Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Vaudois Riviera Near Vevey Switzerland Houses Great Cuisine, Wine and State Of The Art Modern Times Hotel.

Our journalistic path has taken us to many countries over the years. Switzerland however has to be at the top of the list. It is diverse and never disappoints in its majestic grandeur and superb offerings. Once again, Switzerland surprised us with a hotel that has quite a surprising theme.


Canton Vaud is located on north shore of Lake Geneva not far from Lausanne. There have been settlements here as early as the 2nd millennium BC.Under Rome, it was known as Viviscus or Vibiscum. This part of Switzerland is the French speaking region and lives up to it in all aspects of daily life.

The town of Vevey is noted for being the final home of comedy legend Charlie Chaplin and his family from 1952 to 1977 and now showcases the newly opened museum honoring Chaplin’s work, Chaplin’s World. It is also known as the world headquarters of the food giant Nestlé, founded in 1867.  And why do you ask? There is a long sweet history in this historic city. Milk chocolate was invented in Vevey by Daniel Peter in 1875.


Arriving at the train station we were whisked away by our driver to the new Modern Times Hotel. As you enter, you can’t help but be drawn to its sleek contemporary design and original décor. The Modern Times is conveniently located between the lake and mountains at the heart of the Vaudois Riviera.

Enjoy your room with a magnificent view of mountains and sweeping green while sheep graze upon the outside pastures. The Times Bar just off the lobby is a great way to spend some time and indulge in an array of snacks with a libation of your choice.


After day of exploring Lake Geneva’s offerings and beauty or the nearby Chaplin’s World museum, you work up an appetite. You don’t have to go further than Times Grill in the Modern Times hotel. This venue features a modern chic décor honoring the legendary Chaplin featuring panoramic windows, and whimsical depictions of the “Tramp “bringing a spirit of frivolity and fun to the dining experience. The huge outdoor patio offers world class vista views and unmatched tableside service.  Our attention was drawn to the show-grill where guests can enjoy the open kitchen and dine on quality local products prepared right in front of them.


The team of Chef exécutif ,Mr Fabien Thomas and Directeur of Food & Beverage, Mr Cyril Dederding, have teamed up to provide excellent cuisine, wine and hospitality. First off, enjoy Plat du jour.

No matter what day it may be it will be excellent. The Escalope de foie gras grillé, topinambours, éclats de noisetteset chips d’artichaut (Grilled slice of foie gras, Jerusalem artichokes, hazelnut and chips of artichoke) is not to be passed up.

For a tasty side dish Crème d’aspergesverteset blanches en duo, Belperknollefromage de vache au poivre)   (Green and white asparagus cream, cow milk cheese with pepper) is the perfect complement to most of the dishes.
Finish big and  slice into La côte de BœufSuisse , 800g pour 2 personnes (Swiss T Bone chop,28.2oz, suitable for 2 people) . Pair it with a fabulous Swiss Wine from the area and you have a guaranteed hit.


The Modern Times Hotel with its tribute to the iconic Charlie Chaplin is special. Whether you are there for business in historic Vevey or a vacation, their attentive staff, excellent dining and lounge options will provide a comfortable experience with a Chaplin touch.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Pawn Stars Rick Harrison Opens Pawn Plaza In DownTown Las Vegas.



Rick Harrison has found the key to capture the attention of many treasure hunters waiting in the long lines outside his Gold &Silver Pawn Shop. With his expanding popularity it seems that the mini-outdoor mall adjacent complex was another brilliant move to pacify the media masses.
Using bold pops of eye primary colors and a bevy of converted shipping containers, Rick Harrison now has a way to maintain the masses as they wait to pawn their wares.

Inna Gadda di Pizza, featuring pizza that is both reminiscent of a good old boys NY pizzeria has a corner container eatery that is worth visiting. Owner, Ralph Cautela, has found just the right place for you grab a cheesy slice or send your kids off to while you’re waiting for you turn at turning trash into treasure.

