Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Top 10 Places to Dine In Las Vegas During The Holidays

The Famed Las Vegas Strip Offers Up Many Tasty Choices.

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Who doesn’t love the holiday season? , aromas and tastes evoke memories of holidays gone by. This festive part of the year also offers us a chance to create some new traditions and why not start right under the neon lights of the culinary mega city of Las Vegas. We have our top 10 star studded venues for you to enjoy a variety of gastronomic holiday delights. Explore, enjoy and have a fabulous holiday season.

Our top pick can be found at the renowned Bellagio Resort and Casino. Picasso has a Christmas day menu that is sure to provide memories for years to come. Feast on Kobe Steak spheres, roasted Maine lobster a lovely seared filet of halibut a Prime filet mignon and even a roasted veal chop. For $150 you really can’t beat it.

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Over at the Venetian / Palazzo Resort our second spot goes to DB Brasserie. Their very first Christmas menu shows off a tasty three-course prix fixe for $69 per person. Guests are expected to enjoy perfectly prepared beef tenderloin and rich, decadent, fresh black truffles. Also sea bass and pancetta-wrapped pork tenderloin.

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Also celebrating her first holiday season and taking our third spot is GIADA . Dive into the classic feast of the seven fishes. Enjoy an antipasti platter, spaghetti with clams, lemon prosecco risotto with shrimp. Or how about a salt-crusted branzino for two and even choose to break into a grilled lobster?


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BarMasa at the Aria Resort takes our fourth spot and offers up something completely different for your holiday celebration. BarMasa’s prix fixe menu gives us gifts from the sea. Plate up wild yellowtail, toro caviar, white miso cod with maitake mushroom a nigiri sushi or sushi canape, and miso cream brulee, chocolate black sesame ice cream or try the yuzu sorbet.


Number five on the holiday gastronomic can be found at the Mandalay Bay Resort. Aureole is celebrating with a five-course dinner menu featuring caramelized diver scallop, black winter truffles or a roasted New Zealand cervena rack of venison.
You can’t go wrong with any the Batali Group choices.

 The sixth place on our list is occupied by B & B Ristorante at the Venetian / Palazzo Resort . B&B Ristorante has a delightful four-course dinner that includes fluke crudo, traditional baccala crochetta, octopus, Taylor Bay scallops and a succulent red snapper.
Celebrate the season at the brand new Delano Hotel with number seven on our list. MIX high above the strip is serving a prix fixe menu featuring King crab salad and seared diver scallops.
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The eighth and ninth spot are taken by a celebrity chef two different strip properties. Chef Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico Steakhouse at the Venetian / Palazzo will please everyone at the table feast on a holiday dinner of butternut squash ravioli with sage brown butter, candied pecans and parmesan reggiano. Engage your palate in Delmonico minced meat; braised veal shank with sweet potato spaetzle, hazelnut gremolata, wild mushrooms and natural reduction and a butter roasted apple and currant beggar’s purse with calvados double cream.

Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House in the MGM Resort has a four-course prix fixe menu to enjoy. Guests’ choices include Blood orange and Belgian endive salad or Nicoise olives and escarole salad. Add a parsnip and leeks soup, shrimp and okra gumbo and pan roasted Washington day boat halibut. You must not forget about Emeril’s barbecued salmon, pepper seared beef tenderloin as well.
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Taking up the tenth spot and certainly not the least is the “Cake Boss” himself. Stop over at the Palazzo Resort at Buddy V's Ristorante. Sit back and enjoy a baby beet salad, roasted Prime rib and Panettone bread pudding with a rich eggnog glaze and butter pecan gelato.

There are many more venues to choose from in this city of all-star culinary geniuses. With this top 10 list you can’t go wrong with variety and price.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Restaurateur Irma Aguirre has a huge hit in the making at the 64 year old El Sombrero in Downtown Las Vegas.


Let’s all say Mucho Bueno and a well deserved Mucho Gracias to Restaurateur Irma Aguirre for transforming the 64 year old El Sombrero Restaurant on 807 S. Main Street. She has done a remarkable make over to bring a fresh new face and bright lively tastes to the once old school Las Vegas eatery.

