There’s no place like home – Delmonico Steakhouse (The Venetian, Las Vegas)

Is there anywhere more romantic than the grand canals of Venice for an evening meal?   This was a second visit for me to Delmonico but it meant so much more as my fiancé was experiencing the wonderful food that a Emril Lasagsse restaurant offers.  Not dissimilar to James Martin, Emril learnt his craft in pastry but swiftly moved on to become a world class chef, passionate about ingredients.

Delmonico Steakhouse opened in 1999 and whenever I speak to fellow foodies while on holiday in Vegas they always rave about this place.  It comes as no surprise that one of the best restaurants in Las Vegas is located it this stunning hotel.

We booked for 9pm and had a short walk from the Mirage and wandered through the beautiful italian styled casino.  We arrived slightly ahead of our reservation and joined other diners in the bar area while our table was prepared.

We ordered some pre-dinner drinks and within 5 minutes our hostess led us into the warmly lit dining room.  I often wondered why this function is needed as the young lady did not carry our drinks not really very hospitable.wp-1477429326702.jpg

We were seated in the first room in with a wonderful view of the main restaurant (the kitchens are tucked away here, so no viewings of the Chefs’ in full throttle). We were welcomed to our table by our waiter, Drew, who advised us of the house specialities for that evening and that Michael would be our Maitre’d guiding us through the menu until our order.

The wine list was the most extensive I have ever seen with plenty of choices for the high rollers.   We selected a reasonable priced Argentine Malbec Casarena Reserva 2012 for $45.00.  This wine is produced by Casarena in Mendoza, the largest region in Argentina for the Malbec grape and this wine is known for its big sweet black fruit flavours.

We moved onto the menu, which as you would expect was not as extensive, but offered an excellent selection to please any carnivore.  For us it was an easy choice, we’d come to a steakhouse and we were not going to take a different direction other than maybe a lighter starter.  wp-1486642771230.jpg

The Maitre’d, Michael returned to take our order of Vine Ripened Heirloom Tomato Salad ($18) to share followed by a glorious Chateaubriand with asparagus and smashed garlic potatoes.

Anyone with OCD look away now, as the sight of this cucumber being slightly right of centre might drive you nuts.   wp-1486634843901.jpgThe amouse-bouche (or if you prefer hors d’eouvre ,some say the former is for a bite size portion but I thought the latter was supposed to be bite sized too) was a slice of cucumber with a blackeye-pea humous; a welcome palate cleanser between our cocktails and malbec.

The bread served gave us a smile and a slight chuckle as their “Mushroom Bread” (as announced)  was indeed a Yorkshire Pwp-1486634780945.jpgudding, maybe not the norm but then we are in Vegas and this city anyting but normal.  The Mushroom Bread was served with a salted butter so possibly the most calorific bread basket I’ve ever been had.  I love butter, but even I draw the line at buttering Yorkshire Puddings!

The atmosphere of Delmonico is warm and cosy despite the size of the restaurant and the front of house team are well-balanced in their style between formal and friendly.  Diners ranged from large tables of men only (clearly on a stag celebration; or should I say bachelor) but not so that it interfered with the smaller tables or couples.  We were within one of the larger alcoves with two other couples and as the tables have good spacing you could hear soft conversation without feeling overlooked (unlike Gordon Ramsey Steak at Paris).

The Heirloom Tomato salad was served just in time to hold off our hunger for the main event.  Priced at $18 a plate I had high expectations for this salad with slices of burrata cheese, red onions, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and slithers of fresh basil. Burrata, meaning buttered, gives you a wonderfully creamier texture compared to mozzarella; a cheese often served with tomatoes, but don’t confuse the two as they are different.

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The salad was divine a fabulous mix of tart, sweet and creamy and a serving more than enough for us to share. I would not normally choose tomato based salads but Delominco’s changed my view and certainly set the bar very high.

We were cleared and waited for our Chateuabriand, a fillet which was raised naturally by Creekstones Farm in Kansas (the home of my favourite fictional heroine).  The term naturally raised is what we in the UK call organic, some cattle in North America can be fed growth hormones and feed which is genetically modified.

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Drew arrived centre stage and presented the Chateaubriand and as flambeau work commenced our fellow diners were drawn to the watch the gentle basting of those rich meat juices over our fillet.  I wondered if these diners, who had opted for the larger portioned creole steaks, looked on with intrigue or envy?

This Kansas reared fillet was as good as any I have ever eaten – no wonder Dorothy uttered those immortal words “there’s no place like home”

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The accompaniments were just perfect; the asparagus was crisp and perky in contrast to the smashed potatoes which oozed a salty butter and warm garlic flavour.  As I write this review a month on I swear I can recall every tender bite and flavour of this simple yet glorious meal.

Despite being tempted with a wonderful sweet menu we had no room for dessert and politely declined.  The team at Delmonico thought better and presented us with a complementary sorbet to cleanse our pallets, a lovely touch to end a fantastic dining experience.   The bill was $198 before a gratuity, about £150 at the time of the exchange rate and worth every penny.

