25 February 2008

Las Vegas!

It's official. I have now been to Las Vegas, eaten at an In-n-Out Burger, been asked by an Elvis impersonator "what's shakin', mama?", played roulette and eaten at a Michelin two starred restaurant. I feel as if I've arrived!

But first things first. Day 1, which was really just night 1 since we arrived at 11pm. There was only one stop I wanted to make.

We took a cab from the airport to the MGM Grand, our home away from home for the next five days, checked in to our deluxe room, and promptly left the hotel in search of the In-N-Out Burger. G, the excellent navigator, knew that it was right down the street from the hotel, a mile or less away. So we set off on foot.

Now in Vegas, lots of people are walking around all the time. But not off the Strip, and across an Interstate. We walk and walk, and realize that we have run out of sidewalk and are going to have to walk in the middle of the highway if we are going to go forward. Undeterred, we troop back to the closest hotel (New York New York) and get in the taxi line.

The cab driver seems unamused that we want to merely cross the bridge to get to the other side. But he drives us there. Of course, the worrier in me is concerned with how we are going to get home, as the other side of the highway is a cab free zone, but the sights and smells of the delicious burgery food were beckoning.

Oh my.

So, I'd read that the thing to try was the double double. So yes, despite the fact that it was after midnight, it was a Double Double with fries and a vanilla milkshake. I'd like to thank those folks at the blog, A Hamburger Today, for their suggestions!

The Double Double. The Double Double. Tasty tasty tasty. Honestly, let's start with the amazing bun. It was PERFECTLY toasted. Biting into it was like biting into hamburger's my Mom made when we were kids. Really really really really good. The patties were perfect. Seasoned meat. The cheese was melty and oozy and hot. It was glorious. Really, in the top three hamburgers of my life.

And then there were the fries.

These fries look undercooked, but they were PERFECT! They are handcut, flavourful, not greasy, and really rocking on all cylinders they are so good. I ate the whole lot. The combination was glorious. Absolutely heavenly. I was happy overall with the whole experience. And the place was hopping with lots of folks eating huge amounts of food.

The walk home was a little less hair-raising. We found the sidewalk, it was a bit sketchy, but so what. We're in Vegas and I'd just had an In-N-Out Burger!!!

17 February 2008

A Melange of Dinner (or supper depending on where you are).

G and I often argue over what to eat for dinner. Wait. Argue is too strong. We disagree sometimes, and other times we just can't come up with an idea. As many food magazines as I read, and as much food television as I watch, I can't always come up with an idea when it's late and I am tired and dinner dishes seem like an enormous task to undertake.

This was exactly the case a few nights ago. G had some errands to run after work, and I gamely came along. But the later it got, the more the idea of 'what to have for dinner' loomed over us. It was a dark cloud. Nothing sounded good, the weather was brutally cold, and the will was gone. Fortunately, there's always Rashnaa for a taste of the good stuff.

I was hungry and ready for something slightly different from my usual butter chicken platter. So chicken biryani with chickpea curry won the day.

I know I have said it before, but I love Rashnaa. The food is amazing, and it's completely reasonably priced. The plate you see above you was very doable at less than $10.

I had a most delicious chicken biryani with a chickpea curry that is absolutely without a doubt one of the best things I have ever had. It also comes with a side of the thickest, spiciest raita. Yum. The nice thing about Rashnaa is that it is quite a bit spicier than Indian food, but always reasonable, provided that you don't get over boisterous about how spicy you want it...Really lovely.

While G was in the Big Apple, I wanted to try to make spaghetti carbonara. I've never ordered it in a restaurant, so I wasn't certain that I would even like it, but I have been intrigued at the thought of making it. Plus, when G's away, the pork gets made!

Well, the carbonara was not a success. I mean, it was tasty, but the eggs scrambled and well, that's about all the disaster you need to know...

