks with Bloomsdale spinach and sweet corn foam and a duet of angus beef filet and pacific blue shrimp with creamed corn and grilled peach panzanella.

Well-known steakhouses are also getting into the exotic shrimp game. Executive Chef Barry Dakake at the ever-popular celebrity haunt N9NE is preparing his famous rock shrimp in addition to sea scallops with sweet corn grits, while Jean George Steakhouse features bacon shrimp with papaya mustard and cilantro.

The importance of shrimp and corn is not lost on the buffet line -- and Wicked Buffet at the Cosmopolitan is no ordinary buffet. Their creative shrimp and corn preparations this summer include Louisiana barbecue shrimp with cheddar bacon grits, in addition to bourbon creamed corn.

Food trend predictions proved right this year -- fruit turned out to be a highly popular option, especially in the summer months. It's the perfect summer treat, and as such is featured prominently now in everything from appetizers through desserts. Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio's Riverpark in New York City, for example, is serving a ceviche with watermelon and cucumber, a fresh watermelon flavored with lime, salt and espelette in addition to what is bound to be a favorite: a mango-coconut popsicle.

Back in Las Vegas, Executive Chef Shawn McClain at Sage is serving up a blackberry and chocolate cremeux and peach praline profiteroles. Executive Chef Vincenzo Scarmiglia of Sirio, part of the Le Cirque family, has favored the dried fruit option for the filling of his Cannoli Siciliani. Fruit is also evident in cocktails, as David Burke's summer cocktail dinner menu at David Burke at Bloomingdales in New York features pairings that include a spiked pink lemonade with Stoli raspberry and fresh raspberries paired with an heirloom tomato and watermelon salad and a blood orange mint mojito with grilled lamb chops and polenta cake.

Kitchens and restaurants also get a revamp. Consulting chefs Ian Chalermkittichai and Todd English have teamed up to recharge their menu and expand the dining options at The Ember Room in New York City. They've added comfortable patio dining and a custom-made baby hearth -- basically a sophisticated rotisserie fashioned from clay bricks, volcanic rocks and natural stone -- to serve their roasted-to-perfection whole duck and suckling pig.

Value is never out of style, and once again Wynn/Encore ( WYNN) in Vegas is showing it by serving a Taste of Wynn menu, including Executive Chef Jet Tila's Red Dragon Rolls at Wazuzu. The rolls are spicy tuna, panko shrimp, avocado and cucumber served inside out, topped with tuna sashimi, Japanese rice crackers and dressed with sweet chili sauce. You can also get Executive Chef Carlos Guia's New Orleans Shrimp Remoulade with Cajun boiled shrimp and traditional remoulade sauce at The Country Club -- among other delectable items! Eat up and enjoy this summer.

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