October 4, 2013

  • When One Door Opens…

    When one door opens, it’s your loss if you choose not to walk through it.

    This has been a weird week. I’m feeling under the weather and can’t train for my GORUCK LIGHT Challenge on Oct 19. My “Manny-Van” (ie mini-van) got some much needed repairs – a new radiator and a new rack & pinion. It’s strange that fixing something always leads to unexpected results and new behaviors. Things are just not quite the same or necessarily better. I’m also in the process of wrapping up traffic school for going 30 in a 25mph zone. How ridiculous. I’m also looking for a replacement vehicle, since my beloved and trusty 2001 Lexus GS300 was totalled in a really minor side-swipe. On top of all of this nonsense, my manager after 12 years is moving on. This was one scenario I had never considered. I applaud the move in the end. It’s better to exit the game at the top, when everything is going alright.

    I had a great lunch today with someone I rarely see and got some great feedback on something I haven’t considered since 2007. I think with the latest turn of events I need to consider my options and figure out a much needed exit strategy.

June 14, 2013

  • 2013 Hobbies and current obsessions…

    It’s 2013, I got into a bunch of new stuff this year.  

    1. TRX/Boxing Training
    2. Mini Coopers
    3. Road Biking 
    4. Rum from the Caribbean

    My favorite gym in the world, Impact! Kickboxing Fitness has a great class twice a week which focuses on boxing basics and is combined with a TRX Suspension training workout.  The great thing about this class is that alot of the workout can be accomplished with out alot of equipment and 75% of the work out is done with body-weight movements. 

    My son Austin recently sold his baby, a 1991 Mazda RX-7 Convertible.  Since he started using my car more often I ended up buying a used 2010 Mini Cooper S “R56″.  It’s a super fun car to look at, customize, and drive!  It exceeds all my expectations for “fun” transportation.  The previous owner really babied this car.  I hope I can keep it in the same condition for the next year.  Today I plan on an easy drive through Woodside’s 84, the Skyline on 35 over to the 92 Freeway.  More later…

    Since April of this year I stared Road Biking.  This was in preparation for the 2013 Silicon Valley Tour De Cure Ride which supports diabetes research for the ADA: American Diabetes Association.  Little did I know that I would enjoy the activity as much as I do! I started out with an entry-level road bike from Mikes Bikes.  It’s a Specialized Allez with an ?aluminum frame and carbon fork and entry-level components from Shimano.  The day before the TDC Ride, we stopped by the REI store to check out the Semi-Annual Garage Sale for used equipment.  My friend Jim and my wife Lynette found a great deal on an all-carbon bike from SCOTT.  I got 60% off the bike which was in great condition!  Now I have two bikes and never enough time to ride.  More on this later…

    Lastly, my diet and exercise regimen is shot to heck.  Since the cruise to the Caribbean in early April, I stopped working out regularly and wasn’t strict with what I was eating.  I blame it on my latest obsession with RUM.  It’s my newest brown sugar, literally!  I have a small collection of rum at home now and keep discovering more and more that I want to try as time goes on.  My current favorites: 

    1. Zaya 12 Trinidad
    2. Ron Abuelo 7 Panama
    3. Matusalem 12 Dominican Republic
    4. Ron Aniversario Venezuela

    Tonight, I check out 3 from Ron Abuelo with a free tasting at Beltramo’s in Menlo Park.  I get to try the 7 year, the 12 year, and the Centuria.  I hope to pick up either the Flor de Cana, Boteros, or El Dorado 15.  I guess, I’ll keep the 15 pounds I’ve gained since the cruise until I lose this bug. 

May 21, 2013

  • Skyline Drives

    I love the mountain roads near my home.  I’ve done the one below a few times when I had a Mazda RX-8:




    We start at Dr. Wong’s office on Woodside Road (Hwy 84) in Redwood City. We go up Woodside Road, through Woodside, and on up the hill to Skyline Blvd.

    From there, we head down Hwy 84 (name now changed to La Honda Road). We’ll stop at the San Gregorio General Store at Stage Road and Hwy 84 for a short break.

    From San Gregorio, we go south on Stage Road to the little town of Pescadero (which is a veritable METROPOLIS compared to San Gregorio). Then we head east on Pescadero Road a short ways to Cloverdale Road, where we turn south (right) again. We follow Cloverdale road down to Gazos Creek Road, where we turn west (right).
    We follow Gazos Creek Road to Highway 1 where we can take a break. There is gas here, so fuel up if you need.  This point is about 25 miles from my office.

    Then take a trip down 1 to Davenport, where we stop for lunch. After lunch, it’s south on Highway 1 again to Bonny Doone Road, where we turn east (left). Don’t turn right there, or you’ll be surprised at the lack of floatation a set of air bags provide.

    Up Bonny Doon Road to Smith Grade, right on Smith Grade to Empire Grade. North (left) on Empire Grade to Jamison Creek Road, down Jamison Creek Road to Highway 236. Right on Highway 236 to Highway 9 in Boulder Creek. Another short break in Boulder Creek (gas, if needed), then up Highway 9 (east) to Skyline, where we assemble at the little rest area there for a final meeting. After our meeting and bull session, the group breaks up and everyone is on their own. Hope you can find your way home from there!


    Can’t wait to do it in my Mini Cooper!

March 29, 2013

  • Fullilling Day

    Amazing day! Today was awesome in more ways than one: a surprise birthday cake at work from Lynette, double dose of boxing conditioning with Hank and then kickboxing with Erik, and a great date-night with Lynettte at Gaku Yakitori! Excellent! I’m exhausted but it’s worth it!!!