Irma will have to knock out a few more walls once the word gets out on how “hot” this little tamale can be as the customers may be lining up to experience the lively authentic flavors of Mexico.
Utilizing the small dining space with open seating and crisp black and white décor, exposed brick wall accented with mirrors. Although the room gets noisy with the excited gossip of the local diners, the space is inviting and casual.
 House made guacamole
House made guacamole
We sampled of El Sombrero’s offerings, along with a conversation with Irma and her staff. We invited a friend to just happened to be in town to join us. She is perhaps one of the least culinary adventurous eaters that we have ever met. Recently she has become more interested in expanding her culinary horizons and she was able to try some real authentic Mexican food.

As we tried the house made guacamole with a twang of heat and dotted with chunks of ripe tomatoes she remarked that the chips were the best she had ever had and we had to agree. Usually chips have a tendency to be rather greasy but these were light and crispy, perfect to load up with all the lovely guacamole. Off to a great start, we tried the flavored waters and then homemade Sangrias that were refreshing and authentic.
Calamari
Calamari
Scanning the menu, Calamari caught our attention and waited in great anticipation for it to arrive tableside. This gift from the sea, thankfully was not breaded, it was charbroiled and touched off with a homemade sauce of squid ink to our palates delight. This dish alone is a reason to visit El Sombrero for lunch or dinner.


Irma suggested we try the chile relleno and we can see why. This classic dish with a new spin is probably the best we have ever had. A Mexican favorite, this version features poblano chili ala brasa filled with rich butternut squash potato, onion, a blend of Mexican cheeses on a bed of charro beans and a roasted tomato-oregano sauce. El Sombrero’s chile relleno will become a signature that guests will travel for miles to enjoy.
 
Executive Chef Elias Hernandez
Executive Chef Elias Hernandez

As owner Irma Aguirre states, “This is true comfort food with authentic sauces and ingredients. Anyone can do rice and beans but we do it with love.” That love and respect for authentic Mexican Cuisine comes shining through in every dish. With this unrelenting desire and passion to elevate the palate of every diner, this will indeed become a destination eatery.

For those who want traditional tacos, El Sombrero has a tasty assortment that is sure to please. Select from chicken, chorizo, rib eye, fish and carne asada all served with homemade tortillas and Mexican garnishes. To get the meal started right we highly suggest shredded brisket flautas , spinach and mushroom quesadillas and the bean dip. Don’t forget the wine list featuring very nice Mexican wines to complement your dining adventure.


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The El Sombrero experienced put a big grin on our friends’ face as she tasted flavors that she had never even dreamed off. Irma and El Sombrero opened her eyes to a whole new world and we are certain it will do the same to anyone who takes a seat at this newest hot spot at the gateway to downtown Las Vegas.


Aguirre and her team have taken a classic local restaurant spot and evolved it into something exciting. On December 1, El Sombrero Cafe will begin Saturday and Sunday brunch, already growing and changing an energetic and welcome addition to the Downtown scene. Put it on your must-try list.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Pantry at The Mirage Reminds Us Of Home .

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A Pantry engages the images of shelves lined with canned fruits and veggies. Whether your pantry is a well-stocked bastion of cans, spices and dry goods or a container of dry pasta and tomato sauce, you are the one that must do the work, putting everything together for your next culinary creation.

The Mirage Hotel has taken out the work for you and has opened up a 24 hour eatery, The Pantry. Open 24 hours of a day and offering Breakfast during those hours, and dinner is served from 11 a.m. to 6 a.m. Focusing on sustainable ingredients, The Pantry gives you the many options for the best of comfort food and beverages for the tourist and local alike.