I sit on my couch back in England on this cold autumn day dreaming of our return to this fabulous restaurant or to another Emeril Palace.  Just maybe, if I click my heels, I too can return to savour this fine Kansas beef.

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Happy eating

 

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You can ring my bell – Eight Bells Inn, Chipping Camden (Church St, GL55 6JG)

We walked into this cosy pub in the heart of beautiful Chipping Camden where a warm welcome was chirped from behind one of the six hand pumped beers.  I thought as we entered, we have stuck gold looking around this low-beamed bar complete with a roaring fire but best of all was the fabulous smell of something delicious being cooked in the kitchen.   On first impressions it seemed impossible to not love this  Cotswolds village inn; please don’t let the food change our first impressions.

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The Eight Bells was a welcome relief after only 50 yards from here we first stumbled into the Lygon Arms, which may be a popular Racing UK venue, but the menu and atmosphere was less than enticing.

We found a table and considered as we were dining at 8.00pm at Charingworth Manor later and it was already 2.00pm we order a lighter lunch of sandwiches, but could not resist a portion of their chips.  The decision to choose sandwiches was not an easy one whilst we watched our fellow diners tuck into a huge Lamb Shank and Hook Norton Beer Battered Cod but we stayed strong.

We ordered a couple of pints of the aforementioned Hooky from Hook Norton  the pubs most local brewery (about 20 miles east) and what a great pint of golden and maltyness. The pub is lovely and we pleased to have found a seat across from the a roaring fire.

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Perfect Pint of Hooky by Hook Norton

Did you know that Hook Norton still deliver to some local pubs by Shire Horse and Dray? If you in the area it would be worth checking the Hook Norton site to see if you can see these beautiful horses in action.

This inn was busy with a gentle hum which felt very calming or maybe it was the pint of Hooky giving the soothing effect – either way we had found a real gem in this corner of the Cotswolds which has a fabulous atmosphere.

Our lunches were served and both were presented neatly with no fuss or garnish on the plate. I’m never sure how I feel about a lack of green on a plate but in the interests of zero waste I trust the Chef to waste any leaves (I hasten to add you can top your order for an extra mix of salad and chips).    The chips were golden and tasty – crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

David loved the Brie and Bacon Ciabatta as it had a great balance of filling to bread and was oozing with hot creamy brie over thick slices of quality back bacon.  What was unexpected was the apple chutney which really added to the mixture and made this creamy, meaty sandwich a ten out of ten for him.

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Brie and bacon ciabatta

The rare roast-beef, was as ordered rare, all too frequently we are promised this but served overcooked but not today.  With lots of peppery rocket, and sweet and spicey horseraddish all in a crunchy ciabatta (did you know ciabatta was commercially only introduced to the UK in 1985 by M&S). This was looking good and it tasted good too but the beef was fighting for its place in the flavour race as it was quite thinly sliced. It was a real shame as they advertise the sandwiches as hearty.  On a positive the beef was tender and of good quality.  Just more slice of beef for the £7.95 would have seemed fairer and given a perfectly filled and balanced sandwich.

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Rare roast beef sandwich

The bill was just under £27 for the two of us before a tip so reasonable value. We really enjoyed our visit to the Eight Bells and next time we are going to Cheltenham we will definitely make a point of calling in and trying their main courses.  If we are organised enough (this pub has 6 gorgeous en-suite rooms which book fast) we would like to stay here so we can sample some more of their excellent kept beer.

So if you are a regular visitor to Cheltenham races I would recommend you put this lovely 17th century inn on your list of considerations, with its beautiful setting and 4 star rooms and a concise and varied menu that is reasonably priced oozes confidence .

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Anzac Biscuits; easier to bake than going to the shops

It was an autumnal Sunday afternoon and after watching Super Sunday, which was a disappointing match (that goal was never offside) I decided we needed cheering up with a cup of tea and a treat.  I could not be bothered to go to the shops for a pack of biscuits on this wet and chilly day so I reached for Mary Berry’s bible to find inspiration.

The first one I turned to was Anzac Biscuits.  It was fate as these are childhood favourites of mine and Mum used to make these moreish biscuits on a regular basis. I probably have not eaten these since I was in primary school. These biscuits are now all about comaraderie and the were originally  baked in Australia and New Zealand to honour the soldiers from the battle of Gallipoli. They were great to bake during rationing as the binding agent is syrup instead of eggs and they are super easy to make without any kitchen wizardry. 

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I fired up the oven and greased my fabulous Bake-Off baking sheet; I love this adonised aluminium baking sheet and really regret not buying another back in 2015.

The ingredients you will need are:

  • 150g (5oz) butter cubed (to speed up dissolving)
  • 1 dessert spoon of Golden Syrup
  • 1 dessert spoon of Maple Syrup
  • 175g (6oz) Sugar (split between Demerara and Golden Caster)
  • 75g (3oz) Self-raising flour
  • 75g (3oz) desiccated coconut
  • 100g (4oz) porridge oats
  • Equipment you will need are 3 baking sheets, small or medium pan, cooling racks and small palette knife or spatula.

