Friday, September 26, 2008

Vegas Part Seven: Bouchon

They're not like Les Halles where they fry them in duck fat...allegedly...but they're pretty damn good. They make you fart.

Tania is going to write part six. But she’s in Italy right now eating totally crappy food and looking at stupid shit like Michaelangelo’s David. Which my mom named me after, incidentally. Get it? David? Hilarious. I just wish I had giant marble hands and a tiny marble cock. “Hi, I’m DAVID,” I’d say extending my giant marble hand. I wouldn’t be nude, however. No, I’d be covering my tiny marble cock with marble pants. Which is a great band name: The Marble Pants. Anyway, Tania is going to write about Joel Rubochon’s “L’ Atelier.” It was the highlight of our trip. In the meantime, though, I’m going to write about our last day in Italy—I mean Vegas. We had a late flight on Monday, so we went to Thomas Keller’s Bouchon restaurant at the Venetian.

I'm growing very accustomed to this Vegas thing. I think I'm a manatee because this is my natural element.

Keller calls it a bistro. But “bistro” only refers to the food, not the prices. It’s not crazy expensive, but Tania and I consider it a special treat every time we go. I think this was our fifth time? I’ve been asked by friends, “Where do we go eat in Vegas?” I always say, “Bouchon.” And every time I’m thanked. If you go to Vegas and you want a totally normal, but great food experience, go to Bouchon.

On this occasion, we went for lunch. Sort of. They open the bar at three and they have a bar menu. So we ordered a bottle of wine, some oysters and a tuna fish salad sandwich. I actually just drooled while writing that. That sounds so good right now. Wine, oysters, tuna fish salad sandwich. I think that’s going to be the name of the Marble Pants first album. It was so simple, but so perfect. As it always is.

I should mention here that we both agree the Vegas Bouchon is better than the original Bouchon in Napa. [Unfortunately I can’t find the Napa photos right now, so that’ll be an upcoming post.] We went to the original Bouchon in Napa after our wedding a few months ago. It was awesome, but our waiter was a faggot, there was a fly on the wall behind Tania for the entire meal, and there was a really rich douche bag table behind us that ate, drank, and laughed like Martha Stewart. I’m so pissed I don’t have those photos. We took pictures of the lady. She wore a scarf. And every sip of wine she took, she’d do that weird sommelier thing where’d she’d suck and gargle it. Every sip. So I’d hear that, then her piercing laugh, then a gargle, then a piercing laugh, then a gargle, ad infinitum. I think that’s why the fly just sat on the wall behind Tania: it was too stunned to move. It was a good lunch, but the Vegas Bouchon is better.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Vegas Part Five: A Wildly Careening Black Woman Takes Out A Gaggle Of Douche Pickles

Look at that form! Ladies and gentleman, I present to you my wife, the greatest underwater handstander ever.

That’s the title of the century. I said that when we were hanging out with Team Awesome in the lazy river and a black lady in a tube crashed into the dude bag. I was like, “Whoa, a wildly careening black woman took out a gaggle of douche pickles.”

“That should be the title of a book, or a poem, or something,” she said laughing. Instead it’s the title of a drunk food blog.

In an effort to avoid dude bags and wildly careening black women, we chose one of the MGM’s other pools to hang out in on day two. What we found was the white dude/foreigner pool. No dude bags, mostly old folks and extremely pale English people. Even the soundtrack was different: butt rock and other white people favorites. The blackest the music got was Vanilla Ice. So what’s that, like, what? an “off-white?” (Fun fact: Tania knows all the lyrics to “Ice Ice Baby.”) Oh and there was some Terrence Trent D’Arby and Lennie Kravitz, but they're about as black as Condeleeza Rice.

This guy's tattoos were astounding. My photo kind of sucks, but picture Lord of the Rings meets Napolean Dynamite's drawing style. I swear this guy drew this shit on his Pee-Chee folder in sixth grade and took it into a tattoo shop and went, "This. On my back. Now." On his shoulder blade we have a dinosaur/dragon with a teeny tiny li'l wizard riding on its neck. Below that, in Tramp Stamp country, we have a troll/Orc/ogre that is juggling balls of fire. The tracers from the balls of fire criss cross the skyline of his fat back. If his hog bitch wife actually lets that retard put his penis in her, why doesn't she try to scratch that shit off with her finger nails? She really should just light him on fire some night. "You want to juggle fire? Well here you go Dungeon Master!" POOF!

