Restaurants

Briggs Kitchen + Bar

I attended my first work event! Our office treated us to a three-course lunch at Briggs Kitchen + Bar. I was excited as the Executive sent me the menu beforehand so that I could do my research. Let’s listen to “Taking Care of Business” by Bachman Turner Overdrive for this post. 

The hostess had to separate us into two tables due to the large size of our group. I was lucky to snag a seat in front of 47, who regaled me with interesting stories of what it was like at her past firm. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any exciting first-hand experiences, so I just told her the stories the media reported about my old workplace. From what I read, consuming alcohol at work and expensing things with people with whom you’ve never met are big no-nos.

I chose the lobster poutine for my appetizer, Kuterra Salmon for my main, and the dark chocolate semifreddo for dessert. My lobster poutine was so decadent that even I couldn’t finish the whole portion. The thin-cut Kennebec fries were saturated in lobster cream and soft white cheese curds. I loved the generous pieces of sweet, juicy lobster. Forty-seven noted the rich flavour of the browned butter. I tried a couple of bites of her green salad, dressed in a crisp, tart vinaigrette. Her salad was good, but nothing beats lobster poutine.

I was even more impressed with my salmon. The restaurant itself was busy, and our group consisted of 19 guests. Despite the backlog of orders, my salmon came out perfectly cooked. The fish was tender and soft, with a delicious fatty favour. The milky green Thai curry gently infused the fish and firm pieces of bok choy with the flavour of coconut milk, lime and fish sauce. I enjoyed the salmon even more than the poutine. Unfortunately, I had to get back to work, so I asked for my dessert to go. I didn’t try it and ended up giving it away, as I was already almost dizzy from the high-calorie meal.

This lunch was my first visit to Briggs since 2017. I’m happy to report I enjoyed the set menu, attentive service, and fun company. Big thanks to the Executive for organizing the event and the ELT for taking us all out to welcome new and longtime employees.

Restaurants

Gut Oggau Wine Tasting – Vine Arts

Lately, one of my favourite things to do is to learn about wines from Erik, one of the owners of JUICEimports. On Sunday, he hosted a wine tasting ($30) to try all the Gut Oggau wines in stock and some unique gems from their cellar. Let’s listen to “Strawberry Wine” by Deana Carter for this post.

Our class started with a glass of sparkling organic cider from the Okanagan. The cider was fresh and bright. I bought a bottle for my neighbour, who recently became my dog’s godmother.

Located south of Vienna, Erik informed us Gut Oggau was one of the first wineries he ever signed. He fell in love with the uniqueness and personality of the wines. He considers the husband and wife team – Stephanie and Eduard – some of the most thoughtful winemakers dedicated to the land and their employees. For example, the owners pay their six full-time workers year-round rather than seasonally, so the employees can experience how the wines sleep in the winter and wake in the spring. As a result, the prices of their wines reflect this philosophy.

Erik mentioned that Theodora (2020, $50) was the winery’s entry-level wine. Yikes, I would never want to host a dinner party for Stephanie and Eduard. The cloudy yellow hue reminded me of chicken stock. My friend Bubbles said she could taste citrus.

We learned two interesting facts. First, Gut Oggau produces its wines without any sulphur, and second, sulphur doesn’t cause headaches. People get headaches from wine due to the alcohol or a reaction to the tannins. I wanted to pipe up and add that people also get headaches from excess drinking, but I read the room and decided to keep my thoughts private.

Photo Credit: @miss_minds

Next up was the Timotheus (2018, $79). Erik said in all of Alberta, and there are only 24 bottles of Timotheus. The vines are planted in complex soil, such as slate, sand, gravel and limestone. The texture and flavour sent shivers down my spine as the liquid tingled on my tongue. Erik described this wine as having intense character, with umami notes of white truffle.

