Sunday, February 28, 2010

Welcome to Las Vegas

I arrived from a 3 day weekend trip to Las Vegas just a few hours ago. Sounds long but it really was short. My friend, Jessica, and I left Friday afternoon from Orange County and arrived just in time for dinner.

We stayed at her friend's place in Henderson which was about 10-15 minutes away from the bright lights of Vegas. Even before we arrived Jessica enthusiastically would bring up this amazing Thanksgiving Sandwich at this place close to her friend's place. There really was no real debate.. I had to try this sandwich.

The place is called Capriotti's.

The place was very small. No place to sit but a tall bar top to stand and eat. The menu seemed a little generic looking.

The three of us were hungry so we got one 9" sandwich called a Slaw Be Joe and the 20" Bobbie a.k.a The Thanksgiving Sandwich. We ordered and waited for about 10 minutes or so. Longer than I had expected a sandwich place to take. I took a photo of Jessica and her friend/our host, Mike.

Then I saw this:
Best of Vegas? Hhmm ok maybe there was some credibility to this place afterall.. We took it back to Mike's place and unwrapped our sandwiches.

The 20" looked pretty impressive. Closer look at the Bobbie and the Slaw Be Joe...

Thanksgiving Sandwich 2

Alright.. so it was pretty good. I don't think I've ever had a Thanksgiving Sandwich before. It had turkey, cranberry sauce, and big chunks of moist stuffing. The Slaw Be Joe had cole slaw and thick pieces of roast beef. Pretty good as well.

Jessica loves the place so much we ended up going back for lunch today before we headed back to the OC. This time I had the cheese steak.. which, sadly, I didn't take photos of. It was delicious. This is what I get for my laziness. But the funny thing is I had time to take photos of the Red Velvet Bundt cake they were selling. I had eyed them when we were in there the first night but figured it couldn't be very good.

After a second time in there.. I had to try it even if it was bad. The packaging was cute. Label of the company, Nothing Bundt Cake, was trendy.

How did it taste? As the Yelper's like to say, it was "Meh." It wasn't dry but it wasn't super moist like how I would like my red velvet cakes to be like. And the icing was SUPER sugary and almost grainy. I ate maybe half (it's maybe twice the size of a Sprinkle's Cupcake) and it's sitting in my fridge now. It had chocolate chips in it which made it strange for me. I'll probably finish it tomorrow considering my insatiable sweet tooth.

The next day Jessica and I spent all day eating and tasting. Our day started at noon so it actually wasn't the longest day but we did visit a number of places. For lunch we ate at the Grand Lux Cafe in the Venetian hotel.

When I asked Jessica (who had suggested the place) what kind of food they had here she said that it was similar to Cheesecake Factory. They had a HUGE menu.. yup.. Cheesecake Factory. I stared at the menu for a while then decided to Yelp it and see what people recommended. Before I knew it the waitress was at our table asking if we were ready. I picked the Grand Lux Burger Melt because it was the last thing I read.

I love a good burger but this would have clogged my artery had I finished the whole thing. It was juicy but really greasy. Overall, good! But next time I might go with something a bit lighter. Our next stop was Serendipity 3 at the Caesar's Place.

Serendipity 3

Maybe it's just me but the pink and orange decor was a little tacky to me. I've heard about the one in NY and that place seems more cozy and a hole in the wall kind of place. This one was ostentatious and bright... necessarily bright and pink. Don't get me wrong.. I love pink as much as the next girl but I just didn't get it.

We ordered the Frozen Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate.

Frozen Hot Chocolate

You can imagine my expectations considering I've heard so much about this legendary drink. This was my first experience and it was good. Not orgasmic... but just a satisfying good. Satisfied my sweet tooth and I will definitely get it again given another opportunity. But the thing with me.. is that I can't have any expectations or it'll ruin it for me.

Jessica had a ball. =) She was texting.. taking photos.. and Facebooking all the time capturing this trip.
We also visited the Bouchon Bakery and Jean Phillipe Patisserie in the Bellagio, but I took so many photos that it calls for another blog entry altogether.

To be continued...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death

Just finished watching the top 12 guys perform on American Idol. I probably racked up my minutes voting for Andrew Garcia but I don't care. He probably doesn't even need it.. everyone already loves him.

Anyway.. enough about American Idol (until tomorrow at least!)..

I saw this in the paper a week ago. Wallace and Gromit has another movie out and I had no idea!! I looked on Amazon for it but they only have it in the UK. =( Boo.. I really want to see it. Fitting that it's of baking.. =D

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hannah, the Model

Docks 4

Some weeks ago a friend of mine had asked me to take some photos of her for a profile picture she needed for work.
Hannah and I met up yesterday early in the morning and had breakfast at this cute place in Costa Mesa called The Side Street Cafe.

Side Street Cafe

What I love about this place is it's super homey feel. The menu is hand written and photo copied and the water is served in a glass canning jar.


Water cup

We sat outside in the gorgeous weather which we were fortunate to have considering it had just started raining the night before. I had the B.A.S.C Omelet (bacon, avocado, and sour cream) and Hannah had the eggs benedict.

Inside Omelette

Eggs Benedict

Inside Eggs Benedict

How did it taste, you ask?

Clean Plate

What do you think??

So after a delightful breakfast and catching up on drama in our lives we headed to Newport Beach for our photo shoot.

