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Whisky, Women and Song…

Well, maybe not so much song. But the Universal Whisky Experience, which gathered together dozens of distilled malt beverages from around the world at the Wynn resort in Las Vegas March 19-20 2010, was both educational and entertaining. Covering for The Tasting Panel, I took some candid snaps. Here’s the album:

And here’s my Tasting Panel Magazine story:

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Click to enlarge

The Napa of Mexico: Monte Xanic and El Valle de Guadalupe

One of the best kept secrets of the wine world is the fact that there is a steadily growing high-quality wine industry right across the US border in Baja, Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe, just outside Ensenada. Owing to Mexican government export tariffs favoring tequilas, and a general disbelief in Mexican dedication to quality, most of these wines never make it out of their country. But things are changing, aided by growing attention to the Valle de Guadalupe’s annual Fiestas de la Vendimia every August. I got the opportunity to visit one of the top producers, Monte Xanic, and taste many of its competitors during a crush season visit a few months ago for a story in The Tasting Panel. Here are some  candid photos (many taken by Kelly Duckhorn) from the visit. Xanic owner Hans Backhoff Sr, Jr, Viticulturalist Kelly Maher and consulting winemaker Scott McLeod are depicted most prominently :

Click above to read

Click above to read

A Creative Club Chef and Chateau St. Michelle

With Indian Ridge Country Club Chef Ralph Fernandez

With Indian Ridge Country Club Chef Ralph Fernandez

Would you believe me if I told you one of the most creative, satisfying and entertaining dinners I’ve had so far this year was at a country club? In Palm Desert, no less? I’ll avoid repeating what I wrote in the article for The Tasting Panel (see below) and just post some pics… Chef Ralph Fernandez, I like your style.

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Click to enlarge

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CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FULL MENU

A good chip. A really good chip.

I rarely endorse corporate branded foods. Even if they might be found in my home pantry, I’m always a little bit suspect of what goes in with mass food production. But I’m making an exception for this recent random discovery: Lay’s Lightly Salted.

Lay's Lightly Salted

Potato Chip fans already know Lay’s as one of the most reliable, satisfying basic chips: light, crisp, and not too greasy. But let’s face it, like most chips, they’re basically a salt delivery system.

Lay’s lightly salted cut the sodium down to 85 mg per 1 oz. portion (15 chips), but healthfulness is not the only benefit. With less salt (and relatively neutral oils–see below), you can actually taste the potato. These chips taste better, in fact, than many house-made restaurant chips I’ve had. Seriously. They’re not plain, either–there’s still enough salt here for anyone but the most sodium-saturated palate.

Not to be confused with low-fat Lay’s, these do not have creepy Olestra in them. The fat is good ol’ sunflower/corn/canola, one gram saturated to 9 unsaturated per 1 oz serving. Apparently, they’re also kosher, gluten-free (duh) and have good doses of vitamins C, B6, E, Niacin, Magnesium, Thiamin and even a little Zinc and Iron. In short, they’re way better for you and your kids than a lot of so-called “natural” snacks.

Check the nutrition info at this link.

FYI: I am not affiliated with Lay’s in any way, and bought these chips myself (twice already) at the local Vons supermarket.

A Mass of Paso! Grand Tasting in Downtown LA

Vibiana provided a gorgeous backdrop for this grand tasting

Vibiana provided a gorgeous backdrop for this grand tasting

Had a chance to attend the Paso Robles Grand Tasting on March 2 in downtown LA’s unique former cathedral Vibiana—and I have to admit, I was a bit unprepared for the sheer number of wineries represented. Though Saxum (on the cover of the current Wine Spectator) was missing, there were dozens of others, some well established (J. Lohr), others total mom-n-pop operations with case numbers in the three digits. PR has been slowly but steadily gaining ground as a respected wine region, with widely varying potential, and what I tasted reflected that diversity of product and approach.

It would’ve been impossible for me to taste everything and not lose my palate—even if there was enough time—but I did manage to sample a fairly random selection (with some guidance from fellow winemakers).

In general, at tastings, I tend to look more for strong identities, personalities and expressions of terroir over quintessential expressions of style. I find the latter to be far too subjective, especially in a “tasting” environment. But that’s just me.

Here are a few highlights.

Adelaida ’08 Grenache: bright berry flavors with strong acid and a dry finish.

Also enjoyed their ’08 Version Red blend (Mourvedre, Syrah, Grenache, Counoise)

Alta Colina ’08 Toasted Slope (92% Syrah with Viognier, Mourvedre, Grenache) –aptly named deep red with ashy, cigar, mineral notes. Would make an interesting BBQ pairing.

Also enjoyed their ’08 GSM, chewy with strong tannins, dried herbals and fresh tobacco’ and their ’08 Claudia Cuvee, a smooth foody white

Calcerous ’07 Meritage (CS, Petit Verdot, Cab Franc, Merlot, Malbec): a big, earthy fruit nose leads to a more delicate, very nicely balanced harvest fruit/chocolate palate with quite a dry finish

Caliza ’07 Syrah: a very balanced, direct expression of the grape

Also enjoyed their ’07 Companion (50/50 CS, Syrah), dangerously drinkable

Kukkula ’07 Sisu (GSM): savory-juicy blackberry, anise and a little floral

L’Aventure ’08 Cote a Cote (GSM): all I wrote was “smooth as a baby’s bottom” – particularly impressive as it’s high alcohol at 15.9%.

Lone Madrone ’08 Points West White (85% Roussanne withViognier and Picpoul Blanc): A rich deep white, balanced but finishing dry. Probably fantastic for vegetarian Indian food.

Also enjoyed their ’07 Bailey Ranch Zin (cherry, peppers), ’07 Points West Red (juicy with strong tannins) and ’07 The Will (Grenache, Petite Syrah, Zin) [I confess I spent more time at this table than others, only partially because their pourer Amanda was so adorable]

Minassian-Young ’07 Mourvedre-Syrah: drinkably lush, big plum and harvest fruit notes with a little leather

Also enjoyed their ’09 Estate Zin (sweet but dry, good for BBQ)… Impressive young mom-n-pop shop.

Silver Horse ’08 Estate Malbec: tart plum/green tomato and cherry, a lively expression of the grape

Tablas Creek ’10 Rose: strawberries and tropicals with a dry finish. Brunch me!

www.pasowine.com for more info

Burn This! Judging Hussong’s Salsa Contest

Sometimes you have to take a stand. Sometimes you have to accept a difficult task. The kind of task that just can’t be left to amateurs. Sometimes, you have to judge a hot salsa contest. And that sometime, for me, came on February 15.

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To answer the first FAQ, no this was not a salsa dancing contest. Although I may have my opinions about hot salsa dancing, and certainly hot salsa dancers, I am by no means an expert. This was salsa, as in Mexican food, and in that world, yes, I think I have some experience. So it was that on the day after Valentine’s Day, Hussong’s Cantina-Taqueria in Mandalay Place on the Las Vegas Strip invited me to join restaurateurs, a hot sauce entrepreneur and a dedicated Hussong’s regular in judging the Burn a Hole in My Heart salsa-off between Executive Chef Noe Alcala and chefs Tino Guzman and Michael Vargas (one of whom is his former and the other his current sous chef, I think).

Noe Alcala, Tino Guzman and Michael Vargas at Hussong's Cantina 2

I tried to be pure about the process, but before I knew what was happening, Noe was plying all of us with shots of silver Patron, and I couldn’t turn it down. At least we’d all be on a level field. I suspected a fix when I saw Noe got to use the robocoupe and the other chefs were given bar blenders but honestly, I don’t think that affected the outcome too much. Beyond the obvious ingredients–tomato, onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime–each took a different approach. All were far superior, by the way, to what you get at the original Hussong’s in Ensenada, where the chips are topped with a very plain, relatively dry pico de gallo of tomato, onion, cilantro and jalapeno.

The first of the three we judged used more fresh peppers and was the most traditional–a little heat, a lot of vegetable flavor. The second used a lot of smoked chilis, making it extremely hot on the back end, with a thick, almost mole-like texture. It almost won. But ultimately Alcala’s recipe prevailed with a “kitchen sink” mentality, using a wide variety of fresh peppers, two hot sauces, almost a dozen dried spices, for an all-encompassing flavor with a lot of heat from beginning to end, that stayed with you (it took me holding a gulp of margarita in my mouth for 30 seconds to calm it down). It wasn’t just the heat that made it a winner though, but the variety of “heats” and flavor complexity–also the wet but thick consistency, which helped it stick well to tortilla chips.

Photos courtesy Bryan Steffy/Magnetic PR

Chefs Noe Alcala, Tino Guzman and Michael Vargas

Chefs Noe Alcala, Tino Guzman and Michael Vargas

Chinese New Year, Singapore Style, with Wolfgang

You know that we live in a weird, wild, wonderful world, when you can celebrate Chinese New Year, Singapore style, in Los Angeles, with an Austrian!

At least, that’s how I felt when I attended a celebration luncheon on February 8, with Wolfgang Puck and Rocksugar Chef Mohan Ismail at Puck’s WP24 in Downtown LA’s new Ritz-Carlton, hosted by the Singapore Tourist Board and YourSingapore.com. The Singaporeans threw the event to celebrate the exploding Western interest in their island republic, particularly in the culinary world. Puck is about to open a new CUT there, and other star chefs with new Singapore restaurants include Joel Robuchon, Guy Savoy, Mario Batali, and Daniel Boulud. Not that Singapore’s renowned pan-cultural food scene really needed their help!

Anyway, enough of my yakking, here’s some pics of the elegant, flavorful meal we enjoyed (along with Singapore Slings and Tiger Beer)…just to make your mouth water.

