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BWE10 Dinner Recommendation: Tender

Author:

Earlier today, I posted a great lunch recommendation at Border Grill, but for dinner I wanted to give you a slightly more upscale location to try out. Tender, which is located at Luxor, is a great option if you’re looking for somewhere sophisticated but can’t afford a five-star $400 tasting menu. They have tons of dinner options in a wide range of prices.

The Food

Tender’s chef was nice enough to send out a variety of appetizer samples for me to try, including shrimp two ways (hot and cold), heirloom tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella. I say this without hesitation: go for the cheese. It was creamy with a mild flavor and I wanted to swim in a pool of it. I’m pretty sure I would have eaten it all had I not had dinner partners who wanted to share.

Oh, something that you wouldn’t normally think about doing – try the bread. I usually try to avoid filling up on bread when I know I’m going to have a great meal, but Rachel, who helped organize the dinner, made me have a slice. I’m picky about bread, simply because my grandmother is the best bread baker in the world (it’s a fact.), but this was pretty darn good. It’s homemade and soft, while still being slightly chewy and having a crunchy crust. Pretty much everything you want bread to be.

Instead of doing a tasting menu like I did at Border Grill for lunch, we ordered dinner. On our waiter’s recommendation, I tried the seafood ensemble, which included Hawaiian blue prawns, Maine sea scallops, and Australian sea bass. We also chosen potato gratin and creamed corn side dishes to share at our table. I definitely recommend going that route – choosing a number of sides for everyone to try instead of each ordering your own. Our waiter recommended these two specific sides, and he wasn’t wrong, especially about the creamed corn.

I expected to love the sea scallops the most, as they’re one of my favorite foods. I wasn’t disappointed. They were perfectly seared and tasted buttery and smooth without being mushy. I have to say, though, the real star for me was the sea bass. The crispy skin was a delicious, and I almost wanted to order more.

Of course, we had to order dessert after seeing their menu. Our waiter recommended the Grandma’s chocolate cake, which was more fudgey chocolate ganache than cake and definitely not what anyone’s grandma makes at home! Our table also got the cookie platter, which was way too big for three people, let alone one person, and included everything from their version of a fig newton to homemade marshmallow.

My pick? Campfire peanut butter s’mores. Yes, you heard me correctly. It was a chocolate brownie on top of a graham cracker, topped with their marshmallows and drizzled with hot fudge. I’m unashamed to say that I ate almost the entire thing, even after being stuffed from dinner. Let’s be honest; I was really still stuffed from lunch before I even got there.

The Atmosphere

Tender has a very upscale lodge feel, especially with their unique chandelier and spun driftwood sculptures. Like I’m finding with most of the hotel restaurants, appearances can be deceiving. They have more than the small lounge and dining rooms you see from the door! If you want to host a larger party, they have dining rooms you can reserve, and they also have a great wine room, which I definitely recommend if you just want to have a few drinks with friends at the end of the night.

Overall, Tender is kind of like its name – a cozy place to eat. Try to get a booth if you eat here – they’re non-traditional wrap-around booths that make it easy to talk with your fellow diners.

The Service

While I already gushed about Rachel at Border Grill, our serving staff at Tender went above and beyond. John gave us fabulous wine recommendations, including a chardonnay that went perfectly with my dinner. Our waiter was Manuel, and not only was he attentive and professional, but he was also extremely personable. He grew up in Las Vegas, so gave us a ton of recommendation of things to see and do while in town. When we left, I kind of felt like I had made a friend, and that’s not the norm when it comes to your restaurant wait staff.

Both John and Manuel were also extremely knowledgeable about the food at Tender. You’ll notice that I mentioned we went with their recommendations often throughout the evening, and you could tell that they weren’t just pushing the specials or more expensive dishes – they were telling us what they love to eat and what they thought we would most love to eat as well.

Overall, Tender is not going to be for everyone. The food is fabulous, but the prices are a bit high for someone on an extreme budget. Remember, though – you get what you pay for. The prices are definitely worth the quality of the meal you’ll have at Tender. If you’re on a budget, consider stopping in just for wine or dessert!

The Specs:

  • Tender is open daily for dinner. Recommendations are recommended, though probably only necessarily on weekends.
  • Sunday – Thursday from 5-10, they have a $39 fixe menu available. Otherwise, you can expect for spend at least $50 for dinner there, assuming you get a drink, entree, and side. Like I said, if you’re on a tight budget, just stop in for dessert.
  • Dress is business casual.

You can view more information about the restaurant, along with their menus, on Luxor’s Tender page.

Big thanks to Ashli and Rachel for coordinating this meal!

BWE10 Lunch Recommendation: Border Grill

Author:

Vegas is a town full of great food, but Border Grill will be tough to beat. Located in Mandalay Bay, which makes it super convenient for BlogWorld Expo attendees, there’s more to this Mexican restaurant than meets the eye. I dare you to find a better strip restaurant for casual dining.

