Sunday, April 27, 2014

Robuchon this

I have wanted to dine at Joël Robuchon's Las Vegas restaurant since he appeared on No Reservations and Bourdain went all food-gasm over the mashed potatoes. Of course learning more about him and his restaurants only fueled my longing to visit.

I have discussed this potential dining adventure with my closest food friend and sarcastic master, let's call her Smegghen. She is my sounding board for most things food related. Neither of us would apply the term "foodie" *shudder* to each other, but we both like food and she tolerates my love for beef jerky, so we have that going for us.

The potential cost of this adventure had been holding me back. If you're looking at going full-bore with the 16 course degustation menu and before cocktails, coffee, or tip it's 435 American dollars. This is not easy money to part with. I could easily spend this money on a charity, feed a lot of other humans, or spay or neuter a few animals. (Seriously, whining about spending 5 bills on dinner at a Michelin Three Star restaurant is some prime-world problem shit and I am justifiably ashamed.)

Over the course of 3 or so years Smegghen slowly beat her point into my head that; this wasn't a meal. This was a life experience. Just like seeing your favorite band from the front row. She was right, so I finally took the plunge this past October.

Walking through the MGM Grand in a suit with a determined gait got me stopped three times by tourists.
"No, I don't work here but Ka Theatre is over there."
"No, I don't work here but the lion exhibit is gone. They replaced it with that atrocious nightclub thingy."
"No, I don't work here but David Copperfield? Never heard of him."
Then I arrived.

















The hostess was genuinely kind and I was led into a luscious dining room.

















Super comfortable velvet (I think) couches; my backside has never been so warmly enveloped yet firmly supported at the same time. When a female diner was seated she attempted to place her purse on the floor. The maître d' deftly appeared with a stool for her handbag.  A stool.  For a bag.  That holds stuff.

For a split second I thought about placing my wallet on the floor; just to see what would happen.


















The background music made me want to work up my piano chops. Effortless sounding and soothing without being drowsy.

William, the Advanced Sommelier, dropped off the 50 page wine list which included an eighteen-thousand dollar bottle from 1982. I ordered two.  William and I chatted for a moment. He was nice and very generous with his time to everyone.

The waiter came over to take my order and I immediately chickened out.
I went the 8 course route instead of the 16. Even if the portions are only 3-5 bites, this was still a lot of food and by the end I was thrilled with my decision.

But you begin with the famed bread cart. 

















20 varieties of bread baked daily. Each was pleasantly explained to me while I tried to remember what was what.  I opted for the bacon bread, mini-baguette, and rosemary brioche.  He took my selections to the kitchen to heat up. They came back toasty hot.


















The mini-baguette had a robust crust with a chewy crumb.  The bacon bread was earthy with no hint of grease. The crust of the brioche was delicate and flaky and as described, rosemaryish.  But well balanced and not overpowering.  


















The butter was served by first dipping two large soup spoons into hot water.  The heated metal was applied to a large block of butter normally kept under glass and melted it just enough to create the presentation in the image.  The olive oil is older than Christ and the salt came from a Russian mine guarded by 3 trolls who demand tribute in the form of original Olivia Newton-John fan art. Or I forget to write down the details of these two items.

The amuse-bouche was a spiced beet gazpacho with burrata to "awaken the palate." It was subtlety bright with a creamy touch.

















Carpaccio of red snapper with radishes and vinaigrette.

















Ever try to stab a round piece of anything covered in oil?  Whatever, it was delicious.

Time for a second serving of bread.  This time it was not heated in the kitchen and thus not delivered toasty hot. This obviously ruined the entire meal so I flipped over the table and walked out.  It was fine. But the expectations were set high with the first course of bread. This just didn't match that first experience. I'm not sure if it was a mistake or a standard practice.

Smoked and grilled black cod.

















Amazing. It fell apart into layers as soon as I touched the dish.  The sauce was slightly rich and almost overpowering but easily the best fish I have ever eaten.

Medallions of Spiny lobster in a wheat grass emulsion.

















This was my first experience with spiny lobster and I don't know if the tough chewy texture is normal but I didn't care for this course. It's probably my fault.

The Robuchon potatoes.

















Silk on a spoon. No lumps. Not a one. Nay, nay, nay.  There are many questionable things I would do to have these again.

Cheese and walnut raisin bread.
It was fine. I'm not a "cheese" person so this course was lost on me. Moving on.