Our neighbors were a middle age couple who were very hungover. They let everyone who dropped by to see them know. “How you feeling this morning?” “Oh man, last night was a TRAIN WRECK!” I don’t know how many times I heard her talk about the previous night’s TRAIN WRECK. “I WAS A TRAIN WRECK!” Little did we know, there was going to be a real train wreck a week later.

Handstands. I cannot do handstands. But I used to be able to do inverts. This is a photo of the last invert I ever did. It's kind of hard to see, but my shoulder popped out of the socket when Ethan Fowler took this photo. If you come over to my house, I will pull out the magazine that this is in and make you look at it. "CHECK ME OUT! I'M SOOOO RAD!"

We drowned her out by doing underwater handstands. As I mentioned before, Tania loves underwater handstands. She is a black belt champion underwater handstander. I used to be good at it when I was a kid, I could do the most tweaked inverts in a pool, but since I dislocated my shoulder over ten years ago, that fun came to an end. It’s been almost a year since my shoulder surgery, so I decided to take this opportunity and test out my shoulder. It works! Although my underwater handstands are horrible. Every time I’d come up for air, I was met with Tania’s laughter. Tania wins at underwater handstands.

Is it because sandwiches look like smiles that we love them? That there's some 'Wich Craft. On top is the prosciutto, below is the pulled pork.

All those handstands worked up quite an appetite, so we got lunch to go from Tom Colicchio’s (the bald guy on Top Chef) “’Wich Craft.” It’s a little sandwich place with a clever name. It’s good. We got it two days in a row and ate it by the pool. We ordered a total of three sandwiches: skirt steak and egg, pulled pork, and prosciutto and butter. While I appreciated the simplicity of the sandwiches, I think each needed a little something more. A remoulade, or a mayonnaise something? Still, they were delicious. I think I enjoyed the prosciutto the most. It was just meat, butter, and bread. Half of that one also survived a night and was a welcome hangover remedy in the room the next morning. “I WAS A TRAIN WRECK LAST NIGHT!” It’s a cliché, but the simplest comfort food is always the most deeply satisfying. Colicchio definitely has the simple down at ‘Wich Craft. No more Subways, no more Quizno’s, no more TOGO’s, I want a ‘Wich Craft by my work.

Tania wins at handstand Olympics, I win at titles, and Colicchio wins at sandwiches. From simple to crazy, we’re going to Joel Rubochon’s L’Atelier next.

While we were eating our 'Wich Craft in our room, we enjoyed some women's professional bowling. We were shocked to see our friend (some would say "daughter") Sharan in the match. If you don't know Sharan, this makes no sense to you...but if you do know Sharan you'll surely agree: that's Sharan.

Sharan totally sucks at bowling, though. She lost to the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Vegas Part Four: Carnevino

"T is for Tania!" That's what's left of the Flintstone porterhouse.

I’ve never been good at Mexican. I chose to take French for my language requirement in school. I thought I was going to be a professional hockey player and that I might just end up playing for a French Canadian hockey team. French would come in handy, right? But it was during a tour of Toronto with the California All Star team that I discovered the odds of a kid from California playing on a Canadian hockey team—at any level—are about as good as the Jamaican bobsled team has at winning a gold medal. (This was also when I learned how much French Canadians suck and that I wouldn't play for one of their faggot teams even if I was good enough.) I’m not too bad at the French. I can get by. But I wish I could get by in fucking Spanish. I’ve picked up words here and there, but if you were to ask Tania, she’d tell you the extent of my Spanish is, “Salsa verde, por favor.” But I also know “carne.”

I remember having a revelation the day I learned "meat" in Mexican. “My last name is ‘meat,’” I thought. “And my parents are named Don and Kay!” I couldn’t stop laughing and I couldn’t wait to share my discovery over dinner.

“Guess what?” I said at the table, “Your names are Don Carnie and Kay Carnie, right? —well in Spanish, phonetically, anyway—in Spanish, Don means 'mister,' and Kay means 'what?' So your names are Mr. Meat and What Meat!” HAHA! I make funny, no?

They weren’t laughing. “Mr. Meat?” I said, “Get it?” No smiles. “…What… Meat?…” Silence. Apparently they didn’t like their Mexican names.

I, on the other hand, am delighted that my Scottish surname is a homophone with Mexican meat. ("So a Scottish homophone and a Mexican walk in a bar…" I just learned "homophone" today. I think I used it right?) My brother does, too. His email address is “carneasada@…”—which is weird because he’s a militant vegan. So I was overjoyed to learn that Mario Batali’s new restaurant at the Palazzo is called “Carnevino.” Holy shit! That’s like me, meat, and wine all wrapped up together. Those are three of my favorite things. And Carnevino is now one of our favorite restaurants.

