Sunday, September 27, 2009

Birthday Celebration

I went back to Las Vegas for my mom's birthday weekend. As soon as we landed, we went straight to Burger Bar for a late dinner. We went straight to the bar back to grab out usual seats. One of the tables behind us was filled with kids eating burgers and milkshakes. I noticed that a few of the televisions were tuned to Dancing with the Stars. I found this odd, but I figured the kids preferred this to the usual ESPN channels. Suddenly the kids were yelling and screaming at the televisions. They were rooting the cast of the Lion King (who perform nightly at the Mandalay Bay Hotel). Not only were they cheering, they were yelling out names of the cast. These were the kids from the cast! How cool!

Asahi, Black Lager
Smooth, stout like brew with a mellow, yet deep taste. Delicious!

Low Carb Burger
Instead of bread buns, the Country Natural beef was between portobello mushrooms and a bed of asparagus.

Buffalo with Caramelized Onions, Angus with Bacon, and Country Natural with Cheddar.

The next day, we went to the Venetian Hotel to eat at Enoteca San Marco, Mario Batali's restaurant.

The Inside

Friulano Bastianich, Friuli, 2007
A refreshing white to pair with the meal. This wine is produced by the Bastianich family (as in Lydia Bastianich, chef and business partner of Batali).

Acetaia, "Vinegar Maker's Salad"
Covered with Prosciutto. The prosciutto was delicate and delicious.

Bucatini all'Amatriciana
With tomato, cured pork, and onions. The pastas here are cooked perfectly al dente, and the sauce nicely coats it.

Linguine con Le Cozze
With mussels, saffrom, and marjoram (an herb). Another tasty and light pasta!

For the big dinner, my family and I ate at Hubert Keller's Fleur de Lys in the Mandalay Bay Hotel. I've eaten at his San Francisco restaurant several times. This was my first time in his Las Vegas establishment. The night did not disappoint. Everything was beautiful and delicious!
Please note: I'm still awaiting the release of my new camera. For now I'm still using my older camera which doesn't take the best low lighting shots., and in nicer restaurants, I tend not to use flash.
The Tapas Menu
$80 for 12 items - such a great deal!

The Inside

Homemade Pickled Olives
I enjoyed this because it was not overly pickled and it tasted so fresh.

Onion Soup with Truffle Oil
A delicately blended soup. The truffle oil was a delicious touch. A great start.

Lightly coated vinagrette. It was salad, nothing really that special.

Hearts of Palm
Another refreshing salad. Delicate and creamy.

Spoons of Tuna Tartare
Fresh tuna with a light dressing. A refreshing spoonful.

A selection of cold cuts, such as spicy soppressata, soppressata, and prosciutto.

Croque Monsieur
One of the best croque monsieurs I've had! The crust was nice and crispy, and the cheese was oozing over. Mmm!

Potato Ravioli
The pasta was so light and fresh. The sauce was nice and deep, with a short rib taste. So good!

Fleur Sliders with Shoe String Potatoes
Kobe beef stuffed with blue cheese on a bed of Asian pears, with potato buns. This slider was far better than the ones in Burger Bar. So delicious!

Skirt Steak
With chimichurri sauce. Moist, tender, and well cooked meat with a delicate sauce.

Cheese Plate
Roquefort, Goat Cheese, and Sheep's Milk Cheese, with homemade honey.

The Breads for the Cheese
White chocolate bread and cranberry bread.

After we finished the Tapas Menu, we ordered a few more entrees. The tapas menu is generous, but we were a table of four so our stomachs were not quite full yet.
Citrus Glazed Halibut
Nicely cooked, and still rare inside.

Gently Heated Alaskan King Salmon
The plate of the night. The salmon was delicately cooked. Super delicious!

Stout Braised Beef Shortribs
A tasty cut of shortribs. The potato and carrot puree was so smooth and creamy.

