Food has always been a passion of mine. Please join me as I hit spots around the world in search of great meals.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Latest D.C. Visit

When I head to D.C. to see my Lawyer and his friends (many of which I call acquaintances not to tarnish their political aspirations) I always take great pride in knowing nothing of which they speak. Like many parts of the world Washington D.C. has its own language, its own politics (taxation without representation), and its own way of life.

So when I found myself sitting with three Latinos eating lox-bagels-cream cheese, quiche pie, and some great tasting funky sausage (something like apple wood smoked turkey sausage or something like that) and fresh orange juice I could only think of Don King. Yep, that’s right; Don King would be quick to yell (not mumble or murmur) ONLY IN AMERICA!

The Food:

Of course M had me over just to chat and get caught up as to what was going on in my and my lawyer’s life. I’m sure when we walked in he could tell that not much had changed in our nightlife as we walked in a half an hour late and smelling like Tequila from the night before. So I’m sure he didn’t expect me to write about a quick brunch him and his wife put together for our visit, but the food was a pleasant delight so I figured I should talk about it.

I was rather surprised that my bagels tasted so fresh being that I’m a Manhattan snob and think that nothing can compare to NYC bagels…or those made by Jewish folks in Brooklyn. Then there was the lox which seemed fresh enough and I was told it was purchased at Costco…interesting. Fresh lox at Costco, I thought one is only suppose to purchase their lox from the deli. I never put onions and cappers on my bagels but I was in D.C. and when in D.C. do as the D.C. folk do (except for my lawyer who has some gag reflex when it comes to seafood). It was rather tasty and I must admit that the onions added a nice texture of crunch to something that would be rather slimy and smooth (i.e. the cream cheese and lox). The cappers added a nice bust of flavor although I thought that maybe too many flavors were taking away from the great tasting lox, but it worked for some reason…I will have to repeat this meal at home to see how it works, for one can’t be observing every bite at a friends home.

The apple wood smoke turkey sausage (or something like that) was rather tasty. Being that I love to eat such food I found them not to spurt with oil when I took a bite which was nice. I’m getting older and when the oil is spurting in your mouth you start to see visions of visiting doctors as you get older. They had a nice texture and weren’t over cooked which I find many people do with home sausage; I think this might be due to people growing up seeing sausage really burnt and eating it…people, sausage doesn’t have to be burnt to be cooked!!!

The Dialgoue:

Of course the discussion of the day was politics, mostly that of the West Coast politics. M was quick to point out some of the negotiations that take place behind closed doors…all the while not revealing any names. I guess this is kind of a code of silence people in D.C. take. I’m not going to say names, but I’m going to tell you some of the pieces and you can conclude your own theories, stories and put in whomever you wish. The game is fun and although I don’t know any of the players I take great joy in seeing people try and put the pieces together and eventually they will start to drop names for clues, but M was rock solid in staying pat on his words and this puzzle wasn’t completed. Only my lawyer saying, I know who you are talking about might have started to get names flowing, but I don’t think M was convinced and he stayed pat. I thought my lawyer was bluffing also because I have seen his face when he really knows who the participants are and he wasn’t strutting that face.

All this time M’s wife, who is beautiful and sweet as a Georgia Peach was laughing and asking who could be the sender of certain books. I really can’t expand here because the names of the people at the brunch should be concealed and this may give too many clues. But if you are giving a book to someone try and give a funny name of a person who it’s from. For instance, if you are giving a book about, Making a War on Fake Reports of Chemical Warheads…well you may want to address it ; From: Mr. Bush.

Of course when you are in a Latin home you need to have the dog incident. For those of you who don’t know, well every Latin home with a dog there is always this drama with the dog that puts everyone on tilt. This time it was the dog who managed to crawl under the fence and run loose out in the back alley…ahh! You have to love the dog drama and how at the drop of the dime everyone gets up from the table to go find the dog…too funny.