Tantalizing Tania before the Palazzo fountains. I feel sorry for her because no matter what I wear, I don't look like I should be on that lady's arm.

This was our second visit to Carnevino. Our first visit was good, but it wasn’t near as great as this trip was. Because this time we had the best goddamn steak we’ve had in years. Apparently my father, Ole Mr. Meat, made the same mistake as I did on his first visit. While everyone in his party was gushing over how great their steaks were, his steak was pretty whatever. So was mine. It turns out we got the same thing: the New York strip. You will be tempted to order the New York Strip at Carnevino, but do not order the New York Strip. There is a bone-in rib eye for two ($135) and a “La Fiorentina” porterhouse for two ($145)—pretty expensive and quite a commitment—so for those who want to fly solo, there’s the NY strip ($51) and a filet mignon ($39). If you’re like Tania and I, you like to cover more ground on the menu and order different entrees so you can taste as much as possible. That strategy is a mistake at Carnevino: get the goddamn porterhouse, it’s the best fucking steak you’ll ever have. Even if no one will share with you, get it. You can take it back to your room and fuck it. Or eat the fuck out of the leftovers in the next morning like we did. Nom, nom, nom…

Bread, lardo, butter. Jesus, look at the lardo tub, it's like half gone.

I started at the entrée. Sorry. I shall go back to the beginning. When you sit down, they bring you bread, butter, and lardo. Mmmm lardo. The bread is so good by itself that it doesn’t need anything, but the lardo turns it into a meal unto itself. I have to use all the restraint I can muster to not eat the entire tub of lardo before I’ve even ordered. Oh and everything is so salty, even the bread. Tania and I love us some salt. Sharan was over for dinner one night and she said something like, “Yeah, I’ve noticed you two are a little heavy handed with the salt.” Her words echo in my head when I season now, “heavy handed… handed… handed…” I’m a little lighter on the salt when cooking for guests now. Not Mario. He’s grabbing fistfuls of salt with those giant sausage fingers and it rains down on every plate that comes out of the Carnevino kitchen. And why not? They have so many different kinds of finishing salts back there. More on that in a moment.

I have a real problem with restaurant photography. First, I rarely remember to take a picture until the food is at least half gone (as above with the veal carpaccio, "Oh shit, forgot to take the picture!"). Secondly, I can't take a decent picture because of the dim lighting and I refuse to be that douche bag over in the corner taking flash pictures of every plate of food for his fucking blog.

These were the oysters we had at Morels before Carnevino. I needed oysters for some reason. Oh, because they don't sell them at Emeril's anymore. Fuck Emeril. (Morel's had much better lighting as well.)

So if you can make it past the lardo and actually order some appetizers, they have some real treats. Tania loves carpaccio—we got it last time—but this time we went for the special which was a veal, served like a carpaccio, with a tuna aioli sauce on it. Delicious. The weird thing is I’ve been seeing this dish ever since. It was on the menu at L’Atelier the following evening, and I just saw it on some food show I was watching the other day. That's a trend I can get into. Since we decided to go with the porterhouse, we skipped the pasta stage, but they’ll serve you a small order of whatever you want and there’s some gems on that menu. And lastly, with your steak, you get a choice of sauce (which they serve on the side). I have struck out twice on the sauce. I don’t remember what I got the first time, but this time the waitress recommended the truffle sauce, so we went with that. We need to run some more tests, but I don’t think I like truffles. This bugs the shit out of me. I’m supposed to be a foodie and all foodies love truffles. Everyone gets a boner over truffles, but I’ve had em a few times now and each time I’m not impressed. This time it was just downright gross. Tania loved it. Which made us wonder if I’m genetically disposed to dislike them? Like how some people can’t eat cilantro? (Incidentally, Tania, you need to get your Lydia Bastianich interview up here… yeah, Tania interviewed our bald ass granny, Lydia. Although Tania refers to her as “my new mom” now. I’ll let Tania tell the story, but this is actually a timely aside because, as you might know, Lydia’s real child, Joe Bastianich, is co-owner at Carnevino. We drank some Bastianich wine with dinner. Lovely. Oh, and in more family news: the bartender at Carnevino used to work at their restaurant Babbo in NYC. We thought it was kind of cool that they have this extended restaurant family.)