Oh, and if you’re too lazy busy to read this review, skip to the end and watch the video instead!

Executive chef Michael Minor is someone I wish I could hire to feed me every night. Mexican food is too commonly associated with Taco Bell, and his offerings are anything but. If it wouldn’t have been a sin to keep him out of the kitchen, I could have listened to him all day, talking about learning authentic secrets to great food while on vacation in the Yucatán. It’s pretty apparent that Chef Mike loves food and spares no expense at putting out the very best.

Border Grill was nice enough to do a little tasting menu for me, so I got to sample a lot of amazing food from Chef Mike’s kitchen. My three must-haves?

  • Guacamole
  • Baja Ceviche
  • Pork Tacos
  • Fruit Sorbet

Ok, yeah, that’s four. In trying to choose just three, I found that I couldn’t.

Start with the chips and guacamole. If you’re anything like us, I bet you can’t stop nibbling, even when the rest of your meal comes.

I love ceviche, And not only was the plate pretty (see the above-right picture), but it was delicious. In fact, I fully intend to go back and have it again before I leave Las Vegas. Some ceviches are really fishy (in a bad way), but at Border Grill, it tastes cool and refreshing – perfect for a hot day. The avocado adds a smooth texture to your mouth, perfectly contrasting the bed of crunchy homemade totillas.

And how can you not love a really well done taco? At border grill, the tacos are overflowing to the point where you almost have to eat them with a fork, and my favorite, by far, was the pork. If you check out the video below, I mention Chef Mike’s slow-roasted pork at least twice. I want to have that pork’s babies. If pork isn’t your thing, though, all of the tacos I tried were outstanding. Who would have thought you can get tasty, fresh fish tacos or spicy shrimp tacos in the middle of the dessert?

Seriously, save room for dessert. I’m usually not hungry enough for a huge dessert after lunch, despite my love for chocolate cake. I got to try their homemade sorbet sampler instead – and wow. It was a great way to finish the meal, and much to my surprise, there were frozen pieces of real fruit within the creamy sorbet, which burst in your mouth when you bite them. By this point in the meal, you’ll likely feel like you want to explode from eating so much, but it is totally worth the pain.

Also, please, please, PLEASE try the flavored lemonades, either alone or as part of a mixed drink. Yum. They’re sweet, but not syrupy like some flavored drinks.

The wait staff? Amazing, though I’ve yet to come across a poor waitress or waiter in Las Vegas. Mine for lunch was Rachel, and if she’s working, do yourself a favor and request her. I understand that we might have gotten a little special treatment because they knew I was going to write a review, but Rachel clearly knew what she was talking about with every dish – that’s not something you can just quickly learn for the sake of a reviewer. I also took notice that the staff was really attentive of all the guests in our area, making sure to keep the water glass full and checking on diners regularly (but not so often that it gets annoying).

The biggest downside to this restaurant, as I see it, is that it’s easy to miss as you walk by. The restaurant looks tiny from the outside, and kind of…well…typical, nothing special. Inside, that is clearly not the case. Beyond requesting Rachel, do yourself another favor and walk downstairs for seating – you’ll eat right by the river and waterfall. The balcony is also a great option, since the view of Mandalay Bay is gorgeous. Don’t judge this restaurant book by its cover.

The Specs:

  • Mandalay Bay’s Border Grill is open for both lunch and dinner, and they also have to-go options for bloggers on the move. They have a bar, a dining room, a balcony, and an outdoor eating space available for guests.
  • It’s great for the blogger who wants to experience the best of Vegas food, but who is also on a budget. You can get an amazing lunch there for under $25 and dinner for well under $50.

Check out this video for more food porn, videos at the restaurant, and more:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiviOKv8ir8[/youtube]

Big thanks to Ashli Kimenker from Kirvin Doak Communications for joining me for lunch and making this review possible!

Food Bloggers Heat Up BlogWorld 2010

Author:

By Babette Pepaj
Founder BakeSpace.com & TECHmunch Food Blogger Conference
Producer of TECHmunch BlogWorld Food Track

Last year’s hit film “Julie & Julia” helped show the world how food bloggers love to share their passion and inspire one-another online. After all, food is one of life’s great pleasures, and talking about food is among the oldest forms of storytelling.

So it’s no wonder that BlogWorld is teaming up with BakeSpace.com’s TECHmunch Food Blogger Conference to add the first-ever food track to this year’s BlogWorld & New Media Expo.

The TECHmunch Track will include 15 panels designed specifically to help food bloggers learn how to develop great content, grow their audience and profit financially from their hard work. The focus is on practical, hands-on information that applied easily from day-one.

In addition, Jenn-Air is sponsoring an expansive demo kitchen in the conventional hall that will feature demonstrations by top food bloggers and telechefs including Stephen Hopcraft (Bravo’s “Top Chef”) and Manouschka Guerrier (Food Network’s “Private Chefs of Beverly Hills”). Even Blogworld Founder and CEO Rick Calvert will share his famous salsa recipe. Like any great kitchen, we believe the TECHmunch kitchen at BlogWorld will be the heart and soul of the conference. It’s not only where you’ll go when you’re hungry for great food, but also when you’re hungry for great conversation.

