Mizumi Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas…. what a crazy, interesting, evocative, and mischievous place to visit. It’s one of my favorite places to people watch and remember why I am where I am now and not where I used to be. Brandon’s grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousin live in Summerlin, just outside of Vegas, and we were finally able to take a weekend trip out there to spend time together and with them. We had so much fun with everyone and it was truly the trip we needed to just get away and not work for a few days — both of us are complete workaholics. Spending time away gave me a really great appreciation for everything I do and reminds me that I need to keep my life outside of work a priority as well. Life is too short not to live it fully and enjoy and embrace the present moment.


Brandon and I had a really amazing evening out together and we shared a delicious meal at Mizumi in The Wynn hotel. It is a beautiful Japanese restaurant with a waterside view and an absolutely amazing ambiance. It’s been a while since I’ve eaten at or written about a restaurant of this caliber. It was truly a refreshing breath of air to see this type of service and particular care and attention to detail that Mizumi takes with each plate.
We started with drinks. I had a The Dream (champagne, elderflower liqueur and preserved edible hibiscus) and a Mizumi Cloud (lemongrass, yuzu, gin and ginger liqueur). Both drinks were delicate and flavorful. The slight sweetness of the elderflower liqueur gave the champagne a refreshing flavor. The Mizumi Cloud was sweet, but tart, and gave the gin an enlivening elegance.


We decided to get a selection of hot and cold items instead of ordering sushi rolls.


Shiromi Usuzukuri, thinly sliced white fish (snapper), ponzu, miso flakes, momiji oroshi, scallion oil


Yellowtail Sashimi and Jalapeño Gelée, crispy onion, cilantro oil, ponzu


Robata Platter, sea bass, organic Jidori Chicken, beef tenderloin, shishito peppers, shiitake mushrooms


Crispy Brussels Sprouts, toasted almonds, green onion, balsamic soy reduction


Hokkaido snow beef 5 Pieces 2oz Hot Stone

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Seared Foie Gras with Kabocha Puree, Micro Green and Pomegranate Salad, Chestnut Foam Pomegranate-Balsamic Reduction


Kurobuta Katsu Panko Breading, Apple Slaw, Curry Sauce and Tonkatsu sauce


Liquid Lemon-Yuzu Cheesecake, Graham Walnut Streusel, Sour Cherry Compote, Sugared Walnuts, Morello Cherry Sorbet


Mizumi Chocolate Mask, White Chocolate, Hazelnut Dacquiose, Chocolate Mousse, Praline Puffed Rice, Vanilla Ice Cream


Coffee and Espresso


Everything was delicious and presented so well with the descriptions given on each plate. My favorites were the Shiromi Usuzukuri and the Kurobuta Katsu, but everything was really fresh, executed with extreme attention to detail, and the service was impeccable. It was an evening to remember.


Another highlight of the meal was the Hokkaido Snow Beef. This beef is literally melt-in-your-mouth tender. You cook the snow beef table-side on a hot stone, so even when Brandon isn’t working, he’s still cooking on his night off.


This meal was everything that the decadence, details, and drama of Las Vegas could serve up and we were completely satisfied with our whole meal experience. It was truly a memorable dining event and I am so glad I could spend it with such a special person. We were also fortunate to go to see Le Rev at The Wynn after dinner, which was such a wonderful Vegas experience and our first Vegas show.  I am so grateful to have these memories to share.





Copper Top BBQ Big Pine, CA‏



On our way home from our winter trip to Mammoth Lakes, CA we decided to stop at Copper Top BBQ in Big Pine for lunch. My dad had been there before when he goes to Mammoth to fish with the guys for Opening Day. I feel so grateful for my family to have these amazing traditions that we continue to share together and with my nieces. We have been going to Mammoth in the summer my whole life, but going in the winter is a relatively new endeavor. My nieces love to play in the snow and experience the fun of winter and it’s always so gorgeous and just like home when we return to the mountains. I am so glad I got a few days to enjoy the snowy winter wonderland that Mammoth Mountain has to offer. Our trip went by quickly, but we are not used to the snow, so it was a sweet trip. We went sledding and played in the snow and I got some yoga in as well. The snowfall was tremendous and it was really beautiful to see such a blizzard, make a fire, enjoy great company, food and family, look at the icicles and wander around in the snow a little for a change of scenery.

