09 Dec 2019

Las Vegas Wynn and Encore Hotels Dec, 2019

Allyn and I are fortunate to travel the world and have so much fun chronicling our experiences. Although we were home this week we had an occasion to stay at Wynn's Encore and it would be difficult for any hotel to outdo this one. Even though they have 4,750 rooms combined along with thousands of non-hotel guests daily, you will not find a more beautiful or immaculately clean hotel anywhere.
And somehow they manage to have service on a par with the physical elegance.
Every single common area is a treat for the eyes.
Even though we had the absolute lowest priced standard room, this 745 square foot beauty was perfect for our needs. It was cleaned perfectly every time. Imagine the suites.
One night when Allyn was busy, I had dinner with my son, Michael, at Wing Lei. WOW! Not your normal Chinese restaurant. It is gorgeous. The service was impeccable, and the food sensational. It is easy to see why this restaurant was the first Chinese restaurant in North America to earn a coveted Michelin Star let alone a Five Star Forbes rating.
As a truffle oil lover, I think the Peking Duck Salad is one of the best salads I ever had.
The outside is as well kept and lovely as the inside.
Treat yourself next time you visit Las Vegas to either Wynn or Encore. Additionally they have a whopping seven resturants that have Forbes Star Ratings. Amazing.

20 Nov 2019

Carbone Italian Restaurant - Las Vegas

I don't think I have ever devoted an entire blog to a restaurant, but if I had it certainly would not have been to say how bad it was. Tonight was a blast with our friends the Hellers from Knoxville, Tennessee, but the meal was horrific.

Since Carbone' is a fancy Italian restaurant at The Aria, one would expect it to be quite expensive so we will not hold that against them. However layer on top of that, that the food was very bad and the service worse and we find ourselves with a blog panning a restaurant, which is not my usual style.

We arrive for dinner to find our friends in the common area between two high end restaurants and Rob smiles to the hostesses at the other restaurant and says how lovely they look tonight. They both give him a dirty look. It was weird because this guy is the farthest thing from a letch. Allyn, always the peacemaker, then goes to the two ladies and suggests all is good and they should learn to take a complement. They just glare at her. Maybe this should have been a clue to service at Aria.

Rob brings a couple bottles of wine and points out one only has a couple glasses left. They say it will still be $50 per bottle corkage. OK. So be it.

We start out with a Caesar which would have been good if it were not so warm. For those prices the lettuce should be properly chilled. Not a huge deal, BUT he puts the entire bowl on the table instead of serving out the four salads. Allyn, gobsmacked, say to the waiter "would you please serve us" and he say "nope". Upon further investigation he says "If I serve you then others would expect the same service." Hello !>@@# 

Then comes the pasta course. The spicy penne may have been right out of a chef boyardee can except I remembered it having more flavor. The two only clams in the linguine and clams were fine but the linguine was so salty the even Allyn could not eat it and she used to have a salt lick in her office.

The veal parmesan was an absolute joke. It could have been from a cheap buffet. Sometimes any business, including great restaurants, have a bad night. They good ones want  (need) to hear legitimate feedback.

We asked for the manager and politely told her about the evening. She just shrugged her shoulders.

As we left I looked around and it didn't seem like there was a local person in the restaurant. Most occupied tables were fairly large with obvious businessmen on expense accounts. This is strictly a tourist trap. We certainly will not return. If you want great Italian in Las Vegas there are many better.

Our go to place is Pieros - way better food, service, and ambiance. And, although fairly pricey, you never feel ripped off.