If you’re a food blogger, we hope the TECHmunch panels and demonstrations inspire you to take your blog to the next level. When the folks at BlogWorld decided to add a food track, they were determined not to just throw together a bunch of panels and invite food brands to stalk attendees. Instead, they wanted to create a genuine community. In this way TECHmunch at BlogWorld will be very different from most other food blogger conferences.

While we’ll focused on issues relating specifically to food bloggers, everyone at BlogWorld is welcome to attend the TECHmunch panels, which will feature some of the best minds in montezation, promotion, developing great content.

Below is quick summary of what we have planned. See you in Vegas!

Friday, October 15th

10:30amSalsa with Rick
BlogWorld Kitchen
Join BlogWorld’s very own Rick Calvert as he whips up is famous salsa recipe.

11:15amBBQ Demo w/ Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn”
BlogWorld Kitchen
Chat about all things BBQ and creating mouthwatering content.

12:00pmSetting Up Your Digital Kitchen
BlogWorld Kitchen
A lively discussion on live steaming and video content creation (in the field, at home and on the set). Sharing tips, tools and how-tos by content pioneers

1:15pmPhoto Demo with Diane and Todd of White on Rice
BlogWorld Kitchen
Diane and Todd share their wisdom for creating beautiful photographs that will keep your visitors wanting more.

1:50pmJenn-Air Intro
BlogWorld Kitchen
Check out what’s new in the kitchen.

2:00pmWorking with Brands
BlogWorld Kitchen
So you built a website and now brands are coming to you. So, what now? How do you communicate effectively with brands, build relationships and leverage those partnerships?

3:15pmThe Art & Science of Recipe Writing BlogWorld
BlogWorld Kitchen
Creating rich content can satisfy your readers, but how can it also drive traffic to your site? Understanding how to organize and write your content so it’s useful and highly indexable on the Web is an important lesson for building your community.

4:30pmFancy Fast Food Demo
BlogWorld Kitchen
Join Erik Trinidad from Fancy Fast Food as he shows Melissa Rowley how to turn boring dinner into a blog worthy opportunity.

Saturday October 16

10:45 AM What’s Gaby Cooking?
BlogWorld Kitchen
Join Gaby Dalkin as she cooks a favorite recipe and shares her passion for food and chats about creating video content, getting a content syndication deal and how she develops mouth-watering recipes.

11:00 AM Getting Noticed: Building Your PR Plan
Tradewinds C/9
Building a PR plan is imperative if you want to create some buzz around your site/blog/business/brand. Join our industry leaders as they share tools, tips and case studies creating a PR plan.

11:45 AM Food Trends: Curating Flavors on the Web BlogWorld
BlogWorld Kitchen
Writing great content is one thing, curating it is another story. Some content aggregators are masters at hand selecting the best content to share on the Web driving huge traffic to your site.

12:15 PM Monetizing Your Food Blog & Building Your Brand
Tradewinds C/9
Join us for a colorful discussion on monetizing your content, creating offline opportunities and turning your brand into a scalable business. We’ll hear from industry pros on how they built their businesses.

12:15 PM Get Offline (Originally a TECHmunch panel, moved to “Community”
Tradewinds A/B 10
Building a rich community doesn’t just happen online… Web communities are organizing meetups, tweetups, and community parties to connect IRL.

1:00 PM Cooking Demo: TV Chefs
BlogWorld Kitchen
Interested in turning your passion into a TV gig? Come to the BlogWorld kitchen to meet Chef Stephen Hocraft (Cheftestant Bravo’s Top Chef and Executive Chef at MGM’S Seablue by Michael Mina) and Manouschka Guerrier, Chef on Food Network’s Private Chefs of Beverly Hills. Not only will they demonstrate a killer paella recipe, but they will share with you their journey to TV Chef stardom.

2:45 PM Writing Local: Tasting Las Vegas
BlogWorld Kitchen
Tapping into your local community is a great way to build community, capture visitors and attract press. But what happens when your city is Las Vegas? With so much food, entertainment and visitors from around the globe, how do you keep your content relevant to your community?

3:30 PM Leveraging Traditional Media – How to Get on Food Editor’s Radar Tradewinds C/9
Ever wonder how content finds its way into the paper? Join some of the top food editors in the US as we hash out what it takes to get on an editor’s radar so you can leverage their readers to help grow your blog readership.

TECHmunch Producer Babette Pepaj (@BakeSpace) is also founder and CEO of BakeSpace.com – which was launched in 2006 as the Web’s first food social network and recipe swap. The grassroots site earned back-to-back Webby Award nominations for “Best Social Network in 2009 and 2010. Prior to launching BakeSpace.com, Babette worked for more than a decade producing and directing reality TV shows such as MTV’s “The Real World” and “Road Rules.”

