However I am going to break the rule and tell you all about it.
First I want to thank Mary for being such a delightful travel companion, for putting up with my whining when we got suck in the Forum shopping trap from which it seemed there was no way out ... no, seriously ... for being the best driver/photo op spotter: she pulls over as soon as you go OH LOOK ...doesn't get angry when you muck up the GPS but most of all for being my friend.
We arrived at McCarran Airport from our respective hometowns last Wednesday, cabbing to our hotel, Treasure Island (TI) was chosen for the low room rate and location. I said lets sleep cheap (but clean) and spend on food and fun. And we did.
You can not go anywhere in Las Vegas without walking through a casino.
Yes, I wasted $5 whole dollars playing an electronic slot machine without any clue what the heck I was doing but that was it. The rest of my money was spent on fabulous food (and shopping): we had Mexican for lunch the first day, dinner that night was at Rao, if you dont know it, Google it, its one of the oldest Italian restaurants in New York City, almost impossible to get a reservation but in Vegas, Baby, we just walked it, of course it was late but if you think NY is a city that never sleeps, trust me Vegas has been awake longer!
We'd walked all over Vegas, seen almost every hotel lobby and casino and shop, rode on trams, experienced the fire display at the Mirage and the water display at the Bellagio; saw statuesque show girls posing with adults and kids (truly odd), a wedding at the Venetian along side a faux bridge/canal and I discovered there is no such thing as too casual in Vegas.
It was after that that we got lost ... trapped in an endless walkway filled with high end shops of all sorts and all I wanted was to get back to TI and sleep.
Thursday, having our fill of the city, we rented a car and drove out to Springs Preserve an amazing park about 15 miles outside of town where the desert is celebrated with all sorts of flowering plants, trees, cacti and workshops for kids.
On the way back we turned off the annoying GPS and just drove. We had Indian food for dinner at a small local restaurant where we were the only diners but the food was superb. How'd we find it? I downloaded the YELP app!
Driving back into town, because I misentered the destination address on the GPS, we ended up stumbling upon the Fremont Street Experience. Trust me, it is indeed an experience you must see. There's a limited exhibition of some of the old neon hotel signs and I learned shooting at night needs a tripod.
On Friday we drove out to Red Rock Canyon. A 30 minute drive with lovely scenery to keep you from getting bored but nothing compares with the panorama of mountains and desert that literally takes your breath away: so amazingly beautiful, so open, so limitless in feeling.
There's a 13 mile winding drive, first up and then down the mountains the scenic drive has areas along the way to get out and take photos ... or hike ... we saw a guy with two dogs waaaaaaaaaaaay up on top of one of the mountains. We decided we'd leave the hiking to them and stick to the drive and a visit to the visitors center ... I love gift shops.
Back to Vegas to drop off the car, lunch at the Wynn's delicious '8' restaurant for Asian food then a return to TI to relax, refresh and dress for Cirque de Soleil's LOVE at the Mirage. Its an experience that defies description except to say it was superb from start to finish and I would see it again in a heart beat.
It was a wonderful trip in every respect .. well except for that Forum no exit thing ... until ...
I flew JetBlue, love them.
I had free tickets and so I sprung for the 'more room' seats upfront which entitles you to board right after those who have kids or need assistance and you get first crack at the overhead. I was in row 3 and the flight attendant said it was a full plane but it seemed as if no one was claiming the middle and aisle seats in my row, row 3, until this guy boarded, dropped a carry bag on the aisle seat and walked back out.
I intended on sleeping all the way home. I also took xanax to ensure said sleep. I discovered that a 2 year old screaming, crying, climbing in the seat next to you can negate xanax's slumber effect.
The short version of this vent/whine is that Grandma in aisle 4 spent pre-flight time amping up the 2 yr old so that dad could not get him to sit still and/or stop crying and lets face it 4.5 hrs of a restless child is no picnic on or off a plane.
Ten minutes before we were due to land I leaned over the still squirming/screaming child to tell the dad: "I know you have a lot to deal with, but I want off this plane as quickly as possible so be prepared to let me get out and off."
When JetBlue sent its follow up customer survey I offered a suggestion that they designate the last 3-5 rows of each plane for use by people traveling with children. Its closer to the bathrooms with the changing tables and sound does not travel forward.
