Thursday, November 28, 2013

Why I'm Thankful I Got to Cook Thanksgiving Dinner

How a small flood made me happy to have a kitchen.

Tonight, my family enjoyed ham, potatoes, and some steamed asparagus. That’s a simple meal (the only kind I like to cook), but on Monday, after our hot water heater gave up the ghost and left a pond in our family room as a parting gift (killing the laminate floor in the process), I wasn’t sure Thanksgiving was going to turn out like I had envisioned.

"Think about all the people without hot running water," we said. Then, "Think about all the people without water at all."

That thought made us feel better on Tuesday than it did on Wednesday.

Today, we got hot water back. It still feels like we’re camping inside our house, but I’m OK with that. We can use the kitchen and the dining room, and really, that’s all I was concerned about for today. I just wanted to have Thanksgiving dinner at home—and having hot water makes that so much easier.

This has inspired me to be thankful for many things: 
  • The handyman who showed up today, Thanksgiving Day, to put in the new hot water heater. 
  • My dear friend and neighbor who let me shower at her place before work on Tuesday and Wednesday. (Unspeakably appreciative of that.) 
  • Microwaves (for quickly heating water). 
  • A standard of living that's easy to take for granted. 
  • The yards of cable my son and hubby put together so we could watch TV. (“The Godfather” is looking awesome right now.)

The chaos is set to resume tomorrow, when the rest of the “fixing” begins. Not sure how long this will take, or what it will entail. But for right now, I’ve had my holiday meal and I can wash dishes without heating water in the microwave

Sometimes it really is the little things in life that we're the most thankful for, isn’t it?

Happy Thanksgiving!

How was your holiday?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Summerlin Lunch Spots

I love going out to eat for a late Saturday lunch, when I’m free to linger and enjoy a good meal with a friend and a glass of red wine. Luckily, I live near Summerlin, home to several wonderful restaurants that are perfect for lunch.

Lunch has a lot of good qualities: I don't have to get up early to enjoy it, and it's considerably less expensive than dinner. (And the lighting is better, a big bonus for those of us who take pictures of our food.)

Today my lunch companion, Diane, and I hit Echo & Rig, one of Tivoli Village’s new restaurants. A butcher shop and bar are on the ground floor, and the restaurant is upstairs. The design an attractive industrial-style blend of wood and metal with a great chandelier hanging over the stairwell.

(You walk in through the exceedingly cool butcher shop. Everything looked so wonderful I almost wished I liked to cook.)

Although we had the option of brunch (served until 2 p.m. on Saturday, the host informed us), we elected to go with lunch instead. Diane had the Ultimate BLT, I had the Steakhouse Chop Salad, and we ordered a side of Portobello Fries –all of which we split up and shared (since we’re ladies, this is lunch de regueur).

 For dessert: “Two cappuccino sundaes, please.”

Best Plate: Ultimate BLT. It's no surprise that the apple smoked bacon is so tasty since there's a butcher shop downstairs. And the bread was divine—the sandwich had plenty of sauce, but the bread stayed non-soggy. Chips on the side were also perfectly done with just the right amount of crispiness.

Not my Fave: The Chop Salad. Not much filet there, and several of the pieces were tough. Too much pepperoni.

After lunch, it was time for a stroll around Tivoli (we wound up at The Market, where we decided our next lunch will be at The View Winebar).

I’ve always been a Tivoli Village fan, and it’s exciting to see innovative restaurants moving in, along with a host of fun shops. We browsed through vintage clothes at Annie Creamcheese (Both of us: "Oh my god, if I see something here I used to wear, I'll die") and stopped in at Box (which carries a line of unique spa products in addition to also being an awesome place to get waxed, according to the lovely woman who waited on us). 

Other restaurants at Tivoli:

After graduating from CIA, Chef Sosa worked with Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and went on to have the kind of career you'd expect after such a prestigious start—and then he was cast on two seasons of “Top Chef.”

High: I loved the watermelon salad. Those flavors -- watermelon, goat cheese, and wasabi -- don't sound like they should go together. But they do, wonderfully.

Kinda Annoying: Slightly loud music, not so loud as to warrant a complaint, but loud enough to make conversation mildly difficult.

UPDATE: Poppy Den closed in August 2014.

The acclaimed and award-winning Chef Bradly Odgen’s last restaurant was a Michelin One Star at Caesars Palace. His only restaurant in Las Vegas is now at Tivoli, which says a lot about the culinary ‘hood over there. 

High: Heirloom Tomato Salad with blue cheese--outstanding fresh flavors.

Kinda weird: The seating added to the entry-way.

UPDATE: Hops and Harvest closed, but Made L.V. is in that space now.

Other Summerlin Lunch Spots:

Culinary all-stars Elizabeth Blau and Kim Canteenwalla are behind Honey Salt, one of Summerlin’s most acclaimed restaurants. I liked the farmhouse-ish, modern-crossed-with- vintage d├ęcor. And the burger was divine, too.

Due Forni is the place for pizza cooked in Napolitano brick ovens, and their lunch menu is full of well-done, non-pizza dishes, like the Bresaola and the Panino di Pollo (steak salad and chicken sandwich).

My favorite part of Due Forni is the wine since it’s a good place to order the house wine (I like red, so I can’t speak to white). Every glass I’ve gotten so far has been great

What are your favorite Vegas lunch spots?