SCOOP: Paolo Barbieri MS joins Scarpetta

Paolo Barbieri

It’s not often I get to announce big food world news, but a right place-right time conversation with Scott Conant this morning about his wine program brought this bombshell. Master Sommelier Paolo Barbieri, late of the recently shuttered Restaurant Alex in the Wynn resort, has joined Conant’s team as Wine Director of both Scarpetta and D.O.C.G. in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

This is not just a coup for Conant and the Cosmo (Barbieri is one of the most respected Somms in the entire US) and Las Vegas (ibid) but in a way for Barbieri as well, since it means he doesn’t have to move, and gets to shift focus from selling big French and California labels to Italian wines, of which the native Roman is undoubtedly well versed.

Well, I expect it’s a coup for him… I’ll look to get a quote from Paolo as soon as the p.r. people get over being upset with me for breaking the news (apparently) early.

UPDATE: Look for my interview with Paolo in the May 2010 issue of THE TASTING PANEL.

BTW, Barbieri is also a winemaker, so no doubt we can expect his California Syrahs to be among the few domestics on Scarpetta’s list.

Conant informs me that Scarpetta and D.O.C.G.’s wine programs, already quite serious, will be expanding even further.

The Smithereens Files

The Smithereens were one of the first of several bands coming out of New Jersey that I was fortunate enough to write about in the early years of my career as they emerged to national attention (others included Monster Magnet and Ween). It is an incredible feeling to see a band who played your local bar appear in movies, on TV, and eventually score a #1 hit. I think these articles (three revisions in a short period of time) capture the energy and excitement of that experience, even if they are very rough by my own standards today.

Click on all pages to enlarge.

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Palm Springs’ Hipster Haciendas

After staying away for a few years, it was remarkable to return to the Coachella valley and note the cultural changes in Palm Springs, a once-sleepy, retirement-centered town which has now re-embraced its Hollywood connections and surviving midcentury modern architecture. Several boutique hotels have been restored to create some of the hippest resorts anywhere. Take a look at my feature article for Dallas/FtWorth’s 360 West magazine, or just enjoy some of my candid pics…

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Las Alamandas: The Hidden Treasure of Jalisco

One of the most unforgettable travel experiences of my career was visiting Mexico’s incredibly exclusive Las Alamandas resort, south of Puerto Vallarta. Dreaming of simple luxury, prompt service and unspoiled nature in one spot? This is it. Take a look at my story for Fort Worth/Dallas’ 360 West magazine, or just enjoy some of my personal pics…

Click above to download a PDF of the full article

Click above to download a PDF of the full article

Interview Here, Eat Free

Steven Siegel is Las Vegas Businessman of the Year–at least, if you ask me. I can’t think of any other entrepreneur who has made more dynamic, adventurous, and smart business moves in a challenging economy than the owner of the ever-expanding Siegel Suites as well as the Artisan, Rumor, Lodge at Mount Charleston, Gold Spike and other hotels.

Click the photo or link below to download the PDF of my interview with Steven Siegel from DAVID Magazine

Click the photo or link below to download the PDF of my interview with Steven Siegel from DAVID Magazine

My interview with him for DAVID magazine revealed even more than I expected, too–from his unpredictable youth to his current community involvement. CLICK HERE to download the full article!

Try On A New Thai

With all the talk of the new cuisine in Cosmopolitan, a few other smaller restaurant openings on the Las Vegas Strip this season have been largely overlooked. One is so hidden, you can hardly blame anyone for missing it: SEA Thai, in Bally’s–a resort that’s long suffered without any significant food updates.

SEA Thai: lousy picture, great room

SEA Thai: lousy picture, great room

Nestled next to the Steakhouse, “SEA – The Thai Experience” (as it’s rather ostentatiously called, officially) is an outpost of an expansive chain around Metropolitan New York (including the peep, spice and Eat= restaurants), and befitting that background, the compact rectangular space combines modern and traditional décor to create an intimate but casual metropolitan-style environment. Beyond some funky-retro bubble chairs in the front, there are simple bare wood booths surrounding a pool reflecting a large Buddha statue, with a few more secluded booths to one side and a private dining room to the other. In a typical city this would be pleasant enough, but on a Strip full of huge spaces it’s uncommonly appealing (the Steakhouse’s intimate size is also one of its enduring strengths). I can’t imagine a more atractive spot for a casual but potentially romantic date.

Of course, the irony is that most of SEA’s spaces in NYC are very large and Vegas-flashy. Thankfully, the chain understands counter-programming. By the same token, SEA’s concept from the beginning has been to make no secret of their American-friendly twists on Thai cuisine. One can poke them for “inauthenticity” all you want, but then again, any US Thai restaurant is likely just as inauthentic when you consider that we don’t generally have the same fish available in America that they do in Thailand (it’s likely our land animals taste different as well), and that any cuisine is going to adapt to a different culture whether it’s trying or not. But that’s a whole ‘nother essay.

The shortcut on this subject is to say that I didn’t find SEA Thai’s dishes to be particularly “fusiony” or “dumbed down,” just prepared with a slightly stronger eye toward pretty presentation.

duck lettuce wraps

duck lettuce wraps

The menu, which actually offers Thai and Vietnamese dishes (on separate sides), covers the expected classic noodle dishes, salads and curries as well as house specialties—enough variety, but not so much as to be overwhelming, or exhaustively inclusive, as many Thai kitchens can be. Just the fact that they offer four kinds of rice–jasmine, brown, sticky and coconut—makes an impression.

From the Thai menu, I started with duck lettuce wraps, which were not Chinese-style lettuce wraps (as I expected) but spicy tender duck breast wrapped with steamed lettuce inside a spongy wrap bread (rice-based, I believe), and covered in two sauces—sweet, savory comfort food. Then I tried two Thai standards: a papaya salad, and an order of drunken noodles with shrimp and tofu.

papaya salad

papaya salad

The papaya salad, I have to tell you, was everything it should’ve been: crispy, crunchy sweet and spicy, with all the ingredients finely juilenned, so the flavors mixed better than they typically do from a coarser chop. The drunken noodles had solid rad na and firm, flavorful tofu, and to be honest, I found myself returning to it as I sampled the following dishes—which is one of the most meaningful compliments a food reviewer can offer.

Viet spring rolls (as if you couldn't guess)

Viet spring rolls (as if you couldn't guess)

From the Viet side, I also stuck to a couple of standbys: spring rolls, which were typical, but delicately crisp and not too greasy, and a bowl of classic pho. The latter came to table not only generously portioned (which is typical) but with a large array of sauces and spices to season. That much again, made an impression. But the soup itself was just okay, nothing terribly special, the noodles just a bit overdone. There’s a lot of pho in Vegas–even a judicious amount on the Strip–so that’s a busy road to travel.

I’m not saying SEA Thai threatens Lotus of Siam or Archii’s to take Vegas’ local Thai crown (Nor does it supercede Wazuzu or Lemongrass on the Strip). But it certainly sidestepped the predictability I’ve felt in most American Thai restaurants for at least the past five years. Prices are not Spring Mountain cheap, but they’re not unreasonable. And staying open until 2 AM certainly makes it a preferable choice to the standard casino cafe.

The restaurant also offers some creative cocktails, but as I was visiting at lunchtime, I abstained. That’s enough of an excuse to make me plan a return, and try some of the kitchen’s more creative dishes.

Spoiler Alert? Essential Las Vegas Restaurants

With my friend and mentor, John "Eating LV" Curtas

With my friend and mentor, John "Eating LV" Curtas

That there Al Mancini has been goading me for a week now on Facebook. He’s understandably proud of the project he spearheaded—Eating Las Vegas, The 50 Essential Restaurants—a unique collaboration between him and fellow leading food critics John Curtas (from whose blog the name comes) and Max Jacobson (can’t believe Heidi Knapp-Rinella didn’t want to participate!). Because I am nearly as active a food writer in Vegas as they are, Al has been teasing me about the “secrecy” of the list, to be released Wed Nov 17 at a special event at Joel Robuchon (Guess he made the list. Well, duh).

Monkfish a la Guy Savoy

Monkfish a la Guy Savoy

What I’ve been trying to say to Al, without becoming “that guy,” is that I really don’t need to see the list. I know what it is. That’s not to say I’m uninterested in seeing how they ranked the restaurants, and who loved/hated what. But the Top 50 spots in Vegas? Since I’ve had the really fortunate opportunity to experience almost as much as they have, I pretty much know what they picked—partially because I know which places are the best, and partially because I know which places the guys all have soft spots for (and also, hard spots).

I know myself well enough to know I’ll be dying to respond to their list, and I’ve been wrestling with that because I have no desire to start some bitchfest. We all have different palates, and amen to that. So I realized the only way to prevent myself would be to blog about the book before I even see it.

Click to link to Amazon. Come on, it's only 12.95!

Click to link to Amazon. Come on, it's only 12.95!

Thus,the list. Well, it’s A list, anyway. I have to admit I have a bit of an issue with the word Essential. Personally, I don’t feel there are really 50 essential—as in life changing, unique, incomparable—food experiences in Vegas. Don’t get me wrong, there are many many solid, worthwhile, even excellent restaurants in town. At least 100 by my count. Which is an incredible amount for any city. But essential? I’m sure New York has 50 essential restaurants. San Francisco might. I doubt Chicago does. I know Los Angeles does not.

I was undecided about whether to make this My list or what I think Their list will be. I decided to split the difference, so first I’ve listed what I expect we can all agree upon. Then there are a few that I can predict they will include but that I wouldn’t necessarily. The next bunch are ones I think are essential but I expect they’ve left off. They’re numbered, but I haven’t obsessively ordered them (in other words, #12 isn’t lesser than #9, okay?). And after that, a “slush pile” of other restaurants in Vegas which I think are excellent but not necessarily altogether life-changing.

Did I forget something? Probably. I know, I suck.

Avec les Savoys, Pere et Fils

Avec les Savoys, Pere et Fils

Essential

1. Guy Savoy
2. The Mansion
3. L’Atelier
4. Bartolotta
5. Sage
6. Alex
7. Raku
8. Michael Mina
9. Aureole
10. Twist
11. Picasso
12. RM Upstairs
13. Carnevino
14. Ichiza
15. NOVE Italiano
16. Craftsteak
17. RM Seafood
18. Bradley Ogden
19. American Fish
20. Los Antojos
21. Shibuya
22. Sensi
23. Jean-Georges Steakhouse
24. Lotus of Siam
25, Archi’s
26. Border Grill
27. The Country Club
28. MIX

Piquillo peppers estilo Julian Serrano

Piquillo peppers estilo Julian Serrano

On their list but not mine:

Most of the following are absolutely exceptional restaurants, they just don’t necessarily fit my own conception of “Essential,” as above.