The Mechthild ($158) we tried was sold out, which was fine with me as this wine was beyond my budget. Erik noted that the vines produced a low yield but produced the cleanest and highest quality grapes using a crazy, archaic process called a tree press. The person sitting in front of me described the colour as sunshine gold, with a gorgeous glow. I was jealous that I didn’t come up with that description myself.

My favourite wine was Winifred ($48). At first, I didn’t realize this wine was a rose. The texture was silky, with an aftertaste of fresh strawberries. My friend Bubbles said the gentle tartness reminded her of crab apples. I enjoyed this wine so much that I bought it for my next girls’ night with Kournikova, Quebecoise, and Betty.

The last wine we tried was the Athanasius (2020, $51). We learned this was the most planted grape in the winery. The vines are 38 to 40 years old. Erik described this wine as fresh and intense, aged in old Austrian oak. We marvelled at the dark, ruby red colour and the high viscosity. Erik mentioned the flesh of the grapes is red, which is rare as most red wines are made with white-coloured fruit.
I could tell these wines spoke to Erik, who said each wine tasted alive, soft and supple. This wine tasting was dirt-cheap, particularly for these wines. Erik himself rarely gets to try these bottles, so it was a luxurious treat for everyone. I enjoyed every wine I tried, though I got the impression from Erik’s physical and verbal reaction from drinking each wine that I didn’t fully grasp the greatness of these wines. Though I was out of my element, I was fine with it. I’m more comfortable with pearls being cast upon me than being a pig at a trough. I’ve recently signed up at Grand Cru Wine Society in the hopes of learning more about wine and food pairings.

Banh Mi · Sandwiches

Xich Lo – Vegetarian Banh Mi

Sunflower and I share an affinity for Swedish stockings and Vietnamese subs. When I dropped off a pair of sparkly tights I found at Simon’s, she insisted on taking me out for lunch. For this post, let’s listen to “DARE” by Gorillaz.

Since it was such a beautiful day, I recommended walking over to Eau Claire for a banh mi at Xich Lo. Sunflower is a vegetarian, so she was delighted to have options other than just vegetables. She picked the Vegan Ham with Mushroom Pate ($10.50). Unfortunately, Xich Lo ran out of cold-cut meats, so I chose the Tofu Sub ($10.50). I immediately got buyer’s remorse, so I asked if I could still get chicken cognac pate in my sub.

Sunflower poured a little of her mangosteen ($3.00) for me to drink. The smell was floral and, according to her, much sweeter than the actual fruit. I enjoyed the flavour but thought it would be better with some ice and vodka. She thought it would make a good sangria base. Great minds think alike.

I noticed Sunflower was supportive when I took pictures for my blog. She even suggested we cut the subs and plate them at work. I went a step further and showed her my secret – the ultimate banh mi pose. I told her that once, I managed to stack six subs for a close-up picture. I’ve got weird flexes that I’m oddly proud of.

Sunflower said her sub was delicious. She liked the crunchiness of the vegetables and the mushroomy umami from the pate. She felt the spiciness from jalapenos was the perfect spice level, and she usually douses her banh mi with sriracha. She loved the veggie ham and gave her lunch a 10/10.

The tofu in my sub was squishy and juicy, with a sponge-like texture. I wouldn’t pair the chicken pate with the tofu again, as the richness of the pate didn’t complement the soy-based tofu. However, that was my fault and not Xich Lo, who was merely accomodating my decadent tastes. I enjoyed the fluffy innards of the bread and the satisfying crunch from the cucumbers and jalapenos. I found my sub filling and satisfying.

It was nice to see Xich Lo so busy. I also think it’s fantastic they are offering unique options for vegetarians. Not many places in the city would go through the trouble of providing mock ham and mushroom pate. Hitting the Sauce gives Xich Lo two phat thumbs up.

French · Seafood · Special Occasion

Pat & Betty

For our monthly girls’ night, I picked Pat & Betty. We started the party at my house with a bottle of sparkling cider I picked up at Vine Arts. Kournikova enjoyed the dry, unfiltered bubbles so much that she snapped a picture. For this post, let’s listen to “Bread and Butter” by The Newbeats.