In closing, this visit reminded me about home and it was a great visit to get me ready for a visit home for the holiday season. Yes, home is where sitting down and talking is considered value time and one doesn’t have to be at the latest brunch hotspot and engage in pretentious dialogue. No, this brunch was about friends and acquaintances (I say this for my lawyer and M’s political aspirations) getting together to talk about some corporate issues, family, politics, and technology gadgets. It was just a nice break from the craziness that the East Coast exposes you to on the daily. I wanted to thank M and his wife for having me at their home and making me family for a day. And also for not holding back in their constant funny banter to up one another which was rather entertaining and fun to watch. I look forward to my next visit.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Review of 3950 by HumanHead

As aforementioned, I have taken it upon myself to post on my food blog those friends that are far superior writers to me. Thus, without further hacking at my keyboard I present to you the HUMANHEAD. I’m not sure his real name either to be honest, but he’s a great writer who I ran into a few times in Vegas for Poker…did I mention his wife is hot…but hands off fellas’ he is a big guy. In any case, I’ve posted his take on the fine Restaurant named 3950 that can found at the Mandalay Bay in Vegas. Enjoy!



It was the modernity of the place that initially intrigued me. The tables were set in appropriately sleek fashion, replete with a triangular stainless-steel type of plate. Hmmm, definitely unusual. Whereas most restaurants have their menus displayed for passers-by in the usual shadowbox, 3950 has LCD screens. While I prefer the more old-fashioned method of display, this was definitely a departure from the ordinary that grew my desire to see what the place was all about.

As our group walked inside I was a bit worried about our not having any reservations. We were informed that a table could be had in fairly short order, and would we like to have a drink at the bar? Why yes, we would. Can we smoke at the bar? Yes? Jackpot.


BG was nice enough to pick up the first round of cocktails, a favor that I’ll be sure to return on the next trip. Per usual, I went with the drink that is my personal measuring stick for any establishment, a Grey Goose martini, up, bleu cheese stuffed olives if you have them, and very fucking dry. Rachel also went the measuring stick route, which for her is a Cosmopolitan.

To the bartender, Chris, I must extend my effusive thanks.

My martini was perfect. Only the slightest hint of vermouth rode out on the back end following my first swallow, a beautiful thing. I was slightly amazed that they actually had the bleu cheese olives I desired, but the look on the bartenders face said that he would be shocked if it were any other way. I was additionally satisfied at the size of the drink itself, as nothing begins to kindle annoyance quite like paying $10-12 for a cocktail and finding that it’s no bigger than the drinks found at the most middle of the road places.

I would have to take my shoes off and then some to count the number of times that Rachel has ordered a Cosmo, only to find the resulting drink to be the color of cherry Kool-Aid and the consistency of Robitussin doing its damndest to drown the erroneously included cherry. Ugh. The 3950 Cosmopolitan, however, was a resounding success. A wonderful light pink in color with a lemon twist, it was deceptively gentle, just as a Cosmo should be.

As an extra bonus, while perusing the wine list BG found one of his favorites from his namesake vineyard, which the bartender promptly decanted so it had time to breathe before the meal. I don’t think that I was alone when I said a small prayer of thanks for knowledgeable and professional bartenders like Chris.

Try as I might to find something wrong, I just couldn’t. A perfect 10 for cocktails.


With cocktails winding down, our party was seated at the big round table that dominated the middle of the dining area. The aforementioned stainless-steel plates were promptly whisked away, which was mildly disappointing. I guess I will have to locate my own if I want that particular experience. Our waitress began by asking me what sort of water we would like and commenced rattling off the various incarnations of bottled, inevitably arriving at the lowly “tap.” In the middle of the water litany I heard “Fiji”, a favorite of mine, so I went with that. I thought that I was just ordering for me, but before I could correct anything, it was being poured all around. So, my apologies to the group for my mistake as I know that name brand waters, both in price and principle, are annoying to many.

