And All Was Quiet

October 21, 2014
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We're gonna miss them so! The past month flew by at rapid pace. Addison came to us five weeks old. She was wee and cute as can be. She left us at nine weeks, she grew bunches, she was alert, always on the go and cuter than ever. I've never seen a two month old be so active and have so much personality. My sister is going to have her hands full with that one!

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Nicolas is a super big brother he adores his baby sister and tries to soothe her. He is so smart and kind. I don't know a sweeter boy. He's grown so fast. He is 7 going on 17. Video games, Youtube and making excuses to avoid homework are his priorities. Frank taught him blackjack (a sneaky way to practice math). If it wasn't for his age, he could start working on the strip. No joke, he's got dealing down. He knows when to split and double down. Frank gave him lessons on poker, but 21 was his preference. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if he started hustling kids for halloween candy (his mom and uncle did the same, when Frank taught them when they were kids).

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It's wild to think my baby sister has two kiddos - it doesn't seem like that long ago, Frank was throwing her around in our backyard pool (she was 8, when Frank and I started dating). She's such a great mom and she was such a big help while they were here. It's always the best catching up with her. Our time together is never long enough. She always makes me laugh until I'm in tears.

We'll miss them all more than they know.

Saturday, after taking them to the airport, Mike and I took mom home. She has completed 20 out of 30 radiation treatments. She's had a rough go of it, side effects started after seven sessions. They've worsened with each since. Her blood clot is no longer a concern, however, she remains on Cumadin to prevent others from forming. It was thought another had formed in her other leg, but an ultrasound revealed that it was a lymph node that was swelling instead of a clot. The reasoning is still unknown. Lupus and mixed connective tissue disease have been ruled out (after meeting with a new rheumatologist). She was misdiagnosed in May. Her tests were false positive because of her body fighting the cancer. It doesn't explain the Lupus-like symptoms, but it is relief to know she has two less things ailing her. The lymph node can be swelling due to hystiocytosis. However, a biopsy will need to be done to confirm. At this point, my mom's oncologist doesn't want to put her through more than necessary. Radiation has caused fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, burning of the esophagus, difficulty swallowing and a rash on her chest, arms and back. Her doctor has given her a week off. So, this week she is at home recuperating. Hopefully, the break will provide just what she needs to continue the fight.

This will be the longest stretch since June that I'll have no house guests. As much as I love my family. The quiet is nice too.

Cabin by the Sea

October 17, 2014
Last weekend, I surprised my mom with a trip to La Jolla, CA. It's not often that we're all together, and it's extremely rare that we can take a vacation together. So, I started planning about two months ago. I knew I wanted to rent a house, near the beach. I scoured VRBO and AirBnB, my first choices fell through. A few weren't available. One was in Oceanside, but it wasn't my desired location. I decided to spend a little more and get something that really suited our needs. La Jolla is my favorite place in California when I found a property that looked like a cabin by the sea, I knew it was meant to be. "Cabin by the Sea" is one of my all time favorites by the Dirty Heads.

Frank was unable to get away from work, so it was just me, Mike, mom, Amy and the kids. I had to rent a van to transport all of us. It was my first time using the rental car facility. It is pretty convenient despite my experience being a bit flawed. There was a long wait to be greeted at the counter, and it took an hour to get the van on the lower level because none were available. I never guessed it would've taken 1.5 hours to pick up a rental. Thankfully, drop off was breeze. Even with paying the added airport fees, it was cheaper than renting from an alternate location. One thing to note is that all rental companies at the rental facility charge a daily fee for an added driver. It was not worth the $11/day to me.

Our drive down took forever. I mistakenly followed directions and followed the 215. I should know better, Frank has learned to take the 15. But it was my first time driving to San Diego and I couldn't recall for certain... so I listened to google. We stopped for dinner at Habit Burger, and finally made it to La Jolla after 9 o'clock. Two hours later than I intended. Oh, well.

