December 29, 2014

So long, 2014!

We have definitely had our share of ups and downs this year. However I will focus on the positive, Ecuador was amazing, we visited new cities such as Albuquerque, Louisville and Portland. We spent a lot of time with family, including celebrating a wedding in San Francisco and welcoming my niece into the world. Before ushering in the new year, let's look back at 2014.

As usual, we traveled as much as possible and enjoyed yummy eats and drinks along the way. We've had great new experiences and revisited old favorites.


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Best new eats - David Clawson

They do a few things, and they do them extremely well.

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Late to the party - EAT

Those sandwiches are a thing of beauty.

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Reliable - Pizza Rock

Meatballs are a must and the Calzone? Yum.

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Favorite - Sage

Yet again, Sage is stellar.

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Greatest find - Mariscos Playa Escondida

We cannot stay away. Everything. Everything has been fantastic.

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Most welcomed - Buddha Belly Deli

Asian Fusion without any fuss.

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Biggest surprise - Giada

I didn't think it was possible for this restaurant to live up to the hype, but then I tasted the food. Color me impressed.

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Greatest Splurge - Joel Robouchon

We had two fabulous dining experiences here this year. Never dreamed that to be the case, I guess dreams do come true.

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RIP - Osteria del Circo

One of my first loves. Circo will be missed.


Hornado is typical Ecuadorian fare served Mote (hominy) and llapingacho (potato cake with cheese). The pork was perfectly rendered and dripped with deliciousness. This here was our favorite meal in Ecuador.

Life changing - Hornado

Roadside roasted pig! The tastiest treat in Ecuador.

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Best eats - Tasty n Alder; Portland, OR

I'm still thinking about their fish tacos.

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Most disappointing - SLS Las Vegas

I wanted to love it, but I didn't.

Hosteria Mandala, Puerto López.

Most relaxing - Hosteria Mandala; Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

This oasis was a great place to waste away days laying in the hammock and sipping on cervezas.

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Biggest regret - Not going with Frank to Denver.

It seems like a fantastic city that I would enjoy.

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Hope to do more - Off-roading

I only went off-roading a few times this year. I haven't been in the RZR since May :(


Best Album - Sonic Highways, Foo Fighters. Beautifully assembled, loved the history lesson provided by the concurrent TV Series documentary.

Best Song - Thinking Out Loud, Ed Sheeran.

Best TV Show - Fargo

Best Concert - SOJA

Best Movie - St. Vincent

With that, I wish you the best of everything and may the new year bring you the greatest joys.

December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

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How cute are these kiddos? I can't be with them this Christmas, but we'll be together in spirit.

I hope Santa brings you everything you've hoped for and more. Wherever you go and whatever you do, create lasting memories with those you love.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

December 22, 2014

Mariscos Playa Escondida

Spending Saturday nights with Frank has become a rarity, but this past Saturday was a nice treat. He was home early enough for us to go out to dinner. We were torn between pizza, Thai and German. But deep down, we were seeking something new. He made a few calls to foodie friends to see what ideas they had. All offered good suggestions, but it was a recommendation for Mariscos Playa Escondida that won us over. This Mexican restaurant specializing in seafood was completely off my radar. It's located on East Charleston near Maryland Pkwy in a stripmall tucked behind Tacos Mexico. It could easily be missed if you weren't specifically looking for it. It's a true hole in wall, but let me tell you it is a gem!

This was an experience equal to those we've had off the beaten path in the Riveria Maya. No flight or passports required. It's hard to believe they can achieve these flavors and create this delicious seafood in the middle of the desert. But they do it.

We let our friendly server guide us with our order. He recommended the aguachile tostada and the shrimp empanadas. We had to have both. The empanadas were too hot to handle from the fryer so we let those cool, while we dug into the aguachile. They offer spicy dishes on a scale of 1-10, we ordered an 8 for everything. There was no false advertisement everything had a nice kick just the way we like it. The aguachile is diced shrimp marinated in chiles and lime. If you like ceviche, you'll love this. We gobbled it up between bites of the house salsa and chips.

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The empanadas are the best I've had outside Ecuador. These were filled with tender shrimp, onions, tomatoes and garlic. Damn tasty! I'd go for some now, if they were only open on Mondays. Definitely a must a try! We had three for $8.

I was easily swayed on the whole snapper ($9/lb) its topped with spicy cream sauce, onions, jalapenos and avocado, and served with rice, beans and handmade tortillas. I prefer the corn to the flour. I've enjoyed snapper half a dozen ways but snapper tacos were a first; they did not disappoint. A two pound fish left plenty to share with Frank.

He ordered the appetizer of the el tecolote shrimp per our servers suggestion. He warned that it was a lot of work, but definitely worth the effort. He was right. The flavor was fantastic.

They have a nice variety of Cerveza ($3.50). We had five Victorias between us and a few pounds of seafood for $75. It was a steal and a real treat!

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December 17, 2014


I'm two years late to the party, but I finally ate at Eat. A few weeks ago, Frank was downtown on business and called me up asking for a recommendation for lunch. I told him to try Eat. Afterward, he told me about the awesome blta w/ egg sandwich he had. He took me to check it out the day of the Santa Run, but the santas kept us from getting to Carson and 7th so I'd have to wait to try Eat. Then, last week; success!

