What’s in Season

Whats in season

In this crazy world, we’ve become accustomed to having everything, all the time, especially living in this desert oasis that is Las Vegas. But fruits and vegetables have seasons, and when you eat what’s in season there are plenty of benefits.

Reboot with Joe highlights 6 reasons it’s better to eat what’s in season. My two favorite: 1.things taste better and 2. they’re cheaper.

So when I buy what’s in season, I get fruits and veggies that taste better and they’re less expensive, that sounds like a win, win in my book.

 

What’s In Season*:

March -artichokes, asparagus, citrus, leeks, mangoes, pineapple

April – artichokes, asparagus, cherries, leeks, mangoes, pineapples, plums

May – apricots, asparagus, black berry, blueberry, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, strawberries, raspberries

*Check back for more posts and recipes featuring, What’s in Season.

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Shelly’s Sweet Potato Peace Pies and Tea

Like the hot air balloon and the green buds of Spring “and still we Rise” Happy Resurrection Day!!!

This was the last text message I received from my godmother, Shelly. She sent it to me Easter morning two years ago. The next day, she passed away.

Shelly wasn’t my godmother in the traditional Christian sense but she was a part of my family for more years than I can remember.

When I first received the news, I was shocked. Shelly hadn’t been sick and wasn’t in the hospital. Then, I was in a state of disbelief. How could this be? Was she really gone? Finally, I reached acceptance. I accepted the fact that she would be with us forever, maybe not in the physical, but as long as I had my memories of her, no one ever really dies. 

Memories of Shelly are throughout my apartment, two of my favorites, of course, deal with food.

Hanging over my desk is a piece of paper she had created to go with her Sweet Potato Peace Pies. Shelly, had started selling her pies and had even attempted to freeze and ship one to my mom and me. I actually think this is where the paper came from. If I recall correctly, it was inside the box with the pie she shipped to us one of the first Christmas I spent in Las Vegas. My mom had flown out to spend the holiday with me, and Shelly wanted to make sure her pie was included in our celebration, even if she couldn’t be here. 

Shelly Pies

We didn’t get to enjoy that pie. When we opened the box, it looked as if a squirrel or some other pie loving critter had gotten inside the box and had a party in the pie. But I held on to the paper, as it told a story of the importance of the pies to Shelly.

The recipe Shelly used had been passed down from her third great grandmother and was a tradition in her family. This tradition was one which she brought to my family as Christmas or Thanksgiving wasn’t complete without one (or more) of Shelly’s pies. I wish I had learned the recipe, but part of the enjoyment was having Shelly make them. 

Hanging in my kitchen is my other favorite food related memory of Shelly. It’s the Romare Bearden postcard of Falling Star, she gave me some years ago. Knowing the tea snob that I am, Shelly had found the perfect gift for her goddaughter, an assortment of loose leaf teas and this postcard. I put it in a frame and hung it in my kitchen to watch closely over my tins of tea, in the same way I envision Shelly watching over me.

Happy Resurrection Day, Shelly. I know you’ll always be with us, even if it’s not in the physical. And just like your Peace Pies, this is my “offering of love, respect, honor and reverence.”

Sincerely
Your God-daughter.

Oh Netflix, You Know Me So Well

I was up late the other night, and needed something to watch, so I decided to scroll thru the suggestions Netflix makes for you, to see if there was anything that grabbed me. Most of the titles I had already seen, except for one, The Mind of a Chef. I love food, but I was in the mood to see something more action packed, something a little more blue methish. After going thru all the suggestions on Netflix, and still not finding anything that grabbed me, I decided to give in and see what The Mind of a Chef was all about.

Mind of a chefThe Mind of a Chef is narrated and executive produced by Anthony Bourdaine and airs on PBS. The combination of Anthony Bourdaine + PBS = the perfect food nerd show. It’s No Reservations, meets Alton Brown’s Good Eats. Chef David Chang, and his chef friends, take you on a culinary trip to different parts of the world. Along the ride, you’re exposed to different techniques and cultural influences. They show you exactly what goes thru the mind of a chef when creating the dishes we fall in love with that make eating such a joyous experience. Watching The Mind of a Chef, is like watching a lion while on safari instead of at the zoo; you get to see the chef in his natural habitat.