We packed up and were on our way home with our usual stops in Bishop at Schat’s Bakery and Mahogany Smoked Meats, both of which, I would recommend you stop at if you like amazing bread or really delicious beef jerky. On Sunday it is pretty much a zoo at both places, so just a forewarning, but I still think it’s worth it.


Copper Top BBQ is a small shack of a BBQ place that’s about two hours away from Mammoth. The little shack has all outdoor seating with a small tent for a covered space, which we were able to snag a seat in. The menu is straightforward and the BBQ and smokers are outside in front right next to where you eat. You are pretty much watching all the food being cooked as you eat, which is pretty cool. There were a lot of travelers passing through eating here and the food did not disappoint. We ordered a Santa Maria Tri-Tip Sandwich, Adam’s Favorite Pulled Pork Sandwich (with coleslaw), a Half Rack of Saint Louis Style Pork Ribs along with potato salad, Fire Roasted Green Chili with beans, coleslaw and chips. It was definitely a feast. The tri-tip was delicious and tender on a pretzel bun and the pulled pork was juicy and flavorful with the added creaminess of coleslaw accompanied by the tangy bbq. The ribs were tender and very sweet with a spicy bbq sauce to balance it out. I really liked the roasted green chili with beans because it had a lot of flavor, garlic, and the beans were perfectly cooked. All the food was really well made, flavorful and seemed as if there was a lot of love and care put into this family-style place. It’s not easy having a restaurant and the Coppertop is doing it right, so stop by the next time you are in the area.


Delicious food and beautiful scenery looking over the snow capped mountains! I’m sure we’ll go back again. Thanks for the food and the amazing trip. I can’t wait to go back during the summer for our Fujitaki fishing extravaganza. Both seasons have their own majestic, magical and mystical moments in Mammoth — my home away from home.






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SC Prime and The Yard House, Summerlin, NV

We had plenty of delicious food while we were in Vegas, but there was one dish in particular that, if I didn’t blog about it, it would be a crime. On our last night in Vegas, Brandon’s grandpa wanted to take us to a nice dinner. He decided to make reservations at SC Prime in the Suncoast Hotel & Casino. The SC Prime is a gorgeous restaurant with a beautiful view. The décor is simple and elegant and the food is straightforward. A seemingly effortless endeavor was made by the waiters to make each and every customer feel welcomed and well taken care of.

I ordered the veal chop with mixed vegetables and pommes puree topped with chanterelle mushroom sauce. The veal chop was so moist and tender. I don’t often eat veal, but for some reason it caught my eye on menu and I decided to order it. I’m very glad I did because it was one of the best dishes I’ve had. Brandon had a really wonderful Chilean sea bass dish that was really cooked well. The fish had an outstanding crunchy crust and in the middle it was soft and tender. We really enjoyed our dinner. It was a brilliant experience.


Earlier in our trip, Brandon and I found ourselves at the Red Rock Resort roaming around because I’d never been there before. I enjoyed looking around and playing a little bit of penny slots. We decided to stop into The Yard House  I’d never been to a Yard House before, but it was a very interesting experience. Brandon and I had two different beer flights, which are small tastings of six different beers. Brandon had the Belgian flight and I had the house flight. There were lots of delicious beers to vary in flavor and richness. They have so many different types of beer on tap I don’t even think they count. There would always be something new to try and I love that. Both tastings had a good balance and we also ordered some truffle fries to go along with our beer. I liked the atmosphere and the classic rock playing in the background. The customers seemed to be well taken care of and our bartender was very polite. Overall, we had a great time sipping beer and enjoying each other’s company.


