June 2009


General25 Jun 2009 09:29 pm

About a year ago, Mike linked me up to this song that M.J. did with Akon. It was a leaked track from Akon’s album being produced at the time. However, it was never released, which is a shame.

The song really showcases the fact that he still had such a beautiful voice, and still had the music in him, despite all the craziness in his life. It would have been amazing to see what the future would have held.

Hold My Hand by Michael Jackson feat. Akon

Travels22 Jun 2009 12:21 pm

As I mentioned before, I have actually been to Minnesota a fair bit. My family used to stop at the Mall of America enroute home overseas after summers in northern Ontario.

I have known Jayson for 12 years…we met in a Yahoo! Checkers room. He is from Wisconsin, but was at the University of Minnesota learning about science.

I later visited him several times, and he even came to Canada to visit me once.  (You can always get a blast from the past and read my  trip log from several years ago when I visited Minneapolis with my boyfriend at the time for a music festival.) We had always promised one another that we would attend each other’s weddings, and that day finally came this May.

I flew on a redeye at 1am out of Las Vegas and landed at 6am on Friday. I immediately bee-lined it to a place for breakfast. I chose it last minute by Googling “breakfast Edina minnesota” at the Las Vegas airport. (Free wi-fi there!) Edina Grill fulfilled a few of my most fussy demands: It opened early, was easy to find and they had pancakes. (I know, I’m so tiresome.)

Edina is this weird super rich, trendy suburb in southern Minneapolis. Lots of faux storefronts, manicured trees, and boutique like stores. It is close to the airport though, and I wanted to avoid rushhour at all costs. So I hid out for a while.

EDINA GRILL

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Essentials: buttermilk short stack and a city map. The menu was full of awesome things to try and I was dying to eat something more, but my grazing at Whole Foods the night previous in Vegas ruined me. So these house made ‘cakes had to do.

They were pretty plain, but very fluffy and devoid of that terrible Bisquick chalky flavouring most pancakes have so I overlooked the lack of fancy presentation. Short Stack: $5.45. They also had fresh orange juice going, but I stuck to water.

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Oh man. I’m such a sucker for The Container Store! I HAD to pay a visit and napped in the parking lot until it opened at 9 a.m.. My suitcase was already bloated though, and I had no room to buy the amazing organizational items they sell.

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I had big plans to drive around the Twin Cities, shopping and being a tourist on Saturday before the wedding. However, I was zapped after Las Vegas and slept in, leaving me little time to do anything outside the urban core. I walked around downtown trying to find a place for lunch on Saturday. All the places I was most interested in: Masa, 112 Eatery and Restaurant Alma, were not open for lunch on weekends. BURN! I ended up at an old favourite, Chipotle.

Because it a northern city, Minneapolis is a lot like Edmonton. There are skyways to keep people out of the cold, and the downtown clears out on weekends. That bottom pic is the famous First Avenue & 7th Street Entry, a music venue. It was featured in Prince’s Purple Rain.

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Although Minneapolis airport is one of my favourites and offers some delicious airport food (which I have lamented a lack of before), I ended up getting a sandwich at Panera to bring with me before I left. The woman who made it for me gave me extra pickles and wrapped it very well when she heard I was bringing it travelling. So sweet!

Travels21 Jun 2009 03:59 am

I like to tell people I love hotels so much because I spent a great deal of my youth  living in them. I’m not completely convinced of this reasoning myself, but I’ve told people this so often I am starting to believe it! Truth be told: I just love the design and transient feeling of “home.”

My friend Jayson got married at the end of May in a small suburb of Minneapolis, and I attended the wedding after visiting Las Vegas. I had a hell of a time deciding what hotel to stay at during my visit.

I have visited Minneapolis many times (mostly visiting as a poor student), but never stayed downtown proper, so I narrowed my search to that area. After much deliberation over the various arty and fancy hotels  including Graves601 and Chambers, I finally decided on the new W Hotel Foshay.

Foshay Tower Postcard

The hotel moved into a building that was originally erected in 1929. Every room is slightly different. A lot of this is due to the fact that the building is a mild obelisk shape, with each floor being smaller than the one below.

