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mike k

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  1. Hi, I'm looking for suggestions for a private party in Las Vegas. About 50-80 people, age range from 30 to 60, usually a lot of conversation, so music is fine, but not too much of it. We have an an open bar and good appetizers, (not cheese cubes and chicken strips). It's usually at about 5-8 pm. Last year we went to the Ice House, which was a pain to get to and the food was not so great. The year before was Risque in Paris, which was a good venue. My memory fades prior to that. It's usually a bar like one of these with enough room to close off a section for us, or they just close the whole place for it. The event is May 2006, during a convention at the main convention center, and people stay all over the strip, so location is pretty open (they have to - there are 40,000 attendees!). Thanks for your help, Mike K
  2. In a surprise move, Mr and Mrs k went to a fine dining establishment without the kids this weekend. Frasca got the nod. We began with humorous banter regarding the carbonation in the sparkling waters. Having recently read Miguel's dissertation regarding such matters here, I was curious if they served any with "natural" rather than added fizz. Bobby determined that it was added to the two that they offer, but both used "natural CO2," whatever that means. This was a nice introduction to Bobby, and since we were early diners he was able to spend some time talking with us. He has a great personality for this gig. Our waiter was also very engaging, but not so much that he insisted we learn his name. We began with the signature salumi plate, which was a great starter. I don't know if it really had anything to do with the trendy Berkel meat slicer, but the prosciutto was better than the San Daniele I've bought at Parisi. Bobby recommended the Tokai, which was fine but didn't pair as well for me as it apparently does for many. I'm not a big white fan though. We followed with the Hedgerow Farms Hen egg salad and more humorous talk of what other sort of eggs there might be. (Our waiter said he chuckles a bit every time he reads it, but doesn't get as many diner comments as he might expect.) This dish was a mystery to us. It was a soft boiled egg mixed with a few poppy seeds, next to a little slaw-like salad containing a single strip of cured meat, served on the Largest Plate on the Planet. No great flavors, no synergy, nothing like an "egg salad" or even a play on one that held our interest. We also had the lamb relish, which was basically a rough pate served as a quenelle in a little bowl with a splash of olive oil. We both thought the "grilled" bread was too close to "burnt" and distracted from the dish. Oddly, Mrs k liked the relish more than I did, even though I am much more of the meat eater. It was a little timid for me, not as unctuous as a pate and not spiced enough to make up for it. I liked it, but not so much that I'd order it again. On to the pumpkin agnolotti, the "21 Orders" second course of the night. (They make 21 orders of a handmade pasta, and when it's gone, it's gone.) We were glad that Bobby recommended this as it was the highlight of the evening. Perfect little pasta hats filled with pumpkin and mascarpone, served in butter with toasted pumpkin seeds. Smooth and well rounded flavors, with a great chew. I neglected to take a menu, and I don't remember the other ingredients that made it so special. This is partly because I was so distracted by the preserved lamb dish that I ordered. Described as a confit of lamb served as a sort of a stew, it sounded ideal for my tastes. Unfortunately, the broth was so salty I could barely eat it. As a true salt hound, this was hard to fathom. After a few bites I decided to stop, take the rest home and make something better with it. I didn't feel like exchanging it, and the flavor and texture of the meat was wonderful. I'll add some potatoes to soak up some of the salinity. Fortunately, Bobby had chosen an excellent glass of a Multepulciano to go with it. Bread and salty broth dips kept me happy until we could get to the cheeses. The bread here is ok, but nothing special. I almost never pass up a cheese plate, and this was a good selection, if a bit unbalanced in presentation. There was an appropriately sized slice of a nondescript but likable goat cheese, two large chunks of a smoked hard cheese that I thoroughly enjoyed, and a tiny piece of an excellent soft cow and sheep mix. While the waiter said he would bring more of any that we wanted, it would have been more pleasant to have gotten equal portions to begin with. The accompanying marinated grapes and red pepper jelly were fine as far as it goes, but I don't really understand condiments with my cheese outside of bread and butter. Neither do I understand fruit bread with it and luckily had some of the regular stuff left over. A nice glass of light Marsala went well with it. Since I had heard such good things about the desserts, we decided to squeeze in a piece of white chocolate and mascarpone cheesecake. It came with what I think was a mascarpone ice cream. Both were smooth and creamy, but lacking in character. White chocolate is easily lost in a dessert, and this was no exception. There were some sweet, mild chunks of candied ginger and an overpowering orange sauce drizzled over the top. Individual bites tasted either like bitter orange or mild cheese, with hardly a whisper from the chocolate. Not bad, but not as tasty as expected. In all, it was a very pleasant evening. While this is obviously based on only one visit, I'd say the kitchen still needs to find more solid ground and consistency. Lachlan designs these dishes well, but they didn't go out with the final tasting and balancing necessary. I'm sure it will continue to improve. The ambiance and level of service are excellent. Since we're lucky to get in a couple of upscale dinners a year, it will be a while until we return, but I would happily recommend it to others.
  3. I was at Pacific Mercantile last week and bought a frozen chunk of "sushi grade" tuna. It looks awsome and is in a perfect shape for cutting sushi or sashimi slices. Since all tuna must be frozen before sale or service in the US, I think as long as I defrost it well (a couple days in the fridge) it should be fine. But I don't know yet. (BTW, there was an interesting article in the NYT food section a couple of weeks ago about most of the "cherry red" tuna being a result of carbon monoxide gassing, not freshness. The frozen chunk is pink.) PM had several types of fresh fish that appeared "sushi grade" and several types of roe. There was someone behind the counter cutting up very fresh looking whole fish for the case. I also got some shiso leaf there that would be great for a sushi party. They also have a large selection of sushi tools/dinnerware/etc. Just going there will get you jazzed for your party! I buy frozen precooked presauced prepackaged unagi at Asian Market in Boulder that I like just fine. I think they had the same brand at PM.
  4. mike k

