Dining Out: China Poblano at The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas Strip

I’m a fan of Jose Andres- between his restaurants and the way he shoved Anthony Bourdain’s face into a box of fruit at a farmer’s market on an episode of No Reservations (the one about DC, in fact), ordering him to inhale like it was a religious experience, he’s my favorite celebrichef.

I particularly like Oyamel- along side the freshest, most flavorful ceviche and tableside guacamole, there’s margaritas with salt foam and pork belly tacos, small but intensely flavorful ribs, cactus salad with lime dressing, chilaquiles, and crazy dishes like seared half Maine lobster with citrus salsa and a white chocolate mole. The desserts are okay, but the small plates really shine- I’d sooner have another cricket taco than the tres leches, but you can’t win ‘em all.

Huddled in my hotel room in Cedar City, balancing my laptop on my knees while nibbling leftover ribs from Pat’s, and making loose plans for my short stay in Vegas, I found out that Penn & Teller were doing their thing at The Ritz, and that there was a Jose Andres restaurant at The Cosmopolitan. So I called and reserved a table.

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Dining Out; In-and-Out vs. Munchbar, Las Vegas

Woke up in Cedar City, Utah and got on the road with nothing but coffee and excitement to keep me going. I rolled into Las Vegas around noon, Salt Lake City’s Apollo burger still on my mind, and looked for fast food on the Garmin. I was betting that In-and-Out would be as good as everyone says.

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Dining Out: Apollo Burger, Salt Lake City, Utah

I’m not anti-chain restaurant, I’m pro-local business. If I desperately need caffeine and don’t have time to hunt down a funky coffee shop in, say, Toronto I’d sooner go looking for a Tim Horton’s for my cuppa Jean Louis (that’s “joe” in Quebecois, I’m sure) than a Starbucks. And in Utah, I’d sooner go to Apollo Burger than Five Guys (which has suddenly sprouted up all over the place- I was hanging out with another DC-expat who gleefully informed me that they have Five Guys in California now. Yikes.).

Since 1984, Apollo’s been serving up the pastrami-topped Apollo burger with fry sauce. That’s basically meat topped with more meat, finished off with something that is probably just mayo and ketchup, but somehow tastes better than it sounds. They also have really stellar onion rings. And as Adam Richman and his Travel Channel cohorts will tell you, their fingers and chins splotched with grease and glop, this is a Utah thing, yo.

Sometimes chains aren’t just for fools.

In the Kitchen: White Chocolate Meyer Lemon Tart with a Graham Cracker Crust

After spending an inordinate amount of time messing about with recipes for lemon curd, I was really surprised to find, on a bag of Meyer lemons, the most uncomplicated recipe ever.

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Drinking Local: High West Distillery, Park City, UT

A few years ago, if you’d told me I’d look forward to visiting Utah because of the breweries, I’d have told you (kindly) that you were nuts. Utah has this rep for being dry and… polygamist.

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Dining Out: RIS

Restaurant Week was short for me this year- just three places, once of which I’ve been to before. Then I literally couldn’t find Todd Gray’s Watershed. (Seriously, drove around and around and around and no sign, no street numbers, no nothing, not even the hotel I discovered after calling, that it was supposedly housed in.) So it was down to two. Yikes. There goes my rep.

Luckily, I made it to RIS.

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In the Kitchen: Dark Chocolate Toblerone Brownies with Hawaiian Pink Salt

A friend of mine who lives in the Midwest swears by these for parties and potlucks. I couldn’t wait for her to send me a batch, so I looked the recipe up online and then proposed to my fellow poster on A Year of Baking Dangerously that we try it out. Here it is, with a few tweaks! It’s fairly easy- most bakers would have baking chocolate and cocoa in their pantries already, so the only thing left to get is the Toblerone bar. And the challenge is to not eat all the good stuff before you start.

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