‘Food & Dining’ Category

Tool singer Keenan brings wrathful grapes to suburbia

November 6th, 2008
Maynard James Keenan

He will work to elevate you. He will work to bring you down. (Photo by Erik Kabik | RETNA)

Does anyone else find it weird that Maynard James Keenan, the once mohawked, cross-dressing lead singer of dark, progressive alt-metal band Tool – as well as other projects such as A Perfect Circle and Puscifer – is now hawking fancy wines to suburban yoga moms in pricey organic supermarkets? Yes, that’s right, Keenan is a partner in Arizona-based winery Caduceus Cellars (they grow grapes in Arizona?!), with winemaker Eric Glomski, and he’s doing a different kind of tour than he’s used to – that of wine promotions and signings at Whole Foods stores.

The singer – who comes from a family of Italian winemakers – stopped at the location in The District at Green Valley Ranch yesterday with Glomski, an event which found people lined up down the street to meet, and buy wine from, the diminutive, smooth-headed singer-turned-vintner. Our favorite bearded photographer, Erik Kabik, not only snapped photos of the signing, but also snapped up a $75 bottle of Caduceus’ 2005 Nagual de la Naga. According to the shutterbug and wine enthusiast, the wine is “a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese grape varieties … a big, fruity wine with jammy, smoky flavors of blackberry and rhubarb.” Sounds good to us.

In case you missed the signing, have no fear – Keenan will be back on Dec. 9 at the Town Square Whole Foods location from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Save your pennies now. We wonder what wine goes best with “Prison Sex,” though. Hmm …

Excuse me, sir, there’s a Tila in my (Tacos &) Tequila!

October 23rd, 2008

Tila Tequila
A match made in naming heaven. (Photos by Erik Kabik | RETNA)

I get invited – and attend – a lot of grand openings, media events and VIP parties. You don’t read about a lot of that stuff here because, well, that would somewhat defy VEGASinsight’s mission to reveal the side of Las Vegas behind the neon. So you don’t need me to tell you about last night’s grand opening of Tacos & Tequila (T&T) at the Luxor. You likely have no interest in reading about Tila Tequila, Criss Angel or Carrot Top posing on a red carpet for photos and not much more.

But then I got to thinking that writing about just the banality of these type of events might make for interesting fodder, and since one of the key elements of this site is “commentary,” well, who am I not to deliver the goods?

T&T is located on the atrium level of the Luxor, separated from the other new-ish makeover attempts in the once-Egyptian-themed resort such as Company American Bistro, CatHouse and LAX. So that means this “rock ‘n’ roll” Mexican-style restaurant is mere steps away from the Luxor’s wedding chapel, people hawking “rides” on magic carpets and the 15-year-old motion ride “In Search of the Obelisk.” Did we mention that not six months ago, a La Salsa was standing where T&T now resides – and not much outside of the décor has changed?

It’s impossible to assess the quality, service or atmosphere of a restaurant at one of these red-carpet events. I can’t tell you anything about T&T’s food, because of the few different plates being passed around at the opening, none of which were friendly to my palate (or diet), and though no one said anything bad about the taquitos and tacos, no one said anything outstanding either.

Coming soon to NBC: \"Douchebag and The Troll\"See, this is what happens at these events: The same group of local guest-listers – a combination of power players, public relations types, publishers, industry execs and lifestyle personalities such as myself, I suppose – get invited, show up, drink a lot of free liquor, eat a few hors d’oeuvres and schmooze it up a bit. Meanwhile, typically B- and C-list celebrities are invited to “attend,” which usually means “show up to pose for a few pictures on the red carpet and then bail.” Last night’s crop included “host” Tila Tequila, Rashida Ali, Thunder from Down Under, Mosaic, Zowie Bowie and the Luxor’s resident stable of entertainers: Carrot Top, the girls of Fantasy and Criss Angel. One has to wonder if those Luxor stage-dwellers have mandatory appearances at these events written into their contracts, because I have yet to attend a Luxor VIP event at which all of them have not appeared. Then again, really, in this city, Carrot Top is allegedly A-list talent. Anywhere else, he’s a half-forgotten joke, at best.

Thankfully, I don’t do red carpets. Here in Las Vegas, they’re not like Los Angeles or New York events, where the real celebrities actually stop and talk to entertainment reporters. Instead, a gaggle of photographers and videographers crowd up to the velvet rope like cattle in a corral, snapping images and rolling footage for whatever wire service, tabloid publication or TV gossip show by which they’re hired. I don’t envy what they do – waiting hours for 10 minutes worth of work, and then in most cases being shunned from entering the party before having to rush home to dump hundreds of photos onto hard drives in order to meet overnight deadlines. I’ve “done” one red carpet, which consisted of standing around for a few hours with other increasingly impatient and cranky radio, TV and print reporters, ultimately leaving before any alleged celebrities showed up. That was it for me.