There was a lot of cool history in the place: it was billed as the “the first skyscraper west of the Mississippi” when it was built as the namesake (and residence) of a local business & utilities tycoon. However, six weeks after it opened to great fanfare in Minneapolis, it closed. The Great Depression had begun. Mr. Foshay ended up in jail!

The hotel was renovated by Starwood hotels over a period of a few years after being offices for decades. The Minneapolis-Star Tribune has a fascinating look into the renovations as they happened in a slideshow. They have really embraced the art deco feel and it was a neat place to stay.

It has been open for just under a year now. It really topped out on the trendy meters, but I’m glad I stayed there. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get back to Minneapolis, so it was a nice way to revisit the city.

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At night, the letters light up!

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Credit: SnapShutter on the Twin Cities Photoblog

The ornate elevator doors.

Elevator door detail.

The colour of the lobby changed with the time of day. I saw it green and blue later in the afternoon. The inset ceiling hid a great treasure: the original underneath. Wikipedia indicated it is (was?) being restored.

One of the best steakhouses in Minneapolis (or so I hear, if one believes airline magazine ads), Manny’s, is in the lobby. It is surrounded by various small settings in a bar called The Living Room.

I made it back to the hotel too late on Friday and Saturday to grab a drink at Prohibition, the sky bar on the 27th floor (seen above). The views were quite beautiful. The only thing above it is the observation deck, on the 31st floor. However, even as a hotel guest, you have to pay to access it. Not cool.

The mats were changed three times a day in the elevator to reflect the time of day. Surprisingly helpful, as the hotel was really dark most of the time and it honestly could have been any time of day.

I booked more than two weeks out and scored a deal on a room. I indulged and got the slightly larger “Spectacular” room, as people complained the rooms were too small on TripKick.

I found the room to be over-sized to be honest. But, that is probably because I was a solo traveler and a smaller one at that. Or maybe I just lucked out and got a slightly better room configuration.

The room featured black and white furnishings with silver and fuschia accents.

The fairly priced snack bar. It had some surprises, like bottled oxygen spray and an oversized old school lolly. I didn’t indulge, but had to pose for a photo with the huge lollipop:

Their tagline at W Hotels is “What is your wish?” Whenever I called down to the front desk or concierge, that is how they would answer the phone. The silver tube above was infact an in room kaleidoscope. It was kind of cute.

What was not cute was my “wish” to have my room tidied while I was out being denied. I returned home late to an untouched room. Other than that, I found the service to be decent. They did check me in very early Friday morning, which I really appreciated.

Yes, this is the can. It had a huge window that faced 9th Street.

This was the view from the washroom. It was a weekend, so there weren’t many office workers around to peer at. Or to be peered at by…I hope!

No bathtub in this room, but a HUGE walk in shower with Bliss bath products, which I naturally scooped and took home. Score!

The Wynn in Vegas had this same sort of cutesy labelling for the T.P. too.

A magazine in the room highlighting all sorts of products, cities and W hotel locations to hotel visitors. I just liked the cover.

Overall, I enjoyed my stay at the hotel. Parking downtown was a bit of a drag as with most large cities, and I wouldn’t recommend it if you weren’t staying on a weekend. But it had a great location and rounded out my vacation nicely.

Crafts etc and Food19 Jun 2009 12:53 am

potato lobster

A blogger I adore (FourFour) posted a few examples of a friend’s food art. Keeping with my lobster love lately, I really dig on this potato crustacean.

Check out more: Edith Zimmerman’s food scuplture.

General and Travels18 Jun 2009 09:06 am

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It ain’t a trip without a bed jump photo. Or two.

Food: Las Vegas and General and Travels17 Jun 2009 02:20 pm

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Pinchy? PINCHY!?

Daniel Boulud Brasserie at the Wynn. We returned, hoping to sample a favourite dish. Unfortunately, their menu is seasonal and had changed since our last visit in February.

We had the seafood platter however, which was absolutely amazing. It featured oysters, lobster, shrimp, crab, mussels and clams. We only got the petit size, but a wedding party ordered the large, royale, one nearby. It was shockingly “Vegas sized”, with multiple tiers and dozens of sea dwelling creatures.

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Two visits to Border Grill at Mandalay Bay this trip. Fresh tortilla chips, and lamb tacos and beans and guac and margaritas and… man. It was so good.

