Friday, September 28, 2007

My Pick for Mandalay

Hi, Daughter of Food here.

I wanted to make my Mandalay Bay restaurant pick known, since this restaurant is actually one of the reasons I started this blog. It's been a long time coming, and I really have to tell you about it, because if you miss this when going to Vegas, you have truly missed out. Great food in Vegas is not hard to find, if you are willing to pay the price, after all, every celebrity chef has a home in this town of gluttony. The thing is that these restaurants are often overpriced and underperforming. There is a notable exception... a place where the chefs are thoughtful about the food, loving even. For years I let this gem pass me by, but no more...

I now know the joy that is Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger's Border Grill. The food I have had there was so fresh, so nourishing for both my body and soul that I was inspired to start this blog. It made me hunger to evangelize food that transcends normality. I may be building this up so much that it could never reach the expectation; I am not even sure they could satisfy the memory of my last experience if I went to the Border Grill again.

In my memory, my chicken al carbon, was incredibly tender and perfectly cooked with onions and vegetables. The tortilla was different than other I have had, lighter, more flavorful. As a whole, the dish was like an ideal plate of fajitas. My drink, I forget exactly what it was, but it was one of their signature beverages, with pomegranate. The meal was just delightful. I could not ask for more. My one regret, I have yet to try the Border Grill, right here in town, down in Santa Monica. I've eaten at it's sister restaurant, Ciudad, several times, but not Border. I should flog myself, well, not eating there is probably punishment enough.

24/7 Mandalay Bay

When family and friends are staying on the strip, they usually ask me where to eat? They've done the buffets and some of the high end restaurants and now just want to eat in a more normal way. Since you never know what time you might want to eat and everyone wants something different, I recommend one of the 24/7 cafes in the top hotels. So in the coming weeks I will discuss four of my favorites. The hotels will be Mandalay Bay, Bellagio, Venetian and Wynn.

Raffles in Mandalay Bay is a lovely series of rooms with a South Pacific feel. The rooms have marble topped tables and booths, large comfortable chairs, high beamed ceilings and walls of glass looking out at palm trees and and gardens. The service is efficient and friendly.

Although they have seemed to trim the menu in the last year, there is still a good variety of dishes to order. Some breakfast ideas might be Eggs Benedict ( try it with smoked salmon instead of Canadian bacon), Lobster Omelet or build your own omelet. Maybe your in the mood for a salad. How about a Southwestern or Champagne Chicken Salad. Add a soup and two people can share and be full. My favorite is the the Baked Potato Soup ( topped with bacon, chives, cheddar cheese and sour cream). There is a good selection of sandwiches, wraps and burgers.
Pastas and Italian favorites, steaks, ribs, fish and other interesting entrees are available. Finish your meal with some carrot cake or maybe a vanilla creme brulee,then take a walk upstairs at the shops of Mandalay Place or outside in the gardens.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Day of Atonement, Night of Plenty

This weekend I gave up food for one day, Yom Kippur, The Jewish Day of Atonement. Now, if you’ve been following this blog, you know by now, that I love FOOD, so a day without is a rough undertaking at best. I am not going to go on about the difficulties of forgoing sustenance; I just want to set up the joy that is The Breaking of the Fast!

Like the first light-jacket appropriate spring day after a grey down-parka requiring Cleveland winter, the first taste of food after a fast is an event at which you rejoice. At this time, I especially appreciate the Jewish prayer called the HaMotzi, where one gives thanks for bread. I was lucky enough to get an invite to a friend’s post Yom Kippur Dinner, where the each few guests brought some part of the delicious meal. Everything was wonderful, but I want to make mention of a few specific parts of the meal which were outstanding. First, I will give thanks for the bread. It was bakery bread, I believe, but in a town not known for its baked goods, a decent Challah is a blessing of its own. The hostess made her own hummus which was one of the best I have had. I would love the recipe if that friend of food happens to read this post. Then there were two excellent kugels made by that hostess, a cheese square casserole and a shredded potato dish which was addictive. At dessert we had, among other yummy treats, an excellent apple strudel made by a fellow guest. I won’t ask for a recipe for this one, just more strudel. As for my part, I brought a selection of desserts including one of my favorites, “The Cleveland Bar” from Solley’s in Sherman Oaks. Funny thing… I’m from Cleveland and when I first saw this treat in the deli case at Solly’s years ago, I asked if I could get one of those “Coconut Bars” in the case. “Coconut Bars” are what they are called in Cleveland. They had no idea what I was talking about. Now I just ask for the Cleveland Bar to avoid the confusion. Thanks to all who participated and thanks to my hosts who made for a terrific evening.

You can find Cleveland Bars at:
Solly's Deli & Bakery
4578 Van Nuys Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I came across this poem today.


Food, food I love you so, People say go on a diet, but what do they know.

Food, food you make me grow, You are the one on that makes me glow

.Burgers and fries, They are the one that stifles my hunger cries.

Popcorn chicken and buffalo wings, Whenever I see you, with joy my heart sings.

Smoothies and milkshake, They all go great with a nice chocolate cake.

Ice cream and whip cream, Why couldn’t I get you out of my dream?

Food, food I love you so. I will always love you wherever I go.

Food, food you may not know, But in my life, you play the leading role.
Jing Han

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Marzipan Cake

Father in Law of Food is a lover of Marzipan. In honor of his recent birthday I made him a Marzipan Cake. I searched many food blogs until I found a recipe for this cake and then I added a few touches to make it more personalized to Father in Law of Food's personal tastes. Thank-you to Vanessa Frida for listing the recipe. The original can be found here: .

