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Monday Mise en Place: Pasta Shop Moves, San Gennaro Feast Begins, Mexican Independence Celebrated and More!

Glen Alenik in the soon-to-be old Pasta Shop kitchen

Glen Alenik in the soon-to-be old Pasta Shop kitchen

The first item up in this action packed edition of the Monday Mise en Place is the news of one of my favorite Italian joints, The Pasta Shop Ristorante, is moving its location!  The long time location on Tropicana is scheduled to close on September 19 and the brand spanking new location at the corner of Horizon Ridge & Carnegie (2525 W. Horizon Ridge Pkwy.) will open on September 29.  Best wishes to the Alenik Brothers and crew with their new location.  Welcome to The Hendo!

San Gennaro Himself: Patron Saint of Sausage and Peppers (photo: sangennarofeast.com)

San Gennaro Himself: Patron Saint of Sausage and Peppers (photo: sangennarofeast.com)

Make sure you get an extra pack of Tums when you go to the grocery store this week, it’s time for the San Gennaro Feast! Now held at the Silverton Casino Lodge, The San Gennaro Feast, runs semi-annually.  The fall edition runs from Sept. 14 – Sept. 19.  I can already smell the Sausage and Peppers and Zeppole, thus can already feel the agita.  For more information and to get discounted tickets visit http://www.sangennarofeast.com.

Tequila Ambhar (photo: twitter.com/TequilaAmbhar)

Tequila Ambhar (photo: twitter.com/TequilaAmbhar)

Mexican Independence Day is on September 16 and there are a few places celebrating the day with some special events. Tequila Ambhar is teaming up with Guadalajara Restaurant in Boulder Station to present a special 5-course dinner for only $35 a head! Each course is paired with a special Ambhar cocktail or shot, so this is for folks 21 and over. Two highlights include a Tequila Snow Crab Nopalitos Cheese Dip, and a Flank Steak Añejo with Rock Shrimp topped with a smoked Chipotle demi glace.  A few tickets are still available, you can call 702-432-7954 for more information and to reserve your spot.

Chefs Roberto Hernandez and Scott Linquist Make For Some Good Times At Dos Caminos Cooking Classes

Chefs Roberto Hernandez and Scott Linquist Make For Some Good Times At Dos Caminos Cooking Classes

Two days later on September 18, Dos Caminos at the Palazzo resort will be celebrating Mexican Independence with another cooking class.  Slated for this edition, Chefs Scott Linquist and Roberto Hernandez will be demonstrating a number of food and drink items such as Ponche (sounds like Mexican Jungle Juice), Pork Tamales in Salsa Verde, Chiles en Nogada and more.  Tickets for this event are $65.  For more information or to make your reservation, call 702-577-9550.  Class begins at 11:30 am.

Chef Hubert Keller and Fleur de Lys Crew Take One Last Picture Before The Big Change

Chef Hubert Keller and Fleur de Lys Crew Take One Last Picture Before The Big Change

The day after Fleur de Lys at Mandalay Bay temporarily closed for a remodel there were already rumors flying all over the place that the new space will never re-open.  I don’t know how these things get started, but I was lucky enough to attend the goodbye party Chef Hubert Keller threw for his staff after their final service on September 10, and I can only tell you that Hubert was genuinely excited for the new space and the new concept that will involve an impressive selection of international tapas.  They are retaining much of the staff, and I was told that everyone at Fleur de Lys has a job waiting for them once they open on their scheduled December 16 relaunch date.  I don’t know how these rumors get started, it could be a mashup of two unknowns for the space; what the name is going to be and exactly what the concept is.  Or, it could be some jealous disgruntled prick trying to start shit.  I don’t know, but take one look into Chef Hubert’s eyes and you know this thing is on like Donkey Kong.

Chef Rick Moonen Gets a Surprise Birthday Cake from Chef Hubert Keller at Fleur de Lys Bye-Bye-Come-Back-Soon Celebration

Chef Rick Moonen Gets a Surprise Birthday Cake from Chef Hubert Keller at Fleur de Lys Bye-Bye-Come-Back-Soon Celebration

Football season is upon us and tailgating type specials are all over the city.  While I’d never hear it from his hired PR team, Langdon Flynn, just as I never hear anything from them, I’m glad that Rick Moonen and people close to him are so good at getting the word out about such things like his specials in the RM Seafood Lounge during football season.  On  Sundays from 11:30am – 9pm and Mondays from 5pm-9pm, the bar area has all sorts of specials including $2 Domestic Beers, $5 Anchor Steam and Asahi drafts, 1/2 price Specialty Cocktails, Select Sushi Rolls for 1/2 off and Fish Tacos, Catfish Sloppy Joes and the RM Burger for $12 each.  Oh, and speaking of our resident sustainable seafood guru, Happy Birthday Rick!

Society Cafe Encore (photo: twitter.com/societycafe)

Society Cafe Encore (photo: twitter.com/societycafe)

Also preparing some special menu items specifically for the football crowd is Chef Kim Canteenwalla and crew at Society Cafe in the Encore resort.  A new addition to the menu is a list of All-American Pot Stickers which include “The Guy’s” Reuben, BBQ Pulled Pork and Virginia Slaw and Philly Cheesesteak (don’t tell Sammy and the guys at First).  Society Cafe also has good man food on their regular menu and decent beers on tap, so it’s a good place to watch a game.

Half Way to St. Patrick's Day? Why not? (photo: sassafrasjunction.wordpress.com)

Half Way to St. Patrick's Day? Why not? (photo: sassafrasjunction.wordpress.com)

Leave it to the Irish to find another excuse to drink, but apparently September 17th is Half Way To St. Patrick’s Day, and this is a cause for celebration.  Murphy’s Law Bar & Grill on 1590 E. Flamingo Rd. will have specials including $2 green beers, $4 Clover Bend Overs (I have to go just to find out what that is) and $5 Corned Beef Sandwiches. There’s raffles, live music by Tamai Remains and more.  Also celebrating this bogus, yet fabulous, holiday ( who am I to argue with a new reason to drink?) is Nine Fine Irishmen at the New York, New York casino.  They’re having $5 Guinness and $5 shots of Jameson.  Live music will also be happening all day long.  Remember, we at Tasting Las Vegas always encourage you to drink responsibly, make sure the beer goes in your mouth.

Steve and Miles With The Strip Podcast (photo: twitter.com/thestrippodcast)

Steve and Miles With The Strip Podcast (photo: twitter.com/thestrippodcast)

In the seemingly never ending soul searching to figure out how the hell to do Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast, I visited Steve Friess and Miles Smith of The Strip Podcast so see where they operate, as they do one of the best podcasts you’ll find anywhere.  While I was there, I got thrown into the hotseat with an impromptu Tourist Tip of the Week where I gave props to Soyo Korean Barstaurant, Namaste Indian Cuisine’s Lunch Buffet and the hopefully still open Silk Road.  Check out Miles and Steve’s latest podcast, I come on at the end of the show after the entertaining interview Steve did with the one and only Cloris Leachman.

Maybe I Should Hire Langdon Flynn To Help Drum Up More Votes? Maybe Not. You can vote once per day from now through 09/30/10! Thanks!

Maybe I should hire Langdon Flynn to help drum up more votes? Maybe not. You can vote once per day from now through 09/30/10! Thanks!

Good news! You are only a little more than 2 weeks away from not hearing me beg for votes for Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw Challenge! But what that means is time is running out and I still need your help to push me as high as possible when it comes decision making time!  Thank you to all who have voted, continue to vote once each day and have put up links for other people to vote all over the place!  The final push is on and I need your help now more than ever.

For those that don’t know what I’m talking about, I entered a contest put on by Bourdain and the fine folks at Ecco Publishing where we had to write a 500-word essay on what it means to “cook well.” The publishers will pick the top 10 entries, with votes received playing a significant role in their consideration, and then Tony Bourdain himself will pick the winner.  The winning essay will be published in the paperback edition of his latest book, ‘Medium Raw’ and will receive $10,000! A significant portion of the 10 G’s will be blown on one hell of a giant hang should I win this pig, so vote now and ready your livers!

A direct link to vote for my entry, ‘Cooking Well Is First’ is – http://bourdainmediumraw.com/essays/view/1409

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Monday Mise en Place: Fleur de Lys To Close on Saturday

Bye bye for now, Fleur de Lys!

Bye bye for now, Fleur de Lys!

For those devoted to the existing Fleur de Lys at Mandalay Bay, time is running out before they shut their doors for a few months and work on a major remodel.  Saturday, September 11, Fleur dy Lys will close its doors and come back as something…else.  I don’t think they’re even solid on exactly what the new space will be once it comes back in a few months, but this I do know: Expect the “outdoor” patio area to be greatly expanded, a total overhaul of the indoor space and a more open DJ booth where Hubert Keller will be having much more of a presence in Las Vegas with filming his PBS show here.  The food, however, is still up in the air as far as the casual / fine dining balance goes.  Expect their International Tapas menu to be greatly expanded, but unlike other reports published elsewhere, expect there to still be a “fine dining” element to remain.  Word has it that Hubert Keller will be on hand on Saturday to give the room and the staff a proper send off.