Fresh juices are available alongside excellent cocktails. You can now leave the kitchen behind and let the Pantry at the Mirage do the cooking. The interior is open and bright, reminding you that you are sitting in Grandma’s old farm kitchen with the charm of country casual.
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Some of the outstanding items for the breakfast eater, include short rib hash with poached eggs, root vegetables, creamy horseradish on the side or the eggs benedict with poached eggs, black forest ham, arugula, and a rich hollandaise sauce proudly presented with atop of a crisp english muffin. A great cure for late night of Vegas excess, or just a hearty meal to get fueled for a day on the Strip.
Our favorite and we would garner everyone’s after trying a batch of these pancakes, is Valhrona “Grand Cru”, milk chocolate pancakes, with a dusting of powdered sugar and dollops of creamy milk chocolate.


These light and fluffy pancakes could be a decadent dessert or breakfast selection. White chocolate brioche french toast with the berry compote and whipped mascarpone is another offering that would make anyone want to have breakfast 24/7.
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Aside from the variety of breakfast items offered, don’t forget there are many more entrees on the menu for every hungry guest. Burgers include the backyard burger with creek stone farm beef, caramelized onion, tomato, greens, cheddar on a potato bun. These juicy burgers a great for the carnivore in the crowd but what about the your vegetarian friend? The Garden Burger, comprised of a veggie patty , roasted tomatoes, pickled onions, arugula, tzatziki, on a potato bun would sure to please.

For those folks who love seafood, the shrimp and cheesy grits in a tasso gravy, with plump sauteed shrimp, topped with crispy onions will satisfy any comfort food craving. The Mussels and Clams or the mahi-mahi Taco with Lime cabbage roasted tomato salad and guacamole are also sure to please. And don’t forget to order up a nice side of fried green tomatoes to share with your Down home friends.
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Of course Dessert cannot be missed. Remember when everyone made sure to leave room for “Grandma’s Apple Pie no matter how full they were at the moment?You will feel the same way when you are served up Pantry’s Mom’s Apple Pie, with vanilla ice cream and rum caramel.

Not in the mood for Pie, try the yummy little mason Jars that provide a jar of family favorites such as strawberry short cake and banana cream pie. Whether you come in for breakfast or a midnight snack, there is plenty of tempting treats and hearty eats at the Pantry at Mirage.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Executive Chef Sydney Jones Takes The Culinary Helm at Trump International Hotel Las Vegas .

 The famed Trump International Hotel™ in Las Vegas has added Chef Sydney Jones as the hotel’s new executive sous chef. This young chef is known for using cutting edge and progressive cooking techniques and will oversee all aspects of culinary operations at Trump International Hotel™ Las Vegas.
Executive Chef Sydney Jones
Executive Chef Sydney Jones
“Executive Sous Chef Jones is extraordinarily talented and we are excited to welcome him to Trump International Hotel Las Vegas,” said Brian Baudreau, vice president and managing partner. “He has spent many years developing his own unique cooking style and artistry and guests will enjoy the new culinary concepts and menu creations he has planned for our hotel.”

This rising star of a chef has quite impressive culinary background that includes positions at some of the country’s most prestigious resorts and notable dining destinations.

He joins Trump International Hotel Las Vegas with 12 years of culinary experience and has just completed a 10-year tenure with five-star Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. 

In addition, he has graced talented culinary teams across the country at properties in Arizona, California and most recently, Atlanta. He has also worked at the two-Michelin star Charlie Trotter and staged at Michelin-star Restaurant Gary Danko.

“I am honored to lead the culinary team at the best luxury hotel in Las Vegas,” said Sydney Jones We have some exciting new things on the horizon centered on utilizing quality farm-fresh produce, which allows me to apply my background in cooking with regional, artisanal products and be creative in developing new delectable dining experiences.”

We plan on visiting this very talented Chef and experiencing his culinary talents first hand in the very near future.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Las Vegas gets entertaining and spooky on Halloween.




On and off the Strip, there are many events to choose from.



Where else would you rather be than in Las Vegas this Halloween. The renowned Strip is full of ghosts, goblins and a wide variety of interesting costumes. On the strip or off, All Hallows Eve 2014 has something for everyone.  
There are numerous parties all over town; many are for adults only and on the risqué side. Taking the top spot would be the Fetish & Fantasy Ball at the Hard Rock Resort. Over that the Palms, you can’t miss the Night of the Killer Costumes and the Haunted Hotel Ball at Mandalay Bay. If you want to compete for some big bucks, create your original costume and enter contests at most of Las Vega’s legendary night clubs.