Image Source

The 2010 Tasting Las Vegas 7 & 7 Restaurant Picks

Author:

You won’t find a better city on Earth when it comes to great eating than Las Vegas! I feel that it is my civic duty to ensure everyone involved with the 2010 Blogworld & New Media Expo eats well while they’re here in Our Little Twinkle In The Desert. For your perusal is my 2010 Tasting Las Vegas 7 & 7 Restaurant Picks; 7 restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip and 7 restaurants off the Las Vegas Strip (plus a few bonuses) that represent the excellent and diverse eats that our fair city has to offer. Enjoy and eat well!

On The Las Vegas Strip –

First Food and Bar at the Palazzo
First Food and Bar is one of my favorite places in town. Chef Sam DeMarco and crew present a unique and sophisticated spin on American comfort foods that are wonderfully flavorful and always use the best of ingredients. First is great for lunch, dinner and proper late night hang. For those in the boozing mood, First has one of the best Happy Hour deals in town (3pm-7pm & 11pm-1am) with 2-for-1 Draft Beers, Stoli vodka and Patron tequila. A few dishes I’d recommend are the Walnut Shrimp, Mykonos Gyros Eggrolls and Scotty’s 5-Layer Chicken Fingers. Oh yeah, and get the Philly Cheesesteak Dumplings. And the Dr. Pepper BBQ St. Louis Ribs! Oh! And the…..well….you get the picture. It’s all good at First Food and Bar!

You can follow First Food and Bar on Twitter at @FirstFoodandBar

RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay

Yes folks, you can have seafood in the desert. Good seafood. RM Seafood isn’t just one of the best seafood restaurants in Las Vegas, it’s one of the best seafood restaurants you’ll find anywhere. Chef Rick Moonen isn’t just an accomplished chef, but is also on the forefront of Sustainable Seafood advocacy, so not only will you eat great food, but you’ll eat food that is fished responsibly. RM Seafood has two components; downstairs being a more casual space and upstairs a more intimate space for fine dining. Downstairs is open for lunch and dinner. Keep in mind that the menu is seasonal, so these recommendations might not be there in their current form by the time Blogworld rolls around, but the Alaskan King Salmon with Corn Succotash and Alaskan Halibut with English Peas in a Basil Broth are fabulous. Upstairs, the best way to fly is the (currently) $75 5-course prix fixe tasting menu, which is among the most sophisticated food you will find in Las Vegas and for a bargain of a price!

You can follow Chef Rick Moonen on Twitter at @RickMoonen

Julian Serrano at Aria

The Spanish Tapas tradition is my favorite way to eat; a variety of small plates, packed with flavor and meant to be shared with friends (over many pitchers of sangria, of course!). While Chef Julian Serrano made his name as a French chef with his highly-acclaimed Picasso at the Bellagio, Chef Serrano is a native Spaniard and this is the cuisine nearest to his heart. You MUST get the Pan Manchego. At first glance it’s a simple piece of bread with tomato and aged manchego cheese, but it puts on a clinic how truly magical the best of ingredients will make the best of food if executed properly. I also highly recommend the Tuna-Raspberry Skewers, the Chicken Croquetas and the dish I want to eat everyday of my life, Huevos Estrellados, which is eggs, fried potatoes and chorizo.

N9ne Steakhouse at The Palms

Well, The Palms, which houses N9ne Steakhouse, isn’t actually on Las Vegas Blvd., but it’s close and the powers-that-be usually group The Palms as a “Strip Resort.” Be prepared, N9ne is not your daddy’s steakhouse. It’s loud, hip, trendy and you’ll probably find yourself tripping over celebrities and professional athletes on the way to your table. For my money, it’s the best tasting, most consistently well-prepared steak in town and that’s why I go there. If loud music and beautiful people ain’t your thing, then check out Wolfgang Puck’s CUT at the Palazzo for all of your charred cow needs.

You can follow N9ne Steakhouse on Twitter at @N9neSteakLV

Wazuzu at Encore

Everyone has their favorite sushi joint, everyone has their favorite dim sum joint and everyone has their favorite Thai place, but no one in this town knocks all Asian cuisines out of the park in one place like Chef Jet Tila and his crew do at Wazuzu. Wazuzu is categorized as a pan-Asian restaurant, and while such a title would cause most authenticity sticklers to scurry and flee, everything I’ve eaten at Wazuzu is legit. Great sushi rolls and sashimi, Chinese Shu Mai pork dumplings that are exquisite, Thai Chicken Panang Curry that is of the best I’ve had anywhere and his signature Drunken Noodles (I always get beef) are guaranteed to make you happy.