Project Dinner Table Logo (courtesy: projectdinnertable.com)

Project Dinner Table Logo (courtesy: projectdinnertable.com)

Project Dinner Table returns with one hell of a dinner scheduled for Saturday, September 11.  The six-course menu will be prepared by six of the chefs at the MGM Grand; Chef Jennifer Hargisen of banquets, Chef Stefano Chiarugi of Fiamma, Chef Stephen Hopcraft (who I just interviewed) of Seablue, Chef Stephan Chevet of Shibuya, Chef Patrick Schaffer of Studio Café and James Beard Award Nominated Pastry Chef, Kamel Guechida from Joël Robuchon.  So far, Project Dinner Table has raised over $11,000 for the places it has benefited.  This edition will be at the historic Fifth Street School and will benefit the Vegas Valley Children’s Book Festival.  Tickets are $125 and the dinner bell rings at 6pm.  For more information, visit http://ProjectDinnerTable.com. You can follow Project Dinner Table on Twitter at @food4good.

Logo of The Best Buffalo Wings in Las Vegas

Logo of The Best Buffalo Wings in Las Vegas

Home of the best Buffalo Wings in Las Vegas, the Naked City Pizza Shop, will be holding its Grand Opening Party on Thursday, September 9th from 8pm-3am.  There will be all sorts of specials, but most importantly….they have the best Buffalo Wings in Las Vegas! Remember, the Naked City Pizza Shop is located INSIDE Moon Doggies bar on the corner of Arville and Desert Inn.  They have an arcade game in there where you can shoot zebras.  How can you not go?!?

O.G. Bouchon in Yountville, CA. No elevator necessary for this one.

O.G. Bouchon in Yountville, CA. No elevator necessary for this one.

In case you make a habit of reading all-knowing, infallible “professionals” that gain their gold-standard credibility because they shit on the 400 or so words they get tossed from a shithole weekly rag with a vetting process akin to what Old Man McCain did for that dumb bitch that has overstayed her 15 minutes……there’s a fucking elevator in the Venetian’s parking garage in case you wanted to go to Bouchon.  That’s all I have to say about that.

Jet Tila - Chef, Guinness World Record Attempter, Lover of Humanity (photo: twitter.com/jettila)

Jet Tila - Chef, Guinness World Record Attempter, Lover of Humanity (photo: twitter.com/jettila)

Best wishes to Executive Chef of Wazuzu at the Encore resort, Jet Tila, as he attempts to break a Guinness Book of World Records record by making a 400-foot sushi roll today!  He will be doing his attempt at UMass, so don’t run down to Wazuzu to see it.  However, run down to Wazuzu because they make some kick ass food there.  To get more background story, check out Chef Jet’s very worthwhile blog at this link. No word if Schwan’s will develop a new truck to deliver 400-foot sushi rolls.

You Can Vote Once Per Day From Now Through 09/30/10, or you can masturbate to Judge Judy. The choice is yours! Thanks!

You Can Vote Once Per Day From Now Through 09/30/10, or you can masturbate to Judge Judy. The choice is yours! Thanks!

Time is running out and I’m still getting my ass kicked in Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw Challenge! I guess “getting my ass kicked” is relative as your much appreciated votes have put over 1,500 people in my rearview mirror.  However, the toughest 60-some remain and voting ends on 09/30/10.  I know it’s a pain in the ass, and I know there are fears of the spam fairy loading you up with having to register to vote, but think about the hungry children of the world when you vote.  Not that I’m going to give them shit, but maybe a moment of pity will also cause a moment of weakness!  I have spoken to many of my most adamant supporters, including The Wife, and no reports of spam with doing the Connect Through Facebook thing.

Remember, if not for me….vote for the epic hang that will be thrown should I actually win this pig.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much all of the links yous guys have been putting up on Twitter and Facebook mean to me.  It makes me feel special…down there.  For a direct link to ‘Cooking Well Is First’ click here – http://bourdainmediumraw.com/essays/view/1409

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Monday Mise en Place: 'Cooking Well Is First' Breaks Into The Top 100!

You Can Vote Once Per Day from Now Through 09/30/10! Thanks so much for helping this happen!

You Can Vote Once Per Day from Now Through 09/30/10! Thanks so much for helping this happen!

Thanks to all of you that are supporting my little venture with Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Medium Raw’ Challenge! It’s because of your votes that my entry is now in the Top 100 and climbing!  There is still a little over a month to go, but the biggest part of the mountain is still left to climb.  I’m currently about 1,100 votes behind to break into the Top 10, so every vote is desperately needed!

I know many of you are squeamish about registering to vote on these websites, but the Connect Through Facebook thing they use is easy and all I can tell you is that The Wife has been voting everyday (ain’t she great?) and has had no problems with spam or otherwise.  If not voting for the quality of the essay, then vote for the epic hang that will be thrown in magnificent fashion should I actually win this pig!

Thank you to all for your incredible support and your dedication to voting once each day. Here’s a direct link to the essay – http://bourdainmediumraw.com/essays/view/1409

Republic Kitchen and Bar Logo

Republic Kitchen and Bar Logo

Opening to the public today is Republic Kitchen and Bar, located in the space vacated by Fadó Irish Pub at 9470 S. Eastern Avenue in Henderson.  Headed up by Chef Josh Green, who has an impressive resume that spans from Aureole to the late Daniel Boulud Brasserie, Republic appears to be offering mostly traditional American bar fare with a few twists here and there.  They are rolling with some late night hours with a reverse happy hour that happens from midnight to 2am each night, so that makes me happy to have another place for the late night gorge closer to the homestead.  Also things to note they are having a Saturday and Sunday Brunch that ranges from $8 – $17 and a decent looking cocktail and beer menu.  Best wishes to the folks at Republic Kitchen and Bar, I hope ye doesn’t suck! Republic Kitchen and Bar’s website is at http://republickitchenandbar.com.

JaiHo Fusion Restaurant Logo

JaiHo Fusion Restaurant Logo

Also near the new Republic Kitchen and Bar comes an Indo-Chinese Fusion restaurant called JaiHo at 9530 S Eastern Avenue in Henderson.  I know absolutely nothing about this place other than they say they opened on August 16th.  Oooh….a mystery!  Full website advertised as coming soon at http://www.JaiHoFusion.com.  Also best wishes to the crew at JaiHo, I hope ye doesn’t suck either!

R.I.P. - Naked City Sandwich Shop

R.I.P. - Naked City Sandwich Shop

It’s not all good news though, and I have the unfortunate duty of informing you that the Naked City Sandwich Shop is no more.  Apparently this happened while The Wife and I was on vacation, but I was just perusing through some Facebook pages today, and saw the news on the Naked City Sandwich Shop page.  All hope is not lost, however, it looks like they will gradually add in the Sandwich Shop menu to the new Naked City Pizza Shop location, so the best sandwiches in Las Vegas will still happen in Las Vegas, but we’ll just have to wait a minute to get them again.  I’ll let you know if there are any further updates.

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Mike and The Wife Do California, Part II: The San Francisco Treat

San Francisco.

I love San Francisco.  It is one of the few places I’ve been to where I instantly feel home, Las Vegas being the only other.  New York makes me gag, Chicago makes me bored, Los Angeles makes me cringe…but San Francisco…I love San Francisco.  I don’t know what it is about the place.  There’s a certain vibe, a certain energy that is palpable, simpatico with my own.    San Francisco is the most European of the American cities, I suppose. There’s a focus on the good things in life; food, drink and culture.  The frantic pace of “work work work”  isn’t felt here like other major American cities.  It’s a city that lends itself well to The Hang.

On the Bay Bridge to San Francisco

On the Bay Bridge to San Francisco

San Francisco was my part of the trip, The Wife gets credit for the big ass trees I talked about last week.  I’ve only been to San Francisco once before, almost 9 years ago.  It was when I was living in Salt Lake City (yes, really. Don’t ask.) and was at the point where I couldn’t take…it…anymore.  I hopped in my car and just starting driving west on I-80 and before I knew it, after a liver abusing stay over in Reno,  I was in San Francisco.  I only spent a few days, not knowing anything about the city, driving around aimlessly, literally sticking my head out the window to smell something good for a place to eat. That’s how I first discovered the wonders of The Stinking Rose.  I walked into bars that looked inviting, ate at restaurants that smelled good from the outisde and lived for a few days as an actual San Franciscan.

Ever since that fateful voyage there has been a tug on my heartstrings to go back.  After far too long an absence, I was back in my happy place, and with not much more knowledge than I had my first time around.  I knew ahead of time a few places I wanted to hit up, of course all of them being food related, but other than that I was happy to wander like a blind idiot again.  San Francisco is good for that, there seems to be something worthwhile at every corner. The hills suck ass though.

We stayed at the Hilton in Union Square.  A nice hotel with nicely appointed rooms and very comfortable beds, but in retrospect not necessarily the location I’d pick again.  It was a few blocks away from the closest Muni Station which was our preferred method of travel, even though we had our own car.  One thing Vegas has over everyone is FREE PARKING! With each garage you need to park in being $15 or so on their own, it’s cheaper to cab it, or even more economical (and much more entertaining) to take public transportation.  New York’s subway system is still the most idiot proof for clueless tourists such as ourselves, but the Maps app on the iPhone was brilliant in letting us know how to get to where we wanted to go.

