Archive for October, 2009

Fall Beer Sampler

October 31, 2009

Or, how I spent my Halloween.

Tyranena Painted Ladies Pumpkin Spice Ale

Tyranena Painted Ladies Pumpkin Spice Ale

I wasn’t getting so much of a pumpkin spice vibe from this one, but it still was quite enjoyable. It had a nice toffee color and a toffee/caramel flavor. The first few sips had a hoppy finish, but the last few sips had a very creamy, sweet finish with just a touch of hops. It was very smooth.

Shipyard Pumpkin Ale

Shipyard Brewing Company Pumpkinhead Ale

It had a light golden color, and it smelled very spicy, and it had a crisp taste with a strong and sweet cinnamon spice flavor. It was closer to a cider than to a beer (even though it’s technically an ale). I wasn’t really feeling the cider vibe, but if you’re in the mood for cider or something sweet and light, this might be a good seasonal choice.

Lakefront Brewery Pumpkin Spice Lager

Lakefront Brewery Pumpkin Lager

I thought this was the best of the lot. It embodied the spirit of pumpkin beer. It had a strong spice flavor to it (more like clove than cinnamon), was a nice amber color, and had a deep, rich flavor.

Advertisements

Vegas/Arizona Trip – October 2009, Day 6

October 31, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We had breakfast at the Mandalay Bay buffet. They had good bacon, along with tasty biscuits and gravy, but their fruit selection was sparse (where were the fresh berries?) and the fish was dry (except the lox in the eggs, which was good).

We checked out of our sweet suite, and went to the airport. Because we were flying to Arizona, we left out of the C gates. They looked old and in need of a makeover, although we saw two new things: the Sammy Hagar cantina and some eBay slots. I was surprised the Hagar cantina wasn’t in one of the newer gates, and I was surprised that the eBay slots were there because those are relatively new, but they might be on their way out now.

I put one last $20 through a video poker machine but lost it quickly.

We flew Southwest for the first time. We paid the extra $10 to get into the A group for boarding (so we didn’t have to arrive at the airport as early). My row was full, but after a man took the window seat in Tim’s row, he tried to look surly so nobody would sit next to him. The flight to Phoenix was short (only about an hour and 15 minutes).

We picked up our rental car at the airport and drove to our hotel in Glendale. The hotel was within walking distance of the University of Phoenix Stadium, which is why we chose that location.

We had dinner at Gordon Biersch Brewery. For an appetizer, we had pretzels with two kind of mustard sauce. We were very hungry, so the pretzels were extra good. I had a strawberry mint lemonade and some fish tacos, which were also good.

We went back to the hotel and napped for an hour before the show, then walked across the street to the venue.

University of Phoenix Stadium

I’d seen pictures of the stage, but couldn’t believe the size of it, even in person. It was almost as big as our suite at THEhotel.

University of Phoenix Stadium

Instead of trying to get close to the stage or the walkway, we hung back towards the center of the stadium. We sat down before the opening set because we were still pretty worn out from our Vegas adventure.

The Black Eyed Peas were the opening act, and they were an odd fit for U2, but by the end of the set, they really got the crowd into it.

They began with a futuristic green head declaring that this is “the E.N.D.” which is also the title of their latest album. Then they started with “Let’s Get It Started” (clever!). They used the giant video screen hanging from the spiderlike set, and they also had a laser show that projected onto the back wall of the arena.

Black Eyed Peas

Lasers

Fergie was wearing some sort of fur vest thing over a silvery dress. She performed “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” one of her solo hits, and let the audience do most of the singing.

Black Eyed Peas

Then the full band returned for “Where Is the Love?” and Will.i.am proclaimed his love of music, to which Tim responded, “If you love music so much, why are you doing this to it?” (He’s not a fan.)

Black Eyed Peas

The last song was “I’ve Got a Feeling,” which was the highlight of their set. The audience got really pumped up and was dancing and singing along.

Black Eyed Peas

I do have to say that I’m extremely disappointed that they didn’t do “My Humps,” because I was hoping to say that I had seen that song live. Another thing that stays on the bucket list, I suppose.