Tania enjoying carneheaven. (Note the three little bowls of salt.)

And then the steak arrived. “Ohhhh,” we cooed. That porterhouse was some Flintstone shit. They set it up on a little table next to you and a lady with a sharp knife goes at it and carves it up for you. Each person gets equal slices of the filet and the strip. Again, so good. And ask for salt as Tania did. The lady tried to deter Tania by reminding her, “We season pretty heavily, so I don’t think you’ll need any. But I’ll bring you our seasoning salts.” There were three different salts. I know one was fleur de sel, and I think the other two were from Italy? The Mediterranean? I don’t care, I’m into salt and I had a field day with that shit. It’s fun to play with, but the lady was right: it didn’t need anything.

So, yeah, Carnevino, don’t eat too much lardo, get the porterhouse, ask for salt and truffles piss me off. Did I mention the sommelier looked those twins in The Proclaimers? Does anyone know what "havering" means? Fuckin’ Scots. Anyway, I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more, just to be the man who walks 1000 miles to fall down at Carnevino’s door.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Vegas Part Three: Casino Carpets

This might be my least favorite because it kind of looks like what I imagine AIDS looks like inside your body. Thus it's a complete success.

Tania calls them “zombie kids.” She was one of them. They’re not allowed on the casino floor proper, so they just kind of wander around the fringes in a dazed stupor, unsupervised, while their parents waste their college fund at the craps table. They’re an inconspicuous fixture in the shadows at the edges of every casino, just like the half filled drinks you find in the ashtrays at the exits. I’m not sure why Tania loves Vegas with the memories she has. Alone, wandering around, knee high, sober but sleepless, lights out… But she still laughs her ass off at the zombie kids we see in every casino. Tania has certainly taught me how to enjoy their sad little existence.

And I can’t help but imagine that one of my favorite elements in every casino, the carpets, has something to do with the stupor the zombie children are in. Staring at that shit for too long has got to have some sort of negative psychological effect, right? In fact I’ve heard that the reason casino carpet is so ghastly and crazy is so you don’t look down. I guess if you’re looking down, you’re not seeing all the possible ways you can lose money? Sneaky devils. I, on the other hand, spend a lot of time looking at the floor. “Who designs this shit?” I always wonder. It’s marvelous. Technicolor barf. Diarrhea of design. I get kind of high off it. It makes me dizzy. That’s why I think it has to have at least some effect on the zombie kids? It can’t be good for you.

Anyway, over the years, I’ve enjoyed taking photos of the crazy designs (or lack thereof) that cover the floors of every casino. Don’t ask me what hotels these carpets are from. As you can imagine, taking pictures of this shit kind of fucks you up. Being a casino carpet photographer is even more dangerous than being a captive wildlife photographer. More on that later. Check out this gallery of spew.

For some reason all I hear is Robert Palmer.

Whoa someone broke the Mondrian and then left it out in the rain.

Ooga booga! I'm in a pot of boiling water in the jungle and the cannibals are going to eat me! Don't look down!

Aside from the blindingly bright red color, this one you can almost look at. Which makes it a failure in the world of casino carpet design.

Did Thomas Campbell do this one?

More AIDS, exploding eggs, farting kiwis, glowing sea slugs, blue pubic hair—this one gets a fuckin' A+.

Shakey's pizza parlor? And what's with the attempt at "order" and "shapes" and shit?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Vegas Part Two: Germany

One of the best things about Vegas is that it’s not Vegas. It’s not some shit hole little town in the middle of the fuckin’ desert, no, it’s New York City, it’s Egypt, it’s Paris, it’s Italy, it’s ancient Greece—you can go anywhere in the world in Las Vegas. And now GERMANY!

We’ve been meaning to visit Tania’s homeland for years, but, alas, the grand tour we’ve envisioned is just out of our grasp every year. So we decided to settle for the next best thing: the Hofbrau House in Las Vegas.

“In a city built on fantasy, Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas is different. It’s the only faithful reproduction of the original Hofbräuhaus München in the world.”

We’ve also been trying to visit the Hofbrau House for the last few years, but it’s off the strip over by the Hard Rock, so it’s not all that convenient to get to. This time we decided to make it our first stop. On Friday night, we checked into our hotel, changed our clothes, and took a cab to Germany.

Play some Slayer you pussies.