We got to town around 3pm and quickly hit the streets.  Not having a clue where the hell anything was, our sense of direction completely in the shitter, we looked up and down O’Farrell St. and decided to go down…or at least what we perceived as down.  Not really having a game plan for anything, we were just playing it by ear and it was wonderful.  So many vacations are wrecked by having a mapped out schedule of events.  We went to San Francisco knowing we couldn’t do everything, we didn’t really want to do everything. We want a lot of reasons to go back and go back often.  San Francisco certainly doesn’t disappoint in that department.

D & G Lounge in Chinatown, San Francisco

D & G Lounge in Chinatown, San Francisco

We were hungry (surprise, surprise), and Chinatown was the first thing to spring to mind.  I remembered there was a place in Chinatown that Bourdain visited on the San Francisco episode of No Reservations, so after a few quick searches on the iPhone, I found out it was the R & G Lounge.  I don’t know much in life, but one thing I know is that when you go into a Chinese restaurant and have to walk downstairs to get to the dining room, you’re in for some good food.

Salt & Pepper Dungeness Crab from D & G Lounge

Salt & Pepper Dungeness Crab from D & G Lounge

Combination Chow Mein

Combination Chow Mein

Good-But-Not-As-Good-As-First Walnut Shrimp

Good-But-Not-As-Good-As-First Walnut Shrimp

Tank O' Shrimp at R & G Lounge

Tank O' Shrimp at R & G Lounge

R & G’s signature dish uses the signature ingredient of San Francisco, Salt & Pepper Dungeness Crab.  Beautifully fried and elegantly simple, it was a real treat.  One of the toughest things for me is to not be disappointed by crab that doesn’t have Alaskan King on its birth certificate.  The Dungeness is certainly no Alaskan King, but R & G did their product proud with expert execution and fun presentation.  We also had a Combination Chow Mein that was fine, and Walnut Shrimp that were also fine, although made me puff with pride as First Food and Bar here in the 702 is still the Grand Champion of the Walnut Shrimp.  One thing about R & G is the supreme freshness of their seafood, as we were seated next to a tank of still smiling, still unsuspecting prawns.  Oh, the fate that lies before them. Yum.

The Wife in Chinatown

The Wife in Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinese Dick Figurines

Chinese Dick Figurines

Not found in Walmart - $95,000 Hand-carved Elephant Tusks

Not found in Walmart - $95,000 Hand-carved Elephant Tusks

Homeboy rocking out American Folk Songs on an Erhu

Homeboy rocking out American Folk Songs on an Erhu

After our very satisfying meal at R & G Lounge, we hiked up the hill to the heart of Chinatown, you know, where all of the junk shops are.  I absolutely adore Chinese junk.  This is what a Chinatown is to me; a crowded city street filled with junk shops, exotic markets, ducks hanging in windows (although I don’t remember seeing any) and massage parlors oozing from happy endings.  I love it. While our Chinatown in Las Vegas has some fabulous restaurants of all Asian persuasions and its fair share of shit stores, it’s still a strip mall Chinatown, thus losing the vibe that a “real” city’s Chinatown has.

Café de la Presse

Café de la Presse

With last minute reservations at Chef Chris Cosentino’s Incanto for that night still a few hours away and since we just ate a late lunch, of course we should stop at the cute little Parisian café on the walk back to our hotel and eat more.  We desperately need places like Café de la Presse in our neighborhoods here in our Little Twinkle in the Desert.  Yes, Starbucks and the Coffee Bean have a place in life, but don’t come close to filling the void created by not having a kick ass daytime hang spot like Café de la Presse.  A big newsstand of an international assortment of magazines, premium coffees and a whole assortment of the standard French café light fare to nibble on, this is a place that I would love to spend all day, every day at.  Unfortunately we don’t grow these in Green Valley.

Macarons and Café Americano from Café de la Presse

Macarons and Café Americano from Café de la Presse

Eyeballing some delectable looking macarons, The Wife and I sat at a table and had a conversation about the world, exactly what needs to happen in a place like this.  Not some fucking sales pitch or other irritating business meeting, but a conversation about life and love.  From our table I heard at least French, German and Spanish being spoken elsewhere.  Not once did I see some eager douche with a calculator stuffing figures down his companion’s throat.  It was nice.  Also nice were the macarons; we had an assortment of Pistachio, Strawberry and Mandarin Lime.  A very fine Café Americano to sip on as well, the atmosphere was perfect.

Chris Cosentino's Incanto

Chris Cosentino's Incanto

From a brief aside in Paris it was time to make our way down to Cosentino’s House of Pig Entrails; Incanto.  It’s almost funny to witness chefs on Twitter like @AndrewZimmern, @tom_colicchio and @Rick_Bayless continuously rub one out to the pictures that @offalchris puts up.  Incanto is the ultimate of food porn for chefs; impeccably prepared parts of tasty animals that no one should ever want to eat.  When eating at Incanto, one must come with an open mind. A very open mind.

Hanging Meat.

Hanging Meat.

Located in the unassuming neighborhood of Noe Valley, it’s a substantial but easy Muni ride from downtown.  It reminds me a lot of Soyo here in Vegas in the light that you wonder why the hell a restaurant like this is in a neighborhood like this, but you’re thankful that it is.  Cosentino also runs a very popular salumeria in the Bay area called Boccalone. At Incanto, you are greeted with some of the fine hanging meat from Boccalone as you enter the restaurant.

Wall-Sized Pig Asses at Incanto

Wall-Sized Pig Asses at Incanto

Incanto is a beautiful space. Rustic stonework along with large photographic murals of odd animal parts.  Any restaurant with a wall-sized picture of pig ass is my kind of joint!  The hard stone does create for a lot of sound reflection, and with a jam packed floor, it made for a very high volume level, so don’t go to Incanto for intimate conversation, but go to have your mind blown away with some food you’ve probably have never even thought about eating before.

Piglet Salumi Platter from Incanto

Piglet Salumi Platter from Incanto

We started with a salumi platter which immediately  made me see why Boccalone is so beloved.  This was some of the finest salumi / charcuterie / cold cuts / whatever the hell you want to call it, that I’ve had.  The platter made me see proscuitto in a different way, with this offering having a much thicker slice than what is the norm.  Over two weeks later and I’m still thinking about the flavor of the pistachio studded mortadella.  The accouterment were a perfect compliment; pickled beets, gherkins and house made whole-grain mustard.  This was one fine plate of pig.

Pig's Blood Pappardelle with Pig's Head Ragout. Yes...really.

Pig's Blood Pappardelle with Pig's Head Ragout. Yes...really.

While there was a salumi of heart, kidney and liver included in the platter, something I never thought I’d ever eat in my life was the next course.  Pig’s Blood Pappardelle with Pig’s Head Ragout.  No…really.  Have you ever heard of Pig’s Blood Pappardelle? I sure as hell haven’t.  This is the part where I usually like to be a dick and say, “Well, there’s a reason.” , but I can’t in this instance.  It was delicious.  The pig’s blood was present more for unique color than actual flavor, there was still just the faintest hint of minerally flavor that blood-related foods are known for.  I almost felt like a Cullen eating this thing.

The Pig’s Head Ragout was spectacular.  Head braised down until it falls off the skull and in a fabulous reduction of the tasty juices that come with such braising, it was a full blown porkgasm (patent pending).  I’m pleased to say that even The Wife, while squeamish at first, also greatly enjoyed it.  It made me think about food.  I personally know about only four or five people that would ever order such a thing, and it’s a shame.  If I didn’t go with the specific intention of expanding my palate, I might not have ordered it either.  While most of this offal craze is utter bullshit with a bunch of jabronis serving up organ meat because it is the countercultural hip thing to do, Cosentino and crew work magic with it.  I ask myself the question with the obvious answer; “Why can’t anybody do this in Las Vegas?” Then I think about the only four or five people I know that would actually order it.  I think about that in a restaurant that couldn’t possibly fit another soul in the room. On a Wednesday night.

Cornish Game Hen Fra Diavolo with Zucchini Waffle

Cornish Game Hen Fra Diavolo with Zucchini Waffle

We finished up our mindblowing meal at Incanto with a mindblowing spin on Chicken and Waffles, Cornish Game Hen Fra Diavolo with Zucchini Waffle. It, like the rest of the meal, was perfect.  Succulent Game Hen that brought just the right amount of heat was perfectly balanced with a pillowy soft waffle and drizzle of honey syrup.  Unfortunately with all the food we already ate that day, there was no way in hell dessert was going to happen at Incanto.  Also unfortunately, I didn’t get to chat with Chef Cosentino as the kitchen seemed to be in the weeds with a full house and I didn’t want to be the unimportant pain in the ass from another town interrupting his expediting duties.  With the outside chance that Chris reads this, thanks for one hell of a fucking meal!  I now know why people like Colicchio, Bayless and Zimmern spill their seed at the mere glimpse of your menu.