If driving be prepared to feed the parking meter. The restaurant sits on the lower level of Park Avenue Apartments. This tired building is sure to experience a revitalization thanks to the Downtown Project. Carson Ave has become a hot spot for downtown dining and it began with Natalie Young's Eat. She was the first to partner with Tony Hsieh and see her dream to fruition. She is currently working on her next venture, Chow.

Eat bustled on a late Saturday morning, while there was no line out the door. There was a wait for a table, but counter seating was available. We settled in and gazed over the menu. Our server asked, "Can I get cinnamon biscuits started for you?" Many might be duped by the question thinking they are complimentary, only to be surprised later by an $8 charge on the bill. It is a bit sneaky so be warned. Yet, we said, "yes, bring them on!" The tender biscuits swim in strawberry compote and are topped with berries. It reminds me very much of strawberry shortcake, add some fresh whipped cream and it'd be the perfect dessert.

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When it came to ordering we skipped right over the breakfast items and went straight for the sandwiches. I had to try the dwblta ($11) myself and Frank went for the killer grilled cheese with tomato soup ($9). During the week more sandwiches are available, they all sound fantastic. However, if I ever get a chance to dine on a weekday, the chilaquiles will be mine!

I added cheese to my dwblta, I skipped the egg; I don't dig runny eggs, blasphemy, I know. This sandwich was great! All components married beautifully and the sourdough bread held it together without being too bready. It was a thing of beauty, truly. Sandwiches come with a side of house chips, potato or tomato salad. I really enjoyed the tomato salad. Despite my best efforts I could only devour half of the sandwich. I took the rest home. This sandwich could easily be shared.

Frank added tomato, egg, and avocado to the killer grilled cheese. It was a tasty twist, especially when dipped in the soup. However, as good as it was we agreed we enjoyed the dwblta a bit more. In fact, it might just be the best damn sandwich in lv.

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December 10, 2014

Not Feelin' It

I haven't felt like writing. Honestly, I haven't felt like doing much of anything. I'm just anxious to get this year over with. Our Thanksgiving was nice. We had a no turkey, turkey day. None of us are particularly fond of turkey so it seemed silly to go through the hassle. I made gouda pork chops, stuffing, brussels sprouts, parmesan salad and grandma's potatoes. There were no mashed potatoes to stress over. It was a delight. It wasn't a perfect meal, I turned up the oven temp but failed to remove the items from the oven before doing so. I bought a different brand of gouda and much of it oozed out from the chops. Oh well, shit happens. It was all edible and we were together.

Since I lasted posted, Frank celebrated his 35th birthday. I'll join him in middle age in a few months. I say it all the time, but it's true -- It's wild how quickly the years go! I don't know when we became grown ups. Sometimes, I'd swear we were still seventeen in a fresh relationship. His responsibilities recently changed at work so he's been working a bunch, but he did get to sneak away to celebrate his birthday. I'm so proud of all he's accomplished. He's done great in his career, and he's a wonderful husband. I love him so. Somehow, I know the best adventures are yet to come.

My mom still isn't feeling well. This cough has really done a number on her. She's so sore and tired. She had a CT Scan done that revealed that she has inflammation in the lung that was previously healthy. Her radiation oncologist insisted that it was too early for pneumonitis. However, her oncologist felt it is indeed pneumonitis. We met with a new radiation oncologist last week for another opinion. He agreed it seems to be pneumonitis. The great news is everyone agrees that the scan shows that the previous lymph nodes are no longer identified and the tumor has reduced in size. In laymans terms, it seems the radiation did its job on the cancer, but also damaged healthy lung tissue; causing the decreased lung function/cough. Her doctors believe she will get better, but there is a chance the damage could be permanent. A follow up CT is ordered in two months. A short bit later she is due for her PET scan to check on the cancer. Her oncologist says PET will take care of both.

The first round of low dose steroids offered no benefit. She started Prednisone on Friday along with a new antibiotic. Hopefully, this combo will show improvement. Otherwise, she will be hospitalized. So far, she seems to be coughing a bit less, but still no relief.

My health insurance changed December 1st, it is funny how my policies get less affordable every year since the Affordable Care Act. Changing insurance every year is tiresome. This year is especially frustrating since I'm still in treatment from the car accident. It's really weighing on me. I just want to be better. I want to get through a work day without pain. I'd like to be active again. I miss offroading so much! I can't even use the treadmill without discomfort. My weight is spiraling out of control despite my efforts of watching carbs, etc. I need to move more, but it hurts. I'm so over it. Since I can't just run from it all, I'd like to hibernate until this awful year is behind me. I don't mean to sulk, I keep reminding myself how fortunate I am. I try to count my blessings rather than complain, but I'm doing a poor job. Anyway...

I have reviews to post. Hopefully, I'll be over my funk in a hurry and resume a regular posting schedule. In the meantime, I hope your holiday season is merry and bright.

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.

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*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.

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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.

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