February 21, 2013

  • Got Water?

    I found this fascinating: 

    The incredible drops in poverty rates experienced across much of the world may also bring some unexpected problems: conflict over water resources, Clark Judge notes in U.S. News and World Report.

    “[D]espite the worldwide economic downturn, vastly more people are middle income or approaching middle-income status than was conceivable in, say, 1980,” Judge writes. “But more prosperous populations are also better fed. For example, it takes about 40 liters of water to produce a slice of bread, a staple of low-income diets. It takes 2,400 liters to produce a hamburger, common in many middle-income diets. Put rising population and rising incomes together and, experts tell us, by 2050 global food needs will double, with water requirements going up accordingly.”

    From Fareed Zakaria: http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2013/02/20/what-were-reading-13/

    This makes me want to invest in land with my own dedicated water source.  Maybe a farm or working ranch somewhere away from the desert, tornadoes, and earthquake zone… :)  But by 2050, I should be close to extinction.

January 3, 2013

  • 50 must-eat Las Vegas meals (Las Vegas Sun)

    San Francisco has it’s 7X7 list.  My cousin sent me this list originally in April but I’m now just reading it! I plan on checking out as many of these restaurants in Las Vegas.  I’ll update future posts with the restaurants I’ve tried so far.  Lotus of Siam, Raku, and Ichiza are my favorites on this list.  I almost wish these didn’t appear so I could discover something new.  I disagree with Monta Ramen being on the list.  I would replace this with Ramen Sora which was surprisingly much better.  Not quite Bay Area good but great for Las Vegas!  Happy Eating! 



    50 must-eat Las Vegas meals

    A dining to-do list for the best of the Valley



    Diners enjoy the view from the Top of the World Restaurant at the Stratosphere on Thursday, April 5, 2012.

    Las Vegas Weekly

    Monday, April 16, 2012 | 6 p.m. 

    1. The riserva steak

    Carnevino, at Palazzo, 789-4141.


    Dry-aging is rightfully all the rage, but 60 days is for wusses. Carnevino does it the right way with the riserva—minimum 240-day dry-aged steaks. Yeah, I said it: eight months. The riserva displays the pungency of gorgonzola while conveying the essence of pure meat in every bite. After experiencing this, you’ll never look at steak in the same way.


    2. Chicken fingers

    Crown & Anchor British Pub, 1350 E. Tropicana Ave., 739-8676; 4755 Spring Mountain Road, 876-4733.


    This homey British pub hardly looks like a culinary must from the outside, but belly up to a plate of the chicken fingers and you’ll quickly reconsider. Crispy, golden breading wraps impossibly moist chicken with wide bowls of hot sauce and ranch for dipping. Good luck keeping them to yourself.

    Click to enlarge photo


    Hot N Juicy Crawfish


    3. Hot N Juicy style shrimp

    Hot N Juicy Crawfish, 4810 Spring Mountain Road, Suite C-D, 891-8889; 3863 Spring Mountain Road, 750-2428.


    Sure, the place is called Crawfish, but those mudbugs offer scant meat for such effort. Better go with the shrimp Hot N Juicy style in a seasoning mix that combines all the other flavors for a garlicky, Cajun kick that will have you licking your fingers long after the last crustacean has disappeared into your belly. Just be careful not to rub your eyes.


    4. Consome loco and cochinita pibil tacos

    Los Antojos, 2520 S. Eastern Ave., #B, 457-3505.


    This family-run hole-in-the-wall turns out authentic Mexican food that’s the antithesis of drive-thru fare, like the consome loco, a crazy-good chicken soup with rice, avocado and lime that’s as comforting as anything your mother makes. Follow it with a pair of cochinita pibiltacos, spicy pork cooked in banana leaves and topped with pickled onions. You’re favorite carnitas will seem boring by comparison.


    5. Khao soi

    Lotus of Siam, 953 E. Sahara Avenue #A5, 735-3033.


    Thai food is based on four flavors—sour, sweet, salty and bitter—and this dish off the famed restaurant’s Northern Thai menu melds them all in one addictive meal. Coconut cream curry packs a sweet, mellow heat over egg noodles and your protein of choice, garnished with red onion, lime and pickled vegetables for some essential balance. Order it once and you’ll be hard pressed to get anything else.

    Click to enlarge photo


    Ichiza’s heaven on a plate: honey toast


    6. Honey toast

    Ichiza, 4355 Spring Mountain Road, 367-3151.


    Save room for dessert. After you’ve sampled this Japanese izakaya’s savory nibbles, it’s time for the honey toast—a loaf of chewy white bread with the top lopped off, baked till the crust is crisp with butter and honey melted into its gooey center then topped with heavy scoops of vanilla ice cream. It’s hot and cold, salty and sweet—the kind of simple, gratifying dessert that lingers long after you’ve put down the spoon.


    7. The counter

    Tiffany’s Cafe, inside White Cross Drugs, 1700 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 444-4459.


    We all love quiet corner booths, but sometimes nothing beats the buzz of an old-school counter. At Tiffany’s, being up close means getting to watch the cook as he works the grill (yeah, we said cook, not chef), scope out the strange assortment of wall hangings and eyeball the … unique cast of characters coming through the door. Oh yeah, the classic, greasy-spoon food’s pretty good, too, especially after a long night at the bars.


    8. $20.12 lunch

    Estiatorio Milos, at Cosmopolitan, 698-7000.