Between sets, we went to get some food from one of the vending areas in the concourse from the slowest booth in the world. (And the guy at the register had the nerve to ask for a tip! Not happening.)

We noticed people being let into the center part of the set (between the stage and the walkway) and we could have chosen to go in there, but we didn’t feel like being squished like sardines. It was kind of a weird way to see a show, because for the previous two shows, we’d been in the middle of the crowd, loudly singing and dancing along, and for this show we were observers more than participants. Not that it wasn’t a good show, but it was just a different experience.

U2 performed the standard setlist that they’d been playing throughout the tour, a mixture of classics and songs from the new album.

U2

The set really came to life for U2. They played “Space Oddity” before they came onstage, alluding to the giant spaceship-like thing they’d built to play on.

They had bridges from the main stage to a walkway, and the bridges moved from the sides of the stage to the center.

U2

U2

They lowered and raised the video screen, and even expanded it like an accordion during “The Unforgettable Fire.” One of the diamond-shaped pieces of the video screen was out, but it was still a magnificent piece of technology.

U2

They also used it to showcase their bobbing heads during a remix of “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight.” I wonder if this means they’ll be returning to a Zooropa-like sound on their next album?

U2

It was interesting how this contrasted with the Fountains of Wayne show we saw on our first night. That show was small and intimate, and there were no stage effects whatsoever. This show was all about the spectacle and the video screens, and the venue was enormous. U2 are still great performers and excellent songwriters, but this was just a different experience for me. It wasn’t as emotional, but it didn’t prevent me from appreciating what was before me.

Vegas Trip – October 2009, Day 5

October 31, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Because we’d been up until 2:30 the night before, we didn’t awaken until 9:30. We still had the rental car, so we drove to Planet Hollywood (parking at Paris due to the construction on Harmon) and had Earl of Sandwich for brunch.

I had an Earl’s lemonade with Earl Grey Tea and my favorite, the All-American sandwich.

All-American at Earl of Sandwich

We played more video poker and some Gold Fish slots.

As a testament to my husband’s love for me, he drove half an hour out of his way to the refurbished Silver Slipper sign.

We passed some idiots taking pictures in the middle of the road across from Wynn and Encore. They were standing in the middle of the left lane of Las Vegas Boulevard, and were about to get run over for the sake of a picture.

The placement of the restored signs north of downtown made me wonder if people would do similar dumb things to get pictures of themselves with the signs, which were on the strip of concrete separating the two sides of the road. However, because the signs are fairly far from most of the tourist areas, they might not be as big of a draw.

We drove back down The Strip to grab some snapshots of the Las Vegas sign, which now has a parking lot to prevent picture-taking roadkill. The sign, like the others, used to be in the middle of the road, and people would dash across to get pictures of themselves with the iconic sign.

We went back to the room to rest and change before dinner (driving takes a lot out of you).

We took a taxi to Encore. The driver (like the others we had this trip) made a time-saving move on Frank Sinatra Drive during rush hour, allowing us to have time for a drink at the High Limit bar before our dinner reservations at Sinatra. We were serenaded by Baby Spice, whom I always hear when I visit a Wynn property.

Drink Menu at Encore High Limit Bar

I had The Peared Ginger. I thought I’d pass on the Millionaire Margarita. Maybe next time.

The Peared Ginger at Encore High Limit Bar

Tim ordered the Cranberry Mojito. Both were light and refreshing and delicious.

Cranberry Mojito at Encore High Limit Bar

We were going to ask for the Asian Equation, which our friend Steve had heard was supposed to be served at every bar. He inquires at every Wynn restaurant, just for kicks, even though he doesn’t drink.

We had dinner at Sinatra, which was so lovely and wonderful that it deserves its own post.

Because Tim is a nice guy, he agreed to accompany me to the Manolo store. On the way, we went into the Taste of Wynn store in the esplanade between Encore and Wynn. Each area of the shop represented a restaurant, and the area was divided into three columns: ingredients, smaller tools, and large kitchen accessories. It was a nice concept, allowing people to take a taste of their meal home or a portion of the kitchen.