When we arrived at the restaurant, we were pleasantly surprised to receive the best table in the house. Usually, I get the worst table when I visit a new restaurant. Our spacious booth looked out onto the restaurant on the second floor. Québécoise liked how the top of the booth was arm’s length so that she could hang her arm around it.

Kournikova and I asked Québécoise to pick the wine, as she knows what we like best. Québécoise recognized several wines from her favourite French regions at prices far less than she would expect to pay. I felt so giddy that I wanted to call my father up and tell him there is heaven on earth. It’s called Pat and Betty.

The first bottle we tried was the Clos Bellane Cotes Du Rhone Valreas (Rhone Valley, $67). We sipped away while snacking on the Roasted Eggplant Dip ($9.50). These are some of the best potato chips I’ve eaten – thick, crunchy, and with enough salt to bring out the full flavour in the potato. The eggplant was cool and light, with a consistency like whipped cream. The fried capers added a tart saltiness to the dip. Kournikova mentioned the chips went well with the wine.

My favourite wine of the night was the Domaine Tremblay Petit Chablis (Burgundy, $59). I noticed that this wine was lighter and had less acidity than the first white wine. Québécoise, you did your magic again.

Betty mentioned the Country Beef Tartare ($25) was even better than the other versions we’ve tried in Calgary. The beef tartare was saucy and silky. This tartare was unique in that the addition of the devilled egg aioli and sunflower sprouts added some Southern comfort. I loved warm, soft buttered toast. To me, it smelled like old-fashioned goodness.

Betty and Québécoise enjoy a good pasta, so I recommended the Crab and Shrimp Tagliatelle ($26). Oh, baby, this dish was rich and spicy. Betty noted you could tell the pasta was homemade. I thought the prawns were perfectly cooked, soft with no snap. Québécoise liked the addition of the fennel and dill.

Kournikova picked the Chilled Baked Beets ($15.50). The beets and ricotta were cool, light and refreshing. I could taste orange in the salad dressing. I loved the addition of dill, mint and pistachio but wished our dish came with more mint, as it went so well with the salad. Betty thought this dish was a good palate cleanser after the crab and shrimp tagliatelle.

I requested the Broccoli Puttanesca ($17). Man, oh man, this is a winner! The spicy tomato ragu and lemon aioli offered a nice acidity that contrasted with the broccoli’s smokiness and the umami from the anchovy and parmesan. In addition, the garlic bread crumbs added a delicious crunch to it.

I thought of L when I tried the Angus Beef Striploin ($44). The meat was so tender and buttery smooth. The chimichurri sauce was salty and accentuated the juices from the steak. He would love this dish. I was impressed that the sides weren’t just a side thought, so fabulous I had to pause and think, which bite do I want next? The steak or crispy duck fat potatoes or the butter roasted radishes? The correct answer is all three. I would order the steak again.

The dish I was most excited to eat was the Pork Belly and Scallops ($42) with caviar ($19). Kournikova mentioned the scallops were perfectly cooked. I could taste a slight sweetness from the Quebec maple. The moment I bit into the pork belly, I immediately worried I would come down with gout the next day. The pork fat was so hot, rich, and melted in my mouth. The exterior was seared to a dark caramel brown and crispy. The caviar was soft and so subtly flavoured, that I couldn’t detect the flavour. Kournikova mentioned this dish would be too rich for one person. With that bad attitude, no wonder she’s so thin. Québécoise tapped out, so I ate her portion.

We shared the Carrot Cake ($10.50). This is no ordinary carrot cake. The cake itself was fresh and moist, intensely flavoured with spices, sweet from caramel and crunchy from the candied pecans. The cream cheese was a little sour and sweet from what tasted like confectionary sugar.