Off the strip there are many haunted houses that can be quite entertaining. The Asylum has been in operation for 14 years and can be found in the downtown district of Las Vegas. Bloody English is at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s Body English club and is always a fun experience.

It’s not all just about adult only activities on this scary night, there are plenty of family friendly events as well for kids of all ages. Who does not like a parade?  The Las Vegas Halloween Parade marches along Freemont street downtown. The Springs Preserve in the center of town features their annual Haunted Harvest where guests can enjoy a petting zoo, carnival games, a haunted house, and trick-or-treat stations. Las Vegas even has a Haunted Reef for all to enjoy. Shark Reef at the Mandalay Bay transforms into a swimming, spooky time.

In the center of the strip, get tickets for Evil Dead at the V Theater at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Las Vegas is known for many things all over the world and you can certainly add Halloween for a notable time to visit.

Friday, August 15, 2014

California's Highway 1 Offers Views , Food and Adventure To its Travelers .

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Montana De Oro
The Highway is calling you to put your suitcases in the car and move onto The Central Coast of California.  This is a journey on Highway 1 where the ocean wraps around your windshield and the cool ocean breezes waft through the windows allowing your senses to embrace the sights, smells and sounds offered in this pristine part of the country. We decided to share this sojourn along this great part of America. We started our journey along the vistas of the Pacific Ocean as we pulled into our clean and comfortable room at the Quality Inn at Pismo Beach. This hotel is ideal for those who want to spend their time at the beach or investigating the great outdoors but want accommodations that allow them to feel rested and refreshed for the next day adventures along Highway 1.
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Pismo Beach Pier
Pismo Beach , An American Beach town located half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles along the Pacific Coast  offers visitors great weather, fabulous dining, golfing, surfing, horseback riding and just about any activity for all outdoor enthusiasts.
  
As we wove our way up the coast, we ended up making a stop in Avila Beach California, another hidden gem off the highway.
Avila Beach
Avila Beach
This unique beach town has a fascinating history and has many new businesses and restaurants. This town was once a refueling station for large ships and in the interim had to be cleaned up from many years of oil spillage and was literally rebuilt from the ground up. With funding, dedication, and great community effort the shores of Avila Beach has been the beach “Phoenix” that rose up from the oil slick to become a glittering gem amongst the beach towns along the Highway. Avila Beach is now a little unknown oasis, that offers get vacation outlets for all travelers. From verdant hiking trails, natural hot springs, and even an Aquarium, there is something for everyone.
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We strolled along the lovely shops adjacent to the wide blue green Pacific and  we stopped into Cuvee. This unique Bistro, is noted to be a Champagne Bar, but also features, great sparkling wines as well as wines from local wineries, beers, and spirits. Our owner, Alex Radogna, is taking the helm and doing a great service by introducing customers to the area’s culinary abundance.


As we sipped on local Sparking wine, and tried some Veuve Cliquot Champagne, our gracious host was preparing a house specialty, Cerviche on the Beach. The tuna was caught that day just a few miles up the coast and diced with mango, green onions, cilanto, avocado, tomatoes, and black olives served with a lime dressing. This was a perfect pairing with the white peach notes of the Veuve.
Cerviche on the Beach
Cerviche on the Beach
We opted for a Cuvee cheese board, with a sampling of various selection of cheeses, salumi, cured olives, roasted nuts, and sourdough bread. These bites were the perfect accoutrements to our bubbling libations. We bade or lovely host goodbye and thanked her for the gracious hospitality.