The place is pretty awesome (not Team Awesome awesome, but awesome awesome). After a short wait in the foyer at the bar, we were ushered into a big hall, with high ceilings, filled with tables and benches. And it’s loud as shit in there. Partly because at one end there’s a stage where Oompa bands—imported directly from the homeland—play nightly. Our band was called Didi’s Hörmittel. Besides the usual German beer hall favorites, they played some weird shit like “Sweet Caroline” and “Who The Fuck is Alice?” The latter was enjoyed immensely by our elderly table mates who enthusiastically sang along. Old people, I gathered, love yelling “WHO THE FUCK IS ALICE?” It made me wonder what the place must be like for someone who didn’t know what they were getting into. Like Yoda, who was sitting behind us.

Yeah, fuckin’ Yoda was there. Right behind us.

Hmph. Beer? Heh. German food? Heh. Oompa music? Heh. A Jedi craves not these things.

I had read on the website’s list of events that there was going to be a “stein contest.” No explanation. What the fuck is a stein contest? We learned right when we sat down. The object is to hold a full stein of beer at arm’s length longer than anyone else. I think it was more fun to watch than to play. The record, apparently, is 24 minutes. At our contest a little Mexican dude beat out an Australian in just over four minutes. I lasted four seconds. (Insert your sex joke here).

The Aussie, on the far right, looks a lot like NHL drunky Theo Fleury.

We wanted everything on the menu, but played it safe and got our usual standbys: Tania ordered a schnitzel and I got Münchner Weisswürste—“Two of Munich’s famous white sausages (veal and pork). From the Bavarian Sausage Heaven!” The waitress asked if I wanted them grilled or poached. “Which way do you prefer it?” I asked. “It’s more traditional poached,” she said. I’m glad I went for the poached, otherwise I never would have received this silly bowl of wet dicks. There’s nothing really to say about the food except that it’s just simple, good, standard German fare. Same with the beer. It’s good, but nothing exciting, except for the fact that it comes in a huge stein. The more beer you have, the better it tastes. Just compare the first sip out of your stein to your last, and I’m sure you’ll agree with me: more beer tastes better.

Tania's titzel—I mean, schnitzel.

Eat a bowl of dick, bitch.

After we finished eating, and “Who the Fuck Is Alice?” was finally over, we spent a good portion of our evening watching the semi-retarded, yet totally drunk trio behind us. It was two guys and one girl. The girl was the most peculiar of the group because she really did look like she was semi retarded. She was definitely wearing tard fashion. Most notable were her white nurse shoes and white tube socks. Which matched her ghostly white legs perfectly. Which she shared freely with her two male companions who were completely wasted, but in different drunk zones. One dude remained slouched over and grinning on his bench, while the other one couldn’t sit still and danced and stumbled and stumble danced his way all around the hall. He tried his best, but no one wanted to be his new friend. Although he was able to hang on to a waitress for a good while. He liked her. And I think he got to second base?


After some more beer and more music, another contest was announced: women’s beer pounding! A dozen or so ladies got up on stage and were handed a stein of beer that was about a third full. Probably a can and a half? The hype man, MC Johann, announced that the first one done wins. Tania and I both picked this great hulk of a woman on the end to take it. And when she told MC Johann that she was actually from Germany, it was obvious she was going to win. I’m not very good at gambling, but I wanted to bet on her. Sure enough, her beer was gone in four seconds.

MC Johann laid on our table and played "Yellow Submarine."

MC Johann's angle. Tania thinks there's a subliminal swastika in the ceiling art.

MC Johann then took center stage and busted out his horn. It was a really big horn. He got the tard girl to hold it between her legs while he played her a song. She giggled. Then he laid on our table and balanced the thing on his lips. It almost touched the ceiling. He played the Beatles “Yellow Submarine” and encouraged us to sing along. Apparently I’m not the only one who doesn’t know the words to that song. Everyone kind of mumbled some gibberish in an English accent until he came to the part where you get to go, “We all live in a yellow submarine!” Then the Hofbrau House went off. WHO THE FUCK IS ALICE?

Thomas Keller’s Bouchon restaurant is a must for us every trip to Vegas, but I think the Hofbrau House has joined the “must visit” list. Ziggy socky! Ziggy socky! Oi! Oi! Oi!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Vegas Part One: The Dude Bag

One of Tania's favorite things about Vegas: The Orphan. Half empty glasses everywhere.

Before Tania tricked me into liking Vegas, I hated it. It was the people. The visitors, the tourists. Scumbags. The worst of the worst. If I was from the Middle East and the only place I saw in America was Vegas, I too would go home and be like, “Yo, we gotta fly some planes into some buildings or some shit because that place is fucked up.” At the same time, Vegas isn’t Vegas without the people. We’ve been there off season and it’s just not the same. “Where are all the shitty people?” When they’re not there, you miss ‘em. Kind of like our shitty dog. There is, however, one group in Vegas that I will never miss: The Dude Bag.