I enjoyed our feast at Pat and Betty so much that I wanted to return for our next month’s dinner. Québécoise said we could come back, but after we try a new restaurant. I wanted to protest but then I remembered about my potential case of gout, so I agreed to book our next outing at Ten Foot Henry, as requested by Kournivoka.

17th Ave · Japanese · Restaurants

Lonely Mouth

On Saturday night, Québécoise and I checked out Lonely Mouth on 17th Ave. Since her in-laws were babysitting her girls, she was ready to rock and roll. The earliest reservation I could get was at 7:30 p.m., so we shared a bottle of wine at my place beforehand. I figured this girls’ night was the perfect excuse to try one of the bottles I’ve been saving from Vine Arts.

It felt nice to dress up again. I was so excited that for this occasion, I even donned my half-inch heels. However, this was probably one of the worst ideas I’ve had in a long time. With this in mind, let’s listen to “Fancy Shoes” by The Walters for this post. 

Lonely Mouth is located in the old Ox and Angela spot, near UNA. The room is narrow and dimly lit, filled with a young demographic, primarily women in their twenties and early thirties. I was one of the more matronly patrons in the restaurant. 

We started with a pretty pink cocktail – the Majira’s Ruin ($15). This dainty drink was an herby, sweet blend of gin, nigori sake, sparkling sake and a maraschino cherry. While I enjoyed the cocktail, I preferred the wine Québécoise picked out – Domaine Ventoura Chablis ($37, half a litre). My Cod, I love her taste in wine. She described the wine as clean and icy, and mentioned her husband always orders Chablis with sushi. He is a man of excellent taste!

The first dish of the night was my favourite – the Sashimi Platter ($26). I only ordered this because I saw Miss Foodie raving about the sashimi, and I know she gets this every time she visitsQuébécoise liked how the sashimi was presented on a bed of ice and that there were two types of soy sauce. The white soy sauce was for the two kinds of tuna and scallops, and the dark soy sauce was for the salmon. Québécoise exclaimed the white soy sauce was so light and paired beautifully with the scallop. The scallop was ample and silky, mild and sweet. She liked how the soy sauce wasn’t too strong and didn’t overpower the fresh, creamy flavour of the tuna.

Québécoise noted that there was no toughness between the grains of flesh in king salmon. She also thought the size of the slices was perfect – neither too thick nor thin, which allowed one to get the full flavour experience out of each cut. The red tuna was leaner than the pink tuna, the latter being my favourite as I prefer the fattier, meltier types of fish. Without a doubt, I would get the sashimi again.

My second favourite dish was the Bluefin Tuna Tartare ($19). Holy mackerel, this dish has a lot going on.

The udon crackers were light, filled with bubbly air pockets. The crackly texture and taste reminded me of Chinese shrimp chips, which contrasted with the smoothness of the tartare. The creamy mixture of tuna, avocado and miso emulsion reminded Québécoise of mayonnaise. I would get the tuna tartare again.

Québécoise’s favourite dish was the Okonomiyaki Brussels Sprouts ($13). She thought this dish was original. She raved about the crisp fried seaweed, the parmesan cheese, and the crispy leaves of the Brussels sprouts. 

We liked the Pickled Cucumbers ($6.50). The cucumbers gave off a floral scent. Québécoise noticed how cucumbers were scored with knife marks, which she thought helped saturate each crevice with its distinct, sour and salty tang.

We also tried a Negi Toro Roll ($7). I couldn’t taste the toro filling over the dominant flavour of the seaweed. Québécoise mentioned the rice was cool in temperature. 

Québécoise loved the Sweet Potato Donuts ($7), with miso caramel and sesame gelato. I tried a bite and thought the donuts were a bit overcooked. She liked how the dessert wasn’t greasy or stupidly sweet. She detected a spice that we learned from our server was shichimi togarashi.

