Viva Las Vegas

Las Vegas, a place where you can travel the world, yet remain on a strip. This past September (which was perfect weather), I accompanied my parents, and their friends, for a four day getaway.

We did NOT rent a car, but we did take advantage of the shuttle services, monorails, lyft or uber (whichever wasn’t surging at the moment…,) and the occasional taxi cabs.

We stayed at the Rio, which wasn’t as I remembered it to be, but it did OK. Every morning, we took advantage of the overpriced coffee at the Starbucks downstairs because there was no free coffee in the room (also, they charge you $0.75 for iced tap water!) The Rio isn’t on the strip…but isn’t too far away either. At that time, Rio provided a free shuttle every 30 minutes that drops you off to the strip. However, we didn’t have the time or the patience to wait each time…so we would either grab a cab or a lyft.

What parts of the world can you reach from the strip? Well, lets start at the U.S. You can go to NYC, and see the Brooklyn Bridge, have a bite of their famous burgers in Shake Shack, ride their roller coaster, and then head over to Europe. You can get a piece of these European cities: Paris, Venice, and Rome. Then head to Africa by going to the Luxor and feeling like you’re in Egypt. By the time you’ve ventured through at least three of these countries, you’ll feel exhausted and would want to retire to the comfort and coolness of your hotel room.

If you desire to venture off the strip, there is the Hoover Dam, that is about 50 minutes away. Hoover Dam has been featured in many movies such as San Andreas, Transformers, and Fools Rush In with Salma Hayek and Matthew Perry. Definitely worth checking if you’re tired of the same scene.

Another advantage to Vegas is, it’s also not too far off from the West Rim portion of the Grand Canyon. The West Rim belongs to the Hualapai (WALL-uh-pie) tribe, and isn’t part of the national park. That being said, the West Rim is still a beautiful and unique experience. We were able to see Eagle Rock and get on the Skywalk. It was truly a Magnificent experience! (I can share more about the details of the West Rim on a separate blog post.)

Overall, Vegas is a great thrill! You don’t have to be into gambling or casinos to enjoy the place…because no matter what you like, you’ll find something for yourself in Vegas!

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Sweet Treats from NYC

Part II of my list of food places to try in New York are sweet treats. Whether it be doughnuts, cookies, or rice pudding…here are my faves:

  • Momofuku Milk Bar. Who thought someone can be so happy with cereal and soft serve? Its like comfort food on another level. And, don’t even get me started on their crack pie…
  • Doughnut Plant. I’ve always been a fan of tres leches and theirs is a must try! A few others to add to your box: Peanut butter and banana cream, vanilla bean, red velvet, crème brûlé, Peanut butter and blackberry jam…heck, just try everything!
  • Rice to Riches. If you grew up with a Filipino mom, you know what chocolate rice is. Rice to Riches is just that… but better! There are other things added to the rice other than chocolate. They have rum raisin, french toast, mascarpone, banana coconut, and the list goes on and on… Sample a few to taste what you like because it is filling and not so cheap. Then reward your belly with some yummy goodness!

I hope you get to try at least one of these three places, and let me know what you think. I have other places I want to try that I have not ticked off…such as, Levain Bakery, Cookie Dō, and others. Always gotta have a reason to come back to NYC.

New York Food List

Prior to the trip, I had this list of food places I wanted to try. I got through most of it…and wanted to share it with you:

  • Russ & Daughter’s – A great New York bagel experience. I had a Plain bagel with Lox and Scallion Cream Cheese. Yum!
  • Julianna’s Pizza – Granted, I was pretty full already from my burger at Shake Shack…I just had to try a slice of their Buffalo Mozzarella pizza. It was delicious!
  • Shake Shack – To be completely honest, I had reservations about this place. I mean, California has some pretty legit burger joints that I’ve already tried…But, disappoint it did not! I truly enjoyed every bite of my Smokeshack burger.
  • Sabbia, formerly Baita, in Eataly’s rooftop. A little overrated for the food, but the experience was wonderful. Beautiful rooftop and great drinks!
  • Katz Deli – one and done! Meaning, one visit for me is sufficient enough…the food was meh! And the lines are crazy! To top that off, you must keep your eyes peeled for a table to be vacated, and once you find one, hope no one else grabs it before you.
  • Smorgasburg – A great place to try a variety of different foods. Eat your heart out…literally!
  • Yuji Ramen- A new take on ramen. Its all seafood base. Unique yet surprisingly good. Also, a tiny hole in the wall place, so be prepared to be in close proximity with strangers.
  • Chelsea’s Market – A wonderful place to people watch, listen to live music, shop, and eat great tacos! Yup, I had tacos and quesadillas at Los Taco’s #1 and boy were they delicious! I had the carne asada taco and the adobada especial…I highly recommend trying them!
  • Pies & Thighs – A good option for some southern food. A nice plate of chicken and waffles to make you feel that nice southern comfort; and don’t forget that smoked pork collards.

