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SCUBA Certification

I have been wanting to take a SCUBA certification class for a long time but have been putting it off for one reason or another.  An upcoming trip to Puerto Rico provided me with a great excuse to do it.  I made a couple calls and decided to go with a local place called SCUBA Haus in Santa Monica.  The class consisted of two consecutive weekends.  The first weekend would take place in the Santa Monica Pool and the second at Casino Point on Catalina Island.

Of course, like every hobby that I have, SCUBA diving is full of opportunities to spend a ton of money on gear, but for this class you rent most of the stuff.  The first thing you have to select is a wet suit from the rental collection that best suits you.  If you are one of the four people who actually read my blog you are aware that I don’t have the physical dimensions of a normal human being.  I’m a few species to the left of Cro-Magnon man just short of the Neanderthal.   Imagine a photograph of Brad Pitt.  Now imagine looking at that photograph in a funhouse mirror and you will begin to get the idea.  Finding a skin-tight neoprene wet suit that fits me well wasn’t going to be easy.

IMG_0273Rocky, the owner of SCUBA Haus, recommended the extra large and directed me to the bathroom to try it on.  After about twenty minutes of wrestling this thing in what could best be described as a scene out of “Weekend at Bernie’s”, I managed to get it on up to about my waist.  I stood there panting and looking at myself in the mirror.  I was exhausted and had started to work up a sweat.  It looked like I was half-digested by a sea lion and he was the one taking a break due to the massive meal he was undertaking.

After a few minutes, I was able to get the rest of it on.  I zipped it up with my last bit of strength and proudly strutted back into the store which was now full of customers to admire my new skin-tight sea lion costume.  Rocky took one look at me, smirked, and said “Oh, the zipper goes in the back.” while the other customers tried to hold back their laughter (some better than others).  Another few rounds in the bathroom and I walked back out with my arms extended like the younger brother in his snow suit from the movie “A Christmas Story.”

The rest of Friday night and Saturday morning consisted of lessons about the finer points of not dying underwater.  The instructors were great and I would highly recommend them.  Saturday afternoon was at the Santa Monica pool and the first time this newest generation of potential Navy SEAL candidates was to enter the water.

It turns out that swimming is a major part of SCUBA diving (everything else is pretty much not dying underwater) and in order to prove to them that you can swim they ask you to swim eight laps in any “style” that you choose.  My stroke of choice is the “Vegas Crawl” since the majority of my adult pool experience takes places at The Mandalay Bay Hotel.  To call my stroke of choice a choice is giving me a lot more credit for my athletic ability than I deserve, and to call it a stroke would be an insult to swimmers everywhere.  A more accurate description is somewhere between the “dog paddle” and the “someone call the lifeguard”.

Around the middle of the fifth lap between desperate gasps for air and trying to keep my head above water I was starting to imagine how I would gracefully leave the class with the least amount of humiliation because there was no way I was going to make eight laps.  Vegas pools are only four feet deep for a reason.  Everyone else was done and Day Vinson, the Lead Instructor, said that it was good enough.  I started to question her judgment.

IMG_0996Next, we suited up into our full gear and went into the bottom of the shallow end to learn how to panic, take off your mask, panic, put your mask back on, panic, and make silly hand signals that I am convinced the instructors make up on the fly in order to make us feel like idiots.

Now, I’m not an idiot, and it makes perfect sense to me that I don’t need a mask over my eyes to breathe through a tube that is in my mouth but my frog brain is a complete moron and this is the part which took over during this exercise.  This led to an interesting argument between the part of my brain that made it through college (barely) and the frog brain.  “Breathe you idiot.”  “Nope, can’t breathe, must come to surface to flail and embarrass you, ribbit.” “Don’t you dare!  Breathe through your mouth before your legs end up as an appetizer in a french restaurant!”   “Ribbit”.

By the end of the day, they had us underwater in a circle, trading masks back and forth like my mom and her friends traded coupons from the Entertainment Book when I was a kid.  I am still not quite comfortable with taking my mask off underwater.  I have never been waterboarded, but I am guessing the sensation is similar.