Bad

Bad

Waddling out of Incanto, we jumped (more like fell) back on the Muni and returned to our hotel for the evening.  This wasn’t before stumbling across a jazz club about a block or two from the Hilton.  My intention was to completely avoid live music on this trip, but some of the contents of my stomach jostled around just enough to make room for a taste of dessert. We saw Les Jeoulin’s Jazz Bistro and I wish we didn’t.  The only shitty place we went to in San Francisco.  The service was appalling, if not offensive.  You’re running a jazz club, it’s well after what Americans consider standard dinner hour, so don’t be a dick when a patron is up front with you and saying they’re only getting drinks and dessert.  Douches.  What the fuck were they expecting at 11pm? A five-course order?  In a huff they left The Wife and I stranded, being subjected to shitty smooth jazz interpretations of fucking Watermelon Man.  Yeah, yeah…I know most jazz makes me gag, so why would I go to a jazz club, but the music I can excuse.  The Hostess-quality shit cake in plastic cup drenched in Well-Grade rum I can not.  Hideous.  As soon as I could convince some asshole at that place to come to our table to bring us our check, we paid in full and got the hell out promptly.

Awful

Awful

Even if you might not make a fortune off a particular table some night, treat your table well.  You never know when that person at your table is some asshole with a blog that can send more business your way.  The worst part is that this was the end of an otherwise incredible day.  It’s was like a rancid fart after a basking in the glow of a good run in the sack.  Ugh.

Ok…so I’m already 2,300 words into this pig, and I have yet to get to Day 2 in San Francisco.  I’m going to keep it all here, but now might be a good time to get up, stretch, take a piss, run some errands and come back.  Sorry this thing is so long (that’s what he said) but I’m not only using this for your enjoyment, but also something to use for personal memories (that’s what she said).

Heaven: Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco

Heaven: Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco

Day Two in San Francisco was magnificent.  I finally got to go to one of my life’s destinations, the Ferry Building Marketplace.  When I put the call out to Twitter and Facebook of where to go and eat in San Francisco, the Ferry Building Marketplace was confirmed as a number one destination, as well it should be.  An amazing marketplace of all sorts of restaurants, shops and other food stands, the Ferry Building is the place I would go everyday should we ever move this operation to the City By The Bay.

Good Coffee Made Here

Good Coffee Made Here

Mocha from Blue Bottle Coffee Co.

Mocha from Blue Bottle Coffee Co.

Highly recommended by many and now also by myself is the Blue Bottle Coffee Co.  Anyone that is a coffee nerd is going to love their custom drip process, suspending a filter in the air, directly pour the perfect temperature water over it and letting the good juice drip into the cup.  It was like a standard drip married a French press. So. Good.  The Wife got a Mocha (specifically recommended by follower on Twitter and soon to be a San Franciscan once again, @GeriJeter) and it was as beautiful as it was tasty.  Got to love coffee houses that take so much care in the craft of what they do. There’s so much more to coffee than waking up.

Good Meat Served Here

Good Meat Served Here

SAUSAGE ON A STICK!!!!

SAUSAGE ON A STICK!!!!

I almost walked by the Golden Gate Meat Company stand before I caught the Organic Sausage on a Stick out of the corner of my eye.  Organic. Sausage. On a stick.  How the hell could I turn that down?!?  It was so good.  When animals are left alone to be the animals they are supposed to be, man do they make for some tasty eats.

Ciao Bella Gelato in the Ferry Building Marketplace

Ciao Bella Gelato in the Ferry Building Marketplace

A pleasant surprise was a lemonade drink with a scoop of Blood Orange sorbet from Ciao Bella Gelato, directly across from the Blue Bottle Coffee Co. stand.  They call it something Italiany sounding, but I can’t remember what it is.  Mouth-puckering and sweet, it was a boldly flavored drink that was remarkably refreshing.

Good Bread Made Here

Good Bread Made Here

Assortment of Bread from Acme Bread Co.

Assortment of Bread from Acme Bread Co.

One of the must eats in San Francisco is the Acme Bread Company, nationally recognized as one of the best bread makers in this free land of ours.  I tried an assortment of their breads, finding all of them to be just as good as advertised.  Crusty, rustic and fresh, this is the place to cheat on your diet should you be terrified of carbs.

Not a bad place to chow

Not a bad place to chow

Ferry Building Marketplace

Ferry Building Marketpace

Lucky Bird

Lucky Bird

Full from a bounty of foods, I was sad I wasn’t able to try more.  I guess that’s why people go more than once.  By the time we left the building, the outside was bustling with activity, with phenomenal smelling food stands lined up with droves of people waiting in line to sample their wares.  Everything from Organic Hot Dogs to Grilled Pizzas filled the lot.  If there was a heaven, this would be it.  The next time we go back, there is a Hyatt Regency right across the street from the Ferry Building Marketplace and the venerable One Market Restaurant, as well as right by the Embarcadero Muni station.  Although the Hilton we stayed at was just fine, I think future operations will be held at this Hyatt to be the Official Hotel of My San Franciscan Gluttony.

Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf

Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf

The Wife and The Noodle

The Wife and The Noodle

From the Ferry Building we hopped onto a cable car and went up The Embarcadero to Pier 39.  Yeah yeah yeah, I know it’s a tourist trap, but we were tourists and consider us trapped.  Pier 39 is a decent tourist trap though, and  exposed The Wife and I to a new favorite candy, candy-coated chocolate covered sunflower seeds, affectionately known as Crab Poop.  I will go on record and say that a man hasn’t lived until he has eaten Crab Poop. Crab Poop can be purchased in the store with all of the crab related t-shirts.  I can’t remember the name of it, but you’ll know it when you see it.

Crackhouse on Pier 39

Crackhouse on Pier 39

Bag of Crack

Bag of Crack

As many of you know, I am a sucker for donuts and the smell emanating from Trish’s Mini Donuts was irresistible.  A little  miniature production line like you would see at a Krispy Kreme (minus the Kreme), the cake donuts are practically made to order and are served hot and sprinkled with sugar. Pure crack.

Smelly Sea Lions at Pier 39

Smelly Sea Lions at Pier 39

A main attraction of Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf is viewing the sea lions.  They are amazing to behold, but beware the smell of R.C. (that one’s for my boys in SLC) that occasionally wafts in your face.  Hearing the belches and roars, seeing them get in pissing matches and the resulting open wound battle scars of trying to get to the top of the pile, it was something else.

Far from Bruce Lee

Far from Bruce Lee

Another fun thing at Pier 39 was a real life Hall of Mirrors.  I felt very Bruce Lee-ish circa Enter The Dragon as The Wife and I tried to navigate through the mirror maze.  Nothing makes you feel as stupid as when you see a reflection of yourself, yet continue to walk into yourself.

Worst Street Performer. Ever.

Worst Street Performer. Ever.

Speaking of stupid, Pier 39 also features the worst street performer I’ve ever seen.  The worst jokes, the guy can barely juggle.  He’s the kind of guy you’d expect to see on America’s Got Talent.  Even with how horrendous the guy was, maybe even as a result of such horrendification, there was something endearing about the guy.  What was not endearing however was the little shit punk bastard child left unattended by his useless mother.  A 4-year old heckler, I felt sorry for the poor performer.  People, grab hold of your fucking children and make them obey.  Please. Thank you.

Experiencing enough touristy shit, we decided to get us some culture, so a cable car ride down to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art it was. We didn’t stuff food in our face for at least a half hour, so of course we were hungry.  Not knowing anything in the area, we walked around near the SFMOMA, saw a big red sign and walked towards it.  The sign said “Brewing Company,” the sign said “Spanish Cuisine” and that was more than enough to entice The Wife and I to dine at The Thirsty Bear.

The Thirsty Bear in San Francisco. Go here.

The Thirsty Bear in San Francisco. Go here.

To say the Thirsty Bear has Spanish Cuisine doesn’t quite do it justice. Chef Jessica Gorin is kicking ass and taking names putting a serious California spin on Spanish favorites.  I can’t believe I’ve never heard anything about this restaurant or this chef before stumbling in the door out of sheer chance and hunger.  While the execution was absolutely perfect, the ingredients made a desert fox such as myself completely reconsider what food actually is.

While the best restaurants in Las Vegas will rival any of the best restaurants anywhere else in the world, San Francisco kicks our ass everyday and twice on Sundays when it comes to produce.  I’ve never had grape tomatoes that tasted like these grape tomatoes, corn that tasted like this corn, Romano beans that tasted like these Romano beans, shallots that tasted like these shallots. Unfuckingbelievable.  This food tasted like food.  Imagine the concentration, the clarity and the intensity of the greatest grape you ever tasted, multiply that by 4 and this is the experience of all the produce used at the Thirsty Bear.  Words can’t describe, you just have to go and taste it for yourself.

Menestra from The Thirsty Bear. Nom.

Menestra from The Thirsty Bear. Nom.

Seasonal, fresh, organic and prepared in a way where the ingredients are put on the pedestal they deserve to be on, the food at the Thirsty Bear is spectacular.  Take for instance the Menestra, which I think the loose translation from the Spanish is “mixed veg that doesn’t suck.”   Completely blown away, and if it wasn’t for what we were to eat in Yountville the next day, this would have been THE dish of the vacation.  A mixed vegetable dish topped with an exquisitely poached egg. Amazing.

