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Serendipity 3, Las Vegas NV

serendipity 3 002

Serendipity 3 is one of those iconic places, a bucket list location for restaurants to visit before kicking it.  The original is in New York, but we’re very lucky to have the West Coast spot in front of Caesar’s Palace.  It’s right on the Strip and it’s world famous for the Golden Opulence Sundae, a Guinness World Records holder, and the Frrrozen Hot Chocolates; because of the fame, be prepared for a wait, but it is well worth it.

crab cake salad

crab cake salad

“Maryland jumbo lump blue crab cake, ruby red grapefruit, avocado, corn & red onions, topped with mache & frisee salad tossed with herb vinaigrette.”  Such was the description of a delicious salad with one of the best crab cakes we have tasted.  The lumps of meat in the cake were sizable, not pureed and turned into cat food.  Its flavor was slightly buttery, and the panko breading and pan frying provided a nice crispy exterior.  The dressing for the salad was very light, so having additional flavors of tart, juicy grapefruit and roasted corn helped to give the salad more body and bring about a sweetness to balance the snappy fresh greens.

"a.b.c." burger

“a.b.c.” burger

Avocado, brie, and caramelized onions as toppings is a new take on a burger that August had to try, and she liked it a lot.  The burger itself was very well seasoned and its char was rich and savory.  Ripe avocado is always appreciated by August the Avocado Aficionado.  The brie melted over the onions creating a sweet gooeyness, that even dribbled over the edge to form its own version of a cheese skirt.  She got it with coleslaw that had the standard dressing, yet was altered flavor-wise by the addition of celery – different and unexpected, but in a good way.

the one & only las vegas strip steak sandwich

the one & only las vegas strip steak sandwich

The bread on Zach’s sandwich was made in the Caesar’s Palace bakery.  It was a buttery, garlicky, European baguette with a crunchy crust, excellent for supporting the meats and cheeses.  He requested the steak medium and it was cooked to the proper temperature, and was also very tender.  The bacon was smoky and crispy, and the eggs were superbly cooked sunny-side up with no slimy egg white and a still-runny yolk.  Two cheeses, cheddar and jack, were copious and melted, therefore quite gooey to counterbalance the other textures present.  This is definitely a carnivore’s dream sandwich, and a hearty breakfast lover’s delight!

"can't say no" sundae

“can’t say no” sundae

Serendipity 3’s humble pie is a dessert, and eating it is nothing like its idiom.  Instead of being made with offal like in medieval times, it has peanut butter and a graham cracker crust.  For the “Can’t Say No” sundae, a slice of it is served with vanilla ice cream, coffee ice cream, banana, peanuts, hot fudge, and whipped cream with a cherry.  August’s first words to Zach were, “Can you start researching peanut butter pie recipes when we get home?”  It was good enough that, because it was so big and we couldn’t finish it, August still wants more when we’re back in California.  The pie itself had a rich and super creamy texture with a deep peanut butter flavor and a light cream cheese aftertaste.  The ice creams were rich and true to their natural flavors.  The whipped cream was extra thick, the peanuts were roasted, and the drizzles of hot fudge and peanut butter sauce were a nice touch, visually and deliciously.

When we got to Caesar’s Palace the valet was nearly booked, but awesome Jen found a spot for our car and even recommended a French bakery on W Charleston Blvd (we will try to go tomorrow on our way out of town).  Another Jen, the hostess at Serendipity 3, secured us a table that provided us a great view of the establishment as well as pretty rose-hued lighting for our photos.  Our server John was kind, warm, and gave us a great recommendation for the crab cake salad.  He told us that he always gets that salad for himself, and he heartily approved of our dessert choice since that’s his favorite, too.  Upon leaving we thanked hostess Jen again, and she also approved of our order and said they were her favorite items – it speaks volumes when the employees can vouch for the food so enthusiastically.

Baskin Robbins, Concord CA

Baskin Robbins is a place of nostalgia for both of us.  August was typically stuck on bubble gum or mint chip, while Zach favored cookies & cream and standard vanilla.  We both got a sweet tooth this Friday evening, and started brainstorming about dessert.  It occurred to us that we hadn’t been to Baskin Robbins in many years, so we figured, could the ice cream be as good as we remembered?  We were much younger and our palates have changed since, so tonight was a mini adventure to go to the Oak Grove Road location.

banana split

banana split

Zach went for a traditional banana split with three scoops, but jazzed it up with lots of fruitiness.  Atop the sliced banana were, left to right in the photo, Wild ‘N Reckless Sherbet, Apple Cinnamon Crisp, and Cherries Jubilee.  Before pumping out whip cream, masterful sundae maker Devin drizzled hot fudge and caramel sauce, and spooned on chunky pineapple preserves.  No unprocessed nuts for Zach, so he opted for rainbow sprinkles and cherries.  The sherbet was a swirl of multiple fruit flavors with tanginess, and it was light in textures therefore refreshing, and 4 oz. have only 160 calories.  The apple scoop was Zach’s favorite of the three, super rich and creamy with a true apple flavor and ribbons of Brown Betty crumble for a contrast in texture.  The cherry ice cream was also rich and creamy (but not as rich as the apple ice cream at 260 calories per 4 oz.), with cherry chunks and a light rum flavor to set off the strong cherry flavor; it clocks in at 240 calories.

reece's peanut butter cup sundae

reece’s peanut butter cup sundae

Also on the Premium Sundae menu was something that wasn’t around when August was young – a fantastic Reece’s peanut butter cup-based marvel.  She would have been gobbling these for years had she known before today of its existence.  Three scoops of vanilla with Reece’s cups mixed in, hot fudge, peanut butter sauce, more crumbled Reece’s cups, and whipped cream combine to make a divine dessert.

ice cream cakes

ice cream cakes

Don’t forget that they have prepackaged quarts and pints, and also ice cream cakes if you’re in a pinch and need a celebratory something.  One of August’s most memorable birthdays from her youth involved an ice cream cake.  Shift leader Devin and trainee Kyle were were friendly, patient, and helpful in building our delicious sundaes.  There are locations in close to 100 countries, and hopefully the one near you will have such warm employees serving your cold delight.

