Tuesday, March 15, 2016

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



 


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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.


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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.


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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.
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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.

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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.



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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.


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” 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

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sip , Taste , Dine and Explore Scottsdale Arizona.



  Scottsdale, a 45 minute plane trip from Las Vegas offers an wide array of tourist attractions, including award-winning restaurants, boutique shops, cultural attractions, world class golf courses, including the TPC course at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and of course, some of the best resorts and spas in the  Southwest.

Whether you have enough disposable income to keep the golf caddies and hotel valets happy, or just once a year vacationer, there are many options to choose from while visiting this lovely city. With over 225, 000 residences, many call Scottsdale home, and for those visiting, you will get a good idea of why this city has been a favorite for retirees and newbies alike.




From the historicTaliesin West, the iconic estate that once served as Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter residence, adjacent to the Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, to the many other cultural and historic offerings of the area, you will find something for everyone on your vacation wish list. Among some of the favorite things for the outdoor enthusiast, are the many hiking trails that lead to Camelback Mountain’s Cholla and Echo Canyon as well as the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

If you would rather have a bird’s eye view, hot air ballooning is the best way to experience a tranquil ascent over the Sonoran Desert. On this trip we had a memorable time of flying with the Hot Air Expeditions Inc., enjoying the expertise of our captain as we made our way above the saguaro, and rolling hills of the desert.  As we drifted silently and pleasurably above the desert floor, we were again amazed at the ability to move upwards of 5,000 feet in a basket, held up by some rope, hot air and a large piece of fabric. Once back on the ground, we received our Certificat’d Ascension En Machine Aerostatique, to the clinking of champagne glasses and a well deserved round of applause to our flight crew and captain. Indeed,a unique way to spend your early morning hours in the desert. www. HotAirExpedition.com




Among one of the local tourist attractions, where your feet keep grounded to the local flora and fauna, is the The Desert Botanical Garden offering some of the world's finest collection of arid-land plants from deserts around the world. Not only can you get your cactus collections counted, you can also dine at the lovely restaurant, Gertrude’s, which is conveniently located within the premise. After hours of meandering through the spiny gardens, The Desert Botanical Garden’s full-service restaurant, located just inside the main entrance, is a tribute to garden founder Gertrude Divine Webster and her vision to create a place where nature lovers could share a healthy meal.  By using sources from local artisans and farmers as well as herbs grown onsite, the freshness and flavor are sealed into every meal. We had the fine opportunity to try this unique restaurant within the garden and were amazed at the fresh organic offerings and the extensive wine list. We decided to try the Blue Marlin that had just been flown into the area, beingthe inaugural dish of this large sea creature from Hawaii, we were pleasantly surprised.




 The fish reminded us of a sword fish but a bit more tender, as it was well prepared with a buerre blanc sauce and local seasonal veggies.  Accompanying our meal was a bottle of Pasqua Passimento, Romeo and Juliet.  This elegant and velvety red blend of Merlot, Corvina, and Croatina, was a lovely and robust addition to the meal. It especially paired well with the red wine and chocolate torte.  After a morning of hiking through the gardens, Gertude’s was the perfect interlude before our next adventure.www. Gertrudesrestaurant.net


Now that we have had a sample of some of the outdoor activities, we needed a check into our accommodations. This evening we were staying at the world class Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. With it’s highly acclaimed restaurants, including Richard Sandoval’s La Hacienda, Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak house, state of the art meeting facilities, outstanding Well & Being Spa (formerly Willow Stream Spa), six sparkling pools and two newly renovated 18-hole championship golf courses, including the home to the Annual PGA Tour Waste Management Phoenix Open. We were well aware that we were at are one of the best resorts in the world. Exemplary customer service, impeccable grounds, and even a sweet Golden Retriever who greets the guests are examples of elevated hospitality.


Being able to experience one of the country’s most acclaimed Mexican cuisine restaurants, La Hacienda, was indeed a lively and memorable experience. Each appetizer and entrée was a reflection of skillful European cooking techniques, elevating the vibrant flavors and texture of Mexican cuisine. We loved the tequila tasting with the rattle snake fangs and tail as innovative props to get you to pay attention to diversity of tequilas. The highlight was the flaming cocktail that created a chorus of ooh’s and ahh’s throughout the restaurant; A wonderful way to say Adios to a grand dining experience.


In nearby Mesa, the newly opened Sheraton Mesa Hotel is a wonderful place to stay and explore the area. The boutique property has 180 rooms in the heart of the city's new multi-million development, Mesa Riverview.  If sports is your thing step into the open-air lobby and take a seat in Stats Sports Grill. This 10,000-square-foot lounge with separate bar and living room areas is adjoined by a modern, glass-enclosed wine cellar featuring 300 wines from around the globe. The Food and Beverage program is headed up by executive Chef Cameron Bolender. His expertise shines in the quality of the steaks prepared with many different types of butter that pleases your palate to no end.  It’s all about the butters here, steak sauce is not an option.  This resort has a very unique feature in that it overlooks the Chicago Cubs spring training home, Sloan Park, and Mesa's stunning Red Mountain.