The more generic term for them would be “frat boys,” however I don’t find that adequate enough because they come in so many colorful varieties. And while “Dude Bag” isn’t the best term I’ve ever come up with, it’s all I got right now. Sorry.

This isn't really a photo of dude bag, but I think you can find the douche bag in this photo. Storm Trooper sunglasses and a shower cap? What the hell. He was also groovin' to the urban jamz as he strode along with the current.

Dude Bags are little bags of dudes. Each bag comes with approximately four to six little dudes in them and each and every one of them is an A-1, certified douche bag. As Tania would be quick to point out, these little douche bags are everywhere in every city across the country—and they suck at home, too—but as I argued, Vegas, with its “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” attitude, completely transforms them and radically exaggerates their inherent douchiness. In Vegas they are super douche bags. Tania agrees with me on that point. I would further argue that some members of a Dude Bag aren’t complete douche bags when they’re at home, but their inner douche is awakened when they arrive in Vegas. This is aided, of course, by the pack mentality they bring with them. Again, they come in a bag. I like to think of a bag of dog poop filled with little pieces of shit. Each little turd is a drunk, loud, single, stupid, and ugly male. They are completely bereft of manners or class. And since our visit last weekend coincided with the first Sunday of the NFL season, we were treated to an exceptionally high volume of Dude Bag behavior. On to the examples.

For instance, Tania and I got into an elevator to head down to the pool. Along with us for the descent were five dudes: a Dude Bag. The conversation began, as it always does, on the subject of the night before and their experiences at the gambling tables. Der, der, der, DERRRRRR! Then one of the dudes wondered, “How many open seats do you think there’s going to be at the sports bar?” Dude #2 responded, “Zero, inches, like your wang!” (Laughter).

I later wished I had turned around, proffered a high five, and went, “Oh MAN! ZING! Dude, you got him sooooo good! You’re gnarly!” Then I would rescind my high five offer before he could slap it and give him the “I’m-just-kidding-and-you’re-a-fucking-retard” face. Instead I was so dumbfounded by the stupidity that I was kind of frozen into a baffled stupor. “That doesn’t even make any sense,” I thought. The question demanded a quantity but he responded with a length? And who the hell says “wang?” Keep in mind, also, that Tania, a woman, was present. A zero inch wang?

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you, Team Awesome.

There were many more fine moments in Dude Bag history last weekend, but the best by far were created by our neighbors on the left bank of MGM’s lazy river, Team Awesome. What’s funny is I thought Tania had sarcastically dubbed the assholes Team Awesome for a good hour until I finally heard one of them refer to themselves as Team Awesome. “Wait, they call themselves Team Awesome?” I asked astounded. “Yes, that’s why I’ve been saying it,” she said. Holy shit. What’s worse is they all had nicknames. “Yo Macho, toss me a Bud Light.” Yes, one of them was called “Macho.” They were certainly a team, but they were definitely not awesome.

Team Awesome is also a perfect example of why the “frat boy” label doesn’t fit. Team Awesome was old. It’s almost acceptable for a frat boy to act like a frat boy. I said “almost.” Because that’s what you do when you join a fraternity: you act like an idiot. It’s expected. It’s not like frat boys weren’t idiots before they joined the fraternity, because who else would join a fraternity but an idiot? But when you’re in your fuckin’ 30s and you’re balding and you’re an ADULT and you’re in public, there is no excuse for that kind of behavior.

We observed Team Awesome for quite awhile and—and I don’t even know where to begin. Did I mention that the members of a Dude Bag are single? And when I say “single,” I mean “desperate.” I hadn’t thought of the term “game” for years before I heard The Caveman talk. I’m not sure what his TA nickname was, but I called him Caveman because he had a very low, monotone voice. And while he had a lot of hair on his back, he didn’t have much on his head.

“Where you from?” he asked as he swam up to the girl in the bikini to our right. Great pickup line.

“LA! Shaw!” she said excitedly. She was by herself. Well, by herself and her makeup. Tania’s fascination with women donning shit tons of makeup to go to the pool grew on me over the weekend as well. Yeah, why?

“Really?” the Caveman drawled. “I lived in Irvine once.”

And that’s when I thought, “He has no game.” I couldn’t stop saying that all weekend, by the way: “I lived in Irvine once.”

