November 21, 2014


This week my mom finished radiation. I was so pleased and proud of her for seeing it through until the end. I know there were times she wanted to give up. I don't blame her. It's a big commitment to go every weekday. Especially when fatigued and not feeling well. But it's done; another hurdle complete. Radiation, while, kinder than Chemo is no walk in the park. My mom has suffered a slew of side effects during treatment. The worst being nausea, skin and esophagus burns. A few weeks ago, she developed a cough and it was thought to be bronchitis. She's completed a round of strong antibiotics, but there is no improvement. In fact, it seems it has worsened. I started to wonder if it is another side effect, radiation pneumonitis. Her radiation oncologist says it usually doesn't show until much later after treatment. However, if she doesn't show improvement by Tuesday they will do a CT scan. The cough is violent. It's made her hoarse, weak and terribly sore. Relief must be insight. Breathing is a big chore. The coughing leaves her short of breath, she juggles breathing treatments and oxygen. Thank goodness for both; otherwise, we'd be in the ER a lot.

It could be as long as three months before her next PET scan. The wait will be brutal. I certainly hope the test reveals no evidence of disease. Only time will tell. In the meantime, mom needs to rest and recuperate. If she can rid herself of that nasty cough, I know it will do her good.

Also, this week, my aunt started treatment (chemo/radiation) for colon cancer. I was happy to hear she's had no symptoms thus far. I hope it continues. Yesterday, my boss announced that his colon cancer has returned. He'll need surgery and then he'll undergo chemo. It is terrible to have the constant reminder of how cruel disease is. I wish no one had to endure it. Unfortunately, it's all around. At least with advances in treatment, there is hope.

November 19, 2014

David Clawson Restaurant

I've heard some praises about the newly opened David Clawson Restaurant in Sun City Anthem. So, when Frank and I were debating where to eat dinner I suggested we check it out. Thankfully, seating was available without a reservation on a Saturday night. We were led to a table right away. There is a certain elegance found in the warmth and simplicity of the space, I felt it immediately. The theme continues throughout the entire meal. The menu is straightforward, and the wine/beer pairings are clearly shown. All without the fuss. It was rather refreshing.

I've always believed that the best formula is to do a few things, and do them well. DCR really excels at this task. Sure, we had our favorites, but every plate we ordered was tasty and well executed.

Everything sounded fantastic so we let our friendly server steer us in selecting our choices. The menu is built on small plates meant to be shared so we chose five items to start; The soup ($8), crab ($14), whitefish ($15), duck ($11), and veal ($9). The perfect end was the cheese ($8) and chocolate ($8). The backside of the menu shows the perfect pairing for each dish which may be wine, beer or cider. As much as we would've enjoyed a full pairing it wasn't in the cards for us, since Frank had to return to work. So, we settled on a Squatters Craft Beer "off duty" IPA and Tieton Wild Washington Apple Cider. Both were thoroughly enjoyed.

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An amuse bouche of salmon belly whet our appetite. Then, our meal began with the soup. It was too hot to handle, but once it cooled, we were able to enjoy the leak and potato broth seasoned with saffron and dotted with mussels. It was velvety and comforting.

The whitefish was a lovely cut of seabass and tender bok choy swimming in a delicious bath of miso & kobayaki broth. Outstanding. Truly.

The veal cheek was nicely done. I enjoyed it more than the one I recently had at Bazaar Meat. It was beautifully braised; and paired with the merlot? Stellar. The bits of mushrooms, bacon and kaboucha were not to be missed.

The crab cake was very yummy and it would typically be a favorite, but we had already enjoyed the cheeks and the seabass. Both are tough acts to follow.

The duck leg confit had great flavor with hints of citrus and the sweetness of honey. I really enjoyed the tart blueberries. The meat alone was tad dry.

Our love affair with gouda began long ago, when we see it, we must have it so the cheese plate was a done deal. How does gouda get even better? Add truffles. Oh my goodness, we were in heaven. The housemade crackers and fig jam were great too, and I've had a long time weakness when it comes to marcona almonds, but that cheese? Yum.

Lastly, I was unable to resist ending on a sweet note. I had to try the chocolate dessert. It too was wonderful. Rich, creamy, crunchy, sweet, but not too sweet. It was just right.

As if that wasn't enough, with our check we were given the most delicious white chocolate and basil truffles. They really know how to leave a lasting impression. Bravo.

When I suggested dinner at DCR, I had no idea we where in for such a treat. It was such a pleasant surprise. I'm ridiculously happy that it is in my neck of the woods. But let it be known, it is well worth traveling to the edge of the valley for this gem.

David Clawson Restaurant on Urbanspoon

*Thank goodness for cellphones. I once, again, left home without my camera.