    Three courses. Twenty dollars. The lunch special at this Mediterranean seafood palace is not only an incredible deal, it’s incredibly delicious. While it’s hard to go wrong here, for our Jackson, the best lineup is charcoal-broiled octopus (additional $10), grilled lavraki (sea bass) and the sinfully rich Greek yogurt martini.

    Click to enlarge photo


    Ramen by Monta


    9. Miso ramen

    Monta, 5030 Spring Mountain Road, #6, 367-4600.


    The salty bite of fermented soybean paste mellows into steaming pork broth for a nutty, whisperingly sweet bath for tender wheat noodles and wood ear mushrooms, green onions and mustard leaves, paper-thin wheels of pork belly and a hard egg showing off a perfect, golden yolk. The dish is almost too beautiful to eat. But the wicked blend of tastes and textures will have your spoon scraping the bottom of the bowl.


    10. Omakase

    Sen of Japan, 8480 W. Desert Inn Road, #F1, 871-7781.


    Sen of Japan chefs Shinji Shichiri and Hiro Nakano know their food better than you, so why bother with actually ordering? That’s the beauty of omakase—you leave the choices up to the experts. Your only responsibility is to enjoy the trip. Whether or not the dishes are on the menu is irrelevant; it’s going to be a memorable night.

    Click to enlarge photo


    There’s soup in there. China MaMa’s dumplings are a requisite for any Chinatown exploration.


    11. Soup dumplings

    China Mama, 3420 S. Jones Blvd., 873-1977.


    Beloved among local foodies, these petite steamed dumplings are the ideal start to an authentic Chinese meal. Scoop them onto your spoon carefully—each bite contains a mouthful of tasty pork bathing in rich broth—then slurp and chew your way to dumpling bliss.


    12. Firefly

    Multiple locations.


    Everyone has favorite dishes at this local Spanish mainstay, where the food comes fast and furious and the crowd is young, boozy and on its way to a great night. Gather a group of friends and pass around plates of bacon-wrapped dates, Manchego mac and cheese, chorizo clams and tortilla Española, all washed down with a pitcher of sangria or mojitos, (preferably the blood orange variety) liberally poured.

    Click to enlarge photo


    Rick Harrison

    Guest Pick: Rick Harrison, Pawn Stars


    13. Lamb Tagine

    Vintner Grill, 10100 W. Charleston Blvd., #150, 214-5590.


    Braised in a terracotta pot with dried fruit, cumin, coriander and hot Tunisian chili, an entire leg of Colorado lamb gets extravagantly tender. Executive chef Matthew Silverman says steam locks in and infuses the juices with bursts of date and apricot. Served with currant-almond couscous and a drizzle of preserved lemon and yogurt, it’s a Moroccan-inspired feast. Or, as Rick says, “It’s ridiculously good!”


    14. Monthly Wine Dinner

    at Todd’s Unique Dining 4350 E. Sunset Road, 259-8633.


    Well-known and loved dishes like skirt steak on fire and seared ahi tuna with wasabi mashed potatoes keep the regulars coming back to this Henderson institution, but the monthly dinners with varying wine pairings are where chef/owner Todd Clore offers exciting kitchen experimentation and expands his patrons’ tastes. It’s not unusual for one of the featured plates to make its way onto the permanent menu.


    15. Osso bucco

    Ferraro’s, 4480 Paradise Road, 364-5300.


    Nothing less than a Vegas Italian institution, Ferraro’s didn’t miss a beat when it relocated from West Flamingo to Paradise (across from the Hard Rock) in late 2009. The signature braised veal shank remains one of the city’s favorite dishes, impossibly tender and rich with red wine reduction. It’s as good as you remember.

    Click to enlarge photo


    Bouchon chicken and waffles


    16. Bouchon’s weekend brunch

    At Venetian, 414-6200.


    Brunch options on the Strip have never been more varied and bountiful, but no restaurant’s baked goodies and savory-sweet combos are more consistently awesome than Bouchon’s. Brioche and jam, pecan sticky buns or scones alone could be a feast, but then you’d miss out on housemade sausages, roasted chicken and waffles, incredible salmon rilletes, and for God’s sake, don’t skip the profiteroles.


    17. Melrose Shrimp

    Nora’s Cuisine, 6020 W. Flamingo Road, #10, 365-6713.


    Frank Sinatra croons while you’re on hold, desperately hoping Nora’s has a table. Once you’re seated it’s a dream of spotless white linen, perfect wine pours and plates of rustic, elegant food served steaming from the chef’s pan. The Melrose typically comes with linguine, but fresh gnocchi ($3 extra) is even better with silky basil pesto bejeweled with pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes and tender zucchini. Add the briny ambrosia of giant, juicy shrimp and you have pasta that flat out refuses to play second fiddle.


    18. The Western

    Luv-It Frozen Custard, 505 E. Oakey Blvd., 384-6452.


    Luv-It’s rotation of custards changes daily and is outlined two months in advance on the website. You need no advance notice, however, for the Western. Your choice of custards is drenched in hot fudge, caramel and pecans. Get fresh banana nut if they have it; otherwise, just pick whatever’s calling your name and enjoy a classic from a Valley institution.

    Guest Pick: Jack Houston, Editor, LVM:


    19. Chilaquiles

    Border Grill, at Mandalay Bay, 632-7403.


    “It was late into my first brunch at Border Grill when executive chef Mike Minor implored me to try thechilaquiles: crispy tortilla chips topped with tender beef brisket, chilies and cheeses and an egg cooked to order (over easy, please). The resulting explosion of flavors and textures made certain that I would order it first next time around—which, thanks to the incredible price point ($29.99 for all-you-can-eat small plates, $5 for bottomless mimosas), ended up being the following weekend. If you crave Roberto’s or Taco Bell after a long Friday or Saturday night, the chilaquiles beg you to reconsider.”