Spectacular Flatbread from The Thirsty Bear

Spectacular Flatbread from The Thirsty Bear

Also amazing was a flatbread.  I can’t remember everything that was on it, I remember quail eggs, serrano ham, manchego cheese, an olive tapenade and some spicy aioli, but I do remember the foodgasm that ensued upon first bite.  Here was one of those rare instances where you had a shit ton of ingredients, yet it worked as a dish.  So many chefs dick that up, not this one.  I couldn’t imagine an flavor missing, and I couldn’t imagine a flavor added; it was a perfect bite.  After several other fabulous dishes like empanadas and flank steak with chimichurri, we headed back across the street to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Henri Matisse ' Woman In A Hat'

Henri Matisse ' Woman In A Hat'

I don't know who did this, but I liked it.

I don't know who did this, but I liked it.

Ass.

Ass.

Remarkable!

Remarkable!

Much of “modern art” is completely lost on me, and the collection at the SFMOMA is no exception.  It was special to experience the Matisse ‘Woman With A Hat’ first hand, but Warhol and Lichtenstein aren’t my bag.  Even worse were these bullshit videos, one of a guy bending over.  Is that really art?  A black and white film of some dumb bastard bending over?  I guess that’s the point of modern art, to expand and redefine the borders of what art “is,” but I am perfectly comfortable in my closed-mindness to tell you that three blank canvasses hanging on a wall is bullshit and it is not art.  Behold…

Art.

Art.

This day was a special day in California, the day where Prop 8 was overturned.  Being in San Francisco, I expected there to be a Yellow Brick Road laid out with full ticker tape parade of Dorothys celebrating.  But there wasn’t.  There wasn’t a fucking peep.  If it wasn’t splashed on the headline of the San Francisco Chronicle, you would never know what happened.  I guess when people are finally given the privilege to be treated like a human being, it isn’t much cause to celebrate.  There was more of a “what the fuck took so long” feeling in the air.  I think being in San Francisco during this major event and advancement in equality and experiencing this reaction was much more special than the Dorothys.  This is the kind of feeling that sticks with you in the important way.

Castro Theater Sign

Castro Theater Sign

However, if you’re going to see an impromptu performance of the Wizard of Oz, the best chance of it happening is in the Castro neighborhood.   Castro isn’t just all about being loud and proud though, Castro is also home to Ike’s Place, maker of ginormous hoagies.

Home of the Ridiculous and the Delicious

Home of the Ridiculous and the Delicious

Kitchen at Ike's Place

Kitchen at Ike's Place

Ike’s Place is an interesting space.  It’s a kitchen, and that’s it.  Your order is taken at the front door and you’re only allowed inside to pick out your drink and chips.  You wait outside, there are no tables to be found and apparently the neighbors bitch about the droves of hungry people waiting in line for a spectacular Ike’s Place sub.  They have over 100 subs to choose from, ranging from the huge to the absolutely ridiculous.  Being the supreme glutton I am, I of course went for the absolutely ridiculous and this was in the form of the Lex Luthor.

The Lex Luthor from Ike's Place

The Lex Luthor from Ike's Place

Chai Cola. Who knew?

Chai Cola. Who knew?

The Lex Luthor is Niman Ranch Hamburger Meat, Chicken Fried Steak, Ribeye Steak, Mozzarella Sticks, American Cheese and all the standard greenery and goop one would expect on such a beast.  It is huge, and I only could get through half of it.  The Wife got the Hot Mama Huda which was Chicken Breast, Frank’s Red Hot, Ranch and Provolone.  Not as big as the Lex Luthor but still fabulously flavorful.  Ike’s serves their sandwiches with Dirty Potato Chips and have the most interesting soft drink selection I have ever seen.  I went for some kind of Chai Spiced Cola and it was ass-kickingly incredible.

Harvey's in Castro

Harvey's in Castro

Tasty drinks from Harvey's

Tasty drinks from Harvey's

As I said before, there are no seats to be found at Ike’s, so we walked up to Castro St., sat in a little public park right next to a cable car track and in the light of the historic Castro Theater sign.  After powering through as much as we could of the delicious beasts, we walked down to Harvey’s, named after a true hero of the gay community, and quite frankly a hero to humanity, Harvey Milk.  I thought it was a nice nod to a remarkable guy on the street where he launched a revolution.  We only got a drink there, I can’t even remember what I had, but I do remember it was good and that there was an interesting mixed drink selection.  The food we saw at the other tables looked like quality bar food, I wouldn’t mind giving it a shot on a return visit.

It is from here that we rolled ourselves into a taxi and returned to the hotel, thus ending a fabulous two days in a fabulous town.  Thus ending this nightmarish beast of a post.  I think if anyone actually made it this far, you really need to leave a comment and kind of sign your name and get the recognition you deserve.  I wish I had medals to hand out.  To everyone that bailed a long time ago, I’m certainly not offended, there’s no way in hell I would have made it.

No, we didn’t go to Chez Panisse, we didn’t even think about going to the O.G. Fleur de Lys or even wanted to step foot in a Michael Mina joint. We didn’t see Japantown or North Beach and we fucking missed out on Alcatraz because it was sold out.  To the bitter disappointment of several friends on Twitter and Facebook, we didn’t get to hit up Molinari’s either (sorry @Chef_RyanR & @TonyJnVegas). But we’ll be back, my sweet love.  Oh yes…we will be back.

Part III will cover the last leg of our journey; The Wife and I’s 5th Anniversary in Yountville and our drive down the coast to Santa Barbara.  I swear it will be nowhere near the size of this pig.

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Remember, you can vote once per day from now through 9/30/10! Thanks!

Remember, you can vote once per day from now through 9/30/10! Thanks!

Monday Mise en Place: Hash House A Go Go Holding Job Fair For New Location

Hash House A Go Go Logo

Hash House A Go Go Logo

Las Vegas went such a long time with only one Hash House A Go Go location, but now they seem to be popping up like pimples on Montana Fishburne’s ass.  The third location will mercifully take over the Red Cup Café space at the M Resort and is slated to open sometime in October.  They’re looking for a wide range of positions, both front and back of house, and they are holding a job fair in the Molise Room 4 in the M Resort on Tuesday August 17 and Wednesday August 18 from 9am-6pm.  If you’re looking for a gig, make sure you’re prepared for an interview.  Best wishes to all applicants!

Pistachio Summer Fruit Tart from Bachi Burger. Amazing.

Pistachio Summer Fruit Tart from Bachi Burger. Amazing.

Due to overwhelming demand, Bachi Burger is shooting their day off out the window and are re-opening with slightly shorter hours than the rest of the week, 12pm-8pm, on Sundays. (of course they’re keeping their Monday-Saturday hours from 11am-2am) By the way, they’ve got a new limited-time special burger there called the Spicy Miso Burger along with a new item on the dessert menu, a Pistachio Summer Fruit Tart, that will knock your socks off.  I call the Spicy Miso Burger a Four Napkin Burger.  You need three for your face and hands and one for the mess that is sure to be made in your lap after you take your first bite.  The Summer Fruit Tart is easily one of the best desserts I’ve ever had and comes with this Plum Wine Ice Cream that will make you thankful to be alive. They’re good.

Good Food Made Here. Silk Road.

Good Food Made Here. Silk Road.

One of the highest recommendations I give is for people to hit up Chef Martin Heierling’s Silk Road at the Vdara hotel for breakfast.  I just got word in that for a limited time, Silk Road will be offering half priced bottles of champagne along with their fabulous Sunday Brunch. Like we needed another reason to go eat the sensational food, half price bottles of bubbles ain’t that bad!  Remember, it’s only for a limited time, so make sure you call ahead if the deal is going to make or break your visit.

Comeoniwannaleiyou Day at First

Comeoniwannaleiyou Day at First

Celebrating the anniversary of Hawaii’s Statehood, First Food and Bar is throwing a full blown Luau on Saturday, August 21st starting at 9pm.  They’ll have all the traditional Hawaiian grub from Kaluha Pork to Spam and will be having drink specials as well.  Anybody that scores a picture of 0 in a grass skirt and coconut bra will be my Hero for Life!

Vote Once Per Day!

Vote Once Per Day!

Speaking of First, thank you so much to all that have already voted and have been promoting my ‘Medium Raw’ contest entry!  We still have a long way to go as I’m over 2,600 votes shy of the top, but I’m still hopeful to make up some ground with us being able to vote once per day from now through 9/30.  I know many of you have posted links on Twitter and Facebook, but I do have to give a special shoutout to two fabulous ladies that have been going above and beyond trying to get the word out, @aka_kristin and @Adeviousone on Twitter.  It seems like everytime I go on Twitter, one of them has put a link up, browbeating their own followers to help me out.  Thank you so much to both of them and thank you so much to everyone for your incredible support!  With your help, we can bang this thing out and take one home for the 702!

A direct link to read my entry, Cooking Well Is First, and to vote for it is - http://bourdainmediumraw.com/essays/view/1409

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Mike and The Wife Do California, Part I: Reflections Among The Big Ass Trees

For the first vacation The Wife and I have taken in over three years, we decided a road trip through California was in order.  Yeah….I know….three years.  When greedy scumfuck banks decide to jack your credit card rates up to 30% for no reason at all other than they are greedy scumfuck banks, sacrifices must be made.  And besides, we live in Las Vegas, it’s like living in a vacation anyway…except for the whole work part.