November 17, 2014

Bazaar Meat

We've learned from the fare at the Cosmopolitan that José Andrés can mix up some fine eats. At Bazaar Meat inside SLS, he shakes things up a bit, by breaking some rules and introducing diners to a new way of fine dining. I think he's offering a model that is pretty great. You can customize a meal here; more so, than I've seen elsewhere. Whether you're a party of thirty or a table for two they have you covered. For example, you can order a few tapas or a whole suckling pig. Even a vegetarian can have their needs met.

I suppose with that wide appeal, you would want seating for many guests. Bazaar Meat does not miss that mark. The dining room is huge. It seemed to go on for days when we were seated in the back not far from the raw bar. There are private rooms, communal tables, just a big ole mishmash of options. The decor is pretty eclectic too. It definitely brings the bizarre to Bazaar Meat. Open kitchens, mismatched chairs, antler chandeliers, alligator heads, I could go on and on...

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You might run into some trouble snagging a reservation. I did. Open Table showed no availability. Upon calling, I was told they were fully committed. Odd for a Monday evening, only a major convention could fill the space. After checking with management the hostess said that she could squeeze us in. I was appreciative. It was a surprise to find a near empty cavernous space on arrival. Our two top was in the depths of the restaurant we only passed a few diners on the way. It was peculiar at first, but toward the end of our meal we weren't entirely alone.

The menu is extensive. In fact, our two framed menus were larger than our table. We had to joust to share the space. The menu is broken into a few sections: starters, raw bar including carpaccios and tartare, then there are soups, sandwiches and cured meats, and fire pit selections are followed by other meats, vegetables and salads. It takes a short bit to decipher the best attack plan. We started with the signature Cotton Candy Foie Gras ($8) and Classic Tartare ($24), followed by the Suckling Pig Sandwich ($14) and entree selections were Lamb Neck ($25) and Beef Cheeks ($36) with sides of Robuchon ($15) and Brussel Sprouts ($12).

Please excuse the photo quality, I foolishly left my camera at home and had to rely on my cellphone.

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Frank has been on a Moscow Mule kick lately, he was disappointed that it was not part of the cocktail program. He was told, they did not have the proper glassware. I opted for the Salt Air Margarita. I prefer the foam to the salted rim, since I tend to have a real knack for getting salt in my eye. I enjoyed the cocktail. Frank found it too tart.

The Foie Gras Cotton Candy is a playful bite, at the center of the ribbons is a decadent torchon coated with amaranth. The Classic Tartare is the real star, I've heard it has tableside preparation, but ours did not. I've never had a better version. The sirloin is so velvety, almost buttery, what really sets it apart is the robust flavor from the Savora Mustard. The Parker Rolls are light and airy, and a nice accompaniment. The timing of the rest of meal was questionable. We had the Beef Cheeks first, they were tender, but overall fairly pedestrian. Next came the Suckling Pig Sandwich, and the Robuchon potatoes. These dishes are magic. José Andrés pays homage to the man with the most delicious potatoes in all the land, with butter, butter and more butter. The sandwich is really stellar. I cannot recall ever having a better panini; succulent pork, sweet caramelized onions, tangy mustard and crispy bread. Again, it's the mustard really makes it sing. This, coming from a girl who detests yellow mustard, let it be said, all mustard is not created equal. The braised Lamb Neck and Brussel Sprouts were the last to arrive. The lamb was the weakest link of the meal. It was heavily salted. Not nearly as tender or flavorful as I had hoped. I'll stick to shanks, racks and chops. The Brussel Sprouts were just petals, they were light and refreshing. It was like a breath of fresh air after all the rich courses.

I've heard such high remarks given for service, our server was accommodating, but he was unpolished. He assumed we were dining for half price, while we'd love to, we weren't SLS employees. So, instantly, it left an impression we were overpaying for our meal. Then, he went on to explain how gamey and chewy the steaks can be. If he had good intentions it certainly didn't entice us to try the steaks. Toward the end of our meal, we heard another server offer a nice welcome spiel to diners (that did qualify for 50%) that really showcased the restaurant's offerings. Despite a few flaws, overall, it was a pleasant experience... I'd return for the pork alone.

Bazaar Meat by José Andrés on Urbanspoon

November 13, 2014

Bocho Sushi

The latest gem to grace Downtown is located at 6th & Carson. Bocho Sushi was born from an idea sparked by Dan Coughlin (Le Thai), backed by DTP and saw to fruition by Jimmy & Becky Chun (recently shuttered Tokyo Japanese Restaurant). The Chun's are at the helm, they are no strangers to day-to-day operations after running their restaurant in Commercial Center for decades. At two weeks new, Bocho Sushi has already reached hotspot status by serving up some delicious eats in a cozy setting.

