July 31, 2013

HB & Hollywood

While Frank was away in Chicago, I took my mom and brother to California. We initially planned to visit San Diego but hotel room rates were astronomical - Thank you, Comic-Con. Plan B was to go to Huntington Beach and Hollywood; we stayed in Anaheim at Hotel Pepper Tree. The location was convenient, the price was right and it was plenty big for the three of us. We had a kitchen with a full size fridge and a large patio. It is a really great option for families visiting Disneyland.

We left Vegas on Friday after work, stopping in Barstow for dinner. We stopped at Lola's Kitchen. The Mexican eats were pretty darn tasty and reasonably. I had a chile relleno and enchilada. My mom and brother had carne asada burritos. Chips and salsa to start were great and they had refreshing water with cantaloupe and blueberries. It was well after nine o'clock when we rolled into our hotel. We enjoyed a beer on the patio, and then I crashed fairly early. It had been an extremely long week.

Saturday morning we drove to LA for Langer's Deli. We needed a pastrami fix and an order of potato pancakes didn't hurt. It was fantastic as always. From LA, we were headed to Huntington Beach, traffic on the 405 was terrible. It took a couple hours, bummer. It was about three before we arrived at the beach. It was really overcast and breezy. I bought an umbrella to protect me from the sun, but this day I'd only need it in case it rained. We got situated on the beach. I sprawled out and got comfy; I was ready to read and nap. My brother hit the water with his boogie board and mom went to get her feet wet.

My mom returned quickly, it was too cold. All summer she's complained of the heat and she's wished for water. I bring her to the beach and it's too cold. "Ok, goldilocks, remember this when you're sweating your butt off at home." Not too long after Mike returned and he was getting beat up by the waves. Plus there was an under toe. He didn't feel fit enough to safely play so he called it quits. It hadn't even been an hour and they were ready to go. We packed up, they changed and we decided to walk down to the pier so we could get a little more out of the parking - we paid for all day.

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We walked over, The US Surf Open had begun that day. They had stands set up for viewing and a bunch of tents for vendors and such. We walked the pier and sat to watch the surfers shred. It's always a good source of entertainment. I'm always amazed at what they're able to do. If only my core had that kind of strength. The winds picked up and the sun began to set so we left. We stopped at Ikea in Costa Mesa. We picked up a few goodies there and then went to Costa Brava for dinner, but they were closed. We ended up at Eat Chow instead. It's neat space in an odd location, it is attached Bel Bambini a high end baby store. Yes, a baby store. Odd, right?

We started with onion rings with blue cheese dipping sauce. Oh my goodness, these were so good! The onions were tender, the breading was light and crisp and combined with the blue cheese they elevated to a whole new level of deliciousness. Their shoestring fries were mighty tasty too. Crisp, yet fluffy in the center and not the least bit greasy. We also had an order of the tater tot fondue. I've never seen such a thing offered so I had to try it. The tots came in the cheese and were a bit soggy because of it. They'd be better served on the side.

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Moving onto entrees, my mom had the French dip, Mike had the meatloaf sandwich and I had the cubano. All were good, none were great. Service was attentive, no complaints there. I only wish the meal ended as strong as it began.

After dinner we went back to the hotel. Mike and I planned to grab drinks at the bar inside the Mexican restaurant nearby, but it was closed for a private function. Again, it ended up being an early night.

Sunday, we drove to Hollywood. We had brunch at Joan's on Third. Mike and I have been before but it was a first visit for my mom. It's a neat place with a market and restaurant. Seating inside is first come first serve and outside you put a name on a list and wait it out. We placed our orders and waited for a seat outside. It only took about ten minutes. I enjoyed a bacon gruyere croissant while we waited. So savory and sinful, I just love it. For lunch I ordered the prosciutto parma sandwich and a side of Brussels sprout salad. I had the salad before and it was just as yummy as I remember. It's a complex blend of dates, manchego and hazelnuts with a light mustard grain dressing. The sandwich was even better than I expected. It was loaded with prosciutto and the fresh mozzarella and red peppers were stellar. I'd definitely get it again. Mike ordered their lemonade and I wished I had. This had the perfect blend of sweet and tart and there was no syrupy after taste. I can't recall ever having a better lemonade. I regret not ordering one. My mom and Mike had the chicken sandwich with brie. Mike had it before and love it, this time didn't disappoint. Mom wasn't a fan of the brie and didn't enjoy it as much. On the side of their sandwiches they serve housemade sweet pickles. These pickles remind us of the ones our grandma would make. No other sweet pickles compare to grandma's but these are damn close. One bite brings us right to our childhood. Mike and I both bought pickles to bring home.

