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

IMG_9761 IMG_9759 IMG_9757 IMG_9753

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.





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.



Las Vegas: TOOL, Va Bene Caffe and Estiatorio Milos

I don’t know how to explain the magic that is TOOL live. It’s a complete experience that transcends me beyond what I think is honest and real, into the purest sense of reality without hesitation. My best friend, Virginia, and I traveled from the center of downtown Los Angeles to Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas, NV 1/15 Sunday afternoon, just in time to see our 8:00 p.m. show. Pressing our luck with time, nothing would stop us from getting to our destination to have our souls shattered open by the vast depths of the music that is TOOL. I’ve been listening to TOOL for a huge portion of my life and have seen them in concert once before in ’07 in Los Angeles. I was completely open and in the whole experience for those precious moments that never fail to show me something I’ve never felt before. There’s no way I could tell you how much this meant to me and what it’s done for my mental sanity.
Set List
Hooker With A Penis
Ticks & Leeches
Schism (Extended Intro)
Forty-Six & 2
The Pot
While in Vegas, of course we had to partake in at least one amazing meal or else it would have been a loss of a great culinary experience. I love Vegas; not for the other sin city attractions, but for the food. My first after 21 Vegas experience was the most amazing time filled with lots of brilliant food and great menu scouting all up and down the strip. My favorite part of Las Vegas is the food and the amazing ideas that come along with it. Virginia and I roamed the strip looking at all the gorgeous attractions that make up Vegas. All the glamour and glitter worked up quite an appetite.
As we walked through the Bellagio, The Cosmopolitan, and Aria, we found ourselves taking extra time in The Cosmopolitan looking at the beautiful chandelier bar and in between window shopping we decided to stop over to Va Bene Caffe for a coffee and a sweet snack.  I had a cannoli and Aranciata, which is an Italian orange beverage that I’ve loved for years now. The cannoli was a little sweeter than I normally like, but the texture of the ricotta and the slight citrus flavor in the creamy center, with a perfectly crunchy shell and chocolate dipped sides with pistachios made my mouth water–a delicious decadent snack.  After walking around taking in the vast and lavish sights that are sin city, we decided to finally stop for lunch.
Virginia found a teleprompter, which gave us listings for restaurants in The Cosmopolitan and we decided to check out Estiatorio Milos. Milos is a stylish and classically chic restaurant with a beautiful color palate of woodsy browns and beige tones. The architecture of the restaurant is something to be seen; the center dining room overlooks the main focal point, the open kitchen in the corner, which has a large display of fresh vegetables and fruits, then on large piles of crushed ice, is the freshest fish that you could ask for, all decoratively placed with precision. The style of food that Milos offers is the freshest fare possible, with Greek influences and Mediterranean flavors. My passion for Mediterranean flavors is an ever expanding bank of culinary knowledge. I find it fascinating, elegant, truthful and pure in so many of its forms. This was probably the highest form of elegant Greek food I’ve ever had and that in itself was an amazing experience.
We eagerly perused the menu, which was in the set of a 3-course prix fixe, where you have the choice of one, amongst a wide variety of each: appetizer, entree and dessert. Virginia is a pescatarian and there were plenty of amazing options for her to eat.  She chose the Greek Meze Plate for her appetizer, which came with three varieties of spreads, pita, kalamata olives, and cherry tomatoes. All the spreads were topped extra virgin olive oil from Greece and were very fresh and delicious.
Htipiti: Red pepper spread – a chunkier, fire-roasted red pepper flavor with bold notes of garlic and lemon
Tzatziki: cucumber and herb infused white cream  spread – completely smooth and pure white, which tasted just of cucumber and perfect seasoning
Tarama: Fish roe with caper spread – slightly fish fragrant flavor spread with salty capers
Seared scallop with a salad of orange, fennel, red onions and Greek olive oil
The scallop was seared to perfection–that still opaque center with perfect grill marks and the best seafood flavor and texture possible. A slight seasoning highlights the true flavors of the scallop in a perfect way. This dish was a simple and to the point scallop preparation with scrumptious results.
Tuna Burger with fried zucchini and aioli
The tuna burger was not your run-of-the-mill option. The tuna was high quality and masterfully seasoned with Asian flavors such as soy sauce, ginger, and orange. The burger was topped with small ribbons of red onion and fennel with a toasted sesame seed bun. A wonderful run of textures concluded on your pallet when biting into this whole concoction.
Lavraki: Grilled Mediterranean Sea Bass
This bass was a flawlessly prepared whole fish. The seasoning was a triumph and the expertly cooked flesh of the bright flavorful fish was beyond explanation.  One bite and that kind of sigh of happiness comes over your body as you realize you have a whole plate to go. There’s something about whole fish that just makes sense; it takes the simplest idea and perfects it with capers, olive oil, and the brightness of lemon. I thought to myself, ” I could eat this my whole life”, as I finished the body of the fish, combing over the crunchy collar pieces and plucking out the succulent cheek flesh for the last bites as a savage carnivore. I found myself in the presence of collective genius.
Walnut cake with mint sorbet
A moist brown cake with lots of walnuts, seemingly light and dense both at the same time, was placed in front of us for our enjoyment. The mint sorbet cleaned the pallet and added a refreshing element to the cake.
Yogurt Martini
Sweet, creamy yogurt topped with passion fruit preserves, offering a mouth-watering and luscious way to end a fantastic meal.
Throughout our meal, we shared sentiment and quiet moments with delicious food, not to mention phenomenal service from wait staff and kitchen staff at the top of their game at a moment’s notice. Though we were in for a late lunch, we were taken care of as if we were the first guests to arrive–with precision and grace. I’m so glad that we were able to experience this incredible meal together. Virginia is a gift in my life and I’m so blessed to be able to share these phenomenal moments with her.