Three members of Team Awesome. Baby Blue is on the far left. The guy on the far right was TA's resident dancer.

The dude in Team Awesome who did have game, however, was the dude with the baby blue sunglasses (Team Awesome all wore the same terrible sunglasses, just in different colors). Baby Blue was the loudest and most confident of them all. Perhaps because he had no bald spots? His hair was thinning, but no bald spots. His game wasn’t a good game, but it was a game of some sort. “If you could be any age, what would it be?” he asked one girl. “Eighteen! Chuh!” the slut squealed. “What was it about those 365 days that were better than any other?” he cooed. Tania barfed.

One of Baby Blue’s best strategies was the beaver dam. Well, maybe I should just call it the Stupid Dam. They were trying to catch beaver, but they got nothing but stupid… I had a really bad sense of humor over the weekend and, like the hiccups, I couldn’t make the corny jokes go away… apparently I still have them? Anyway, Baby Blue’s Stupid Dam is what made me get out of the water and leave. When he’d see some chicks in inner tubes floating down the river towards us, he’d instruct the other members of Team Awesome to spread out and block their passage. They’d then turn their backs to the approaching girls and pretend to be discussing the Vegas skyline. “Is that Paris right there?” “No that’s the Bellagio, dude.” “Ohhhh… so where’s Paris? Is it—“ BAM! “OH! Excuse me ladies!” “Don’t even think we, like, don’t even know what you’re, like, doing! CHUH-YAW!” Giggle, giggle.

So then the pile up and ensuing flirtation between Team Awesome and the bachelorette party (complete with Mardi Gras beads, “I GIVE BLOWJOBS” visors, and cock-shaped water pistols, WOOOO!) would divert all oncoming traffic into a narrow channel between us and them. But mostly us. Thus we were pinned to the wall by every fat ass in an inner tube that had the misfortune of floating down the river at that time. I was worried I was going to drown. Not in the water, but in the shit that was flowing out of everyone’s stupid fucking mouths. GRRRRR! “I’m getting out,” I said.

Little known fact about Tania: she loves doing handstands in swimming pools. Before Team Awesome got in and ruined everything, World Champion Hand Stander Tania was going off.

But our trip to Vegas wasn’t all Dude Bags sucking, no, this was a delightful trip to Las Vegas and maybe one of our best. Especially in the food category. So over the next week we’ll be rolling out posts of our dining adventures in Las Vegas. Dare I say they were “awesome?”

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Spinach: Tough Shit

I finally understand why Popeye always eats his spinach: it’s tough shit. Literally. Above is a photo of a baby spinach leaf that passed through my body and out my anus UNSCATHED! It’s a wonder it made it past my teeth, but then it was in the pasta that was under Tania’s chicken piccata and I practically inhale her chicken piccata. Then—THEN? As if that isn’t impressive enough—it refused to be flushed! That’s right, I shit that thing out, flushed the toilet, but it said, “Fuck you!” It wouldn’t go down. Look at it just floating there defiantly. It’s practically daring me to flush again. And that’s just a baby one, I’d hate to see what the adults are like.

Remember: if you're a foodie, you're also a poopie.… hm, actually, that's a better word than "foodie." I hate "foodie." From now on, I'm a poopie. "We're poopies, but we're drunks first."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Charlie Trotter, Las Vegas

This article originally appeared in a recent issue of Dining Out magazine (above). This is also the first place our world famous tag line, "We're foodies, but we're drunks first," first appeared. And it was our editor/friend Josh Tyson who suggested we build our empire around it. Besides that, however, the published version (above) is edited down slightly from the original (below). The juicy puke story is omitted, for instance. And none of my crappy photos were used. Probably because they were crappy. My camera wasn't working. The only thing worse than lugging around a big ole Nikon, is lugging around a big ole Nikon that doesn't even work. Fucking digital. You look like an idiot with one of those thing slung over your shoulder. Back when I used to be a photographer (around the Civil War), it meant something to have a Nikon FM2 in your hands. Now everyone's got one of those things with the black and yellow strap. And mine didn't work. I eventually discovered that the battery was dead, but that wasn't before I thoroughly embarrassed myself in front of celebrity chefs like David Myers. "Can I take your picture?" I asked, interrupting his conversation with some other hot shot restaurateurs. "Sure," he said. He was very polite. And very patient as I sat there pointing the camera at him and pushing the shutter button, while nothing happened. "Fuck," I said after a few uncomfortable moments. "Sorry," I mumbled, "my camera is fucked up." I don't think I blushed, but that's how I felt. Back at the booth, I managed to get it to take a few pictures which I've included with the article below.

