Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Taste of Las Vegas

When thinking about Las Vegas, most people will say: gambling, drinking and sex. But Sin City has changed over the years and has a lot more to offer now. Of course the casinos and gentlemen's clubs are still there, but beyond those, you'll find great hotels, worldclass shows and amazingly good restaurants. During my first visit to Las Vegas in the nineties, restaurants was the "all-you-can-eat" buffets for $4.99 or $ 6.99 and Marie Callenders for breakfast, but these days, top chefs from all over the world have found their way to Las Vegas.

I am not a gambler, but for the past several years I have truely enjoyed my trips to Las Vegas and I have had some of the best meals and nights out there. During my last trip to Las Vegas I found a real gem. A small French restaurant just of the far end of the strip across the street from the Sahara Hotel, in a little strip mall next door to a tattoo parlor. Walking passed the tattoo parlor wondering if we had the wrong address, we all of a sudden spotted the sign "Pamplemousse". We hesitated before entering the little building with the pink neon sign. "is this a nightclub or a restaurant" we wondered. But once inside we were happily surprised: cozy and initmate are the best words to describe Pamplemousse. The restaurant is small, only about 10-15 tables, low ceilings, mirrors and pictures on the walls and nice crips white table linen.

The Maitre D escorted us to our table and our waiter came over immediately asking us if we had dined with them before. We told him we were first timers. and that walking up to the restaurant, looking at the tattoo parlor next door, we had had our doubts. He smiled and told us that they had been on this same location since the owner had founded it 35 years before and the owner was still there and the same chef he had hired and trained a couple of years after he started.

On the website it had mentioned a fix price 3 course menu of $ 38 with several choices of appetizers, entrees and desserts. Because we were there during a convention, they did not have the fix price menu, only a la carte. We browsed the menu and I realized I only had one problem: I wished I could order everything on the menu as it all sounded wonderful. My problem became even bigger when our waiter came back to inform us about the specials. After a long debate with myself and with some help from the waiter I decided on one of the specials for my appetizer and the duck for the main course. And I was not disappointed.

But first came a basket with vegetables for the table with a vinaigrette dipping sauce and french bread. And when I say french bread I mean real french bread: thin, warm, crisp on the outside and soft and fresh on the inside. Then came the appetizers. Mine was a seafood medley in a lobster sause over a piece of puff pastry. Sinfully rich, but delicious. A good thing that the portion was not too big or I would not have been able to eat the rest of the dinner. My main course of duck came with a duck leg in addition to the thin slices of duck breast. The breast was prepared perfectly pink and served in a raspberry sauce. We had ordered vegetables and "frites" for the table and shared a bottle of shyraz with it.

Some of us couldn't resist dessert and ordered the profiterolles. I like profiterolles and had to at least have a bite. Although I prefer them with cream instead of icecream, they were very nice, the chocolate rich, dark and warm. I love food, specially French food and I have to say that Pamplemousse is a great little find and I am still debating whether I should recommend it and promote it or keep it my own little secret.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 - A Good Year

And it was, a good year, no it was a great year. I did so many things I wanted to do and traveled to great places with great friends. I have lived this past year as if every day can be the last. Maybe it started when I found out that the wife of one of my colleagues had a premature baby at the end of January and then was hospitalized in February with stage 4 cancer. She was only 38 years old and although I had only met her once, this moved me beyond belief. Sowmya died in June and that is when I started my bucket list and my blog.  

It was a year of travel: I went to Hawaii in March and had a great time with my friends there. I flew to New York in spring time to meet friends from the Netherlands, spending a great Easter weekend in one of my favorite cities in the world. For 4th of July I spent a relaxing 4 days in Tahoe with my “American family” Mark, Virginia and Sophie


One of the travel highlights of last year was my trip to Italy in August. First Andrea & Tony’s wonderful wedding in Spoleto and after that a couple of days in Rome. Rome had been on my list for a long time and it is one of those cities that I fell in love with instantly. To recover from all my trips I went back to Hawaii in September for a long weekend of sun, sand and relaxation. In October Sally and I flew to Scottsdale Arizona for a girl’s weekend and we had a great time at the Westin Kierland resort. We spent Thanksgiving in Tahoe again with Virginia’s family. It was beautiful, a winter wonderland as the first snow of the season arrived early this year. And finally in December another trip to New York with Genie: Christmas shopping and to getting into the Christmas spirit. New York is great; New York around Christmas time is the greatest city in the world.

It was a year of music. First there was the Elton John and Billy Joel concert in February and a week later Bon Jovi. Virginia and I went to see Daughtry and Sandhya and I went to Lady Gaga for my birthday. The music highlight of the year was definitely the Bon Jovi concert in July in Chicago. Virginia and I flew to Chicago just to see the last US concert. We had seats in the circle, row 3 and it was unforgettable. Since then we have probably created the youngest Bon Jovi fan in the world. Sophie started recognizing my ring tone and started singing “It’s my life”. After she watched the DVD of the concert in Madison Square Garden on my iTouch for the first time this summer, she must have seen it since more times than anybody and she sings along with Living on a Prayer, Raise your hands, Hallelujah and Born to be my baby. She will look at the pictures on my phone and say “I like Jon Jovi auntie Ril”. The next generation Bon Jovi fans have arrived.

It was also a year of health. I had told myself as part of my new year’s resolutions that I would finally be better at working out regularly. In March I started running; yes imagine: me, running. I have never been a runner, I always hated running. And here I am: it’s December 2010 and I am still running. I am running 2-3 times a week. And I love it. I did my first half marathon in October and I proudly own my Tiffany necklace that says “I run to be, NWM 2010”. And because I am running, I am living healthier, eating healthier and I have never felt so energized. This allowed me to indulge every now and then in my other hobby: cooking and eating. I shared many nights with good friends, good food and good wine this year. Goody and I had a couple of very fun cooking classes at the Professional Culinary Institute. (The most important lesson I learned is that I will never make croissants myself again).


Yes 2010 was a great year and now I can’t wait to start a new decade. I have so much to be grateful for, I am healthy, I have a job, I travel to great places. I have my family back home and my American family in California. I have wonderful friends all over the world. Roll on 2011; I am looking forward to new beginnings, spending time with old friends and new ones, visiting new places and old ones. Life is a journey and I am enjoying the trip as much as I can.

Sponsored By


Powered by Blogger.