The show features meals and ingredients that push the limits of your average meal. Here are some of my favorites from the season:

On New York Episode, Chef Chang, takes a trip to Torrissi Italian Specialties. Rich Torrissi and Mario Carbone, make a pasta called Cavattelli PS46. The dish is inspired by the Jamaican beef patties served to Carbone, when he was a student at PS46. A dish with Indian and Jamaican influences, thought up by 2 Italian New Yorkers; if this isn’t the definition of melting pot, then I don’t know what is. God Bless America!

The Simple Episode, which could just as well be titled, Focus, highlights how making one thing, extremely good, is anything but simple. Watching Sawada, makes me realize that when it comes to sushi, I’ve only eaten sh!t. No soy, no slices of ginger on the side, or wasabi, simply fish, expertly handled with focus.

The Rotten Episode, will completely confuse your definition of what the word “rotten” means. Maybe things are only “rotten” if you don’t think happy thoughts when you make them, as illustrated when making kimchi. Kimchi Party!!! I never knew that making Kimchi could be so celebratory.

kimchi partyAnd in the Memory Episode, Chef Chang and I seem to share the same memory. Maybe it’s just a DMV thing (DC/Maryland/Virginia), but yes, Old Bay is the greatest seasoning America has ever produced.

Basically, what goes on in the mind of a “good” chef, is the notion that to do things well, you must have passion and focus. If you are a nerd (check) and you really really enjoy food (check). Then you’ll love this show. Wow, Netflix, you really do know me well.

Now off to watch Season 2.

The Mind of a Chef: Season 1Mind of a chef2

PBS

Available on Netflix and Google Play

 

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

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 the stores and restaurants opened to the public last week.

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On Saturday, I headed downtown to check it out. What I found at Downtown Container Park, was more than just new shopping and dinning options in the city, but something more special to downtown, a place to just “be.”

When I first moved to Las Vegas, downtown was not a place to “be.” In fact, many people turned their noses up at downtown. For locals, hanging out at Boca Park, or Town Square, were much more acceptable and respectable options. I grudgingly accepted them, but they just never felt right. I guess, once a city girl, always a city girl. I wasn’t the only one who must have felt this way, because slowly, things started to change downtown.

First, there was Beauty Bar, then the Griffin and the Downtown Cocktail Room, then the economy took a nose dive, and people wondered if that was it for Fremont East and downtown. But downtown was just taking a break, and the ball began rolling again, slowly picking up steam. That steam would soon include Insert Coins, The Smith Center, Le Thai, Drink and Drag, the Neon Museum and the Discovery Children’s Museum, to name a few, and now Downtown Container Park.

While Downtown Container Park could be described as a mall, a typical mall it is not. The developers of Downtown Container Park, took a more innovative approach. The shops, galleries, and restaurants, that make up Downtown Container Park, are each housed in a container or cube, stacked up and arranged like legos, around the center piece park. All the shops are run by small, local designers and business owners, you’ll find everything from handbags, to a shop dedicated to crazy and colorful leggings, called no other than “Crazy Legs.” Each shop is only the size of a New York studio apartment (a descriptor for my east coasters) or about 250 sq. ft. Yes, only 250 sq. ft. While I know people who have closets bigger than this, my New Yorkers know, you can do a lot with just 250 sq. ft.

While I enjoyed walking through the shops, and love the innovative use of the containers, my favorite thing about Downtown Container Park is the park, because what better place to just “be,” than a park. Las Vegas was built on adult entertainment and even as kid friendly as it has become over the years, its main driver is still adult entertainment. With the exception of the Discovery Children’s Museum, downtown was no different. Downtown Container Park changes that. On Saturday, I saw something that I don’t always see in downtown, families, from the littlest baby, to grandparents, all together, enjoying the park.

While I usually write about food, I didn’t get a chance to check any of the dining options at Downtown Container Park, of which there are 4 (Big Ern’s BBQ, Bin 702, Pinches Tacos, Pork ‘n Beans). But I will be back, so look forward to future posts on what the food scenes is all about, at Downtown Container Park.

While there is still more development and projects in the works downtown, to date, I have to say Downtown Container Park is my favorite. I encourage all to pay a visit, even if only to check out the giant praying mantis, that shoots flames out its antennae, because what would Las Vegas be without a giant, fire spewing praying mantis.

The giant preying mantis minus the fire

The giant praying mantis overlooking Fremont street – minus the fire

Downtown Container Park
7th and Fremont Street
Las Vegas, NV
Open Sun-Thurs 9a-11p
Fri+Sat 9a-1a

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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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.