We stopped in the Manolo store in the Wynn esplanade so I could fondle some footwear. I particularly lusted after the Carolyne and Tuccio models, but left (as usual) without buying anything. The saleswoman was really nice, and we chatted with her for a few minutes about topics other than shoes, so Tim’s time in there wasn’t too painful. I hope.

We took a taxi from Wynn to the Paris Diamond Lounge, where we hung out with Sal and Michael until they closed down.

We did some gambling in Paris, then it was back over to Planet Hollywood to give the deuces one more shot. I switched to Bonus Poker, then Megabucks (I have to try it at least once), then Gold Fish slots.

I was starting to get tired, so I tried a Rockstar energy drink mixed with vodka. It tasted OK (better than Red Bull), but it had no effect on my growing desire to sleep, so we took another taxi back to our palatial suite.

Vegas Trip – October 2009, Day 4

October 31, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tim played video poker at Planet Hollywood as I slept in. He was sitting at the machines when a large woman dressed in bright pink approached him. She asked him how he was doing, and because he was so focused on gambling, he didn’t realize who she was and answered “fine.” She then asked him if he wanted to have a good time up in his room and touched him on the arm. Snapping out of his gambling zone for a minute, he told her to go away. Five minutes later, he hit a royal flush. Now he calls her his lucky prostitute.

I had a gift card for Lettuce Entertain You, so we treated ourselves to breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi. We sat at a table outside near the doors.

Tim ordered the omelet with turkey and avocado.

Omelet at Mon Ami Gabi

I had the egg, bacon, and cheese crepe.

Crepe at Mon Ami Gabi

We split a chocolate bacon waffle.

Bacon Chocolate Waffles at Mon Ami Gabi

All the food was fresh and delicious and light. Tim said he didn’t get much of a bacon taste from the waffle, but the bacon must have been hiding in all my pieces. I didn’t even use the syrup or whipped cream, because the waffles themsleves were sweet enough.

We went back to play video poker at Planet Hollywood. As I was playing my usual nickel machine, I drew four deuces on the bottom line for a tidy $150 profit. I was quite excited.

We checked out of Paris and took a cab to THEhotel. We were fully expecting to check our bags until the room was ready,. The woman at the reception desk said that they didn’t have any rooms ready at that time, and they had a limited number of the rooms we’d booked. She went into the back room to check on something, and we thought it could be really good or really bad. She emerged a few minutes later and thanked us for waiting, and she told us she was able to get us a larger room. We tipped her $20 and thanked her profusely.

We got room 60903, which is one of their L suites. THEhotel has suites for each letter in “hotel,” with the suites getting progressively larger toward the end of the word. If you flip this picture, here’s a drawing of the layout.

It was a huge suite with many places to entertain.

As you walked into the suite, there was a small bathroom on the left.

There was a giant living room/entertainment area in front of us. On the right was a couch facing a flat-screen TV. Next to that was an area with some chairs. Across from that was a desk in an alcove. Next to the chairs was a dining room table with several chairs. Across from the dining room table was a bar area. There was an extra door next to the bar, which was handy for refilling ice. Here’s a long shot of the living/entertainment area.

The bedroom was also huge. There was a couch and a TV near the entrance of the bedroom. There was another TV across from the bed. There was also a TV above the tub, for a total of four TVs in the suite.

The bathroom was separated from the bedroom by a screen that could open and close. The bathroom contained a whirlpool tub, a steam shower (which Tim greatly enjoyed after a few nights of boozing), two sinks, a toilet, and a bidet. (A post on proper bidet use is coming shortly.)

We had a lovely view of Palms and Rio.

The suite was so large it was three times the size of the main floor of our house. If I was standing in the bedroom and Tim was standing on the opposite end near the bar, we couldn’t hear each other talk. It was crazy, but wonderful.

After absorbing the hugeness of our room, we drove to M Resort for lunch. M is nicely decorated, and it reminded me of Red Rock.