We enjoyed our meal and planned to take our husbands here for a double date. On the way to our Uber, I tripped over a step. Boom! Let me tell you, the saying that the bigger you are, the harder you fall is true! I told Québécoise it was a good thing I’m not a leg model. Otherwise, I would be out of commission. She retorted that I could still model for Band-Aid. Hitting the Sauce gives her inability to walk in heels two phat thumbs down. 

Special Occasion · Steakhouse · Vegas

Gordon Ramsey’s Pub and Grill – Vegas

Jacuzzi disagreed with my suggestions for our last meal in Vegas. I planned to go to another Strictly Dumpling recommended restaurant or the Oyster Bar at Palace Station. Instead, he wanted to go to Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant – Hell’s Kitchen. I reminded him there is a dress code at Hell’s Kitchen, and he refused to bring a shirt, tie, or jacket on this trip. He countered with Gordon Ramsey’s Pub and Grill and stated his other sister Me Shell had gifted him some money to celebrate in any way he wanted. Fine with me. As I learned through his past commentary, Jacuzzi is not an Offspring fan. So for this post, let’s listen to something that’s more his style – “More Than A Feeling” by Boston.

We both wanted to try the beef Wellington. Jacuzzi ordered the lunch set ($65.99), which included a salad or soup, a petite version of the beef Wellington, and a sticky toffee pudding. I requested the regular size of beef Wellington ($69.99) and a glass of Gordon Ramsey’s Cabernet Sauvignon (Santa Cruz, $22). Our server recommended this wine as it was specially designed to pair with the steak.

Jacuzzi informed me that beef Wellington is challenging to make, as the temperature is critical and there’s no room for error. Worst yet, you can’t tell if the meat is served at its desired medium-rare until you cut it into the pastry when it is too late. I had no idea Jacuzzi was so into beef. He really should visit me in Calgary.

Our server was attentive and brought me a plate if I wanted to try Jacuzzi’s Caesar salad. I did take a bite and enjoyed the liberal amount of powdered and shaved parmesan cheese. Jacuzzi mentioned that Caesar salads are his favourite, and this was a nice portion of food for a starter.

I could tell it was the chef and not a server that brought out our beef Wellington because of his confidence and the swagger in his walk. When he presented our plates, he made direct eye contact, and I could see he was proud of his dish. I would be too, if I could whip up a Wellington like this for the mass crowds in Vegas. That’s some serious talent.

My knife crackled into the thin, golden brown pastry, cutting into soft, ruby-red meat. Jacuzzi declared the steak was cooked to a perfect medium-rare. He commented on the smooth, buttery texture of the beef. Despite the red colouring, the steak itself was nice and warm. I enjoyed the taste of the big flakes of sea salt, as I thought it brought out the flavour of the beef. The mushrooms on the bottom of the pastry gave this dish a unique, earthiness flavour profile. Jacuzzi reminded me to use the red wine demi-glaze with each bite.


The sides were delicious in an understated way. The mashed Yukon gold potatoes were whipped into silky submission. We both loved how the carrots, asparagus and potatoes weren’t drenched in butter or salt so that we could appreciate the natural sweetness and freshness of the vegetables. We both ate as slowly as possible to delay the inevitable, the end of our meal. Jacuzzi and I kept smiling at each other as we ate.

What shocked me about Gordon Ramsey’s Pub was the dessert. Fuck me! The sticky toffee pudding is so mind-blowingly good that it is swear-word worthy. The English toffee pudding tasted like Christmas. The caramel sauce was overwhelmingly delicious – drenching every warm, moist crumb. The vanilla ice cream was cold and satiny, melting into the hot caramel bomb of a cake. This dessert was so good I wanted to cry out in pleasure. The portion was so large that it would have been enough for a meal. I would come back here in a heartbeat. Eating here was the way to end a trip on a high note. Thanks, Me Shell, for taking us out for lunch in Vegas. Hitting the Sauce gives Gordon Ramsey’s chef two phat thumbs up.