During our trip we also drove the scenic route of Red Rock Canyon to see the beautiful sights of the desert. I think natural wonders are always something to keep an eye out for on a nice trip.  There are plenty of hiking trails and stops along the route to look out into the mountains. It’s nice to take your time and enjoy the fresh air and unique rock formations.



Though I’ve been to Vegas many times, I’m always amazed by the new things that I see every time I go. I’m sure we’ll have another trip soon and I look forward to the new adventures ahead.



Family Dinner in Vegas with Sweets from Jean Philippe Patisserie

I love this time of year! It’s so busy and crazy, but there is just so much love in the air that it makes all the craziness worthwhile.  I just got back from an impromptu trip to Las Vegas with Brandon. Brandon’s family lives in the suburbs of Vegas, about 25 minutes outside of the strip. It’s nice to see the local side of Las Vegas instead of the normal craziness that ensues on the strip, although I do have to admit that we took a couple of quick strolls around down there to see what strangeness we could uncover and what restaurants were serving. Ever since our first trip to Vegas, probably about 6 years ago, we’ve always wandered the strip looking for new culinary inspiration. Some of the world’s top chefs have clumped together in that small strip of land, creating a culinary Mecca and once we get a pile of money, I’m sure we’ll try each one. Here are some previous dining experiences I’ve had in Las Vegas.

During this trip we took the locals route of eating and relaxation, which was all thanks to Brandon’s extremely loving and generous grandparents (Jerry and Carol) as well as his aunt and uncle (Daina and Mike) and cousin Noah. Brandon and I also got to put our cooking skills to use making dinner for the family at Daina and Mike’s house. I love family dinners—they are probably one of my favorite meals to cook because making food for people you love is one of the best ways of showing someone that you care about them.

Brandon and I took a trip with Grandpa Jerry to the local Albertsons and we started in the produce section like we normally would. I always like to choose the vegetables I want to make before the protein because I think, seasonally, it’s easier for me to make decisions on flavors from seeing produce. So we picked a couple of things and went on our way. I think initially we had two very different visions for what we were going to make, but we were ultimately able to bring together a delicious meal.


Ciabatta Crostini with Mascarpone, Mashed Cauliflower, Roasted Herbs, Garlic and Crispy Bacon

Ciabatta Crostini with Roasted Japanese Eggplant, Fresh Tomato, Basil and Sausage

Roasted Stuffed Chicken Breast with Button Mushrooms, Leeks, Thyme and Garlic

Panko-Encrusted Chicken Fingers

Whole Roasted Marble Yukon Potatoes with Herbs and Garlic

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Zest, Chopped Parsley, Garlic and Thyme

Pan-Seared White Zucchini and Japanese Eggplant with Basil and Cracked Pepper

Arugula and Baby Romaine Salad with Fresh Tomatoes and Cucumbers, Sausage, Bacon and Honey Dijon Balsamic Dressing


Brandon bought some beautiful pastries from Jean Philippe Patisserie. He bought a nice variety of chocolate cake, pumpkin cheesecake, flan, and hazelnut chocolate cake. The Pastry shop is located in the Aria Hotel on the Vegas Strip. They have an amazing variety of gorgeous beautifully sugary deliciousness. I suggest you check it out for yourself.





Village Café in Bishop, CA

On our way home from Mammoth we have some mandatory stops to make. Most of the time we have to get gas for the ride home, so we stop at an Indian reservation that has a casino on its land and a gas station to fill up. My mom puts in $5 at a slot machine and tests her luck and then we’re off to the next stop. My brother and dad like to get beef jerky from Mahogany Smoked Meats and we get cheese bread and raisin bread from Schatz bakery. This time we also stopped for breakfast at the Village Cafe in Bishop. The Village Café is a strange place off a dusty road and they are only open five days a week from 7 a.m. till 2 p.m. with the exception of some special days of the month when they may be open for dinner, but you’d have to stop by to know.

