Downtown Container Park, Building Community Downtown One Container At A Time

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Disclaimer: This post is not about food, but something I still think you’ll enjoy. Today, marks the grand opening of Downtown Container Park, a new addition to the downtown Las Vegas landscape. While today, is the official opening, many of … Continue reading

Turkeys for Durm, It’s More Than Just Turkeys

TurkeysforDURM

Just one week left to donate to #TurkeysForDURM, where 100% of the proceeds collected will go towards buying turkeys to be delivered to and distributed by the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

20131112-061414.jpgWhy am I supporting something all the way in North Carolina, when I live in Las Vegas? Good question. This campaign was started by a good friend, Johnny Jones. Some time ago, Johnny, posted a message on Instagram, a call to action to buy 100 turkeys to donate to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, a pay-it-forward campaign. Without asking any questions, I put some cash in an envelope and sent it to Johnny. Shortly after, I saw the website, logo and facebook page that eventually developed from that instagram/tweet and decided I wanted to know more about what inspired such an endeavor, from what seemed like out of nowhere. So I gave Johnny a ring, and got a story that makes me so glad I didn’t hesitate to support his cause.

Johnny told me that on a couple of occasions, people had helped him and his family out, but the time he remembers the most clearly was the Thanksgiving of 1996. That year, a church organization had been helping his family out at different times throughout the year and that Thanksgiving, they gave his family a turkey.

Johnny: It was the best turkey I remember [mom] cooking. It was juicy. We ate off of it from Thursday to Monday. We made it stretch. We didn’t have anything but that meal. It left such an impression on me. We didn’t have to worry about what we were going to eat tomorrow. My Mom also had so much pride about the way it came out. I could never thank them, but I can pay it forward, and hopefully give someone that same type of feeling. It was years ago, but I remember like it was yesterday.

When I asked Johnny about why now? why 100 turkeys?

Johnny: I was talking with a guy who owns a non-profit and decided I wanted to be more philanthropic and make more change in my community. We were talking about doing something in the future, 10 people get 10 turkeys. I was feeling blessed and wanted to donate now, not the future. I was familiar with By Any Meals, a campaign started by Aristotle Torres, a music video director from NY and Hood Chef, to feed people in all 5 Burroughs [of New York]. They were young and decided to do something on their own. So I figured, why not do it this year. Even if I fall on my face, at least I had the courage to try.

Johnny did indeed try and has received a tremendous amount of unsolicited support.

Johnny: What’s been exciting, is the way people have made selfless donations, to make a memorable Thanksgiving for a lot of people.

A turkey might seem like a small thing to many of us, but it might just make someone’s Thanksgiving. Salute to Johnny, and his efforts, as well as everyone who contributed to his turkey drive or any other drive going on this holiday season. While I hope you support Johnny, what I hope even more is that you pay-it-forward to someone. You never know when a simple act of kindness can influence the life of another, let alone 100 families.

Turkeys For DURM

www.turkeysfordurm.com

If you’re in North Carolina you can also donate at your local Wells Fargo Branch

Donations will be accepted between now and November 19th

I’m Back.

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It’s been quite a while since my last post (almost a year to be exact). During that time, I’ve update the look of my blog, hope you like it, and I’ve partnered with Foodio54 and FoodSpotting. I’ve also changed my eating habits slightly, there will be a future post about that coming soon.

In the year I’ve been away, I’ve missed a lot:
The Restaurant vs. Food Trucks War was settled. The City Council instituted a 150 foot buffer zone, between restaurants and food trucks on public streets, and is in the process of implementing a pilot program, establishing designated parking areas for food trucks downtown. To make sure there was no lingering tension between food trucks and downtown restaurants, Fukuburger and Bar + Bistro “Burried the Hatchet” during a cook-off between chefs; Robert “Mags” Magsalin (from Fukuburger) vs. Beni Velazquez (from Bar + Bistro). Bar + Bistro owner, Wes Isbutt, was pretty vocal about instituting a buffer zone for food trucks downtown, so it was good to see the two representatives of each side, in a friendly competition.

