Saturday, December 3, 2011

On the road again: Las Vegas, day 2

After some much needed sleep, I started today with our traditional brunch at the Las Vegas version of Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bistro. It was as delicious as always, and we all ate entirely too much.

From there we headed straight to the Palms casino for the finale of The Ultimate Fighter TV show. Here, courtesy of Kyle, I stand in front of the octagon in which the fights take place.

After the fights, which were excellent, we grabbed a taxi to the MGM Grand for our second traditional meal of the day, dinner at Craftsteak. Everything I tasted was delicious, though once again I think our group consumed entirely too much food.

More sleep awaits me.

Tomorrow, a strange trip I've not made before!

Friday, December 2, 2011

On the road again: Las Vegas, day 1

Three and a half hours of sleep with one wake-up in the middle is not enough rest for me when I'm totally healthy. I'm far from totally healthy, so six a.m. this morning came way too early for me. Still, I got up without an alarm, showered, and headed to the airport on schedule.

The flights were generally good, because I secured first-class seats on both legs and bandwidth on the second. The combination of a ton of Diet Coke and a lot of concentration let me keep current with work until I had to shut off my laptop as we were touching down in Las Vegas.

After the usual luggage and taxi wrangling, and a remarkably efficient hotel check-in process, we dropped off our stuff and grabbed a snack at the Bouchon bakery.

More work followed.

The evening went to the early show of Cirque's Zumanity, which I enjoyed far more this time than the first time I saw it, and then an excellent Chinese dinner at Wing Lei.

I'd tell you more, but I'm falling over exhausted, so I'm going to wrap this up, do a tad more work, and then crash for what I hope will be many hours of rest.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Levi Weaver

A while back, I landed from a trip and headed straight to a coffee shop to watch Ben, Sarah's boyfriend, perform as the opener for a Nashville musician he knows, Levi Weaver. I'd never heard of Weaver, so I went to listen to Ben--who was very good. I stayed, though, because I was there, the crowd was small, and live music is a good thing.

I'm very glad I did.

I enjoyed Weaver's music a lot. After the show, I bought all his CDs and a t-shirt; I wanted to support his tour.

I also signed up for his newsletter. Today, it brought me notice of this video, which I found lovely and more than a bit haunting.

As of this writing, 303 people have viewed this video. Levi is an artist out there working, doing his best, and this song and video are quite good. As far as I'm concerned, he deserves a vastly bigger audience. Of course, we don't get to pick our audience sizes (if we did, every one of my books would stay atop the New York Times bestseller list until the next one came out), but I think he's worth your time. For whatever that's worth.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Apropos of nothing

An ambitious bug hitching a ride on my Prius.

Click the image to see a larger version and appreciate his beauty.

This happened a while back but flashed into my memory for no good reason.

My mind is like that.

That is all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sarah makes it to Italian MTV

You can read a lot more about her day in her always entertaining blog here, but if you want to get right to the television commercials, look below.

In this first one, she appears in the first scene in a rainbow wig with a fake guitar.

In the second, she's still in the rainbow wig, but now in the last scene for a fraction of a second before the smiling pale guy covers her.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy snaps from the recent long trip

(As always, click on any image to see a larger version.)

From a movie theater in San Diego, proof that California deserves to slide into the Pacific after the next big one.

I mean, seriously: calories on theater food? That's positively un-American!

Tourist stop or not, Emeril's makes the best banana cream pie I've ever tasted.

As multiple New Orleans residents told me, the new cuisine you cannot avoid there is Vietnamese. We ate lunch at one hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese joint near the con, and the food was delicious. Here's my plate of awesome goodness.

I mentioned the restaurant Hobnobbers. Here's what you see as you come toward it down the narrow alley that is one of the two ways into the place.

The other is via the bar.

Once you're inside, you see this small room, which feels like it's been there forever, even though the place opened in 1987.

If I lived near it, I'd eat there entirely too often.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Panciuto as the leaves surrender

We haven't been back for months, so last night we returned to Panciuto to see what Chef Aaron Vandemark would make from the ingredients of this season.

Once again, the food blew us away. I have yet to taste a single mediocre dish there.

We started by sharing a cheese and charcuterie board, which featured, as is Vandemark's way, all local ingredients. Each bite was delicious, though the star was the pork belly, which was everything it should be: crispy and yet unctuous, rich and amazing.

My starter was a flat bread with greens, cheese, and pulled pork shoulder. The server advised that we pick it up and eat it with our hands, which was possible only by never letting go once you had the delicate bread in your hands.

My main, which I could not finish, was by far the best pork shank I've ever tasted. Cooked in a sauce that included molasses but never turned too sweet, the meat fell off the bone and was moist and flavorful and wonderful. The gnocchi on the side were pillowy soft and rich in flavor. Even the wilted greens, of which I am frequently suspicious, were amazing--though it helps that he cooked them in the meat juice.

Dessert was an apple crostada with the best cinnamon ice cream I've ever tasted.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: if you live around here, you need to get to Panciuto as soon as possible.


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