After going through this food list, I want to do an 8 mile hike or longer. Happy Noshing!

4 Nights in NOLA

New Orleans, Louisiana…I have loved you from the start! From the many other places I wanted to visit in the States, New Orleans ranked high on the list. So as not to use up much vacation time, I opted to visit during Thanksgiving Weekend. Thankfully, I was able to find a moderately priced package deal that had airline tickets and hotel for two.

On this blog post, I wanted to share our itinerary and possibly give you some ideas for when you visit NOLA.

We flew in on Tuesday evening after a nightmare of a flight (saving that story for another time…) In time, to catch a dinner reservation at GW Fins. Definitely, had a great experience from start to finish. Food was delectable and service was stellar. Also, our hotel was nearby, so we just walked to and fro. Great way to also catch some action on Bourbon St.

The next day we took the Riverfront Line Streetcar (red one) to the Riverwalk Outlet. The reason for me to even pay this place a visit was to catch sight of the cruise ship and to sit and admire the Mississippi River. There is a Cafè Du Monde there, however, we opted to go to the stand alone 24 hour operation on 800 Decatur St. And yes, I will go there at 12 midnight to indulge in a warm beignet and a cafè au lait. Another noteworthy thing to do is to take the St. Charles Line Streetcar (green one) from Carondelet to the very end of the line. It’ll take you through mansions, the Loyola and Tulane Universities, and Audubon Gardens. On the way back, we hopped off near Magazine St and did some shopping.

On our third day, we did a Swamp Tour with Cajun Encounters that we booked through our concierge. A small bus picked us up at our hotel lobby and drove us to Slidell where we began our adventure. We saw alligators, wild boar, raccoons, snakes, owls, egrets, and more. Definitely a great way to experience the Louisiana bayou!

New Orleans is home to Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino so my visit wouldn’t be complete if I did not devote any time to listening to some good live jazz and soulful music on Frenchmen St. And, I can attest to it that Jazz music is so much better live! I might add too, if you’re anything like me, you’d spend more time on Frenchmen St than on Bourbon St. Just sayin…

I’ll be back NOLA…for your poboys, beignets, and live music! This isn’t the last of me.

 

 

 

 

Guam Food List

My blog lives…

Sorry I’ve been missing these past few weeks… Juggling things in your life is a real talent. Also, I’ve been running dry on ideas for my blog. But, alas, I was reminded by a girlfriend of mine a list I had made of restaurants I wanted her to try on her last visit to Guam…and I thought…”why don’t I do a blog post on that?” So here it is…

My dear friend Krystal visited Guam in 2008. Before her journey, I recommended a few of my favorite places that would leave an indelible mark. Those places were, and still are, my top picks.

Jamaican Grill. They are known for their Jerk BBQ Chicken and Ribs. Ya Mon, It is some serious food. When you eat BBQ…you always need your rice and they have Jamaican Rice and Red Rice. I come from a family of 7, so we always get their family platters and order 1/2 Jamaican Rice and 1/2 Red Rice. You gotta do both…they are equally as good. For lunch or a quick bite, I always go for their Jerk Burger with curry mayo and fries. A must try!

Shirley’s. A staple on the island. Plus, one of her son’s was my next door neighbor…they were awesome! Shirley’s is famous for her fried rice. So, I always order that with my 1/2 chicken. You will find an array of items to order on their menu and the portions are huge.

Joinus Keyaki-Teppanyaki. The restaurant has had some remodeling done but the food is just as good as I remembered. There has been a price increase, but that is normal for businesses to stay afloat. With that being said, I recommend coming here during lunch for the prices are still reasonable and you get to do some shopping after. Ask for garlic chips with your angus beef and get some syrup (sugar water) for your iced tea and enjoy the teppan show.

Capriciossa. Pasta for days! Gotta try their Seafood Spaghetti (I believe its the s-9…) and their Black Ink Squid Spaghetti. The portions are huge, so you can definitely share among friends and family.