In other downtown food news, there are several new restaurants that opened, while others closed. Downtown said hello to a Las Vegas favorite, Rachel’s Kitchen, as well as newbies, Eat and Pizza Rock, and it said goodbye to a late night hangout, Mamita’s Mexican and Cuban Restaurant. The owners of Mamita’s, helped to start the petition that initially began the Restaurant vs. Food Truck war, because they were concerned that food trucks were stealing their customers. In an interview on KSNV, Maria Corvino, the owner of Mamita’s, mentions that “people are not afraid to come to Fremont Street anymore.” They might not be afraid to come to Fremont anymore, but they might have been afraid to eat at her restaurant, since it was closed on several occasions by the Southern Nevada Health District. It looks like instead of being so concerned about the competition from food trucks, Corvino should have been more focused on keeping her restaurant open and demerit free. Like I said, cream always rises to the top. But on the bright side, an upscale grocery store is in the works for the former Mamita’s location, something that has been on the wish list of downtown residents for some time.

And if those weren’t enough happenings, I also missed all the spectacular food events that took place in Las Vegas just last month alone. There was the Las Vegas Food and Wine Festival, the Foodie Fest, the Food and Wine All-Star Weekend, Lucky Rice, the Aki Matsuri Festival, Grapes and Hops, Pure Aloha, the Lebanese Festival, Taste of the Nation, and the brand new, Life is Beautiful Festival. I get full just thinking about all the good food served at each of these events. We might as well dub October, Foodie Month in Las Vegas.

Well, I’m back now with new ramblings, reviews and recipes coming soon. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving with Family

During our Thanksgiving luncheon at work, we each acknowledged the things we were thankful for. When it was my turn, I answered family. I live over 2,000 miles away from mine, so I’m thankful for the time that I get to spend with them.

When I was home this past May, I had fun eating my way thru Annapolis (you can read all about my culinary trip here, here, here, and here). I also enjoyed some family time, hanging out with my mom and my nieces. We took them out for the day, exploring at the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown.

When I lived in DC, we always had somewhere to be, and rarely got to enjoy jewels in the city like Dumbarton Oaks. I was thankful to have the opportunity to pluck my nieces away from their daily routine to enjoy a day in the garden.

While taking a break from running thru the gardens, my mom captured this beautiful candid moment of the three of them enjoying each other’s company. I’m thankful for the time that I get to spend with these three girls.

The next day, my mom and I returned to Georgetown. This time, her dog Dharma got to tag along. We did a little shopping and walked along the canal, finding a quiet spot to enjoy some cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake. Oh so yummy.

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In no time, my trip was over and it was time to head back to Las Vegas. While my trips home always seem too short, I’m always thankful for them.

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Tea Time, My Favorite Time in Annapolis

I have to say, the highlight of my gastronomic adventure in Annapolis was my trip to Reynolds Tavern. Before I’d even arrived in Annapolis, out of the blue my mom mentions that she has the taste for tea sandwiches. Fast forward a couple of weeks, and as we’re walking down West street we stumble upon Reynolds Tavern. I think it must have been the little yellow tea pots filled with flowers on the table settings outside that tipped us off to their tea service. Regardless, we had found not just tea sandwiches, but a tea experience.

As soon as you step foot into Reynolds Tavern, you are catapulted back in time. The furniture, the candles encased in hurricanes, even the jazz playing in the background, takes you to another era. The atmosphere is definitely fitting for afternoon tea.

The view of St. Anne’s Church from the tea room at Reynolds Tavern

Reynolds Tavern serves afternoon tea a couple of different ways. You can go for the more basic option, like the Cream Tea, a teapot of your choice served with 2 scones, whipped cream and preserves, or try something more elaborate like the Jubilee Tea, with your choice of a first course selection. My Mom and I decided to go the more traditional route, and we both ordered the Colonial High Tea with your choice of “Soup, Salad or Quiche”.

No matter which Afternoon Tea services you order, the real fun comes in selecting your tea. The tea selection at Reynolds Tavern ranges from the basic and more common choices like Camomile and Peppermint, to the more exotic like Yin Zhen Silver Needle or the artful and beautiful Blooming teas. After much deliberation, I decided to go with the Sencha Kyoto Cherry Rose Festival, a green tea. The Secha Kyoto had that sweet nutty flavor, characteristic of green tea, but then it leaves your taste buds with the sweet fruity undertone of cherry. My mom went with the Blueberry Infusion. This tea was a tropical medley of flavors, ranging from hibiscus to blueberries.

My mom and I both decided on the cream of crab soup for our first course. While our teas were being prepared, we relished our soup. The slivers of crab meat dissolved seamlessly into the cream, and the tarragon gave the soup a nice peppery yet tart flavor. So far, our afternoon tea time was off to a good start.