Fusion · Japanese · Vegas

Cafe Sanuki – Las Vegas

After our big meal at Lefty’s, Jacuzzi and I decided to walk around to burn up all those extra calories. He stopped by for a coffee at Starbucks and asked me if I wanted anything. I said no. Let’s listen to “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid” by The Offspring for this post.

He returned with a Perrier for me and said this was a long time coming, but it was his apology. Fourteen years ago, I spent a month with my brother in Toronto. On a scorching hot day, I asked him to bring me a Perrier when he returned from his class. He refused because he said he didn’t feel like it. It’s been an ongoing joke between us ever since, and whenever he asks for a favour, I always tell him he should have brought me my damn bubble water. Half an hour later, Jacuzzi ruined this special moment by drinking my sparkling water because he was thirsty and too lazy to line up again for a drink. He even had the nerve to balk at me when I refused to carry his half-drank bottle in my purse. I reminded him that he mocked my bag earlier, stating it was too bulky for travelling.

We left for an early dinner at Cafe Sanuki. Unfortunately, the restaurant was short-staffed and was closed for the next hour and a half. Our Uber driver warned us when he dropped us off that it would be near impossible to get a taxi or Uber in the next two hours due to the BTS concert. Jacuzzi and I decided to grab a beer to kill time. He vetoed the nearby pub, stating it looked too sketchy. Instead, we popped into a family-friendly Vietnamese restaurant. At the stroke of 5:30 p.m., we entered Cafe Sanuki.

I have wanted to hit this restaurant ever since I saw Mikey Chen’s Strictly Dumpling Youtube video. He liked the udon so much that Mikey filmed here twice. Cafe Sanuki makes their fresh-made udon using their Yamato udon noodle making machine. The owner even brings in two udon masters from Japan to ensure the quality is up to par with what you expect.

I ordered the dish Mikey recommended – Seafood in Mentai Cream Udon ($12.90). The mentai cream sauce was surprisingly light, and the fresh sea flavour from the egg roe was subtle. My bowl contained ample amounts of white fish, shrimp and calamari. I enjoyed the taste of lemon, garlic and green onions mingled in the sauce. The noodles were fantastic – so soft, slippery and fat. I’ve eaten udon numerous times in Tokyo, and I prefer Cafe Sanuki’s version.

Jacuzzi ordered the Cheesy Carbonara ($9.50). We had both never eaten anything like this before. The super cheesy sauce created almost a pool-like surrounding around the udon noodles. The sauce was so thick and heavy that you could see the long strands of cheese stretch apart when you pulled the noodles up.

What made this dish unique was the torching of the cheese on the top, combined with the smoky bacon pieces. Jacuzzi said this was so much cheese that one person couldn’t possibly finish a bowl. He exclaimed that you’d only love this dish if you dig a lot of cheese and bacon.

We agreed that the udon at Cafe Sanuki was incredible and worth returning to if we came back to Vegas. Simply Dumpling, you did it again! Hitting the Sauce gives Cafe Sanuki two fat thumbs up.

Hawaiian · Restaurants · Vegas

Lefty J’s Island Favourites – Las Vegas

For our first breakfast in Vegas, I picked a place recommended by Strictly Dumpling. Like most of Mikey Chen’s recommendations that appealed to me, Lefty J’s Restaurant is located off the main strip. Let’s listen to “Gone Away” by Offspring for this post. Jacuzzi complained that Offspring is so 90’s, but hey, that’s the era we grew up in.

Our Uber driver told us to avoid the “bums” around the strip mall. We didn’t see any, but we appreciated his concern for our safety. I told Jacuzzi to make sure he tipped our driver. We arrived when Lefty J’s Island Favourites opened at 10 a.m., but there was still a group from Singapore ahead of us who ordered a huge feast. We ordered what Strictly Dumpling recommended – the Five Meat Platter ($25.99). The owner told us our food would take twenty minutes.