I refrained from ordering any appetizers because, generally, I find that I can’t finish my entrée if I do. While everyone else ordered the appetizers they wanted, the bread arrived. The bread itself was nothing unusual, the typical collection of differing types of rolls and flatbreads, but one thing stood out. At the bottom of each basket was a hot stone, something that I have not seen anywhere else. While I’m sure that this isn’t the first restaurant to do such a thing, it was a pleasant surprise for someone like me seeing it for the first time.

My normal entrée measuring stick is a steak of some sort, and 3950 had a nice selection available. I went with the bone-in ribeye (as did about half of our party), while Rachel decided on the lamb. Unable to resist any longer I went ahead and ordered the Mac and Cheese w/ lobster and truffles to be brought out with our meal. We paired our order with a middle of the road Pinot Noir, a 2001 Martinelli.

As the food arrived, everything looked and smelled wonderful, as expected, and everyone dug in with little fanfare. Our pinot was medium in body and strength and paired well with our order, although it couldn’t lift the meat above what it was: Okay. That isn’t to say that it wasn’t delicious, I just wasn’t blown away like I had hoped. Being slightly underwhelmed with the meat, I ventured into combo bite territory, having a bit of steak with a bite of Mac and Cheese, a good combination that lifted my taste buds off of their even keel for a short while. Rachel reported the same with her order of lamb; very good but nothing absolutely special, which is likely obvious by this point considering the distinct lack of flowery adjectives in my description.

I originally would have gone with a 7 for this meal, but due to the wonderful 3950 Mac and Cheese, I feel compelled to bump it up to an 8. Please don’t read dissatisfaction into it. The meal as a whole was very, very good. I just can’t in good conscience call it “great.”

Service and Miscellaneous

Our group was about three quarters of the way through our meal when I found myself wondering why I hadn’t given the service any consideration. I didn’t need to. It was so good that I had failed to consider it altogether. Extraneous silverware was promptly removed, and water and other drinks never even got below the halfway mark in the glass. Appetizers and entrées were perfectly timed and coordinated. Waiters and bus-people were everywhere and nowhere, pulling off the feat of never really being seen but ensuring that everything was in its proper place at the proper time and that an enjoyable meal continued unabated.


I found the red leather chairs to be very comfortable for a long meal such as the one we engaged in, and even though it’s something I never would have considered, the purple velour booths surrounding the edge of the dining room seemed a perfect fit. Being someone that loathes sports bars in general, I found that the (42”?) flat-panel television in the bar area showing the Detroit Lions game didn’t seem out of place whatsoever, even though I would have probably fainted from the horror had I simply heard tell of it. 3950 managed to bring a lot of seemingly disparate things together into one very pleasing décor.


Dessert was about the same as the meal itself; very good but nothing completely stand-out. The presentation of the desserts ordered by the group, however, was absolutely beautiful and more than made up for what it may have lacked in substance or taste. So much so, in fact, I even took a picture, one of only five that I took for the entire trip.

Overall, I give 3950 at Mandalay Bay a solid 9. The décor was modern but intimate, providing a welcome respite from the rigors of the hard-partying weekend. The perfect service let us focus on the good company we had along with the meal, providing a perfect segue out of town for those whose time was up. Don’t bother coming here if you’re food budget frugal, but if you’re looking to spend on a really nice meal your money won’t be wasted here.

For more writings by the HumanHead visit:

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Reclaiming Sandwich

As most of you know, I’m a hack when it comes to writing about my food, poker and city adventures. Thus, I have started to post up guest writers on my food site. The problem with having friends that are great writers is that you tend to feel a bit dwarfed and humbled at your limited writing abilities. Yet, what I have come to do is value, appreciate and try to promote my friends gifted writing styles. With that being said, I welcome you to read a recent post by one of the more sarcastic, humble, and degenerate gamblers I know. He goes by the name of BG and he knows food, horses, bad break-ups (my sarcastic humor) and is an underground scribe whose real name I don’t even know…so without further ado, I present to you Boy Genius and his piece titled, "Reclaiming Sandwich".