The Village Café looks like it was formerly someone’s home. The structure is almost that of a single-story house where you’d be eating in the den of grandma’s country-style flat. My dad jokingly said the bathroom is down past the living room where they’re watching TV, make sure to say hi as you pass by, and honestly it looks like that. Small town folks trying to make a living rustling up some grub—I like it.

So as we all arrived, we had a sampling of many items off the menu. I ordered grilled pork chops with home fries and eggs over easy, with gravy on the side and a biscuit; my mom had corned beef hash, which came out burnt so they had to make another one; my dad had a delicious ham steak, eggs and potatoes; my brother had French toast; my sister-in-law had lobster eggs Benedict; and my grandma had eggs with a biscuit and gravy.  I really enjoyed my pork chops; they were lightly floured and cooked on a flat top and the gravy was good, but I’m glad I got it on the side because it would have been way too much if I hadn’t.

The wait staff and everyone in the restaurant were so nice to us, always checking that we had everything we needed. It was really an enjoyable breakfast before the long ride back to Los Angeles.



The Stove; Mammoth Lakes, CA

Mammoth has some quintessential eateries that frequent visitors are sure to know about, one being The Stove. The Stove is known for its country-style old ways and is almost always packed, no matter when or what time it is. They have homemade pies, large waffles, scrambled eggs and every other breakfast thing that you’d normally see, but this time we didn’t eat breakfast there, we opted for dinner.  Sometimes I have qualms about eating at breakfast places for dinner, well most times, but my brother insisted this is where we needed to go, probably because the $14.95 prime rib dinner was definitely calling his name.

Because we knew this place would be crowded, we arrived a little before the restaurant opened for dinner at 5 p.m.  We made the correct assumption because three other cars soon followed us into the lot and as we stood in line, we took a couple of pictures of the beautiful surroundings to pass the time. As five o’clock quickly approached, the line began to grow steadily and we were sat by a nice hostess. Our waiter came over, got drinks and brought us a crumby mess of dry cornbread and muffins to the table; not my preference, but somewhat rustic.  We glanced over our menus and decided on prime rib being the ideal dish for me, my brother, mom and dad. My sister-in-law had chicken fried steak and my grandma had liver and onions. I don’t know who orders liver and onions when they go out, but that was a mess of a dinner if I ever saw one. Lesson learned: don’t order liver and onions again, Granny. Our prime rib came out tender and juicy. I had red potatoes and mixed vegetables with mine and we also got a dinner salad.

As the restaurant continued to fill up, we were glad we came in early. For the most part, our food was pretty good and a hefty portion for anyone to put down. My sister-in-law loves desserts so she ordered an apple bread pudding with whiskey sauce and ice cream, on the recommendation of our waiter. It was really delicious and a very large piping hot portion.  Dinner at The Stove with the family was home-style and comforting, one of those stick-to-your-ribs meals you enjoy every now and again.



Mammoth Lakes 2012

Mammoth Lakes is a place I never tire from visiting. Throughout my life the anticipation of returning to this majestic platform of nature’s daily miracle always carries me through to another year. For as long as I can remember, my dad has visited Mammoth at least once or twice each year. Mammoth Mountain is located in the Eastern Sierras of California, just outside of Bishop and towers at an astounding 11,060 feet above sea level. This mountain is known mostly for its snow sports and winter wonderland activities, but our family has been enjoying the wonders of summer in the wilderness for many years. We don’t camp—we stay in a condo with full amenities including pool, Jacuzzi, steam room, ping pong table, and pool table, so it’s definitely not wilderness all the time.