Strictly Dumpling – aka Mikey Chan

While we anxiously waited for our food, Jacuzzi mentioned he appreciated the air con and the fun, vibrant decor. He noticed the artistic touches, like the flags and paintings. These niceties were all fine and dandy, but I was here strictly for the food. So when I saw a picture of Strictly Dumpling on the counter, I knew we were in good hands.

Twenty minutes later, our platter was ready. What a bounty of gluttony! All the meats were so hot that I burned my greedy little fingers eating too quickly. Our BBQ platter included two big scoops of rice sprinkled with furikake and a small container of macaroni salad.

Oh, my Ford. The fried chicken was marvellous. The batter was crunchy and sweet, encasing some toothsome meat. The kalbi ribs were thick-cut, chewy and fatty, with a nice char. We sat in happy silence, shovelling the food into our mouths. We only talked when I asked Jacuzzi which meat was his favourite. He preferred the fried chicken.

We were also a fan of the chicken teriyaki. You could tell the chicken was marinaded beforehand, then glazed with a sweet, buttery sauce. Jacuzzi liked it so much that he even ate the chicken skin that I removed from my portion.

The katsu cutlet was a large portion, sliced into long, strip-like pieces. The katsu sauce tasted like it was homemade, addicting with its complex, tangy kick. The beef teriyaki looked like it was pounded into a thin layer before being caramelized on the grill. I ate most of the beef as Jacuzzi was getting too full—what a lightweight.

I loved mixing the bites of meat with rice and julienned cabbage, as the crunchy greens helped to cut into the fatty, rich flavours. The side of macaroni was refreshing, slippery, creamy and cold. By the time we polished off the platter, we were both in a food coma.

We chatted with the owner while we waited for our Uber. She’s a sweet woman and reminds me of my Auntie Joyce. She said we should check out Strictly Dumpling’s other recommendation – all-you-can-eat sushi at Umami. But, unfortunately, that will have to be for another trip, as I wanted to check out Strictly Dumpling’s favourite udon restaurant – Cafe Sanuka. In any case, if you are in Vegas, I highly recommend checking out Lefty J’s. Hitting the Sauce gives Lefty J’s two phat thumbs up.

Burgers · Fast Food · Restaurants · Vegas

Bobby’s Burgers – Las Vegas

For our sibling getaway, Jacuzzi picked Las Vegas. I thought this was an odd choice because he refuses to dress up and doesn’t drink alcohol. I won’t gamble, and I hate buffets. The one thing we have in common is our love for food. For this review and the following Vegas posts, I’ll be playing The Offspring, as it was likely the only band Jacuzzi and I would have both listened to when we were teenagers.

I had planned to take Jacuzzi to a seafood joint off the strip the first night. However, we hit a slight snag in our travels and missed our reservation. Since we were famished and wanted to make it to the LA Comedy Club in time, we ordered burgers from Bobby’s Burgers at Caesar’s Palace.

I wasn’t expecting much, but the Bacon Crunch Burger ($14.99) was delicious. Jacuzzi was excited because the center of the patty was cooked to a beautiful pink. The beef was thick and hot, generously wrapped with crunchy bacon slices and potato chips. The cheese and sauce mingled in with the juices of the patty. Jacuzzi said this was a far better burger than Gordon Ramsey Burger.

I preferred his Bacon Crunch over my Palace Classic burger ($13.99) because the latter had too much iceberg lettuce and tomatoes, which chilled and watered down the flavour of the beef. Proportionally, the meat and cheese to produce were off. I would come again but stick to the Bacon Crunch burger.

Jacuzzi enjoyed his dark chocolate milkshake, which he thought tasted like vanilla. I took a sip and it tasted like a Wendy’s chocolate malt, but quadruple the price. He closed his eyes and exclaimed the shake was thick with the right amount of creaminess. I thought it was fine, but nothing special. The whipped cream tasted like it was canned.