I think Tyler Florence led me astray with the recipe, to be honest. He said to mix the cheese into the beaten egg prior to mixing into the pasta, but it was so incredibly thick that there was no way it was going to do anything but scramble. So NO, I will not give Mr. Florence the benefit of having his 'doesn't-work' recipe included here!

A few weeks ago we had a doozy of a snowstorm, and I had a doozy of a day that was one of those VERY rare days where I end up not eating all day (and believe me, this almost never happens). When G and I finally hooked up at the end of the day, the only thought on my mind was FRENCH FRIES. And the best place to cure a fry craving for me is Utopia. And it didn't disappoint.

And what did I have with those delicious fries? A wonderful pesto chicken wrap. It was really really good, and I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I ate the whole bloomin' lot. And also under $10. It rules! The downside to Utopia is that it's wicked wicked wicked slow. And there's also a patio in the back that is completely horrid to eat in, so if you can't get into the main restaurant, my suggestion is to go elsewhere. But when the seating is right, and your food eventually comes, it is unbelievably delicious.

Another stormy night, G and I decided to have breakfast for dinner.

It was good.

(hee hee)

Rashnaa on Urbanspoon

16 February 2008

The (Mostly) 100 Mile Diet.

A couple of weeks ago, G and I attended a '100 Mile Diet' event at the Summerhill LCBO. (The LCBO is the Ontario run liquor store.) It was put on by the woman who owns "All the Best", a specialty food store near the LCBO, and much to my surprise included a full dinner with wine! I had no idea.

I left work a tad early to get to what I thought was a lecture, only to show up and see tables with full dinner place settings. When G arrived, I exclaimed, "It's a full dinner!!! With drinks!!! AND one of the drinks is the JT bubbly!" G seemed a bit shocked at my lack of understanding that at the price we paid to attend, of course there was food involved. *Blush*

The food was actually prepared in advance, though they did prepare things while we were there. There was a presentation screen, so everyone could see, and the room smelled amazing.

It was really neat!

The first course was a roasted beet salad with local blue cheese, walnuts, and a niagara dressing. Really nice, and something that we make at home more or less the same way, which made us feel very gourmet. (ha ha)

The portion was generous, the beets were golden and zebra beets. I absolutely love golden beets. They don't have the same overtly dirt/earthy taste that red beets have. And the blue cheese was really mild and quite nice.

From there we moved on to rack of venison with mushroom ragout and sweet potato and turnip mash. I really don't like turnips. I don't know why, but they taste like lemon Pledge to me. I have had them made in a variety of ways at this point, and they really really don't work for me. This was no exception, except I could mix the turnip into the sweet potato, and that worked.

But of course, the star of this show was the venison. WOW! It was unbelievably amazing. The meat was crazily tender and juicy, and the earthy mushroom ragout just made the whole thing really sing. I have only made venison at home a couple of times, and I do think it's almost always been in the form of ground venison for chili or something, but I would consider making it at home.

We then had a cheese course. I enjoyed it mightily, so much so in fact that I didn't take a picture until it had been ... quite enjoyed!

I didn't write down the types of cheese. They were all Canadian, and I think the vast majority of them came from Quebec. But amazing. Really good.

Then, what little (very little) room that was left was given over fully to the apple galette. They served a too sweet ice wine variant with this dessert, and I was really so full that I couldn't eat the whole thing...

All in all, the LCBO evening was fantastic and I would recommend it and would definitely do another one. I think the price was around $65 for the whole thing, and it was very informative and really tasty. (Two thumbs up!)

I Do It for the Joy it Brings Because I am a Joyful Girl

Phew. What a week. It seems that gearing up for vacation almost makes it not worth it to go on vacation! But we persevere. Oh yes we do. Because we will soon be setting off for the sunnier shores of Las Vegas.

But before all that... there was the Superbowl. I am a Patriot's fan through and through, and the loss was a sad ending to an otherwise pretty darn good season, but good on for Manning Jr. He played a better game, and while it's the big game, there's always next year.