Winding down the tree lined road, our stop tonight was the exclusive Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort. This top rated spa and hotel has natural mineral hot tubs that can be rented hourly, or one can indulge in many of the wonderful spa offerings. Tonight we skipped the hot tub but made our way to the restaurant where we dined on cuisine that was farmed from the gardens on the property along with locally caught fish, as well as locally sourced chicken and beef. With bounty brimming with freshness, each dish left us in awe on how the right ingredients and the skill of chef can have your senses awakened on how food should taste.
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Our entrees for the evening were not only stunning to the eyes but the flavors spoke of vibrant freshness.  Walking into the restaurant we were taken aback at the plain décor of white table cloths and minimal accents. A large rock wall can be seen through a panel of the windows and we  looked around wondering “Where was the Garden”, despite the rather austere surroundings the “garden” came to our plates.
Earlier that day we had hiked around the grounds and meandered onto the garden areas to see what was growing and going to be on our plates later that evening. With visions of vine-ripened veggies dancing in our heads, we saw those dream plates come to fruition. Our salads of baby beets, blood orange, greens, burrata, and fennel pollen was a symphony of freshness and art on a plate. Trying the carrot-ginger soup, with cardamom cream was a sensuous sip of creamy goodness. Our entrées of broiled local ling cod, fried sushi rice, soy glaze, flowers and herbs were a hit. Pan roasted organic chicken, crispy broccoli, roasted fingerling potatoes, lemon caper butter sauce all sourced from the nearby ocean and even a local poultry farm gets into the act. The staff was gracious, friendly and very accommodating.
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We enjoyed several of the cocktails that were expertly crafted by the wonderful mixologist on staff. Utilizing the gifts of Mother Nature, the culinary staff, crafted food and cocktails that were both pleasing to the eye and the palate. As our stomachs were filled with nourishment from the local provisions, we were content and pleased that this wonderful getaway is here for the refreshment of body and soul. To book your reservations at this lovely inn tucked away amongst the Sycamore Trees in Avila Beach California, visit, www. sycamore springs.com
Early the next day, we headed to the Avila Valley Barn. Open Daily offering fresh fruits and veggies, a deli, sweet shoppe, pony rides, corn stand, and hay rides, alongside a petting zoo. Many families flock to this place to buy the fresh fruit and vegetables grown locally or to pick up a homemade pie for dessert.
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With homemade jams, jellies, and handcrafted gifts there is something for everyone. You can pick your own veggies in the garden or buy them fresh in the “Barn.” The grounds offer accommodations for picnickers, parties, and it is a favorite for children. We gathered up some fresh produce and meandered around the grounds to visit the animals and the growing garden. For more information go to avilavalleybarn.com

The next evening we were on our way to try yet another local’s favorite, The Olde Port Inn Restaurant. We were surprisingly pleased with the historical underpinnings of this restaurant at the end of Harford Pier in Port San Luis. We came at dusk and listened to the sounds of squawking seagulls and bellowing sea lions as they bade us good night while finding a place to roost for the evening.
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After spending another day marveling at the twinkling blue Pacific Ocean dotted with boasts, sea life and teeming with sun-bathers, our appetites beckoned us again as we walked down the well-worn wooden slates of this historical gateway.

The pier was originally built in 1873 by John Harford to aid in transporting imported goods to the surrounding San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara County. Eventually the pier fell into disrepair but in 1954 local citizens rallied to create a fund to repair the aging pier.

Today the Harbor district in conjunction with the State of California have provided valuable resources to fishermen, boaters and campers alike in this pristine environmental area. Our hostess guided us to a table, albeit austere in décor, the panoramic ocean view captivated our minds of this historically rich venue.
We choose fresh rock cod, lightly breaded and grilled, served with a beurre blanc sauce and the fresh grilled salmon charbroiled and lightly drizzled with soy, ginger and wasabi sauce. Each bite was flaky and truly the most genuine reflection of what only truly fresh seafood can provide. We were elated by each helping of fish and a bite of the creamy house specialty, au gratin potatoes. We paired  a local wine that we know well to to pair with our entrees, a Clairborne & Chuchill Gewürztraminer. Its notes of lemon and melon brimming with good acidity made this a match made in sea-farers heaven.