29. Bar Masa
30. Bosa 1
31. Botero
32. Bouchon
33. China Mama
34. CUT
35. Fleur de Lys
36. Honey Pig
37. Julian Serrano
38. Le Cirque
39. Marche Bacchus
40. N9ne
41. Origin India
42. Rosemary’s
43. Sen of Japan
44. Settebello
45. Society
46. Spago
47. Todd’s Unique Dining
48. Valentino
49. Wazuzu
50. Yellowtail

Italian Benedict at Verandah

Italian Benedict at Verandah

Mine but probably not theirs:

29a. Luv Its (okay, it’s not a restaurant, but it is one of the landmark eateries of the city. You can’t get it anywhere else)
30a. Marssa
31a. Max Brenner (not only kills a category but seals it in concrete)
32a. Morel’s (As an overall experience, Morel’s is meh. But with over 60 cheeses to choose from and as many wines by the glass, that in particular is a very unique opportunity. Dig in.)
33a. Serendipity 3 (not just whimsical, but actually good quality and clever flavor combinations. Don’t over-order)
34a. Strip House (good food in a fantastic atmosphere)
35a. Studio B Buffet (a buffet? Yes, this buffet)
36a. SushiSamba: (Japanese/South American fusion, excellently executed, in a unique atmosphere)
37a. Tender (Not sure why this doesn’t get more notice—they have a category-killing game menu).
38a. Verandah (for breakfast)

[and let me add, of the restaurants coming to Cosmopolitan, I expect Scarpetta/DOC, Jaleo, ChinaPoblano, that Greek fish place, and Comme Ca to be worthy of essentiality]

Time to make the donuts...er...noodles.

Time to make the donuts...er...noodles.

Very very good, but just shy of life-changing

Andre’s
Beijing Noodle No. 9
BOA (Yes, I’ve called this the best steakhouse in Vegas, in the balance. But I don’t think that makes it essential, just enjoyable. Other steakhouses have bigger imperfections,but also more unique strengths)
Brand Steak
Delmonico
Dos Caminos
Eiffel Tower Restaurant
Envy
Fiamma
Hank’s
Jasmine
Joe’s Stone Crab
KGB Burger
Little Buddha
Lupo
Mon Ami Gabi
MOzen
Nob Hill
Nobu
Okada
Payard
Prime
Rare 120
SeaBlue
Simon for Brunch
Sinatra
Smashburger
Sonoma Cellar
Strip Steak
Tableau
Tea Lounge, Mandarin Oriental
Top of the World
Twin Creeks

Okay. Go eat.

Inside A Legendary Las Vegas Penthouse Suite (pics)

The private elevator to the Sky Villas

The private elevator to the Sky Villas

I’ve been inside some of the most impressive high-roller suites in Las Vegas–almost too many to name (Oh alright, I’ll name them: The Paiza level at Palazzo, Villas at Mirage, MGM Sky Villas, several at Caesars Palace–though not the Presidential–Bellagio, Vdara, Aria, Mandarin Oriental, Tropicana–new and old–Imperial Palace, Harrah’s, and Metro at Flamingo, all the kooky ones at Palms and Hard Rock and a few at Wynn/Encore, though not the Wynn Villas).

HiltonVeronaVilla2

But very few compare to the 15,000 square foot Verona Sky Villa at the Las Vegas Hilton. I got a chance to check out the Sky Villa last week as part of an overall property review, and wanted to share these pics that reassert how Vegas–past, present, and surely future–can do some things in ways no one else can. Fifteen thousand square feet. Think about that. A typical hotel room is 500.

HiltonVeronaVilla3

One of three huge penthouses atop the Hilton, it was originally created in the late ’80s, when the top floor was redivided from what was originally a nightclub and Elvis’ legendary suite (you know, the place where he shot Robert Goulet on the TV). It is “continually updated”  according to LV Hilton Sales Manager Joy Burns (my tour guide). The copious marble is really Italian, and the gold fixtures are really gold (well, at least gold plated–solid gold would be too soft).

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It would exhaust me to list all amenities, but highlights of the three bedroom suites and common areas include several multi-person spa tubs, an outdoor pool and lawn, automatic curtain and lighting controls, grand piano, full bar and hidden butler pantry (what, you’re going to cook? yeahright.) The Venetian-style Rennaissance decoration is lavish and excessive but somehow manages to avoid being garish, mostly just by well done.

While there are likely accommodations in the MGM Mansions or Wynn Villas that equal or top this (even if they lack the citywide views), this is almost certainly the most lavish suite in the city, if not these entire United States, that anyone can book. That’s right, $15,000 rack rate a night (“very negotiable” Joy Burns allows) and this place is yours. If you can’t seal the deal here, give up.

Tales of Retail: Haute Living blog

Bleu

Bleu

Yes, I have also written about designers, fashion and retail a fair amount in my career. These blog posts from Haute Living are some of my most recent work in this category:

Sustainable Chic: Kendall Conrad’s Venice Boutique

Beach Hair Bingo: McMillan and Canale in Malibu

Green Is The New Black: Eco-Salon Event

Keep Your Lid On: Hollywood’s Haute Hatter

Haute Décor: the Haute 5 Home Décor Stores in Los Angeles

Haute Couture: The Haute 5 Fashion Boutiques in Los Angeles

Shoe Ins: The Haute Five Shoe Stores in Los Angeles

Keeping Summer Alive: A “Natural” Tan Without the Sun

Haute Arrival: Vanessa Bruno’s First American Boutique

Hot Couture: Kao Pao Shu by Naida Begeta Hits Santa Monica

Santa Monica Place: A Blessed Re-Opening

Back to School: The Haute 5 Kid’s Clothing Stores in Los Angeles

Fashion Night Out: A Global Celebration of Style

Haute Living blog: Los Angeles Culture

Baryshniikov550

Arts, museums and culture aren’t easy-sell topics on the web, so it’s a pleasure to have a forum to promote them, even a little. Here are a few of my blogs on cultural events, gallery showings and more in LA:

Dance: Baryshnikov, A Legendary Occasion

Singular Cause, Singular Event: Art Project Los Angeles Benefit

Haute Performance: Shen Yun at Dorothy Chandler

LAND Sakes: An Arts Benefit Not to be Missed

Haute Tribute: The Academy’s Classic Cinema

Decorative Haute: The Furniture of Charles Rohlfs

Competitive Canvases: Thomas Eakins’ Sporting Lives

Haute Ticket: Rent Hits Hollywood Bowl With A-List Cast

Conceptually Haute: John Baldessari’s Pure Beauty

Music to My Ears: The Haute 5 Live Music Venues in Los Angeles

Classics Revisited: Dick Van Dyke’s Geffen Benefit

Party Time: The Haute 5 Galas in Los Angeles

Haute Hyphenate: Herb Alpert’s Black Totems

Haute Legacy: Frank Sinatra Jr at the Catalina

Red, Haute ‘n’ Blues: The Pasadena Jazz Fest

Dennis Hopper’s Double Visions

Perfect Portraiture: The Photographs of Yousuf Karsh

Event of the Season: Concours D’Elegance Arrives

Haute Ticket: John Cale Performs Paris 1919 Live

Haute Culture: Placido Domingo Premieres Il Postino


Staycation In Style: Haute Living blogs on LA Hotels + Spas

Aromatherapy Massage at SpaRelaken Photo By Jimmy Cohrssen

Aromatherapy Massage at SpaRelaken Photo By Jimmy Cohrssen

One of the hardest parts of blogging LA is covering it’s recent explosion of boutique hotel experiences and spas. Gosh, staying in different fancy suites and getting pampered every night can really wear you out. ;-)

Hautels: The Haute 5 Hotels in Los Angeles

The Room IS The View: A Staycation at SLS

Haute horses: Del Mar Debuts

Ready To Bare It: The Haute 5 Spa Treatments

Haute Seclusion: The Beverly Wilshire Spa is a Hidden Treat

Found Horizons: The Sexy Scene at Shangri-La

Haute Hybrid: Miyako Hotel and spaRelaken

At the Top: The Top 5 Penthouses in Los Angeles

Pamper. Rinse. Repeat. Spa Week hits Los Angeles!

