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Northern Nevada Trip

So where was my next stop after my time in New York?…

RENO!!!!!!

Thank goodness we also had a stop in Tahoe as well during our visit to the Northern Nevada casino properties.  Being my first time in Northern Nevada, I was shocked at the decay of the city of Reno.  As we drove through the main road of the city, I could see how this was once the hustle and bustle of Northern Nevada.  Now, it is a sadder scene with areas of abandonment and memory of the old days.

However, granted I was traveling with others this time aka – there was no excuse to NOT eat with tons of people and way too much food.

I will just go down chronologically of the meals that we had shared and consumed:

Santa Fe Hotel

235 N Lake St
Reno, NV 89501

This was a Basque restaurant, serving traditional Basque cuisine.  I had never heard of Basque food before and the only time I had even heard of “Basque” was during my travel to Europe and was given a brief history during our drive into Spain from France.  So I was excited to see what this food was all about.

First, the dining room reminded me of an old bar or saloon.  There were rows of long tables that you would share with other parties when it was a full house.  However, that night, the place was already winding down due to the fact it was a late Sunday night. The meals were served family style with a choice of entrée for yourself.  The entrees differ each night and so…let the food precession begin!

Soup

Chorizo

Beans

Fries

Lamb Chops

As you can see, they pretty much covered the bases with a soup starter, meats, and starch.  The food was good overall, but it did not exactly blow my me out of the water.  Still…it was a good start to the trip.

The Cheese Board

247 California Avenue
Reno, Nevada 89509

The following day, after our morning of walking the floors, we met up with another team working on another property for lunch at The Cheese Board.  This place would be considered a casual French/American Bistro. They had sandwiches, salads, specials and of course – wine (which we did not have because we were all on ‘work hours’ and we were being good to stick to it).

Brie

This was so good! I don’t know how you cannot like warm, melting, good quality cheese.

Cheese Board

Because this was the namesake of the Bistro…and the selections were all quite yummy.

Steak Fajitas

Quiche

(It was one of the better quiches that I had ever tried)

Pasta Chicken Salad

Sante Fe Chicken Sandwich

Overall?…A wonderful lunch spot and reminds me that Reno is still alive!

Wild River Grille

17 S. Virginia St. #180
Reno, NV 89501

Since we had such a nice lunch that day, we hoped that this recommendation we received from a fellow colleague would not fail us.  Plus, it sat right by the river so it was the closest “seaside dining” we could muster for Northern Nevada.

Pear & Goat Cheese Crostini

Taste was there, but there was no texture.  It was just a pile of mush on mush…sad 😦

Artichoke & Brie Dip

(Just…no)

House Salad

Possibly the best thing I ate there that night.  Fresh greens dressed in a delicious vinaigrette (plus there was texture here at least!)

Now our entrees:

Meatloaf

Grilled Salmon

Lamb

Good lamb…even better polenta that was served under it.

Pork Chops

Rib Eye

Desserts (I laugh and make a face as I write/think about this):

River Mud

The way they described it on the menu sounds interesting, yet it came out exactly as I had imagined: a brownie with a Klondike bar sitting on top.  =\

Bread Pudding

Disgusting.  Let me describe to you why: imagine cubes of stall bread that was pressed together and re-baked with no liquids to make it remotely moist and then try to cover it with chocolate sauce.  This was the bread pudding.  UCK!!

Crème Brulee

Now for this one – it was scrambled eggs in a dish with caramelized sugar.  Yea…

Crumble

(Chuckling) Ok…on the menu it does not tell you what kinds of berries are used, just that this was a berry crumble.  So we asked the waitress and she tells us, “It’s a deep berry the chef uses.”

….Did you all catch that? “Deep berries.”  If you were like us, you’d be asking (like we actually did): “What (the hell) are ‘deep berries’?” Are they berries deep within a forest? Are they philosophical fruits?  What?!  Let’s just say the waitress could not talk herself out of this one.  (By the way, it ended up being strawberries…because they were out of deep berries apparently.)

My recommendations to you?…Skip the appetizers and desserts, go for the house salad and entrees only.

Golden Flower Vietnamese

205 West 5th Street
Reno, NV 89503

The place is pretty self explanatory of what we had for lunch.  However, in addition to our bowls of pho, we had orders of the Fresh Spring rolls and Fried Eggrolls

Vietnamese Eggrolls

Fresh Spring Rolls

Now…on to Tahoe!