The cashier recommended the onion rings over the fries. She said their onion rings were unique, in that the onions were sliced into nice, big pieces. However, the temperature of the rings was lukewarm, and the batter was borderline limp. In addition, I thought the onion rings were under-seasoned. Even the side of the ranch couldn’t save this side.

The important thing was we made it to the comedy club in time. Jacuzzi and I thoroughly enjoyed the performances of all the stand-up comedians. I told him the next day would be better foodwise, as we were checking out Strictly Dumpling’s picks.

Restaurants

Vine Arts – Domaine des Marnes Blanches Wine Tasting

I’m getting tired of my usual rotation of wines. I also want to find some mind-blowing wines for my upcoming dinner parties. I’ve been looking to increase my wine exposure and stumbled across a post through Vine Arts and Juice Imports about an upcoming Domaine des Marnes Blanches wine tasting event ($30). I snagged the last two tickets and brought my friend Bubbles. Let’s listen to “Ma Rue Fera Echo” by Doux si Doux for this post.

Erik Mercier featured 2020 wines of Domaine des Marnes Blanches from the alpine region of Jura, France. For this tasting, the cost of our tickets went to pay for the bottles we drank. Mercier said this was an inexpensive way for everyone to try wines that would usually be outside of their everyday wine budget. Also, since he exported these wines, it allowed him to share what he loves about the region and winery.

We learned that Jura is the rainiest region in France. The winery produces organic wines using a natural wild fermented process that creates lively, vibrant wines.

The first wine we tried was the Trousseau, a bright, fresh and juicy red wine. The colour was a light, bright red. Mercier described the flavour as a glossy berry with superb viscosity and a creaminess from the bacteria. He recommended drinking this wine while it was young. This bottle wouldn’t last a week in my household.

Next was the Pinot Noir. As Mercier took a sip, he shook his head in amazement and exclaimed, “Dang! This is a good wine!” He informed us this wine is similar to a Burgundy. He went into detail about the grape and the vines, but I lost focus because I started feeling a little tipsy and I stopped taking notes.

One of my favourite wines is the Chardonnay Les Molates. According to Mercier, this is the most planted vine at the winery. He stated Marnes Blanches uses the whole stems and clusters of grapes in the fermentation process, which acts as a channel to filter the juice. As a result, the lattice creates a clean, fresh juice that retains its acidity.

I loved how the chardonnay danced on my tongue. Mercier mentioned this wine drinks like a classic burgundy, but at half price. He said this wine was stupidly good, with surreal value. I bought a bottle to share with Wonderland and Double 07.

My second favourite wine was the Savagnin En Jensillard. I almost passed out from the heady smell of this wine. What a pretty, intense aroma! If I could bottle up infatuation, it would taste like the Savagnin En Jensillard. Mercier said this wine would pair with a Szechuan dish or spicy Thai food. I also bought this bottle for my upcoming dinner party.

Next up was the Chardonnay Les Molates. Mercier noted this variety was indigenous to Jura. A founder grape, the vine flowers early and ripens late while retaining its acidity. The result is a freshness similar to jasmine and stone fruit.

Our second last wine was the Chardonnay Sous Voille. This wine smelled like a sherry or port. Mercier mentioned this it was hard to describe, and often people are put off if they can’t put into words the flavour of the wine.

The last wine we tried was the Vin de Paille, a sweet, dry wine. He mentioned that some of his guests claim they don’t like sweet wines, but will drink soda and junk food.

Many of the wines we tried were available in quantities of three or five. I asked Mercier if they only had three bottles to sell and five customers who want them, who gets them? He responded it was first come, first serve. I would not describe myself as an aggressive person, but at that moment, I decided to jump up and sprint across the room, much like a quarterback or wide receiver. The heart wants what it wants, and I desired those wines.

I am going to make these Vine Arts events a regular part of my schedule. I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than learning about delicious wines taught by a passionate and non-pretentious wine guide. Hitting the Sauce gives Mercier two phat thumbs up.