If Daryl Dies… We Riot

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this the kind of shit the mafia did (does)?  Read this article.  So, a few guys buy a bar (pizza place, diner, bowling alley, whatever) and decide to spend most of their time there working.  Except they don’t like working, they like drinking (or eating or bowling or whatever) and since it’s their bar, they drink for free.  Then they decide they should make more money so they give themselves raises.  What happens next?  They can’t afford to keep the bar going what with their inflated salaries and constant skimming off the top, so they go bankrupt.  But not before drinking every last bottle behind the bar and spending every last dime in the register.  Sound familiar?  Damn similar to a scene out of Goodfellas.  But also what apparently is now legal on Wall Street and has effectively ruined not just our economy but also contributed to the downfall of the economies of every major industrial player on earth.  When the f*ck did this kind of behavior become okay?  Maybe my Italian ancestors were just vastly ahead of their time.

Does anyone else find it offensive that they couldn’t get an actual American Indian to play Tonto, an American Indian, in the upcoming film The Lone Ranger?  Johnny Depp has been cast as Tonto and even though he claims to have American Indian blood in his veins (it is totally possible), he’s clearly predominantly Caucasian.  How is this any different than getting a white guy in black face to portray an African-American?

If you’re not watching season 3 of The Walking Dead, you are MISSING OUT.  I’m actually kind of glad Merle is back, even though he’s a maniacal tool, and I’m so happy Rick’s balls have finally dropped.  Even better, Lori has died, leaving us with the achingly adorable image of Daryl holding a swaddled infant.  I don’t think it’s possible for me to love Daryl any more.  And, apparently, I’m not the only one.

And, finally, tomorrow is the ultimate foodie’s holiday, so I’ll leave you with this link from our favorite Cleveland cook.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

~Nikki

Viva Las Delicioso

I’ve had this post on the back-burner for months now, but as I’ve spent the last 18 hours gorging myself to near vomit-inducing levels of fullness on Chinese takeout, I’ve decided that it’s time, my friends. I promised in the post I wrote a while back regaling you with my Las Vegas adventures that I’d devote our culinary tour its own personal post, and here it is, finally, almost 6 months later. (! Seriously! What is my life!)

Vegas has so many food options, it’s nearly impossible to ever make a decision on where the hell you should eat. By all means, if there’s a certain place you’ve heard of that you want to get to (Did this a few years ago to the Hofbrauhaus and Crown & Anchor British pub), seek it out, but if you have no preference and just pick the nearest place, miraculously, the odds are pretty much in your favor.

Bloody Mary at Mon ami Gabi

  • Mon Ami Gabi -  My crew stayed at The Paris, and funny enough, they offer lots of French food. After we arrived and got to our rooms, we were flipping starving and it was almost dinner, so we picked the casual/but could be dressy Mon Ami Gabi, which is out front, and boasts a lovely huge patio that sits right on the strip, directly across from the Bellagio fountains. Like, omg. Maybe it was our ravenous states, the perfect weather, the rush and excitement of FINALLY BEING ON VACATION!, or any/all/none of the above, but this place was Tits McGee, ya’ll. They bring you fabulous crusty French bread and little pots of whipped butter (that MELTED IN THE SUN which sounds gross but as it melted right into the nooks and crannies of the bread, it was PERFECTION), and that afternoon, were featuring a Bloody Mary bar. You waltz up and make your own, for around 10 bucks. My group loves them some boozy tomato juice so they all took part, and were quite pleased with their creations. For an appetizer we split the Warm Brie which is drizzled in some sort of magic, silky honey mixture and served over crostinos and it was just like, I can’t even, with that brie. It was almost liquid, it was so soft, and easily the best brie I’ve ever consumed. EASY. My entrée was the chicken, broccoli, and cheese crepe which sounds like, meh, whatever, but let me tell you, it was ecstasy. It was literally silky, which I know I have already used to describe food at this location but there’s no other word. Highly recommend. You will want to go to there.
  • Bacardi Lemonade Stand outside of Caesar’s Palace near the Spanish Steps –  This joint is just a little stand, but you need to know about its existence because it is the home of the BEST. MARGARITA. I’VE EVER. HAD. EVER. You know why it was so incrediballs?? Because it was made with Agave Nectar, to give it the most delectable, honey-like sweetness that I’ve ever experienced in the lovely Mexican beverage. This booth also boasts several other exquisite drinks (“the best mojitos on the strip”, and lots of different berry lemonades) that are highly rated over on yelp. This place was full of insanely refreshing options.

