Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Oh The Weather Outside Is

... not bad, actually. Yeah, it's cold--like 40 degrees, but it's clear and there is no wind. Plus I was just up on Whitney Mesa, a piece of property I'd own if I were a billionaire, and there was a huge full moon setting over the Strip. Just an awesome view.

Beautiful, even.

Anyhow, I'm just sitting here waiting for the coffee maker to do it's thing and brew me up a pot of the good stuff, while I try to come up with something interesting to tell you folks. Actually, instead of the usual 'good stuff', I'm making a pot of regular Folgers instead of my normal Don Francisco Hawaiian Hazelnut. Why? Because I just got back from the store where I picked up a bottle of caramel apple coffee creamer, and I wanted to try it out with regular coffee.

I'm a little bummed out right now--about fifteen minutes before my alarm was set to go off last night, my phone was ringing. It was the floorman at work telling me not to come in because the last game had just broken up. That sucked. I'm finally on the schedule for four days this week, and so far, two of them have passed and I've only worked two hours. I need the next two nights to be good, and maybe get called in this weekend, otherwise it's gonna be a pretty lean week for me.

So instead of going to work, I sat up and watched three episodes of The Unit that I'd recorded yesterday. That was one of my favorite shows, but CBS canceled it this season. Somehow, a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across it on a channel I don't watch very often, BET. So I set my DVR to record all episodes. Besides, I came to the party late--I missed the first couple of seasons altogether, so all of the ones I've recorded so far are all new to me.

After working my way through those, I watched a little leftover SportsCenter and the first hour of Mike & Mike before heading off to the grocery store. Not wanting to go over to Wallyworld, I drove over to the newly remodeled Smith's on Sunset & Sunset (those of you familiar with Henderson's oddball geography will know what I'm talking about).

It's all nice and new inside, and they had it totally decked out for Christmas, too. And in the middle of the night, the overhead music seems especially loud. Luckily I'm not one of those scrooges who always complains about Christmas music--I actually like it as long as I can dodge that god-awful Paul McCartney song--so I enjoyed the vibe. And the big promo aisle in the middle of the store had been coated with a few cans of Christmas-flavored air freshener, so it was a complete sensory experience.

In fact, it standing in there for a few minutes, it really took me back a couple of years to the two Christmases in row that I got to spend in Nashville. The smell reminded me of Cyndi's house, as she always had potpourri simmering and scented candles burning. It would be dark by the time I'd get out of the office, then I'd meet Amy for some Christmas shopping and goofing off, and after that I'd head over to Cyndi's place and usually go out to a nice dinner with her and David. Afterward, we'd just chill out and watch a movie or listen to music. Always a good time. I really miss that, too.

But I'm here again this year, so I'm kinda feeling like Andy Dufresne doing time in Shawshank. Except instead of the 'sisters', the economy is the one sticking it to me.


I forgot to mention my dinner with Linda the other night. Since I had to work all night, and be on call the entire next day, and Linda Lou was stuck on an airplane all day, neither one of us were able to celebrate Thanksgiving like normal people do. So we got together Wednesday night and went out to dinner together.

Both of us have been wanting to try Casa di Amore for a long time, so we saw this as our opportunity. It's an old-skool Italian joint over on East Tropicana (right next door to the machine-gun rental place, now that I think about it).

I guess it's been there forever, but I'm not sure. Even if it hasn't, the place just oozes that old-Vegas ambiance. It's brick-walled with stained-glass windows, so it's a little dark inside. There's a moderately sized dining room with a bar in the corner, and that's about it. The cool thing about it is that the walls are all adorned with huge black-and-white pictures of Vegas in the 50s and 60s, so that right there makes it tops in my book.

The menu is basic 'red-sauce joint'--not exactly cutting edge, but that's not what it's about. It's your parent's Italian restaurant. And I mean that in a good way.

They had some really good-sounding daily specials, and we almost bit, but we ended up ordering off the menu, instead. We started off with some twice-wrapped prawns--basically mutant-sized shrimp wrapped in prosciutto and cheese, then wrapped in pastry dough and baked. There was a ramekin of some sort of sauce that came along to provide a little zing, but even plain, it was a very good dish.

I think Linda ordered the eggplant Parmesan, and went with veal Parmesan. Both entrees were served with a side of pasta. I think spaghetti is the standard side dish, but Linda changed hers up and got rigatoni or something like that. Looking over the wine list, I saw that they offered Macmurray Ranch Pinot, something I'd had a few weeks before at the Lee's Wine Experience. So I ordered a glass of that to go with my dinner. Additionally, we got a basket of their garlic loaf--I think I could've just had that and a bottle of wine and I would've been happy.

A little side note about the wine--Macmurray Ranch is a winery that was owned by Fred Macmurray of 'My Three Sons' fame. (I learned all about this at the wine experience). Anyhow, they have two vineyards, one in Napa/Sonoma, and one on the central coast. I tried Pinots from both vineyards that night, and found that I liked the cheaper central coast variety more than the more expensive Napa variety. Anyhow, when they brought out the glass, I could tell that it was the expensive one. Not that it was bad--it was still very good--but I was impressed with myself that my palate had become educated enough to tell the difference between wines from the same winery. A few years ago, all red wine tasted the same to me. Now, I've come to appreciate the different varieties from different vineyards and different regions.

Anyhow, I snapped a couple of photos. I would've taken more, but the restaurant is kind of a low-key place and I felt kind of odd taking pictures.

The food was excellent--I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the place to anyone looking for a decent Italian restaurant. Like I said, it's not fancy or cutting edge and there's no celebrity chef on staff to make it all trendy, but it's still a solid restaurant, and it's actually kind of romantic, if that's what you're looking for. They even have live rat pack-style crooner music every night, too. So we'll be going back again.

I think our tab came to just under $90 for the two of us--pretty reasonable for two appies, two entrees, and a glass of good wine, so if you ever find yourself looking for a decent off-Strip dinner destination, you can do a lot worse than Casa di Amore.

Anyhow, that was the highlight of my Thanksgiving weekend. I ended up working all night on Thanksgiving, so my turkey-day was just another day in my book--work and sleep, that's all.

As far as this week goes, there ain't a whole lot going on. The last couple of times that I've gone out to play poker, I've been running really bad (my last session, I got rivered eight different times by somebody catching a four-outer or less), so my plan is to take this weekend's poker bankroll and buy a couple hundred shares of some cheapo stock, and stay home watching football instead. Gonna take a break from Lady Luck for awhile, I think. (Remember kids, when I win, it's skill. When I lose, it's bad luck... heh.)

Now that I've run out of household projects, I've got to find something else to keep me occupied. Thankfully, I've still got a stack of reading material on the nightstand. I suppose I could curl up on the couch, light a candle or two, turn on some Christmas music, and plow through a couple of books while I wait for the phone to ring.


PS. The verdict on the caramel apple creamer? Two thumbs up!

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