The next day was more of the same with a few added skills thrown in to make sure you don’t die.  By the end of the day we were swimming in circles in the deep end of the Santa Monica pool like a group of developmentally challenged sea lions waiting for a Great White with “Darwin Says Hi” painted on it’s side to make us it’s next meal.  We were prepared for the next weekend in Catalina.

IMG_1004The first dive was at 8AM on Casino Point on Catalina Island.  In order to get there by 8AM one would have to leave the wesside by 5AM to be at Long Beach in time to catch the Ferry.  There was no way in hell I was doing that, so the wife and I went to Catalina Friday night and stayed in a hotel.  Having Ann Marie there with me was a godsend and it made the whole experience a whole lot easier.  She provided a great deal of tactical as well as emotional support.

IMG_0272I show up at Casino Point at around 7:45AM  to meet the rest of my class who was on the ferry and it was already starting to get crowded.  Casino Point has a marine park and is accessible via a convenient set of stairs which makes it a popular spot for SCUBA divers.  The rest of the class rolled up a few minutes later and we all proceed getting swallowed by our assigned sea lions.

That first day consisted of a repeat of the not dying that we did in the pool.  My frog brain was more submissive this time and It was pretty awesome.  The weather was pretty cooperative and the visibility was really good (much better than Puerto Rico it turns out).  The great thing about Casino Point is that you have a ton of different ecosystems in one place.  After the dive a few of us met for dinner at a local place and crashed.

The next morning was designed to emulate a normal dive day.  Starting with a 60 foot dive and then going shallower from there.  I had a good nights sleep and I was ready to go.  Our instructor, Day, gave us a run down of what we are going to be doing and then we waddled into the water to regroup.  This was the beginning of the end for me.

The current was a little stronger on this day and the water was filled with a few more SCUBA-Douches.  We had to do a surface swim a few yards out to find a Douche-free zone.  If you had been paying attention you would remember that I am not the worlds greatest swimmer and this swim wore me out a little.  Then when we regrouped the instructor started giving us more instruction.  I was trying to be smart and conserve air so my BC (think balloon vest that keeps you floating) wasn’t fully inflated and my mouth was right at surface level.  So I’m floating there, tired from the swim, trying not to swallow sea water, begging for Day to stop talking so I could dive and relax, when I started breathing really short.  I started to panic and figured that if I can’t breathe on the surface what is going to happen at 60 feet.  I made the announcement that I wasn’t going to make the dive and started one of the most humiliating experiences of recent memory.

IMG_0293Day took one look into my eyes and she knew I was serious.  She asked a couple other people to use one of our newly learned rescue techniques that I now refer to “pushing the floating fat guy back to shore”.   They inflated my BC all of the way and I pretty much lied down on the surface of the water while the able-bodied divers pushed my floating out of shape carcass back to the steps.   Everyone in the water and on the steps asked if I was OK to make sure my humiliation had really set in.  I had already decided at that point that I wasn’t going to get certified and going over in my head how I had been tweeting and facebooking about getting certified for the previous week and how pathetic my explanation was going to be.

IMG_0292After about 30 minutes, the rest of the group surfaced and individually consoled me.  Day told me that it was my decision to keep going but at that point I had pretty much decided that I was too much of an out of shape loser to continue this sport.  She didn’t push me and asked me to stick around for lunch anyway.  This turns out to be a very effective technique.  I was mentally prepared to stick to my guns and quit at that point and she chose not to fight me on it.  We all had lunch and took the written test (which I passed).  After lunch, Day looked at me and said “So are you getting back in or what?”  Without thinking about it I said “sure.”

We did two more dives that day and by the second dive and I had no trouble at all.  I was leading our group around the depths and navigating like a pro.  I passed the class and am now certified open water shark bait!  I am eternally grateful to Day for her light pressure and support.

If you are considering getting certified I highly recommend Day and her team as instructors.  They are currently teaching out of Scuba Haus in Santa Monica.

Posted in Personal Insights.

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Uncle Mitchy’s Savory Spicy Balls

IMG_0998Here is a quick and easy recipe for a great side dish for steak or other meat dishes.