Lake Mary with View of Mammoth Mountain

 Twin Lakes from above

Twin Lakes from Below

Convict Lake

I’ve always enjoyed fishing. Though I might not be the greatest fisherwoman, I can still show up, cast out and catch some fish, which is what we often do while we are in Mammoth. Aside from this large mountain that most people know about, Mammoth is situated amongst many lakes, ample hiking trails, bike paths and so much scenery that your eyes are sure to find something new each trip.  I never tire of the beauty that unfolds in this stunning place. This year we were caught in a couple of strange thunderstorms, which made for some of the most breath taking and fierce sights I’ve seen in a long time. The claps of thunder and the swells of rain were something we’ve rarely experienced on our trips in the summer and though it may have taken us off the lake and away from the fish, it gave us some much needed relaxation and togetherness.

Lake Mamie

Lake George

I’m so grateful to all my family for being able to show up and be together, even as we grow older and time is scarce. It’s nice to know that we can still come together and remember what it was like to be little kids fishing together and joking around. We are also introducing the next generation of fishing fanatics to the sierras; my niece Maleeya was out around the lakes exploring with fresh eyes and that’s always a beautiful thing to see.  So between fishing with mom and dad, exploring with Granny, Maleeya, my sister, and my brother-in-law, as  well as hiking to unknown waterfall territories with my brother and sister-in-law (check out her blog at fabliss.wordpress.com for her awesome Mammoth pictures and food photographs), we ate delicious food, enjoyed each other’s company, caught our limit of fish, and had a wonderful time in the mountains.

Sunscreen and set up key to a successful day of fishing

While we were there, I enjoyed packing sandwiches and making dinners and breakfasts for everyone, but we also stopped into our usual places, which are written about in these entries from last year.

On our trip this year we were able to stop by Mammoth Brewing Company: a crowded and vivacious place where people were standing in lines to get a tasting of what they had to offer. The set-up is really quite interesting and I’ve never been to another place quiet like it. The outside looks like a warehouse—you have to keep your eyes out for the place, but most likely there will be people outside.   My sister-in-law, brother, grandma, dad and I all went in for a beer tasting, which was definitely a deal. For $4 you can sample nine beers. They range from all different types of beers (light to dark) and finish with a house-made root beer. If you can make your way up to the bar, you’re greeted by very kind bartenders and can start your tasting. Overall, I really enjoyed the IPA 395, which everyone else thought was pretty rough, but I loved the earthiness of the beer and you could really taste the sage and juniper. So as we sampled we had a lot to choose from, but for the five of us to enjoy an hour of fun for only $20, this was a bargain for Mammoth. You can also purchase growlers and kegs, as well as take home bottles of your favorite beers. I’d definitely recommend stopping by if you’re up there, just don’t be in a hurry and relax.



Sweets and Drinks in Vegas

Sin City has its alluring qualities and flashy devilish charms, but hidden amongst the countless yards of alcohol and not so flattering clothing choices, are the sweet and deliciously decadent, which my boyfriend and I found on our trip around the strip. Brandon is the first person I went to Vegas with after I turned 21. We were freshly friends on a mission to seek out some delicious inspiration and new restaurant ideas for growing chefs in a new place. Since then, almost five years ago, one of my favorite pastimes in Vegas is restaurant menu searching and eating.

Our adventure to Vegas was filled with fun trips to different casinos to see menus with seasonal inspiration. On our way around, we decided to stop at a really amazing sweet shop at the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace called Vosges Haut-Chocolat.  Every time we go here, there’s always some new and interesting combination of flavors that I need to try and also, some that I always go back to. We looked around for a while, and finally decided on a box of truffles, white chocolate lavender hot coco mix, and chocolate toffee.  The truffles were fantastic, the toffee was eaten before I had any and I could pass on the lavender white chocolate because I’m not a fan of lavender, but it was still pretty delicious.