This venue is the place to relish and relax in casual dining while watching a full golden moon raise slowly over gently dancing waves. A perfect place for all diners; family friendly as well as for a romantic jaunt for two.
As we drove off onto our next part of this lovely journey, we could not help but be reminded that this area of the country is a treasure trove of delights from land and the sea. We continued to pass through the sleepy beach towns of Highway 1 however, they are not so sleepy during the summer tourism boom.
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Next stop on this journey was another seemingly small town along the highway that was filled with summer action. Cayucos, this picturesque beach town on Highway 1 home to many shopping venues, including the Brown Butter Cookie Company, various Mom and Pop places and great surfing.

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We  stopped  in at yet another local’s favorite hangout, Schooners Wharf. Lunch is served daily at 11am and we happened to be there right as the doors opened. As the fog lingered on the Coast, we opted to sit in the bar area of this of this rugged pirate themed venue. Giving much love to the locals, we could sense the strong connection to as one by one the community characters would show up for the first bloody Mary or beer of the day. Although we were newbie’s, we soon felt like family.

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We of course opted for the locals favorites that reflected the connection to the environment. We started with a colossal shrimp cocktail brimming with spicy cocktail sauce adorned with a circle of giant fresh shrimp.
colossal shrimp cocktail
colossal shrimp cocktail
The local Halibut and Chips were next, with a light panko crust, just adorning the flakey goodness of the locally caught fish. Their decadent bloody Mary aided in our merry outlook as we took in the sights of the pier, the ocean and the abundant sea-life that resides in these local waters.
Halibut and Chips
Halibut and Chips

As we said our good byes to our new found friends, we headed out once again to find yet another amazing community just a few miles up the Highway 1. Driving along the ocean, we are pleasantly peaceful as one feels there is not a care in the world but to enjoy all amazing coast line that rushes pass our windows.
Cambria
Cambria
We soon are in the yet another cozy little town that lies adjacent to the Highway 1, Cambria Named “One of America’s Prettiest Towns” by Forbes. This idyllic town is free of chain stores and filled with novel shops and restaurants that are engaging and charming for all family members including the four legged kind.

Cambra Boardwalk
Cambra Boardwalk
 

Traveling with our doggie-friends we were pleased to stay at the lovely Fog-Catcher Inn.
This quaint, upscale hotel features a variety of comfortable bungalows nested amongst the pine trees with large comfortable rooms, and fire places to cut the chill of a fog covered evening. This is a place to get away from it all and take a breather in the cool ocean air.
Fog Catcher Inn
Fog Catcher Inn
Dog Friendly Accommodations
Dog Friendly Accommodations

Our room was located right across the street from the ocean where miles of boardwalk allow people a chance stroll, jog or bike ride along the magnificent views of Mother Nature.
We took advantage of nature’s splendor, and spent time enjoying the crashing waves and the sandy shores. After enjoying our nature walk, we headed over to the only winery Located in Cambria, Stolo vineyards. We were invited to evaluate wines and tour at this family vineyard. This is the only fully operational winery, tasting room and vineyard in Cambria.
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Our visit included a walk about in the vineyard, while being educated on all aspects of this unique winery and eventually ending up in the tasting room to taste and explore the wines. Meeting with the lovely winemaker, Nicole Pope, we were in for a treat and a personal look on her wine making process. The 2011 Chardonnay with hints of orange blossom and lots of bright acidity, a nice creamy mouth was a great way explore the goodness of nature in a glass.
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We also enjoyed  the 2011 Pinot Noir, another expression of the local terrior. This Pinot Noir featured cola notes, cranberries, and red cherries on the palate with elegant tannis on the finish. Nicole also brought out her Syrah, Zinfandel, and Savignon Blanc for evaluation and they were all exquisite.
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Nicole Pope is most assuredly  a winemaker we are going to keep our eyes on.
 
