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Making Cake Truffles with Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar

Making Cake Truffles with Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar

*This post was made possible through the kind sponsorship of The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.

It’s not easy to become a famous chef by making desserts, and that is precisely what Christina Tosi has done big time. With her now-famous Milk Bar group of restaurants, she has turned the dessert world on its head with her amazing creations. While staying at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas recently, I had the incredible opportunity to attend a private session making Cake Truffles with Christina Tosi. I will never look at cake the same way again.

Making cake with Christina Tossi and Jon Bailey

It was so awesome to spend time with Chef Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar fame.

Meeting Christina Tosi in person was the real treat, and she is extremely approachable with a great sense of humor. I mentioned watching her as a judge alongside Gordon Ramsey on the hit TV show Master Chef, because my friend Claudia Sandoval had been the winner of Season 6! Christina loved hearing how well Claudia is doing (we bonded over Claudia’s ridiculously delicious Tres Leches Cake, but that’s another story and another cookbook).

Momofuku Milk Bar

Christina puts such attention to detail into each one of her creations, and the flavor profiles are intensely delicious. She has perfected the exact right balance of flavors, textures and aesthetics to produce gorgeous cakes that taste out of this world. Her focus is on flavors, infusing different combinations into every possible ingredient that enhances them beyond their original. For example, milk is never used plain – it’s always infused with some other flavor to add another opportunity to layer flavors into what becomes a complex combination of many elements. Whatever she is doing, please keep doing it because it works!

Birthday Cake by Milk Bar

Birthday Cake at its finest, by Chef Christina Tosi from Momokufu Milk Bar.

Making Cake Truffles with Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar

The story behind Christina’s now-famous Cake Truffles is amazing, but you first have to learn how she makes her cakes. Each cake layer is baked in a rectagular baking pan, and then circles of cake are cut from the pan. (This is ingeniusly done so that Christina can be assured the cake is cooked consistently through from edge to edge.) This process leaves cake scraps leftover, and she didn’t want to waste perfectly good cake. Thus, she invented Cake Truffles.

Making Cake Truffles with Christina Tossi

Chef Christina Tosi demonstrates how to make a Cake Truffle.

Now so popular that she has to make extra pans of cake devoted just to Cake Truffles, these delicious creations are available in her restaurants by the single or multiple. I came home with 12, and my family devoured them by the next morning!

Birthday Cake Truffles

Here is the general process we followed to make Birthday Cake Truffles with Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar fame, under her personal direction.

Making Cake Truffles assembly line

Our Birthday Cake Truffle assembly line, in which I was a cake crumbler.

  1. We crumbled up a pan of birthday cake into little pieces.
  2. Into the bowl of crumbles, we added some vanilla infused milk
  3. We mixed the milk and crumbles together with our hands, gaining a consistency that was sticky not clumpy.
  4. Using a scoop, we rolled the cake mixture into balls about the size of a ping pong ball.
  5. From there, the balls were dipped in melted white chocolate mixed with a bit of coconut oil to thin out the clumping factor. The chocolate coating seals in the moist cake and creates a crunchy hard shell for added texture.
  6. Then the ball is rolled in toasted birthday cake crumbs, which stick to the hardening chocolate and add a crunchy exterior.
  7. The balls are set aside to cool while the process continues.
    Birthday Cake Truffles with Christina Tossi

    Finished Cake Truffles cooling on the plate, as we perched nearby waiting to taste them. Mmmmmmm.

When all was complete, we had to taste our creations of course. They were beyond delicious.

There were three other teams at our session, all making different flavors of cake truffles. One was a chocolate brownie cake truffle, one was a salty/sweet combo of chocolate, pretzels and peanuts, and one was a lemon cake with raspberry coating that was just stupid good.

If you would like more detail, you can view the recipe for Milk Bar’s Birthday Cake Truffles on their website.

Milk Bar at The Cosmopolitan

If you don’t feel like making Cake Truffles yourself, you can always mosey up to the Milk Bar at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. Chef Christina has set up an awesome outpost there, where her guests sample creations beyond anything I have described here.