You can follow Chef Jet Tila on Twitter at @jettila

Silk Road at Vdara

The Best Breakfast in Las Vegas. Without question. Sure, greasy spoon diners have their place in life, but if you are looking for a unique breakfast using only Farmers Market fresh ingredients and the finest spices on the planet, then Silk Road is the place for you to have your morning meal. Influenced by the diverse flavors of the ancient Silk Road, Chef Martin Heierling and crew have created a space for those flavors to shine on breakfast foods. With Crispy French Toast with Cinnamon Custard and Cider Reduction, Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes with Orange Blossom Syrup and Candied Rose Petals and Free Range Turkey Hash with Piquillo Peppers and Kirmizi Butter…this is half a world away from your neighborhood Lumberjack Breakfast. On Sunday, Silk Road hosts a fabulous brunch that is a tasting of much of the menu and runs for $39 which includes a mimosa or bloody mary. Silk Road is only open for breakfast and lunch, but if you miss this and still want to check out Chef Heierling’s cuisine, check out his other concept in town, Sensi at the Bellagio, which is headed up by Chef Roy Ellamar for dinner. Excellent food.

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand

The legendary Joël Robuchon wasn’t named “Chef of the Century” by some fluke. The guy knows his stuff. He has more Michelin stars than anyone else on the planet and his food deserves it. Food of his caliber obviously doesn’t come cheap; a meal at his neighboring signature restaurant, his only fine dining restaurant in the United States, will run you about $400 a head if you do the 16-course degustation. Fortunately, the more “casual” L’Atelier will allow you to eat some extraordinarily sophisticated food with less of a jolt to the bank account. Don’t get me wrong, you’re still going to pay a few shekels for it, and by “casual” I don’t mean that there’s banjos hung on the wall and a staff wearing Pieces of Flair will sing Happy Birthday to you as they present your complimentary cupcake with flaming sparkler. The “casual” aspect of L’Atelier means that the superfluous ceremony of fine dining (think white tablecloths, 20 different glasses on the table and a different sized fork for each bite) is stripped away and all you’re left with is perfect food. Examples of which are the Langoustine Fritter with Basil, Burger with Foie Gras, or the Steak Tartar with Frites. If you don’t have a cholesterol check anytime soon, Robuchon is probably most famous for his Pommes Puree, which are more butter than actual potato. This ain’t your momma’s mashed potatoes.

You can follow L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon on Twitter at @RobuchonLV

Off The Strip –

Bachi Burger
470 E. Windmill Ln. #100
Las Vegas, NV 89123

Asian inspired hamburgers. Who woulda thunk? I’m certainly glad Chef Lorin Watada, formerly corporate chef of Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Restaurants, did…and in so doing…created one of the biggest local hot spots in all of Las Vegas! Bachi Burger is delicious, unique and very wallet friendly. Hand-formed hamburgers combined with the flavors of Asia including Korea’s Kalbi and Vietnam’s Banh-Mi, be prepared for the explosion of flavor that Bachi Burger is known for. And while the Chili Fried Chicken appetizer is a must get, make sure you save room for dessert! Pastry Chef Keris is of the best pastry chefs in town and you won’t believe sweets of such high quality can be gotten at such a low price!

You can follow Bachi Burger on Twitter at @BachiBurgerLV

Marche Bacchus
2620 Regatta Drive, #106
Las Vegas, NV 89128

Marche Bacchus is a long ways from the Las Vegas Strip, and once you go inside, you feel like you instantly traveled another couple thousand miles away from it. Well done French cuisine in a fabulous setting, especially if you get to enjoy the outdoor dining space with view of the lake and surrounding McMansions. The Cote de Porc (Frenchy way of saying pork chop) and Scallop Risotto are good, and of course don’t forget the Foie Gras as an appetizer. Also, Marche Bacchus has a wine shop component, so you can purchase good wines without the heinous markup and enjoy them with the tasty food and comfortable surroundings.

Origin India
4480 Paradise Road #1200
Las Vegas, NV 89169

Origin India is far from a standard Indian curry joint. The best way I can describe Chef Kuldeep Singh’s cooking is that he combines the flavors of India with French technique and a New American sensitivity to premium ingredients. This is sophisticated Indian cuisine at its finest. Sure, you will find traditional items like Lamb Rogan Josh and Chicken Makhani, but they are done in such a way that you have the essence and the heart of India’s flavors, but the protein will always still be the star of the show. Origin India also has a true mixologist on board, and the cocktails made here are some of the best in the city. If you’re looking for more standard fare Indian food, Namaste Indian Cuisine in the Commercial Center on Sahara Ave (next door to Lotus of Siam) has the best Indian Lunch Buffet in town and is only $9.99, putting it as one of the best deals in town!

You can follow Origin India on Twitter at @OriginIndia

Pasta Shop Ristorante
2525 W. Horizon Ridge Pkwy
Henderson, NV 89052

By the time this is published anywhere, the Pasta Shop would have closed its longtime location on Tropicana Ave and have re-opened on Horizon Ridge Pkwy in nearby Henderson. Simply the best noodle you’ll find in town, The Pasta Shop offers some of the best Italian dishes served anywhere. Of all the restaurants in Las Vegas, I’ve been going to the Pasta Shop the longest and it has always been among the best and most consistent plates of food of any cuisine. The Spinach Linguini with Oil and Garlic won’t get you many dates, but it is well worth the…aroma. Another big hit is the Shrimp Fra Diavolo which is one of the better balanced spicy red sauces out there.