Chateau Night Club, Max Brenner, and Il Fornaio Las Vegas, NV

As our evening progressed and I departed from my CARNEVINO experience I walked the rest of the way back to my hotel where I was to meet the ladies for our evening out amongst adults. I got back to an empty hotel room and  was met by my friends, we drank mixed cocktails with more vodka than mix and got out on our way. We stopped and said hello to my friend Michelle who was also in Vegas with some of her friends and then went off to the Cosmopolitan Hotel to the Chandelier Bar  We decided that it wasn’t probably the best suited for our dire need to dance, so we went back to our hotel and up to Chateau nightclub and garden . We danced the night away. After that Katie and I ventured out for early morning junk food and slots. People watching and hiking the Vegas strip finally around 530 in the morning we were back and in bed for the sun rise.

Michelle and I

Me, Katie, and Hollee

Dance Party!

Still full and probably a little tipsy, we woke up and checked out of the Paris Hotel. Slipped on some bathing suits and headed to the pool for a while. During which time Katie’s cousin went to visit with her uncle and grandfather after we took in enough sun and popped in the pool a couple of times, we decided to walk over to Ceasers Palace for lunch.

We walked around for a while trying to decide where a good place to eat would be and finally we came to Max Brenner a cute little crazy candy shop which also serves food from brunch to dinner. The menu covered a wide range of things from salads to pizzas burgers and sandwiches which were perfect for lunch. The menu is pretty extensive with lush desserts and any kind of coffee/sweet drink you could imagine.  But most of all the restaurant itself was adorable. Beautiful crazy decor everywhere with accents of fresh chili pods, cocoa beans, coffee, and chocolate everywhere. Think Modern day stylish Willy Wonka.

Look at this salt and pepper! adorable

We decided on

Greek Style Cucumber Salad which included
Feta, red onions, tomatoes, olives, hummus crustini and red-wine vinaigrette
This salad was simple and presented well. The dressing was tangy and delicious and the pile of cucumbers on top was seeded and crunchy in a spinach based salad, basic and done well.

We also had Sliced & Diced Steak “Pillow” Panini certified angus beef
char gilled & thin sliced skirt steak tossed with diced caramelized onions on a bed of asiago cheese crisps. baby spinach, roasted tomatoes, red pepper aioli

This steak sandwich was very good. The meat was chopped very fine but still tender and as it melted in your mouth. The aioli as well as the tomatoes left a very sharp spicy roasted flavor that the meat played well with and the asiago cheese crisp gave a crunch to the sandwich that just made it better than I thought. I also really enjoyed the bread homemade pickles on the side and waffle fries. Presentation on the plate was really cute served on a cutting board with the fries in a glass.

The service was sweet and to the point.

I wanted dessert badly but too much of a good thing is always the case; I’ll definitely have to go back for a latte and dessert sometime.

Katie and I then played some slots in Ceasers and waited for her cousin. We roamed around Vegas for an hour or so visiting the Bellagio which is gorgeous and then the girls were off back to the valley by that evening.

I met up with some other friends who were visiting in Vegas as well, Jeff, Jabari and Valinda, and spent the rest of the evening with them.

