What’s Going On: June

According to the thermostat, it’s officially summertime in Las Vegas, so make sure you stay cool while enjoying Las Vegas Hemp Fest, Reggae in the Desert and Electric Daisy Carnival. Hopefully, after these festivals, you’ll remember to call you father on Father’s Day.

Here is a rundown of some great events to get your eat and drink on in and around Las Vegas this month:

– dates, times and prices subject to change. Check individual websites for details. *=Must be 21 or over to attend.
  • June 3rd – First Friday 5-11pm, free – Downtown Arts District. Monthly event featuring art, music and of course, food.
  • June 4thNevada Brews N’Ques Festival 6-10pm, $40 – Henderson Event Plaza. Sample some of Nevada’s best Brews and BBQ. A ticket will get you unlimited beer, but food is sold separately.
  • June 5thKirk Franklin Gospel Brunch 10am, $54.50 + fees – House of Blues. It’s not quite church, but then again this is Las Vegas. Created and produced by Kirk Franklin, featuring live gospel music and all-you-can-eat food.
  • June 6th-17thLas Vegas Restaurant Week breakfast-lunch-dinner, $20-$80 – At Participating Restaurants. Now in its 10th year, over 100 restaurants (both on and off The Strip) will offer special prix fixe menus with proceeds supporting Three Square Food Bank. Since 2007, more than 2.5 million meals have been provided for those in need through Restaurant Week.
  • June 10th*Sundown in Downtown Las Vegas 6-10pm, $55 – Heritage Park Downtown. This event sounds like the perfect mix of culture and fun. Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Las Vegas Natural History Museum while enjoying a little beer pong, downtown eats, and 90’s beats.
  • June 11thSummer Wine Walk 6-9pm, $30 – Downtown Container Park. Cool down from the summer heat with a little wine and bubbly from stations throughout the park.
  • June 11thBlues, Brews and BBQ 4pm, $5 – Cannery Casino. It’s safe to assume the best way to enjoy a brew is with BBQ and music, this event combines all three. Featuring performances by Booker T. Jones and John Lee Hooker, Jr.
  • June 11thThe MonteLago Village Beerfest 2-7pm, $35 – Lake Las Vegas. Enjoy beer by the lake. Your ticket will get you a wrist band and souvenir glass for the beer, but the food, vendors and restaurants will be open to the public.
  • June 16th – Tea Paring in the Sky 7-10pm, $175+fees – Alize Restaurant. Enjoy a seven course meal, paired with teas from Seven Cups Fine Teas while enjoying some of the best views of the Strip from the 56th floor of the Palms Hotel and Casino.

*=Must be 21 and over to attend.

– dates, times and prices subject to change. Check individual websites for details.

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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.

Tea and Tranquility 250 feet Above the Strip

The strip can be sensory overload, flashing lights and neon, sounds of slot machines and crowds of people. Now imagine, literally, being above it all, like you’re floating up in the clouds. Soothing tea, peaceful music, quiet conversations, this is the tea lounge at the Mandarin Oriental. With its floor to ceiling windows and views right up the center of the strip, you are truly above it all.

Taoist believe doing a little, is better than doing a lot. This statement explains your arrival to the Mandarin Oriental hotel. You enter from an isolated driveway, hidden from the strip, and walk past huge urns into a bare, nondescript lobby.  The real lobby is on the 23rd floor, next to the tea lounge.  When you arrive on the 23rd floor, there are no erupting volcanos or giant lions to greet you, only Vegas as seen from 23 flights up.  You can even see the area from the ground, as it looks like the builders cut a slice out of the exterior walls and replaced them with glass.

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The tea lounge, like the entrance to the Mandarin Oriental, is nothing elaborate, just a few couches and velvet chairs in the section separating the check-in area from the Mandarin Oriental Bar. Like most places on the strip, the tea lounge is not about stretching your dollar. I’ve been to other tea times that offer more food for less money, but I don’t think there is a more peaceful place on the Strip.
We opted for the vegetarian selection of sandwiches with our tea, which you can call ahead and request. The vegetarian option featured little cones, filled with roasted vegetables and hummus, as well as cucumber and tomato sandwiches. My tea, Peach Artisan blooming, and for dessert, a selection of pastries from Chef Phillepe Angibeau. While my taste buds usually favor the savory over the sweet, the pastries were a highlight of tea time.

 

The view from the Tea Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental.

The view up the Strip from the Tea Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental.

I think this is a must visit for anyone looking to escape all the commotion of the Strip and float up in the clouds above it all. I would suggest visiting the tea lounge at the Mandarin Oriental during the winter months when the sun sets earlier in the evening, giving you a chance to see the Strip “turn on” as as the sun sets.

Classic English Afternoon Tea $38/person
3752 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
23rd Floor
Las Vegas, NV 89109

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

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