Chamorro Village. Every Wednesday night there is a Night Market. There are food vendors, clothing vendors, souvenir vendors, and more. It gets really crowded and busy, so for some they prefer to go on other days during normal business hours. You can ride the trolley or drive to Chamorro Village. If you do go, get a fiesta plate. Usually this will be red rice, BBQ meat (chicken, beef ribs, pork ribs, etc.,) chicken kelaguen, and potato salad. Also, get shrimp patties, takoyaki, and pickled papaya or mango. My mouth is salivating as I type…

McKraut’s. I reminisce when this place used to be a small shack in Malojloj with a slogan “Not Healthy but Tasty.” How it has grown! It is now a full-fledged restaurant and bar. This place is legendary for their brats from when they were a small shack, but now their menu has expanded.  I ordered Jägerschnitzel on my last visit, which was breaded pork served with mashed potatoes and red cabbage vegetables. It was good. The only downside to this place is the slow service. But what can you expect? It is, after all, island time.

My new favorites on island:

Pika’s Café. Open only for breakfast and lunch or brunch. However, come early because the place has a tendency to fill up quickly. Tinaktak Burger, Loco Moco, Korean BBQ on Rice…are items you can NEVER go wrong with. It kept me coming back for more. I didn’t appreciate their penne pasta…but that’s why I go to Capri for pasta.

Niji at the Hyatt. A place to visit for all you can eat tempura and green tea tiramisu. Need I say more?

I hope I made some helpful suggestions and, if you are visiting, enjoy your time in Guam!

Travel Apps Part 2: Traversing Around Town

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

Alas, here is part two of the travel apps series. Today, I will be sharing with you what apps I’ve used in the past to get around a certain city. Granted, most of these apps require data, so I will be sharing how to access data while traveling abroad, on another blog post. So, let’s get started!

Google Maps (requires data). I loved using this app in our recent travel to Tokyo. We commuted mostly by train and it tells you what line to get on and if there are any transfers. Most of the time, it also gives you the platform number, to help you while you are transferring between two different train lines. Another nice feature is knowing how much to pay. It tells you exactly the cost of getting to your destination.

I have CityMapper (requires data) too, which is a lot like Google Maps, but I didn’t use it as much during this past trip. But, you can definitely download and see which you like better. You might actually like both.

All Subway (no data required). This app helps you look at the Subway Route Maps in the city you are visiting. It has ALOT of cities… but I’m pretty sure not all. It has Manila, Melbourne, Milan, Miami, Copenhagen, Bangkok, etc. So, if your city is on there, it’s a good download before you leave.

Yelp (requires data). Yelp has been around for a long time in the United States, and is recently going Global. I used it a bit in Italy back in 2012, but didn’t find a lot of reviews in certain places. This year, I used it in Tokyo and found a few gems that were recommended by Yelp reviewers! I love to use Yelp to find highly recommended cafe, restaurants, and breweries. It saves me from having to go through a horrible experience!

That’s all I’ve got for you today. Please note though, that these apps are not foolproof. You still may get lost, get off a wrong stop, or have a bad experience at a restaurant. Sometimes, you just can’t help it. However, these apps may help lessen the painful ordeal of a highly stressful situation. A few other tips I can suggest, if you are staying at a hotel, gather suggestions from the front desk staff or concierge (no data required). Ask them:

  • Is this the right route to take to get from point A to point B?
  • What is a good sushi place (pasta place, cafe, etc.) nearby?
  • What are some activities to do around town?

Don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions or for help. Asking for help is half the battle. 😉

Happy Travel Friends!

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed bell peppers are a great way to get rid of leftovers or things that have been hanging out in your fridge. Like that day old rice, unfinished jar of spaghetti sauce, or sausage that everyone forgot about.

What you will need for this recipe:

  • 4 large Peppers (Red, Green, Yellow, and/or Orange)
  • 1 lb Ground Meat (Beef, Chicken, or Turkey)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped sausage (any kind that you may have lying around in your fridge) for extra flavor and texture
  • 3 cloves of Garlic
  • 3/4 cups of diced Onions
  • 1 to 2 cups of mixed veggies
  • 2 cups of cooked, day old rice
  • 1/2 a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • a drizzle of Worcestershire sauce

This is what you do next:

  • Saute garlic and onions in a large skillet.
  • Brown meat in same skillet with a few tablespoons of oil.
  • Add chopped sausage and cook thoroughly.
  • Add mixed veggies and cook until tender.
  • Add Rice and break up clumps.
  • Pour your favorite spaghetti sauce in skillet.
  • Add Salt and Pepper to taste along with a drizzle of Worcestershire sauce. Allow to simmer for a few minutes.

Meanwhile,

  • Rinse and chop the top off the bell peppers.
  • Clean and remove seeds from the inside.
  • Stuff peppers with the rice mixture.
  • Pop in oven that has been preheated at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until bell peppers are tender.

Enjoy!

Optional: Sprinkle some parmesan or mozzarella cheese on top of peppers.