After relaxing in the condo with friends having a couple of beers and hanging out we finally got out to the strip. Valinda was in search for french onion soup so we went back to Paris Hotel only to be disappointed because it was so late that no one was really open. So we decided to give up the search and head down to Excalibur and then walk over to New York New York to see what they had to eat. So after circling the casinos a couple of times and the angst of hungry people we finally found a restaurant that was open.

Il Fornaio

The restaurant was large and we sat on a type of patio. Wouldn’t you know it the only place open is Italian. I knew off the bat pretty much what I wanted from a place like this. Il fornaio is a chain of restaurants open in a lot of different parts of California and other states. The atmosphere was nice with linen on the tables and balsamic and oil with our bread. I ordered a Calzone. I love Calzone’s this one was very nicely done with ricotta cheese, mozzarella, ham and mushroom and tomato sauce. For what we were up against in our late night battle for dinner this was perfectly fine by me.


A last my final meal in Vegas. What an amazing trip. I’m so glad I got to be with such awesome people and that we were all together at some point in time. I can’t wait till my next visit. I hope this inspires you to go out and try something else.

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The Paris Hotel and CARNEVINO Las Vegas, NV

After I finished putting the last punctuation on my last blog I took off to a dear friend of mines house as we prepared to go to Las Vegas. Our trip was filled with lavish drinks, dancing for hours, roaming the neon lights by the falling and rising sun. I even took a little gamble myself. I’d say I probably broke even on the food I chose but lost a couple of dollars along the way. Here’s my little get away, the food and the fun.

We left the valley at about 1230 to get on the road my friend Katie has a beautiful 18 month old son who was staying with his grandmother for the weekend while we had a little adult time. I believe fullheartedly every mother needs a good second hand every once in a while so they are able to have time to themselves, though I’m sure she was thinking about him the entire time. That’s what a good mom does. We drove up about 5 ½ hours and we were arrived at about 6 pm. I drove into the city to our hotel resort which was the Paris Hotel centered in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip. We checked in and were on our way up to our room on the 7th floor. We had two queen sized beds and a beautiful view of the pool and Eiffel Tower they contrasted to build this French dream.

The ladies were off to take a trip to visit their uncle so I had a couple of hours to eat dinner. I dine solo on occasions, it gives me the time to think about what I’m eating but solo dinning isn’t for just anyone. There are pros and cons to anything, as is such for eating alone. I love sharing the food experience which is why I blog but eating with others is also an experience you can truly see what candid expressions and thoughts are of the other people you are eating with. But I decided that this trip to Vegas might be my chance to reacquaint myself with some Italian food. If you know my past experience as Executive Chef you know I worked for a Northern Italian Cuisine for over 3 1/2 years and so I have a very high expectation of Italian food and for the most part I cook it on my own. I still can’t bare to buy a plate of pasta, I don’t think I’ll be able to really anywhere but there are some things I just desire which are mostly Italian cured meats, thin style Italian pizzas, calzones, aged balsamic and Sicilian Extra virgin olive oil. If I had a pizza oven at home and a fridge in my garage believe you me I’d never have to go anywhere for Italian food except if your Italian grandma was making me something to eat or a couple of other people I know. But I decided to give Vegas a chance to change my mind and to tell you the truth it didn’t!

After the girls headed to visit with relatives I lounged in the hotel room stretching my legs from the lengthy car ride took a hot bath and got ready. I walked from Paris where we stayed to the Palazzo where I decided to have dinner. There are always so many places to go in Vegas, I get overwhelmed but I have passed by CARNEVINO many times and thought it might be a good choice. This is Mario Batali’s Steak House in Vegas. I love the concept of and Italian steak house it is one of my ideas for future restaurants.   While I wasn’t in the mood for a 51 dollar Bone in New York Strip Steak I wasn’t expecting service from any old restaurant either and unfortunately the latter is what I got.