Lone Eagle Grille

111 Country Club Drive
Incline Village, NV 89451

For our first night in Tahoe, we joined with the group at their hotel for dinner.  Let’s just say we ordered more than what we all really needed.  Let the bingeing begin:

Calamari

Pork belly

Quail

French onion soup

Wedge salad

Lamb

NY Strip

Ribeye

Buffalo

Short ribs

Grilled Chicken

Dessert platter

I think the end of the meal was the favorite part of the meal for me that night.  Look at that spread of delicious, fatty, sugary goodness.  We had (going from left to right): Apple Trio; Mud Pie; Cheesecake; Crème Brulee; Chocolate Pear Nougat; Walnut Tart w/ Dolce Dulce Ice Cream.

My gawd…it was an overboard of sugar and we were all already at our breaking point but we were all very dedicated foodies (and a newly initiated one who was brought on to help us and was floored by the amount of food that we ate).  My favorite from the platter?  It would have to be the Walnut Tart with the ice cream.  By the way…this was the platter at the end:

We CRUSHED this platter!

Latin Soul

168 Hwy 50
Stateline, NV 89449

For our last lunch, we headed for some Mexican/Spanish food.  However…it was not that good sadly.

Mushroom & Cheese Empanadas

Tacos – Lamb & Carne

Tacos – Lamb & Al Pastor

The meat tasted fine for the tacos, but not astounding.  Worst part was that the tortillas were too thick.  You needed thinner tortillas to just hold the meats and let the (good) meat do all the talking.  This place’s tacos were just a mumble in the air.

Kalani’s

1001 Heavenly Village Way #26
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Our last night in Tahoe, for dinner, we opted for something amazing to make up for lunch, but yet, staying away from the steakhouses (we both needed seafood to balance out all the red meat).  Thus, it was Kalani’s that really saved the day.

Lobster Bisque

They were kind enough to split an order into two little cups for us.  Thick, flavorful, sweet, a tinge of spice…wonderful.

Pulehu Baby Back Pork Ribs

Sweet, salty, sticky, and fall-off-the-bone tender.  Though we both had enough meat the past few days, this was a great addition to our meal.

Pan Caramelized Miso-Yaki Sea Bass

O.M.G.  I cannot tell you how much I LOVE sea bass and its buttery texture.  This fish really does fall to the slightest force from your fork and melts in your mouth as if it was butter.  Amazing piece of fish and cooked with a crispy side to add a little texture.  Suberb!

Ahi tuna

The special of the night was an ahi tuna steak topped with sweet, fresh crab meat, served on top of kimchi and “veggie sticks” (aka julienne carrots, zucchini and squash).  This was good, but it was not a sea bass.

Coconut Creme Brulee

To round off the night, we finished with this delicious and wonderfully made creme brulee.  The coconut flavor was in your face, but pleasantly so.  By far…it was our best meal to date during this trip!

5th Street Bakery

953 W 5th St.
Reno, NV 89503

Last day in Northern Nevada…back at Reno to grab a quick bite before we headed to the airport.  We wanted something simple and quick.  This little café had a great spirit and a hard working woman who I can only assume was the owner.  She worked the counter, cash register, and waiting/bussing the tables.  Naturally, you see her just running around the little café at great speeds.

While sitting there, you could watch your food be made fresh and also watch them bake their own breads for the menu items.

Morning Cuban

This was toasted bread slice (freshly made in-house), roasted pork, swiss cheese, ham, eggs overeasy, green salsa.  With a little hot sauce, it is the cure for hangovers.

Mediterranean Salad

A mixed organic greens salad with tomato, kalamata olives, red onions, red bell peppers, feta cheese, avocado, procsiutto, house croutons.

We kept it simple and clean….well I did with my salad, can’t say the same for my colleague.

Well friends…that was my first time adventure in Reno and Tahoe.  Will I be back? If it’s for work, I won’t have much of a choice, but if for pleasure, then I will definitely be back to Tahoe.

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Kansas City – there’s no place like home

Once again, I find myself up in the air wanting nothing more than to come home and nurse my misery of allergies (or maybe I really was just sick). The past week, I was in North Kansas City for work and I guess there’s really “no place like home”.

Kansas City is a mid-west city all around and what can one say? It’s nice, friendly, with lots of open areas and random buildings. All I knew about Kansas City was the one thing I had set my mind towards: Barbeque! So when the guys picked me up from the airport and asked what’s for dinner, naturally I jumped and said, “Barbeque!!”

We headed back into town and straight to one of the only establishments I had heard of before:

Arthur Bryant’s BBQ

I could smell the delicious meats when I stepped out of the car. My mouth salivating and I told myself that I control was in order because I hadn’t even met 3/4th of my team!  Control was so hard…

Once inside, my eyes were a bulged as I looked up at the menu board at the possibilities.  You have to understand…I really, REALLY like barbeque, so I went a little overboard…

That right there is a total of 3/4 lbs of delicious, smoked, tender, practically illegal how meats.  I had 1/4 lb each of (left to right): pulled pork, turkey, and sausage, with a side of baked beans.  My gawd I was in heaven!