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Our last huge meal at B.G. sunk Mike, and he had to have a rest after wards.

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Oh Panera, how I love thee. Free wi-fi, wonderful baked goods, great soups, sandwiches and salads…it’s like Tim Hortons – only delicious.

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My room in the “West Wing” at the MGM. It looked like something from the set of “Alien” when I came home one night. Thankfully the blackout curtains really work. $59 a night!

I had stayed in one of these rooms with my friends Matt and Amy a few years ago, when they were brand new. They’re already showing their age. The one good thing about these rooms is that they are close to the poker room. In the world’s largest hotel, you’d be surprised how important that can be.

However, looking back, I probably would have continued my stay at the Palazzo, to be honest.

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Pool survival kit.

That drink was totally illegal but totally necessary as it was hotter than hell. They do bag searches when you go into the pool at the MGM, so I had to sneak this “Route 44” sized cherry limeade from Sonic in. I don’t know why they do this, but there is a sign up claiming it’s for “guest safety.” Other hotels seem to have a handle on “safety” so I suspect it’s for “guest fleecing.”

At the Palazzo, they put your drinks (even outside liquor!!) into plastic cups, and you can bring in your own water. Not that you need to, as there are filtered water coolers all over at the Palazzo/Venetian pool complex dispensing free water. At the MGM they have a snarky bar tender who bitches about giving you more than one cup of water.

The MGM dropped a few notches in my books this trip, and I’m not sure I will ever stay there again.

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Never mind the bad angle on my pale legs … can you spot the Euro??

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I LOVE the typefaces and look of this party truck.

I wonder if they do weddings…?

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Food: Las Vegas and General and Travels16 Jun 2009 09:03 pm

rhum bar

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This spacey looking bar is RHUMBAR at the Mirage. We met up with some friends from Vegas and L.A. there, following the UFC fight.

The place is nice – even if we were stuck inside. They have a patio, but it was packed. (On a related note, Vegas on a long weekend is INSANELY fun and busy. Nice to see it picking up again there. The deals are definitely attracting some visitors.)

The bar features, you guessed it, rum. The drinks were strong and delicious, and although we did not receive the education on rum as we received on tequila from Treasure Island’s Isla bar, I would return.

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May long weekend in Vegas means sky high rates on Friday and Saturday night. $39 hotel rooms morph into $390 hotel rooms…at least price wise. The photos above are from our ballin’ room at the Emerald Suites in southern Las Vegas. Most places were sold out come Saturday, so I took what I could get. The cost was $75.

Seems like a decent deal until you consider what we got for $25 more at the Palazzo…

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Palazzo pool fountains, with a view of the “Wynn-Core” complex.

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View from Daniel Boulud next door at the Wynn.

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Turn down pillow chocolate!! I saved it until we got home to Edmonton. Too bad it had melted and turned chalky in the Las Vegas heat in the meantime. A few hours in the car really murdered it.

I can’t rave enough about the Palazzo. It’s like the Venetian, only newer. Easy access to the parking garage, entrance to the Venetian and Palazzo pool complexes, comfortable rooms and beds, and just overboard on amenities you don’t even really need. (Three tvs in a Vegas hotel room? That’s just overkill.)

General15 Jun 2009 08:52 pm

I “attended” Athabasca University (it’s a distance learning program, so it was all correspondence) for a few years after some time at the University of Alberta. It allowed me to finish my schoolwork while working, and was a pretty good program overall. I can only recommend it to the extremely motivated however. I certainly procrastinated, but eventually got all my coursework done.

Convocation was in Athabasca, a town about an hour and a half north of Edmonton, so I did a day trip with Mike and my mom to attend.

The day began early, and I missed breakfast. Luckily there was a catered meal at the convocation site in Athabasca. You can’t honestly expect me to attend an event and not blog about the food, can you?!

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My meal looks so yellow here, even after colour correction! It’s actually pretty true to life because the meal WAS very yellow. Cheddar potato bake, eggs benedict with spinach sauce, fruit, a mango/cranberry muffin and some very delicious maple ham.

The ham was the highlight. That’s just about all I have to say about that.

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It isn’t until I see a photo that I realize how ridiculous Mike and I look together. I’m wearing heels, by the way.

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Mom and me.