I walked in to CARNEVINO a lavish and brilliantly built gorgeous restaurant. Low lighting and tond of people were keeping me from seeing the intricate details of the lay out of the restaurant.  There were people waiting outside and the bar and restaurant were very full I kindly asked the hostess for seating for one she brushed me off and said its first come first serve in the bar. Okay sure no problem its Saturday Night no reservations I was expecting about that. I rushed over to a seat thinking on my way out I’d be able to look around the dining room. Good hostesses are hard to come by I guess even in Las Vegas. So I sat myself in the bar at a small table people watching and looking over at all the noisy slots of the casino, I finally felt like I was in Vegas. My waiter approached me after about 15 minutes but still I wasn’t upset I was having a good time looking at the restaurant. I was asked if I’d like a drink I promptly asked for menus and a minute to decide. Looking over the menu of this restaurant is mind blowing. The amount of effort that goes in the type of wine list this place has compiled is brilliant. Those details are the things I wish to remember. The food menu was simple creating classic dishes from around Italy and also providing a large selection of high grade meats and other menu additions. I was also given a bar menu which had a good selection of the items on menu as small plates. I like to try different things so if I get one plate at a restaurant of this caliber it’s extremely rare. I also knew that later on I would be going out dancing and a giant steak and something really heavy was going to be a horrible idea.

So I looked over the menu for a while and finally was greeted by my server again and asked what the farmer’s market cocktail was for the evening. After stumbling over his words about 4 times he finally had to go ask what the cocktail was. I was so displeased with this stammering, this should not of happened somewhere like this. I know people have bad days and things aren’t always amazing but if you can’t tell me the evening cocktail that’s not looking very good for you. But finally when he did get it out the drink was a lovely mixture of cucumber, heirloom sage, ginger bitters and gin. It was refreshing and perfect. I really enjoyed everything about the cocktail even if it took 20 more minutes to get.

After I got my drink I ordered but first had a simple question which was what meats where on the Affettati Misti, is a plate of mixed Italian Charcuterie. I love charcuterie so much, I worked in a deli for longer than I ever wanted to but it was amazing how much I learned about meat and cheese. The waiter really had no idea what was on the plate at all. He stumbled over his words some more and I figured I would order it anyway because I’ve wanted bresaola and coppa for a while now. Also on this platter were Salami , Prossuito, and Mortadella. I also ordered a side of asparagus with garlic, thyme and guanciale. Guanciale is pig cheek that is unsmoked and cured. After I ordered I was sipping my cocktail and look around about 10 minutes later my waiter came back to the table and asked me to repeat my order to him. At that point I was trying to dismiss it but it was pretty much just the fact that this guy could care less about me as a customer. With all my questions I would expect him to be a little more attentive but apparently not.

My Affettati Misti and Asparagus finally came to the table

I could eat a giant mortadella and coppa sandwich for the rest of my life, the meats were sliced very thin just as they should be the mortadella was pressed very well and not waxy which was really wonderful. Bresaola was beefy and slightly sweet. Coppa was fatty and salty and the Salami was softer and different then I’d ever had. The plate was well rounded with a sweet peperonata, a couple of Shishito Peppers that were roasted and salted, and a larger pickled yellow pepper stuffed with cured ham and goat cheese. When you get a board of meat its common knowledge that you describe what the person is eating. Not for this waiter. By this time I was texting one of my best chef friends Brandon telling him that I can’t believe I decided to have Italian food for once and this is the kind of service I’m getting. It really did blow my mind. I looked over at my asparagus which was 12 dollars mind you for asparagus but I figured I really wanted Guanciale I haven’t had it in a long time and when I look at the asparagus there is really nothing to it there was maybe a small slice of garlic, barely any time, and a speck of Guanciale. I take a bite and the asparagus is over cooked and flavorless, like boiled salted nothing. How disappointing. My waiter came back and I informed him he didn’t ask to make it over or if I wanted anything else he just committed to taking it off the bill which was fine.

I finished my meat platter and was asked if I’d like anything else I kindly informed him no thank you. He brought my check which he then over charged me for my meat platter and when I told him about it he said he had served me the entrée sized portion though I pointed to the affettati on the bar menu. He didn’t say he would fix it or anything. I paid and left him 2 dollars for some of the worst service I’ve gotten in a very long time. I could have wanted to see a manger but honestly it didn’t seem worth it to me. I think Brandon said it best…. “Mass production! Generic! Orange shoes says it all” So much more passion and heart should go into something so beautiful as Italian food with the amazing ingredients and potential this place could have, the simple things that don’t need much. The experience overall was just dull and flat, not like the beautiful luster of ltaly I’m so used to. I hope I just had a bad night there but this experience had too many things wrong with it that made me not even care to see what the rest of the place looked like or take more pictures.

I say Learn something from everything,  I’m glad I had my Affettati and my cocktail but I think next time I’ll just go to the deli make a selection of meats and sit outside with my own Gin Cocktail and enjoy.

I have a couple more restaurants to talk about, dancing, and drinking…

So to be continued…


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