Ingredients

My measurements include phrases like “some” and “thingy.”  You can figure it out.  I don’t have time to do all of the work for you.  What am I, your mother?

  • 1 sack of pearl onions
  • 1 thingy of whole mushrooms
  • 1 sack of Trader Joe’s Teeny Tiny Potatoes (they don’t have to be from Trader Joes but you would lose out on that smugness you get from shopping there)
  • Some red pepper flakes
  • Some olive oil

Preparation

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Rinse the potatoes and give them a good once over with a vegetable brush.  If you don’t have a vegetable brush, use your spouse’s toothbrush.  Leave the skins on, because if you try to skin Trader Joe’s Teeny Tiny Potatoes you are an idiot.

Chop the ends off of the pearl onions and remove the skins.  Rinse off the mushrooms too ’cause those bastards have been gettin’ it on with the parsnips when the lights go out at the supermarket (or so the acorn squash told me).

Put the whole mess into a Pyrex dish that has a lid or a ramekin that you can cover with aluminum foil and announce to the world “look at my savory balls!”

Sprinkle the olive oil over everything and then sprinkle the red pepper flakes on top of that.  I can usually tell by the look on my wife’s face when she thinks I have added enough red pepper flakes and then I shake on a little more, ’cause I’m an asshole.

Cover it up and shove it in the oven for a while.  Every ten minutes or so, check your balls for softness with a fork and watch shriveling and dryness.  Then check the thing you put in the oven.  When the potatoes feel a little soft, remove the lid or aluminum foil and broil them for a few more minutes.

Now shut up and eat it.

Posted in Cooking.


Uncle Mitchy’s Travel Tips: Picking Up Your Checked Baggage

IMG_0969

I travel a lot.  You would know this if you’d read my previous blog posts, but clearly you don’t really love me.  Over the years I have learned a thing or two about traveling, and I have perfected a few techniques to make the experience less miserable.  What follows is the first of many travel tips that I will share with you to make your travel experience better and hopefully reduce my misanthropy just a little.

There are few situations that make me hate the human race more than waiting for my checked luggage at the airport.  Here are a few things to keep in mind if you have checked your luggage…

Relax

The journey from the plane to the luggage carousel is the perfect time to calm yourself and gain your composure.  Take your time.  You could crawl there and you’d still have to wait for your bag, so why not take advantage of the idle time.  Stop at a bathroom to do your business and wash your hands and face.  Call or text your ride to let them know you’ve arrived and will be outside after you get your bag.  Stretch a little.  Release that gas you’ve been storing up since New Mexico.  Make sure that you are in motion when you do this to avoid suspicion.  This technique is known as crop dusting.  It is important to be in a calm state of mind when you get to the luggage carousel or else you may not have the will power to avoid jamming a railroad spike into someone’s eye.

Have A Plan

Your plan starts by choosing the right place to stand. Imagine yourself grabbing your bag and trying to pull it off of the carousel.  I am sure there is a way to identify which direction the carousel will rotate from looking at the scratch patterns on its metal sections, but I haven’t been able to accurately predict it yet, so you’ll have to guess which way the bags are coming.  Find a spot with plenty of room on either side of you. If the people on either side of you are too close, you won’t have the maneuvering room to swing your bag out and onto the floor. If  the entire carousel is blocked by morons, step back and wait for them to battle over their bags. Entertain yourself by watching them knock each other down, since they can’t quite get a good hold of their bag as it moves down the carousel, but refuse to let go – as if by releasing their death grip on the handle, they’ll never see their underwear again.

Inevitably, people will start crowding into the spaces around you, and it will become necessary to take some action once the buzzer sounds and the carousel comes to life. You might want to:

  • Fart
  • Stare at them in a menacing manner without saying a word
  • Lean against them
  • Fart again
  • Stare at their kids and ask if Megan’s Law applies at airports.

Once you identify your bag, you should be able to grab it, swing it off of the carousel, and make your escape.  If some loser has encroached your space, it is perfectly acceptable to knock him or her over with your bag and say that you didn’t see anyone there.

