Club Culinaire of French Cuisine vs Las Vegas

Ever since I was a little girl, my mother has taken me to Club Culinaire events. One of my first food memories was driving to this Ranch in the Malibu Hills, and just eating some of the best food all day long. The day ended with the biggest strawberry tart I had ever seen, literally. It must have been 10 feet in diameter. The people organizing the event began cutting pieces from it and every one dug in.

I couldn’t make this year’s Cancer fundraising event, because I had unknowingly booked a vacation with my boyfriend the same weekend. But, without fail, my mother grabbed me a goody bag.

Chocolate (85%), Vanilla Sugar, Heirloom Balsamic, Red Wine, and mini bottles of Olive Oil and Vinegar

Why can’t all gift bags be like this?! My main excitement comes from this packet of vanilla sugar. It is only 2 ounces, and yet I have a million ideas for it. One thing is for sure, I plan on sprinkling this on some fruit to place over waffles. Yum ;) I may also incorporate this dark cooking chocolate I got. Isn’t the wrapping beautiful!?

This should be called “Crack Sugar”, because I am sure I am going to get addicted.
The little bottles of olive oil and vinegar will be perfect to keep at work for salad

My mom told me the balsamic bottle also came in a fig version. I am much more excited about this heirloom tomato kind. I have a love for fig balsamic, but I’ve had it a lot. So far, I can’t say I have purchased heirloom flavored balsamic. Which sounds PERFECT for Caprese! mmmmm. I may just have to have a dinner party.

My vacation, despite the fact that I missed out on feasting on French food for a whole day, was amazing. My boyfriend and I took a luxury bus up to Vegas, which turned out to be a disaster. I have told this story so many times today, I will have to post about it later. However, he and I made the best of the situation and had an amazing weekend.

Stephanie, Aimi, and I at Marquee

On Saturday night, we decided to have a good dinner out. Having French food on the brain, Jacob, my friend Kevin, and I opted for Hubert Keller’s restaurant, Fleur.

Needless to say, I was excited! However, the meal ended up being a disappointment. At Fleur, it is recommended that you get small plates and share. For three people, 9 small plates were the norm, which made me think, “how small could they be?”. The answer, OVERPRICED AND TINY! Here is my verdict:

1.First Course, Salad: The Cesar salads cost each of us 13 a pop, and were, well, the size of a side salad, the diameter of 4 inches, taking me about 6 big bites to eat. I am sure the cheese was an upgraded Parmesan, but if I am going to order a salad with NO protein, it shouldn’t cost that much.
2. Kevin’s Tacos: The taco situation was the best example of how I am feeling… and hilarious! The look on Kevin’s face when the food arrived was priceless. Upon ordering the small plates, we all had trouble deciding what to get because it sounded delicious. But, upon getting the food, we all felt duped. Kevin ordered tuna tacos, which came with 3 in an order for 13 dollars. You know when you know you’ve just been scammed? When you are a 24 year old, 5’2” male that has to eat a Baja Fresh quesadilla after your expensive meal because you didn’t have enough food. The tacos were about 1.5 inches long. It was comical watching Kevin struggle with holding these MINI, MINI tacos in between 2 fingers, finishing each in a bite and the “meal” in under a minute.

Don’t be fooled. These were BITE sized.

3. Mine and Jacob’s Met Dishes: I ordered a skirt steak for 16 dollars, while Jacob got sliders for 12. Let me copy and paste the descriptions off the website for your here:
Steak– chimmichurri, roasted fingerling, crème fraiche
Sliders-blue cheese, onion, bacon, pear
Now, both sound incredible. The skirt steak was probably 1.5 ounces, and came in 4 shallow slices, doused in chimichirri to the point where you couldn’t taste the meat at all. The roasted fingerling was just that, ONE potato the size of a quarter with a dollop of creme fraiche. What cracked me up the most about this is your are supposed to SHARE the small plates…. how exactly do you advertise a creme fraiche potato, and make it impossible to share it. I tried biting it in half and giving the rest to my boyfriend, but instead ended up with creme fraiche down my face and a mutilated half a potato. It would be impossible to share it. The steak too; 16 dollars for a piece of meat that may not even weigh in at my local butcher? Excuse me, I will have my money back.

I got this photo off the website. I wonder how many times the camera man zoomed in.

How about the sliders, which also sounded amazing?? Well, surprise, the sliders were also so small. each burger could have been eaten in 2 bites. I am almost positive mine had no condiments on it, as all I tasted was a hunk of dry meat on toast. And don’t you love the garnish of 7 french fries in ketchup.

4. Desert: Using science in food can be exciting, but don’t tell me that because you frozen ice cream in liquid nitrogen, it is going to cost me 15 dollars. I was a premed major at UCLA; I know Liquid N2 doesn’t cost that much.

I understand the want to be cutting edge, modern, and new. But please do not rip me off. Here is the thing, tapas/small plates/ whatever… are small. BUT I have had a much better tapas experience that wasn’t this overpriced, with this little food. And the whole point of tapas is to be able to share, which this experience obliterated you from doing. One of my favorite resteraunts ever is Mesa Grill, by Bobby Flay. He knows how to do Tex-Mex right, and despite the fact that it is pricey, the portions are right and outstanding. I suggest next time you are in Vegas to try this place out (located in Cesar’s Palace).

All in all, fabulous trip. If you haven’t discovered all the great food Las Vegas has to offer, I suggest you make time and save money to revel in some delicious food-fare.