Petit Ermitage: West Hollywood’s Most Exclusive Club

Haute Living Blog: LA Restaurants and Chefs

At the Raw Bar with Water Grill's David LeFevre and Amanda Baumgarten

At the Raw Bar with Water Grill's David LeFevre and Amanda Baumgarten

In 2010, I took a position that brought me back to writing regularly about Los Angeles, blogging for Haute Living. While HL covers all things luxury, food is a strong focus, and one I certainly felt comfortable covering. Here are some of my blogs on LA’s great restaurants and chefs:

Follow That Food Truck: Coolhaus Ice Cream

Haute 5 Locavore Restaurants In LA

Haute5 Summer Wine Recommendations

Haute 5: Places To Watch World Cup

WineHouse Up on the Roof

Cheers: Haute 5 Local Bars

Silver Lake’s Spice Station

Silverton’s Gelato Bar

Melisse Guest Chef Series

Haute5 Al Fresco Restaurants

Top Chef’s Amanda Baumgarten

Haute Reservation: Rick Bayless’ Red O

Local Dish: The Haute 5 Favorite Restaurants for Locals in Los Angeles

Dining with Our New Top Cheftestants: Alex Reznik

Vive Le France: The Haute 5 Restaurants in Los Angeles

Keep Your Lid On: Hollywood’s Haute Hatter

This Monday, Try Missing The Mea

Sumptuous Lazy Sundays: The SLS Hotel Brunch

Wakey, Wakey: The Haute 5 Places to Eat Breakfast in Los Angeles

Hidden Haute: Westwood’s Glendon Is A Spot Worth Seeking

Sweet Sensations: The Haute 5 Ice Cream Shops in Los Angeles

Star Power: The Haute 5 Celebrity Hangouts in Los Angeles

Santa Monica Place: A Blessed Re-Opening

It Gets No Hauter: Petrossian Caviar For All Occasions

Plate By Plate Gathers LA’s Best Chefs

Easy Does It Indeed: Upper West A Satisfying Spot

Kiss the Chef: The Haute 5 Chef’s Tables in Los Angele

Haute Daycation: Paso Robles Wine Country Olive Fest

Haute Plates: Get Ready for the Taste of Beverly Hills

Sugar High: The Haute 5 Bakeries in Los Angeles

The Haute 5 Burgers and Fries in Los Angeles

StarChef Score: Scott Conant Comes to Montage Beverly Hills

Roll with It: The Haute 5 Spicy Tuna Rolls in Los Angeles

Found Horizons: The Sexy Scene at Shangri-La

Sugar Shock: The Haute 5 Desserts in Los Angeles

When You’re Haute, You’re Haute: LAT Food and Wine Fest

Haute off the Grill: Your Neighborhood Butcher

Go with the Flow: The Top 5 Fish Restaurants in Los Angeles

Caliente Cantinas! The Top 5 Mexican Spots in LA for Independence Day

Japanese Elixir: The Top 5 Sake Joints in Los Angeles

Haute Hamburger: The Counter Sets The Table

Hungry? Puck, Matsuhisa and Keller Have Some Nibbles For You

Midnight Munchies: The Top 5 Late-Night Restaurants in Los Angeles

Petite Ermitage: West Hollywood’s Most Exclusive Club

Haute and Getting Haute-r: Rock Sake’s Seth Podell

The Edendale Grill: Marketing and PR Kit

Over my career, I have produced several press releases, marketing kits and publicity bios for various companies. I will post them here as time allows, but for the moment, the best example of this work is the marketing kit I created for the restaurant I helped open with me (now ex-) wife, The Edendale Grill in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, 2002.

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Click the image above to download the marketing kit PDF.

Views of Edendale Grill taken by E. C. Gladstone

Views of Edendale Grill taken by E. C. Gladstone

Click the image above to download the original Edendale Grill Menu (Also written by me). Note the inclusion of Red Velvet Cake before it became a national trend…Oysters Rockafeller…and handcrafted Prohibition-era cocktails.

Charlie Chaplin in his first film, Edendale, 1914

Charlie Chaplin in his first film, Edendale, 1914

Click above to download my History of Edendale and details of the original historic photo display that I curated.

And click here for a related Edendale history post on Patch.com/EchoPark

Fountain Fantasists WET Design in Vegas and Macau

I’ve had the pleasure of writing about the astounding WET company (the forces behind the Bellagio fountain and so much more) three times now. I hope to do it again.

lumia, crystals

lumia, crystals

Click above for my Las Vegas Weekly on WET and the creation of the City Center features.

volcanew5

Click above to download my story about the new Mirage volcano
WETWynnMacau

Click above to download my story about the WET feature at Wynn Macau

Las Vegas Weekly clips

From cover stories, to small breaking news items, I’ve done a wide variety of work for the Las Vegas Weekly–one of the stronger Weekly newspapers in the country, with an award-winning website. Some links are below…

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COVER STORY: How A Downtown Hotel Helped Turn Las Vegas Into The Ninth Island

Local Grindz: Best Hawaiian Food In Las Vegas

COVER STORY: At Home With Burlesque Queen Dita Von Teese

I Tappa Keg: The Freakin’ Frog’s New Cask Society

Delmonico Steakhouse’s Secret Whisk(e)y Stash

It’s In the  Shake: How To Analyze Your Bartender

Au Revoir, Restaurant Alex

10 Things You Need To Know About Hakkasan

Inside Vegas’ Most Influential Bar

Forte lands a special delivery for Rainier Cherry Day

The Candy Man Can: Jean-Marie Auboine Opens New Chocolate Institute

Funk Legend Jimmy Castor Dies At Henderson Hospital

Vegas Feels Fuku Envy as favorite food truck sets down LA roots

Pat DiNizio’s Rock Star Confessions

Drinking like Jay-Z with the Ace Of Spades

Drink Locally, Act Globally

Reviving Viva Elvis

Gary LaMorte Leaves Andre’s

Oscar Goodman Takes The Dome

Why Las Vegas is the Real Burger Capital of the Country

Caesars’ Poolside Punch Man

How Safe Is Our Sushi?

COVER STORY: Step Into a Vegas Cab And You Might Be Taken For a Ride

Atomic 7′s Revolutionary Ice Cream

SnoBar Booze-pops Head For The Strip

City Center’s Cell-Phone Techno-Fail

WET Design’s Aquatic Marvels

Inside The First US Bodypainting Championships

Crime (Kinda) Pays: Vegas Mob Lieutenant Frank Cullotta

Pursuing The Perfect Vegas Buffet

Playmate Vs. Food: Laura Croft Meets Vegas’ Biggest Burrito

Inside the Palms’ New Barbie Fantasy Suite

Sam Butera, R.I.P.

A Vegas To-Do List for President Obama

Three Questions with Ernie Isley

Previewing the Hardbat Table Tennis Tournament

All E.C. Gladstone stories on LasVegasWeekly.com

Frank Cullotta’s Thumbs-Up For Mob Museum

“How it felt to kill somebody? I think that’s sort of a weird question.”

51fEIlXUltL._SS500_A few weeks ago, I published a short Q&A with surviving Vegas mob member-turned-informant Frank Cullotta, on the occasion of his appearance for a discussion in Vegas. But since my colleague John Katsilometes reported today about Mayor Oscar Goodman‘s tour of the forthcoming Mob Museum site, I thought it would be a worthwhile to publish the entire unedited interview with Mr. Cullotta, including his interesting remarks about the Mob museum, and Mr. Goodman. Enjoy…

UPDATE 2011: HERE’S ANOTHER EXCERPT THAT RAN IN NEVADA MAGAZINE

Frank, this isn’t the first time you’ve made an appearance like this since coming out of the Witness Protection Program. What do you you get out of doing this?

“Do I get anything personally out of doing…? Satisfaction of putting people on the right track, let people know what it’s really about. They’re hearing it first hand from a guy that’s been there, instead of seeing it in movies and all that baloney, ‘Cause half of that stuff is so much exaggerated too. So they’re gonna hear it first hand from me, and it makes me feel good that I’m passing the message on, just like I do when I do it in front of these different organizations, law enforcement and stuff like that.

I imagine that for a lot of the people you speak to, they see the glamour in the world you lived in, and I wonder if that makes it harder to set the record straight.

“Well, even setting the record straight, I’ve had these speeches before, and people still like what they hear, and it’s not glamorized, I just tell it like it is, you know, I mean, I don’t exaggerate anything, but it’s still got enough kick that they enjoy hearing it. So I guess my message gets across pretty good without any exaggeration, So they come away with a lot of questions for me. They like to talk to me one-on-one afterward.

What do people ask you about the most?

“Well, the strangest thing people ask me is how it felt to kill somebody. I think that’s sort of a weird question. And how did you have to do these things, are you ordered to do these things, and what happens if you don’t do these things, the consequences that would take place, and uh, ah, basic stuff, that’s about it really.

fcullottaIs that the weirdest question you’ve ever gotten?

“I dunno, they seem like they’re all a little weird to me, the questions, but two things I get asked, what would you do if you had it to do over again? What I tell people, I am what I am today because of yesterday, so I have nothing to change about it. And that’s just the way I feel about it. [gets quieter] I am how I am today because of the way I was.

And from what I know about your past, you were really born into the life.

“Well I was, I was. I grew up in that neighborhood where everybody was either a cop, a fireman, or a gangster. I come from that background, I had no other way to go. I don’t think I had any other choice, cause I thought tough choices were the ones I had to make, and there weren’t any other choices left. There was no such thing as college, nobody even talked about college, you had to be a millionaire to go to college, that’s the way we looked at it. And what good would an education do you back then, if you had street sense? With street sense, you could make money, and you’d see these guys that you looked up to and they always had big wads of money on them, nice cars, stuff like that.

You wrote your book 3 years ago–how did you feel about the reception, and reactions?

“I felt good I got good reactions, good review on the book, I felt great about it. I would’ve loved to put more in there, but there’s only so much you can put in, more about my life. But I guess we got the point across. Seemed like I got a lot of people enjoyed it. And I got people I knew who said ‘you shoulda said this, you shoulda said that,’ well, that’s life, you just can’t please anybody.

Beyond pleasing anyone else, do you feel there’s more you want to talk about, more you want to say?

“See, writing a book and doing a speech are two different things. I couldn’t basically go up there and talk to these people about my whole life, because I don’t have enough time. As far as anything else I want to say, I wouldn’t say it unless I went and did a book again, And I would have to go back through my whole life and pull things out. And it’s a pretty hard process, let me tell ya.

The "Hole In The Wall Gang" under arrest. Cullotta is at far right.

The "Hole In The Wall Gang" under arrest. Cullotta is at far right.

I bet—I was reading something about the number of incidents you’ve been involved in, and the thing that struck me is how do you even remember doing that many?

“I understand what you’re saying and I get that question to me a lot of times. And I just sit back alone and I talk into the recorder and things start coming back to me. You know, every robbery you go on, 90% of them are exciting, they’re a challenge, so they stay with you. Some are more exciting than others. So you go from one to the other, and try to remember what other one you forgot, and that comes up, it might be a dud. I still couldn’t put half of them things in the book it would be totally impossible I’d be talking for a year! Cause I did a lot of robberies. Some of them were exciting and there were some duds. But the majority were exciting.

Is that part of the appeal of that life?