    20. Kaiseki menu at Raku

    5030 W. Spring Mountain Road #2, 367-3511.


    Raku is the quintessential chef’s hangout, perhaps the industry’s favorite late-night haunt for refined yet approachable grub. But most chefs are too busy working to experience the artistic Kaiseki dinner, 10 courses for $100 or 15 courses for $150 spotlighting seasonal ingredients in chef Mitsuo Endo’s signature simple, pristine style. Call ahead for your chance at special plates like edamame tofu, amazing sashimi with fresh wasabi and Kobe beef tataki.

    Meet a junk-food masterpiece: Nachos Nachos Nachos


    Meet a junk-food masterpiece: Nachos Nachos Nachos


    21. Nachos Nachos Nachos

    Peppermill, 2985 Las Vegas Blvd., 735-4177.


    The Peppermill’s Fireside Lounge is Vegas iconic, a must-visit and must-imbibe destination for us all. But after a few Mai Tais, you’re going to need something powerful, and that’s where the (equally iconic?) Nachos Nachos Nachos come into play. This massive mountain of tortilla chips covered in melty cheese, spicy ground beef, refried beans, salsa, jalapeños, tomatoes and black olives will hit the spot in every way. You haven’t really done the Peppermill until you’ve attacked this junk-food masterpiece.


    22. Risotto ai frutti de mare

    Bartolotta, at Wynn, 248-3463.


    Bartolotta is now unequivocally the signature dining experience at Wynn and Encore, famous for providing a fresh-from-the-Mediterranean seafood experience in a luxurious atmosphere. Whole roasted fish is the calling card, but this simple, beautiful (and quite affordable at $22) risotto combines perfect Italian tradition with shrimp, lobster, clams, crab, cuttlefish and more, a hearty yet refreshing must.


    23. Vegan donuts

    Ronald’s Donuts, 4600 Spring Mountain Road, 873-1032.


    Odds are, when you hear the words “vegan” and “donut” in the same sentence, the first word that comes to mind is not “yum.” Think again. The glazed alone will have you forgetting all about Krispy Kreme, but experiment further and try the apple fritter and maple bar. How do they do it? Who knows, but why question perfection?


    24. Black cod

    Nobu, at Hard Rock Hotel, 693-5090.


    Existing somewhere between a culinary cliché and a game-changer is the miso-glazed black cod from Nobu. Who knows how many on-the-way-to-the-club types and trendy foodie folks have wolfed down this dish, from the flagship Nobu in New York to the Vegas outpost and everywhere in between? It’s okay to poke fun since it’s so good—delicate, almost buttery fish lacquered in a slightly sweet, umami-laden sauce.

    The Cosmopolitan's not-so-secret secret pizza place.


    The Cosmopolitan’s not-so-secret secret pizza place.


    25. Secret pizza

    At Cosmopolitan, 698-7860.


    If the Cosmo’s third-floor pizza joint had a sign (or a name), its New York-style pizza would surely taste just as delicious and inspire late-night lines just as long. Still, there’s something extra scrumptious about feeling like an insider, knowing that one of Las Vegas’ best slices lives down an unmarked hallway, footsteps from some of the Strip’s finest dining destinations. Perfect before a pool concert, after a night at Marquee or really anytime you don’t feel like getting on an airplane to hunt down great pizza.


    26. Chicken fried lobster

    Binion’s Ranch Steak House, at Binion’s, 382-1600.


    This dish was originally created for the rodeo cowboys, and for a long time it wasn’t even on Binion’s menu. That’s all changed now, and for good reason. This baby, a large piece of lobster tail, breaded and fried, can hold its own with any steak or prime rib in the place. Along with a baked potato and the rest of the fixins, you’ll be lucky if you can finish the whole meal. But it makes great leftovers, too.


    27. Chicken Benedict

    Hash House A Go Go, multiple locations.


    How big is this Man vs. Food favorite? Put it this way—it takes a minute just to process this dish. A layer of mashed potatoes topped with a huge biscuit, breaded chicken, bacon, tomato, cheese, spinach, eggs, … if you’re up to the challenge of finishing the whole thing, take plenty of pictures—no one’s going to believe you. Did we mention it’s delicious?

    Guest Pick: Adam Rapoport, Editor-in-Chief, Bon Appétit Presenting Vegas Uncork’d, May 10-13)


    28. Adam’s progressive Vegas dinner

    Multiple locations.


    Rapoport would start his dinner with a spicy crab salad from Alain Ducasse’s Mix at Mandalay Bay. (“Who doesn’t love guacamole? Even Alain Ducasse loves guac!” Rapoport says.) Then it’s off to STK for the 20-ounce bone-in rib steak, “the most flavorful steak you can buy,” accompanied by a side of “pillows of deliciousness” aka ricotta gnocchi from Bellagio’s Sensi. For dessert, it’s the Louvre from Payard Patisserie & Bistro at Caesars Palace, a chocolate and hazelnut mousse with a hazelnut dacquoise.

    Inventive French fare is on display at Twist.


    Inventive French fare is on display at Twist.


    29. Six-course tasting menu

    Twist, at Mandarin Oriental,  888-881-9367.


    Pierre Gagnaire wasn’t the first French legend to open a great restaurant in Vegas, but he did take the cuisine to new and innovative heights on the Strip. At Twist, chef de cuisine Pascal Sanchez reflects Gagnaire’s creative spirit, best experienced through six ever-changing courses ($189) driven by the best ingredients of the season, such as roasted venison with black pepper, juniper berries, salsify and yellow beets.