Firefly
3900 Paradise Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89169

and

The Plaza Hotel
1 Main Street
Las Vegas, NV 89101

There are few things on Earth that are better for a late night hang than Spanish Tapas, and The Firefly does them quite well and at very reasonable prices. The energy is palpable when you eat at Firefly, as it is one of the hotspots for the young and hip. The Stuffed Dates, a Spanish staple, are fantastic as is both the Camerones a la Diabla (shrimp in a sweet and spicy sauce) and the al Ajillo (lemon-garlic butter sauce). The Manchego Mac & Cheese is also one of Firefly’s most popular picks and my own personal must-get-everytime-I-go dish is actually a dessert; Banana-Nutella Sandwiches. Oh yes.

You can follow Firefly on Twitter at @FireflyLV

Ichiza
4355 Spring Mountain Rd_
Las Vegas, NV 89102

In many ways, Ichiza is the Japanese version of the Firefly in town; a great late night hang full of the young and energetic. Ichiza is what’s known as an izakaya, or Japanese Bar Food joint. Mostly serving small plates, the food is meant to be accompanied with beer, shochu or sake. The menu is scattered on cards posted all over the walls which makes for an interesting adventure in deciding on what to eat. A must have is the Butter Corn, buttery corn love with a crab rangoon type cream cheese on a crisp cracker There’s also a fine assortment of Yakitori (chicken on a stick) and pork belly dishes that you should try. All of them. Oh, and make sure you give the Honey Toast and Coffee Jello a shot!

Naked City Pizza Shop

(inside Moon Doggie’s Bar)_
3240 S. Arville Rd. #E_
Las Vegas, NV 89102

The best Buffalo Wings in Las Vegas. Why? Because Chef / Owner Chris Palmeri is from Buffalo and even went back to Buffalo to work and learn with the best Buffalo-style wings and Buffalo-style pizza makers right before Naked City Pizza Shop opened its doors. That’s what I call dedication to the craft! The first of the Naked City Shops, the Naked City Sandwich Shop, had the best sandwiches in Las Vegas until they closed its doors and folded the sandwich arm into the Pizza Shop. So I guess that means NCPS has the best sandwiches in Las Vegas, too. The NCPS has a unique location, inside Moon Doggie’s Bar on the corner of Desert Inn and Arville. You can eat, drink, smoke, play video poker, and kill virtual exotic animals with the arcade game in the corner. The way good food was meant to be enjoyed.

You can follow Naked City Pizza Shop on Twitter at @NakedCityLV

Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife. He is the founder and writer for http://TastingLasVegas.com, a blog and podcast dedicated to news and reviews of the Las Vegas restaurant scene.

You can join Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Keep It Simple, Stupid

Author:

Keep It Simple, Stupid are 4 words I never heard growing up. I have always had a secret love affair with all things food, heavily-concentrated-ingredient food at that. I grew up on Mom’s meatloaf, homemade macaroni and cheese, super meat and potato pie, roast beef and lasagna. I longed for anything cake, bread and ice-cream related.

And then just a few short years back, I found out I had a form of colitis and an inflamed esophagus. My diet suddenly took a drastic change and went from an unhealthy, all out love affair, to a basic “kiss.”

Keep It Simple, Stupid (K.I.S.S.): I blog the way I eat. I eat the way I blog. I have a saying, “Cut the ingredients. Clear the clutter. Simple. Zen.” Those who follow my Blog, Confessions, Truths & the Journey of a (Mis) Fortunate Foodie-Fitness Junkie, know that I am 100% gluten free, I only eat the best dairy products, I don’t do artificial or preservatives and for the most part everything about my diet (and my life in general) is plain and simple.

The food blogging population is on the rise! I am thrilled, as I love reading and learning from other people. But with this rapid growth comes the need for differentiation and focus. Differentiate yourself and your blog, while trying to focus on a certain aspect of food. Figure out what type of food blog you will be most interested in creating and “marry” that with who you are as an individual.

But how do you take your passion for food, differentiate yourself and then translate it all into your own Food Blog?