“No, the glamor. People sort of look up to you. Money is the root of all evil, let’s say it like it is. You got money, you got friends, you got no money, you got no friends. You got money, you got people following you all around the place. If you’re a bum, nobody wants to be around you. You can see that with street people, nobody wants to be around them. You got a guy who’s a CEO, everybody wants to be around him. So it’s a lot of glamor. It’s power. You get off on it. Everybody does.

Speaking of glamor, let’s talk about Vegas in the old days—any favorite memories?

“Every day over there was a nice day. Even the days I got followed by the cops. Small town. I was never bored there. That’s a town you could get bored in, if you live there. You could get bored very easily over there, and wind up gambling. Even if you’re not a gambler. I enjoyed every day over there, it was nice.

You didn’t gamble?

“I did gamble but I had other things to do. I didn’t have that much idle time where I could gamble every day. But I did gamble. I’m like everybody else, I went out there and I gambled. And I won a lot. Yeah,oh yeah. And I had a lot of fun. Cause I played craps.

Did you know what casinos were better to play in than others?

“No, I would try to stay away from the casinos that we were connected to, the outfit, you know, that we had our hands in, for the simple reason that we didn’t want to take money away from our own people, so I tried to go to other ones, and didn’t put no heat on them. Cause the first thing they see, they see a guy like me in the Stardust winning money? Oh, he’s go that set up with the casino, you automatically put heat on your people’s casinos. So I went to other ones.

Speaking of the Stardust, did you have any reaction when Frank Rosenthal passed?

“Ah, he lived a good life, I had no bad feelings against the guy. He had a great life. Frank lived his life the way he wanted to, he was a very clever man. He was used very well, he made a lot of money for the organization that I was involved in. He had a lot on the ball when it came to gambling. It was a job to him, he made it his business to make sure he knew everything about who was sick, who had a broken toe, who had a cold, these althletes. He was a smart operator in that and we used him–the Organization. Frank wasn’t really somebody that you would sit down and talk about every robbery you did with, he was on a different level, you would say.

2938675000_114ac560c5You owned a pizza place in Vegas.

“Yeah, it was called the Upper Crust. It was on Flamingo and Maryland Parkway. Me and Leo Gardino, my partner, we made about 4-5 scores and we put the restaurant up with the money from the robberies. We were going to manage it, cook, be hands on. We started out doing good, and then as soon as the cops found out we were in this business they started harassing people going in there, like casino bosses who were scared they’d lose their gaming permits if they came in my place. We had some movie stars that used to come in there—Wayne Newton was in there 3-4 times. From my understanding, they pulled him over in the parking lot one time and said ‘Do you know the kind of restaurant you’re going in to?’ And he said ‘Yeah, a good Italian restaurant.’ I know he was in there, we set up the whole restaurant for him, closed the place for him a couple times. Robert Conrad, Skip Minetti [sic], the guy who was Stallone’s brother in Rocky, a lot of beautiful showgirls from the Stardust and places. But they started putting a lot of heat on [customers].

Pizza is a hotly debated issue in Vegas these days—how was your pie?

“We had great pizza. It’s all about the dough, the water, how you get that stuff to rise. We had a good recipe, where the crust didn’t droop over when you pulled out a slice. I didn’t invent it, but, I knew they had a stuffed pizza in Chicago, and I introduced stuffed pizza to Vegas, and it went over good! But when the cops started putting the heat on everybody, I had to start going back on the road [doing robberies]. I had to pay everybody!

Do you miss having a restaurant?

“I couldn’t get in that business now, it’s a lot of headaches. You end up being a prostitute to your place, you’ve got to be there. You end up working every shift for everybody, you have to be a waiter, a delivery man, a pizza maker. But I do miss it, You never get that out of your system.

How did your involvement affect the movie about those times, Casino?

“The [Spilotro] murder. For one thing, I told Martin Scorsese ‘this is not the way it was done. I know they wouldn’t do it in the cornfield, they’re not going to walk somebody in to a cornfield because they’re going to have a meeting there. They’re not stupid. They’re going to do it in somebody’s basement, probably use ball bats on them. If they found no skin or leather from gloves, they probably used some kind of weapon. And it would have to be several guys. His brother was a karate guy. They did use the ball bat in one scene. But that was Marty, it had to be theatrical. But I said when they put him in the grave, they dug the grave square like it was a in a cemetery. I said, they don’t have the equipment to do that! They just dig a hole and throw him in there. So they had to do it all over again.

So what’s the story with Harry Reid? I’ve heard that Reid was in bed with you guys, and also that you had a contract out on him. What’s the truth?

“Nah, he wasn’t involved with us [laughs]. As far as us trying to plant a bomb on his car, because he said he fought the syndicate, that’s bullshit. It wouldn’t have been on the car his family drove, it would have been his personal car. We’re not out to kill wives and kids, we do our homework. I know he wasn’t involved with us.

And what about Oscar Goodman, have you guys settled your differences?

“Ah, we don’t get along. Goodman was my attorney, an adviser on my case. He liked Tony [Spilotoro] a real lot, and I hurt a lot of people when I rolled [turned ‘State’s Evidence'], a lot of people that liked me and thought a lot about me. Goodman, I guess he’s a great mayor, he does a lot for the city. As a lawyer, I don’t have too much confidence in him.

So where does that put you in regard to his pet project, the  Mob museum?

“I have no problem with that, he’s got his hands out of that. I’m going to have a big part in that museum.

What kind of experience do you want people to get out of the museum?

“It’s just like any other mob museum, you see Bonnie and Clyde, all of that stuff. I’m not the curator of the museum, but they were quite interested in my story and Tony’s story, Because I’m a part of the history of Las Vegas. I’m actually the only guy left. So they needed that, and I gave them all I could. There’s no money in it—99% of the stuff I do here, there’s no money in it. But what’s the difference? I’m making money, I got a good life.

What else do you do with your time?

“I’m a busy guy. I’m a businessman. I can’t really get into what I do with you. That’s my personal life.

So you still lead a somewhat protected life?

“I’m always going to lead a protective life. I was doing that when I was crooked. So this is the life I know how to live, I know how to watch my back.

How do you balance that with doing these public appearances?

“I just keep my eyes open, I look around. I look at it like this, if somebody comes after me, and they get me, that was my time to go. Surely if I see somebody make a move towards me, I’m gonna be on them, or I have people around me. I have people watching my back on these deals.

Do you have any reflection on why you’re the last one standing? Is it just luck, or the choices you’ve made?

“We all have a purpose in life. A lot of us don’t know what it is. We sit there and try to figure out what the purpose is… I actually believe this is my purpose. I get so many calls…I get in front of businessmen and talk. So this must be my purpose.

Do you think of this as redeeming your past in some way?

“I don’t know, I guess you could say it’s redeeming. I would just look at it as, this is my purpose.

Are you a religious man? A spiritual man?

“Ah, I believe in God. I don’t go to church, I don’t believe in going into a building and praying with a bunch of people. I don’t believe in confession to a priest, I believe you should have confession with yourself.

A lot of people say Vegas was better back in the old days when the Organization was running things. You’ve spent some time in Vegas recently, how do you feel?

“I think it was a warmer place back then, more social. It wasn’t a meatpacking place that only wanted your money. Or kids all over the place. Now it’s starting to come back, they’re getting rid of that Disneyland effect. It’s a nice place now, I wouldn’t talk anyone out of going there, I go there, I like it there. But I don’t think it’s ever going back to the way it used to be, and I think the way it used to be was nicer.

Back to food, you have any favorite restaurants in Vegas now?

“Believe it or not, I still go to the Peppermill. I love that place, I used to hang in the back all the time. Because I liked that place, I told Scorsese and he shot there with Sharon Stone. They got good food there! They got good food in a lot of restaurants in Vegas.

Write me up good, don’t talk bad about me. I’ll see it personally! I’m just messing with you…

##

Here’s the version on the Las Vegas Sun website

The “Oscars” of Burlesque!

VegasBurlesque1Think Burlesque is dead and gone? Think again, with this peek inside Vegas’ annual Burlesque Hall of Fame pageant weekend (click above to download full PDF)!

I’m happy to boast that this feature is actually quoted on the wall of the Downtown Las Vegas Burlesque Hall of Fame Museum ;-)

Dita for PETA

Dita Von Teese performing in her custom-designed champagne glass bath.

Dita Von Teese performing in her custom-designed champagne glass bath.

In honor of Dita Von Teese’s return to the Crazy Horse of Paris show at MGM Grand, Las Vegas, I thought I would post this interview I did with her last time around, talking about her PETA campaign, and how she would do her own Vegas show if she had a chance. Take a look… (click PETA ad to download PDF)

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Worst of the “Best:” A Response to the “Best of Las Vegas 2010”

With Chef Geno Bernardo, who unfortunately does not cook at Olive Garden.

With Chef Geno Bernardo, who unfortunately for R-J readers does not cook at Olive Garden.

It’s a rite of nearly every publication to do both “Best of”s and Readers’ Polls, but few seem as equally anticipated and dreaded as the Review-Journal’s “Best of Las Vegas,” a readers/staff/celebrities selection, that never fails to engage yet enervate the community. Of course, as long as it’s talked about, it’s a success for the R-J (let me pause to note that I consider several staffers there friends and colleagues), which is probably why the two-decades-plus old poll’s enduring flaws are never cured, and possibly get worse.

No portion of the poll seems to get heads scratching so much as the “Food & Drink” section—restaurants, basically—whose categories are as random as the choices made. The R-J seems to choose genres as they suit them (or perhaps advertisers?), neither reflecting accurately the full breadth of eateries in the valley (and virtually ignoring the “drink” in “Eat & Drink”) nor bothering about how many overlaps there are in the ones they chose (both “Best New Restaurants” choices this year belong in other categories). Why the R-J staff and readers both tend to shun the Strip like a quarantine zone baffles me. It’s the center of the city. Nine out of ten times, casino resorts offer the best eating in town. And no, it is not all priced to gouge tourists.

I “get” that the readers of the R-J are not the same as restaurant critics, and I also get that there’s a great deal of food in the affordable range worthy of praise. What I don’t get is why R-J readers—and staff members, who are presumably more informed—continue to make uninspired or even embarrassing choices at least 50% of the time. I don’t buy the “what ordinary folks like” theory: go on yelp.com and you’ll see all kinds of intelligent, informed reviews by “normal” people about all kinds of eateries in town. (Let me add an extra thumbs-down to the design of the Best Of Eat & Drink page, which makes you click and click back on every category. Is the R-J trying to snub the Sun’s award winning design by being the worst designed website possible?)

Every year, those in the know groan over the choices but rarely put any reactions in print. This year, I decided enough was enough. I’m posting on my personal site so as to be clear that this is my position, and mine only. Feel free to RT, share, Digg, etc..

Best Bakery

Trolley du Pain at Guy Savoy

Trolley du Pain at Guy Savoy

I can’t fault the choice of Freed’s, a Vegas stalwart responsible for great whimsical creations, but when it comes to savory breads, both Wynn’s general baker, and the baker for Guy Savoy’s Trolley du Pain make many remarkable creations (unfortunately neither available at retail).

Best Bar Food

I confess I haven’t sampled the myriad chicken wing creations of many Vegas Pubs, so I might have to beg off this one. But the happy hour menu at Society in Wynn holds many pleasant surprises, and the seared tuna burger at Brasserie Puck in Crystals, City Center is also remarkable for the price, with perfect fries. That’s right, I used the word “perfect.”

Best Deli

Tuna Burger at Brasserie Puck...it's on a bar. Does that make it "bar food?"

Tuna Burger at Brasserie Puck...it's on a bar. Does that make it "bar food?"

I have been warned away from more delis in Vegas than I’ve tried, but Earl of Sandwich in Planet Hollywood makes fine toasted sandwiches—and Enoteca San Marco makes their own deli meats on premises, so how much better can it get than that?

Best Desserts

The choice of Cheesecake Factory here just makes me realize how little most Las Vegans get to sample what their city has to offer. There are several award-winning pastry chefs making miracles on the Strip. Those at Sage, Guy Savoy, American Fish and Aureole are just a few that come to mind right now. M Resort’s buffet desserts are also fantastic, to a one. And again, the dessert trolley at Guy Savoy? It isn’t better in heaven, I’m sure of it.

Best Doughnuts

Nutella filled donuts at Stratta, Wynn. Hate me later.

Nutella filled donuts at Stratta, Wynn. Hate me later.

Dunkin Donuts? Winchell’s?? WTF? The category isn’t “biggest” donuts. At least please pick Ronald’s, a Vegas legend that still holds its own with creative (and vegan) choices. Though really the best donuts in town are the the fresh-made nutella-filled ones at Stratta in the Wynn. Go try them and tell me I’m wrong.

Best Family Restaurant

This is a tricky category—not all restaurants ideal for families necessarily bill themselves as such, Having said that, R-J’s staff pick Red Robin is actually a solid choice, but in reality, any of the Station casino’s buffets, Seasons at Silverton Lodge or the buffet at Main Street Station are better family pleasers (especially if they let the under-six kids in free)

Best French Restaurant

I was scared to even peek at the choices here. There are no shortage of restaurants attemping fine French food in Vegas, though few are inspired. It’s been a while since I’ve been to Marche Bacchus, and I’m happy for them getting the attention, but really, in a town where Guy Savoy, Joel Robuchon, and Pierre Gagnaire are plying their trades, be serious. On a more traditional level, Mon Ami Gabi and Bouchon both deliver solidly

Best Gourmet Restaurant

Far too vague a category. I abstain.

Best Hamburgers

The five dollar Binion's Snack Bar burger. Which you can't buy at In N Out.

The five dollar Binion's Snack Bar burger. Which you can't buy at In N Out. (courtesy Binion's)

This category drives me crazy. I spent more time than I’d want to admit last year trying burgers around Vegas. I know what I’m talking about. There are at least a dozen burgers served in town that are far, far, far better than In N Out at its very best (see my Top Ten Burgers here), but I will spare the snootiness. Just go get a fresh-ground five dollar burger at the snack bar in Binion’s. Eat it next to an In N Out. What are you afraid of?

Best Hot Dogs

Well there’s nothing wrong with a Costco hot dog, especially for the price, and toppings aside, I haven’t found anything in town that necessarily beats them. Although really, considering this consistent winner just makes food to feed its shoppers, is this category necessary?

Best Ice Cream

Do we have to reserve choices to only ice cream, by technical definition, or are we allowed to include fro-yo, gelato, custard, and other frozen options in town? Because frankly, I couldn’t begin to list the things that beat Cold Stone.

Best Indian Restaurant

Haven’t sampled enough Indian in Vegas to comment, but I have had a very fine lamb shank curry with all the proper sides at MOZen in Mandarin Oriental.

Best Italian Restaurant

An even bigger category in Vegas than French—and one with a significant tradition. So that’s why folks chose Olive Garden? Sigh. I could get angry, but really, what I feel is closer to pity. Please—PLEASE—go to the Palms, get on an elevator, and eat at Nove Italiano. It’s really not that expensive. If not there, the Grill at Valentino, Fiamma at MGM, Lupo in Mandalay Bay or Stratta in the Wynn. Olive Garden doesn’t love you. Olive Garden doesn’t need you. They do. (see my Top Ten Italian)

Best Japanese Restaurant

rokuyellowtailfoiegras

Yellowtail sashimi around warm foie gras at Sushi Roku

Another massive category, especially when you include sushi, robata, and everything else. But certainly neither R-J’s staff pick Raku or celebrity pick Ichiza can be slighted. In a more Americanized vein, I’ve also had a very good meal at Sushi Roku recently.

Best Meal for Less Than $10

Considering the tradition of amazing Graveyard Specials in Vegas, one would have to choose one of those, right? Oops, guess that would require some thinking. The Flamingo’s Burger Joint gives you a burger and fries for ONE DOLLAR after midnight. It’s not the best burger in town (even at midnight) but guess what: It’s just as good as In N Out! Buy ten of them for your friends, big spender.

Best Mexican Restaurant

hussongselote

Elote at Hussong's Taqueria

So… we’re supposed to distinguish this from taqueria, I imagine (see below)? Unfortunately, that’s difficult in Vegas, but Dos Caminos and Diego are solid choices—and Hussong’s delivers on many levels. Get the elote. (also see my Notes on eating Mexican)

Best Microbrewery

Not a lot of choices here, but along with the R-J staff, I’ve been impressed with the quality of several brews by Chicago Brewing Company. Color me shocked that I’m agreeing with them in more than one category.

Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

I’ve yet to try an Middle Eastern in Vegas that’s worth remarking upon. Not saying there isn’t any that’s good, just saying I haven’t found anything. I’ll defer to my favorite Greek, John Curtas.

Best Barbeque

Another category I confess might deserve more of my attention (there’s a few funky places on my to-do list), but for the moment, I’ve never been disappointed by Memphis Champs. And the pulled pork sandwich at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill is one of the best I’ve ever had—even in Memphis proper.

Best Other Ethnic Restaurant

I don’t really know where to go with this category… how does someone compare Cuban to Cajun or whatever “Ethnic” is supposed to include or exclude? So I’m going to go with the Hawaiian specialties at the Californian Hotel café. Just Because.

Best Pizza

Thankfully the customers at Metro Pizza aren't insulted by offerings like the mushroom and truffle Bosco pizza at Stratta.

Thankfully the customers at Metro Pizza aren't insulted by offerings like the mushroom and truffle Bosco pizza at Stratta.

A pyrrhic victory at best—I’m sorry to tell everyone, as a East Coaster, that even the best Vegas pizza is only passable by serious standards. But those best pizzas are found at the obvious choices—Settebello, Grimaldi’s, Anthony’s (R-J’s staff pick) all have their strengths—as well as Stratta at Wynn and Grotto at Golden Nugget. Particularly memorable: the Paul & Young Ron at Anthony’s, the Bosco at Stratta.

Best Place for a Power Lunch

By my definition, a Power Lunch spot is a place where atmosphere and service dominate over food itself, which shouldn’t be too distracting. With that in mind, I can’t think of any place better than Country Club at Wynn, Verandah at Four Seasons or Olives at Bellagio. Unless it’s a catered meal by Wolfgang Puck in Steve Wynn’s villa (unlikely, I know).

Best Place for Breakfast

Maybe I should’ve saved that last snarky answer for this one… the best breakfast I’ve had in Vegas was at Tableau in Wynn when Mark LoRusso was still running it. Nowadays? It’s probably Verandah.

Best Seafood Restaurant

The restaurant is very specific—all Italian pesci–but how can you compete with the one-of-a-kind Bartolotta in this regard? Or all-sustainable RM Seafood? Or so many places in Chinatown? I guess you do that by putting coupons in the newspaper, right Red Lobster?

Best Thai Restaurant

The Archi’s vs. Lotus death match must soldier on, but without slighting either, I personally don’t get the obsession with heat over ingredient quality in this cuisine… Lemongrass in Aria certainly does some nice dishes.

Best Coffee/Cappuccino

No strong opinion here—I think really excellent coffee is more and more rare actually—but I have had very fine coffee at Verandah in Four Seasons, and have a soft spot for Coffee Bean on Maryland Parkway.

Best Steakhouse

Gosh, this Craftsteak dry aged ribeye couldn't possibly compare to a filet at Outback, could it? (courtesy MGM/Mirage)

Gosh, this Craftsteak dry aged ribeye couldn't possibly compare to a filet at Outback, could it? (courtesy MGM/Mirage)

My only reaction to Outback winning the Reader’s pick this year is to breathe a sigh of relief that the serviceable but uninspiring Circus Circus did not win a 21st year. For a chain, I’ll admit Outback is edible, if only. I also researched this category extensively within the last year (see my Top Ten!)—there are many fine choices, to which I would add most recently Jean-Georges in Aria. On a more reasonable level, you’ll get a solid slab at Binion’s Ranch, the Carmel Room at Rampart, or The Flame in El Cortez.

Best Sub Sandwich

Whatever.

Best Tacos

I don’t even want to see what was chosen, but the most authentic, savory and satisfying tacos I have had recently in town are actually at Hussong’s in Mandalay Place. Really. Los Antojos obviously has some satisfying options as well (particularly the chicken mole).

Los Antojos' mole tacos

Los Antojos' mole tacos

Best Asian Restaurant

Would this be best Asian, except for Chinese, Thai and Japanese? Nice categorization, editors. Anyway, can’t argue much with Wazuzu, the R-J staff choice, since it’s literally an “Asian” i.e. fiercely pan-Asian restaurant, with a strong chef at the helm.

Best Soul Food Restaurant

Speaking of categories, why this gets one and Wine Bar, or Tapas, or many other growing categories do not, is beyond explanation.

Best Chinese Restaurant

…that you didn’t vote for in the “Asian” category, that is. I doubt even the owner of P.F. Chang’s would say he serves the best Chinese food in Las Vegas. But he’ll take your money.

Best Diner/Coffee Shop

Since we’ve already been asked to vote on best breakfast, best burger, best meal under $10, best coffee…what role does this category serve? I don’t know many places in Vegas that would even classify in my concept of a traditional Diner/Coffee Shop (besides the fact that there’s a decent one in every single casino, but so what?). So I’m going to be “that guy” and pick the Vegas-adjacent Peggy Sue’s in Yermo, CA. Hey, they’ve got a bobble head of Oscar Goodman over the pie case. And some damfine fried chicken.

Best Restaurant With a View

This would have been a different choice before Top of the World significantly remade their menu in December, but they are now the obvious pick weighing the view and food equally. Mix, Voodoo Steak, Sushi Roku, Eiffel Tower, Veloce Cibo, Binion’s Ranch Steakhouse and Panevino are also all solid food-and-view selections.

Best New Restaurant (Opened in 2009)

Goat Cheese Gnocchi at Sage

Goat Cheese Gnocchi at Sage

It’s Sage. Period. No, you’re wrong. It’s Sage (opened December 16, 2009)

DONE

A Movable Fest: Body Painting Championships of North America


My first-person account of the 2010 North American Body Painting Championships. Click here for the  story published in the Las Vegas Weekly.

A Select List Of People I’ve Interviewed

Chefs

Mark Andelbradt, Paul Bartolotta, Geno Bernardo, Osamu Fujita, Martin Heierling, Jean Joho, Emeril Lagasse, Scott Linquist, Shawn McClain, Michael Mina, Rick Moonen, Bradley Ogden, François Payard, Luciano Pellegrini, Guy Savoy, Kerry Simon, Alex Stratta, Masa Takayama, Charlie Trotter, Jean-Georges Vongerichten

Actors, Directors and Personalities

Ben Affleck, Jessica Alba, Alison Anders, Greg Araki, Samaire Armstrong (Entourage, Dirty Sexy Money), David Arquette, Desmond Askew, John August (Go, Charlie’s Angels)

Alec Baldwin, Elizabeth Banks, Roseanne Barr, Kristin Bell (Heroes, Veronica Mars), Lorraine Bracco, Wayne Brady, Michelle Borth (HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me), Steve Buscemi

Kelly Carlson (Nip/Tuck), Kristin Chenoweth (The West Wing), Steve Coogan (24 Hr Party People, Alan Partridge), David Cronenberg, Russell Crowe, Jon Cryer

Matt Damon, Jonathan Demme, Ted Demme, Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Taye Diggs, Robert Downey Jr., David Duchovny, Kirsten Dunst

Jon Favreau, Jerry Ferrara (Entourage), William Fichtner (Prison Break, Black Hawk Down), Clare Forlani, Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous, Wristcutters), Edward Furlong (Terminator 2, American History X)

Beau Garrett (Turistas, Fantastic Four), Janeane Garofolo, Rebecca Gayheart, Larry Gordon, Maggie Grace (Lost), Greg Grunberg (Felicity)

Anthony Michael Hall (Breakfast Club, The Dead Zone), Eddie Izzard, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, Angelina Jolie, Spike Jonze, Tommy Lee Jones, Mike Judge

Kim Kardashian, Stacey Keach, Arielle Kebbel (American Pie Band Camp), Ben Kingsley, Neil LaBute, Diane Lane, Heath Ledger, Tea Leoni, Doug Liman, Eva Longoria, Baz Luhrman, Robert Luketic

Ewan MacGregor, William H. Macy, Romany Malco (Weeds), AnnaLynne McCord (90210), Eric McCormack (Will & Grace), Jay Mohr (Action, The Ghost Whisperer), Sophie Monk, Mandy Moore, Bill Murray, Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy)

Anna Paquin, Audrina Patridge, Bill Paxton, Jesse Peretz, Todd Phillips, Matt Pinfield (MTV, VH-1), Joe Piscopo, Whitney Port, Jaime Pressly

Sam Raimi (Spiderman), Keanu Reeves, Brad Renfro, Ryan Reynolds, Emmy Rossum (Phantom), Geoffrey Rush

William Shatner, Vinessa Shaw (Eyes Wide Shut, 3:10 To Yuma), Ally Sheedy, Jamie-Lynn Sigler (The Sopranos), Kevin Smith, Brittany Snow (Hairspray), Kevin Spacey, David Spade, Steven Spielberg, Sylvester Stallone, Julia Stiles, Ben Stiller, Domenique Swain (Lolita)

Noah Taylor (Shine, Pirates of the Carribean), Dita Von Teese, Charlize Theron, Christopher Titus, Stanley Tucci

Gabrielle Union, Amber Valetta, Gus Van Sant, Vince Vaughn, Natasha Wagner, Paul Walker, Patrick Warburton, Estella Warren, John Waters, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Williams, Owen Wilson, Scott Wolf (Party of Five, Everwood), John Woo

David Zucker (Airplane!, Scary Movie 3/4)

Musical Artists and Producers

Atari Teenage Riot, Dan the Automator (Dr. Octagon/Gorillaz), Burt Bacharach, Beastie Boys*, Beck*, Natasha Bedingfield, Archie Bell, Tony Bennett, Jello Biafra, Bo Bice, Mary J. Blige, Boss Hog, Holly Brook, Bobby Byrd, Mariah Carey, Nick Cave,  Citizen Cope, George Clinton & P-Funk, Bootsy Collins, Julian Cope, John Doe, Greg Dulli (Afghan Whigs/Twilight Singers), the Dust Brothers, Hillary Duff

Earth Wind & Fire, Elastica, Perry Farrell, The Frogs, Greg Ginn, Girls Against Boys, Greyboy, Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters/Nirvana), Gwar, PJ Harvey, Richard Hell, Robyn Hitchcock, Holland, Dozier & Holland, Jamiroquai, Jawbox, the JBs, Wyclef Jean, Jesus Lizard*

Kool Keith, DJ Keoki, KMFDM, Gladys Knight, Korn, Ben Lee, La Ley, Lords of Acid, John Lydon (Sex Pistols/PiL), Ian MacLagan (Small Faces/the Faces), Mazzy Star, Meat Beat Manifesto*, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Ministry, Monster Magnet, Scotty Moore (Elvis’ guitarist), Mudhoney, Wayne Newton, Nickelback

Ohio Players, Yoko Ono, Ozomatli, Prince Paul, Pavement, Pigface, Portishead, Phil Ramone, Red Hot Chili Peppers*, Royal Trux, Gil Scott-Heron, Adrian Sherwood, Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park/Fort Minor)

Slash, Smashing Pumpkins*, The Smithereens, Sonic Youth, Soul Asylum, Soul Coughing, Jon Spencer (Pussy Galore/Blues Explosion)*, Spinal Tap, Candi Staton, Supergrass, John Taylor (Duran Duran), The Temptations, Thrice, Thrill Kill Kult, Urge Overkill, Dave Vanian (the Damned), Veruca Salt, Vitamin C, Don Was, Craig Wedren (Shudder To Think, film composer), Ween*, Weezer

Moguls and madmen

Author Terence McKenna; Industrial/interior designers: Dodd Mitchell, Thomas Schoos; Master mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim; LPGA Pro-golfer Natalie Gulbis; Music Supervisors Karen Rachtman; Chris Douridas, Randy Poster, Happy Walters; Brett Gurewitz (Epitaph Records); Nightclub owner Jason Strauss (Tao, the Mansion, Lavo); Photographer/filmmaker Richard Kern; Rockstar Games’ Sam Houser & Terry Donovan; Skincare guru Kate Somerville; TV producer David Saltz; Water feature engineer Mark Fuller (WET Design); Professional poker player Jennifer Harman

NICHE Media Cover Stories

From 2006-2009, I wrote 25 celebrity cover stories for Niche Media’s luxury titles, including 13 VEGAS magazine covers as well as the following covers for OCEAN DRIVE (Miami) and ATLANTA PEACH:

Eva Longoria Ocean Drive January 2007

Eva Longoria Ocean Drive January 2007

Sophie Monk Ocean Drive May 2007

Sophie Monk Ocean Drive May 2007

Emmy Rossum Ocean Drive May 2008

Emmy Rossum Ocean Drive May 2008

Mila Kunis Ocean Drive August 2008

Mila Kunis Ocean Drive August 2008

kristenbellatlantapeachux2

atl-1.0.0.0x0.399x477-1

KellyCarlson

click to see full text:MAGGIE GRACE

NATASHA HENSTRIDGE

REBECCA GAYHEART      SAFFRON BURROWS

STYLE of the Venetian/Palazzo

CARLA GUGINO

Here’s some attention from bloggers on the Annalynne McCord cover, again here

http://www.stalknblog.com/2008/11/annalynne-mccord-atlanta-peach-magazine-november-2008/

For Kristen Bell:

http://flisted.com/24066/kristen-bell-does-atlanta-peach-magazine/

http://www.beyondhollywood.com/gallery/kristen-bell-is-a-real-peach/

For Maggie Grace:

http://atlanta.metromix.com/events/photogallery/where-were-you-did/557039/content

Designer Dodd Mitchell

Dodd Mitchell's My House nightclub

Dodd Mitchell's My House nightclub

No two spaces are alike for hot LA-based interior designer Dodd Mitchell (click here to download PDF) who continues to top himself with one impressive restaurant or nightclub design after another. I was lucky enough to be able to print one of the more rare lengthy interviews with him.
Other intriguing designers I’ve interviewed include Thomas Schoos and Roger Thomas.