Granted, I love Phil’s BBQ in San Diego for the reason that they make a good pull pork sandwich…in San Diego! Pull pork can taste very differently depending on its maker.  And the maker here knows his oinker. The sausage was not my favorite of the 3 since my memories of the smoked sausage I had in Oklahoma City was still fresh in my mind.  The turkey was good too, could have been a little more moist but this time…the sauce really did the trick.  As you will find (while reading on), the Arthur Bryant spicy BBQ sauce was absolutely DELICIOUS.  Omg…never had I wanted more and more of BBQ sauce.  I wanted to have the sauce straight up and drink straight out of the bottle.  However, since I was with other people and in public…my better judgment took over (thank goodness).  Instead I washed it all down with some refreshing sweet tea.

After our first day at work, we were all in need of a good meal (lunches are usually a pretty excuse of a meal most of the time).  During the entire day, whenever I had a client meeting, I would also end by asking for suggestions for dinner.  I had my handful of suggestions and in order to avoid BBQ fatigue, I took a highly recommended local Italian restaurant suggestion.

Garazzo’s

The location of the Garazzo’s that we went to was nestled into a neighborhood and we were wondering if we were going to someone’s grandmother’s house to eat. That would actually be quite interesting and fun, but nope, we finally found the restaurant.

There must have been several parties that night because it was a Monday night, at 8:30pm and the place was still packed. However, I had made reservations and so we were seated in no time. However, we were all starving even before we were seated so thank goodness one of us took the initiative to order us an appetizer to start off.

The garlic bread with cheese was made sliced crusty bread, with melted parmesan, sprinkled with basil. The bread that they used was a little too soft and would have done better with a French loaf, sliced open and then divided into smaller portions. It was still good, but it was nothing exciting.

When I ordered my entrée, our waitress had given me fair warning, “Now you know that our pastas run on the larger side and this one is our largest order on the entire menu.” I merely smiled and silent laughed as if to say, “Don’t underestimate me!” Little did I know the plight I would find myself in later once the plate arrived…

Now this was a true spectacle. This monstrosity was not meant for 1 person to go up against on her own without any backup. Ladies and Gents, this is Garazzo’s “Three Way Pasta”. On a plate that was the size of a steering wheel, we have: tomato sauce, spaghetti, rigatoni, meat ravioli, topped with parmesan cheese and Italian sausage. The plate could have easily weighed about 3 lbs.

The true depth of what awaited me was not fully realized until dug my fork into the gigantic pile of carbs. I think the me on the inside was something like this:

I barely even scratched the surface of this mountain of carbs before I threw in the towel. When I stopped eating, it didn’t even look like I had any of it! How did it taste? It was fine. The pasta was cooked well, the sauce was a little bland and weak, and the Italian sausage left me wanting more. This was one matter of quantity versus quality.

This is why I had to have a dessert to end the meal:

This was not the worst, nor the best Tiramisu I’ve ever had. Oh Garazzo’s, I have a feeling that I would love you more if I had something else from you. Now I will never know…

Our eating and gorging didn’t stop even after our way too filling Italian food from the night before.  (This is mostly due to fair, to sub-par lunches.)  The clients told us that when you’re in Kansas City, the all time question when it comes down to barbeque: Arthur Bryant’s or Gates.  How could I not take up this challenge and find my answer?!

Gates BBQ

This may not seem like a lot of food nor very nutritious, but boy oh boy.  This was good!  I had the ham sandwich with onion rights and iced tea.  In the back is my sampling of Gates’ bbq sauces.  Let’s take a closer look at the star of the tray:

The sandwich was simply 2 slices of Wonder bread with thinly sliced ham and the original sauce.  Normally I don’t like flimsy sandwiches.  I prefer toasted bread or crusty bread, but c’mon!  I’m eating bbq and there’s no place for such things!  The ham was so delicious that it made angry.  Angry that was subjected to mass produced, packaged deli meats that tasted like the meat (if it really was meat) cured in chemicals.  This was a simple ham sandwich and it had me giddy!

As for the answer to the question: who does a better Q? Arthur Bryant’s or Gates?  It was a hard call since I had different types of meats.  However, I can definitely say that I preferred Arthur’s BBQ sauce more than I liked Gates.  So that’s one point more for Arthur than Gates, but I would jump to eat at either one of these establishments anytime.