The buffet was outstanding. It offered a wide variety of Asian options (there were five Chinese/Thai salads alone, along with sushi, stir fry, noodles, and several other offerings). The meal came with a complimentary glass of wine or beer. I got a glass of cabernet, and Tim got a glass of lager from their in-house brewery. The lager was very good.

The dessert bar was the most impressive thing.

Desserts at M Resort Buffet

They had every kind of dessert imaginable– sorbet, pie, cake, tarts, you name it.

Dessert at M Resort Buffet

I settled on panna cotta, creme brûlée, and tiramisu. They were all delicious, and I managed to finish each of them.

Desserts at M Resort Buffet

On our way back to THEhotel, we stopped at The Liquor Outlet to get beverages for THEbash we were having that night. The guy at the store was extremely helpful. He pointed us to the Food 4 Less up the road for food and other supplies.

We hauled our stuff up to the room with help from the bellhop. I was really impressed with the service at THEhotel. Everyone had been very friendly and willing to assist us with any questions.

We set up the room, then had a quick dinner at House of Blues. We changed into our party clothes (including an ill-advised pair of four-inch purple suede heels that looked fabulous but made my feet ache after about 20 minutes). Guests arrived, and the rest of the evening, like the evening before, was a happy blur.

Honestly, I tried to write up some highlights of the party, but I don’t think “jizz crockpot” and “squeal like a pig” and “save Mike E’s taint” would make sense to anyone other than the attendees. The night was one of the best nights I’ve ever spent in this town, though.

Vegas Trip – October 2009, Day 3

October 26, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

When I awoke, I realized that my stomach wasn’t too happy with me. I slept later than usual, then we went downstairs to the Paris buffet for nourishment. It’s not a must-visit buffet for us like it was a few years ago, but it was what I needed at the time– some eggs, toast, bacon, and orange juice.

We played more video poker at Planet Hollywood, and I hit four deuces again, to my surprise and joy. Again, I was able to play a long time. Sitting in one spot and rehydrating and recharging was good for me.

I also played some new slots based on the Pong and Breakout video games. They were quite fun even though I’m not very good at Pong. And they boosted my self-esteem.

Pong Machine at Planet Hollywood

I was ready to hop back on the alcohol train, so we headed to the Paris Diamond Lounge. I started with a Mandarin Press and then moved on to a Colorado Bulldog. Sal gave us a Mudslide shot to clear our sinuses and send us on our way.

We went up to our room to change, then took a taxi over to Palms for the big Podcast-a-palooza event. Here’s a recording of our segment.

We met lots of people and had a great time. It was all a happy blur, just like last year, although we had more of an idea what to expect. And when everyone applauded during our intro, I teared up again.

After the show, we went to Society for dinner. We got a scenic tour of the Spring Mountain Road exit from Brandie, who was kind enough to give us a ride to Encore.

We had the mac ‘n’ cheese bites with truffle sauce as an appetizer, in addition to the pretzels with mustard sauce they provided for the table. Tim and I each had the salmon for our entree, which was a disappointment as it was a bit dry and didn’t have much flavor. Then again, my stomach was still fluttering with nerves from the show and the beverages from the night before and that afternoon.

We checked in early that night, but not before observing the free parade of shiny people in Encore waiting to get into XS, the nightclub. I’ve never seen so many short, tight skirts in my life.

Vegas Trip – October 2009, Day 2

October 26, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

After last night’s fantastic show, I had Fountains of Wayne songs popping in and out of my head for the next few days, like a soundtrack for the trip. I also heard a guy yelling “Troubled Times!” but that was only during my occasional loss at the machines.

We awoke in room 3164P, a Lyons suite at Paris Las Vegas. Last night, when we were checking in, Tim asked the clerk if there were any suite upgrades available, and luckily for us, there were. It was a smoking room, but we didn’t mind.