    Hyakumi Sushi Bar

  • Hyakumi Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar- This refers to the sushi bar only, as we stopped here on our way out of the Forum Shoppes. Not the best sushi I’ve ever had (that title belongs to a place in Akron, Ohio – for another post), but easy second-best. We were all mostly speechless, as we devoured our delicacies, drank our tea, and even introduced a novice who hates seafood to the world of vegetable rolls. She now feels like she can go out for sushi with friends, as she has other options. I had something that the chef called “Baby Yellowtail” that was the consistency of butter and blew my mind so hard, I actually lost consciousness while eating.

    Appetizers at Onda Lounge

  • Onda Lounge – On our way to take in the Beatles LOVE show, our bus f***ed us by not dropping us at its promised stop (damn construction), so we ended up basically having to run, 3 full Vegas blocks (MILES, people) in crazy heels, to get to the Mirage. Needless to say, when we arrived, we were pissed and sweating, and hungry, but not hungry enough for a humongous meal. We had maybe a half hour to kill before the show, so we found this lounge, and informed the really freaking nice waiter of our predicament. The dude took care of us. He brought us his favorite appetizers to share, and man, the drinks were stiff. I can’t find one of our treats on their online menu, but the pic I posted shows a seriously magical antipasto platter of cheeses, olives, meats, and veggies, that was TO DIE FOR. The spectacular bread came with a butternut squash spread that defies the known universe with its deliciousness. He also brought us his favorite item on the menu, the white cheese flatbread that was MY favorite flatbread experience. REALLY, really damn good. By the time we left, we all felt marvelous, the annoyance of the bus debacle long-gone. A seriously excellent spot for apps and drinks.
  • Sugar Factory – Oh jesus, the Sugar Factory. It’s apt that their website is covered in the Kardashians, because this place feels very fake/glitzy/over-the-top/generic-fancy. It’s gluttony, Kim and Khloe-style. There’s an ice-cream bar, a store full of ridiculous shirts and candy so expensive you will probably just laugh at it, and a restaurant that is somehow both fancy and trashy. I wouldn’t say this is a must-see destination, however, it was in our hotel, and is open 24/7, so…. yeah. After seeing LOVE and being pretty tipsy from an hour or two of drinking and slots, we wandered in and ordered huge, greasy, Denny’s-like platters with BEER!!! At 2 am!!!!! It was weird. The menu is like a stoner’s wet dream – it must be seen to be believed. In the weeks leading up to the trip, I was certain I’d go to this place multiple times and try the s’mores crepes, or banana split waffles, or red velvet pancakes. In the end, I sadly do not come equipped with multiple stomachs, and trying to decide what to eat was too exhausting, and quite honestly, looking at the menu was starting to make me feel unwell, so I went with some breakfast combo (can’t remember which one) that was HUMONGOUS and slimy-greasy and I’m pretty sure made its way into the plumbing not too long after… :( But an experience, nonetheless.

    California Cheeseburger

  • Cheeseburger Las Vegas – A Hawaiian version of Applebees/TGIFridays, this place was actually freaking delicious. Located in the Miracle Mile shopping center, it was a random stop that seriously hit the spot. The decor was delightfully surfer-kitsch, and it looked low-key enough, so we took a chance. I had the fabulous California Cheeseburger (smothered in avocados and pineapples – need I say more). The drinks were fun and adorable. One of my crew chose the Kalua Pig Nachos (basically like pulled pork NACHOS! WHAT!!!) that she loved. Their menu is really fun and tropical. Basically Five Napkin Burger: Hawaiian Tropic Edition. :)
  • LOOK AT THAT BRIE!!!!

    Cafe Ile St. Louis – This restaurant/cafe is located on the gaming floor at the Paris, but they’ve added a ton of artificial trees and lovely antique street signs to make you feel like you’re outside, in the city of Lights (it almost works). The menu is highly French, and sadly, I can’t find it online. I had french onion soup, which was good, not great, but one of my cohorts had a Brie burger that she was absolutely dying over. I mean, just look at it….there are SLABS OF BRIE gracing that patty. In case you can’t tell, I’m a massive fan of brie. The worst thing about this place was the service, but as we only went once, I don’t know if it was a bad night or just a bad waiter. Either way, this place was one of my least favorites of the trip, but it wasn’t even bad in the slightest.

Las Vegas has some of the most diverse food options of any city on this planet –  it literally runs the gamut from classy to flat-out obscene. I like to think I tasted both sides of that coin (although, we somehow didn’t get to a buffet during our stay! How is that possible?!). If you’re ever in this town, you should make an effort to try as many offerings as you can. I promise that you too can have a “THIS IS THE BEST I EVER ATE!”-moment.

~Annie

Happy Thanksgiving – a post about FOOD!