Big Ass Tree in Sequoia National Park

Big Ass Tree in Sequoia National Park

But I digress, it was good to get out of the heat and see something new.  We took 8 days to drive first to Sequoia National Park, then up to San Francisco, then a quick day in  Yountville, then down the coast to Santa Barbara where we would then come home.  Not only was this a vacation, but it surrounded The Wife and I’s 5th Anniversary, which we celebrated while in Yountville.  Why the hell that woman has stayed with me for 5 years is beyond me, but who am I to question.

Another part of the trip was to get away from Tasting Las Vegas for a bit, which a few of you noticed.  It was indeed nice to look into The Wife’s blue eyes during meals instead of FourSquaring and taking notes.  It was also nice to have a conversation with her rather than say, “Get the hell away from me, I’m writing.”  And while I could use another 2 or 3 years..I mean weeks away from the Bill Payer, I missed TLV and you fine folks dearly.

So it was off to the open road we were, cooler packed with lots of water, lemonade and cranberry juice and a bag full of chips, pretzels and other processed foods one should only eat while on a road trip or in the middle of a bout with deep depression (Oreo Cakesters, FTW!).  I finally subscribed to XM / Sirius Radio or whatever the hell they call it now.  The soundtrack to this trip was provided by the 80′s on 8 and Howard Stern.  Unfortunately, Howard was on vacation the very same week, so they had a “Gayest Week Ever” thing which was all of his offensive, homophobic shit about gays from over the years.  Most of it wasn’t funny, especially the sketch bits, however I almost drove off the road from laughing listening to George Takei pick who has The Prettiest Penis or hearing Artie Lange’s story about getting spooge on his chest during a threeway.

The Mad Greek

The Mad Greek

Our first pit stop was the one made by countless other travelers on I-15 between Vegas and LA, The Mad Greek in Baker, CA.  Eating at the Mad Greek brought on thoughts of a growing concern within myself, and that is since I started to write about restaurants and food, constantly thinking about it with my Holier-Than-Thou Judgment Cap (patent pending), I’m starting to enjoy shitty, greasy roadhouse food, less.  The diners, drive-in’s and dives are starting to appeal to me less and less, and it’s not just because Guy Fieri makes the hair on my balls curl even more than it’s supposed to.

Where in my youth the gut rot from a greasy spoon used to be worn like a badge of honor, it now just pisses me off.  Now I look for shitholes that make good food and use good ingredients.  The days of Sysco Whipped Imitation Butter and chemical eggs are way behind me, which unfortunately makes 90% of American breakfast joints now suck.  It’s not just that I don’t like it anymore, I can’t really eat it anymore. Period.  If I eat that poison, now it feels like my gut is on fire, there’s a vice on my chest and it only goes away once I do a scatological imitation of the Bellagio Fountains out of my ass.  It sucks getting old.

Gyros From The Mad Greek in Baker, CA

Gyros From The Mad Greek in Baker, CA

Anywho, I got the obligatory Gyros at the Mad Greek, and where it was once a dish that I would scarf down and ask for more, it was now just another roadside plate of shit that’s going to give me The Agita in about 20 minutes after consumption.  I must say though, it was sort of worth the burn.  The Gyros at the Mad Greek is certainly nothing special in and of itself, but it’s one of those rites of passage travelers in our little corner of the Earth should do.  And if you’re hungry and in Baker…it’s not like you have many other choices.

All of the Middle of California Looks Like This

All of the Middle of California Looks Like This

We pressed on from the Home of the World’s Largest Thermometer to Three Rivers, CA, the entrance to Sequoia National Park.  For those not familiar with driving through the guts of California, it’s something you really need to see.  The rolling golden hills look so soft from a distance that you want to pet them.  Once you get off the exit on your way to Sequoia National Park, much more of the greens come in with jagged rocks jutting through.  The winding roads were a wake up call for this Pennsylvania hick now turned Certified City Boy….well…maybe Certified Suburbia Boy.

Three Rivers is a cute no-traffic-light town that appears to solely exist to be one of the entrances to the park.  No one in the history of big ass trees (and that’s a long history as many of the trees are over 2,000 years old!) has ever gone to Sequoia National Park for the food, so I’ll try not to shred the food too much, but it was certainly something that made me reflect on life in Vegas.

One reflection is that where Las Vegas might not have the baseline of produce (more about that in Part II where I’ll talk about San Francisco) found elsewhere and while the prices in Las Vegas might be jacked up for mid-range joints on up, Las Vegas kicks the ass off of any town’s service across the board.  Whether you are rolling 3-Star at Robuchon or whether you are getting a quick nosh at a place like the Weiss Deli, service in Las Vegas is MILES beyond most other comparable establishments elsewhere.  Is it because the jacked up prices attract the cream of the crop?  I don’t know.  But it’s just better.  A good side effect from living in a town built on the service industry, I suppose.  It shouldn’t be rocket science to keep a water glass full, check on the table every now and then and for shit’s sake to pick up the damn check once we stick the credit card in the folder…but in many places, it is.

Buckeye Tree Lodge at the entrance to Sequoia National Park

Buckeye Tree Lodge at the entrance to Sequoia National Park

The view from our balcony

The view from our balcony

We stayed at the Buckeye Tree Lodge which I would recommend to anyone thinking about hitting up Sequoia National Park.  We had a stunning view from our balcony of a mountainside whitewater creek running in the backyard of the inn.  There’s no food at the Buckeye, but next door was the closest place and by looking at a selection of menus in our hotel’s office, the fanciest place in town, the Gateway Restaurant and Lodge.

Spiders Come Free!

Spiders Come Free!

“Rustic” doesn’t quite describe the Gateway.  More like infested shed.  The Gateway also has a fabulous view from their back balcony outdoor seating area.  Unfortunately the tables were strewn with bird shit on the tablecloths and spider webs, complete with the spiders that spun them, riddled the railing along side the table.  Needless to say, we didn’t sit out there for long and relocated to their indoor dining area.

Surf and Turf, or Suffer and Tough

Surf and Turf, or Suffer and Tough

Once inside, we ordered our food, The Wife going for Ribs and I springing for the $30 Surf and Turf of Shrimp Scampi and Filet Mignon.  Isn’t that cute?  I don’t think I’ve ordered Surf and Turf since living in Upstate NY.   I should say that beforehand, even the nice lady running the office at our hotel warned us of The Gateway, however I assumed it was because of the exorbitant-for-the-area prices, which were half of what we’re used to in our Little Twinkle in the Desert.  However, I didn’t take into account that the quality of the food was below a Village Pub, thus making the meal twice as expensive as a comparable meal in Vegas.  Needless to say, the fanciest restaurant in Three Rivers, CA is a far cry from the fanciest restaurant in Las Vegas, NV.  The evening was capped off when a spider came down on a web from the ceiling and crawled into the bread basket.  Hilarious!  For the rest of the trip, the Gateway was officially known as “the place with the spider bread.”  I wonder if they’ll add that line to their advertising!

The view on the way up to the Big Ass Trees in Sequoia National Park

The view on the way up to the Big Ass Trees in Sequoia National Park

The next day we made the trek up to the star of the area, Sequoia National Park.  The difference between Sequoias and Redwoods is that Redwoods are taller and found on California’s coast, Sequoias are thicker and found more in-land.  These are some big fucking trees.  It’s about a 45-minute twisting, winding and stunningly gorgeous drive from the entrance to the park to the Grove of the Big Ass Trees (I think they call it the Giant Forest, I’m partial to my version).  I can’t even count the number of times I nearly drove us to our ultimate demise off the side of the mountain due to being awestruck by the scenery.  I’m not even much of a nature person, and this is something I’d recommend anyone to do at least once in their lives.

Makes for a nice Commemorative Paperweight!

Makes for a nice Commemorative Paperweight!

As I said before, no one has ever gone to Sequoia National Park for the food, and the Lodge at Wuksachi Village certainly won’t buck the trend.  I knew before even entering the restaurant that there must have been something called a Sequoia Burger with my name on it, and not to disappoint, the Giant Sequoia Beef Burger was nearly top billing on the menu for $10.25.  I think the namesake trees might be easier to chew and swallow, but I didn’t expect anything less.  A half-pound incinerated gray puck of despair.   Strikingly flavorless, however, was the Onion Soup.  I didn’t know that it was possible to make beef broth and onion to have no flavor, but they figured out a way.  I’d like to imagine a world where food served in the middle of the wilderness didn’t have to suck, but I guess I’m going to have to keep imagining.  The moral of the story is…if you’re going to Sequoia National Park….pack a sandwich.

The General Sherman, A Really Big Fucking Tree

The General Sherman, A Really Big Fucking Tree

Sequoia National Park is home to the largest tree in the world by volume, The General Sherman Tree.  Many of the trees in the park were named in the Civil War era, so there was the General Grant, the General Lee and so on.  Neither words, nor pictures can appropriately describe the size of the General Sherman.  It’s a really big fucking tree. That’s about as good as I can do.