The cottage I rented was the lower unit of large house. The upper unit is a rental. The tenant had moved out the day before. The owner is 83 and lives in the back part of the house with access to the rooftop lanai. He built the house. The surfing on Windansea beach brought him down from LA. He still has lots of spunk, we saw him chasing waves on the beach. It was a pleasure chatting with him and I'm so grateful he opens his home to visitors seeking a taste of life in La Jolla.

The cottage looks like a cabin, it is rustic, dark and a bit damp, but that's part of its charm. The space was larger than I expected and the accomodations were comfortable. The patio is shaded which offers privacy and protection from the sun. The location cannot be beat. We were a stone's throw from the ocean. You can hear the waves crash as you lay in bed. It's awesome.

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The bench pictured above was my favorite place to watch the world go by. We'd sit out at night, the morning and afternoon. The ocean is a bit rough, and there is little sand at high tide, but Mike and Nick made the most of it. Saturday afternoon there was a pop up wedding in the cove directly across from the house. It was distracting and a bit of an annoyance. Mike and Nick were asked to move to the next cove over. The comings and goings caused a lot of noise and congestion, but we didn't let it impede on our fun. The weather was perfect and the water was warm (well, for the Pacific).

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Addison was a real trooper. Not even two months old, and she had already flown, took a road trip and seen the Pacific Ocean. She wasn't too fond of the bright sun, but she seemed to enjoy the ocean breeze.

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The next few photos were taken by Amy (and the one above of me).

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La Jolla has several great restaurants, but they are crowded and parking can be a chore. It wasn't really conducive to our needs. We ended up at Sammy's Woodfired Pizza. We have them in Vegas, but we've never been. The restaurant was fairly easy to access and there was only a five minute wait. Our dinner satisfied our hunger, but none of our pizzas were particularly tasty.

I will add driving a large vehicle in Southern California is no easy feat. Driving the mini-van was a nightmare at times, particularly in Von's parking lot, when it was at max capacity due to shoppers, diners and visitors of the farmer's market. I had an Austin Powers moment like when he was stuck in the tunnel.

The next morning the ocean was fierce. Only surfers were in the water. It was great entertainment watching them ride the waves and simply watching the waves crash on shore. The marine layer was thick so the sun didn't come out until noon, but that's the California coast for you.

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Our time was up much too soon, even Addy didn't want to go.

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As soon as we were all packed up and ready to hit the road for a quick tour of San Diego, the sun decided to shine. It was so hard to pull ourselves away.

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The last leg of our trip took us to Con Pane Bakery, Coronado Island, a cruise along PCH, and then to El Indio for a snack before hitting the road home to Vegas.

I'm happy that I could give my mom a beach getaway with all of her kids and grandkids. She didn't feel particularly well, but I had anticipated that. Which is why the Cabin by the Sea was so perfect for us. Even from bed, she could enjoy the ocean. Nick and Mike could come and go to the beach as they pleased. I'm thankful for the memories.

Mexico, We Miss You!

October 15, 2014
Our slice of Paradise - Al Cielo

In four months, you'll find us here.


Curry Zen

October 13, 2014
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I like Thai and Malaysian curry, but I never before had the opportunity to try Japanese Curry. Without having anything else to compare it to, I found Curry Zen to offer a tasty lunch. I had the Pork Katsu Curry ($9.45) spicy #4. The pork cutlet was fried crisp leaving it tender and juicy. The curry was rich, thick and smooth. It was bursting with flavor from the various spices used. It had just the right amount of heat. The dish was even better with a healthy dose of fukujinzuke and rakkyo. I enjoyed the bite and crunch from the pickled radish and shallot. Service was warm and friendly. I was in & out in no time.