Christina Tossi's Milk Bar in Las Vegas

Mosey up to the Milk Bar at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas for a sweet treat or two, or three…

Now back home in my own little kitchen, I am definitely going to try this with the kids. Sophia loves to bake, and she will enjoy coming up with interesting combinations of flavors to make her own Cake Truffles. We’ll keep you posted!

Me and the gang made Cake Truffles

Part of Chef Christina Tosi’s vibe is these colorful headbands, which we all wore as we made our creations.

 


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Secrets Finds at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

Secrets Finds at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

*This post was made possible through a sponsored experience in partnership with The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.

One of the things I like most about The Cosmopolitan Resort & Casino in Las Vegas is the interesting combination of mystery and discovery they weave into every corner of the property. I had the opportunity to stay there again recently, and found several new secret finds at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas to share.

Under new management, The Cosmopolitan has undergone some interesting transformations. The rooms have been renovated, the restaurants upgraded and the casino floor is amped up to new heights. Amid all this, the air of mystery that has always surrounded The Cosmopolitan drew me in even further.

Here are some secret finds at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas that you can hunt down yourself:

Room with a might fine view at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.

Room Location – It’s not really a secret, but the rooms facing north on the high floors of the Broadway Tower give you some of the most amazing views of the Las Vegas Strip you can find anywhere. In fact, I don’t think you can find these views anywhere else. From my room on the 62nd floor, I looked out over the spectacle called the Bellagio Fountains and right up the Strip all the way to the mountains far beyond. At night, the lights were spectacular and the energy pumping. These are the things that make Las Vegas so incredible, and in my room at The Cosmopolitan I was smack dab in the middle of it all. Ask reservations to help you find the right floor and room – terrace studio fountain view.

Paella cooks in huge pans at Jaleo

The Chef at Jaleo restaurant at The Cosmopolitan stirs up a mean batch of gorgeous paella.

Secret Dining Room at JaleoJaleo at The Cosmopolitan is one of the fantastic Spanish-inspired restaurants by celebrity Chef Jose Andrés, and it does not disappoint. The food is authentic and out-of-this-world delicious, served in a beautiful dining room with an open kitchen that burns fragrant orange wood under gigantic bubbling paella pans. However, few know of the “restaurant within a restaurant” É by Jose Andrés, which is located just past the bar in the back left corner. A small door opens into an exclusive dining room that seats just 8 people, with a different menu and intimate vibe. Reservations need to be made far in advance.

Secret Bar & Lounge in Stitched – At the back of menswear haberdashery Stitched, through the beautifully hand tailored plaid sport coats, sharp suits, fun ties and made-to-fit shirts, there is a secret lounge just waiting for you. Outfitted with comfy leather furniture and a wall of private lockers stocked with rare bottles, the lounge offers guys (and their gang) a place to hang out and relax whether they are being fitted for custom tailoring or not. We enjoyed a nice glass of Maker’s Reserve and casually learned how to tie a bow tie (no more clips-ons for me!). The staff has great taste and really got my style. I will be back to Stitched for some serious wardrobe upgrades.

Stitched at The Cosmopolitan

The Lounge in the back of Stitched menswear at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas was a welcome respite.

Decor in the rooms – Even in the guest rooms, prepare yourself for one of those find-the-object games we all played as kids, where you search for the image of a golf club or a pumpkin or some other random thing inside a black and white line drawing of something from an Escher painting. At The Cosmopolitan, it’s a little racier though. Some of the discoveries are fairly obvious, like the naked parts featured in framed photos over the in-room bar. But then you start to see things that make you go “huh”, like the subtle image of a nude woman in the wallpaper of the bathroom. See how many interesting and secret design features you can find – I was up to 5 by the time I checked out.

Secret Pizza – After all that late night carousing, drinking and winning at the blackjack tables, we were hungry again. Luckily we had been tipped off about the secret pizza spot with no name on the third floor of The Cosmopolitan, located down an album cover-festooned hallway that looks like you are headed towards the back of house. Suddenly, a door opens on your left and there is an old-school pizza joint serving up slices of all varieties. You can even get a whole pie to take back to the room.