    30. The Parma Chef’s

    Table Chef Marc’s Pastavino & Deli, 7591 W. Washington Ave., #110, 233-6272.


    Tasting menus are common on the Strip, but not so much off. At the Parma Chef’s Table, Chef Marc serves four courses of expertly prepared Italian offerings using whatever ingredients are freshest that evening, presenting and explaining each dish tableside. Let him do what he does best and bask in the liberation … and pray he’s serving the ahi tuna Bolognese. Trust us on this one.


    31. The Bobbie

    Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, multiple locations.


    Thanksgiving anytime you want it. It’s a genius concept, and Capriotti’s has been executing it expertly for years. Hunks of turkey, scoops of stuffing and dollops of cranberry sauce, piled high on a sub roll. Why wait till November?

    Guest Pick: Wesley Gatbonton, Associate Art Director, Las Vegas Weekly


    32. Oxtail soup

    Market Street Cafe, at the California, 385-1222.


    “It’s tough to say why this Hawaiian favorite is so damn good, but oxtail soup doesn’t discriminate. The meat is ridiculously tender, and the broth could drive someone to inflict bodily harm. I mean it, I would stab someone with a plastic spoon for a bowl of this soup. Another part of the experience is picking up that oxtail bone and sucking out the meat. Some people think it’s rude, but I say anything less would be uncivilized. Sometimes I find myself dreaming about the Cal’s oxtail soup and literally drooling all over myself. In fact, I just drooled writing this. A perfect drunken night Downtown almost always ends with my face in a big bowl of oxtail soup. Hallelujah.”


    33. The Settebello

    Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana, 140 S. Green Valley Parkway, 222-3556.


    Sausage. Pancetta. Roasted Mushrooms. Pine nuts. Basil. Crushed tomatoes. Fresh mozzarella. Starting up the car? We haven’t even gotten to the best part, Settebello’s authentic, to-die-for crust. It’s hand-worked, cooked in a wood-fired oven and chews like nothing else you’ll find in town. Get a pie for yourself and you’ll understand why we’re always talking about this place. There’s pizza, and then there’s Settebello.


    34. 16-course degustation menu

    Joël Robuchon, at MGM Grand, 891-7925.


    If ever a meal could be worth $425 per head, it would have to be composed by the Chef of the Century. Robuchon’s lieutenants, Claude Le Tohic and pastry chef Kamel Guechida, wow those willing to make the ultimate splurge with an endless array of modern, sophisticated culinary artistry. Not down? Take the less intense route next door at the equally sublime L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, where the Seasonal Discovery Menu ($155) will blow your mind with poached baby Kusshi oysters and the decadent white onion tart with quail egg “mirror.”


    35. Tamago burger

    Fukuburger truck, follow @fukuburger.


    A fried egg is the obvious piece de resistance on Fukuburger’s Tamago burger (tamago being Japanese for “egg”). Runny yolk intertwines with Asian-inspired ingredients—furikake, teriyaki and wasabi mayo—atop a perfectly medium-rare patty for a majestic mound of messiness. The pinnacle of Vegas street food.


    36. Buffet Bellagio

    At Bellagio, 693-8111.


    The perfect casino buffet (quality, quantity, low price, no line) does not exist in Vegas. And if it doesn’t exist here, it doesn’t exist anywhere. That said, we’ve got one that comes pretty damn close: Bellagio’s. Year after year, the Bellagio buffet offers up a diverse selection of fresh eats (seafood, Italian, Chinese, Japanese) in a spacious room, at a fair price. Head there for a $29.95 dinner, Sunday-Thursday, 4 to 10 p.m. Weekends and holidays only mean higher prices and longer lines.


    37. Foie gras custard ‘brûlée’

    Sage, at Aria, 230-2742.


    The dish that put chef Shawn McLain on the Vegas culinary map is an amalgam of sweet and savory, while the addictively salted brioche alongside serves as a perfect foil for its richness. This is foie gras for those unwilling to try foie gras. And the versatility of the “brûlée” is its hallmark—order it as an appetizer, entrée or dessert. Or all three.

    Mon Ami Gabi's signature dessert


    Mon Ami Gabi’s signature dessert


    38. White chocolate bread pudding

    Mon Ami Gabi, at Paris Las Vegas, 944-4224.


    Sure, Mon Ami Gabi has the most ridiculously entertaining Strip view (people watching, Bellagio fountains), but this is what you’ll really want to look at—a savory chunk of chocolate-infused bread pudding, topped with glaze, powdered sugar and a huge, perfectly rounded scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s amazing how many Las Vegans still haven’t tried this. For shame.


    39. Top of the World

    At Stratosphere, 380-7711.


    Don’t be fooled by the gimmickry of a revolving restaurant 845 feet in the air; the food at Stratosphere’s Top of the World is as good as it gets. Avoid the tasting menu and create your own experience, taking your time to savor roasted pork belly with chimichurri sauce, foie gras with berry gastrique and Mediterranean Colorado rack of lamb while enjoying unparalleled views of the Valley.


    40. Prime rib

    Bob Taylor’s Original Ranch House, 6250 Rio Vista St., 645-1399.


    Virtually unchanged since 1955, the Ranch House is a portal to the real Wild West days of Vegas, when everybody took a dusty trail north to get the best steak in town. There’s more competition now, but few places still serve big, luscious cuts of smoked prime rib of beef with soup or salad and a baked potato for 30 bucks.