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Athabasca University doesn’t use caps, they use these medieval-style hoods. Zenke-Witch indeed.

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How’s this for meta? My mom taking a photo of an Athabasca University photographer taking a photo of Mike taking a Polaroid of me holding Polaroids of myself. I wonder if the shot will end up on their website or on their calendar.

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They served dinner at the convocation (pasta, with some awesome garlic bread) but we wanted to check out this neat looking Burger Bar before we left Athabasca. A somewhat grumpy and impatient teen served us, and despite best intentions of maybe trying a burger, I left with a milkshake (Blackberry, $2.25). It was alright, sort of like Burger Barons, not overly flavoured, but good consistency.

The day went much longer than any of us thought, but it was nice to attend and add a concrete experience to the end of my schooling. I even shed a tear as they gave me my hood up on stage.

Food and Food: Las Vegas and Travels14 Jun 2009 11:21 pm

I was alone in Las Vegas for two nights, and decided to visit another restaurant by myself. I made the reservation, knowing that if I did not, I would chicken out.

So for 7:30 pm on a Wednesday evening, I reserved dinner for one at Joël Robuchon at the Mansion at the MGM Hotel. I have walked by the doors and peeked at the menu so many times on other visits, I have lost count.

The restaurant is one of a select few in North America to receive three Michelin stars for 2009.

Joël Robuchon

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The doors opened, and I entered. I assume I was the only solo diner that night making me easy to recognize, and the hostess addressed me by name as I entered. She was so quick to do so, in fact, that I lamented not being able to take in the room and bar a bit more first.

JR @ the Mansion is located in the corner of the sprawling MGM casino. Look beyond the smoking slot machine players and the crowds gathering for the next showing of Cirque du Soleil’s “KA”, and you will see the peaceful entrance.

Joël Robuchon

Joël Robuchon

Joël Robuchon

The room is intimate and cozy. A banquette divides the room, and a small side room holds a (live?) rose garden and living ivy wall. I believe the restaurant can hold 60 people, and on this night there were probably 20. So not very full, but still shockingly so considering the price of the average meal there.

I was seated on a the bench seat dividing the room, in between two couples. The room is done in rich, heavy fabrics in a deep royal purple colour, with silver accented Lalique vases and black furniture. It was designed to mimic a feeling of being in 1930s Paris and feels very luxurious and opulent.

From the photos I have seen of the room, the colour accents change with the season. For spring, coral red seemed to be favoured, and was featured in the fresh flowers, coral shaped accents and decor, bringing a pop of colour.

On the banquette, silver plate framed photographs line the top, highlighting celebrities that have dined at Joel Robuchon.

A large chandelier hangs above, and the entire dining room is bathed in warm, subdued lighting.

Joël Robuchon

I asked for a glass of champagne when I sat down. Unlike Guy Savoy, they do not use a trolley to cart around the champagnes available by the glass, and I was limited to two varieties. I chose the Billecart rose. I will admit to being a bit nervous at dining alone, but knew the staff would take care of me. The champagne helped relax me even more.

However, within minutes of sitting down, the man in the couple dining to my left struck up a conversation.

“You must really love French food,” he said.

I replied to the positive, stating that I had also dined at Guy Savoy earlier in the week.

And so it began.

“Ohhhh, we were served by Guy Savoy himself!” he blurted out, as he poured more Cristal champagne for his wife. “We must have spent $10,000 that night there,” he went on.

They were Las Vegans, dining out in celebration of their 10th wedding anniversary. The husband spent more time talking to me than to his wife, and even sent over a course from the 16-course tasting menu they were having that night, claiming he was too stuffed.

I won’t say that it ruined my evening, but it did diminish some of the adult enjoyment I was hoping to gain from eating out on my own, with my own thoughts. He complained about being too full to enjoy the meal, then being too drunk.

I also found their name dropping and money discussion (and politics! imagine!) during dinner a bit distasteful. I was too timid to ask to be moved, however. In a dining room so small I did not want to risk offending anyone, or embarrassing the staff. I did find it odd the hostess chose to seat me next to a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary though. I would have been much happier next to the other fellow recent Bachelor of Science graduate out celebrating (awesome coincidence!) However, this was my own doing.