The cookie at Egg Slut – Everyone loses their shit over the egg sandwiches from LA-famous Egg Slut, and I can attest they really are that good. It is completely worth it to stand in that line to get a Fairfax Egg Sandwich plus bacon, and honestly the line moves fast. But here’s a hint – get the cookie too. I know, I know, you don’t want a cookie for breakfast. Except you do. Because this salty-sweet dark chocolate chip cookie creation is to die for. And sometimes you just gotta live.

Eggslut Fairfax Sandwich

The Fairfax sandwich at Eggslut, served up daily at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. (photo courtesy of The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas)

Secret cocktail at Chandelier Bar – The centerpiece of The Cosmopolitan is the Chandelier Bar, designed and draped in millions of crystals that resemble an enormous chandelier (or maybe one of Lady Gaga’s dresses). To impress your friends, ask the bartender for the Verbena Cocktail, a creation of the Cosmopolitan’s Master Mixologist Mariena Mercer. The margarita-ish cocktail is remarkable due to the addition of the Szechuan Button Flower, floating on top of the liquor and ice. You must first eat the flower, which opens up your tastebuds and makes your mouth feel all tingly and numb. Then and only then do you take a sip of the lemon verbena-infused cocktail. It’s a taste sensation like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

Chandelier Bar secret cocktail

The secret cocktail at Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan is dazzling.

Surprising Presentations at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. – The uniquely named restaurant Rose. Rabbit. Lie. is themed loosely after a twisted adult version of Alice in Wonderland, where nothing is what is seems. It’s part supper club, part dinner theater, and the live entertainment is of very high caliber and really really fun – especially if powerhouse Skye Miles is performing).

Skye Miles performs at Rose.Rabbit.Lie.

Me and my friend Skye Miles as she entertains the fans at Rose.Rabbit.Lie.

The food is outstanding, but the presentation will knock your socks off (you have to try the Caviar Tacos, Lobster Fritters and Beef Wellington). These chefs work very hard to tantalize your tastebuds and your mind at the same time. Take the cocktails for example – one drink named “Birds of a Feather” was served in a tall, clear-glass bird sculpture, complete with glass straw for sipping right from the bird. Another drink called “Through the Looking Glass”, is a combination of tequila, other liquors and fresh citrus – all presented in a round spyglass contraption. Stunning! And don’t forget to order the Chocolate Terrarium for dessert. It will come to the table in a presentation you have very likely never seen. Get your cameras ready, because it’s Instagram time all up in this place.

Rose.Rabbit.Lie. serves up some wicked cocktails

The Birds of a Feather cocktail is served up at Rose.Rabbit.Lie.(photo courtesy of The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas)

The Chelsea concert venue – If you have never seen a concert at The Chelsea, you are missing out. The Cosmopolitan’s main venue is remarkably intimate with a max of only 2,500 seats. This way each guest gets to truly enjoy the act they have come to see, without sitting in the nosebleed section, or having to bribe some security guard to get you on to the main floor. This place is luxe and comfortable – and in true Vegas style, the cocktails are impeccable. Acts like Portugal. The Man., Dua Lipa, The Doobie Brothers and Duran Duran have all been on the concert schedule at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, and the fans go wild because each person feels so damn close to the stage.

I was only there for three nights, and I’m sure there are more surprising yet to be discovered. What secret finds at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas have you spied out? Spill please! After all, sharing is caring…

 

 

 

 

 

 


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2 Great Restaurants in Omaha

2 Great Restaurants in Omaha

Last week marked the first time I have ever visited the State of Nebraska, and I didn’t know what to expect from the food scene. Luckily I have a close friend who lives there and runs the great outlets Moms Good Eats and Life Done Well, and she really knows good food. Dana pointed me to 2 great restaurants in Omaha that I want to share with you, just in case you ever find yourself in Nebraska and aren’t in the mood for Waffle House (which I love BTW).