My 2 dates to Fleur, awaiting the Mandalay Bay Tram
My boyfriend thought I overpacked… I clearly did not bring enough :)

Fleur (Mandalay Bay) on Urbanspoon

Things to Bring to a Tailgate: Breakfast Casserole

*I decided to break up my Breakfast Tailgate Post  as it was long and hard to read.* 

Spicy Breakfast Casserole
This meal is especially great to make if you are in a hurry. You add everything about breakfast in a pan, bake, and take! You can change up the vegetables you use, as well as the cheese. Play around :)

8 large eggs
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (can also use sausage)
1 large loaf of french crusty bread or 1 baguette
4 cups homefries (you can make them yourself or use frozen ones)
1 cup milk
2 cups cheddar cheese
1 onion, sweated
1 jalapeno, diced (leave some seeds in for more heat)
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Things to Bring to a Tailgate: Easy Cinnamon Sticky Bread

*I decided to break up my Breakfast Tailgate Post  as it was long and hard to read.*

Easy Cinnamon Sticky Bread
Cheating times 2 on this blog today! Oh k… again, I am going to use a Pillsbury product. You can do this with biscuits, BUT it tends to come out a little doughy for my taste. Play around with the recipe and see what suits you

2 cans Pillsbury buttermilk biscuits, cut into 4ths
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp cinnamon
1 cup melted butter
Preheat oven to 375 (directions on the biscuit can). Roll biscuits in granulated sugar and place in a large baking dish (large enough to fit them all, but not too big that the biscuits don’t touch each other).

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Things to Bring to a Tailgate: Breakfast

Getting in a good meal before tailgating is always important. Trust me, you don’t want to drink beer on an empty stomach. Sometimes, early football games, or early tailgating, call for a breakfast with friends coupled with a good screwdriver, mimosa, or bloody mary. Make sure your tailgate is ready for game time with these amazing recipes.

Silver Dollar Sandwich
Pancakes are one of my favorite morning foods, but are not super portable. Try this recipe for an easy pancake sandwich. You can play with the pancakes too, making them apple cinnamon, blueberry, or strawberry.

12 silver dollar pancakes, about 4 inches in diameter
6 slices bacon, made into crumbled maple bacon
*try this recipe, or make your own. Simply cook bacon on a cookie sheet with real maple syrup and  brown sugar. the addition of dijon mustard ensures it isn’t too sweet*
6 eggs, fried (scrambled eggs don’t really work with this recipe)
Aluminum foil

Make pancakes, set aside. Make maple bacon, crumble and set aside. Make fried eggs, either hard fried or with a runny yolk. Set aside. Make squares with the tin foil large enough to cover the pancake sandwich (about 8 inches in diameter). Take 6 pancakes and place each on a square of foil. Smear the crumbed bacon maple compote evenly on each pancake. Add a fried egg and top with another pancake. Wrap each sandwich in foil. When at tailgate, place the foil covered sandwiches on the grill and heat for 10 minutes. Pass out foil sandwiches, open and enjoy!

Biscuit Breakfast Sandwich
Who doesn’t like a biscuit sandwich. Again, biscuits are like a blank canvas. Try making sweet biscuits, adding cream cheese and apple slices in the middle instead. Post your favorite variations.

8 biscuits (use premaid, or make your own from your favorite recipe)
8 eggs
8 slices cheese
8 slices bacon or sausage
2 avocados
Optional: vegetables or your choice

Take made biscuits and slice in half horizontally. Cook bacon and break each strip in half. Take each biscuit, and place 1/4 of an avocado, sliced on each bottom. Next, place 1 slice bacon on each biscuit bottom on top of the avocado, making sure the bacon is placed as two half slices next to one another. Lay 1 slice of cheese on top of the bacon. Either fry eggs, or scramble, but make sure to place the egg HOT on the biscuit on top of the cheese so the cheese melts. Optional to put a ring of onion or tomato on the sandwich. Place tops of biscuits on the bottoms. Wrap each while hot in foil. Bring to tailgate; pass out to friends and fans, and enjoy!

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Every New Years I veer away from resolutions because I always break them. Well, I have a blog resolution and hopefully I don’t forget about it. TAKE PICTURES!

A lot of times when I come up with recipes, I forget to use the camera. And sometimes, I just write about recipes of mine I haven’t divulged before or in a long time. However, when I was spending time with some friends over summer, one of them mentioned “I used to look at your blog all the time, but its hard because I rarely look at blogs without pictures.” And, she was right. The websites I am prone to viewing also usually have brilliant images.

So here is to my end of summer resolution, to take more photos!

Now, on to food. This summer I have eaten some amazing dips. And really, what is summer without chips and dips. With the end of summer you may be thinking “isn’t this post coming too late?” Though if you are like me, for me and my friends, it’s coming just in time. College Football season is rapidly approaching and if you want to be bell of the tailgate ball, try some of these recipes. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

And just for kicks…. U C L A. GO BRUINS!!

Bacon and Cheese Dip
This dip is addicting. What I sometimes do it buy a disposable pan, and kind of warm this up on the grill before I let people dig in with tortilla chips. It can be eaten cold too. Play around with this recipe.

16 oz sour cream
1 packet Ranch dressing mix (I recommend Hidden Valley)
1/4 cup bacon crumble (take the time to make actual bacon and crumble it finely. Bacon bits are a sin, and not in a good way)
1 cup sharp shredded cheddar cheese

Mix all the ingredients together. This goes great with tortilla chips or carrot sticks.

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