Later on in the evening, we met up with some of my friends (Thomas and Joanna) for a couple of drinks and another walk along the strip.  We walked from Excalibur down to the Cosmopolitan, where we had drinks at Bond . The Cosmopolitan is one of my favorite hotels in Vegas. If you’re lucky enough to go there, I’d say it’s something to behold— interesting, chic, modern, and beautiful—and this bar was all those things and more. Bond has an interesting combination of stylish modern cocktails or a standard stiff drink.   As we sipped wonderfully well-made drinks with good company, I couldn’t help but think how awesome my friends are.  I had a Berry Long Island and Brandon had a Lemongrass Ginger Kamikaze; both drinks were strong, but still light and flavorful, with fresh juices and high quality liquors.

The trip was one of the best I’ve ever had and I’m sure we’ll have more great adventures in Las Vegas to come.



Mammoth Eats: Roberto’s

Hidden amongst eateries of all sorts, though not known for its culinary successes, Mammoth plays host to a few gems along the way; one of these fine places is Roberto’s Cafe. I’ve written about this Mexican food before, but I figured a couple more pictures for good measure wouldn’t hurt. Roberto’s is a staple that we tend to indulge in every trip to Mammoth. There’s nothing like a nice burrito or taco after a long day on the lake, but the margaritas make it even better.
On this trip we decided to get out of the snow and make our away from a very disappointing experience to something we knew was going to be good. My brother, Kyle, and sister-in-law, Viet-Linh, were most inclined to find a good meal and something to quench our thirst. We decided on a pitcher of margaritas, which was called La Bamba, while watching the football game in the cantina. The margaritas were wonderfully potent with just the right mixing to make you feel warm and toasty inside, despite the blizzard outside. A delightful scent and flavor of Grand Marnier finished the pleasantness of the overall drink.
After we indulged in chips and salsa and our margaritas, we found ourselves looking over the menu. Kyle and Viet-Linh shared the El Jefe burrito, consisting of shredded chicken, potatoes, cheese and beans, all rolled in a flour tortilla and topped with more of the burrito stuffing. The burrito was huge, delicious and very juicy from all the tender chicken. I ordered a combination plate consisting of a pork tamale and beef taco. The tamale was perfectly moist and topped with a delicious red colorado sauce and some cheese. The beans and rice were tasty and the taco was fried well. Overall, a very delicious and hearty meal for the long winter afternoon.
There’s nothing like tequila and tortillas to brighten up any blizzard.

Mammoth Eats: Giovanni’s

As we entered town after the long drive from Los Angeles, we decided we needed to kill a little bit of time before we were able to get into the condo and unload all of our things. So we made our way up to Twin Lakes and saw the first snow falling, before the snow storm started to gain momentum. It was such a beautiful and breathtaking moment to see something that I normally see, but in such a different light. With all the cold browns and harshness of the trees’ leaves swept away by the storm’s cold icicles, the lake lay dormant with a layer of hard ice beginning to form at its surface.  As we threw snowballs at each other and took pictures in the windy cold, we definitely built up an appetite. This was the perfect time to head back into town and warm up.

In a shopping center alongside a Vons grocery store and a movie theater, is a small, tucked away pizza place called Giovanni’s. It serves delicious pizza pies and is home to the Mammoth-sized pizza (19-inches across). My family has enjoyed many fond memories here, all while growing up. When we entered Giovanni’s we were cordially greeted as people coming from skiing and snowboarding quickly filled the establishment. We sat down and decided on a pizza topped with Canadian bacon, sausage and roasted red peppers with thick crust and spicy tomato sauce. Delicious. The crust is crispy and chewy and the sauce has just the right amount of heat. After a couple bites of a small dinner salad, which I have to pair with pizza, and some pepperoncinis and parmesan cheese, we devoured most of the pizza with the premise of leaving a couple of slices for a midnight snack.   Our service was cordial and not overbearing, just like most things in Mammoth. Enjoying delicious pizza and an amazing view of Twin Lakes with my brother and sister-in-law, made for the perfect beginning to our Mammoth trip.