Cautela’s Secret Pizza kitchen at the Cosmopolitan is his first pizza venture here in Las Vegas. Although not so secret anymore, many have found that hidden gem within the Cosmopolitan Hotel as a nice respite among the high end restaurants within the hotel. Cautela has found being out the open is a better gig when you are next to a Pawn empire.


Another dining option is the Smoke’s Poutinerie,, A Canadian chain that has some of the boasts gravy laden fries and cheese curds that is best known in this country and up north as Poutine. Aye, it is something to worth trying, if only once. To calm down the excesses of pizza and poutine and dose the flame of summer heat, Rita’s Italian Ice is the coolest concoction on restaurant row.

 With Italian ices or frozen custards that will keep Gram or the kiddies refreshed and relaxed as you for your number to come up. If you get to the Plaza early or need an afternoon pick me up, Pawn Donut and Coffee will satisfy the caffeine connection with the sugar boost needed to keep up your strength while you face the wishful crowds. And, you don’t need to go to Highland drive amongst the seedy strip clubs with the kids to grab some good old BBQ, Rick’s Rolling Smoke Barbeque & Tavern are now right on the block to be enjoyed with all the other offerings.

With the signature ribs, sliced brisket, beef hot links and a full bar, everyone waiting for their claim to fame will have somewhere to go to celebrate their good fortune or to soothe the bruised ego when things don’t add up at the Pawn Shop. Pawn Plaza is a good way to spend the day while pawn dreams are being made or a place to console you with some great food.

Monday, January 18, 2016

CliQue Lounge rolls out the newest “tableside cocktailing” experience.

How we love a good presentation and that especially goes for how our dining or drinking experience is served up to us with a Vegas Strip price tag. The newest hip CliQue cocktail lounge at the Cosmopolitan continues to draw the marvelous millennium crowd who crave an experiential take beyond a static presentation.

CliQue Lounge and Bar has found a way to entertain, engage and bring that interactive experience to the Cosmopolitan cocktail crowd. Clique, the most recent addition to the Cosmo’s impressive bar set, showcases a plush lounge area with ample open seating that is not just a sidebar from the gaming scene.

 CliQue offers the newest take on enjoying a cocktail with a chic  component that you will not soon forget. The carts are equipped with all the latest mixology gadgetry, ample spirits and the freshest mixers and ingredients. The Mixologist arrives tableside and with finesse and skill prepares a libation that will leave you impressed. 

This innovative tableside mixology program is honing a path of mixology excellence. “Tableside Mixology is a personalized experience.

 Not only are the Mixologists being challenged to show off their personalities but it also is about really breaking down the components of the cocktail, giving an education on the flavor characteristics, making it personal experience,” said partner Jason “Jroc” Craig. 

We had the opportunity to watch spell bound as several of the cocktails were manifested by master Mixologist Justin D’Angelo. We enjoyed the Bow Street Banana with Pedro Ximenez Sherry and chocolate bitters laden with banana infused Jameson. But there was no smoke and mirrors in this cocktail, just a wee bit of smoke piped into the glass for that extra bit of intrigue and drama. After a sip of the sultry smoky sherry, the bite of caramelized banana added just the right amount of sweetness to this perfect pairing.

A well-crafted list of cocktails is available tableside or from the bar for your drinking pleasure. Also enjoy savory bites such as the filet sliders or the ahi tuna that are worth sharing from the culinary creations of Chef Brian Massie. CliQue Lounge and Bar at the Cosmopolitan will be the place to impress your Clique or Just about anyone who craves a cocktail experience.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Davidoff of Geneva Opens Its First Cigar Bar is Las Vegas With Luxurious Amenities.

 Zino Davidoff, the founder and successful business man and entrepreneur of Davidoff of Geneva, began with the most humble of beginnings as the son of tobacconist immigrant father, Henri Davidoff. After the family emmigrated to Geneva from Kiev, in the early 1900’s, their legacy began with a small tobacconist shop set up in Geneva Switzerland. 