The suite had double doors which opened to an entryway with a small bathroom (toilet and sink) off to the side. Directly in front of us was a living room/dining area with a couch on one side and a dining table and desk on the other. Past the couch was the bedroom, with a TV that rose from and sank into an armoire at the end of the bed. There was a chair next to the bed, and above the chair was a picture of a chair. This amused me, for some reason. To the left of the bed was a small hallway containing a sitting area with a large mirror. This led to the bathroom, which had a separate shower and soaking tub. To the right of the tub was a sink, and to the right of that was a small room with a bidet and toilet. (More on proper bidet etiquette later.)

We had a nice view of the Strip and a partial view of the Bellagio fountains.

After basking in our glorious digs, we went next door to Planet Hollywood for breakfast at Planet Dailies. We both ordered the salmon omelet, which was delicious.

Salmon Omelet at Planet Dailies

We started gambling immediately after breakfast, and I was rewarded for my efforts by hitting four deuces on deuces wild. Yeah, it was nickels and a $50 payout, but it allowed me to gamble for a long time without losing, and that was my goal.

We walked down to O’Shea’s and had some morning beverages there (Bloody Mary for Tim and a Brown Cow for me). We continued down the Strip to Casino Royale, where we were disappointed at their shirt selection. We were hoping to find a blue shirt for Tim to match his black and red flaming dice shirt from last year. Oh, well. He wasn’t too concerned.

We tugged on the doors of Lagasse Stadium on the outside of Palazzo, but they were locked. We went inside and wandered around for a while before we found it. I was impressed with the place. It was quiet during our visit but it seemed like it would be a fun place to watch a game. It had several levels with comfortable seating and large video screens, and four different bars.

Lagasse Stadium at Palazzo

We played some video poker at Casino Royale and ordered a couple vodka and sodas (my downfall for the day).

As we walked past Flamingo, we noticed some guys handing out nightclub passes next to the usual pornslappers. The nightclub guy described his passes as a “titty buffet.”

We went to the Paris Diamond Lounge where Sal welcomed us with drinks, starting with a homemade Alize. Next up was a martini with Malibu, butterscotch schnapps, mandarin vodka, pineapple juice, and cream. It was light and refreshing and delicious.

Drinks at Paris Diamond Lounge

Our friend Brian was carousing in the vicinitey, so we met him on the way to Planet Hollywood and sat at the Extra lounge playing more video poker. We all needed to be hydrated, so when we were in the ABC Store picking up water, we saw this:

Horniest Goat Weed

We parted ways with Brian and had a late lunch at The Pub at Monte Carlo. They had several beers on tap. I chose a Delirium Tremens (because there’s nothing better for you after a day of drinks than a beer with 9% ABV), while Tim had Stella. We each had burgers and fries. They were tasty and filling, and definitely met our needs. But the burger was not life-changing like the burger at Bradley Ogden, for example.

Burgers at The Pub at Monte Carlo

The room was sparsely decorated and felt like a warehouse, so there wasn’t a lot of atmosphere to the place, and I would think it would get loud when it was crowded. I wouldn’t rule out returning if I happened to be in the area and had a need for some beer and some burgers, though.

We met our friends Hunter and Megan at a bar at Bellagio, which is funny considering we almost got kicked out of the place for being too rowdy a couple years ago. We had a good time catching up (and how I wish we could see them more often). Then they were off to dinner, and we went back to our hotel briefly before meeting some more friends at Bill’s Gambling Hall, Saloon, and Shootery. I did myself no favors by losing track of the number of vodka/sodas I consumed as we hung out with Dave, Olonzo, Robert, Mark, Mark’s friend whose name I can’t recall, Bob, and Beth, but I had a great time.

Vegas Trip – October 2009, Day 1

October 24, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Flights had been delayed all day due to weather (snow for the third time in a week) and runway construction. Tim had been watching the flights carefully online, so we were able to wait for a few hours in the comfort of our own home instead of at the airport. We watched the balloon boy coverage on TV as I did some last-minute cleaning and packing. Tim hypothesized that the boy had never been in the balloon and was hiding out because he knew he was in big trouble.

We had dinner at the restaurant in the Humphrey Terminal, and started the trip off with a couple relaxing vodka/sodas. As we were eating, we overheard someone say they’d found the balloon boy in the attic and Tim exclaimed, “I knew it!” We both hoped his prognostication skills would serve him well in Vegas.