    41. Taramasalata

    RM Seafood upstairs, at Mandalay Place, 632-9300.


    RM upstairs is where Rick Moonen showcases his sustainable dining options in a high-end setting. The best part? The free taramasalata Moonen serves as an alternative to butter with every meal. The dip is a combination of almonds, onions and potato whipped with carp roe, lemon juice and oil, and the result is sublime with just a hint of the saltiness normally associated with roe. You won’t even miss butter.


    42. Jim’s bulgogi fried rice

    KoMex Fusion Express, 633 N. Decatur Blvd., Suite H, 646-1612.


    I don’t love this dish because they named it for me. They named the dish for me because I love it so much. This Chinese/Korean plate nestled firmly among KoMex’s Korean/Mexican favorites is awash in smoke with just enough sweetness. It’s among the most addictive dishes in town and undoubtedly one of my personal favorites. –Jim Begley


    43. Bone-in veal Parm and meatballs

    Rao’s, at Caesars Palace,  877-346-4642.


    We’re lucky to have our own outpost of Rao’s, since the original is effectively a member’s-only supper club in East Harlem. Don’t pass on the opportunity to delve into the bone-in veal Parmesan with a side of meatballs. The veal Parm is immaculate (finding the bone-in variety is a rarity), while the meatballs—a combination of veal, beef and pork—exhibit the perfect ratio of fat to meat. Vegas is so much better than New York.

    Sushi Mon


    Sushi Mon


    44. All-you-can-eat sushi

    Sushi Mon, 9770 S. Maryland Parkway #3, 617-0241.


    Sushi lovers know, eating your fill of raw fish can be a costly endeavor. And price typically equates to quality; reduce the first and you’ll usually sacrifice the latter. But Sushi Mon has found the magic formula, one that allows it to serve mountains of first-rate food for an affordable flat rate ($21.95 at lunch and $26.95 at dinner). Sushi rolls, pieces, appetizers, desserts—it’s all included, and it won’t leave you hungry. Or looking for a second job.


    45. é at Jaleo by José Andrés

    At Cosmopolitan, reserve@ebyjoseandres.com.


    There are rumors—nay, legends—of a speakeasy-esque restaurant somewhere inside chef José Andrés’ Jaleo. The rumors are true. It is é, a culinary performance room that showcases a 26-course tasting menu, which intimately displays Andrés’ avant-garde Spanish cuisine. The eight-seat restaurant is so reclusive, you can’t even call for reservations—they’re accepted only by email. Sure hope you’re on the interwebs.

    Guest Pick: Corey “Big Hoss” Harrison, Pawn Stars


    46. Meatballs

    Lavo, at Palazzo, 791-1800.


    Where’s the beef? Corey Harrison would tell you it’s at Lavo, where the meatballs are the “best I’ve ever had. Best in the world.” Chef Ralph Scamardella’s meatballs aren’t your typical pasta topper. They’re big as softballs, made from ground A5 Kobe (the really good stuff) and served individually as very share-able appetizers. Get one with whipped fresh ricotta and eat like Big Hoss.


    47. Red velvet pancakes

    Babystacks Cafe, 2400 N. Buffalo Dr., #145, 541-6708; 4135 S. Buffalo Dr., #101, 207-6432.


    Atop a menu strewn with wonderful brunch options sit Babystacks’ red velvet pancakes. Harkening to the dessert favorite, they’re dressed with housemade whipped cream and chocolate crumbles, served alongside cream-cheese syrup. Low calorie this is not—but it is one of the Valley’s most delectable brunch surprises.


    48. Jazz Brunch

    The Country Club, at Wynn Las Vegas, 770-3315. Sunday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., $59.


    A good brunch feels like an event—cocktails before noon, leisurely dining that goes on for hours and a spread on both sides of the sweet/savory spectrum. When that spread includes New Orleans-style gumbo and elegant pastries, all the better. Few places do the meal of meals as well as the Country Club, where chef Carlos Guia’s Jazz Brunch channels his Big Easy past right into your belly. Bring it.


    49. Athens fries

    Paymon’s Mediterranean Cafe, 8380 W. Sahara Ave., 804-0293; 4147 S. Maryland Parkway, 731-6030.


    Paymon’s has long been a locals’ favorite, and the Athens fries are a big part of that popularity. Cayenne is the key ingredient here, elevating these crisply cooked potato slices from the realm of delicious to absolutely addictive. Wait until you try them in the spicy dipping sauce. There’s much to enjoy at Paymon’s, but this is where you want to start.


    50. Surf and turf

    Golden Steer, 308 W. Sahara Ave, 384-4470.


    Open since 1958, the Golden Steer Steakhouse is more famous for its well-known visitors (Sinatra, Sammy and Elvis, to name a few) and sticking-to-the-throwback vibe than its classic cuisine. But order that most vintage Vegas meal—mixing and matching filet mignon or a juicy New York strip with a lobster tail or crab legs—and you’ll be impressed with how fresh and flavorful old-school food can be.

    This story first appeared in Sun sister publication Las Vegas Weekly. Compiled by Jim Begley, Sarah Feldberg, Ken Miller, Spencer Patterson, Brock Radke and Erin Ryan.

November 9, 2012

November 3, 2012

  • How to Change Your Brake Pads


    Thanks to Edmunds I’m going to try this project over the weekend. LOL wish me luck! :)


    How To Change Your Brake Pads

    Save Money With This Easier-Than-Expected DIY Project


    01/23/2003 (updated 09/20/2011) – By Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor , Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

    You will be pleasantly surprised to find that you can change your car’s disc brake pads quickly, easily and without specialized tools. Doing it yourself also will save you a lot of money. But even if you’re not interesting in doing this yourself, knowing what’s involved makes it easier to understand what your mechanic may someday tell you.