Mike and mom had never seen the Hollywood Walk of Fame so we went to check that out. I've done a tour before and figured it's a good way to see the hotspots and celeb homes so the plan was to negotiate a good deal and go. It took a few tries, but we secured seats for fifteen bucks. $40 is regular price. Most will go down to $20, but that extra five took some convincing. This tour took us up near the Hollywood sign for a photo opp. My mom doesn't get around real well so we opted to stay in the vehicle, while the rest of the group went. The rest of the tour was similar to the last one I took, only saw a few less celebrity homes because the prior tour didn't get so close to the sign. Here's a few I recall and some I don't. My brother is hugely into music and he was mostly interest in the music clubs. We saw them all.

TMZ offices are located on the floor with all of those windows

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The Greystone Mansion, used in many movies - too many to name

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Christina Aguilera's house, former residence of Ozzy and family.

Playboy Mansion

The last residence of Michael Jackson

Former Spelling House

Simon Cowell's House

A few I don't recall

Famous landmarks

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We walked a good stretch of the walk of fame, the building next to the grauman's chinese theatre is underconstruction so that area was a real shitshow. We avoided it. There seemed to be fewer characters than previous visits. Maybe they left LA for Vegas?

I wanted to get home at a decent time so hit the road for home. It was a good trip, it could've been better had the sun come out, but there's always next time.

Lola's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Joan's on Third on Urbanspoon

July 30, 2013

It's Raining, It's Pouring!

The monsoons have been pretty fierce this summer. And my goodness! It has been humid!! I want the dry heat back. I don't even mind if it is 120. It beats 105 with 30% humidity. Anyway, last weekend, Frank was in Chicago, so I took my mom and brother to California (I'll share about that trip later). Wouldn't you know it, the minute we crossed state lines storms rolled into Las Vegas. Real ones! I heard inches of rain fell across the valley and winds up to 75mph uprooted trees. Areas around the strip were hit hardest, from the hotel room in Cali, I was able to pull up stories and photos of casinos flooding. It wasn't until we got home that we saw the damage. My brother lives near the Palms and his complex looked like a war zone with dozens of downed trees, mangled fencing and carports. Fortunately, the units themselves didn't seem to sustain any damage. Only one tree was uprooted in my neighborhood, pine needles were the biggest mess by me. We were all disappointed that we missed great storms. Lightning shows are something we miss most about Chicago.

This weekend, we went out to my mom's in Pahrump. The day began warm, sunny and humid. We went to Saddle West for brunch and by the time we left the skies turned dark and visibility was nil since the winds had kicked up so much dust. It started with drizzle and was a complete down pour in no time. At times the rain fell so hard and fast the view out the windows resembled the view out the car windows during a car wash. Not only did it fall hard and fast but also sideways. Hail fell too. My mom had a rushing river run across her property filling her dry duck pond. She used to have dozens of fowl, but there was a massacre with no survivors. On this day, it was a good thing because the duck pen flooded fast. The poor chickens and ducks would have had no high ground and would've likely drowned.

We watched out the windows are the storm cells came and went. Dropping inches of rain and strong winds blew items all around the yard. We went out to assess the damage and everything seemed to be holding up A-OK. Water was flowing, but the horse didn't seem to be in any danger.

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We took the opportunity between storms to head home, we snapped a few photos from around town. The family in the RZR seemed to be having the best time. It looked like a blast!

We've had some bad storms over the past ten years, but I can't recall ever having two a week apart that affected both Las Vegas and Pahrump to this extent. And the monsoons aren't over yet.

July 29, 2013

More Goodbyes

Just before our move from the house to the apartment we said so long to the Jeep. It was an extremely fun ride. I enjoyed it more than I ever expected, but we really needed more power to tow the RZR and we hoped for better gas mileage. Deep down Frank's heart belongs to Chevy. He strayed a bit with the Jeep, while it was fun and flirty, he need a workhorse. Frank went to the dealerships to see what was available and snagged an amazing deal on a 2013 Chevy Silverado. We traded the Jeep with positive equity. Our car payment, insurance and registration were significantly less with the change. Gas mileage hasn't proven to be much better so that's the trade off. The truck came in handy with our move. And it tows effortlessly, trips should be far smoother now. We'll put the truck to the test next week when we travel to Utah. We'll be staying in Moab and Duck Creek. I cannot wait to ride trails, enjoy the cool fresh air, and, of course, the stunning scenery.

