April 30, 2012

Photo a Day: Week 17

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

April 22, 2012 ~ At the Pantheon, the sight I liked best in Rome.

April 23, 2012 ~ The rolling hills of Orvieto.

April 24, 2012 ~ Sorrento! Overlooking the gulf of Naples.

April 25, 2012 ~ Survived the bus ride to see Amalfi.

April 26, 2012 ~ Love Capri!

April 27, 2012 ~ Ahh! Positano they tried to keep me from you, but I'm glad we were persistent.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug>

April 28, 2012 - Germany! We love your beer and sausage.

April 29, 2012

Photo a Day: Week 16

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

April 15, 2012 ~ Travel day! Swiss Air was really nice and dinner was better than expected.

April 16, 2012 ~ After a quick 18 hour flight, we arrived in Venice!

April 17, 2012 ~ Eight years of wedded bliss celebrated in Venice.

April 18, 2012 ~ Next stop? Florence.

April 19, 2012 ~ Ponte Vecchio: The one bridge in Florence not destroyed by the Germans in WWII.

April 20, 2012 ~ A glimpse at life in Siena.

April 21, 2012 ~ And we're on to Rome. For a look at really old shit.

April 18, 2012

Taste of Chicago

We're always anxious to try Chicago style joints, because its the food we miss the most about Chicago. Some deliver the real deal and others are poor excuses served up by people that have never even stepped foot in Chi-town.

The Taste of Chicago is located inside Lucky's near Warm Springs/Jones. If you didn't know the kitchen was serving up Chicago style eats you'd expect this to be just another neighborhood video poker bar.

Friends, also from Chicago, joined us for dinner. We were seated in the main dining floor, booths line the walls above those is old photos of the rat pack and such. Next to the main dining area there was a crooner singing old Sinatra tunes. A bit too loud, in our opinion. It was hard to carry on a conversation.

We looked over the menu and decided to try a bit of all the flavors we miss from our old home. We started with sagnaki and mozzarella sticks. The sagnaki was lit tableside, our waiter fumbled a bit to put out the flames. The cheese was floating in liquid so I was expecting it to taste like pure alcohol, but it did not. The sagnaki was good, but the pita bread was a bit stale. I didn't try the mozzarella sticks, but I didn't hear any complaints. Next, our friends had minestrone which was a decent version but served too cold.

The was a lull between our starters and main course. The staff was very apologetic. The owner came by a couple times. We were content and understanding.

Meanwhile, the crooner came by and attempted to hustle for tips. He walked up and made some comment about how his jar was clean and eager awaited a tip. When we declined, he walked off in a huff and said "I'm a cub fan anyway." Okay, buddy, good for you. We would've happily dropped a few bucks in his jar when we finished our meal, but to interrupt us and solicit so rudely, it was unreal. We sat in awe. Did that really just happen?

Then, everything began to unravel. The staff seemed more and more overwhelmed as more diners filled the restaurant. You could hear shouting coming from the kitchen over the tunes playing in the room next to us.

Our gyro, hot dog and fries were brought out, but again we received apologies for the delay on the pizza. It would be up in a few.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

It had all the makings of a chicago dog so it had promise, but the hot dog was so shriveled and dry it was not enticing, the bun was stale. Sad to say, but the pickle & sport peppers were the highlight. I love athenian fries, their version called Zante fries were ok. I prefer the feta evenly distributed and heated until melty and bubbly.

I didn't sample the gyro but Frank wasn't a fan. At first, he wondered if tzatziki had been left off because it was just a small dollop underneath the meat, but then he was left wishing it was forgotten, He said the taste was not good at all.

Our friends pizza had mushrooms, onions, and half sausage and pepperoni. The crust was uber thin, similar to some styles in Chicago. The slice I tried lacked any pepperoni or sausage, yet it was very greasy. Mushrooms and onions shouldn't be greasy. The sauce was too sweet and acidic for my liking.