Our friends invited us to dinner, upon our arrival, every seat in the house was taken. Downstairs you'll find the sushi bar with counter seating, and upstairs there is intimate seating and large bar. The space has an industrial feel, but I love when old buildings are spruced up and repurposed. The changes to the old Carson hotel have been top notch. This block was once forgotten, but now? It's alive and well.

The menu will meet all of your sushi and sashimi loving needs. Plus, there is an omakase offering for those seeking an adventurous experience. Sake, beer and cocktails are free flowing. They have not yet begun serving wine, however. We started with orders of Edamame ($3.50) and the Jalapeno Bomb ($5.95). The bomb was "bomb" (har), seriously, though, it was delicious. It is hard to go wrong with deep fried jalapeno with spicy tuna and cream cheese. Unfortunately, the Edamame was late to show. It served as dessert.

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A smorgasbord of rolls and sashimi followed: Yellowtail Lover ($9.95), Tiger Roll ($11.95), China Roll ($11.95), Spider Crab Roll ($12.95), Yellowtail Yuzu Ceviche ($11.99), Salmon Sashimi ($6.25). The were all well executed. The fish was delicately sliced and extremely fresh. My personal favorites were the Yellowtail Yuzu Ceviche with serranos and spicy garlic ponzu, and the China Roll with shrimp tempura and spicy tuna. Both selections were bursting with flavor.

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The staff was warm and friendly and our servers were patient & attentive, the only flaw seems to be with timing. I'm confident that they will get that resolved in time. It always takes a new restaurant a bit to find their rhythm. Bocho is currently open for dinner, but lunch service is scheduled to begin next week.

Bocho on Urbanspoon

November 12, 2014

SLS - Staycation

After signing up for THE CODE on opening night, we received a mailer inviting us to SLS for a complimentary night. We were eager to stay to fully experience all that the property offers. We checked in Monday night. We believed that hotel registration was across from the monkey bar, but without signage we couldn't be too sure. The desks were dimly lit and only one person was behind the desk assisting a guest. It could have easily been mistaken for concierge. We waited our turn and confirmed it was indeed hotel check in. We were able to secure a King room in the Lux tower, which is a bit larger and comes with extra conveniences (robes, in room dining, spa access) compared to the other two towers.

The room key is needed to access the elevator whether you're headed up or down. The floor numbering is a bit confusing too. Our room was 208XX. Any guesses which floor that was on? Eight, would be correct. The room was clean, a bit quaint and quirky, and even a bit creepy. The bathroom, however, was nicely done. The only complaint there was that the sink was so shallow it was difficult for Frank to fit his hands under the faucet while washing his hands. Toiletries are large sizes. Too large really, but it's nice to have so much available.

The room was awkward the bed seemed smaller than your average king. The placement of the TV was peculiar given the vantage points. The dining area would only comfortable fit two around the table, but there was seating for two or three more. The fabric on the walls was quirky and made the walls seem smaller. The lady above the bed was creepy, and the mirror above the bed increased the creepy factor. The bed appeared more plush than it was, it was actually quite firm. The pillows all seem like decorative accessories since they are all covered in shams. There was no sheet between the one that covers the bed and the comforter. I really dislike this. I was cold or sweltering all night. Not too mention is old legend that hotels don't change the comforter between every guest stay. I certainly hope that's not the case here.

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I wanted to love it more than I did, but the style just doesn't appeal to me. Our experience in the casino didn't impress us either. Staff (aside from the check in clerk) was really cold, and some were unprofessional. The carpet around the table games was littered in trash and cocktail waitresses don't seem to cover much of the casino floor. They seem to only work the pit and the slot area near Umami Burger. We were given three 2-for-1 cocktail coupons, but the lounges where they were valid were closed. Various bars are supposed to have local specials on cocktails until 8pm, but we didn't find one that honored it. The only special was 2 Bud Lights for $5 at Umami. I'd much rather pay full price for a good beer. Overall, the staff outnumbered the guests by 3:1 at least. You'd expect top notch service at that ratio.

November 5, 2014

Lung Cancer Awareness

November is Lung Cancer Awareness month. It doesn't receive the same support or attention as Breast Cancer, but the reality is more people die from Lung Cancer than any other type of cancer. In fact, Lung Cancer kills more people than colon, breast and prostate cancer combined.

Smokers are at greatest risk for developing the disease. I know many of my friends and family are smokers. I urge you to consider quitting. I quit nearly ten years ago. It was the best thing I have ever done for my health. It is truly a nasty habit, a costly one, too. I hope more and more people can come to that realization before it's too late. It took a cancer diagnoses and oxygen dependency for my mom to see the light. Today, she finishes the final two weeks of radiation which will hopefully allow great victory against this cruel disease. There is enough in this world out to harm us. Do what you can to lessen your risk. Do it for yourself. Do it for your loved ones.