Robuchon is experimenting with lowered set prices on various meal configurations, from three courses up to six. I got the six-course option, which came with an amuse bouche, an appetizer, soup, seafood and meat course, cheese course and then dessert. I selected my own dishes for each course. My only regret was not being able to order the frog’s legs that Robuchon is so famous for.

A bread cart made a few rounds, but stopped after I refused bread with two courses. I suppose if I had asked, they might have brought some more. However, filling up on bread is a terrible idea, except when the bread is as good as it is here.

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The amuse bouche took some time to arrive, but finally came to the table on a holographic platter. It reminded me of a figure skating outfit I once had, infact.

The amuse was Os(s/c)etra caviar, over a hidden layer of three species of crab. I had a small saffron roll and a piece of carmelized onion bread from the bread cart. These were warmed before being brought to the table. The cart’s item stock was very similar to Guy Savoy’s. There were more rolls, however, and more softer items like milk breads. Again, a brick of butter imported from Brittany.

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Soup: Lettuce velouté with nutmeg and sweet onion foam. If you have ever read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl, you surely remember all the times Charlie had to eat watered down, bland cabbage soup. Not far from it’s green cousin, lettuce soup has to sound like the stuff of nightmares, right?

It’s not.

There were lardons of ham sunk on the bottom, and the foam imparted an extraordinary texture to this surprisingly flavourful soup. The bowl arrived as a bowl of foam, which the veloute was then expertly poured into by the server. It was like a lettuce latte.

Unfortunately I did not take photos of the next course, which was the starter, which was sea scallop a la plancha with a sauce of kumquat and caviar. I remember the scallops being the star of the show, with little citrus added from the kumquat, and an abundance of caviar.

Joël Robuchon

Seafood course: this dish arrived in a beautiful presentation. It had a sort of glass halo around it, which held the bits of the lobster carapace within. It was lifted off to reveal this inside: Spiny lobster in a sake broth, with turnip and shiso sprouts.

The sake broth was salty and slightly alcoholic, and a light addition to the lobster. The most adorable baby turnips with greens attached were hidden beneath and offered the bite and crunch needed.

Joël Robuchon

Meat course: Braised veal cheeks with Thai herbs and green curry. Looking back, I had to make sure this was the course I got. I do not recall anything green curry-ish about it, but the lemongrass and strong memory of rich veal melting in my mouth tell another story. Small chunks of fine tofu accompanied the dish, which was the height of savoury. It was garnished with long stems of lemongrass which appeared to be taped to the serving dish beneath. Odd.

A side dish of pureed potatoes were lovingly spooned out by the server. They were not studded with black truffle as at Guy Savoy, however.

The diner next to me sent over his course of vegetables and couscous in Argan oil. Again, baby turnips and other vegetables were nestled in a delicious, if plain, couscous. Argan oil is supposedly an extremely rare oil…I remember it being smooth and faintly nutty, but not overwhelming.

Joël Robuchon

Joël Robuchon

Oh, jeez, cheese.

The cheese server was an expert recommender and my interactions with him were the highlight of my meal. When I said I couldn’t make my mind up on which brie I wanted to try, he gave me samples of both. (The triple cream was the best.) I also got a very alcoholic tasting (and smelly!) Époisses. It’s the runny one on the bottom, there.

Again, I had to summon the bread cart and was not offered anything unusual for the cheese course, unlike at Savoy. Cheese is delicious on its own, of course, but I wanted to see how a fruit bread or baguette changed it. 


Joël Robuchon

A perle of chou, Tahitian vanilla cream with fresh raspberry. The chou was quite awkward to eat in the bowl, and kept sliding all over the place.

The two couples celebrating were brought a special raspberry ice cream cake.  I don’t know where they are finding ripe raspberries this time of year, but I would love a hook up.

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A sorbet course. I chose the lemon, out of raspberry (again!) and chocolate.

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The mignardises trolley. There were over 30 treats on this thing. They didn’t even tell me what everything was and didn’t seem interested in listing them, so I just requested the raspberry macaron, meringue, cocoa dusted truffle and a chocolate bombe.

I asked for an earl grey tea to end my evening, which came with no sugar or cream, forcing me to ask for it.

Joël Robuchon

Joël Robuchon

This was the small dark garden room to the side. It smelled like a forest after a short rain on a warm day, green and moist with the faint scent of roses. I popped in after my meal to check it out.