Put Your Damn Phone Away

Is it really critical that you call someone and tell them that you just landed?  I bet it isn’t.  Give it a rest until you have your bag.  If you have to inform your ride that you have landed, a quick text message will suffice.  If they aren’t technically advanced enough to text, a quick call to say “I’ve landed; I’ll call you when I’m at the curb,” is OK. Once you get into “How was the trip?” you’ve engaged in a conversation that can clearly wait nine minutes until you are sitting next to them in the car.

Keep Your Damn Brood Contained

Look, I chose not to have kids for a reason.  If I wanted to run around an airport yelling, “Upupupupupupupup … put that … Billy! … Don’t touch … Where is your sis… NO … Uppupupuppupup, that isn’t yours … Get off of the carousel … SUZY!!! …”  I would’ve had my own.  You made the decision to breed, so now take the responsibility and keep them in line.  Oh, and by the way, if you say that nobody tells you how hard it is, I am going to find out where you live and rape your puppy.  EVERYONE TELLS YOU HOW HARD IT IS!

Sorry, where was I…  Oh yeah, it really isn’t necessary to have your entire family standing at the carousel unless they are part of your plan.  If you are standing at the carousel carrying an infant, then you’re doing it wrong.  And you’re an idiot.  If you really want to keep them busy as well as have your hands free, put them in one of those plastic trays and let them ride around the carousel in it.  If you’re lucky, they will make it all the way around before child services shows up.

Pitcher and a Catcher

If you have a traveling companion, you can work together as a team.  As the bags come down the way, you can hand one off to your partner and he or she can haul it away. Or, if you both have carry-on luggage, your travel companion can stand aside with all of your carry-on luggage, which frees up your hands to get the rest of your luggage – or to slap the person next to you.

Know Your Bag

Let me guess.  Your bag is a black Samsonite suitcase.  Guess what.  So is everyone else’s bag.  Put something on your bag that makes it definitively yours.  The best example I’ve seen is a suitcase with “Not Your Bag” taped on it with duct tape.  I have tags on mine that say things like “My Clothes Won’t Fit You.”  You can get these or other useful tags from a place called Inventive Travelware.

Hopefully these tips will help you on your next flight.

Posted in Misanthropy, Personal Insights, Travel.

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A Fond Memory: The Fifth Element

When I moved to California, my original intention was to become a Visual Effects Artist. My other intention was to do anything possible to get out of Detroit. Back then, being a Visual Effects Artist seemed like the coolest job ever for a nerdy technical guy. Not long after I moved, the movie “The Fifth Element” was released. To this day, I still think it’s a great movie. I remember watching the video with my girlfriend (now my wife) and stopping the tape (yes, it was a tape) at a particular scene that caught my eye.

In this scene, a spaceship was taking off from a hangar for Fhloston Paradise. I remember pausing the tape and staring at this image for quite some time, remarking to my wife (then girlfriend) that the detail in this image was quite amazing. I didn’t know much about Visual Effects at the time (and I still don’t) but I have eyes and I could certainly appreciate an amazing piece of art. If you ever get a chance to see this painting take a minute to really appreciate it.

Fast forward a few years later; I had just started a new job at Digital Domain in Venice, CA. I was walking around the studio taking in all of the sights and models hanging from the walls and checking out the conference room designed by Frank Gehry called “The Whale.” I walked past this one office and on the wall hung a poster that had to be about a 5′ x 3′ version of that very scene. The office was empty, so I stood there for a while admiring the detail of this painting. A few minutes later, Kevin Mack walked in. It turns out that it was his office and he had painted this. I told him how much I liked it and we talked about it a little bit more before I slinked back to my nerd pen.

Copied from behance.net

For a brief moment, I thought to myself that I had made it. I was finally on my way to what I wanted to do and felt like I was part of the movie business. It turns out that as a Systems Administrator at a Visual Effects company, I was no more a part of the movie business than Stephen Spielberg’s Gardner or Lindsey Lohan’s Parole Officer, but it really felt good at the time. After working there for a few years, I came to realize that the life of a Visual Effects artist wasn’t for me, since I liked things like sunshine and weekends, but I still remember that moment fondly.