Unlike Gates, I wouldn’t step foot into this next place.  We had a really, REALLY long day and more to come later that evening.  We stayed on property and tried:

The Range Steakhouse (Harrah’s)

Ugh…now just thinking about this place makes me angry.  Never had a seen a sadder meal than this one.

Scallops are one of my FAVORITE shellfish to eat.  This place practically killed it for me.  Just seeing this picture, thinking back on it, made my head pound in pain and misery.  These babies may not have been the freshest scallops, but the poor attempt to hide it made it even WORSE.  See that orange pool?  It was some sort of a butter bath for a poorly seared scallops. :(…*to the scallops* it’s ok…it wasn’t YOUR fault. Best thing on the plO_Oate?…the mushrooms and the water (you can’t see it in the picture).

After that horrendous meal, I was a bitter person.  I was in a bad mood not only from the course of the day, through many factors plus a terrible meal, I needed something to change it all around.  Thank GAWD there was a savior!

Piropos Restauarnt

One of the guys had gotten a recommendation to this place from the person next to him on the plane.  We all needed a break from the “regular” and this was perfect!  The restaurant was elegant and beautiful.  It was started with nice fresh bread and crisps with 3 dipping sides.

Clockwise from the bottom left: multi-colored peppers and onions in oil, vinegar; chimichuri; and garlic dip.  My favorite of the 3 had to be the peppers and then the chimicurri.  This was a very good start!

I was at an Argentinian restaurant so how could I leave without trying an empanada?!  I had the Empanada del Mar, which was filled with shrimp, scallops and tilapia, with red peppers and onions.  The filling was fresh and it all worked with one another.  It was a small tasting of the ocean on my plate.  My only criticism was the wrapper they used.  It didn’t give me the flaky pastry that I have come to expect for empanadas.  This was more of a wonton/eggroll wrapper that was deep fried.  Trust me, flaky (in a pastry) = goooood eating.

As I had no desire for anymore seafood or pasta at the moment, and I didn’t have the stomach for lamb that evening, I went with the chicken.  Thank goodness their chicken entrees were just as appealing and this one sounded just scrumptious!

Ruedas de Pollo: this was stuffed chicken breast with gouda, ham, spinach, mushrooms, and red peppers.  Served with these rolled chicken of yum, were julienned veggies and rice, all in “argentine” garlic sauce.

My goodness, that sauce was ridiculous.  The flavors were so intense that all I wanted was more of the sauce (even though there was a heavy hand in butter) and rice!  Mmm…so good.  The stuffing for the chicken was great, but the chicken was a little dried out.  However, given how good all the other components were, I could over look the dried chicken.

By this time, I was thoroughly content with everything I had so far.  However, during the entire meal, I had watch waiters walk by carrying a cake and I knew there was no way I would walk away without it.

This my friendly blog reader, is the Pastel de Banana.  A luscious banana cake with a whipped cream cheese frosting, in a pool of crème anglaise, and just because I had to go all out: a special request of a scoop of the vanilla bean ice cream.  The cake was truly a banana lover’s delight because it was packed full of banana flavors.  You could see the specks of the banana that was mashed in order to make this cake possible.  The cake was light and moist, which was not the case with the frosting.  Granted, it was a good whipped cream cheese frosting, but it made the dessert overall too dense.

This could be the dessert for someone, but I had my likes and dislikes.  The ice cream though was great and it really did help lighten the plate.  I really wanted ice cream so I asked our waitress nicely if I could get a scoop even though the dessert did not normally have it. So I ended the night on a wonderful note!  Thank you anonymous flight passenger who gave the suggestion!

This was my time out in Kansas City.  Although my time here was short, I made ever effort to eat beyond my limits.  As we have joked many times in our work: “If you can’t make the ‘cut’, you don’t belong on this team.”  Aka…if you can’t eat like a champ, then you will not last long with this group because we will put you right into a coma. 😉

Arthur Bryant’s BBQ
3 locations in Kansas City, MO

Garazzo’s Ristorante
Multiple locations: 2 each in MO and KS

Gates BBQ
Multiple locations in MO and KS

The Range (Harrah’s)
1 Riverboat Drive
North Kansas City, MO 64116

Piropos Restaurant

4141 N. Mulberry Dr.
Kansas City, MO 64116


Pampas Argentine Grill

A few weeks ago, I met CP for lunch and since he had a 1pm meeting, we decided to stay close to the Kearny Mesa area.  However, neither of us really wanted fast food and CP just had sushi the day before, so we racked our brains of where to dine.  It was CP who came up with the brilliant suggestion: “Why don’t we go to Pampas?”