Joël Robuchon

Joël Robuchon

As a parting gift, I received this beautifully wrapped present. Inside…an entire banana loaf, topped with gold dusted chocolate pieces and drizzled honey and glaze. I have to admit, I found this odd for a mainly tourist frequented restaurant. Maybe others had better appointed rooms or were staying in Las Vegas a few more nights and could enjoy it.

I ate a bit the next morning before checking out of the hotel. With no utensils in the room, I ate some of it with my bare hands. How crude. It was mostly just an average banana loaf, though.

So; was it worth it?

I remain undecided. Maybe I was tapped out on French food or high end restaurants. Maybe I set the bar too high. Perhaps if I had not been a solo diner my experience would have been different.

I won’t knock the cuisine, however. The food was great; imaginative, beautifully presented, well-executed and thoughtful. What I think fell short was the service.

It was all small things that sound absolutely ridiculous in hindsight so I won’t go into details. However, after experiencing service at Le Cirque and Savoy (click for my experiences at each), then having it at Joel Robuchon, I noticed the differences. Perhaps it is a difference of opinion. I know others enjoy that the service is non-intrusive, where you request things and the request is never denied, but I find I enjoy it when the staff anticipate my wants, sometimes before I even knew I had them. I’m a shy diner, what can I say?

I found the service mostly mechanical, lacking passion and excitement. Le Cirque and Guy Savoy made me want to go back to experience both the food and service again. They were both delightful, surprising and joyful to eat at, and I got the feeling that they wanted you to experience everything and try everything. Joel Robuchon left me wanting…it kind of felt soulless, actually.

In any case, I’m glad I went, for now I can share my experience, and know that I may never go again. There are too many restaurants in the world to return to one that charges that much and doesn’t leave me in a dreamlike trance thinking about every detail afterwards.

Food13 Jun 2009 12:10 pm

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As an avid diver and certified biologist that happens to be a seafood lover, I find myself in more of a predicament these days. How do I eat and enjoy seafood while still respecting the environmental limitations on an easily over-harvested food item?

Let me tell you, it’s not easy. The lists of fish to avoid/consume are long and complicated, made worse by vague menus and unknowledgeable staff.

I’ve eaten more than my share of taboo creatures from the sea. Whale and seabass, some species of skate, monkfish… surf clam happens to be one of my favourite sushi items.

I’m reminded of that episode of The Simpsons where Homer rescues a lobster from the grocery store and ends up keeping him as a pet. Disaster ensues, “Pinchy” is cooked in a hot bathtub and Homer cries as he eats him, asking for more butter and saying “Pinchy would’ve wanted it this way.”

So, how does one begin to change? A place to start is reading Sustainable Seafood guidelines. However, that should be followed up by reading this article from a recent New York Times: Loving fish, this time with the fish in mind. Finally, actually applying these methods by being choosy and not caving to pressure in restaurants. Some are very open about their approach to seafood (of note: several restaurants in the Mandalay Bay complex in Las Vegas subscribe to sustainable seafood. Now if only the other MGM/Mirage properties would take on the challenge…) and make it easier to make informed decisions.

If you ask for it, change will come. I know I will try to remember that the next time I’m tempted by some exotic fish.

General11 Jun 2009 09:00 pm

If anyone is interested, I will be convocating on Friday. The ceremony starts at around noon (mountain time) and is going to be webcast at this link: http://www.athabascau.ca/convocation/

I am not sure exactly when I’ll be on, but look for me in the latter bits.

Food and Food: Las Vegas and Travels11 Jun 2009 11:50 am

After our amazing meal at Bar Charlie in February we were reluctant to branch out into other high end eats in Vegas. I guess we just love Japanese cuisine that much! However, Chef Hiroo Nagahara mentioned his favourite restaurant happened to be Guy Savoy, so we thought we might give it a try, and did not feel so bad doing so.

Guy Savoy was rated two Michelin stars in the last Las Vegas guide. Although I would not describe myself as a Michelin tourist, I have been fortunate to have dined at a wide selection of one star restaurants. However, this was a first to be eaten at a ‘higher level.’ The Paris location has consistently received three stars, and some say Mr. Savoy was robbed of a third star at the Vegas outpost.