Madeleines with a Chocolate Dipping Sauce
The madeleines are so light and airy, and crispy on the edges. It's the best madeleines I've had. The chocolate makes it even more delicious.

The Birthday Cake!
Srawberry mousse. It wasn't amazing, but it was good. A nice gesture for my mom's birthday.

Heaven's Dog

Ever since Charles Phan opened Heaven's Dog in the beginning of the year, I've been so curious about the place. I love Slanted Door and Out the Door. It's Vietnamese food at it's finest (in terms of taste, presentation, and ambiance). Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Phan's Chinese establishment. The food's taste and authenticity is lacking, and it doesn't have that Charles Phan magic.
The Menu

The Inside
Nicely decorated.

Edamame Salad
With pickled mustard greens, bean curd ribbons, and chili oil. The chili oil was a bit overpowering. The dish was too one dimensional.

Shanghai Dumplings
This wasn't bad at all. Actually, it was good. If I ever had to come back here again, I would definitely order this.

Braised Pork Belly in a Clam Shell Bun
David Chang ruined this dish for me. It was delicious, but it was no where as good as Momofuku Ssam Bar's pork bun.

Beef Curry Puffs
This was pretty good, but it didn't impress me. It tasted like Strait's Samosas, but Strait's is better.

Char Sui
We ordered this thinking it was the char sui bao(bun), but it was just the meat. It was okay.

Tonga Room

Girls' Nights Out are always memorable. On this particular night, we went to the Tonga Room in the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. It is one of the oldest Tiki Bars in the nation. Overall it was a unique experience. The night was fun, but everything was overpriced.

The Inside
They went all out with the decorations. So awesome!

The Live Band!
They get on a boat and perform in the middle of the pool all night. When they perform, there is a cover charge of $7 that is included in your bill.

Mai Tai
This is their famous drink. One sip and we all knew we were in for a fun night.

First, you get to keep the glass. Second, the straw is three times long. Third, the drink was, again, nice and strong.

Shiitake Egg Rolls
Crispy rolls filled with shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, carrots, and onions with Tonga Sauce. Nicely fried, and an overall good egg roll.

Price Edward Island Mussels
With sauteed Portuguese sausage, maui onions, garlic, and Kona Long Board lager and topped with sweet potato fries. The fries added a nice texture to the dish. The sausage gave it a fun island taste.

Seared Diver Scallops
With sauteed corn, Hobb's bacon, scallions, and spinach with a yuzu beurre blanc sauce. Delicious! The scallops were perfectly cooked, and the corn had a great bacon taste.

Island Lamb Curry
Braised lamb, ginger, and chilis with sauteed spinach and sweet potato. It had a good taste, but I found the lamb a bit tough and overcooked.

Alena's Mix
Soy marinated tofu, shimeji mushrooms, snap peas, and garlic. A nice plate of vegetables. The mushrooms were tasty.

"Forbidden Blend" Fried Rice
Forbidden black, white jasmine, Bhutanese red, and jade pearl bamboo rice. This was a great bowl of rice! It had a nice light fried rice taste.

Flaming Tonga Volcano
We saw this flaming volcano from the start of dinner, and we had to get it. The flame was pretty cool, but the taste and execution of the dessert was a fail. The black sesame sauce tasted off, and the volcano cake itself wasn't impressive.

Tongacchino with Kahlua
We added the side of Kahlua to give our nightcap a good kick. It worked.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Desserts!

My mom constantly bakes different recipes of the same baked good. Every recipe is different. Some are great, and you can learn from all of them. That's why she's an amazing cook and baker because she's constantly strives to learn and improve.

Truffle Brownies

This is her latest batch of brownies. Dark Fudge Brownies made with Fauchon cocoa. It's truffle like, moist, and a deliciously rich dark chocolate taste. I love it!

Red Velvet Cupcakes
This is one of my favorite variety of cupcakes, and in one try my mom totally got it down. This is the best ones I've had. Light, fluffy, flavorful, and moist. She used a square cupcake mold, so it gave it a unique twist.