Here are 8 Ideas:

  1. Category Specific: Ex. “Just a Bean Pole” (All about beans, from shopping for them to cooking with them and recipes that use them.) Take a category of food you are interested in and focus on that. You might be surprised how many people want to reach about these “niche” foods. If you have a category-specific passion, explore the idea.
  2. Diet Specific: Ex. “South Beach Bum” (All about the South Beach Diet.) Do you follow a specific diet and know everything about it? Share it! There are millions of people who follow specific diets. If you are knowledgeable about one and are able to share that information, you will make someone else’s life easier through your blog.
  3. Product Reviews: Ex. “Product As-Is” (All about your food and food-product reviews.) Are you always trying the latest in food and food-product items? If so, blog about it. Share what you know, what’s hot and what’s trendy.
  4. Geographic Specific: Ex. “Eatin’ San Francisco” (All about food and restaurants in San Francisco.) Are you a foodie who is always talking about local food, food products and events? Do you appreciate your geographic location as it relates to food more than most? If so, blog about it.
  5. “Profession” Specific: “Ms. Traveling Executive Gets an A+ in Nutrition.” (All about eating on the road, with a busy, mobile lifestyle.) Maybe you have a job which requires constant travel? Or maybe you’re a professional athlete with specific food requirements. If you fall into these types of categories, but yet have found true passion in food as a complement, chances are someone will be extremely interested in this content.
  6. “Illness” Specific: Ex. “My Bum Tum” (All about food for people living with Colitis.) With food allergies and intolerance on the rise, many people have had to change their diets. Newly diagnosed people are not sure where to turn. If you have lived it and know the great tips and tricks, share it. Someone will be looking for content like yours!
  7. Sport Specific: Ex. “Run. Eat. PR. Repeat.” (All about a runner’s diet.) Sports require food, typically a lot of food! Athletes that participate in running and triathlon events typically have high-caloric intakes. Sharing how you achieve this and make it work for your training is interesting and informational.
  8. Beverage Specific: Ex. “Java Nation” (All about coffee.) Food can also be beverage. And maybe beverage is your choice passion. Maybe you are the local wine connoisseur or you’re traveling the world looking for the best cup of coffee. Blog it!

Does your Food Blog have to fall under one of these (or any other) specific category or “theme?” Absolutely not! That being said, people are more likely to read and follow your blog when they appreciate the content, find it useful and feel a connection to it all. People do this by reaching for the “like me” portion of content to invest their time in.

Don’t make your food blog harder than it should be. Remember 3 things: Embrace your passion for food, enjoy the art of blogging and always K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid)!

Sarah Kay Hoffman
Sarah Kay Hoffman is currently the Community Manager for the Sears Fit Club. She is an avid foodie-fitness blogger, and dives into all things social media and integrated marketing communications related. You can find her at www.sarahkayhoffman.com, www.digitalmention.com and on Twitter @SarahKayHoffman

Twitter: @SarahKayHoffman

How to Create Mouth Watering Content for Your Blog

Author:

BlogWorld 2010 Speaker
BlogWorld Track
Friday October 15, 2010
Mariners A/12

Time: 4:00PM to 5:00PM

Hi, my name is Nathalie Lussier and I’ve been a blogger nearly half my life, starting way back on platforms like Livejournal and Blogger. A lot has changed since the early days of blogging, from awesome conferences like BlogWorld Expo to attend, to new blogging platforms, and different promotion strategies!

One thing that has remained important since the start of my blogging career has been the ability for a blogger to create mouth watering content that entices readers to share with their friends. On Friday October 15th, 2010 I’ll be sharing my experience creating mouth watering content at BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas. Click here to RSVP for my talk!

This session is for you if you’re completely new to blogging or you want to take your existing blog to the next level. If you’ve already achieved massive success with your blog, my tips might give you some new ideas and directions, but you’re probably already familiar with some of these techniques. This session will be geared toward bloggers who want to spread the word about their business and their blog.

I run a successful food blog, where I help people eat more fruits and vegetables by enticing them with recipes, photos, and tips. If you think getting people to retweet your blog posts is hard, try getting them to eat more healthy food! I’ll be borrowing from my experience blogging about food in my talk, but the advice is applicable to any blog or business.

I’ll be covering the following topics in my talk:

  • My content creation process, from the time an idea hits to the publishing finish line
  • How to create your content in a way that really connects with your audience
  • Why it’s important to plan out your blog content in advance, and how to do it the right way
  • The only way to ensure your content lives on after you hit publish
  • My light-hearted social media approach that gives your fans a way to spread the word about you while naturally attracting new readers
  • How to choose between all the different distribution channels: Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, SEO, and guest blogging
  • When to pick one strategy and run with it, so you’ll get more results for your blogging efforts

You will leave the session with a solid action plan for creating mouth watering content. The session also gives you an in depth look at content promotion strategies, allowing you to decide which technologies to focus on to get the most out of your time spent promoting your blog content. All of this knowledge leads to more loyal readers, customers, and fans.

I’m really looking forward to seeing you at my session! So mark your calendar for Friday 4pm and be sure to tweet me @NathLussier; before the talk, and say hi in person!

Nathalie Lussier is a Software Engineer turned business owner, known as the Raw Foods Witch. She turned down a career on Wall Street to help people eat more fruits and veggies, and now blogs about making healthy lifestyle choices easier for busy people like you. From curing cravings, to designing a web presence with social media and videos, she is making her mark on the world one carrot at a time.