We set sail for the ten-course “menu prestige” deep in the Augustus Tower of Caesar’s Palace. Four hours later, we emerged. Here is what happened in between.

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The dining room was half full, mostly older diners in couples, but some larger tables as well. It was minimal, almost austere, but still comfortable.

There is a small patio and private dining rooms. There are even large windows which fill the room with natural light which is odd for a Las Vegas restaurant. From our end you could see the Bellagio.

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These tiny dishes held pepper, the flakiest, finest of sea salts and butter from France.

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Our amusing amuse. In the left cup…zucchini soup…
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…and hiding on the right, a surprise we were told to reveal after our soup was gone. A tiny pastry cup filled with salmon, topped with marinated zucchini with a basil reduction.

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From the bread cart: A “delicate spices” and a bacon roll. The butter served was flown in from France, and available salted or not. They kept coming and coming with the bread cart.

The bread sommelier was an amazing young man with real energy and excitement. We even discussed UFC with him. Each course had a bread he suggested. Some were surprising, others perfect (if predictable) pairing. There were numerous kinds of bread: caramelized onion, lemon bread, black olive, Parmigiano Reggiano, house-cured bacon with sea salt and a few smaller “plainer” items like epi baguette and such.
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Marinated lobster with salad and spring herb gelee.

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“Colours of Caviar”, layered caviar in many different preparations. Eaten together, you are meant to scoop down with the mother of pearl spoon from each layer. It is no exaggeration that each bite was subtely or significantly different. The sabayon layer was a personal favourite.

There was no bread pairing, as the caviar was a stand alone deal, you could say.

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Crispy sea bass with delicate spices in vanilla foam with mushrooms. The vanilla foam was “scented.” But, not in the cheap way a lower end place does it. This smelled, tasted and exuded vanilla. It was odd with the fish, but delicious. The bread was a nori seaweed bread.

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We were encouraged to add the additional delicate spices laid out on top of the serving platter. They added so much! The arrangement of the spices is also seems to be a nod to the logo for Guy Savoy, three columns.

The delicate spices were the same as in the bread:  Szechuan pepper, black pepper, fennel, coriander and two kinds of mustard.

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This…this was amazing.

As our sea bass course wrapped up, two gentlemen came walking briskly out of the kitchen. They approach our table, holding a platter. In my head, I’m thinking “What? I just finished this course! How rude! What timing!”

But: they were just there to show us our next course as it cooked.

The course was foie gras “en Papillotte” with radish bouillon. The foie gras was in a parchment bag, resting on rocks which were cooking it. The server burst the bag with a flourish. The smell of the foie that emerged was intense and earthy. I was dying to smell more…and just as I thought that he said “Here! SMELL!” and brought it to my face to waft.

Now THAT is service.

It was served with the greens which perfectly balanced the richness of the foie gras. Radish soup is amazingly flavourful, by the way.
guy savoy

guy savoy
Here, a Savoy signature soup. Artichoke and black truffle. I recalled to Mike that I read a review that claimed this soup was tasteless. We laughed as we inhaled the earthy, rich broth.

That little out of focus morsel on the bottom? It’s a mushroom brioche, topped with truffle butter. We were encouraged to dunk it in our soup as we ate.

guy savoy
At this point, my bread plate was becoming a wasteland of crusts as I could no longer finish the breads being brought. I felt shame when the bread sommelier came by, but he continued to pile on the bread.
And so we pushed on. I think we were just over two hours in at this point.

guy savoy

This GORGEOUS hot pink knife was brought out. What was next..?

guy savoy

guy savoy
Poussin (young poultry) a la Broche, with impossibly smooth black truffle-flecked potato puree. There were truffles shoved under the skin of the chicken.

This was another dish that was presented to us as it cooked. They brought it out on a carving board, then brought it back to the kitchen to be carved. I’m told this is all part of Mr. Savoy’s love of the dramatic.

The puree looks like ice cream, and it damn near had the same texture.