 Many years later, Davidoff of Geneva continues to be a world leader in fine cigars, tobacco products and accessories. From the early 1900’s to the present, the quality and quantity of this visionary businessman continues with a brand that is well known nationally and internationally as a world leader in quality and excellence for the cigar aficionado and novice alike. 

Davidoff of Geneva can be found in nearly every major American city, and Las Vegas is the perfect place to showcase superb cigars to the thousands of tourists that converge on Las Vegas Boulevard. With small storefronts and kiosks located in the Paris Hotel, Venetian Resort and Casino and the Grand Canal Shoppes, MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, and the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, the brand is well known and popular among those who want to relax and indulge in a fine cigar or tobacco product.

 We had the opportunity to sit down with Managing Partner, Matthew F. Acrella, as we were eager to discover the impetus behind this elegant new venue that will again carry on the legacy of Zino Davidoff in a stylish and relaxed atmosphere. Featuring amble comfortable seating along  floor to ceiling windows, with a spacious outdoor patio that provides an excellent space for people watching , this venue also features  a full center bar showcasing high quality spirits, and a full bar menu. 

The walk-in Humidor is the place that guests can select from the extensive collection of cigars ranging from ten dollars to sixty dollars. There is the special selection of cigars that can range in the hundreds of dollars, but overall, pricing is kept competitive with strip pricing.

As we spoke with Mr. Acrella on the newest Davidoff of Geneva cigar bar located aside the Fashion Show Mall along Las Vegas Boulevard, we were inspired by his vision and enthusiasm for his newest and most unique Davidoff of Geneva venture. “This is the best thing we have going for us. Every person that comes in here is blown away by the service, the offerings, the location, and the design. We hope to get more people in here and knock on wood we will since we have been so well received. 

In Vegas, this place that should be here and needs to be here,” stated Acrella. Cigar bars have a tendency to be uncomfortabley smoky, but with the newest and most advance state of the art ventilation system, the smoke will not have you hanging your clothes out the hotel window after a visit. “We want smokers to be very comfortable here but we also want non-smokers to be comfortable, “added Acrella.  

 Although Acrella believes that this concept is one that will eventually be replicated, he is focused on making sure that this Cigar Bar is well established and running smoothly before moving forward on any new accounts. Because this is a standalone business, he is able to market it to the area Casinos, and being directly underneath the sky bridge from the Wynn Hotel, this is the perfect location to sit, smoke and sip.  

 This may be a great “Daddy Day Care” for the spouses and boyfriends that need a break from Holiday and year round shopping expeditions located in the adjacent Fashion Show Mall.  Whether taking a break from shopping, or relaxing with friends after a show, Davidoff of Geneva Cigar Bar is the perfect place to enjoy a cigar and a cognac or a cocktail.   

The knowledgeable staff will make even the novice feel comfortable. The cigar ambassador, who undergoes extensive training in cigar knowledge and production, will bring your cigar to you, present it, cut it, and light it for you. “The humidor is so cool, and people really enjoying going in and selecting their cigar. 

The cigars are not behind a glass case, giving the customer the ability to select the right one. And then, we wanted to create that experience for our customer, where we bring back that old school, table side presentation,” said Acrella. 

 With the history and legacy of the Davidoff brand, Mr. Acrella, is well on the way in continuing to educate and provide a world class cigar bar to tourists and locals alike.  Finding the right cigar with the right venue just got a whole lot easier. For more information on Davidoff of Geneva go to Davidofflv.com

Monday, December 7, 2015

Twisted Roots Wine Is A Family Affair with Passion In Every Sip.