V. Mertz is located in this sweet little alley between two historic brick warehouse buildings.

V. Mertz

Located in Omaha’s historic Old Market district, V. Mertz is tucked into a narrow covered alley in between two old brick warehouses. The entire area has been redesigned beautifully, complete with a glass atrium ceiling to protect from the elements. The effect is charming, with little shops, galleries and restaurants tucked into the old granary basements. Even more charming is the surprisingly good V. Mertz restaurant.

V. Mertz serves up delicious cheese

Even the cheese plate a V. Mertz was beautifully presented and highly tasty.

Focused on a contemporary American cuisine, V. Mertz serves up a remarkably interesting menu that measures up against any fine dining restaurant across the US. Yes, really. Very inventive flavors and incredibly plated dishes are offered in Tastes, Small Plates, Large Plates and Desserts. The bar is exceptionally well stocked, including a bevy of top-shelf scotches that made me envious (and thirsty). GM Matthew Brown and Chef Jacob Newton really know what they are doing, and clearly love doing it.

V. Mertz serves up some great cocktails

Even the cocktails are delicious works of art at V. Mertz Restaurant.

My dining partner and I chose to order all small plates to share. Some menu stand-outs included a baked cauliflower en croute, white asparagus with egg three ways, an interesting oyster mushroom melange and a black sea bass that was to die for. I wish I had taken a photo of the menu so I could remember the exact descriptions, but take my word for it – they were so damn good.

Delicious Lemon marscapone layer cake at V. Mertz in Omaha

Among the many delicious dessert options at V. Mertz, this Lemon mascarpone layer cake was a winner.

Hook & Lime

Coming from San Diego, I am most definitely a Mexican food snob. So imagine my surprise when we tasted the food at Hook & Lime, a modest and fun little eatery a block from the TD Ameritrade Stadium that serves up delicious versions of authentic Mexican favorites. Proud to offer only house-made everything – including the juices for their kickass margaritas – Hook & Lime is the brainchild of local restauranteur Robbie Malm. Dude knows his stuff.

Mexican food in Omaha at Hook & Lime

Braised beef, carnitas and sea bass tacos at Hook & Lime are seriously good Mexican food.

 

Even the house-made chips and salsa measured up (made from scratch tortillas always help). From the variety of taco choices, I settled on a trio of flavors with distinctly different profiles. The carnitas taco was juicy and flavorful, topped traditionally with salsa verde, onions and cilantro. The braised short rib taco came with jalapeno, cilantro, crema, radish and pickled vegetables for a savory bite. My least favorite was the seared mahi taco, with Confit Lemon, Crispy Capers, Spicy Remoulade, Micro Greens. Coming from the home of the fish taco (go Rubio’s!) my expectations were hard to beat here anyway. If that is the only minor disappoint in an otherwise fantastic meal, I’d say they were doing pretty great.

Oh, and the house margarita. Those hand-squeezed juices really do make a difference, blending the tart lime and orange flavors with the tangy tequila mix. Authentic Mexican food in Omaha? Who knew.

So now I wonder, what other culinary experiences can I expect from Omaha, Nebraska? Guess I’ll have to visit again and find out what else exists beyond these 2 great restaurants in Omaha.

historic buildings in downtown Omaha, NE

The streets are brick and the buildings historic in this area of downtown Omaha


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10 Tips for Navigating San Diego International Airport

10 Tips for Navigating San Diego International Airport

I travel a LOT for work and pleasure, and living in San Diego I’m sharing my 10 tips for navigating San Diego International Airport. If you are not from America’s Finest City (I didn’t make up that title), our airport can be a challenge because of its weird layout and quirks. Let me help you make your way, so travel is less stressful whether you are departing or arriving.

Sky view of San Diego Bay

With a little altitude, this bird’s eye view of San Diego Bay is pretty awesome.

10 Tips For Navigating San Diego International Airport

Navigating San Diego International Airport – Departing

  1. Know your terminal – There are only two terminals, and neither makes any sense because they both contain domestic and international flights. If you are flying on Southwest Airlines, you are definitely in Terminal One. All the others? Best to check to avoid a long walk.
    Signage at SAN Terminal 2

    The signage at San Diego Airport is more than a little confusing for newbies.