My changes were as follows: I used only 14 Tbsp of Marzipan in the batter. I used some more for the decoration as julienned marzipan. I added slivered almonds, for decoration and additional crunch. Lastly, I trimmed the cake with blackberries, a favorite of Father In Law of Food. If I make the cake in the future, I would add a drizzle of amaretto for moisture and added almond taste. The cake was delicious. The batter might tempt one to lick the blades of the cuisinart, but resist for safety. Wait for this terrific cake to come out of the oven.

Monday, September 10, 2007

size matters

Recently I was dining in a seafood restaurant and was ordering some shrimp dishes. I asked the waitress the size of the shrimp. She replied nice size (a non answer). One of the people at the table commented that size shouldn't matter as it was all you can eat. I pointed out that since some of the shrimp dishes were breaded, it could make a big difference. I didn't want to bite into mostly breading and not experience the taste and texture of the shrimp. Depending on how you are preparing certain recipes size definitely matters.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

September is National Food Safety Education Month!

Mother in Law of Food is a School Nurse. She is always telling us about healthy habits like frequent hand washing and excercise. She inspired me to research food safety and I found this:

September is National Food Safety Education Month®. Across the country, food safety experts are reminding consumers that with Foodborne Pathogens: Your Family’s Health is in Your Hands. Follow the Four Steps To Food Safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill to keep food safe from harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Here are some helpful hints for keeping food safe.

Clean! Everything that touches food should be clean. Cleanliness is a major factor in preventing foodborne illness. Even with food safety inspection and monitoring at Federal, State, and local government facilities, the consumer's role is to make sure food is handled safely after it is purchased.

Separate! Fight cross-contamination! Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other foods, cutting boards, and utensils. An example of cross-contamination is cutting raw meat, poultry, or fish on a cutting board and then slicing salad vegetables on the same cutting board without washing the cutting board between uses.

Cook! Use a food thermometer in cooking. Using a food thermometer is the only way to tell if food has reached a high enough temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of foods, such as meat, hamburgers, poultry, egg casseroles, and any combination dishes.

Chill! Make sure the temperature in the refrigerator is 40°F or below and 0°F or below in the freezer. Use a refrigerator/freezer thermometer to check the temperature. Harmful bacteria grow most rapidly in the Danger Zone--the unsafe temperatures between 40 and 140°F--so it's important to keep food out of this temperature range.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Special thanks to all the readers who have given constructive advice in making this site better. Today I am sending out a special shout out to Friend of Food, Ollie, who suggested making link backs on our map placemarks to the articles that we wrote in the blog. This makes it so that when you click on one of the restaurants listed on the Family of Food Map, you can link back to the article in which that place was mentioned on our blog. Brilliant! This is now implimented. Thanks Ollie.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

basil - pesto

Yesterday I noticed we hadn't picked any basil for a long time and we had an abundance. So I decided to make some pesto. This is a simple recipe I picked up years ago.

2 cups fresh basil leaves packed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons of slightly roasted pine nuts
3 cloves of minced garlic
In a food processor with with motor running i put in the garlic, then the pine nuts.
I then add about half the basil and some of the cheese and give it a few pulses.
Then I add the rest of the cheese and basil and a few more pulses.
Now with motor running slowly add the olive oil until the mixture forms a consistency you prefer.
Now you should taste. I felt mine was too garlicky so I added a couple of squeezes of lemon, a slight pinch of sugar and some ( about 8 ) grape tomatoes. Tasted perfecto!
Remember a recipe is a guide. Don't be afraid to make changes or adjust seasonings and or ingredients to meet your own tastes.

Now what to serve the pesto with: While some Barilla cheese tortellini boiled, I put a little olive oil in a pan, added some sliced yellow peppers, a few sliced mushrooms and about 10 of those grape tomatoes and a few grinds of black pepper. As the veggies sauteed I added a little more olive oil (remember mushrooms are like a sponge). Now because I was cooking and eating at home I decided to splurge a little. So I threw in about eight large shrimp to the pan and a little butter to smooth out the sauce. By this time the pasta was ready and I added it to the shrimp and vegetables and then some of the pesto.
The dish was superb. Again remember you could use whatever vegetables you might have on hand. This entire meal could be made in less than twenty minutes.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Saving Money at Costco

For once, I actually saved Money at Costco! No really, I managed to go to Costco, buy food and leave with out spending all of the money I had. Costco is one of these places that you go to with good intentions, "I'll just buy a year's worth of toilet paper and then I'm outta there," and then, you notice, that a huge box of note paper is only $6.99, and that bag of Chex Mix big enough to serve a middle school is on sale for $3.99, and twelve canisters of salt are only $4.99,! Before you know it you've spent three hundred dollars and your pantry is stuffed with enough table salt to clear a Cleveland street in February after the biggest ice storm of the century.

Check this out. I went to buy meat and chicken for the Labor Day Weekend and I walked out pretty much with that. I spent less than sixty-four dollars and bought enough chicken, steak, and turkey burger to last long past the weekend. It was a miracle. The Costco check out clerk said it was the smallest bill of the day. My secret? I bought no beverages and concentrated on mostly unprocessed foods. Oh, and I bought nothing that wasn't food, despite the fact that they had a 320 gig hard drive for only ninety-nine bucks!

I have an unofficial way to check myself when I go grocery shopping. I figure out how many adult dinners (main course only) that I can make out of the food I buy and then divide the total of my bill by that number. Anything less than $10.00 a meal is cheaper than eating out... I live in LA, it's pricey to eat. So if I buy $100 worth of food, and I can make 20 dinners out of it, then my meals are worth about $5.00 each. I think that this Costco trip made(at best guess)26 adult meals consisting of quality meats for about $2.50 a meal. Try it next time you go to Costco and maybe you'll leave with some of your money left in your pocket.

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