Thanks, Kevin.

Posted in Personal Insights, Venice.

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BP Oysterette in Santa Monica

IMG_0187This is a Linh.  Well actually it isn’t Linh because Linh won’t let me take a picture of her in a “pissed” pose so it is actually a picture of a bunch of fish but pretend it is Linh and pretend she looks pissed.  Linh is pissed (or would be if she really cared and wasn’t actually a pile of dead fish) because I told her we would try the new Oyster Place in Santa Monica but instead I went with someone else.  Don’t worry Linh it was really awesome and I will be going back there a lot.

I wouldn’t consider myself a food blogger so I’m not going to give you a history of the place or the name of the chef or any of that crap.  The thrillist post has a lot of that.  What I can tell you is about my experience.

IMG_0954I needed to have a conversation with one of my employees outside of the office so I suggested lunch.  I asked him what kind of food he preferred and he said “anything but seafood”.  So of course I took him to an Oyster Bar.

After a brief conversation with the waitress about her recommendations I went with three Chefs Creek and three Metcalfe both from British Columbia.  The Oysters from Chefs Creek were really good and really huge.  The Metcalfes were a little saltier but also really good.  I kind of know how to shuck Oysters myself but these were done better than I ever could and with significantly less blood loss.  They were cleanly opened with all of the Oyster goo un-spilled.  Now I could go on and on like some Oyster Douchebag about the specifics of each Oyster but I will spare you.  They were good and there are at least six other kinds of Oysters to choose from so if you like Oysters just shut up and go.

And then the fish came…..

Normally I would have taken a picture of it so my wife can make fun of me (“what is it with Jews and pictures of food”) but I lost myself in this fish.  I ordered the Ling Cod with a garlic pesto sauce.  It was awesome!  It was cooked fully but it wasn’t dry at all.  It prefer my fish raw, wrapped in some kind of rice and seaweed tube, dipped in wasabi and Soy Sauce, and not pissed (see above) so I am usually skeptical when someone ruins a perfectly good piece of fish by cooking it.  The pesto sauce wasn’t too heavy, complimented the fish well, and looks really good on my shirt since I haven’t quite mastered the whole food-fork-mouth routine.

My employee had his hamburger and fries and I didn’t even think to ask him how it was cause it’s all about me.

So that is all.  It is good, go try it.

IMG_0952Blue Plate Oysterette
1355 Ocean Ave.
Santa Monica CA 90401-1019
(310) 576-FISH [3474]
Hours: 11:30 AM to 10:00 PM Daily
No reservations.

http://blueplatesantamonica.com/bpo/
http://twitter.com/BPOysterette

Posted in Fine Dining.


My Superpower

If you have ever seen the movie “Supernova” with James Spader I feel that I must apologize.  Since I am listed in the credits I feel that I owe you one.  This has nothing to do with my superpower but it is a burden that I have been carrying with me for a long time and I needed to get it off of my chest.  So if you see me and can produce the original ticket stub proving that you actually watched this pile of crap I will refund your $10.

If you have ever seen the movie “Unbreakable” with Bruce Willis you will recall that over the course of the movie the main character learns that he has a superpower.  I had nothing to do with that movie so I won’t be giving you a refund.  Over the past few years I have also discovered that I also have a superpower.  I am invisible.

I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking that you would like a sandwich right now but you are wrong!  I didn’t believe it myself in the beginning.  I started to notice as I walked around anywhere in Los Angeles on a sidewalk (for Angelenos this is the place where you get out of your car when you park it on the street to get your latte) people coming towards me from the other direction would make no attempt to get out of my way.  I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking that Detroit is a horrible place and I agree there had to be an explanation.  Maybe they were looking at their cell phones to see what Miley Cirus was tweeting about.  Maybe they were distracted by the fact that they actually had shoes on.  Maybe they were trying not to break their mothers back.

I started to pay more attention and this wasn’t the case.  People would actually look me right in the face and make zero effort to get out of my way as if it was my responsibility to move.  I tried putting on my best menacing face but I couldn’t look tough if I tried.  I tried stopping dead in my tracks to make it clear that I was not moving and they would actually bump right into me and act surprised that I was there.  Clearly I thought that people just suck and have lost all consideration and common sense.