     

  2. Not much waiting room – This older terminal did not anticipate the amount of traffic it would receive, and the new self-serve ticket kiosks take up a lot of room. There are VERY few seats before going through security, and the areas are cramped with people navigating their luggage.
  3. Pre-Check is your friend – Have you applied for your TSA Pre-Check approval? It’s an easy process, and can get you past what are sometimes very long security lines. I’ve arrived 30 minutes before boarding time and still arrived at the gate with plenty of time.
    Pre-check line is always short at San Diego Airport

    TSA Pre Check is the best thing ever. Keep your shoe on and your laptop packed!

     

  4. Food is sparse in Terminal One – Terminal Two has decent food choices, but Terminal One is very challenged. If that is your departure zone best to get food from the bar at Banker’s Hill, which serves some very good food along with a nice selection of local craft beers.
  5. Valet parking is a good thing – If you’re in a hurry (which is the story of my life) valet parking can be a lifesaver. It’s not much more money than regular airport parking, and you can text from the plane at landing to have your car curbside when you arrive.
    Terminal 2 Departing Flights

    Drop-off for Departing Flights in Terminal 2 is on the top level – very confusing.

Navigating San Diego International Airport – Arriving

  1. Bag claim takes forever – For such a small airport, your bags will travel at a snail’s pace. You could stop and have a cocktail, visit the restroom and shop for a new watch before you saunter down to baggage claim.
  2. App-based rides pick up in different places – If you are an uber person, black picks up curbside and all the others are “supposed” to pick you up on an island across the way – and you can only reach that island by crossing over via bridge ON ANOTHER LEVEL. So confusing and dumb. That’s where the cabs pick up too FYI.
    Sky Bridge to ground transportation at SAN Terminal 2

    God forbid you have to grab ground transportation from Terminal 2, because it’s on the other side of this sky bridge

     

  3. Secret exits if you carried on – If you are able to avoid baggage claim by carrying on, there are some secret ways to exit quickly in Terminal 2. In Terminal 2 East towards the front, you would turn right to keep walking to baggage claim but if you walk straight down that little hallway right next to the security line coming in, you’re at a quick exit out! In Terminal 2 West, sneak out the very non-descript white doors right past that hideous fountain.
    Terminal 2 obscure exit

    If you didn’t check luggage, you can exit Terminal 2 through this obscure doorway.

     

  4. Curbside pickup can be a nightmare – It’s not 7 am or 12 midnight, the curb is always packed. Why oh why do people think that if they park and crane their neck far enough, their pick-up will suddenly appear out of thin air and get in the car? These are the same people that stop and look at their phones in the middle of the grocery aisle.
    Curbside waiting at SAN

    I’m always so happy to return to San Diego, I don’t mind waiting curbside for Triton to come get me.

  5. Close to everything – If you are staying Downtown, Mission Valley, Hillcrest, Banker’s Hill, North Park, Point Loma or any of the beach areas, you are REALLY close to the airport. It won’t be more than a $20 ride to most of those places, and some will be far less. So relax, you will be there in no time!

Hope this list of 10 tips for navigating San Diego International Airport helps! I wish I could memorize all the tricks I’ve collected from other airport visits around the world, but this one I know like the back of my hand.

If you have tips on your hometown airport, please share and I’ll create a post from all of our shares!


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8 Great Places to Eat Within Walking Distance of Midtown Manhattan

8 Great Places to Eat Within Walking Distance of Midtown Manhattan

If you travel to New York City on business like I do, you may often find yourself staying at a hotel in Midtown somewhere near Times Square. It’s happened to me more than a few times, and I’ve identified 8  great places to eat within walking distance of Midtown Manhattan that are delicious and fun. Depending on your mood, you may want to take in more than one of these drinking and dining establishments.

Recently from my hotel room at The Royalton on 44th between Fifth and Sixth, I walked just a few New York blocks to the amazing places I am sharing with you here.