14 Nov 2019

Honolulu, HI Nov, 2019

What a night !  Coast Guard Admiral and Mrs. Kevin Lunday hosted us and five other couples at their home this evening.
They just happen to live on property at Honolulu's iconic Diamond Head Lighthouse. 
How did they get such fabulous quarters? I guess when you are the commander of the entire South Pacific (over 14 million square miles), the Coast Guard's largest district, then Uncle Sam takes care of you.
Although closed to the public, Adm Lunday gave us a personal tour all the way to the top of the lighthouse. The lighthouse was originally built in 1899, and was rebuilt in 1917. It is 55 feet high but stands 147 feet above sea level. It can been seen for 18 miles.
The Coast Guard has been responsible for it since 1932 which works nicely for the Lundays.

04 Nov 2019

Mainero Horan Wedding

Stay tuned for some blogging as we are headed to Hawaii for a couple weeks. But first we had a very important weekend at the Hyatt Huntington Beach, CA for the Mainero Horan wedding. That is as in Julian Horan, Allyn's first born.
Julian and sister Jessica.
I absolutely love the look on his face as he witnesses his soon to be wife walking down the aisle.
Here he is with his beautiful bride Christina, their first walk as husband and wife.
Allyn looked elegant herself as usual. Regal even.
Then we topped off the weekend with a wonderful meal at The Original Fish Company, our favorite Orange County restaurant.

04 Sep 2019

London (Post Cruise) 2019 Part 3

Allyn and I decided to take it easy this final day of this summer’s Europe trip. That meant lots of walking visiting old places and new, just using the London underground for transportation, having a deluxe massage and finding a new wonderful dinner house.
The circled part of the map shows the London most tourists (including us) think of and visit when here. It’s not unlike thinking of New York as Fifth Avenue, Broadway, Museum mile, Central Park, some Wall Street, and combining the Whitehouse, Congress, Smithsonian, and some major monuments from Washington.
We decided to head to Canary Wharf and started with a massage that got the day off quite nicely.
From 1802 to the late 1980s Canary Wharf was one of the busiest ports in the world. During their last 20 years business declined until all the docks were closed by 1980.
Subsequently after a couple shaky starts it has become one of UK’s huge financial centers with over 14 million feet of office space. That is a bunch. With that comes beautiful shopping malls, restaurants and even wonderful outdoor spaces and artsy things. 
Canary Wharf factoids - 
   It housed London’s tallest building (now second tallest).
   The subway station is so big that that building could fit in it lying down.
   Average income here is over $120,000 annually.
   The name comes from the fact that an important dock here received major shipments from the Canary Islands.
   Coincidentally Canary Wharf is located on the Isle of Dogs and the Canary Islands are actually named after a Latin word derived from dogs because there were so many dogs there.
We headed back to Mayfair and walked the entirety of Old Bond Street. 
It is as elegant as ever. 
There are some facelifts going on.
Allyn stopped to visit with Roosevelt and Churchill.
And we even had time to stroll Regent Street.
Yesterday I searched for an elegant fish restaurant in a new (for us) neighborhood, I wanted to finish our trip with something really special for Allyn. I found Smith's (and crossed my fingers) in Wapping, an area I had never heard of.
This is what we looked at during our 10 minute walk from the subway station to dinner. I was a bit apprehensive.
As the London Docklands deteriorated, so did this area with their big warehouses left empty. During the 1980s the warehouses started to be converted into luxury flats. 
Now it is a quiet lovely neighborhood mainly populated by young professions and some notables such as Helen Mirren and Cher.
We walked into the beautiful restaurant and there was the Tower bridge right out the window. Wow were we surprised to see the water side after walking out on the restaurant terrace.
The service and food at Smith's was as good as the ambiance. Recognizing we were Americans they filled the water pitcher with ice automatically. Nice touch.
As usual, deluxe Dover sole in London is way better than at home.
To top the meal off, owner Mr. Greg Molen came over and chatted us up a while and even bought us a couple drinks. He said that he likes to make out of towners feel at home in his establishment.
We had to check out the view again after finishing dinner.
The building in the background is the Shard, which is now the tallest building in the UK. During our last trip to London we stayed there at the Shangri-La.
We finished the day, and the trip, with an  ice cream handmade right in front of us.