    Soda Siphons: The Topic

    Miguel, thank you for the most excellent excess of information. I can't say that as a home-only bartender I'll be putting much of it into practice, but I will certainly be more aware of my waters! I had a syphon for a while, but as others have reported, eventually it got nasty and I tossed it. Perhaps I'll consider another at some point. How does one keep the inside of such a narrow necked bottle clean?
  5. mike k

    Icon Burger

    Tooting Lance's horn for him - Icon Burger is on the front page of the current Boulder County Business Report. Two photos, nice story. You can see it on their website for probably the next two weeks. Here's a link directly to the article sans photos. Lance, the story says you use organic beef - did the reporter mistake "natural" for "organic" or have you made a change since your postings here?
  6. mike k

    Talisker question

    It's not a stretch. As island distilleries (Lagavulin and Laphroaig next to each other on Islay, Talisker on Skye), they are similar in character. Lagavulin stands well above the other two, but for half the price, I drink Laphroaig 10y these days. I haven't had Talisker in a while, but that's the one that got me started. I remember thinking it was a bit harsher than Laphroaig, but that's an old and dusty memory not to be relied upon. Either one will serve you well. I am very happy to have been recommended White Horse in the rob roy thread. It has a lot of Lagavulin in it (same owner). It's not the real deal, but if Lagavulin is your benchmark, then you can't beat it for the price.
  7. OK, I've gone for it and now have some jowls curing in the fridge, a la Mario's recipe. A lot of liquid has been released, and the pan was crowded to begin with, so the bottom half is now submerged. Is it ok to leave it like this? Assuming I do leave them alone, this bottom half is going to be wet and saltless when I remove them. Do I dry them off and replace with fresh salt and sugar for the hanging? Also, is it really ok to just put them on a rack instead of hanging? Any reported success or failure? It would be a lot easier. Thanks - all tips and tricks appreciated!
  8. 3 days and no word... that must have been some rob roy.
  9. mike k

    HOOTERS

    mango lasses?
  10. mike k

    Atlantic City

    Sorry, don't know why I omitted that - it was $45. If it was really 3 pounds, which seems about right considering it was 8 legs with 2 claws, $15 per pound is a good deal. I wish I had had some oysters, but all that crab on the way gave me pause. They also had Lagavulin for $9, an excellent price for a nice restaurant. It went very well with the crab.
  11. mike k

    HOOTERS

    This is already in the Media and News section. Do I win something??
  12. mike k

    Indian Food

    From Friday's NRA SmartBrief: Hooters to open in India Hooters girls are being exported to India, as Hooters inks a deal to open between five and 10 Indian franchise locations. This is the company's first foray in to the South Asian market, but it has several international locations, including restaurants in Singapore and Taiwan. MSNBC "The outfits don’t change. We make some allowances for local menu," said Mike McNeil, vice president of marketing for Hooters of America . "We might have the steak sandwich, but you might also be able to get fish and rice or curried chicken or something like that." The steak sandwich might not fly. Hindu diets specifically prohibit beef. McDonald's India, for example, offers a Chicken Maharaja Mac as well as the vegetarian McAloo Tikki Burger.
  13. mike k

    Atlantic City

    The waitress said that they came in live. It arrived at the table looking like a whole crab, with all four legs still attached to each other on either side of the plate, and a cleaned body shell bridging them across the center. While it did not come with the actual body, it was so perfectly symmetrical and fresh tasting that I did not doubt the claim that this had been a whole crab. With all of the warnings these days about eating the liver, I probably would have passed on it had it remained anyway. Well, maybe not. Either way, I didn't miss it. It was a pleasure to eat in so many ways. The kitchen had done a wonderful job of cleaning it - there were no signs of gills or entrails, yet the shoulder ends of the legs were as large and complete as I've ever seen. The meat so fully filled the shells that there was none of the white "mystery goo" found inside most frozen crab, but the meat came away easily rather than sticking to the sides. The flavor and texture were stunning. It was sweet, rich, and velvety, with none of the squishiness or overly salty notes of the frozen kind. Go now, if you can.
  14. mike k

    Atlantic City

    Thanks for the Dock's recommendations folks. We ate there last month and they had a special of whole, fresh 3 pound king crabs. It was the best crabmeat I can remember. Quite a sight on the plate too! I ate exactly half and took the rest home.
  15. mike k

    Hominy?!

    I don't agree with the need to drain for a soup or stew. I think it has a nice, mild corn flavor. It's salty, but that just means I add less, if any salt to the final product. I used to drain it off, then I began adding more and more of the liquid back (instead of stock or water) until I just stopped draining.
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