Chef Cameron Bolender.
 


Gilbert Arizona has become a vibrant locale for delicious cuisine and tasty libations over the last few years. We visited Postino East Wine Café right on the main street in downtown Gilbert. This venue has a selection of 40 hand-selected unique wines many of which are from Arizona. We also tasted through simple, delicious food featuring local ingredients like Bruschetta, Panini’s, salads and soups. Postino is an upbeat, warm, friendly and has atmosphere that brings people together.


Arizona just kept surprising us at every turn. It is a land of abundance beyond imagination.  We heard about yet another surprise that was really going to open our eyes. Ancient Grains at Hayden Flour Mills inside Sossaman Farms. We literally tasted Arizona history at this family-owned flour mill that has even been featured in the documentary “The Grain Divide”. They are focused on native seeds and growing heirloom wheat with minimal processing, much or which is used in Italy and in some of the finest kitchens in the country. Guests that visit can indulge in a multi -sensory culinary experience that starts with a tour of the Hayden flour milling operation and gives them an option to participate in baking classes and educational seminars. 




Check your calendar before visiting Scottsdale. We timed it just right and took our seat at the internationally-renowned farm-to-table dining series, Outstanding in the Field. This culinary road show is the brainchild chef Jim Denevan designed to bring together world-renowned chefs, local farms and ranches, iconic tables, and guests for a night unlike any other. It makes total sense that this fall’s event featuredthe top rising star in Arizona’s local culinary scene, Gio Osso.  This rising chef has been named one of America’s Best New Restaurants by both Esquire and the James Beard Foundation. Chef  shows off an ever-changing Mediterranean-inspired menu featuring handmade pastas and premium seasonal produce sourced from some of Arizona’s most celebrated farmers.




In 1988 Chris Bianco opened Pizzeria Bianco inside the back corner of a neighborhood grocery store and has taken pizza to a whole new level. A stop into this pizzeria is mandatory for a true taste of what has been going on in Arizona for quite some time. Little did he know that his little Pizzeria he would be such a driving force in the slow food movement and specifically the artisanal pizza front. Chris won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest in 2003, helped spawn a generation of independent and artisanal pizzeria’s, lending his advice, wisdom and food philosophies to dozens of fellow chefs and restauranteurs. For him, the food is a result of his relationships and his intention. Relationships with the farmers, the local producers, his family, customers and staff; and the respect and intentions he approaches his recipes with. 

chef Charles Wiley


Scottsdale Arizona is full of history and the Hotel Valley Ho is certainly part of it. Built in 1956, Hotel Valley Ho has classically cool roots and still stands strong today as a must-stay destination in Downtown Scottsdale. Oh if these walls could talk! This iconic hotel was host to many celebrities including Bing Crosby, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, among others, Hotel Valley Ho gained notoriety and quite the fun reputation. Known as “one of the best-preserved mid-century hotels in the country,” by Alan Hess, architect and author of numerous mid-century modern texts, the Hotel Valley Ho is the place where our cool came out to play on our visit.  Dine at ZuZu and enjoy the gastronomic delights from celebrity chef Charles Wiley, you will not be disappointed.




Perhaps the hottest new dining venue is FnB Restaurant.  Arizona wines are making some big news lately so we visited and partook in the Arizona wine experience with Pavle Milic, part-owner of FnB. This trendy, quant restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy local wines during lunch and dinner. At the helm you will find Chef Charleen Badman, a James Beard nominated chef, known for her elevated vegetable creations, like her braised leeks with mozzarella and a fried egg. She was named one of the 10 best restaurant dishes of 2010 by Food & Wine. Right next door take a sip at  owner Pavle Milic’s other venture, Bodega/AZ Wine Merchants, an oenophile paradise with varietals grown and bottled in the Grand Canyon state as well as local produce and artisanal products from MJ Breads, Queen Creek Olive Oil and Maya’s Farm.  

Pavle Milic
 
Scottsdale is full of lovely boutique restaurants, many of which are quite good. We would be remiss if we did not stop into Chef Gio Osso’s Virtu Honest Craft. His menu has been described as “wandering Mediterranean,” Chef Gio soared to national praise for his cuisine at the now-closed Estate House in downtown Scottsdale.  The very unique rotating menu features hand-made pastas, braised oxtails, house-made sausages and a 30 bottle global wine list, craft beers and handcrafted cocktails. Recently Chef Gio pocketed yet two more prestigious awards that include the #1 Restaurant of 2013 by The Arizona Republic as well as being named one of the top 20 best new restaurants by Esquire Magazine.   

If you are looking to explore, taste and sip locally sourced products with nationally acclaimed chefs, Scottsdale Arizona offers some of the best experiences we have had in a very long time. 

Elaine and Scott

Elaine and Scott
Elaine and Scott