I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking that anyone wearing an Ed Hardy tee shirt is a douchebag but it wasn’t only on the sidewalk.  I also started noticing this at the airport.   In the line to check bags people would cut in front of me like I wasn’t there.  On the escalator people in front of me would stop dead in their tracks at the top to look at their ticket and make sure they weren’t going to miss their flight to Toledo causing me to plow through them when I reached the top.  On the plane the other passengers were constantly whacking me with their “carry-ons” which were roughly the size of refrigerator.

After the flight while waiting at the luggage chucker 9000 people would shove their way in next to me to wait for their over-sized bag to come around.  Of course they didn’t have the physical strength to successfully pull this crate off of the carousel which inevitably led to the bag dragging them helplessly right into me.  Clearly they didn’t understand the concept of a circle and if they simply let go and moved down the line they could have a little more room to hoist their bag into someone else.  They must believe that all luggage will only go around the carousel once and if it isn’t retrieved at that time it will get shipped to Afghanistan to fund terrorism.

So I have come to the conclusion that I must be invisible.  I have yet to decide if I should use my superpower for good or for evil but if you find yourself on an airport escalator and you start fumbling around for your boarding pass, don’t be surprised if you find my invisible foot shoved in your ass.

Posted in Misanthropy, Personal Insights, Really?.

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Happy Birthday To Me (41)

Me_Mirina_Ali
Last week (Sept 2) was my 41st birthday and it was a damn good one.  When I woke up my wife had the first present for me.   It was a Canon Powershot SD970.  When I came back from lunch there was a bunch of balloons and a new bottle of cologne from the wife.  After work I had a lovely dinner with Ann Marie at Anisette Brasserie in Santa Monica (I love that place).  During dinner she gave me a new watch which I posted about earlier.

After dinner we met up with some friends at James Beach.  Zach played photographer and a good time was had by all.

I am truly blessed with an awesome wife and a great friends.

Posted in Personal Insights, Venice.

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Fine Dining At Delmonico’s In Las Vegas (part 2)

DSC03256… continued from this post

Now, where was I?  Oh yeah, the best meal you will never have.  We all finished our duck dishes and if the entire kitchen wasn’t watching us through the glass window we would have licked the plates and danced around the room in pure duck heaven.

Our next wine was a 2004 Chateau Clarke Listrac-Medoc Bordeaux.  Which we were informed would go well with the lamb that we were about to be served.  Kevin leads the parade as they came in to serve us our next dish.  He had this smirk on his face and we couldn’t figure out why until he explained what the dish was.  In a large white bowl sat a couple pieces of rack of lamb cooked perfectly so the middle of each piece was rose colored.

LambChopsOn one side of the bowl was a swipe of butter and herbs.  I am still not sure how they accomplished this but it looked really cool.  The lamb was sitting on Kevin’s version of a fresh vegetable Ratatouille which explained the smirk on Kevin’s face.  Oh my god was this good.  Next time (oh yes I am going again soon) I will video tape the description so I can make you even more jealous and I won’t forget the details so quickly.

DSC03259The last of our four “savory” dishes was a few slices of New York Strip cooked perfectly (for me anyway) but that wasn’t the best part.  It was sitting on a row of asparagus which was drizzled with Emeril’s own Worcester sauce but that wasn’t the best part.  Sitting on top of all of this was pieces of lobster tail served with a Bearnaise sauce.  That’s right bitches, when I eat steak it has fuckin’ lobster on it!  The wine that was paired with it was a 2002 Ysios Reserva Rioja.  My wife and I are big Tempranillo fans and this wine was really really smooth and went well with the steak (and lobster!).

Thank God Kevin gave us a breather before dessert.  The wine was kicking in and we were really enjoying ourselves.  Through the glass we could see Kevin standing over the pastry section but we could not see what he was preparing since there was something blocking the view.  You could tell by the way he was looking at us and smiling that it was going to be something special.  We were offered dessert wine but we decided to pass.  I am sure it would have been great.