Cloverdale Citrus Festival 2013

Alright, to be perfectly honest, we didn’t pay much attention to the citrus-based parts of the Cloverdale Citrus Festival.  There were orange juice squeezing competitions and cooking demonstrations, but we were overwhelmed by the variety of different festival foods.  Of course there were funnel cakes and corn dogs, but we sought – and found – lots of offbeat food items to share with you.

chicken sandwich in a glazed donut

chicken sandwich in a glazed donut

First stop was Stuffie’s Char-Broiler for a chicken breast sandwich served in a raspberry filled donut.  That’s what the menu said; however, it was more of a raspberry sauce drizzle than a filled donut.  We can thank Paula Dean for the concept of a donut as a bun, since Stuffie’s also offered a hamburger on a “Crispy Creme” (again, as per the menu) and both the hamburger and the chicken sandwich seemed like popular items.  The chicken was your typical grilled chicken, and the total concept is great.  The fresh tomato and lettuce added to the enjoyment of this entree/dessert fusion.

indian taco

indian taco

Bandon’s Best Kettle Korn is known for its namesake, plus a hoard of other sweet fair foods.  At certain events, they told us, they also do entrees, like this Indian taco of fry bread piled with refried beans, seasoned ground beef, lettuce, cheese, tomato, sour cream, salsa, jalapeños, and onions (we asked for ours without onions just as a matter of preference).  They didn’t overwork the scratch-made fry bread dough, which made it tender and crispy.  Fresh vegetables, well seasoned beef, and scratch-made refried beans combined to make for a stellar plate.

making mini donuts

making mini donuts

Watching the Castle Mini Donuts’ mini donut maker was mesmerizing.  They were so tiny and cute, and we got to try a sample before our sundae was done.

mini donut sundae

mini donut sundae

…And here’s Castle Mini Donuts’ mini donut sundae.  You can get it with chocolate syrup or caramel sauce, but you can see we requested both, and boy, was it good!  The donuts were amazing because they were so fresh, moist, slightly crispy, and lightly dusted in cinnamon and sugar.  Zach says these were the best cake donuts he’s ever had since he’s never tried them fresh before, and fresh makes a huge difference.  There were other mini donut related items like a smaller sundae and donuts on their own, but we recommend going all out.

sheftalia gyro

sheftalia gyro

Sheftalia, we learned, is essentially sausage without skin made of pork and/or lamb.  We tried pork and lamb in a gyro from Ultimate Souvlaki.  Served like traditional style with tzatziki sauce, tomato, and onions, the sheftalia was the strong flavor of the gyro, as it should have been.  The meat is hand mixed and formed with herbs and spices, then wrapped in caul fat.  Caul fat was listed on the menu but we didn’t know what it was – probably a good thing or else we might have been a little scared!  Now we know since we do our research for writing our blog, and we’re proud to add it to the list of interesting foods we’ve tried.

loaded jalapeños

loaded jalapeños

Jalapeño poppers are one of Zach’s favorite fried food items, and Full of Flavor Catering delighted us.  These loaded jalapeños were definitely loaded: cream cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, and bacon!  The crust was lightly seasoned and the ranch dressing was home-made, not from a bottle.  They were cooked perfectly, just like poppers should be – crispy outside, tender jalapeño inside that doesn’t slide out in one bite, the filling was creamy and cheesy, and no single component overpowered another.

mocha freeze

mocha freeze

August was getting thirsty but also wanted some caffeine for our drive home, so we tried Java 2 You’s “famous mocha freeze,” a “delicious blended mocha prepared with rich chocolate and creamy soft serve ice cream.”  The soft serve put this over the top, making the drink so smooth and decadent.  Zach noted that they used real coffee in the mix, adding a naturally acidic kick.

gourmet cupcakes

gourmet cupcakes

We walked by Starting From Scratch‘s stand when we entered the event and promised ourselves we would get some cupcakes on the way out.  Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect, as they were starting to run out by the time we came back!  We wish we lived in their radius around Windsor since they deliver, and they have a lot more than the cupcakes we saw today at the festival.  We picked out six to take home, ranging from champagne to Irish car bomb, chocolate peanut butter cup and their famous apple walnut caramel.

Our overall thoughts on the festival itself were that there weren’t enough citrus-related things to call it a Citrus Fair.  It would have been nice if, say, for every five regular food items the sixth would be citrus-based, -infused, or -inspired.  However, it’s one of the first fairs of the year and we had beautiful weather, so clearly everyone came out to enjoy the day.  The crowds of people made it difficult to walk around at times, but who could fault them?  We all wanted to try some amazing food today.