8 Great Places to Eat Within Walking Distance of Midtown Manhattan

  1. Lambs Club – The Lambs Club is a great little jewel box for lunch, with some captains of industry and celeb sightings occasionally. I like it because it’s tucked away inside the luxurious Chatwal Hotel, and very private. In the evenings, the bar GOES OFF. There is often a jazz trio with a singer showcasing some of the old standards, and they make a mean dry-Belvedere-martini-up-shaken-not-stirred-with-two-olives.

    The bar at the Lambs Club on 44th and 7th is so much fun!

  2. Milos – Milos New York served up the best Greek meal I have had outside of Greece. With multiple locations around the world, Estiatorio Milos was founded by acclaimed chef Costas Spiliadis. The whole fish are flown in fresh from the Mediterranean seas, and tasted out of this world. Great decor, great vibe, great service – love love love this place.

    Milo’s featured freshly caught fish that had been flown in from Greece earlier that day.

  3. Shake Shack – I know, but it’s always soooooo good and sometimes you just need a quick burger for lunch between meetings. We got ours to go, and took our Shake Shack bags filled with fries to the hotel lobby and chowed down on delicious greasy hangover-curing burgers and vanilla shakes. Delicious and so bad it’s good.

    Sometimes you just need a good burger, and Shake Shack never disappoints.

  4. STK – If you like a good steak dinner with a hip factor, then STK is a great choice in Midtown. The interior booms with the beat of house music, celebrations are running high and the energy is fierce. Definitely a place to dress for the see-and-be-scene crowd, and the food is really delicious. The menu was so enticing, we ordered way too much and practically rolled out of there and on to the sidewalk.
  5. Michael Jordan’s The Steakhouse NYC – The namesake basketball icon has a pretty fine restaurant on the mezzanine level of Grand Central Station. I like to sit at the bar at Michael Jordan’s The Steakhouse for drinks before heading elsewhere for dinner, because the people watching is top level. And you are sitting amid understated elegance inside Grand Central Station! How many movies have been shot in this place, lovers reunited, careerists rushing to get to the office or back home to their cozy houses in Connecticut.
  6. Joe’s Shanghai – Ok this place is the best thing ever, although from the street it doesn’t look like much. Don’t worry, the food is crazy good. Dim sum is the specialty at Joe’s Shanghai, and they are known for their soup dumplings – little pods of goodness served on a spoon with insides filled with delicious soup. You bite a corner and slurp the soup first, then eat the dumpling. It’s making me crave them just writing this.

    The menu at Joe’s Shanghai is impressive, but you can always let the chef choose!

  7. Algonquin Hotel – The famous Algonquin Hotel is quintessential New York, and original home to a literary crowd including the likes of Dorothy Parker, Franklin Adams, Robert Benchley, George Kaufman and Edna Ferber to name a few. Much of the original New York charm is intact, and it’s a lovely place to order a Manhattan and sit in clubby chairs imagining yourself back in the 1920s.
    bar at Algonquin Hotel

    Sitting in the lobby bar at The Algonquin Hotel, having a Manhattan in Manhattan.

  8. Secret Burger Joint – Located behind a thick curtain inside the lobby of the Parker Meridien Hotel, the Burger Joint is a no-frills, cash-only respite in a sea of expensive meals and high fashion. The cheese burgers and fries are the perfect late night snack after the theater (or really at any time). Expect to wait on line a bit, but the food is definitely worth it. You could be sitting next to a woman in full-length fur and across from a construction worker on his break from the site. Local color!

And the best thing about all these 8 great places to eat within walking distance of Midtown Manhattan? Using The Royalton as your centerpoint, the farthest you will have to walk is 11 blocks (to Milo’s).

I’m sure you’ve got your own favorites – what places should we hit up the next time we are in NYC?

 


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Planning for Spring Break in Palm Springs

Planning for Spring Break in Palm Springs

With a week off from school and Daylight Savings Time almost over, the kids are itching for a family vacation. We’re planning for Spring Break in Palm Springs this year, and are so excited about all the possibilities. What to do? What to wear? What to pack? What to eat?