    Nearly all cars these days have front disc brakes. Front brakes usually wear out more quickly than the rear brakes (which could either be disc or drum brakes), so they need to be changed more often. You need to change brake pads when they get too thin, especially if they begin to make a persistent metallic squeaking or grinding noise when you press the brake pedal. But noise alone isn’t always the best indicator, so it’s best to anticipate when this will happen by periodically inspecting the thickness of the brake pads.

    Note: If the front end of the car vibrates when you apply the brakes, your brake rotors may be warped. If the rotors appear grooved or uneven, they may be scored. In either case the rotors may also need to be replaced or “turned” on a brake lathe, a procedure not covered here. You may need a professional’s help for this, but you can see what’s involved in a rotor change by looking here.

    Money saved: About $250 for most cars and much more for luxury or performance cars

    Time Required: 1 hour

    Tools Required

    • Disposable mechanic’s gloves to protect your hands and keep them clean
    • Jack and jack stands
    • Lug wrench
    • C-clamp or length of wood to retract the piston
    • Wrench (choose a socket, open end or adjustable wrench)
    • Turkey baster for drawing out brake fluid
    • Plastic tie, bungee cord or piece of string


    Materials Required

    • New brake pads. Since you are saving money by doing this yourself, you might want to consider splurging a bit by buying original manufacturer brake pads, which are more expensive.
    • Can of brake fluid — check your owner’s manual for the proper type.


    Here are a couple of things to note before you begin.

    Brake Pad

    Know your calipers: The majority of cars have a “sliding caliper” brake assembly. That’s what’s shown in the photo above. Compare this brake assembly to the one in your car. Other cars have “fixed caliper” assemblies. The pads in fixed-caliper brakes are also easy to change but the process is slightly different, so we’ll cover it in another instructional piece.

    Do one side, then the other: For reasons that will be clear later, you should change the pads on one side of the car from start to finish before doing the other side. Also, since you’re doing one side at a time, turn the steering wheel so that the wheel you’re working on is angled out for better access to the brakes.

    Now we can get started.

    Brake Pad

    1. Loosen the lug nuts on the wheel. Then jack up the car and place a jack stand under the car’s frame. Lower the jack so its weight rests on the jack stand. Fully remove the lug nuts and remove the wheel. You now have access to the brake assembly and can safely reach under the car.

    Brake Pad

    2. Find the two slider bolts (sometimes called “pins”) that hold the caliper in place. On this car, a 2009 Ford Flex, the bolts are on the inside. The arrows in the photograph above point them out. It’s generally only necessary to remove the lower bolt. It can be long but once it is fully loosened, it will slide out easily.

    Brake Pad

    3. With the bottom bolt removed, the caliper pivots up, as shown in the photograph above. The rubber hose, which is the hydraulic line, will flex to allow this so do not disconnect any hydraulic lines. If you think you have to disconnect a hydraulic line, you’re doing something wrong. Reassemble the brakes and seek professional help.

    At this point, it is very easy to inspect the thickness of the brake pads to confirm that they need to be changed. Most brake pads have metal wear indicators, which are small metal tabs that squeak when they contact the rotors. Even if these are not yet touching, the pads are worn out if the friction material is 1/8th of an inch thick or less at any point.

    Brake Pad

    4. The brake pads are now exposed and the retaining clips hold them loosely in place. Simply slide the old brake pads out, as shown in the photo.

    Brake Pad

    In the above photo, you can see a comparison of the new, thicker brake pad (top), next to the old, worn-down brake pad (bottom).

    Brake Pad

    5. The photo above shows the pad’s new retaining clips. New pads almost always come with new clips, which allow the pads to slide back and forth easily. Use the new ones and chuck the old ones. There are no retaining screws for the clips. They just snap in place. There are usually left-handed and right-handed clips, so change one at a time, making sure they match up exactly as you go.

    Brake Pad

    Often, a small packet of graphite-based grease will come with the brake pads. Apply this to the clips of the new brake pads to keep them from squeaking, as shown in the photo above.

    Brake Pad

    This photo shows that the new brake pad has a riveted-on shim, which is the thin metal plate. Some brake pads might have unattached shims that have to be temporarily held in position until you lock the pads in place. The “ears” are the metal tabs on either end of the brake pad (only the two left ears are visible here). These ears fit into the slots in the clips. Some of the grease can be applied to the ears and between any loose metal shims, too.

    Brake Pad

    6. The new pads slide into place as easily as the old ones did when they came out, though sometimes the new clips will be tighter. The ears of the new pads should slot nicely into place on the grease you applied.

    Brake Pad

    7. In the photo above, the arrows point to the pistons. These pistons press on the brake pads and squeeze the rotor to stop the car. Your car might only have one piston for each wheel, but the principle is the same. Before you can lower the caliper into place, these pistons need to be retracted (pushed back) so that they will clear the new, thicker brake pads.

    Brake Pad

    8. Do-it-yourselfers often use a C-clamp to retract the piston or pistons. In this case, we simply levered the piston back using a 2×4 and a piece of plywood. By doing this, the brake fluid in the pistons is being pushed back into the master cylinder reservoir through tiny passages, so the pistons move slowly. The width of the 2×4 allows both pistons to be pushed in at once. If you pushed in one by itself, the other would pop out — you don’t want that. Fortunately, most cars have just one piston per caliper, which makes things far simpler. Either way, steady pressure and patience are key here. In this example, we added a second plywood shim near the end of the process to fill the ever-increasing gap. Throughout, take the utmost care to ensure you don’t nick or tear the rubber boot and seal that encircles the pistons.