The path to the General Sherman from the nearest parking lot is about a half mile, but it is very steep and at over 7,000 ft.  If you wanted a good laugh, you should have seen my fat ass struggling to make it back up the mountain to the car.  I thought I was going to die.  If you want an even better laugh, I present to you an (as far as we know) unnamed tree that is still pretty big which The Wife and I named The Lance Armstrong.  Behold…

The Lance Armstrong Tree

The Lance Armstrong Tree

That's my girl!

That's my girl!

Exhausted from the walk back up to the car, we said goodbye to the land of the Big Ass  Trees, drove back down the mountain and retreated to our hotel room before going to a restaurant that’s name tugged on my Vegas-centric heartstrings, Serrano’s.

Far From Julian...

Far From Julian...

The Don Jesus Burrito from Serrano's in Three River, CA

The Don Jesus Burrito from Serrano's in Three River, CA

The Three Rivers version of Serrano’s however is of course a far cry from our hometown hero.  This Serrano’s is a Mexican joint.  I won’t knock it too bad, as it was the best food we had by a landslide thus far on our voyage.  Again, it was a name on the menu that dictated what I ordered and the Don Jesus Burrito it was.  It was a huge carne asada burrito with all the fixin’s.  While anyone that is of Mexican descent or has ever seen a person of Mexican descent will think that Taco Bell is closer to the truth, the food was certainly edible and met my needs just fine.

No Bueno.

No Bueno.

A Plate of the Unchewable and Flavorless

A Plate of the Unchewable and Flavorless

Unfortunately, the some of the worst food of the trip was had the following morning on our way out of town and onto one of my favorite places on Earth, San Francisco.  Breakfast at the We Three Bakery & Restaurant was brutal, and no matter how bad you expect the food to be at such an out of the way place, this is one to pass as you’re on your way to some other hole.  I went for the Steak and Eggs and I wish I didn’t.  The restaurant itself looked like the Republican Party exploded all over the walls.  Military, America and Apple Pie.  While I’ll certainly always support our troops, it’s a rarity that I support the people that support our troops, if ya know what I mean.  Regardless of the politics, the food was inedible.   It’s from this Tea Party Hookup House that we left the woods and made our way to civilization once again.  Good civilization.  Civilization with good restaurants.  San Francisco.

Home of Unmatched Beauty, Not So Hot Food

Home of Unmatched Beauty, Not So Hot Food

Our trip to Sequoia National Park not only had me reflect on the majestic beauty of Mother Nature, still un-raped by mankind, but it also made me reflect on how sorry I feel for people that don’t live within a reasonable distance of a good restaurant.  It’s such a joy that I take for granted living in one of the premiere restaurant towns on Earth, it takes moments like these to remember not everyone has our luxury.  And sure, people can’t imagine people living in a place with billboards about starring in internet porn, but everybody eats, and it’s too bad some people can’t leave the pots and pans in the cupboard and go out once in a while to eat well.

I suppose ignorance is bliss to a certain degree, but it still makes me sad. My desire for everyone to experience the best in life almost makes me want to help these fine folks like a Red Cross Doctor would aid a poor child stricken with malaria in the African bush.  A Restaurants Without Borders, if you will.  If only I could put Rick Moonen in a backpack and have him whip up some Cioppino at some distant, Middle American land.  Move over American Cancer Society, I think I’ve just founded the greatest charity. Ever.

I guess I’ll split our California Road Trip up into three parts. The next will be solely dedicated to San Francisco and I’ll round out the series with Yountville and Santa Barbara being the third.  Stay tuned for more adventures.  I promise, the next one will be more about food.  Good food.  Until then, to my fellow Las Vegas valley residents, go to your favorite restaurant soon, kiss the chefs and toss a few extra bucks into the tip jar for the servers.  Be thankful for what we have.

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Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

You can vote once per day from now until 09/30/10!  Thanks for your help!

You can vote once per day from now until 09/30/10! Thanks for your help!

Cast Your Vote To Get Me Published in Anthony Bourdain's 'Medium Raw'!

TLV Army!  I call upon you as I am in need of great assistance.  I’ve entered a contest being held by the publishers of Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Medium Raw’ (my review of  ’Medium Raw’) and I need votes to get my essay published in the paperback edition of the book!  The contest is to write a 500-word essay on what it means to cook well.

Your Vote Can Help Get This Bubble Gum and Duct Tape Operation Published!

Your Vote Can Help Get This Bubble Gum and Duct Tape Operation Published!

When I think of “cooking well,”  I can’t help but think of the ass-kicking crew at First Food and Bar, so they are ultimately who I decided to write about.  First has a crew bursting with pride, dedicated to the highest quality ingredients that consistently bangs out innovative food at a high level of execution. It’s this foundation that First Food and Bar is built upon that makes it a shining example of cooking well.

Please check out my essay, Cooking Well Is First and if you dig it, please vote for it, and please vote for it often.  Tell your friends, put it up on Twitter and Facebook.  Anything you’re willing to do to help me out achieve this once in a lifetime opportunity is greatly appreciated.  Also, I beg your forgiveness as this certainly won’t be the first time you’ll be hearing my plea for votes!

A direct link to the essay is found at – http://bourdainmediumraw.com/essays/view/1409

I’ve also put a little widget at the top right hand corner of TastingLasVegas.com that you can click on anytime to vote.

Thanks again so much for your help!  Wish me luck!

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Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Monday...err...Tuesday Mise en Place: Tasting Las Vegas Has Returned!

From Highway 1 in California

From Highway 1 in California

What’s good, everybody?  Did you miss us?  Did you even know we were gone?  The Wife and I are back in Vegas from a much needed vacation, the first one we’ve taken in well over three years!  We did a road trip through the Great State of California where we first went to Sequoia National Park, then one of my favorite places on Earth, San Francisco, then up to Yountville for our 5th Anniversary (can you believe it?) and finally making our way down the coast to Santa Barbara.  We drove a total of 1,559.1 miles and ate at (I think) 27 different restaurants / food stands / places where calories are consumed.  Much more about our epic journey through the Golden State to be posted this week…

Las Vegas' Restaurant Week Benefits Three Square! Yay!

Las Vegas' Restaurant Week Benefits Three Square! Yay!

Get your fat pants on deck as one of the best weeks of the year, Restaurant Week, rapidly approaches with it falling on August 30 – September 5 this year!  Over 80 restaurants in town will participate with special menus they create for $20.10, $30.10 or $50.10, a portion of each of the proceeds will directly benefit the our favorite charity, Three Square.  As we get closer to the August 30th start date, the participating restaurants will be putting out their special menus and we’ll certainly pass along the details once we have them.

Club Fortune Casino Logo

Club Fortune Casino Logo

For those of us interested in shortening our life spans with grotesque food challenges (Dobranski Burger, anyone?), Emily’s Cafe in the Club Fortune Casino located in old school Henderson now has a Colossus Burger Challenge. If you alone eat the 12-pattied monstrosity in 20 minutes or less, you get the $19.99 burger for free, get your picture on the wall and get a t-shirt.  Eat it after the 20 minutes, you still get the shirt.  Due to fear of The Wife’s Wrath, I will not be attempting it, but I sure as hell would like to see someone try!  Let me know if you’re going down!

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Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

The TLV Clips Show: A Look Back On Seven Months of Dick Jokes

It was just a little bit over seven months ago when I was on the hunt for available domain names to find the address where I can set up my house of disgruntled filth and hyperbolic verbosity.  We started at two with Michael also occasionally chiming in, but are now streamlined to have only one main mouthpiece that pollutes the Earth like a BP Oil Rig.  It has been a very fine seven months as I’ve gotten to know so many of you over both Facebook and Twitter, but it is now time to take a brief pause and come back refreshed and ready for bigger and better things.  In other words…we need a fucking vacation.

I’ve chosen the following posts from over the past seven months for those that haven’t been with us since the beginning and for those that want to relive the fun as Tasting Las Vegas has progressed from a shitty blog written by an unqualified asshole, to…..a still shitty blog written by an unqualified asshole.  Damn…I guess I have some work to do.

Please enjoy this little look back over the last 7 months as The Wife and I take some time and look back over the last 5 years.  Yes, The Wife and I will be celebrating our Fifth Anniversary on August 6th and reflecting on the worst “I do” ever muttered out of The Wife’s mouth.  Contrary to popular belief, no, she was not held at gunpoint and no I was not holding scandalous blackmail material over her head, but I can not and will not speak as to her sobriety on that day.

I’ll be back with more of the same, yet slightly refreshed dick jokes on August 10th.  Communication through e-mail, Facebook and Twitter will also come to as much of a halt as I can muster as I truly want to get off the grid and look into The Wife’s blue eyes for a change rather than trying to find the fucking restaurant on Foursquare.  Please enjoy and see y’all on the 10th!

The Pasta Shop Menu, soon to be located in The Hendo!

The Pasta Shop Menu, soon to be located in The Hendo!

*– Here’s the first full review I did and it is also the first appearance of The Wife on TastingLasVegas.com.  Coincidentally, there is exciting news about the Pasta Shop & Ristorante as they are moving their location to Horizon Ridge & Carnegie in Henderson (in the strip mall below the new Lindo Michoacan).  This was one of the first restaurants The Wife and I ate at since we moved to Las Vegas and has remained one of our favorites.