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Story Book Dinner

October 9, 2014
Six months ago, Frank surprised me with reservations at Joel Robuchon. I was shocked and the experience was unforgettable. I felt like Cinderella. I never imagined we'd return so soon, but he planned another dinner for us, this time, another couple joined us. I slipped on my glass slippers and eagerly awaited the night to unfold. Anticipation was high leading up to our 6:30 dinner reservation. It felt like Christmas, did Santa come? Huh? Huh? Santa didn't appear, but his elves were whipping up special treats in the kitchen. There was no question, we returned for the 15-course degustation menu ($435), complete with bread and mignardises carts. Our friend also chose the $295 wine pairing. It is the bottom tier, but the wines were outstanding and perfectly paired. Frank and I opted for two half bottles, Chardonnay and a very special Red from France.

The bread cart immediately seduced us and we quickly tumbled down the rabbit hole. The four of us were giddy as can be, we were blown away again and again by the refinement of the experience. It is glorious. It is euphoric. It is even obscene. However, this is no ordinary meal. It is art. Delectable, delicious art.

Cream of kale cabbage over delicate vegetable gelee. Kale has never tasted so good. The textures of this dish are extraordinary. It was a wonderful way to excite the palate.

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Violet artichoke and foie gras salad with parmesan shavings. This was a fine dish, but not one to cause me to swoon.



Symphony of osetra caviar with salmon tartare, chilled sweet corn soup, and king crab on crustacean gelee. This was served as one breathtaking presentation, however, it counted as three-courses. The caviar and sweet corn will forever fill my dreams. It was sweet and salty and utterly perfect. I was blown away. I consumed more caviar with these dishes than I had in my existence prior to this meal.

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Semi-soft boiled egg florentine with Comte cheese sauce. This was loved by everyone in the group, but me. It's funny, too, because the soft boiled egg was a favorite during our last dinner. That version seemed to have enough to offset the richness of the egg. This one felt like I had consumed a dozen farm fresh eggs.



Seared scallop with lemongrass, broccolini and soybean sprouts cooked as risotto. This dish was well executed. Apparently, I've been eating overcooked scallops my whole life. These were scrumptiously medium rare.



Thin veloute of porcini mushrooms with jasmine rice cream, crispy matsutake and foie gras ravioli, veal raviolis cooked in broth with white truffle. This was my favorite course(s). I found the white truffle that perfumed the air completely intoxicating. Each preparation was stellar, but the ravioli with the matsytake (japanese mushroom) and foie gras was the most tasty morsel of the night. Possibly the most tasty bite ever; definitely, in recent memory.



Roasted spiny lobster with green curry and fresh coriander. Collectively, we agreed this was the weakest dish of the evening. The lobster was tough and stringy. It looked beautiful, but it was far less satisfying upon digging in.



Caramelized black cod in Malabar pepper sauce with bok choy. This dish delivered big flavors in the best way. It was another favorite of the night. It had a delightfully unexpected umami thing going on. Plus, it was sugar and spice and everything nice.

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Duo of duck breast and foie gras, five spice sweet and sour grapes with ginger. On paper this course sounds the most to my liking, and don't get me wrong, it was outstanding, but the flavors were similar to those I've had before. I really appreciate when my tastebuds are tempted by something unexpected. That said, this was extremely comforting, especially paired with Joel Robuchon's famous mashed potatoes which we insist is actually potato infused butter.

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Coconut lime parfait topped with elderflower liquer gelee and compressed pineapple. Frank positively hates coconut, but I didn't hear any complaints about this dish. The pineapple was incredibly intense. It was so refreshing. It went beautifully with the dollop of cilantro syrup in the center of the plate.



Caramelized vanilla apples tarte tatin with calvados ice cream. The apples in this dessert must have been the same variety that Eve tempted Adam with, I've never had a juicier or more crisp bite of apple. If it is possible to taste a season in a bite, this accomplishes it - no doubt.



You would think we would be unable to consume another bite, but there was still the dessert cart. Calling it a cart, hardly does it justice. It's truly magical.



It's hard to believe we showed restraint when choosing about two dozen selections, plus, tiramisu, rum balls and creme brulee.