Palm Springs pool lounges

There is nothing more relaxing than lounging by the pool in Palm Springs.

It’s fun to plan a vacation, particularly when going to a warm weather location like Spring Break in Palm Springs. Our family has a ritual check-list, and thought we would share it with you here. Does your family have a similar routine?

Planning for Spring Break in Palm Springs

  1. Check the daily weather report obsessively. Start 3-4 weeks in advance and mentally plan the potential list of items you will bring based on the weather outlook on that day. Change your mind daily as the weather fluctuates until you are exhausted. End up packing shorts and shirts, which will be perfect because you are in beautiful Palm Springs.
    Taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tram to the top

    We can’t wait to take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top of the mountain for some gorgeous views.

  2. Research hot new restaurants, and weigh dining options against tried and true family favorites. Seek input from foodie friends who have been there recently, and cross-reference with Eater and Open Table recommendations to develop your top list. Ask the kids what they want while there, and compromise your dining selections so they can have their favorite dishes at least once while there at places like Cheeky’s and Lulu California Bistro. Make reservations well in advance!
    Cheeky's Palm Springs

    The Pineapple French Toast at Cheeky’s in Palm Springs is out of this world.

  3. Leave plenty of downtime on your agenda. There is a reason we need vacations, and that is to RELAX. Make sure in your list-making that you have a line item for downtime every day, even if you have to schedule it. There is nothing more relaxing than a nice nap in that warm Palm Spring sun.
    Pooltime in Palm Springs

    There are so many pools in Palm Springs, we’re not sure we can sample them all!

  4. Make sure you pack all the chargers and connectors. I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve had to google “nearest Apple store” so we could grab an emergency laptop charger or pair of headphones that *someone* forgot to bring on vacation. Really, it is worth your sanity to bring every power cord in the house, even if you find out it actually powers Alexa. Don’t worry, she will live while you’re gone.
  5. Don’t overpack. Really this advice goes for any trip. Once you have lugged one too many bags through the cobbled streets of some remote Italian village, you’ll know the wisdom of packing light. No one will notice if you wear the same outfit twice. Honestly, this is not the Paris runways.
  6. Bring at least two swimsuits. Palm Springs is a world of swimming pools, and you will undoubtedly find yourself in at least one a day. They never seem to dry completely in the hotel bathroom, and there is nothing worse that putting back on a cold, damp swimming suit. Makes your skin crawl.
  7. Prepare to enjoy the great outdoors. Some of the most beautiful places in the world are right at your footsteps in Palm Springs. Hike Indian Canyon. Take in a round at Escena Golf Club. Bicycle  through the historic post-modern streets. Ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top of Mt Jacinto.  So bring your sports equipment and hiking shoes – it’s not just about laying by the pool.

    Hiking through the rocky terrain is a perfect break from lounging by the pool.

  8. Lay by the pool! Why did we plan a vacation in Palm Springs anyway? Exactly.

What other things do you love doing in Palm Springs? We’re planning for Spring Break in Palm Springs  now, so please shout out your recommendations so we can add them to our list of to-do’s!

Goofy pool antics in Palm Springs

Who knew that pool floaties could double as Easter bonnets?

 

 


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Chicken Soup Worth More Than Its Weight In Gold?

Chicken Soup Worth More Than Its Weight In Gold?

My mama would be proud to know there is now a chicken soup more valuable than hers, In fact, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has made a bold new addition to the Talon Club Menu: a $688 soup that is literally worth more than its weight in gold.

I used to say my mom’s homemade chicken noodle soup was the best thing ever, and it did always make me feel better when I was growing up. However, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas‘ new version takes it to another level.

Valued at over $14,000 per gram, the Cordyceps fungus was handpicked in the Himalayan Mountains and traveled all the way to Las Vegas to create this Cordyceps Soup. The “caterpillar fungus” is historically rare due to its growth in select seasonal locations with altitudes of 3,800 meters above sea level in exclusive parts of the world where these special caterpillars can survive.