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This weekend we also sold our RZR 4 800. What!?! Yes, we sold it. It was a great ride despite having our share of odd issues. We enjoyed it more than any other toy or recreational sport. We won't be without one for long. It would've been extremely difficult to part with our RZR if there wasn't another beauty in our future. We will be upgrading to a RZR 900 and we didn't use the four seater enough so we're going to go with two. Plus, we cannot fit the RZR 4 and our trailer in our garage. But we believe we can accommodate both with the two seater. Today is the day that the new RZR 1000 is available for sale. We're hopeful this will allow us to score a great deal on the 900. We're anxious to take the new toy to Utah. We know just what we want. Frank will be negotiating today with dealers to secure the best price. So long old friend!

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But our offroad adventures will continue!

July 24, 2013

Beach Hut Deli

Deli Sandwiches and great beer. It sounds like Beach Hut Deli from California is a match made in heaven. I should love this place, but I struck out. Again, and again, first it closes way too early. So, it took a few attempts to try them when open. Then, finally, the stars aligned. The number of sandwich choices is a bit overwhelming. Most reviews raved over the cream cheese on the sandwiches since I don't dig cream cheese I was left uncertain on what to order.

We asked for recommendations and settled on the turkey, avocado, bacon and provolone ($7.50 sm) and the pulled pork splashed with Tabasco BBQ sauce, cheddar and pineapple ($10.50). They have Kona on tap which is a huge win! We ordered two beers ($7.90 each). Rather than the cashier informing us it was happy hour, I happened to catch the sign in just the nick of time. He corrected the order, and we got 2-for-1 beers. Yeah!

While we waited for our sandwich we admired the atmosphere and enjoyed our beers. We love the laid back beach atmosphere. Our sandwiches were brought over on Frisbees - love it. We dug into our sandwiches - didn't love it.

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The bread was thick, dense and while sturdy it wasn't too tasty. They lay it on thick so these are sandwiches for hearty appetites. However, the blend of fillings didn't thrill us. The turkey tasted purely like mustard, the avocado would shoot out the side every time I took a bite. It was difficult to eat about 1/2 way thru I gave up. The pork was ok, but it was ruined by the tabasco BBQ sauce. There was so much of it there was no way to escape it. It completely overpowered any taste of cheddar or pineapple.

Perhaps we chose poorly, but these sandwiches came highly recommended. I'm not sure that I'd return to try others. It's a real shame because the beer options are fantastic. It'd be better if this was primarily a bar.

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July 22, 2013

Nacho Daddy

Nachos are a weakness so I was really excited to try Nacho Daddy. We had a coupon for a free nacho skillet so we used that to get us started with Thai Chicken Nachos ($8.95). Chicken, Veggies, sweet chili sauce, queso with peanuts and sesame seeds are piled high on tortilla chips. It's kind of hard to eat without having the tower of nachos topple over and fall onto the table. I wished the skillet was oversized to accommodate fallen chips. The menu advertises these to be spicy hot. They weren't not. There was a mild sweet heat, but definitely not spicy nor hot. That was disappointing.

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Moving onto entrees, our party of three tried the carne asada big daddy burrito ($13.95), fajita cheesesteak sandwich ($10.95) and street tacos ($2.95 ea). All was edible, though, none was notable. We felt each dish was overpriced for quality of what was presented.

Add beers ($8-$10) to wash it all down and we accumulated a hefty tab in no time. Service was sparse and brash. I'd return for the nachos; happy hour seems most appealing.

Nacho Daddy on Urbanspoon

July 19, 2013

Soyo Korean Barstaurant

I like all kinds of food, but I'm not terribly familiar with Korean eats. So, I made an effort to change that by trying Soyo. It's a Korean Barstaurant on the southwest part of town. The have patio dining and booths and communal seating within the restaurant. Variety of soju and beers, and a large menu. It's a bit overwhelming for first timers, but we managed A-OK.

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We were started with banchan. Some dishes were better than others, it was fun to mix and match the snacks before digging into dinner. The complimentary barley tea was refreshing, I've never had anything quite like it.

We had the stone pot of bulgogi ($12), the spicy pork ribs ($13), Fire Chicken ($10) and potato pancake ($9). For the most part all were fine, though, the pancake was the weakest link, it was very bland. But those spicy pork ribs really shined. They were an outstanding combination of sweet and spicy, and they are, oh, so tender. A couple orders of those I would have been on cloud nine. No fuss just the really good stuff!

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