The Pasta Shop & Ristorante – Mike’s Review

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As A Series of Shameful Journalism Is Born...

As A Series of Shameful Journalism Is Born...

*– I quickly came to the realization that my poor attempts to remain unnoticed and not use flash photography would provide me with a whole bunch of exceptionally shitty pictures of dishes that were perfectly beautiful in real life.  The Weekly Bad Picture of Good Food was born with this post and the world of food journalism has never been the same since.

The Weekly Bad Picture of Good Food: Artichoke Toasts from Firefly

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Jim King at the Molto Vegas Farmers Market

Jim King at the Molto Vegas Farmers Market

*– The first featured story I did about a place (there’s got to be some journo lingo for that) introduced me to some great people who put out some great products.  When I met Jim King my excitement to eventually do Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast increased ten fold.  Hopefully we’ll get the podcast up and running in mid to late September and hopefully I can score a bit of Jim’s time.  Hilarious!

Molto Vegas Farmer’s Market Offers Pride, Variety and Quality

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The House That Buttercream Built

The House That Buttercream Built

*– The next featured story I did also featured the debut of The Official Photographer of Tasting Las Vegas, Kevin Stout.  In a never before told behind the scenes story, all of Kevin’s gear was actually stolen out of his car the weekend before this photo shoot took place. What a fine job he did with what he put together.   A trooper that Kevin Stout, a trooper. By the way, everyone at some point needs to make their way up to Retro Bakery and hang with Kari and Brian for a bit and gorge on their sweet love.  I heart Retro Bakery.

Retro Bakery: Two Years of Buttercream Love and Counting!

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The Dobranski Burger from First Food and Bar

The Dobranski Burger from First Food and Bar

*– Behold the epic tale of the birth of The Dobranski Burger at First Food and Bar.  In late breaking news, The Dobranski Burger is no longer available as a regular item on First’s Late Night Menu, but it will now be offered as a challenge on the First Friday of every month.  Challengers have been writing in to take the title.  I say to them, Good Luck and Godspeed!

Adventures in Gluttony: “The Dobranski” is Born at First Food and Bar

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Little Black Book of Horrors

Little Black Book of Horrors

*– Not everything in life is pretty, and neither is the food at Elements, nor this review.  This remains as one of the nastiest shreds I’ve done.  I still remember the taste of the vile chimichurri and the sound of that bitch telling me I don’t know how to taste food.  I may not know how to taste food, but I sure as hell know how to publicly tear apart a restaurant.  Bitch.

First (and Last) Impressions: Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar – Mike’s Review

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Tortured Liver of Tastiness

Tortured Liver of Tastiness

*– As a few of you may have noticed, I have many intentions on doing a whole bunch of different series and features and they inevitably fall apart and fizzle into nothingness (hey there, Best Taco in Vegas…oops).  I still want to do this What The Hell Is That?!? series, but who knows when I’ll start it up again.  Here is the one and only representative of a dream that has yet to come to full fruition.

What the Hell is That?!? – Foie Gras

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The Wife Hanging With Chef Rick Moonen

The Wife Hanging With Chef Rick Moonen

*– Behold!  The one and only post written by The Wife! Rick Moonen had a bit of a partay to celebrate the re-opening of the upstairs dining room and his re-boot on Top Chef Masters.  I had to pay tha’ billz, so The Wife came to rescue and covered this fun event.

Chef Rick Moonen Celebrates Re-Opening of RM Upstairs and Top Chef Masters Redemption!

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Chef Martin Heierling of Silk Road

Chef Martin Heierling of Silk Road

*– One of my favorite Tasting Las Vegas days was the day I got to sit down with Chef Martin Heierling of Sensi and Silk Road fame and have a chat.  He’s a fascinating guy that can cook his ass off.  One of the best breakfasts you can get anywhere is at Silk Road.  Martin is another guy that makes me chomp at the bit to start up Tasting Las Vegas: The Podcast.

Breakfast at Heierling’s: Great Food and Conversation at Silk Road

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Alain Ducasse Kicks Off Vegas Uncork'd!

Alain Ducasse Kicks Off Vegas Uncork'd!

*– Featuring more fine photography by The Official Photographer of Tasting Las Vegas, Kevin Stout and the debut of yet another feature that is on life support which will hopefully someday be resurrected, Tasting Las Vegas TV, here is a tale of the opening day of one of the greatest culinary events on Earth; Vegas Uncork’d

Vegas Uncork’d 2010 Kicked Off With A Champagne Splash

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Best Use of the R-J

Best Use of the R-J

*– It’s no secret, I hate the Las Vegas Review-Journal.  Here is my heart-felt “Fuck you” in their general direction.

Why Does the Las Vegas Review-Journal Suck?

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Read this!

Read this!

*– It’s no secret, I love Anthony Bourdain.  Probably from the proud-to-be-immature tone of this blog, you already knew that.  I think he’s funny, I think he’s honest and I am inspired by the things he writes.

Book Review: Anthony Bourdain Cooks A Perfect ‘Medium Raw’

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A Man of Many Opinions

A Man of Many Opinions

*– As I said before, we started with two, but now we are one.  Here is the tale and the announcement of Michael Manley going off into the Age of Manley.

Michael Manley Begins The Age of Manley

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KNPR Studios

KNPR Studios

*– Here is the solitary day where Tasting Las Vegas went mainstream.  Although I  may not agree much with Pope Curtas the ELV, I have much respect for what he does and a great appreciation for the props he has given to this bubble gum and duct tape operation here at Tasting Las Vegas.  Many thanks to John and Max for graciously giving me a little bit of their air space.

Hitting the Airwaves with John, Max & Jillian: KNPR’s State of Nevada Features Food Bloggers

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Chef José Andrés

Chef José Andrés

*– And last but not least, proof that I’m not so much of an asshole that I can’t alter my view on the world when new information comes about.  While originally I was bored with the Cosmopolitan, I am now excited.   December 15th can’t get here soon enough!

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Ups the Ante With Hipness and Andrés

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Over this next week I hope these oldies but goodies help keep your fix of amateurish food writing.  Here’s looking forward to more of the same, as obviously, development is not one of Tasting Las Vegas’ virtues!  See y’all again on August 10th. Bye, for now!

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Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Monday Mise en Place: Chefs of First Food and Bar to Have Wing Throwdown

The Site of the Wing Throwdown. Lives will be changed forever.

The Site of the Wing Throwdown. Lives will be changed forever.

Three chefs of the First Food and Bar kitchen; Sam DeMarco, Rob Ryan & Jake Mual, are going to have a Wing Throwdown on Saturday, July 31 to see who makes the best Chicken Wing at First. Diners will be the judges of who’s wing reigns supreme.  I’ve talked with each of the competitors and the battle is ON for this one, especially with the never ending breaking of balls at stake.

Following the Throwdown, the first 10 competitors to sign up will compete in a Wing Eating Competition emceed by yours truly!  The winner of the Wing Eating Competition will receive a $100 Gift Certificate to First and a goodie bag.  More importantly, they will be immortalized forever on TastingLasVegas.com as the First Food and Bar Wing Eating Champion.  The spoils of war are tremendous in this one!

Here’s how the night is scheduled to go down:

Saturday, July 31, 2010

  • 10 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. – Diners are invited to judging and vote for their favorite wing
  • 10 p.m. – Sign up for wing eating competition begins (remember, limited to the 1st 10 people that sign up)
  • Midnight – 1 a.m. – Post party with open sponsored bar by Stoli White Pomagranik and specials from Wirtz Beverage Coors.

Of course, First’s infamous Happy Hour starts at 11pm, featuring 2-for-1 Draft Beer, Stoli and Patron.

This should be one hell of a Saturday night, it would be great to see you all!  I’ve set up a Facebook Event so you can let us know you’re coming.  Tell your friends!

Crema Catalana from Julian Serrano

Crema Catalana from Julian Serrano

It’s official, people have gone off the deep end with these National Days.  We just had National Tequila Day and Tuesday the 27th is National Creme Brulee Day, which if you must celebrate, get the Crema Catalana from Julian Serrano at Aria or the new Chai Tea Creme Brulee from First Food and Bar.

Apparently Riesling wine is too good to just have a day so they took a whole fucking week. No…really.  In honor of Riesling Week (July 25 – August 1) Alizé at the top of the Palms has a special Riesling Week menu at $65 that features items like Smoked Salmon and Ratatouille Roulade, Phyllo Wrapped Anjou Pear and Roquefort Cheese and Smoked Bacon Wrapped Coq au Vin.  For more information and to see the complete special menu, check out http://www.andrelv.com/alize/events.

Locals favorite, Rosemary’s Restaurant, is offering a flight of three different Rieslings for $18 and the Michael Mina joint at Aria, American Fish, is doing the same for two bucks cheaper at $16.

Logo of the Tired and Cranky

Logo of the Tired and Cranky

A quick bit of news about the home front here at Tasting Las Vegas and that is The Wife and I are going on VACATION!  Finally!  We will be going off the grid from August 2nd – August 10th, so you won’t be seeing any posts or much on Twitter or Facebook during that time.  Just wanted to give you a heads up so you didn’t think we quit / died.

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Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas