A Vegas Classic
Bellagio Las Vegas is the place to relax and enjoy all that the hotel offers, which is a lot. From casinos to nightlife to shopping to swimming pools to the spa, salon and fitness center, you’ll never have to leave the hotel (which is what Bellagio hopes will happen). But it was the over 15 restaurants that caught my attention. Big name chefs from across the U.S. have opened at the Bellagio including Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Prime Steakhouse, Julian Serrano’s Lago, Todd English’s Olives, Michael Mina and Le Cirque by Sirio Maccioni. Bellagio dining choices run the gamut from casual quick eats to a coffee shop to a buffet to upscale dining.
I enjoyed the following three spots during a recent stay:
Caviar and champagne are the name of the game here, although there is a full bar. Take pleasure in the Steinway Grand piano player and enjoy top quality caviar as only Caviar Petrossian Paris can produce. I sampled the Royal Siberian and the Royal Ossetra, two of the four caviar choices. They both contain tasty pearls of caviar and are served with toast points, blinis and all the accouterments (red onions, chopped egg, crème fraîcheand chives). Food samplings, cheeses and desserts are also available.
Chinese, Italian, American, Japanese and seafood are all offered in great quantity at this expansive buffet open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are cooking stations; a weekend brunch that includes champagne; and a Buffet Chef’s Table that requires a reservation. The Chef’s Table can accommodate between 8 and 18 diners and is available from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Expect long lines for the buffet at peak times as this is a very popular dining option.
Harvest by Roy Ellamar
Sustainable and seasonal dining in an open kitchen concept is what you’ll find at Harvest. Snack wagons are rolled through the restaurant serving both savory and sweet offerings. The market-inspired menu offers a Garden (grilled asparagus), Ocean (shells on ice) and Ranch (foie gras) section. There is a stone oven used for fish and lobster and a rotisserie for chicken and porchetta (boneless stuffed pork roast). And don’t miss the sensi naan bread, which is served with three traditional dipping sauces. Harvest’s locally sourced cuisine is definitely making a hit in Las Vegas.
Other Bellagio features include 3950 rooms; the fantastic musical Fountains of Bellagio show set on an 8-acre lake; extraordinary glass sculptor Dale Chihuly’s 2000 hand-blown glass flower ceiling in the lobby; 8000 staff; and two wedding chapels (just in case you need one).
Bellagio Las Vegas
3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
For more tips and recipes check out Sally’s Place.
A Taste Of ARIA Las Vegas
Photo Credit: Biondo Photo
The ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas is a great place to spend your vacation. Swimming pools, a spa, casinos, shopping, nightlife, and theater - they have it all. But it was the dining options that really excited me. There are over 15 choices in both the signature dining and casual dining categories. I recently tried a trio of French, Spanish and Italian cuisines. Below I recommend the places you absolutely cannot miss and the tastiest most authentic dishes to order.
Photo Credit: Biondo Photo
James Beard Award-Winning Chef Michael Mina’s BARDOT Brasserie is a nod to the cafes of Paris. The menu reads like any of the best in Paris and your meal begins with excellent classic French baguettes, brought to the table warm, with butter, in paper bread sleeves.
Other French favorites include escargots with hazelnuts in puff pastry, foie gras parfait, fresh shellfish platters, croque madame, le steakburger made of prime rib, mussels mariniéres, roasted chicken, steak frites and other French favorites. Mina's French brasserie offers a polished central bar, upscale fare, a patio & a 1920s vibe. Dinner is served daily as well as weekend brunch, on the Promenade Level. The atmosphere is lively and the mixologists at the bar will gladly offer Parisian cocktails. The champagne cart showcases four French champagnes. Go and enjoy, but don’t plan to have an intimate conversation as this place gets noisy when full.
Julian Serrano Tapas
Photo Credit: Biondo Photo
Julian Serrano Tapas offers Spanish Tapas, Paella, Seafood, and Beef in small tapas portions. Serrano’s food is an interpretation of his native Spanish fare and there is much from which to choose. The menu is large with many choices. In addition to the tapas, there are six paella offerings, from the traditional Valenciani to paellas with vegetables, ribs, seafood, or mixed foods. Family size orders need a bit of time to prepare (45 minutes to an hour) but who is in a hurry? The chuleton is a 40 oz. bone-in rib eye with piquillo pepper confit, vegetables and fries. This order certainly feeds a crowd. But let’s get back to the tapas. Here are just a few of my favorites: stuffed medjool dates with goat cheese, pancetta and tomato marmalade; lobster gazpacho (served chilled); seared scallops with a romesco sauce; gambas (prawns) a la plancha (cooked on a griddle) with a lemon garlic oil dressing; imported Spanish “pate negra” ham, a black ham with a garlic tomato sauce.
And don’t get me started on their desserts. With 10 offerings I had to make some serious decisions. The arroz con leche or traditional Spanish rice pudding were my favorites but the churros or fried Spanish pastries with a spicy hot chocolate sauce was a close second. The churros were fried to perfection. Lunch and dinner is served daily on the Casino Level. Go with a big appetite!
FIVE50 Pizza Bar
Photo Credit: Biondo Photo
FIVE50 Pizza Bar is named after the temperature of the wood-fired stone ovens at this lively pizza spot. James Beard Award- Winning Chef and Restaurateur Shawn McClain runs the show here. Although pizza is the name of the game here, there are other offerings such as Italian sandwiches, salads, a mozzarella bar, small plates, shakes, floats and craft beer. If you begin your meal with the garlic knots (rolls) with cheddar and garlic butter or the mushroom arancini, risotto balls with a roasted tomato sauce, you won’t go wrong. But I suggest the FIVE50 chopped salad made with soppressata, provolone and garlic oregano vinaigrette.
All this is a prelude to the signature pizzas, which are hand crafted with east coast flavors such as sausages, cheeses, and seafood, with a variety of sauces. I decided to try something different. The farmstead pizza has prosciutto, crème fraiche, and country olives with a farm egg on top. Very different and very delicious. Another popular offering is the Gotham pizza with pepperoni, sausage, salami, mozzarella and grana padano - for the meat lovers among us. Or build your own pizza. Or order 1 pizza with 2 choices. Shakes and floats round out the menu, from classic milkshakes to an Elvis shake with bananas and peanut butter to a s’mores shake with chocolate ice cream, graham crackers and marshmallows. I could go on and on. Lunch and dinner is served daily on the Casino Level and the slice counter is open late, 1 a.m. during the week and 3 a.m. on weekends.
A new restaurant is opening this fall at the ARIA. Carbone, with New York-inspired cuisine, pays homage to the Italian-American restaurants of the mid-20th century. Think Lobster Fra Diavola, Chicken Scarpariello, Veal Parmesan and Octopus Pizzaiolo.
For more cooking tips and notes about food, visit Sally's Place.
Great Foodie Non-fiction Books
When you can’t be in the kitchen cooking, sometimes it’s just as fun to relax with a great book, and for those who love food why not go for a read that pairs good writing with good eating. A great story that captures your heart as much as your stomach can be a thrilling read. There is more to learn in a foodie book than just ingredients and recipes because so much of food is about the history, culture and stories behind the creating and making of delicious dishes.
Womensforum's Great Foodie Non-fiction Books will leave you salivating late into the night. Happy reading!
The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese by Michael Paterniti
The cheese mentioned in the subtitle of this book is no small character in comparison to the deep love, allegations of betrayal and the plotted revenge. It is a very special cheese produced in rural Spain by a man who was famous amongst even kings and queens. The author spent a decade writing this book and you won’t be disappointed.
Will Write for Food: A Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir, and More by Dianne Jacob
Perhaps you’re looking to turn your love of food and/or drinks into a career? This is a great place to start. Jacob offers you the advice and tools you need to get your voice out there and heard. A good read for anyone that wants to write a cookbook, become a restaurant critic, food photographer, blogger, and more.
The Cookbook Library: Four Centuries of the Cooks, Writers, and Recipes that made the Modern Cookbook by Anne Willan (with Mark Cherniavsky and Kyri Claflin)
When James Beard award winner Anne Willan, founder of La Varenne Cooking School, teamed up with her husband Mark Cherniavsky, antiquarian cookbook collector, they created a beautiful book charting the history of cookbooks. I have never seen a book like this before. With beautiful illustrations, you are time traveling through centuries with this couple as they reveal to us the origins of the cookbook, as we know it today. Included are 40 historical recipes and a close look at life as it revolved around the kitchen from 1474 to 1830. A fun read for the history buff in us all!
Any book written by Peter Mayle
Mayle is probably most well known for his first book, A Year in Provence, which details his adventures as a British expatriate making a new life in small town France in the 1980’s. But you won’t go wrong with any of his other books as well. They are all a delight to read. Other books include: Tourjours Provence, Acquired Tastes, The Vintage Caper, and French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew.
Julia & Julia by Julie Powell
Want a more relaxing read with many amusing tidbits? Then I suggest this fun page-turner. You may have seen the movie, which is also great. But the book includes more of the food information you just might be looking for. In this book Julie Powell cooks every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One in one year. Her trials and tribulations, her work, her marriage and her sanity are all tested to the limit.
For recipes and additional food tips from Sally, check out Sally’s Place.
Easy-To-Make Healthy School Lunches
With the start of August comes plenty of back to school planning.
If you've got a little one who has food allergies, is a picky eater, or you just want to have healthy options for your child - check these ideas out! The start of a new school year is prime time to kickstart your child's healthy eating routine. From snacks to full lunches, the following suggestions are particularly good for younger children, as they need a good balance of foods in their diet.
Easy Baked Kale Chips
Kale, one of the new darlings of our health-obsessed world, is actually quite good for us.
Kale is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which also includes Brussels sprouts, broccoli, collard greens and cauliflower. Kale is very high in vitamin K, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and is rich in calcium. It is known to help fight cancer and lower cholesterol. Other than it's nutritional benefits, kale can be molded into a simple, delicious snack!
What Is A Mangosteen? Try This Recipe To Find Out
If you happen upon this fruit, be sure and taste it.
Called the “Queen of Fruits,” a mangosteen is juicy, tangy and sweet. The rind is purple in color when ripe while the inside is white. The taste has been described as a combination of tart lychee, pineapple and rose. A mangosteen is a fruit from Southeast Asia (Thailand), South America, India or Puerto Rico that you might see in upscale U.S. produce markets or in Asian markets.
A Meal the Whole Family Will Enjoy
Have some family fun while enjoying KFC chicken.
KFC has a new Family Game Night meal that’ll bring everyone together to enjoy tasty food and make long lasting memories. To ensure the whole family has a great time, pick up a KFC meal with 12 Extra Crispy Tenders and four dipping sauces, two large homestyle sides, four biscuits and a free game of I Spy printed right on the bucket with riddle cards and bonus posters. The family will love playing together, who knew sitting at the dinner table could be so much fun?
Mother's Day Recipe: Shrimp, Cauliflower And Broccoli Stir-Fry
If you are cooking for Mother’s Day this year and have never prepared Chinese food, here is a simple recipe for beginners.
Even if you are an advanced cook, you’ll appreciate how good this recipe is without spending a lot of time preparing it. My friend Dorothy Huang is the author of Chinese Cuisine, Made Simple.
Sally’s Top 10 Favorite Dishes
I'm sharing my Top 10 favorite dishes with you, hoping this will spur you on to try some new foods.
Anyone who cooks is always looking for new recipe ideas. I’ve been cooking for many years. It all started when my mother would not let me in the kitchen as a child to cook. I’m sure she was afraid I’d make a mess.
Mother's Day Recipe: Mussels With Garlic And White Wine
Surprise mom with a new delicious dish on Mother’s Day.
When I attended La Varenne Cooking School in Paris many years ago I was taught how to make Mussels a la Marinière. This can be a perfect Mother’s Day light meal. It is versatile and can be an appetizer or main course.
Kohlrabi Recipe: A Dieter’s Dream
Last year, brussels sprouts were added to many restaurant menus in the U.S.
So many menus in fact, that people are now tired of this green. Time for a new vegetable to be the star of the show! Kohlrabi, is it? Kohlrabi (kol-ROB-ee) is a vegetable that is high in fiber, low in carbohydrates and calories and has antioxidants that help fight cancer. In other words, this vegetable is a dieter's dream.
Endive & Feta Appetizer Recipe
Endive is a versatile vegetable that is a novelty to many home cooks. Here is a yummy appetizer recipe that utilizes it!
Endive (on-deev), a somewhat bitter green, is grown in northern California at California Endive Farms in Rio Vista.
It took farmer Rich Collins 10 years of trial and error to perfect his growing methods and he now produces both red and white endive. The elongated-shaped endive has its final growing process inside in the dark after starting life in an outdoor field.
Get Kids Involved in the Cooking Process
Ironically, it is sometimes hard to find time to spend with your kids because you are so busy with your daily family to-do lists. So why not try to combine fun time with kitchen time to accomplish two things at once.
Giving your kids “hands on” experience not only teaches them how to be able to feed themselves but can build a real enthusiasm for food.
Kids are usually curious about cooking and love learning how to do new things. First, I’ll start with special pint-sized tools and equipment that really engage kids to try their hand at creating their own meals.
Cooking Tools and Items for Kids
- Personalized Chef Jacket and Hat by KidKraft Kid’s Aprons: check Etsy.com for tons of adorable options
- Little Cook Kid’s Kitchen Tool Kit by Sassafras (includes measuring spoons & cups, wooden spoon, rolling pin, spatula, melon baller, pastry scraper, herb pot & whisk)
- Quick Pop Maker by Zoku Cheese Knives (great replacement for real knives)
- 16-piece Cupcake and Decorating Kit by Curious Chef
- 5-piece Pizza Kit by Curious Chef
- A personal favorite of mine is a blast from the past: The Original Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine.
Now it’s time to talk cookbooks. You just can’t expect Julia Child or even Emeril to capture a young person’s imagination like they do for you. You’ve got to re-think cookbooks when it comes to kids. Here are few to consider for your tiniest chefs.
Cookbooks for Kids
- Mom and Me Cookbook by Annabel Karmel
- Dora & Diego Let’s Cook by Nickelodeon and Raina Moore
- Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Yummy Cookbook by Judith Bryant and Lisa Workman
- Fancy Nancy: Tea Parties by Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser
- The Spatulatta Cookbook by Isabella Gerasole and Olivia Gerasole
- Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes: A cookbook for Pre-Schoolers and Up by Mollie Katzen and Ann L. Henderson (vegetarian)
- C is for Cooking: Recipes from the Street by Susan McQuillan
Perhaps you have very young kids in your life and they aren’t ready for some of these. Don’t let them feel left out.
Give them the “cooking bug” too with the plethora of toys out there that can really get the creative juices flowing.
Toys That Encourage Little Ones to Cook
- Cook’s Corner Kitchen by Melissa & Doug
- Sweetheart Cafe (restaurant set) by Alex Toys
- Stir Fry Slicing Set by Melissa & Doug Bake
- Decorate Cupcake Set by Melissa & Doug
- Cutting Fruit Crate by Melissa & Doug
- Crepe Shop by Kukkia
- Sushi Set by Kukkia
- Dirty Dishes (color changing bath tub toys) by Alex Toys
Peach Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich Recipe
Check out this unique ice cream sandwich recipe that uses a surprising ingredient: peaches!
Legend has it that the ice cream sandwich originated in 1899 in the pushcarts of Lower Manhattan’s Bowery. The early ice cream sandwiches were just ice cream in between tiny slabs of water wafers, which later changed to graham wafers. By 1905, the carts were appearing outside of New York City, and a trend was born with these sandwiches selling for between one and three pennies. That was then and this is now.
Get Kids Involved in the Kitchen
Some of the best memories are often made in the kitchen with your kids.
Summer is a great time of year to get the kids in your life cooking. With lots of free time on their hands, kids are more open to adventures in the kitchen, especially when they get to enjoy a yummy treat after all their hard work. There may be more messes in the kitchen to clean up, it may take longer to get dinner on the table, but the long-term benefits of spending time with children in the kitchen far outweigh the negatives.