Baby-mooning in Vegas: Dining at Raku aka Husband’s new fave Vegas restaurant

Enter and feast...

With the impending birth of our son, Husband and I decided to escape to Vegas back in July for one last relaxing jaunt before we became parents and became home-bound for a while.  It was a nice long weekend spent in the pool (a huge relief on the pressure my hips are suffering) and since we drove out, we got to explore restaurants off the Strip.  We already blogged about our awesome first time experience with Ethiopian cuisine.  Another recommendation from friends was a Japanese charcoal grill called Raku.

I had heard about Raku via friends on Twitter and Kirk over at Mmm-yoso blogged about it.  I was curious and Husband was game since well…the menu touted meat on a stick.  I called on Friday for same-day dinner reservations and when they said the earliest they could seat us was 10pm, Husband was in disbelief.  I told him Raku was that good but he didn’t believe me…till then.

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Picca, Picca…Picca-chew!

Interior

I can count on one finger the number of times I’ve had Peruvian cuisine. This was years ago in San Diego at some little mom-n-pop place and honestly, the meal was just okay. A couple of weeks ago, buzz started hitting my Twitter feed about Chef Ricardo Zarate’s soon-to-open Picca in the space above Test Kitchen (now Sotto). I was curious since his other restaurant, Mo-Chica, was raved about by fellow food bloggers and I wanted to have another go at Peruvian food. I fortunately snagged an early dinner reservation on one of their $40 prix-fixe sneak-peek nights last Friday and invited Kristen of Rock My Palate and Mark & Angela of I Flip For Food.

Cocktails and food

The space is nicely decorated with mirrors, wood, and features a large bar and lots of ambient lighting. Modern but casual-comfy…. We were quickly seated and started perusing the cocktail and food menu. Since I couldn’t drink (thank you, Baby), our wonderful waitress, Kimberly was quick to suggest a pitcher of Peruvian purple corn juice ($6) for me. Loved it! It tasted a lot like grape juice; now if only I could have had some vodka to mix in. ;) The others at the table indulged in some house signature cocktails – pisco sours, Maracuyo (a sort of passion fruit mimosa) and…Banana Hammock, a banana flavored concoction. The girls had fun teasing Mark about this drink since he was the one that ordered it. ;)

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Foodbuzz 24×24: Mega Bad Movie Night

Last night, SyFy did a series of their bad “mega” monster movies.  Having never seen “Mega Piranha” before, we had to host one of our bad movie nights for it! When Foodbuzz announced a call for January’s 24×24 – an over-the-top dinner party, I, with my partner in crime, Kristen of Rock My Palate (read her version of this experience), submitted a proposal for Mega Bad Movie Night.  We’d turn this normally chill event into a spectacular feast, complete with costume, decor and a commemorative cake wreck.  And, as you can from the title of this post, we got greenlit!

Since piranhas are native to the Amazon and in the movie, the monsters end up in Florida, we themed our party and menu after a mix of Brazilian flavors and some tropical beach flair (see bottom for full menu and recipes).

Backdrop and props for the scene

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San Diego Restaurant Week Sneak Peek – Croce’s

Welcome to the Gaslamp

San Diego Restaurant Week (1/16 – 1/21) is nearly here.  Wednesday night, I got a sneak eat of Croce’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar’s menu, courtesy of McFarlane Promotions.  Since my usual San Diego peeps were already committed elsewhere, I brought Kat of Kat’s 9 Lives with me.

When I lived in San Diego, I rarely ventured into downtown to hang out in the Gaslamp Quarter.  The frustrating parking situation, one way streets and having to dress up (omg, I have to wear make-up and heels?) just wasn’t my thing.  The Gaslamp now, though, has vastly improved.  Many new restaurants have opened their doors and more casual establishments have moved in as well as flat-rate parking lots/garages.

Amidst all this hustle, bustle and turnover sits Croce’s on the corner of 5th and F.  This restaurant and jazz bar has been a San Diego landmark for quite a while, having been started years ago by Ingrid Croce in honor of her late musician husband, Jim Croce.  I had heard of this place many times over the years but never actually got to dine here till now.  When we arrived for our 6:30 reservation, the restaurant was already half filled with patrons.  We were seated on the patio and given the Restaurant Week menu.

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Petrossian – caviar dreams and champagne wishes

Like Nozomi, Petrossian appeared on my radar after a tweet by Kung Food Panda. When Blackboard Eats tacked up a 30% off deal, I quickly grabbed it and off I went, Husband in tow, on the last day the deal was valid. I’m not one to procrastinate, after all…

Petrossian is a well-known name in the caviar world, having been in the import business for over 80 years. It’s no surprise that many items on the menu feature caviar. My experience with the delicacy at that point was only with sushi in the form of smelt roe garnishing California rolls and my one time eating salmon roe nigiri, which I didn’t altogether enjoy, honestly. I was sure that the roe at the sushi joints I frequented had nothing on what Petrossian carried so I promised myself that I would order something with caviar on my visit. I had to have a proper introduction to this fine food.

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