I had never been to Pampas, but I absolutely LOVE empanadas so you can guess my reaction.  I believe it was somewhat along the lines of: “OH H*LL YES!”

We arrived at the restaurant off of Aero Dr just before the lunch rush.  In fact, there was only 2 tables at the bar at the time and so we were seated immediately.

I took a browse through the menu and I knew I wanted nothing more than empanadas!  Since I was not starving, I decided to get some empanadas to share with CP.  We ordered 2 different empanadas: chicken and spinach.  CP got one of the chicken and I got the other plus the spinach.

The empanadas were encased in a flaky pastry shell that were fried baked to order (Updated: I was kindly corrected by the restaurant and this actually explains the lack of oil when eating these pastries!).  I enjoyed looking at how empanada makers differentiate the pastries by how they crimp the edges.  The spinach edge looked like it was sealed with a fork, while the chicken was folded over to create waves.

The spinach empanadas were filled with a mixture of spinach (duh), onions, and parmesan cheese.  It was FILLED with lots of spinach and I felt stronger from all that iron! *FLEX* I think this was the winner between the two pastries.

The chicken empanada was filled with shredded, spiced chicken and onions.  It too was good, but the meat was not as flavorful as some empanadas I have had.  The chimichurri at Pampas was quite good.  Their version looked and tasted like a mix of parsley, garlic, cilantro lemon juice (or vinegar), olive oil and probably a couple spices.  Perfect companion to our little fried babies.

In addition to my fried lunch, I ordered the mixed salad to make myself feel like I had a balanced meal.  The salad was a simple mixed greens with red onions and tomatoes.  The dressing tasted like a shallot vinaigrette that made this very simple salad taste so good!  I would order this salad again just for the dressing.

CP ordered the Choripan sandwich.  The grilled choripan (Argentine beef and port sausage) was sliced in half and put between a French loaf.  The sandwich had the standard romaine lettuce, tomato, and red onions that were all topped with a health dose of the chimichurri.  I had a nibble of the sandwich and it was good, especially the bread soaked with chimichurri.  I don’t eat beef, so I let CP tell me how it tasted and he gave it 2 thumbs up!

The sandwiches come with a choice of a side and CP had the “Argentine” fries.  My first question to him was: “What’s this ‘Argentine’ fries?  Do they have some sort of special potato for these fries?”  It turns out what made these fries “Argentine” was that they were sprinkled with parsley and garlic.  Now of course my next comment would have to be: “Aren’t these just garlic fries then?”

Overall, I really enjoyed the food here.  The service was somewhat lacking since for some reason, it took them forever to get the sandwich out.  My thoughts are that the kitchen wasn’t ready when we had come in.  Yet, when we had arrived, it was about quarter to noon, so that would not make much sense.  Other than this, I enjoyed my time at Pampas, but just remember to leave yourself enough time for a long lunch here.

Pampas Argentine Grill
8690 Aero Drive Suite 105
San Diego, CA 92123


Lunching at the Farmer’s Market

My favorite Sunday ritual especially when it is sunny: wake up, go to the gym, clean up, and head down to the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market!

The Hillcrest Farmer’s Market is one of my favorites and I love buying fruit there.  It is the colors, the sounds, and most of all – the smells that keeps me coming back over and over again.

When I visit with CP, we will always (99%) have our lunch here.  What’s on our menu you ask?  Here is our favorite spread:

Tacos are a staple in our diets.  For CP – chicken, for me – al pastor.  Three corn tacos loaded with our selected meats, guacamole, cilantro, onions, and salsa.  Whenever I go to a taco shop or any Mexican joint and see “Tacos al Pastor”, I must have it as I am on the quest to find the best al pastor! It is a long journey…with many tacos to be consumed.  It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it!

A new addition to the spread are the empenadas!  I have stared at the stand that sells these (across from Charlie’s Best Breads) for sometime, until I finally decided to try them.  My first taste, I had gotten the chicken, spinach, and the cheese empenadas (3 for $5).  Now ever since my first taste, I realized that the chicken empenadas were “money”.

The shell is like a pastry crust, a little thicker and not really flaky.  However, it gives right away when you bite into them without fall apart nor taking my tooth with it.  Which is perfect because these little puppies are FILLED to the brim with shredded, spiced chicken.  Take their chimichurri and you have a samba in your mouth!

Pair this meal with horchata (for me) and fresh squeezed lemonade (for CP) and we have ourselves a wonderful picnic on the DMV lot!

Hillcrest Farmer’s Market

3960 Normal Street at Lincoln (Adjacent to the DMV)
San Diego, California 92103

Sunday: 9 am – 2 pm