Now... let me remind you that I am NOT a professional photographer. Yes, I can take some good photos of food but people are a whole different ball game. I had actually asked a photographer friend and found a wonderful website that had A LOT of information about portrait photo taking and let me tell ya... just because you read stuff doesn't necessarily mean you know it. There were all these tips and notes I had in mind but it just fell out of my head as soon as I picked up the camera.

Brown House 4

One of the things I realized is that you have to make your subject feel comfortable. You can't just start snapping away hoping they'll know what to do.

Doorway 2

After a while I think we were just laughing at each other because it was so awkward! I'm not the best at multi-tasking especially when I'm out of my element and I wish I could have had the skill set to engage her so she didn't have to think about the camera.

For Fun 2

I took over 600 photos (many of them back to back to maximize the amount of clear shots in the midst of all the shakey ones) and I got maybe a dozen that were good in terms of composition and lighting.

Stairs 9

All in all it was a fun day. The photos turned out great and I had a lot of fun.

Stairs 2

Thanks for being patient with me, Hannah! Hope you had fun too despite the awkwardness!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Who Cut the Cheese?!

Beecher's Handmade Cheese

Beecher's. And boy does it smell goooooooooooooood.

For those who have been keeping up with my blog (yes, all 5 of you) should know that I recently came back from a trip to Washington State for work. It was my first work-related trip and it was really exciting and fun despite the incredibly tiring schedule.

Pike Place

The first day we arrived in Washington we met up with one of the owners, the general manager, and the executive chef of a restaurant in Silverdale, Washington called Silver City Restaurant and Brewery. The place was Beecher's Handmade Cheese.

Cheese Sign

Cheese Boards

We stood there getting sample after sample tasting some of the cheeses in their enormous selection. As a cheese lover I'm surprised I've never discovered local cheese even in Orange County where I live. I've always stuck with whatever's at the supermarket.


One of the workers very patiently and eagerly cut the cheeses for us describing each one and how it was unique.

Counter Girl

One cheese in particular was called Marco Polo Reserve.

Marco Polo Reserve

It has HUGE chunks of cracked black pepper in it and it was delicious!

Marco Polo Sliced

Right in the store they have this HUGE window where you can see them making the fresh soft cheese.

Cheese Maker

I guess it makes sense that they call it "Hand-made cheese" and they'd have people making them by hand for everyone to see.

Cheese Curds

The last day we were in Washington we made one more stop at Beecher's to buy some cheese to bring back home. I got about a pound of their 3 different cheese. We also had lunch there. Guess what we had... well, what else but a grilled cheese sandwich??

Grilled Cheese Sandwich


We also had their tomato soup and a couple of sodas. I had the ginger ale that was the most gingery ginger ale I've EVER had. Absolutely delicious.

Beecher's Lunch

Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Tomato Soup

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Food Porn

A couple of weeks ago I went to this food photography workshop at Checkers in the Hilton in downtown LA. It was called a Phototasting. This is definitely a phrase I haven't heard before. The three speakers were the bloggers of Rants and Craves, SinoSoul, and WeezerMonkey. In the intro they were saying that in other food photography sessions all the food was inedible. For our session, they had coordinated with the chefs at the Checkers restaurant, Todd Allison (right) and Dave Baker (left), to bring out a sampler of their Valentine's Day menu.

I don't know what you guys are thinking but I'm thinking these are some good looking chefs.

So.. the chefs created each of these dishes two at a time (two different platings of the same dish) and the attendees would shoot away at these beautiful... and fully edible dishes in which we got to taste after shooting!

Checkers' Valentine's Day Menu

Pork Belly 3

Pretty crowded. It usually takes me a full 5 minutes to try and get one decent shot all by my self. It was pretty difficult to maneuver around so many people. It was a humbling experience. I say this because I found it EXTREMELY hard to get good shots. I thought I had a good handle on my camera but as it turns out.. I pretty much don't have a clue to as what I'm doing.

You see, my normal set up is in a fully controlled environment with flood lights or in broad daylight right next to my window. These were not the ideal conditions. There were a couple of different light sources that created some odd coloring in my photos even with all of the adjustments I normally make. I got a few good shots in.. but in programmed mode. This is next to the Auto function.

Pork Belly



Food porn indeed...

The workshop was fun and the food was delicious. I met some really cool people and hope to cross paths with them in the future.

One thing that was really cool (for the lack of a better word) was that I knew Dave Baker, the sous Chef. I had worked with him about a year ago at a restaurant that the company I work with now (Chef Innovations) had helped to open called Prime Cut Cafe. The restaurant consultant that I work with, Kelly, had told me that Dave would be there after I had mentioned where the photography workshop was going to be held.

Lo and behold I turn around after one of the dishes came out and there he was standing in the back. I think I looked different than the last time we saw each other because when I walked up to him and stared for a few seconds he stared back with a bit of a "what are you looking at?" kind of look. Then he blinked and remembered my face. We caught up on what we've been doing and had a good long chat. He introduced me to the executive chef and also got a tour of the kitchen.

When it comes to restaurants and well known chefs, I don't know all that much. I still consider myself very much of a novice in a lot of ways. Here's the little I know about the Checkers restaurant. It was a restaurant that was made famous by the UBER famous chef, Thomas Keller. For those of you that don't know Thomas Keller... let's just say that he's the most famous American chef and with some stellar restaurants with high ratings. After he left the restaurant it sort of plummeted.. and now the restaurant has a new look with some great chefs behind it.

It was kind of crazy how big the kitchen was considering it was built in the 80's (I think). I really wish I had taken some photos of the kitchen! Oh well.

Pork Belly 2

It was so much fun and I definitely learned some new things.