The service was attentive and they tried with the food, but execution was flawed and getting hustled for tips just killed the experience. It was so off-putting. Over the years, Vegas has collected a good number of Chicago style joints, the competition is pretty stiff. Taste of Chicago is going to have to step up its game.

The Taste of Chicago on Urbanspoon

April 14, 2012

Photo a Day: Week 15

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

April 8, 2012 ~ No trip to Laughlin is complete without visiting the Belle's koi.

April 9, 2012 ~ Back to finding a balance of what's good and evil.

April 10, 2012 ~ From my dad, and he tells me to have a good time in Italy, because he's not sure he would.

April 11, 2012 ~ The strip might just have everything one could need... The new Walgreens walk-in beer cooler.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

April 12, 2012 ~ M'mmm... lunch.

April 13, 2012 ~ Ahh! Vacation.

April 14, 2012 ~ We are so close! Italy, here we come!

April 12, 2012


Dinner at Scarpetta has been a long time coming. It was my initial choice to celebrate my 31st birthday, but I put it off and we ultimately ended up celebrating at wd50 in New York City. A whole year went by and we never got over there. So, when it came time to celebrate my 32nd birthday, Scarpetta, it was.

I met Frank at Cosmopolitan after work. I made 5:30 reservations on Opentable, we had about 1/2 hour to kill so we played some video poker. Our losing streak remains. We have not won a single cent from Cosmo, I'm beginning to wonder if it's even possible. At least, the property has a nice roster of restaurants. That's what continues to bring us back after all.

We were the first diners of the evening, we were seated at a table for two overlooking the Bellagio fountains. However, when the fountain show actually began the we realized the view was quite obstructed from the tall trees surrounding the lake. It was no bother, we didn't come for the view, we were there for the food.

We started with a delicious bread basket, it had a variety of Italian breads and the real treat was stromboli with prosciutto and smoked mozzarella. Citrus olive oil, butter with marscapone and eggplant & tomatoes accompanied the bread. I could've easily made a meal from this, but I ordered the creamy polenta to whet our appetite.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

I've heard nothing but praises for this polenta. It was a beautiful dish. Luscious and full of truffle flavor, but it didn't leave me wanting more.

Next, we opted to skip the entrees and order selections from the secondini portion of the meal. Frank went with the Signature spaghetti. It's been featured on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" so it's hard to pass it up. I went with the duck and foie gras ravioli. It was the dish that made me lust over the restaurant for the past year.

The ravioli did not disappoint. It was the second best ravioli I've had to date. Mama Egi's ravioli over at Circo takes the cake. But this was very, very good. Well balanced and the raviolis seemed to melt on your tongue. The spaghetti was good, but hardly a best thing I ever ate. I enjoyed the simplicity of it, the al dente noodle, but $26 spaghetti should knock my socks off, it did not.

We weren't overly stuffed so we took a gander at the dessert menu and quickly chose zeppole for dessert.

Now, this was special! I'm not fond of dessert oozing with sweetness. This bordered on savory and I love it. These little pillowy bites were filled with nutella and topped with candied hazelnuts. There was a creme anglaise for dipping. It was a perfect end to the meal.

Service was very good throughout. Our server, Luis, was helpful and he made certain we did not go thirsty. Fresh iced teas were plentiful. The meal set us back $92. Pretty good considering one could easily spend and arm and a leg here.

Scarpetta (Cosmopolitan) on Urbanspoon

April 9, 2012

Photo a Day: Week 14

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

April 1, 2012 ~ 18th hole at Shadow Creek. Not a bad way to kick off our 15th year together.

April 2, 2012 ~ The roses keep coming. Unfortunately, allergies are a package deal.

April 3, 2012 ~ Yes, more roses!

April 4, 2012 ~ This show cannot return soon enough.

April 5, 2012 ~ I think it speaks for itself.

April 6, 2012 ~ Nine days until Italy!

April 7, 2012 ~ 67th free spin for a total bonus win of $47.02. 20 cents well spent.