It was the perfect end to a story book meal. We were incredibly fortunate to enjoy a restaurant of this caliber twice in one year. Not only is it a privilege having this experience available to us, but we also are very grateful that we have been able to dabble in this level of opulence. It is a real pleasure.

Something Good is Brewing in Henderson

October 6, 2014
Henderson is now home to a booze district. It's tucked away in an industrial block on Eastgate Road not far from the Auto Show Mall. When you drive up the desolate road you'll feel you're going the wrong way, but keep the faith and you will come upon Bad Beat Brewery, CraftHaus Brewery, Grape Expectations and the Las Vegas Distillery. Friday, we stopped in to see what Henderson is brewing.

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Our first stop was Bad Beat Brewing. There is no bad beat at this brewery. We chose a flight so we could sample all the varieties currently being brewed. Love that they carry their theme throughout. The names are playful and the flight is served in what looks like a poker chip.

Bluffing isn't Weisse has banana and clove notes which I prefer to the citrusy Hefeweizens. It's pretty tasty.

Ante Up Amber is rich with some bite. But it's not overpowering or too bitter.

The Daily Grind Pale Ale is easy drinking at its finest.

Ale in Hole is a Basil Pale Ale. You will either love it or hate it. One of my favorite beers have honey and basil, but I found this one to herbaceous. The basil is packs a fierce punch.

Hoppy Times is a delicious IPA. It's a bit lighter and it doesn't have heavy a floral aromas which I appreciate. I'm fond of more bitter IPAs. This one was pleasing.

Gutshot is an Irish Stout. It is smooth and tastes like coffee, but no coffee is used. The flavor comes from the roasted barley. Great for a night you want to get all warm and cozy.

Bartenders were attentive, but didn't offer much history on the beer or brand. My only nitpick is that the tap room is too bright. It feels like an office space. Love that they have games, darts and shuffleboard, though.



CraftHaus is a great addition to the neighborhood. Steve gave us a tour of the brewery and was happy to answer all of our questions. The owners are incredibly passionate about their craft. They are currently brewing an IPA, Resinate, and two Saisons: Pomegranate and Evocation. We started with a flight to try them all and loved both the IPA and Saison enough to have one of each. The bar is comfortable and relaxed. The cuckoo clocks and dippy bird brought back fond memories of my grandparents.

They are celebrating Oktoberfest with specials and German treats. They also started offering Jones soda varieties.

I can't wait to see to see these breweries grow. This area has the potential to develop into something really special. Las Vegas consumes a huge amount of libations. It's about time we add to those crafted locally.

Favorites Come and Go

October 2, 2014
Some favorites unexpectedly close their doors - ahem, Real Pam Thai. Others are planned - RIP Circo. A few fall off the list due to poor quality - Stack, I'm looking at you. A couple are solid mainstays. You fear they will slip, or worse, shutter, so you do what you can to keep them in business. Through all the craziness this summer, Frank and I have made the effort to enjoy nice meals together. We had one last meal at Circo and it was a fantastic farewell. Oh, how I will miss that tiramisu!

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We also returned to Joe's Stone Crab to use $10 coupon and spent a small fortune on delicious treats from the sea (Pacific Stone Crab, Alaskan King Crab, Halibut, half order of Potato Lyonaisse). Sneaky. We were like putty in their hand.

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Tuesday night, we had dinner at Sage, which is currently my favorite restaurant. We've been half a dozen times and it never disappoints. They've rolled out their fall menu and it was again stellar. Started with an amuse-bouche, with spinach, hazel nuts and ricotta. Followed by Brussel Sprout Salad, Veal Cheeks and Duck. Finished with Foie Gras Candy Bar and Ricotta Cheesecake. Stillwater Cabaletta was my beer of choice. It is a craft beer that was made just for Aria. It's well worth seeking it out. It's light enough that it doesn't overpower the food, but it has depth that tantalizes the palate.

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Then, next week, we are splurging with another dinner at Joel Robuchon. We are going to the 16 course menu!! I'm not sure how it's possible to consume all that food, but I suppose I will find out if it can be done.

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