Sugar sphere with Eye of Sauron.

















That's a seemingly perfectly round thin sugar sphere.  It seemed thinner than an eggshell yet sturdier.  You crack it with the side of your spoon or if you choose, take the bobbing-for-apples approach.  It releases a combination of a light blueberry puree with a sturdy cream that isn't as rich and sweet as ice cream but creamier than ice milk.  Kind of like ice cream flavored yogurt.  The crunchy sugar pieces from the sphere mixed with the smooth cream and blueberries made for probably the best thing I've ever put in my mouth.  I was filled with joy eating this.  I've never experienced anything like that before with food.

Then finally the mini-dessert cart with over three dozen different items.

















The photo isn't very good but there's everything from candy, lollipops, cookies, cake, miniature cheesecakes, and the list goes on and on and on.


















I opted for the raspberry and strawberry tartlets, strawberry cheesecake and something with coffee chocolate glaze and gold leaf. All were delightful.


Final notes.
The whole experience lasted two and a half hours.
Service lagged from time to time. Especially at the end when I was waiting for the check.
But I left emotionally altered. I was very happy and remained that way for hours. Was this the best meal I've ever had? No. The best meals are with friends and family.  But was this the best food I've ever had? Quite possibly.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Team Hidi 2.0

Shit got weird. 


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Conference this

They requested a conference call.
We didn't need a conference call.
I said; "Please send me an email of what you need and we'll take care of it. We don't need a conference call."
They requested a conference call.
That was this past Friday.

They really wanted a conference call that day.
We didn't need a conference call.
At noon on Friday they sent a meeting request for 4 PM.
They really wanted a conference call.
I accepted.
At 4:10 I hung up on the conference call because no one else joined the conference call.

They requested another conference call.
We didn't need a conference call.
I said; "Please send me an email of what you need and we'll take care of it. We don't need a conference call."
They requested a conference call.

I had a conference call today.
We didn't need a conference call.
They really wanted to have a conference call.
They told me what they wanted.
I said; "Please send me an email of what you need and we'll take care of it."
We had a conference call.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Dawgs lost and Grandma died

Fucking defense...

And Grandma, yeah...

She was my last grandparent to pass and she was my favorite. And yes, elevating a single person out above this small and limited group is a completely crappy thing to do. I love each of them. But she was. And she knew.
Not that she ever let on.

She was a simple person and that's the largest compliment I can bestow. She knew what was important and those things to me were; 1) People 2) Food. End of list.

She loved to cook. I don't know if she loved to cook because of the joy it brought the people who enjoyed her food or how everyone gathered and talked and laughed in the kitchen while she cooked. Duh, the latter. But her food was simple and divine. My love of food comes from her. Also, she made the best spinach salad ever. All other spinach salads committed hari-kari after tasting her spinach salad. I don't have the recipe and I don't want it. It wouldn't be the same.

Everyone ate in her house.  It always smelled of wonderful things baking, marinating, or simmering away. She knew how to work a four-top stove, double-oven and feed 30 plus people without breaking a sweat.

The way I remember their home is not so different than what my parent's house has become. A place full of love, a place to come together and eat and celebrate. But the latter comes with a slightly more judgmental attitude towards tattoos, religion, vaccinations and Apple products. (BACK OFF MOM AND DAD. THIS IS ABOUT GRANDMA, THAT WAS FUNNY, AND YOU SHOULD TAKE THE IDEA OF THE STATEMENT AS A COMPLIMENT. Plus you guys have come A LONG way in regards to alcohol consumption so we have that working for us.)

[I'm in so much trouble for the previous paragraph that I'm already dreading the next 5 family gatherings.]

I had my first legal beer with Grandma and Grandpa. We were driving through to spring break in 1997 and stopped on my birthday for a night in Sarasota, Florida. Grandpa opened the door hugged me and enthusiastically said; "Wanna a beer?!?!?!" with the best twinkle in his eye one could ever wish to see. If there was a contest for eye-twinkle Grandpa would finish third right behind Anne Hathaway and Dick Van Dyke from Mary Poppins. The beer was awful but I'll never forget the night Grandpa and I had a few beers.

Her name was Martha Mitchell and she was fiercely loyal and probably to a fault. She was beautiful and loved all of her grandchildren so throughly and so deeply that we probably each think we were her favorite.

Grandma, I love and miss you. "Pinch an inch and gain a mile."