April 6, 2012

Single Digits!

I cannot believe our trip to Italy is only nine days away. That is positively insane. It's hard to grasp that the dream I've had for so long is becoming reality. Also, that we'll be traveling half way around the world. That we'll be visiting another continent. After securing hotels for our stay, I took a breather from research. I've delved back into it this week. I feel so unprepared, but at the same time I want to get there and simply wander and discover. I don't want to plan out every single detail. As long as I know how to get from point A to B. I'm happy. I still don't have that entirely nailed down, but I'll get there. I have nine days. heh.

While I've been wrapped up in this whirlwind, I've learned a friend has breast cancer. She's an amazing strong woman and I have no doubt she will kick cancer's ass. But gosh, it just sucks. It's touched so many that are dear to me.

In happier and lighter news, my favorite boy will be visiting us over Memorial Day weekend, he'll be staying ten days. His momma won't be tagging along. That's the only bummer of it. Still, we are all very excited for his visit. Very excited.

Frank, my mom, Mike and I are heading down to Laughlin tomorrow. Easter in Laughlin? Sure, why not? Frank's weightloss challenge ends tomorrow, so we'll be able to fill up on yummy Mexican eats. And enjoy a number of cervezas. This upcoming week, I also plan to cash in my birthday dinner meal. Scarpetta it is.

Last Sunday, it was Frank and my 15th year together. Unreal. I am so lucky. Only two more years until I have spent more of my life with him than without. Our 8th wedding anniversary is quickly approaching. We'll be in Venice to celebrate. I wonder if we can recreate this photo? It was Frank's idea, by the way. Awww! Swoon.

I anticipate the upcoming week of work to be absolutely crazed. The week of the 15th is an extremely busy time any month, but this time I'm cramming a month's worth of work into two weeks. I've kept things under control this week without incident, I can only hope I'll be as lucky next week.

April 3, 2012

Shadow Creek Golf Club

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

If you are surrounded by lush green grass, pine trees and waterfalls you might think you're in south or as far west as Colorado, but you can find just that, at an oasis right here in the Mojave. Shadow Creek Golf Course has more than 200 varieties of trees that cast shadows on emerald fairways and serene lagoons. It's hard to believe this wonderland was once barren desert. Just another amazing vision by Steven Wynn. Money was no object when Wynn hired Tom Fazio to create a course that would rival the best courses in country. Years later, MGM Resorts International inherited the course with the purchase of the Wynn empire.

This past Sunday, Frank and I, along with some friends were able to rub elbows with the rich and famous. We had VIP access for the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational. That meant all the food and drink we could handle and prime viewing on the 18th hole. We also took the time to walk the course and watch the different groups tee off and putt.

Although anyone can play the course for $500 a round and a mandatory stay at one of the MGM's properties, it is rarely frequented. Leaving the most pristine course imaginable. This was my first experience so I'm probably ruined for life, but Frank and his golf buddies were utterly impressed and they've golfed the finest courses Las Vegas offers.

Each hole is unique and no hole can be seen from another. Hills are endless and they allow you to discover treasures around every bend. There are lakes, streams and lagoons. And a slew of critters, the pheasants were such a surprise.

Oh, and there were plenty of celebrities. I knew the names of many, but only recognized the faces of Michael Jordan, Aaron Rodgers, Ashton Kutcher and Alan Thicke.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

I'm told this was the home built for Steve Wynn's assistant.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

And this was the one for the Wynn family.

Want more? Here's the link to the complete album.

April 2, 2012

Photo a Day: Week 13

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

March 25, 2012 ~ The first sunset of my 32nd year

March 26, 2012 ~ I love cheery colors!

March 27, 2012 ~ No winner, winner.

March 28, 2012 ~ in memory. forever thankful.

March 29, 2012 ~ My favorite boy will be coming for a visit!

March 30, 2012 ~ I can't get enough vitamin D from the sun... not even in the desert.

March 31, 2012 ~ First rose of 2012