I’m way too much of a “glass half-empty” type to tell you about the things I’m thankful for today (my Facebook feed is seriously grossing me out this week), and because the whole idea of the Pilgrims and the Indians makes me desperately sad (just read the first chapter of this, which will haunt your dreams and turn your stomach), I decided the best way to commemorate this day would be to talk about one of my favorite things:  FOOD.

Having recently been to New York City for the very first time, my hosts took me to some of their favorite spots, and I definitely had some fantastic meals.  Here’s some of what I ate (Oh yeah, I take pics of food):

  • Clover Club – My first meal in town, and a decadent one at that.  This place was classy, comfortable, and had a really impressive menu.  I felt like we were in a small castle, with the candles, dark wood, and brick.  It was intimate, but also fairly busy.  My friend and tour guide for my trip made me get his favorite item – the lamb burger with goat cheese.  We also had a side of their mac & cheese and steak tartare.  The burger was rich, greasy (in an awesome way), and creamy.  The mac & cheese was fancy, with huge chunks of bacon and breadcrumbs.  I love when traditional fare like this is given a twist; white cheddar and Gruyère are used instead of the same old shitty Velveeta.  I was a steak tartare virgin, and I’ll pretty much eat anything, but I was a tad hesitant, given that this is a raw item.  However, it’s served to you with these fabulous rippled chips – it was like, the best chip dip ever.  A bit pricey, but get over it.
  • New York bagel – Numerous friends and co-workers told me I’d die for a bagel in this town, and they were quite right.  See, I love me a bagel.  And this one was the best one I’ve ever eaten.  Crispy on the outside, SO SOFT inside (nooks and crannies unlike anything I’ve ever seen), and salty as all hell.  Sigh.
  • Building on Bond – A lovely, funky cafe/restaurant, that had a homey vibe – there were people there with friends, and also some alone, on their laptops.  The decor was whack, but in a good way – totally random stuff everywhere – file cabinets, records, a disco ball, yet it all kind of works.  My buddy lives in Brooklyn, and this is one of his favorite places.  He’s really fond of their chicken sandwich, and it didn’t disappoint.   It came with some wonderfully seasoned fries, and I had a really awesome Pinot Noir.  They had a nice list of interesting-sounding cocktails, but as Annie gets older, she finds that straight liquor tastes like nail polish remover, and usually passes on things that aren’t beer or wine.
  • Jacques Torres Chocolate –  My maternal unit saw this guy on “The Chew” and when she discovered I’d be staying in Brooklyn (where he has a store), she begged me to go try the chocolate chip cookie.  We made our way over to DUMBO (a lovely area) and did just that.  I have to say, meh.  It was a perfectly good cookie, but the shop was packed, the employees slight idiots, and the food was a bit stale.  I did not try any of his actual chocolate (which was all beautiful), so I can’t comment on that, however, if the cookie had been fresh and warm, I probably would have enjoyed it more.
  • 5 Napkin Burger – A fun, hopping place (we visited the Upper West Side location), that was like a fancy diner.  I will say I was slightly drunk the whole time we were there, but the service was good, the food was tasty, and their bathroom was super gorgeous and awesome.  Oh yeah, and the “Original 5 Napkin Burger” was pretty damn excellent.  Not the best burger I’ve ever had, but a quite delicious one.  The fries were AWESOME (I love perfectly seasoned fries), and they give you a pickle.  :)  Looking at the menu whilst not inebriated, it seems to be pretty diverse.
  • Rothschilds – Another Brooklyn eatery.  We stopped here for brunch one morning, and ohmydearlord – the BEST. FRENCH. TOAST. EVER. EVER!!!!!!  I’ve provided a photo for your viewing pleasure (and to make you way jealous).  With each bite, I could have started weeping.  For some reason it’s not listed on their online menu, but if memory serves, it was made with challah bread, and my knife cut through it like butter – it was THAT creamy.  Not raw, just magically soft.  The perfect level of sweetness, covered in berries and the most enthralling maple syrup I’ve ever poured.  The place was a tad pretentious, but with food like this, who gives a shit.
  • Natori –  Billed as some of the best sushi in town, we had to give it a try.  A tiny, closet of a restaurant, completely adorable, with a miniature outdoor patio.  The sushi overall wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it was quite close.  Our waiter was very friendly, and I can say it was the best Philadelphia roll I’ve ever consumed.

New York City has so many food offerings, it’s like the universe – it defies the confines of your brain’s understanding.  I realize I barely scratched the surface, but I felt like I got to try a varied mix of cuisine.  I can’t wait to visit again, and delve even deeper.

~Annie