Mind you, experiences such as these aren’t bad (usually) in the least bit. It’s an investment in good press – the public relations firms know what they’re doing: Invite the right people, get ‘em drunk, give ‘em food, surround them with celebrities, and surely they’ll write and say nice things about the restaurant/nightclub/whatever that is opening. It’s just become such an expectedly absurd process, I kind of figured telling you fine people about that is much more entertaining than simply posting a gallery of photos of the above-listed proto-celebs and adding a snarky little caption.

And maybe we’ll go back to T&T soon and actually tell you about the restaurant.

Hash House A Go Gos for your blood

April 15th, 2008

Hash House
Mmm … pancakes, orange juice and human blood. Blade’s breakfast of champions.

It’s rare we get to merge two of our favorite things: breakfast food and community service. But Hash House A Go Go (6800 W. Sahara Ave.) and United Blood Services have somehow made the dream possible. Oh yes, that’s right – on Saturday, April 26, everyone’s favorite oversized portion-serving restaurant is hosting the UBS Vampire Bus (well, that’s what we call it) in its parking lot for those who wish to donate some of their precious blood to UBS’s ever-in-need blood bank.

As incentive to participate in the community blood drive, Hash House a Go Go is offering up a free pancake, T-shirt and fresh-squeezed orange juice for each donor. And to top it off, UBS will also give each donor one ticket to see The Scintas at the Hilton and two tickets to the Mega Bubble Show at Miracle Mile inside Planet Hollywood (OK, technically, they’re vouchers for tickets, whatever).

Well, those may not be the greatest shows on Earth, but face it – other people need your blood more than you do. All you’ll do is increase its alcohol content anyway. Schedule an appointment for the event, which runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., by calling 702-228-8400 or hit up www.bloodhero.com, code word “HASHHOUSE” (that sounds kind of subversive – we like it!).

Drown your IRS woes in free beer at Freakin’ Frog on Tax Day

April 14th, 2008

Freakin\' Frog

Feeling the pinch of the impending deadline for filing your 2007 tax return? Adam Carmer, owner of Freakin’ Frog and the forthcoming Adam’s Ribs, wants to help take off the edge a bit — with free beer and barbecue tomorrow, Tuesday, April 15, starting at noon at the Frog (4700 Maryland Parkway).

“Freakin’ Frog can’t do anything about income taxes,” Carmer says, “but we can do something to soften the blow: a free beer to cry into when you realize just how big a chunk the government took out of your paycheck.”

Those taking advantage of the Tax Day freebies are also getting a sampling of the offerings from Adam’s Ribs, which is slated to finally open this month, more than a year after Carmer took over the former Moose’s Beach House location. The always-confident restaurateur and UNLV professor boasts Adam’s Ribs’ offerings are “the best barbecue in town.” We shall see …

Despite young age, Vic & Anthony’s recalls vintage Vegas

March 19th, 2008

Vic & anthony’s

It seems most Las Vegas residents and regulars fall into two mutually exclusive categories when it comes to their appreciation of the city: Those who think the “real” Vegas died when the Rat Pack and the Mob left town, and those who gleefully watch old casinos implode while they eagerly await the opening of the next hi-rise condo, ultra lounge or high-end retail store.

I guess I stand among a small number of people whose appreciation for all things Vegas falls somewhere in between those two perspectives. When dying, smoky casinos such as the New Frontier go down, I welcome their end (someone please implode Circus Circus … soon), but when the Huntridge Theatre is being threatened, I take the side of preservation. I welcome — hell, eagerly encourage — New Urban development, but I feel it should be done by renovating older buildings (specifically, downtown) and not by just razing them and starting over. I find the “vintage” Vegas era especially charming, but I also can appreciate the allure of ultramodern surroundings, music and fashions.

However, most of my life is spent living in and pursuing the “new,” modern version of Las Vegas. So it was refreshing to head to Glitter Gulch (the area, not the strip club) for a little old-school night on the town at a classic-style Vegas joint, the Golden Nugget. Though the Nugget has been renovated and upgraded in the last few years thanks to a few changes of ownership, it retains that vintage Vegas charm, while offering enough fresh amenities to draw in a younger, hipper crowd. But this weekend, I went old school and had dinner at the property’s steak-and-seafood eatery, Vic & Anthony’s. (more…)