And Coach Grantham, ABOUT. THE. DEFENSE...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Blow up this. (I'm talking about balloon NSA, back the F off)

Life has gotten almost back to normal and this past weekend was EXACTLY what I needed. No unpacking, no moving, no huge plans, just a few friends and copious amounts of laughter in New House. Also the temperature never even looked at approaching 80 degrees. A nice tease of fall if you will.

But it was 3 years ago this month that my association with the balloon industry came to a screeching halt. The convention I worked for folded a few weeks prior to the event. People were furious. Money was gone. Life-long friendships ended forever. It doesn't matter why it folded, it just did and that was very sad for a lot of people.

We had a good 7 year run. The Today Show even covered us one year. I had the honor of being in the room when we installed Jenna Wolfe into her balloon gown. CRUSH CONFIRMED.



So yes, I was crushed when I recently learned that Jenna plays for a different team and that she is also knocked up with another woman's child. I don't even know how that works. THANKS OBAMA.

But why a balloon dress? Because that year we threw the world's first balloon couture fashion show. DUH.


But each August, just before football season begins (Go Dawgs!), I end up flipping through the photos and video from 2003-2009. Those 7 weeks (over seven years) were some of the most fun I've ever had. Balloon people, decorators and twisters both, are the most delightful group of people you can ever be around. Balloon decor and twisting is just like Rule 34. If you can think of it, they can make it...out of latex. And helium. But due to the helium crisis, sometimes nitrogen. Or just air.

It's also during this time that I fell completely in love with Las Vegas. All of it. The Strip, Downtown, off-strip. A city based entirely on the hospitality (and gaming) industry. It's magical and I love it.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Manage this.

I've spent the week in West Virigina at the Oglebay Resort attending the International Association of Venue Manager's Venue Management School. Translation: 19 hours of formal classroom instruction, 2 hours of round tables (one of which I ended up leading), and 10 hours of studying in 5 days.
Some of the sexy topics included; Labor Relations, Event Production, Human Resources, Booking and Scheduling, In-House vs. Contract serices, Life Safety I, Financial Management I, Tenant Relations, Marketing/Advertising/PR, Stage Operations, Professional Ethics, Crowd Management, Developing Employee Potential, Facility Operations, Media Relations, Box Office, ADA Accessibility, Sustainability, and Customer Service. 


What sounds boring to you is mostly delightful to me. There's a phrase for this; "Venue nerd."
I'm coming home feeling like Neo in the Nebuchadnezzar's chair and after each session; I know more KungFu. This school is kind of an unofficial prerequisite for running your own building. You don't need to go through it to be a GM but it certainly helps.

Did I mention alcohol? This isn't a big secret but my industry REALLY likes the booze. "The Library" or resort bar is hopping each night with industry professionals getting their network on. Unlike most industry events I've attended over the years; the halls, classrooms, and The Library are always filled with laugher. This experience is mentally intense but injected with a good amount of fun. One class began with all 47 of us doing "I'm a Little Teapot"led by my GM. I'm not sure why she does this and she doesn't do it at the home office. But all walls were instantly destroyed and she had us in her hand for the next hour. Some instructors (read HUGE industry leaders and icon) mocked tables of studying students last night and told them to get to the bar. Studying? There was a test. But it was more of a no brainer and I understand now why we were told not to stress too much about it. The students attending year one are just incredible. They are no doubt the future leaders of our industry. Their jobs and what they've accomplished is amazing and impressive. By the way most of the attendees from Atlanta venues (Fox Theatre, Georgia Dome, Classic Center, Columbus Civic Center, and Cobb Energy Centre) are all on the same flight home tomorrow. So, think happy thoughts. I took the test a few hours ago and the results will be delivered in a few months. I'm fairly certain I passed but we afterwards we were all bitching about the wording of the questions. For those playing the home game, Oglebay Resort is in Wheeling, West Virginia which is some beautiful country and also home to Lady Gaga's parents. John Corbett and Joyce DeWitt are both from here too. The locals are proud and don't hesitate to tell you why this place is awesome.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Move this

February 2004 through tomorrow. That's how long we've been in this house.
It's a great house and I'm a little sad this is the last night.
Lots of wonderful memories here. Even more laughter.
And a few tears.

Thanks to anyone who ever visited.
Good run, house.

I can not wait to find the next house. The one with a playroom for Tess. The one with a place for me to practice after she goes to bed. The one we'll stay in for a long time.
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