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Guest cook Mojo sent me this delectable recipe and the accompanying photos ...
Peach-Blueberry Stuffed French Toast
1 large peach
whipped cream cheese (I think the carton was 6 or 8 oz.)
4 slices wheat bread
3 large eggs
A little each of:
maple syrup (okay, a lot of this)
There is no right way to cook. There are, however, a lot of wrong ways. There are no rules. You figure out what will go together, and cook it using the technique best suited to what you're making. In this case I'd heard about "Stuffed French Toast" at some restaurant or other, and started wondering how you'd go about making such a thing. This is what I came up with.
I knew I wanted to do something with cream cheese and fruit. My first choice would have been strawberries and/or blueberries, but the strawberries at the store I went to were pretty scuzzy, and the blueberries -- what there were of them -- weren't much better. But they had peaches. Big, mutant, giant peaches. So I got some of those to replace the strawberries.
Next item on the list was cream cheese. The purist in me wanted to get the old standard brick of Philly cream cheese, but I opted for the whipped stuff for two reasons: (a) it would be easier to mix the fruit into it without destroying it and (b) it would spread easier on bread that wasn't toasted. As an alternative, you could just go get some cream cheese from the nearest bagel place that's already got your favorite stuff in it. But I wanted the fruit identifiable, so I made my own.
The peaches (as I mentioned) were giant mutant peaches, so I only needed one. I sliced off about 10 thin slices to use for a garnish, then diced up the rest to mix with the berries. Then I folded the fruit into the cream cheese, trying not to puree it in the process. (I was mostly successful.)
Next, I spread the fruit/cream cheese mixture on one slice of bread and dropped a second slice of it on top. (I wound up with about 1/3 too much filling, but it'll be good on bagels, so it's cool.) How much filling you use is up to you, I put it on as heavily as I thought I could and still be able to seal up the sandwich.
When it came time to seal it up, I didn't get real carried away. You could crimp the edges with a fork or something, but I was afraid the chunks of peach might poke holes in the bread if I tried to seal it too tight. SO I just pressed the edges together with my fingers and called it a day, figuring that the egg batter would do the rest of the job for me.
Now everybody I know who makes French toast has their own twist on the egg batter and every one of them swears it's THE best way to make it. And they're all right. The "best" batter is the one you like. I'm gonna tell you how I made mine, but you can figure out your own or uses a different recipe if it suits you. As long as it seals up the bread, you can't really go wrong. I started with 3 large eggs. Some people use egg whites, which is a perfectly acceptable substitute. To that I added enough half-and-half to liquefy the eggs. You can use milk, skim milk, soy milk, or even water if that works for you. The only thing you're trying to do is make the batter more liquid so that it mixes and covers evenly. At this point, you can stop adding stuff to your batter and you'd be perfectly fine. You've got all the required elements. But when I do it, I add a little bit of cinnamon to take the edge off the sweetness and a little bit of brown sugar which does two things: (a) it adds flavor and (b) it caramelizes somewhat as the sandwich cooks which gives it a little crispness on the outside. Normally I'd add a dash of vanilla extract too, but on this particular day I discovered -- too late -- that I was out of it. Once you've got all your ingredients together, whip it up so that everything is blended evenly. Some folks like to whip the bejeebus out of it until it's frothy, but I don't see that as necessary. You're not making an omlette here, and there's really nothing to be gained from the extra work.
Next step is to get your cooking surface hot and melt some butter (or some equivalent of it) on it. I have an electric skillet, which I like because it has actual temperatures on the controls rather than "Low-Medium-High". But if you don't have an electric skillet/griddle, a regular skillet on the stove at a medium/medium-high heat works just fine. The idea is not to brown the outside before the inside is hot.
Once your cooking surface is ready, dip your sandwich in the egg batter making sure you coat it completely. Leave this step until now, otherwise your bread will turn to mush which is not what you want. Then drop your sandwich on the griddle/skillet and brown on both sides. If your skillet isn't too hot, the cream cheese will get kind of gooey-melty and the fruit will be hot -- or warm at least once the outside is brown.
Once that's done, top it with your condiments of choice and eat up. When I did it, I put a smear of butter on top, then artfully arranged the sliced peaches from the first step and topped the whole thing off with maple syrup. But feel free to use whatever suits you.