    Brake Pad

    9. When you push the pistons back, the brake fluid level slowly rises. Open the master cylinder reservoir and check it often. This is more of a concern when you work on the second brake, because the combined fluid volume of two calipers could cause the brake fluid to overflow. If it looks like this is going to happen, suck out some of the brake fluid with a turkey baster. There is more danger of overflowing if someone topped off the fluid level during regular service visits. (This is why the brake fluid reservoir shouldn’t necessarily be topped off like that.) The fluid level naturally goes down as the pads wear. And it comes back up when the pads are replaced. As long as the level doesn’t go below “MIN,” the arrow shown in the photo above, on the lower half of the reservoir, everything is cool.

    Brake Pad

    10. With the pistons retracted, the caliper should slip over the pads with little effort. Sometimes the fit is tight and the caliper will slide on the newly installed brake pads. If the pistons catch on the brake pads, you might need to check that you retracted the piston completely.

    Brake Pad

    11. Reinstall and retighten the slider bolt. Straighten the car’s wheels, re-mount the tire and tighten the lug nuts.

    12. Repeat all these steps for the other side of the front brakes. Remember that the brake fluid will be higher in the reservoir now that new pads are installed on one side, so keep your eye on the fluid level as you retract the piston on the other side. The fluid will only rise further the second time around. You don’t want it to overflow since the brake fluid is highly corrosive. If it looks as if the fluid will overflow, suck some out with the turkey baster. If the level is below the “MAX” when both sides are done, add fresh fluid to top things off to the line.

    13. Test-drive the car under safe conditions to make sure everything is working properly, being especially careful for the first few stops. Be aware that your brake pedal might have a higher engagement point. You will quickly get used to this change. Enjoy using your new brakes knowing there are now thick brake pads to stop you safely.

October 4, 2012

  • HPQ 52-Week Low…


    Wow this is depressing…

    Will HP Ever Find Its Footing Under Whitman?

    October 04, 2012

    Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) shares hit a nine-year low on Wednesday after CEO Meg Whitman warned of a steep decline in earnings next year, with revenues likely to fall in every business division exceptsoftware.

    Wall Street had been hoping for a quicker turnaround under Whitman, who replaced Léo Apotheker as chief executive just over a year ago. Whitman’s plans to revive the company center on transforming it into an enterprise computing corporation that competes with the likes of IBM (NYSE:IBM) and Oracle(NASDAQ:ORCL).

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    On Wednesday, Whitman told investors that the company’s recovery would only start to become visible in fiscal 2014, when its investments begin to pay off. But “nothing new was really said in terms of strategy,” notes Shaw Wu, an analyst with Sterne Agee. “And the problem here is there is lack of investor confidence in the current strategy.”

    The company is struggling with its credibility on Wall Street — in recent years, margins have dropped significantly, the company has decreased IT spending, and has begun an organizational overhaul that includes laying off thousands of workers. Now analysts are concerned that the company is focusing its efforts on a long-term strategy while continuing to suffer losses in the short term.

    Whitman gave a gloomy outlook for enterprise services, the division on which she is centering the company’s rescue plan. Revenue in that division is expected to fall 11 to 13 percent in fiscal 2013, and be barely profitable, with operating margins of zero to 3 percent. Meanwhile, IBM recently raised its full-year earnings outlook despite flat software revenue in the second quarter and a 2 percent decline in services.

    HP shares fell 13 percent on Wednesday in the biggest single-day decline since August 2011, when the company, then led by Apotheker, announced a strategic decision to discontinue its webOS device business, the possibility of divesting its consumer PC division, and its acquisition of British software firm Autonomy Corporation. On the day those announcements were made, HP shares dropped 25 percent to $23.60. Shares closed this Wednesday at $14.91.

    Wednesday’s investor event seemed to be more about blaming the company’s problems on mismanagement in the past than focusing on plans for future growth. “The single biggest challenge facing Hewlett-Packardhas been changes in CEOs and executive leadership, which has caused multiple inconsistent strategic choices, and frankly some significant executional miscues,” Whitman told the conference in San Francisco. “This is important because as a result it is going to take longer to right this ship than any of us would like.”

    It’s true that HP was already in a bind when Whitman took the helm, but shares have fallen 35 percent under her leadership as she’s so far failed to gain investorconfidence. The company’s transition to enterprise services has been slow and so far relatively fruitless, while shortly before Apotheker’s untimely exit last year, HP dropped out of two of the only booming markets left: tablets and smartphones.

    Since the advent of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad in 2010, HP’s capitalization has dropped from an all-time high of $104.5 billion to a market value today of around $30 billion. And yet, after its failed PlayBook tablet, HP has abandoned efforts to capture even a small fraction of the ever-growing tablet market, at least publicly.

    Meanwhile, PC sales continue to decline as tablets and smartphones fulfill many of their roles, while costing less and being significantly more portable. Slowing corporate spending is also taking its toll on HP’s business.

    The company’s current forecast for overall earnings in 2013, excluding restructuring charges and other items, is between $3.40 and $3.60 per share. That’s well below Wall Street’s average forecast of $4.18, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.


    From : http://wallstcheatsheet.com/stocks/will-hp-ever-find-its-footing-under-whitman.html/


    Maybe this deserves another series of posts.