One of our favorite places to visit is the Central Coast of California. With its beguiling cypress pines, and undulating pounding surf, the Central Coast has been alluring artists, writers, and countless vacation goers for decades. What is a stand out in this pristine region of the country is its ability to maintain a vibrant agricultural and viticulture climate, amid the thousands of people that venture into the area on a monthly basis. Just a short drive inland, the Salinas Valley boast the “lettuce bowl capital of the world”, as it is the number one agricultural region of the United States, contributing 8.2 billion dollars to the local economy.


This vast wine growing region supplies the nation’s most premium grapes in North America and there is no shortage of wine tasting rooms with world class wines waiting to be tasted and purchased. While on the coast, the fishing industry is still providing the freshest seafood for the Valley. On this journey we were taking a few days to return to Carmel by the Sea and Monterey, to indulge in some of the county’s most glorious bounty and have a few glasses of exceptional wine to go along with the plethora of great dishes to be had on the Central Coast.

Our first stop was to a more unusual outpost; a tasting room known for showcasing Lodi wines; Twisted Roots. Wait a minute, a tasting room in Carmel Valley showcasing grapes from Lodi? We found out the answer to our question when sat down with the owners of Twisted Root winery to find out more about their grape growing story. Josh Ruiz, a farmer in the agricultural business fields is now working in the vineyards of his family’s historic property in Lodi California. Ruiz was more than willing to elaborate on his family story and to share in the wines that are now a byproduct of his passion and knowledge.

We quickly learned that his deep love of farming is now translated into making great wines. Twisted Roots now has proven their ability to produce outstanding wines with medals won in the following S.F. Chronicle Wine Competitions. In 2014, the Cabernet Sauvignon (2011) won a coveted gold medal, followed by the 2011 and 2012 Petite Syrah and the 1918 Old Vine Zinfandel garnering silver, while 2012 Chardonnay won a bronze medal. His love for farming the vineyards is evident in these award winning wines. All the wines are certified “Green”, using sustainable farming practices throughout the vine growing process.

Julie and Josh Ruiz
“To be real honest, I love to talk to folks on the weekend that come by our tasting room”, stated Ruiz. “My goal is not to make thousands of cases, but enough to have my hands in the business. We went from 45 cases to bottling a little over a thousand bottles last year”.
His favorite varietal is Petite Syrah and he poured us his 2012 vintage. He looks for the overall flavor of the grapes, not necessarily abiding by the standards of how and when things should be done but has come to rely more upon his farming instincts. The 2012 showcased the dark fruit and cassis of this sometimes overlooked varietal. We also had a chance to try the 2012 Chardonnay. ” I make it very simple, very light as it is more of Chablis style”, said Ruiz. “Many California Chardonnays have a tendency to big and flashy and I think it is ok to be more delicate and light with neutral French and stainless steel with a bit of malolactic.


Incorporated in 2001, three generations including Josh Ruiz, Mike Hodge and Ross Schmiedt, decided to expand the grape growing into a more sustainable wine making business. Ross a beloved friend and relative and has left the property in the care of the Luis and Julie after passing in 2014 from a lengthy illness. Ross never saw the need to make it into a full fledged wine business, but agreed to go continue the legacy with the more visionary Ruiz. Josh caught the wine vision and now is increasing the wine production and his own understanding of viticulture. Ruiz who resides and works in the Valley, decided that the family property had great potential to produce great grapes, but no one was going to go to Lodi, so he brought the grapes and the wines to Carmel Valley.


” It’s not that I am competition with the Monterey county guys because they do phenomenal wines here and I know that they are not going to go there, so I am bringing it here”, stated Ruiz, quickly quelling our quandary about the Lodi connection. Twisted Roots tasting room may be the new kid on the block but they are garnering some devote followers as they bring a bit of old time Lodi to the Carmel Valley. Ross and his delightful wife Julie are sticking with their mission to "let the fruit speak for itself”. They are doing a great job transforming the language of the grape into glasses of award winning wines. www.twistedroots.com

Elaine and Scott

Elaine and Scott
Elaine and Scott