Survival Tips for the Niche Blogger

Author:

Guest Blogger: Patricia Biesen

I write Chicago Eats Allergy Free for ChicagoNow. I’m a passionate foodie that happens to have food allergies. I provide tips for my fellow Chicagoans on where to eat and cook allergy free. I try to make food allergies as entertaining as possible. My writing style is kind of like a lactose intolerant version of Carrie Bradshaw. I believe we retain more information if we can laugh and have fun. That being said, I am also really serious about having integrity and providing the absolute truth. The last thing I want to do is make someone sick by writing about a product that turns out to not be so gluten free.

 

Many people romanticize about the lifestyle of a blogger, kind of like how illustrators were romanticized in the ‘70s. Blogging is often a job without a paycheck. Those who write about popular topics like motherhood, sports or celebrities seem to have it easier. Of course, if Tiger Woods had celiac disease I would write about it. One month my blog made the most money ever, that being a couple hundred dollars, because of a story I wrote called Healthy Eaters Who Look Good. I observed how many healthy diet book authors either looked great or well . . . didn’t. I wanted to report on those who walk their talk. I don’t think you should purchase a nutrition book or follow a diet from someone who looks unhealthy. Many of my readers agreed and were especially impressed with Peta’s Sexiest Vegetarian Over 50, the 71-year old Mimi Kirk. I was elated my blog was gaining readership. I just naturally assumed that this was just the beginning and my blog would grow in readership. Unfortunately, the next month I only made about what a “sandwich artist” makes in about an hour. Even though I worked hard and paid attention to Google Trends, my blog hasn’t had the same success. To be a good blogger you need to observe things that go unnoticed and yet provide something useful. Here are a few more of my thoughts on niche blogging:

It’s essential to love what you do. Your passion will be apparent, so will your lack of it. The old days of pushy marketing are over. People want to align themselves with authentic people. There are going to be days when you will feel totally unappreciated. On those days I will ask myself: What is new and good? Maybe that day I got three new Facebook fans or maybe nothing happened and I just really enjoyed sharing a story about someone’s gluten free cookie business that started out of a home kitchen.

Selling you v. offering a solution.
No one reads my blog because of me. They may think I’m a nice person but I’m really not selling myself. I’m selling a solution. First it’s important to figure out what are my reader’s problems? Many of my readers request help finding good tasting gluten free bread or dairy free ice cream.

Ask and you shall receive. If you don’t know what your readers want then ask them. I usually inquire through Facebook posts or via Twitter. I never think of myself as a writer with an audience. I think myself as a person building a community.

Make your readers feel important. If applicable, offer freebies. Give a shout-out or personal thank you from time to time. I also try to make them feel like less of a niche audience. No one likes to feel alone. Can you align your readers with other groups? For example, some readers like to know that many of their favorite celebrities are also on gluten free diets.

Be aware of Google trends but also be true to you. Try to balance that fine line between giving what they want and writing what you want. For example, I do not agree with pretty much anything Elizabeth Hasselback has to say or stands for but she is a prominent gluten-free celebrity and I have mentioned her in my blog.

Never get angry at a reader. I never thought as a food allergy blogger that I would get hate mail but it happens from time to time. It’s important to breathe and then type. When I reply back to a negative comment I usually thank the reader for taking time to read my blog and for being so passionate about the subject matter I have written about. Then I explain diplomatically why I disagree. You never know who is reading your comments. It could be someone who would like to hire you so it’s best to keep the F-bombs in the privacy of your own home office.

What’s in it for you? Of course, YOU have to benefit somehow or else why do it? In addition to blogging I’m also a holistic health coach. A blog is a great marketing tool for my business. Also, I have no shortage of people sending me free food or product samples. I’m also amazed at the connections I have made. I have met some truly fantastic people and they keep me motivated.

Build relationships and trust first. It’s easy to be persuaded by another blogger’s success story. Focus on “how can I help” v. “how can I make a lot of money?” It may take someone six months before they feel comfortable contacting you for an opportunity.

For the food bloggers: you must have gorgeous photos. If sex sells in advertising, then food porn sells for us. Food is colorful and your blog should be too. Either learn to snap your own photos or align yourself with someone who can provide you with beautiful photos.

Avoid writer’s block. Years ago I did Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way program. Out of the many tools I took away from that program is the “morning pages”. In the morning write three full pages of just content, just stream of conscious writing. I find this process warms me up for the writing I do later on in the day. I’m always amazed at the ideas that just flow. The morning is ideal for this process as I believe the critical part of my brain is not up yet to get in the way.

And last of all, booby trap your home or office for creativity. I keep pads of paper on every table top surface. Any idea that pops into my head I write down. I think it’s also important to not dismiss the seemingly small ideas as you never know where they might lead you.

Patricia Biesen is a Food allergy expert and PAC (Protect Allergic Children) Consultant with Eat, Live and Learn. She helps schools, families and day care facilities become allergy safe. Find her at Chicago Now

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