Review: The Gourmet Bachelor

51pbJ9DgfdL._SS400_I met Chad Carns a few months ago at a wine tasting event and was immediately impressed by his genuine enthusiasm, curiosity, and humility—qualities that aren’t common enough in food writing. He sent me a copy of his book for my reaction. Here it is.

The Gourmet Bachelor
By Chad Carns
(Carns Concepts, thegourmetbachelor.com)

At first glance, The Gourmet Bachelor looks like another of those facile coffee table cookbooks, with glistening food photos, slick design, big print and indifferent recipes. But crack it open and you’ll glean a lot of smart insights, experience-based tips and a nice variety of dishes–dinner entrees, some lighter fare, desserts and even breakfast–most of which seem easy enough for any semi-capable cook (while the brevity of instructions is nice for the knowledgable, a true novice could misstep).

Carns structures the book around his personal experience in Greenwich Village, organizing recipes into four weeks of meals, each with varietal wine pairings by Justin Cristoph (a wine expert for Christie’s and others , see www.winechristoph.com), who also provides a smart “Wine 101” chapter. Chef Rob Fitzhenry and others helped Carns develop the book. His locale alone is an unintended endorsement: If Carns can make these recipes in a tiny Manhattan apartment kitchen, they can’t be too difficult.

Of course, the implication within a phrase like the “Gourmet Bachelor” is that these are dishes made to impress a date (if not enliven your solitude). To that end, the enticing book might work almost as well just sitting around the living room—or even the back seat of your car—implying you’re sophisticated and worldly enough to appreciate the international cuisine.

I’m going to try that method first, and let you know how it works out ;)

Photography by Sasha Gitin and Lou Manna, is of course, gorgeous.

[also posted on Amazon.com product page]

Sasha Grey: A Porn Star With Smarts

Talking turkey with adult actress Sasha Grey–at the Silver Lake home of singer/songwriter Devendra Banhart–was a more substantive experience than I expected.

Sasha Grey asked me to hold her muffin. Devendra wore pink PJs.

For some reason, Sasha Grey wanted to know if I could handle her muffin? Devendra's pink PJs: model's own

Here’s why! Read the full story…

Celebrating Sasha Grey's 21st Birthday at TAO, Las Vegas

Celebrating Sasha Grey's 21st Birthday at TAO, Las Vegas

Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Rocks Out

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Pussycat Dolls' Nicole Scherzinger onstage Las Vegas 10/2/09

Those who might question the musical chops of Pussycat Dolls’ lead singer Nicole Scherzinger would be silenced if they saw her performance last night (Oct 2) during a Mirage resort anniversary party hosted by guitarist Slash. Perhaps the most unexpected guest of the rock-legend heavy roster, Scherzinger joined Slash and friends onstage first for a metal version of PCD’s “When I Grow Up,” and then recalled both Heart’s Nancy Wilson and Tina Turner in an undeniably ripping version of “Whole Lotta Love.” Did she kill it? More like she tore it into shreds and hurled it from a freeway overpass.

The next guest, Courtney Love (making a rare stage appearance in recent times) promptly got on the mic and said “I just got my ass handed to me–I can’t follow that!”

NicoleCourtney

Pussycat Dolls' Nicole Scherzinger and Courtney Love embrace backstage, Las Vegas 10/2/09

Afterward, Nicole was overheard backstage saying “I just learned that Led Zeppelin song yesterday.” Other performers on the show–filmed for the US A&E channel–included Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Guns’N'Roses alums Matt Sorum and Duff McKagan [thx MA], Chris Daughtry, Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen and Cypress Hill rapper Sen-Dog. Nicole and Courtney returned to the stage together along with all performers for an encore of G’n'R’s “Paradise City.”

Elsewhere in town that night, Paris Hilton and her thinspo friends held an invite-only bikini evening fashion show at the Hard Rock Hotel pool to introduce Hilton’s sunglasses line– Apparently declaring it hip again to wear ‘sunglasses at night.’

VEGAS Magazine Cover Stories

From 2006 to 2009, as Contributing Editor, I wrote 13 celebrity cover profiles for luxury title VEGAS Magazine. Click on the cover images below for excerpts…

Elizabeth Banks Vegas Magazine September 2009

Elizabeth Banks Vegas Magazine September 2009

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Olivia Wilde Vegas Magazine January 2007

cover_2007_02

Eva Longoria Vegas Magazine Februrary 2007

cover_2007_03

Vanessa Marcil Vegas Magazine March 2007

Jamie-Lynn Sigler Vegas Magazine May 2007

Jamie-Lynn Sigler Vegas Magazine May 2007

cover_2007_07

Tea Leoni Vegas Magazine July 2007

cover_2007_08

Brittany Snow Vegas Magazine August 2007

Saffron Burrows Vegas Magazine November 2007

Saffron Burrows Vegas Magazine November 2007

cover_2008_03-1

Gabrielle Union Vegas Magazine March 2008

cover_2008_08

Jaime Pressly Vegas Magazine August 2008

cover_2008_10

Whitney Port Vegas Magazine October 2008

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Kim Kardashian Vegas Magazine November 2008

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Emmy Rossum Vegas Magazine May 2009

ELIZABETH BANKS (40 Year Old Virgin, Spiderman)

OLIVIA WILDE (Turistas, House)

EVA LONGORIA

VANESSA MARCIL (NBC’s Las Vegas)

JAMIE-LYNN SIGLER (The Sopranos)

TEA LEONI

BRITTANY SNOW (Hairspray)

SAFFRON BURROWS (Boston Legal)

GABRIELLE UNION (Bring It On, Meet Dave)

KRISTIN BELL (Heroes, Forgetting Sarah Marshall)

JAIME PRESSLY (My Name Is Earl)

WHITNEY PORT (The Hills)

KIM KARDASHIAN

EMMY ROSSUM (Phantom)

My Slack Rages: Rhino Reviews, Features

Celebrating the discovery of some rare blues 78s on a trip down South!

Celebrating the discovery of some rare blues 78s on a trip down South!

A few years ago, Rhino Records’ website had a great run of posting original indpendent content. Luckily, they’ve kept most of it on the site since…though the recent changes in staffing there alarmed me enough to post all the links to my work here. Check it out while you can!

One of the gratifying things about writing for online sites is the opportunity to see reader responses posted, as in the articles below…

Tightening Up With Archie Bell

Elvis’ Original Guitar Man Scotty Moore

Legacies:

James Brown:Father of the Funk Part 1, Part 2

Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett

Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun

Producer Arif Mardin


AUDIO PODCAST INTERVIEWS

Gladys Knight

The Temptations

Holland, Dozier, Holland

Jim Dickinson

Arielle Kebbel

What It Is: Funk Box Set


DVD Reviews

Best DVDs of 2005

The Addams Family: Season OneArrested Development: Season TwoAt Last The 1948 Show/Do Not Adjust Your Set (Monty Python)Christmas with SCTVThe Clash: Rude BoyThe Bill Cosby Show: Season OneThe Dick Cavett Show: Comic LegendsThe Dick Cavett Show: Ray CharlesBest of The Electric CompanyEveryone Stares: The Police Inside OutGoodnight We Love You: Phyllis DillerThe Harder They ComeMC5: Kick Out The JamsThe Muppet Show: Season One9 SongsNirvana: Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!No Direction Home: Bob DylanThe Partridge Family: Complete First SeasonPublic Enemy: It Takes A NationSmall Faces: Under Review StonedTales of the Rat FinkThat’s The Way of the WorldTony Orlando & Dawn: The Ultimate Collection

T. Rex: Born To BoogieThe Weird Al Show

CD Reviews

Mary J. Blige Bootsy CollinsThe CoupBetty DavisMissy ElliottEminemGoldie Lookin ChainAl GreenDiana KrallJohn LegendJohn LennonKeith Moon

Roy OrbisonSly & the Family StoneBettye Swann

Bill WithersWolfmotherLif Up Yuh Leg An Trample (Soca)

The Complete Motown Singles vs. Complete Stax/Volt Singles

Son Cubano NYC

LIVE REVIEWS

Beck @ Gibson Amphitheatre

Jamie Cullum @ The Avalon

Brian Setzer Orchestra @ Gibson Amphitheatre

Tony Joe White @ Hotel Cafe

Holly Brook @ Knitting Factory LA

Greg Dulli & Twilight Singers @ The Scene

Reaching even farther back, here’s a reposting of a live review I did for Rolling Stone on the Jesus & Mary Chain…

Sin City Survival Kit

With Lizzie and Tracey (from Fantasy), two of the hottest Vegas Showgirls I know!

With Tracey and Lizzie (from Fantasy), two of the hottest Vegas Showgirls I know!

Here are my answers to your burning questions about Las Vegas:

My Best of Vegas 2010 for Away.com

And more from the Orbitz Vegas files…

Secret Stays and Sorting out City Center

• New Nightclubs,  Top Ten Casino Lounges and Hot new Club Lounges

Top ten Free ActivitiesTop Outdoor Activities and  top tips for Families on the Strip

Rating the Best Showgirl Revues

Romantic Vegas

• Best Places to Get Married

Jennifer Harman’s Top Ten Poker Rooms

A revealing interview behind the scenes of Gaming with Navegante’s Larry J. Woolf

• Best Sportsbooks

• Arts And Culture in the Desert

• All about the Cirque du Soleil shows…  Terry Fator and other headliners Cher, Bette, and other Desert DivasJersey Boys & Human NatureTop Comedians

• Vegas for Car Lovers