The method is so simple, it’s easier than going to the shops to buy biscuits – just follow these steps:

  1. Turn your oven on to setting 160°c fan or gas mark 6
  2. Lightly grease 3 baking sheets
  3. Melt the butter, sugars and syrups in a pan and melt until melted / dissolved
  4. Add the dry ingredients (SR flour, coconut, porridge oats)
  5. Mix your dry into your wet ingredients and stir until combined well
  6. Spoon a heaped teaspoon onto trays (about 9 per tray) and pressing each one with the back of a spoon to flatten slightly.wp-1477239462139.jpg
  7. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes.
  8. Once baked (edges will be a golden brown) leave for 2 minutes to cool slightly before moving onto your cooling racks.

Store in an air tight container if you can resist eating them all before they have cooled.

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Louise x

 

Handmade Burger co (Trinity Walk WF1 1QU) 

Needs must sometimes and hunger drove our needs today.  

After supporting the Crofton Library Craft Fair we headed into Wakefield for a bout of pre holiday  shopping. Sadly the two independent cafés were closed so we headed into Handmade Burger Co. 

We were greeted and seated swiftly by our smiley waitress and were offered a run down of how the ordering works, how you can tailor your burger as they are all made to order.

My choice was easy, I opted for the organic offering – Jimmy’s Beef Cheese Classic. I hope it lives up to my expectations.  I was intrigued by the Yorkie burger but i resisted  and played it safe (burger encased in two Yorkshire Puddings).

Drinks were priced as you’d expect at  £4.95 for a Pinto Grigio Rose for 175ml and  £2.85 for the bottomless soft drink..

The burger arrived..

First impressions were good and the escaped chunk of burger I tasted had good flavour just not juicy. My first bite was owned by the amount of onion relish /marmalade dolloped on the burger which was obscene. Once scrapped off,  with the cheese revealed I could taste the burger and my first impressions remained decent flavour but quite dry.

I think the bun could have been better as it crumbled a bit as I tucked in or maybe they could toast the bun that stops the rot. Speaking of rot, not so fond of lettuce which is ready for its new life in the composting bin (see exhibit A).  There was a need for better salad toppings; maybe big beefy tomatoe but this is not a deal breaker.

Overall despite some flaws this is better that GBK and as most chain restaurants the meal priced for two mains with drinks at £28.95 in a city centre is about average centre.   I ewould revisit in a moment of hunger but it’s not going to be a regular haunt.

If you like my blog you can follow me on Twitter.

Louise x

Finished article. Serve immediately with custard, cream or ice cream

All round winner – Jaffa Self Saucing Pudding

Made this first for my Mum’s birthday meal.  My mum doesn’t have the sweetest tooth in the family that belongs to my Dad.  He truly is a pudding / dessert lover…and if he could, he would eat puddings for starters, mains and afters!

They both raved about this pudding, in fact Dad said its the best pudding he’s ever had. Since then David’s parents have enjoyed this  and they have requested this for the Ord family Easter Sunday dinner.  With this in mind I thought it was time to share this wonderful pudding with you.

I first found on the BBC Good Food website and I have made no tweaks as its perfect.

  The Batter

  • 250g self raising flour
  • 140g golden caster sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 100g soften butter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Zest and Juice of 1 orange
  • 3 eggs
  • 150ml Milk
  • 100g orange milk chocolate (I use Terry’s Chocolate Orange)

    The Sauce
  • 200g  light muscovado sugar
  • 25g cocoa
  • 300ml boiling water
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Self Saucing Jaffa Pudding

 

  1. Butter a 2-litre baking dish and heat oven to 160°C fan/gas 4 and put your kettle on.
  2. Put the flour, caster sugar, 50g cocoa, baking powder, orange zest and a pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Chop your chocolate into pieces.

    I aim for pieces about the size of a Cadburys’ buttons give or take; this means you find lovely pieces of half melted chocolate in each mouthful.

  4. Squeeze the  orange juice into a pyrex jug and whisk in the 3 eggs, melted butter and milk.
  5. Pour onto the dry ingredients and mix together until smooth  (it takes about 2-3 minutes in  my Kenwood)
  6. Stir in the chocolate chunks and then scrape everything into the buttered dish
  7. Mix 300ml of boiling water from your kettle with the light muscavodo sugar and remaining 25g of cocoa for the sauce.
    Batter Mix
    Batter mix before your pour the sauce over
  8. Slowly pour this all over the pudding batter which will look very wrong at this stage!

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    Batter covered with the bubbling hot sauce mix
  9. The Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 30 mins or until the surface looks firm, risen and crisp.
    Finished article. Serve immediately with custard, cream or ice
    Self Saucing Jaffa Pudding

     

 

I hope you like this pudding as much as we do and if you do try this please let me know if you make any additions as I’m always looking for new ideas.

Louise x

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