For more information visit www.stolofamilywinery.com. Getting the chance to visit with the astute winemaker, sample some of the current vintages, we were on our way again day unfolded.
Working up an appetite we made our way to a highly regarded restaurant, Robins, in town of Cambria. Robin and Shanny Covey started their love wholesome ingredients at a health food store in Cambria.
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With the urging of many locals, they expanded and now have one of the most popular places off the Highway 1. This restaurant has a rustic, homey feel to it with white linens, and fresh flowers adoring the tables. It also features a wonderful garden area, with handcrafted mosaic tables, communal dining spaces.
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Our lively hostess, escorted us to the garden area that was humming busily with happy diners. A local couple next to us, informed us that we really needed to try the Salmon bisque. They raved about the soup, saying they come often and make a point to have that once a week. We opted for the bisque and we were not disappointed with the creamy, rich salmon colored bisque, loaded with chunks of locally caught Salmon. We had to try the garlic bread with the soup to “sop’ up all that glorious richness. This tasty bread made with cracked wheat sourdough, fresh garlic butter, and parmesan cheese was a perfect complement to our first course.
Salmon bisque
Salmon bisque

Our salad course, was that of the Heirloom Tomato, ricotta salata, pistachio granola, arugula pesto, balsamic vinegar. The pistachio granola was a unique twist to create crunchy texture that a traditional crouton and were pleasantly surprised at the creativity of the dish. Our main courses of Robin’s Chow which is a wok flashed pasta, farmer’s market vegetables, garlic, ginger and soy was another recommended dish.


We thought this dish, even though eye appealing was rather plain and would recommend adding chicken, tofu or prawns to the pasta.

The next dish was a delightful Thai green chicken curry of mild-coconut curry, sugar snap peas, cilantro, kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass, with a pickled cucumber salad. This dish was a bit too mild for this curry for our taste. All the flavors were typical of a green curry but a little heat would have been much appreciated in this dish. However, the ingredients in each entrée spoke for themselves of freshness and locality.
The best dish was the finale. A rich goat cheese cheesecake was perhaps one of the best cheesecakes we have ever eaten. Light in texture but with a richness from the goat cheese that just begged for one more bite. The restaurant is clearly a local favorite due to love that is evident in each and every dish presented. We will come again whenever we are in this part of the country.
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Our sojourn along Highway 1 was coming to an end but we had to make one more stop. We had to visit “the rock”, Morro Rock that is! in Morro Bay. This working fishing town has always been a favorite stop for us when we are in the area.
Visit the docks, watch the fishing boats depart and return with their bounty from the sea. Stop into one of their locally owned restaurants and sample some fresh seafood caught just outside the window. It was now time to put the Pacific over our right shoulder, listen for the sea lions until next time and head south along this iconic highway of discovery.
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Highway 1 a great way to discover the treasures of the Coast. By focusing on this historic highway we were able to pick several destinations that showcases the richness of culture, cuisine and nature.
With renowned wineries, the freshest of California produce, abundant beauty, and many recreational opportunities, this is the place to book your next vacation. Visit CoastalDiscoveryRoute.com or WineCoastCountry.com to help you in selecting the best experience alone California’s Highway 1 Discovery Route.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Mercadito comes to Summerlin in Las Vegas .


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Mercadito, meaning little market, is not a market at all in Las Vegas but a new dining venue that is creating a large “Ole” to the Mexican cuisine scene. This new restaurant offering at the Red Rock hotel in Las Vegas is quickly becoming one of the locals and visitors favorite dining options. The pricing is perfect for families on a budget or for those wanting maximum food quality for their well-earned green backs.