Enough about that. I made food, I took some crap pictures of some of it. And to start off, it's time to let you in on a little bit of my Oklahoma heritage. It's called queso. And it's good. But it's a particular type. Not gussied up, not fancified, not even mostly nature made food, but it's good. And for the Superbowl, it was a must.

It starts like this:

And it ends with a product so orange, no picture could be taken with my limited skills. So, no photo. But essentially you take the Rotel (which I brought back to Canada when I went home for Christmas) and the Velveeta (bought in Canada, hence the excellent a faire fondre!) and you melt them together. Now in a pork eating world, you would stir in some minced sausage. But as that type of eatin' isn't done in our home, we stuck with the cheez and rotel. Oh yeah. Some friends came over and were quite skeptical, but they tucked in and loved it.

I also made pigs in blankets with the help of Poppin' Fresh's 'Weiner Wraps', but no pics happened of those either because they were eaten up too quickly! For the cocktail sausage, I used kosher Baldwin Street beef cocktail sausages. Oh yeah. A little saucer of ketchup (from the US of A) and mustard, and we all ate little pigs until we could pop.

But we didn't pop! We moved on to the main course! I wanted to make something a little different than my standard chili, so I found a great recipe in the December/January 2007 issue of "Everyday with Rachel Ray" for Barbecue Beef Subs. It sounded perfect! And it was.

It's a dark photo, but that's just because the meat is a rich dark lovely goodness. And it was crazy easy to make. See for yourself! Anyway, we added a little bit of grated asiago cheese because, cheese makes it better, and ate up. I served the subs with my first ever attempt at creamy coleslaw. Ummm... yeah... creamy was far more present than cole or slaw.


But we ate it. And what we didn't eat, I am sad to say, was tossed in the bin. The beef subs, we saved the leftovers and will likely have them sometime this week. Yippie!

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

On Valentine's Day, G and I decided that we would stay home and not share gifts. Now, if this were a movie, I would have come home and there would have been diamond jewelery sitting on the table. But no, this is real life, and when you decide to stay home and not share gifts, well, you pretty much get just that.

But before you cry me a river, don't. The reason for our frugality this year is that we are going on holiday next week for a few days, so why not save the money for our trip? See, Vader, we can be reasonable.

Staying at home doesn't have to mean the same old, though. Oh no. This year, we decided to have a cheese fondue 'do. (It does look a little '70's, but how can it not with that deluxe fondue pot?!)

Oh yeah. So first there was the bubbly from Jackson Triggs. If you have access to Ontario wines, I highly recommend most anything from Jackson Triggs. And if you are ever in Niagara-on-the-Lake, you should stop at the winery. It's really great. One of our current favorites is the Jackson Triggs Proprietor's Reserve 2005 Methode Cuve Close. Oh yeah. Pour me a few glasses.

For the main event, we had cheese fondue. I know I have spoken somewhat ad nauseum on my love for almost all things President's Choice, but the President also makes a mean fondue. And it's so easy. You open the package, you squeeze out the 'due, heat, and eat. Honestly. And it's as good as any I have ever had in a restaurant.

But you can't fondue with cheese alone. Oh no you can't! So I stopped at the store and bought some goods. As you see above, we had bread (of course), grape tomatoes, salami, pear, and mushrooms. It was good. We devoured the fondue, drank the bubbly, and promptly fell fast asleep at 11pm with "Murder She Wrote" in the background. Well, all of that is true except for the Murder She Wrote part, we don't even have a tv in the bedroom. Work all day and work the next day... it wears a girl out!

At the end of the day, it's not about gifts or cards or, heck, even fondue, it's about being with those you love. I hope you were with yours.

05 February 2008


Oh my. Oh my. Oh my.

I am so excited.

There is an In-N-Out hamburger outlet less than one mile from my Las Vegas hotel. In a few short weeks, I will be able to say that I have eaten a legit In-N-Out hamburger.

Oh my.


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