Then…the cheese cart.
guy savoy

This cart sailed in like a ship made of blue cheese. I don’t recall how many cheeses there were, but over 10. We could have any of them, again with two kinds of bread.  Époisses, brie, blue, guyere, goat.

guy savoy
I wish I had more room, but had to limit myself to three cheeses (herbed goat, brie and aged guyere), with apricot walnut bread.

guy savoy
A pre-dessert pannacotta with apricots and almonds and an edible pansy.

guy savoy
Strawberry rhubarb granité served in the most adorable of miniature Bodum-style cups.

guy savoy
This was the chocolate sphere, with raspberry. It came out as a perfect white chocolate ball, which the maître d’ then poured hot raspberry sauce over. “To smile at you,” he said, as the “mouth” opened and indeed, smiled at me.

It reminded me of the little Canadians from South Park.

5a

Low brow, I know. That’s the kind of lady I am.

guy savoy

I couldn’t help noticing the steak knife from earlier matched the rather modern art work in the room. I sat admiring the room, art and other diners.

Then…dear lord. The rumblings of another cart.

Not the bread cart, surely. The cheese cart? Put away, I hope.

This was the sweet cart.
guy savoy

HOW? How could we have room?

Well, the world’s most adorable and persuasive man was working it. And he SOLD his items. Just want one truffle? “Non, then zee others will be jealous,” he claimed, as he piled the set of three on your plate.

There were fruit gelees, mousses, eclairs, hand twirled lollies, TWO KINDS of rice pudding, sorbets, flans, ice creams, macadamia nut balls, and, lord help me, … MINIATURE macarons.

guy savoy
All I really has room for and wanted was the truffles and macarons. How I got sucked in to getting this much was beyond me. Passionfruit sorbet, and a rich chocolate mousse sit in the middle and right.

guy savoy
At least I wasn’t as badly off as Mike. He ended up with TWO plates. The guy at the cart was relentless and a real petit fours pusher.

One of the items: brown butter ice cream. Wow.

guy savoy

The macarons were fennel and lemon.

guy savoy

This one reminded me of a tiny hot dog.

And then, it was finally over.

Four hours later, we were in a food daze. The dishes themselves were amazing, but what made the meal memorable were the small touches, service and thoughtfulness. The purse stool that was brought. How the maître d’ noticed I was trying to write down notes, so he brought a printed menu for me.

I was also fortunate to receive a peek in at the not-yet-opened private Krug room. On my way to the rest room, I spied the word “KRUG” on the wall of a back room and inquired with the server who accompanied me to the rest room. Turns out that is the first Krug room in North America. The server pointed out the beautiful picnic trunk made for carting champagne around and said it made every picnic better.

Savoy is known for champagne so it did not surprise me they had a dedicated room. According to VegasChatter, the room will feature champagne pairings with meals and offers the entire Krug catalogue. It’s one of my favourite champagnes so I got a buzz of glee about seeing the room.

As we left, we were forced to take some candies. I did not sample mine until days later when I  boarded my plane to Minneapolis, but was surprised at the flavour. It was chartreuse, a kind of liquor.

Very, how you say, french!

guy savoy bag

So stuffed, I asked to have my remaining truffles wrapped up to go and they came in this charming bag.

guy savoy

A purse stool hiding in waiting.

guy savoy

I couldn’t resist. Even the lighting in the bathroom was fantastic.

guy savoy menu

guy savoy menu

guy savoy menu

The cover and insides of the menu I received.

This meal was pure indulgence, and a perfect way to celebrate a birthday and graduation. (Atleast that’s what I tell myself.)

The service is passionate, warm, thoughtful and seamless. Perhaps a little over the top at times, as with one server’s very french accent, but this is Vegas, after all. There’s a bit of showman in everyone.

While we got the 10-course tasting menu, they do offer a la carte menus, of course. You can check them out at FoodNut. The people beside us received wonderful attention with their a la carte meals, and were in and out in around two hours. There is also a $98 pre-theatre meal.

In addition, there is also the Bubble Bar where you can have small bites of each of Savoy’s signature dishes and a glass of bubbly. It’s a more affordable and quick way to visit the property. The menus for all of these options are available on the right of the Caesar’s Palace website.

After dining at a two star, I wondered what the differences were between two and three Michelin stars. I’ve been told the differences are negligible between the levels, the top two tiers offering similar cuisine quality but the difference being in service.

Of course, the only way to really judge was to go and dine at the only three Michelin star restaurant in Las Vegas…that’s to come.

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