Tania arrives at the gala event. "Would you like some wine?" "Plaze..."

Unfortunately Tania and I were a little over anxious in terms of our partying, and decided to get completely wasted the Friday night before our flight to Las Vegas to attend the opening of Charlie Trotter’s new restaurant, Restaurant Charlie, at the Palazzo. “We’re going to Vegas tomorrow! WOOOO!” We went to bed in the wee hours of the morning and slept right through our flight…woo.

We got the next flight and easily checked into our hotel well before the 1:30 start time at Restaurant Charlie. We showered and tried to pull ourselves together for an event neither of us knew what to expect. “What is it? Do we get lunch?” “I don’t know?” The only thing I did know was that I had the shakes really bad and I wasn’t going to be able to hold a glass of wine. We’re foodies, but we’re drunks first.

Sure enough, first person to approach us as we wandered into the bar area at Restaurant Charlie was a cocktail waitress with a tray of wine. “Would you like a glass?” A very thin and delicate glass of wine perched on an ever so slender stem? “Su-r-r-r-r-r-e,” I shivered. Even with two hands I could barely get the thing to my lips. But, ahhhh, sweet liquor. I gulped it down and grabbed another. I was slightly closer to “normal.”

The maitre de approached and he very cordially explained the lay of the land and instructed us to make ourselves at home. We did a lap around the spacious dining room, gandered at the wine cube, and, after realizing we were sufficiently out of our element, we took a seat in a brown leather booth to watch the crowd. Tania always looks beautiful and elegant when we go to these fancy restaurants, but no matter what I wear, my beard and scraggly long hair automatically puts us in a lower class. We have no problem dropping the cash for these kinds of dinners, but we always get treated like we’re little trailer park kids on our first date in Las Vegas. “HOLY COW, TANIA! THERE’S A FRICKIN’ PHONE IN THE BAFFROOM!” I remember one time we ate at Aureole and the waiter asked if we wanted the wine label to keep as a souvenir. “No, really, that’s okay—“ I started to say (I have lots of old wine labels on empty bottles in a corner of my kitchen), but he was already off. Moments later he was back with a condescending smirk, presenting us with our keepsake: a cute little card with the label from the bottle of wine we had just tossed back. I have no right to be indignant about being treated lower class, however, because when I exited the restaurant, I dashed into the first bathroom I saw in the casino, crashed into a stall and barfed up our $600 dinner. The purple mass (lots of wine) hit the bottom of the toilet, did a u-turn, and leaped back out of the toilet and onto my nice shoes. All class.

I eventually managed to get one picture of Charlie Trotter (left) speaking with David Myers (middle) and Love Boat Captain, Gavin McCloud.

Fortunately Charlie’s opening was more of a mingling affair with lots of famous chefs and restaurateurs eating little bits of food out of tiny spoons, so I wasn’t given the opportunity to drop a giant depth charge in his toilet. Although, I will say that Charlie did take a dump on my plate. I believe the waiter said it was a spiced artichoke heart covered with toasted pine nuts and Indian spices? Don’t remember exactly, but it looked and tasted like someone had pulled a cat turd out of a litter box. Absolutely disgusting. Screw you Charlie Trotter!

Artichoke heart, my ass. That's a cat turd.

On the other hand, we were absolutely delighted by the saffron risotto with chives, and Tania (who doesn’t particularly care for sea food) had a “life changing experience” (Zagat review!) with the grilled diver scallop on a Greek yogurt sauce and a parsley emulsion foam. “You know how people make that face on the Food Network?” she said doing her best impression of that stupid Rachel Ray orgasm face, “well, this is one time it’s appropriate.”

Tania digs into the orgasm face scallop. Beside it is the saffron risotto. Not as good as Tania's risotto, but very good.

Connected to the restaurant was an even smaller restaurant called Bar Charlie that functioned as a kind of sushi bar. “Li’l Baby Shakes” had some trouble with his chopsticks and trying to get the tiny hamachi bellies, mackerels, Japanese snappers, braised rishiri, and tuna tartar into his mouth, but the ones he did manage to cram in there were excellent.

Mr. Sushi man doing the Sushi Man Dance.

Overall, Restaurant Charlie promises to be yet another Las Vegas foodie destination. I know when we go back, we’re going to book the chef’s table, which hovers above the kitchen…so we can keep an eye on those cats.