Sunday, October 28, 2012

Spooky Cake Pops

Have you been “BOOed”? I’ve seen the trend going around in year’s past, but finding some coffee cake and a printable on my desk marks this as my first year participating. To “BOO” someone you leave a treat on their desk (or at their door if you’re doing this in the neighborhood) along with a copy of the instructions (which can be printed out here). That person then makes a copy of the instructions and leaves them, along with a treat, on two more desks/doors. The goal is for the holiday cheer to spread around to everyone by Halloween.

The treats themselves are a fun way to get creative. Since you’re choosing who the recipient is you really have a chance to get personal and leave them something you know they would enjoy. For me the choice was easy. If you know me, you know I’m hooked on The Market LV at Tivoli Village. Upstairs, Cupkates by Kate occupies a charming cupcake-themed space filled to the brim with everything from the sweets themselves to some adorable charm jewelry. They recently started carrying some holiday-themed cake pops that are as cute as they are delicious. Moist vanilla cake mixed with frosting and enrobed with either white chocolate or colored jimmies depending on the style. Yum. When I saw these I knew I couldn’t resist.

Some other fun ideas? Split a batch of homemade pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Grab a muffin from a favorite local bakery to greet your coworkers when they get there in the morning. Hit up a thrift store for some Halloween-themed mugs and pair them with a packet of hot cocoa or apple cider. Put together a mini-bag with a few pieces of their favorite bite sized candies.

What Halloween treat would you most like to find on your desk come Monday morning?

Purple Monster Cake Pop

Launching: Baubles and Bites

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Over the past six months I’ve been slowly working on this space. It’s been something of a whirlwind year. I found a job I’m passionate about. I’m starting to feel comfortable in my own skin for the first time in my life. I was in an accident that shook up my life both physically and emotionally. I’ve redefined priorities. It left me thinking about where blogging fit in with those priorities. I’ve had a web presence of some sort for the past ten years, but in the past two it’s become more and more of an afterthought. I’ve missed it. I’ve missed the community of people who are just as passionate as I am. I miss nerding out about this awesome new cheese that I just tried. I miss finding support an encouragement from all over, and I miss giving out that encouragement in return.

It’s taken a shift in some priorities, but I’m back. For those of you that don’t know me (which, let’s face it, is probably most of you), my name is Erica. I work at a church as a ministry assistant and I co-run our coffee shop. I live in Las Vegas, Nevada; a city that allows me the luxury of indulging in my passion for good food. As you’ll come to know, I also have a passion for all things local and handmade. For good books. And more than all of that, for stories. One of my greatest joys is seeing someone’s passion get lived out. This excerpt from Luc Besson says it better than I ever could,

You need to have all your senses open. You need to keep yourself in life, real life… Most of the rich people I’ve met are boring.

I have so much more fun with my boulanger. When I go at 6am for my croissants, the guy’s so passionate about his croissants. “Oh, you must try this one, because this morning I changed the butter!” The guy’s passionate.

Watching old people in the park, talking about their lives. That’s where it comes, from food and talking. I sat on the plane over here with a guy who studied cancerous molecules. He talked for eight hours about it, and I was amazed - the science, and how they separate the molecules, you know? That’s where it comes from. It’s fed from all these people who come from life.”- Luc Besson

And that’s what this space is. A place for me to indulge in my passions. To celebrate the stories that other people are living out around me. What does this mean? Like my sub-heading says, “Eats and treats from Las Vegas and beyond.” Restaurant reviews (which really means more of me nerding out about flavor combinations). Favorite shops. Books. Recipes. Photographs. Stories. Life. This blog is my way of having “all of my senses open.” I’m excited to share this new journey with you.

Welcome to my little corner of the web. As I have been mostly absent from the blogging world for a while now, I want to know: what are your favorite blogs? Whose stories leave you feeling inspired? I'm ready to do some exploring.

Bottles and Burgers

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Originally posted on February 10, 2012.

Sometimes you just need a good burger. The keyword here is good. I’d been trying to satisfy the craving with mediocre (and worse) fast food fare, it wouldn’t quit. So off to Bottles and Burgers it was. I had been there once before without my camera, but I wasn’t going to make that mistake twice.

Stepping into the restaurant you may notice that the atmosphere is having something of an identity crisis. Trust me when I say to overlook this; the dining room is bright and open and the chairs are comfortable. Also important, at least in my book? The staff is friendly and clearly in love with the food they are working with. Very few things make me more excited at a restaurant than an engaging waitress that is willing to offer up sincere opinions on the menu options.

Vignette Wine Country Soda in Rosé

I started off the afternoon with a Vignette Wine Country Soda in Rosé. I couldn’t resist the idea of what is essentially a designer grape soda made with the grapes they would use in making that varietal in wine. I wasn’t disappointed either. This had all of the bright, fresh tang of a rosé without the burn (and price tag) of its wine counterpart. The perfect thing on a warm afternoon.

Block Sixteen

Moving on, the Block Sixteen caught my eye immediately. Caramelized onions and aged cheddar? Sign me up for that. This was complete burger perfection. Well-seasoned beef balanced by the casual sweetness of the brioche and onions. Sharp notes of aged cheddar playing off of the heat of the chipotle aioli. Perfection. This may be a personal thing, but I loved the balance of textures too. The heavier patty (please go with their recommendation of medium!) against the airy brioche left me feeling satisfied, but not sluggish. The crisps were a pleasant surprise, particularly as fries are a la carte on their menu. Thin, crisp, and mildly spicy; the potato flavor shines through.

Mini Cherry Cupcake

Since I opted out of the fries in this case, I decided to treat myself to a little something sweet. Worth it! I had the mini-cherry cupcake with almond cream cheese frosting. Despite being small in stature, this dessert packs a flavor punch. Again, it was the perfect balance between dense frosting and a wonderfully tender cake. The fresh, juicy cherries studding the cake were a welcome addition; I was expecting a more typical addition of dried cherries. Though, at this point I should have known better than to expect the expected. The bittersweet cherries were balanced bliss against the sugary sweet almond frosting. The perfect sweet bite to finish off a wonderful meal.

For me, a perfect meal is something that engages all the areas of flavor and Bottles and Burgers had that in spades. At the entrance of Tivoli Village, this is a new reason to become a regular at what is already one of my favorite places in the city.

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