During the course of the evening I had been posting pictures of us on brightkite.  Brightkite is a location based social networking application.  The Master Sommelier, Kevin Vogt walks in and shows us the pictures that I had been posting on his phone.  Since he was also on brightkite he noticed the posts.  It was a nice redemption for me because people often give me shit about checking in everywhere I go.  One day I will write a post about it explaining why I do it in my typical snide style.

DSC03260DSC03261So out come the desserts.  When we first walked in Kevin had asked us if we were there for a special occasion.  Now I don’t need a special occasion to live better than you but it just so happens that we were in Vegas to celebrate our tenth anniversary and Lisa’s birthday.  On the table in front of us were two plates.  An oval one with the words “Happy Birthday” spelled out in chocolate in handwriting that was better than I have ever been able to do with a pen.  On this plate was a dish of Creme Brulee with a couple of ginger cookies, a cup of warm chocolate lava cake, and Emril’s famous cheesecake.  The other plate had “Happy Anniversay” written on it and had a lemon cheesecake with fresh strawberry slices and a pecan pie a la mode.

By the time we had eaten all we could (there was no way we were going to finish all of this) it was about 10:30 and the restaurant had served their last meal so the kitchen was calming down.  Kevin offered to give us a tour of the kitchen.

DSC03263DSC03266DSC03268

They have a special room where they dry-age their steaks and store other marvelous things like the giant lobster tails Kevin showed us.  This kitchen worked like a well-oiled machine and even though it was only a few minutes after they had stopped serving everything was spotless and put in its place.

This was a dinner that we would be talking about for a long time.  It was more than a dinner, it was an experience.  One day, if you are lucky, maybe you will get to join me on one of these adventures.

Dinner at Delmonico's

Posted in Fine Dining, Vegas.

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I Have The Best Wife Ever! (first in a series)

For my 41st birthday my wife gave my this beautiful Gevril Men’s Park Swiss Automatic Steel Watch Model #2503.  These are limited edition watches and they only make 500 of each model (I have #490).

Gevril Men's Park Swiss Automatic Steel Watch Model # 2503

Gevril Men's Park Swiss Automatic Steel Watch Model # 2503

  • Mfg. Style #: 2503
  • Brand: Gevril
  • Collection / Series Name: Park
  • Band Material Stainless Steel
  • Band Length: 8.5 inches
  • Band Width: 20mm
  • Clasp Type: Deployant Clasp
  • Movement: Swiss Automatic
  • Mfg. and Caliber of Movement: Custom Decorated Sellita SW200
  • 26 Jewels
  • Dial Color: silver on silver Dial
  • Crystal: Scratch Resistant Sapphire Crystal
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel
  • Case Diameter: 39mm
  • Case Thickness: 12mm
  • Caseback: Exhibition Caseback
  • Calendar: Date display at 3 o’clock
  • Water Resistant Depth: 50 meters | 165 feet
  • Swiss Movement and Country of Origin

Posted in Personal Insights.

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Fine Dining At Delmonico’s In Las Vegas (part 1)

Since my life is much more interesting than yours, I have access to things that you don’t.  I thought that I would share one of these experiences with you so you can at least imagine what life could have been like if you had decided not to have kids or move out of Detroit or wherever you grew up.  On the top of my list of things you will never do is to have dinner at Delmonico’s Steakhouse at the Venetian in Las Vegas.  This is by far the best dining experience that I have ever had.

The experience begins as the host parades your group in a single file line past all of the little people in the main dining room towards the back of the restaurant.  Some of the spectators for today’s parade included a group of four Ed Hardy Douchebags who you could tell felt pretty special in their matching shirts.  You could feel their mood swing from disappointment when our party didn’t include their hero Jon Gosselin to anger that they didn’t get to march in the parade.  Sorry boys, I know you saved up all year for those shirts but today isn’t your day.