On a recent vacation our somewhat sizeable group had a hotel ballroom commandeered, an open bar that covered nearly all available daylight hours, and that seemed to be just the tip of the iceberg.

See, I saw a white-jacketed man in a toque wander in and start lining up tables. Buffet line perhaps? I started putting the pieces together in my head and decided that the appearance of the man in the toque could only mean one thing: a roast beef carving station was soon to appear. I had probably eight cigarettes and three greyhounds for breakfast, so a lunch featuring even the fattiest, brownest, lowest grade excuse for beef was getting me excited.

I kept an eye out for the man in the toque as he continued to wander in and out, scoping the environment, doubtlessly doing the mental calculations necessary as to choose the proper number of plates, forks, knives, au jus cups and maybe even working up the mental schematics so as to not waste a single foot of extra extension cord for the heat lamps. Finally, he re-entered the room with a serving tray...

...full of finger sandwiches.

Setting aside my sheer heartbreak and abject disappointment for just a moment, is there an abomination more injurious to the noun "sandwich" than the effortlessly cobbled food service bullshit called the "finger sandwich?" While I'm sure there are legions of elderly women who frequent high-end teahouses who would disagree with me vehemently, I have personally never been in a position where the finger sandwich has ever been more than a limp-assed attempt at constructing a layered bread-and-food-stuffs product with nothing but the most inexpensive and grotesque materials the back of the fridge could produce.

When I hear "sandwich," I want to imagine a crusty Italian loaf bulging with Proscuitto and dripping with olive oil. I want to think about the Gorgonzola and alfalfa sprout sandwich on rye I had (toasted rye, with melted provolone, spicy mustard, tomato and cucumber too) from a long-since-closed deli years ago. I hear "sandwich" and I can picture a cheap diner French dip, or even a humble BLT on toasted wheat. I have a lot of love for the sandwich as a concept and in my reality. It's traditional, as humble as you please, and as gaudy as you wish.

This is why I feel wounded to the core inspecting the hotelier's offerings. White bread is the obvious base, and it wouldn't have surprised me to know that there was a clown depicted in some state of merriment on the outside of the plastic bag. Of course, the crusts were removed (if you can call the browned-but-indistinct outer hull of a Wonder-loaf "crust") as to not offend the delicate sensibilities of the unrefined palate. Squished between the slices we found two varieties. The first was a combination of what appeared to be strawberry jam and off-brand cream cheese. I offer a distinct congratulations to those that managed to eat one of these without landing a dollop of disgust upon their lap. The second was truly offensive. It featured the sort of prefabricated ham slice that was undoubtedly factory-pressed to the precise shape of the soon-to-be matched slice of bread. Presumably after all the packing gelatin had been rinsed from its chemically-enhanced pink, it was accompanied by a simple slice of American cheese and a slathering of Satan's instrument of colonnic destruction - mayonnaise. While the creamy jelly variety at least could point to a stripe of rich red color in the middle to entice, the bleached abject whiteitude of the bread seemed to wash directly with the similarly toned mayo to rinse whatever appeal may have come off the industrial-pink from the meatproduct, or the not-from-nature maize a knock-off Kraft single may possess.

It may seem as if I am asking too much of the free catering, but I assure you that is not the case. I'm an eater who tends to ask very little in the way of the high falutin' variety of goat cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes and shaved truffle garnishes. It is with shame, however, that I looked upon these sandwich imposters to find not a thing of interest. Is it so difficult to purchase a higher grade of bread than what you're feeding your toddler? Can you give your culinary audience credit for knowing that a true bread is meant to have a crust so rich and delightful that it may as well be called a husk? Are you so lazy and food cost stingy that you cannot approximate a meat, cheese or other filling product that did not come marked down from the discount bin?

On behalf of all those who went hungry instead of trading satisfaction for the sheer act of the chew/swallow, I demand in no uncertain terms that the word "sandwich" be removed from the descriptive title of your pathetic offerings. And bring on the roast beef.

For more posts by BG you can visit his site @