Blending traditional Mexican cuisine with seasonal ingredient, along with the creative flair of Chef Patrico Sandoval, Mercadito is worth a visit trip to this region without leaving the USA. Upon being seated by our friendly hostess we were whisked into a corner both of this spacious, causal eatery. There is nothing pretentious about this eatery'. Open seating gives it a communal and lively feel.
We were directed by our helpful and knowledgeable server to start with the “trios”, meaning the three samples of salsas and guacamoles that tease the taste buds. On the menu the options for trying one to three guacamoles are yours for the taking. We opted for the three and tried the traditional tamatillo pico de gallo, jalapeno, garlic, key-lime, and cilantro along with the mango, jicama, chipotle, pico de gallo, and the Tocino, bacon, corn, habanero, crispy hominy, pico de gallo.
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After sampling all the verdant creamy goodness before us, the Tradicional was a favorite as it lent to the most authentic to a guacamole. The mango was a bit too creamy and reminded us of a creamed condiment. The Tocino was spiked with crispy bits of texture to the smoothness of the guacamole. The beauty of the menu is that it lends to trying and sharing and experimenting with flavors and bites. We cerviches of shrimp, mahi, mahi, and the “Mixto” is the best way to experience all three, combining mahi, mahi, octopus, shrimp, tamatillo pico de gallo, passion fruit-Serrano broth.
And the Tacos, yes the Tacos, are plentiful you will need more than one trip to savor their flavors. A nice option for the gluten-free crowd, is to substitute the torillas for the bibb lettuce cups. You can pick up to four different tacos on your order and we sampled the entire menu. Our favorites being the Carne, with the perfectly cooked marinated skirt steak, watercress-jicama slaw with Serrano-roasted garlic aioli, and crispy shallots. Another standout amongst the wide assortment, epada of blackened swordfish, spicy aioli, cabbage-jalapeno slaw. The list is worth investing time to revisit and experiment with flavors and textures.
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There are also large plate offerings of Carne Asada, Enchiladas, and Chile Relleno. There is a selection that will keep the door of Mercadito wide open for you. Don’t forget to indulge in one of the many interesting cocktails that are unique to this venue. Many of these cocktails are served draft with infused tequilas that provide a delicious fresh cocktail. Try the draft Margarita of el jimador blanco tequila, grand marnier, fresh lime juice, organic agave nectar, and you can add smoke, heat and fruit for a creative twist.
A good bet on a blistering hot day in Vegas are the frozen cocktails. Consider the Auntie Ox, green-tea infused sobieski vodka, fresh lemon juice, passion fruit, agave nectar, guajillo. Our favorite was the Pepino el Pyu, olmeca altos blanco tequila, lemon, cucumber, hoja sata, and cumin salt. A full beverage menu is filled with great tequilas, mescals, and wines. After great cocktails and Mexican fare don’t forget to leave room for the desserts.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Yusho at the Monte Carlo Resort is most likely the best , innovative restaurant that has opened in Las Vegas in years.


The Monte Carlo Resort has recently completed a multimillion dollar renovation to its strip facing façade. This fun, open air plaza features six dinning venues, live entertainment literally located right on the famed neon of the Las Vegas strip. One of these homes of gastronomic treats is Yusho.
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We dined on creative Izakaya fare, perfectly prepared by the tutelage of chef Matthias Merges, His artful culinary creations have been honed for years as he was at managed the helm of Chef Charlie Trotter’s acclaimed Chicago flagship and now has brought this experience to Las Vegas with this gem of a restaurant. His culinary expertise is amplified in this new Japanese street food eatery


We started our meal trying some very unique on tap cocktails, which are made in limited quantities and then poured from a tap like a beer, giving the cocktail a fizzy, slightly carbonated finish. Our meal started with lovely oysters, fresh with their salty briny taste, alongside our plate of the octopus with haricot vert, egg yolk and enoki mushroom. The octopus is cooked to perfection and the mixture of the green beans, and creamy egg yolk makes it a dish worth visiting over and over again.

Up next, our server delivered an assortment of tasty bites. A stand out was the Logan Poser Ramen, made with crispy pork, egg, nori and cucumber. This dish had a rich savory broth, delectable noodles, and a lovely dallop of nori and egg. Another treat was their homemade pickled radishes which help bring a bite of acidity and sparkle between courses. The 2X Fried Chicken, created with spicy kanzuri, green tea and lime zest was sumptuous and satisfying. We weren’t over yet as perfectly cooked rib-eye that would satisfy any meal-lovers palate arrived on our plates.

The final ending to our meal was their signature dessert, the soft serve-ice cream drizzled with Fernet caramel. This refreshingly light treat left us presently pleased. Yusho is most likely the best , innovative restaurant that has opened in Las Vegas in years.