Cream of Crab Soup

Next, our waiter brought out a three tiered tea tray with an assortment of goodies, all of which are made in house. The bottom tier, had orange and cranberry scones, with a perfect combination of tart and sweet, served with whipped cream and strawberry preserves. The next tier, had tea sandwiches and bite size shepherds pie. The cucumber and egg salad sandwiches were so light and refreshing. Then, the top tier, had a selection of various sweets. The island girl in me enjoyed the banana bread with cream cheese icing. The lavender short bread cookies were also a nice savory addition to the selection of sweets.

(clockwise from left) Orange Cranberry Scone with Whipped Cream and Strawberry Preserves, Lavender Short Bread Cookie, Cucumber and Egg Salad Sandwiches and Shepherds Pie

While I savored every bit of my tea meal, what I enjoyed even more was the experience. A chance to sit back and enjoy the afternoon, to take things slow, to sip on tea and nibble on little sandwiches, to savor the moment and to remember the excitement of being a little girl and having a tea party. I can’t wait to return to Reynolds Tavern.

Gift options for the tea lover

While in Annapolis, my mom and I also enjoyed Lemongrass and Annapolis Ice Cream Company, two other places we visited, on our gastronomic adventure in Annapolis. Click the links to read about our time there.

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Reynolds Tavern

Afternoon Tea $10-$25/person

7 Church Circle

Annapolis, MD 21401

Reynolds Tavern on Urbanspoon
Reynolds Tavern on Foodio54

Update – Las Vegas Food Fight: Restaurants vs. Food Trucks

So it looks like the Las Vegas City Council  couldn’t come to an agreement on the distance for the proposed buffer zone and the issue was tabled during the September 5th City Council meeting. While the matter may still be brought up at a later date, it looks like at least for now, your favorite food truck will be able to freely roam the streets of Downtown Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Food Fight: Restaurants vs. Food Trucks

I’ve been away from here for a while. I worked the past month with only 1 day off so it was pretty hard to find time to write, but I’m back. While I still have more posts to share about my trip to Annapolis, something really important came up that I just had to write about.

If you follow the food truck scene in Las Vegas, then you’re probably already aware of the August 15th September 5th City Council meeting to take up a proposed ordinance that would prohibit Las Vegas food trucks from parking within 300 feet of an established restaurant.

The initial proposal, by the City Council’s Recommending Committee back in March, was 1300 feet (about the length of 3 football fields). The recommendation was based on pleas from downtown restaurant owners, arguing that food trucks poach their customers by moving into restaurant space during peak foot traffic hours. Restaurant owners also argue, that food trucks operate at an advantage because they don’t have to pay rent or property taxes. Ultimately, members of the City Council’s Recommending Committee voted in favor of a 300 foot zone, which will be brought before the City Council for review on Wednesday, August 15th September 5th.

While I think that some sort of buffer zone between brick and motor restaurants and food trucks is fair, I think that Councilman Bob Coffin, along with certain restaurant owners, are unfairly trying to give food trucks the short end of the stick.

My thoughts:

  1. Cream always rises to the top. It’s as basic as if your food is good, people will want to eat it. I’ve eaten at some of the restaurants that have been the strongest supporters of the ordinance, and I have to say, the food they serve just isn’t that good. The food trucks they’re so mad at, aren’t “poaching” business, they’re just offering a more appetizing option.
  2. It’s called survival of the fittest. Animals can become extinct and so can a business. Food trucks have been around for a while, but they’ve only become the “hot thing” the last couple of years. Maybe the food truck trend will last, maybe it will go the way of polaroid cameras and disco music. Either way, only the strong and delicious will survive.
  3. It’s called a marketplace and America is full of them. Have you ever been to a mall, how about a grocery store? Well, they’re full of different brands/stores selling similar stuff, all clustered together. It’s the stuff our capitalist society was built on.
  4. Get in the game. If you think that food trucks have an advantage because they can follow foot traffic, then do what Pop’s Cheesesteaks did when they added a food truck to their existing brick and motor establishment.
  5. Can’t we all just get along. I’ve been to a food truck that’s run out of something and has referred me to another truck. It shocked me at first, but it was a pleasant surprise. In the end, isn’t that how communities are built? Because if you aren’t for competition, how about cooperation.

If you want to know more about how food trucks and other street vendors contribute to economic growth and enrich communities, then you should read the Institute for Justice report, Streets of Dreams: How Cities Can Create Economic Opportunity by Knocking Down Protectionist Barriers to Street Vending

Fukuburger has been very vocal about their opinion on the proposed food truck ordinance, and has scheduled a Park and March to the City Council Meeting on Wednesday, August 15th at 9am. Since writing this, the City Council meeting has actually been pushed back until September 5th. Follow Fukuburger on twitter @fukuburger for more info and updates.