Our special ingredient, the Cordyceps fungus, is believed to have extremely powerful healing properties such as acting a natural cancer treatment, anti-aging supplement and even an aphrodisiac,” stated Bryan Fyler, Executive Chef of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

Cordyceps Soup at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

The Cordyceps Soup at The Talon Club at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is worth more than its’ weight in gold. Photo Credit: Anthony Mair

Exclusively offered to the clientele of The Talon Club, a VIP private gaming room at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, the Cordyceps soup features black-skinned chicken breast, longan berry, and red date in an earthy, tea-like broth with a quarter ounce of Cordyceps in every bowl. No noodles though.

This soup is priced at just $688 per bowl  a small cost for all those potential benefits (especially if you’re winning at the blackjack table). The restaurant sold approximately 100 servings in 2017.

Well, wouldn’t my mama be tickled to try that!

The Cosmopolitan soars over the Las Vegas Strip.


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Choosing a Place to Stay in Kauai With Kids

Choosing a Place to Stay in Kauai With Kids

When choosing a place to stay in Kauai with kids, parents often think about all the amenities a resort has to offer. Preparing for our recent visit, we took many things into consideration before deciding on Koloa Landing Resort.

Parents like us might view a potential hotel choice to rank their pool activities and other programs geared to children of all age groups. To please ourselves, we might also look into the resort’s restaurant and bar options. I mean, who doesn’t love being served an umbrella drink by the pool in some remote tropical setting?

But since having kids, we’ve found our number one consideration has been if the hotel room has a kitchen.

Koloa Landing Resort sports the biggest and grandest pool on the entire island.

Look for a Working Kitchen

The last thing you want to do is cook every meal for your family while on vacation – I get it. However, when your four year old wakes up at 5 a.m. because of time zone changes and you have to feed her, no restaurants are open that early. When you just want to slip into the room for a break from pool time and you’re a little hungry, you can whip up a quick quesadilla. Or PB&J. Or whatever your kids will eat when they’re being difficult and need the comforts of home.

It’s nice being on the ground floor so the kids can run in and out while parents keep an eye on them.

Save Money

That’s not even mentioning the amount of money you can save. We love to eat out at restaurants – I mean our family LOVES it. But that can get really expensive, particularly when visiting a tourist destination built to serve travelers. Prices can be high, and perhaps we’d rather spend our vacation fund on experiences other than restaurant food.

Shop Local

By shopping at the local grocery store, we get a chance to see what locals eat and perhaps make some of those dishes as well as the hot dogs or mac-and-cheese our kids want. We also help the local economy, putting our vacation dollars into the hands of locals who could use the support. We’ve been consistently pleased by the quality of food we’ve purchased locally and cooked in our hotel room kitchen.

Even better, the local stores always have the freshest and most delicious island fruits, freshly picked and ready to enjoy. Guavas, mangos, papayas, passionfruit, star fruit, bananas and of course pineapples are all available, fresh and delicious.

The grounds at Koloa Landing Resort are beautifully landscaped. Don’t you just want to dive right in?

Koloa Landing Resort

This was the offering done elegantly by the Koloa Landing Resort in gorgeous Poipu, Kauai. A luxurious resort that is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, Koloa Landing Resort offers what can only be described as spacious suites that come complete with fully outfitted, regular sized kitchens. No mini refrigerators or Barbie-sized ovens for these folks – Koloa Landing Resort kitchens even have a dishwasher.

We made scrambled eggs and bacon one morning, oatmeal and toast another morning, and I don’t even know how many quesadillas over the course of our stay. One evening we had a mocktail party before going out to dinner, serving tropical juice to the kids in fancy glasses (okay ours were spiked with vodka). Slices of cheese and salami with crackers was our snack, as we all sat on the lanai to enjoy the Hawaiian view.

Sometimes it’s so nice to just sit and relax while watching the sun set.

 

More and more hotels are offering these room types, and now we look for them wherever we travel. Granted, we don’t do this every time but it does help make things easier especially with younger kids.