Dinner at Delmonico'sAt the back of the restaurant is a private room that seats at most eight people.  Today we had five.  My wife and I were celebrating our tenth anniversary and Lisa was celebrating her birthday.  The back wall of this room is glass panels from floor to ceiling giving you (well not you because you aren’t me) full view of the kitchen. In front of each of us was a set of wine glasses.  If you check out the floor plan you can see what I am talking about.  We were having the wine pairing so there was a different glass for each of the wines that we were going to have.

Kevin Terrell came out and introduced himself as the Sous Chef and announced that he was going to be taking care of us this evening.  We were told later by Chef de Cuisine Sean Roe that Kevin was recently promoted.  You could tell that Kevin was excited to have us there and was scheming up some really good dishes to make just for us.  Unlike your big night out at Applebees with your screaming kids on the first Sunday of the month, the kitchen table at Delmonico’s doesn’t have a menu.  They ask what kind of food you like or dislike and if you have any food allergies and then proceed to make you (well, not you, you eat at Applebees) the most amazing dishes that you couldn’t get anywhere else if you tried.  I asked Kevin to keep the portions small because we wanted to enjoy every bite and not be to full for dessert.

DSC03253The feast started with a couple bowls of their signature homemade truffle potato chips with fresh Parmesan Cheese.  I dove into these bad boys like … well like you do when your blooming onion comes at Outback.  As we (well, I) shoveled the chips into my mouth Kevin asked us if we had any questions.  He was a good sport as we asked him if he could explain which character from Ratatouille each person was.

At this time our Sommelier (I’m sorry but his name escapes me) came out and poured our first glass of wine which was a 2007 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett.  He described how it was an excellent match for the salad that Kevin was preparing for us because it was light and not too sweet but sweet enough to be paired with the pears.  The first course (which we forgot to take a picture of) was an arugula salad with goat cheese brulee and pear slices.

And then came the second course.  Before I describe it let me take a minute to explain to you how it was presented.  Part of the joy of dining like this is the attention to detail in the service that you get (not you … Applebees … remember).  As we were chowing down on the homemade potato chips and recalling our favorite scenes from Ratatouille about half of the restaurant staff snuck into the room and stood behind us.  Then, on a cue from Kevin, they simultaneously placed the dishes in front of us from the our left taking special care to make sure that the dishes were all aligned the same way.

In order to help illustrate this, imagine if you will, that tonight is a special occasion for you since little Johnny is away at court ordered “camp” and little Suzy is sleeping over at her “friend’s” house tonight.  You decide to splurge for a meal at Claim Jumper instead of Applebees.  Imagine that when they wheel out your Chocolate Motherlode Cake, the waitress puts down her cigarette and uses both hands to plop this monster in front of you as she tells you about her affair with the Sysco driver who dropped off fourteen tons of the stuff on Sunday.  I think you get the picture.

Duck Three WaysIf you are done running around your kitchen yelling “Who the hell does he think he is!?!  I am perfectly happy here in Detroit!!   Suzy, if you don’t stop hitting your brother I will up your Vyvanse dose!!”, I can tell you about the second course.

Like clockwork our Sommelier poured our next glass.  This was a 2004 Brogan Cellars Summa Vineyard Young Vines Pinot Noir.  He explained that this Pinot was a good match for the duck we were about to be served since it wasn’t going to overpower it.  I added an extra splash of douchiness by sticking my nose in the wine and saying “It smells like shit … in a good way”.  It took our Sommelier a good ten minutes to placate me by explaining that the “earthiness” I was smelling was what made it a good match while trying to keep a straight face at the moron who somehow found his way into this special table.

Presented on a rectangular dish with three separate sections was our duck three ways.  Kevin took great pride and detail in explaining the progression from left to right; hot, to room temp, to cold.  The first section contained confit of duck leg with potatoes and scallions.  In the middle was seared duck breast and on the right was duck foie gras with blackberrys.  We oohed and ahhed as he described each preparation.  The five of us started from the left and tasted each preparation together so we could discuss it like we knew what we were talking about.   Then it became a race to try the next dish and tell the others “you have to try this!!”.  The real surprise was how well the foie gras went with the blackberries.

I will describe the rest of the meal in part two.

Posted in Fine Dining, Vegas.