After we boarded the plane, the pilot announced with a sigh that Joe Biden was in town and that we’d have to wait for 30 more minutes to take off. Luckily, the delay was only 15 minutes, but the plane departed 4 hours and 15 minutes after its scheduled time.

We had tickets to the Fountains of Wayne show at 11:00 that night, and we wondered how close we were going to cut it.

We landed safely and had a good cab driver who knew the fastest way, and we had little traffic. We checked into Paris (more about our fabulous room later), changed clothes, and were on our way.

We had another good cab driver who bypassed some traffic on Harmon and got us to the Hard Rock in record time. We arrived at Wasted Space at 10:45, just in time to grab a couple drinks at the bar and find a spot near the stage.

The club is small– it only holds about 450 people. The back is lined with couches and seating for bottle service. The stage is directly in front of you as you enter, and there is a bar to the right. Outside the club is an annex with lounge chairs, and I almost walked in there by mistake.

As we were waiting for the band to start, we noticed an odd sight: Three generations of Ed Hardy. There was Ed Hardy, a middle-aged man with glasses and an Ed Hardy polo. There was Ed Hardy, Jr., a man in his 20s with the same polo but a matching belt. Then there was Ed Hardy’s mom, a gray-haired woman in her 60s who was rocking a t-shirt.

Normally we call the shirts “douchecapes” but these people seemed very non-douchy. Normally, you see this gear on people waiting in line outside Pure or XS or Tryst or one of the bazillion nightclubs and ultralounges in Vegas. I don’t think this gang would have been allowed in any of those places. When your mom is wearing Ed Hardy gear, it’s the beginning of the end of the trend. This is one trend death we’re happy to report.

The Fountains of Wayne show had been billed as an acoustic concert, but the band didn’t disappoint us by plugging in, even though my ears were ringing for hours afterwards. I was three people from the front of the stage, and I was in power pop heaven. When we saw their acoustic show this summer, I remembered thinking how much fun it would be to see them perform an electric show, and my wish was granted.

IMG_0267

They mentioned that they’d been playing acoustic shows in places like “cultural centers” and they thought they’d balance that out by playing in a casino. I wanted to yell out “I was there!” or at the very least ask them if they remember the Cedar Cultural Center smelling like patchouli or if they’d found any stray beard hairs in their gear, but I didn’t. They had enough shenanigans to deal with, because the drunk guy in front of me wearing the Teenage Fanclub shirt yelled out, “Troubled Times!” every time the band finished a song. For example, they introduced “Hackensack” as a song about a town in New Jersey, the dude yelled out “Troubled Times!” and Adam responded that the town was not called “Troubled Times.” They were good-natured about it, and even included the song in the encore (and that was the point where I melted into a puddle of goo in the middle of the floor, after having my soul leaving my body at least 10 times before).

IMG_0265

***

Songs they played, not in any particular order, and I’m sure I’m leaving some stuff out:

No Better Place

Someone to Love

Mexican Wine

Red Dragon Tattoo

The Summer Place (unreleased, but available on YouTube Records)

Leave the Biker (dedicated to the biker rally that was in town)

Sink to the Bottom

Hey Julie

Hackensack

Bright Future in Sales

Radiation Vibe (with bits of Jet Airliner, Let’s Go, Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 1, and Reunited thrown in)

Encore:

Stacy’s Mom

Troubled Times

***

Wasted Space was a great venue. If you have a chance to see a band there, I would highly recommend going. It’s such an intimate place. I was five feet from the stage the whole time, and I felt like they were singing right to me. The staff was friendly, and the club didn’t have the exclusive vibe that some of the other Vegas clubs have. I felt very comfortable there and had a great time. The show was a wonderful way to kick off the trip.

Want to see more pictures? Here’s the Flickr set.

The Gaslight Anthem

October 15, 2009

The Gaslight Anthem, with Frank Turner, The Loved Ones, and Murder by Death at The Cabooze, Minneapolis

We’d been waiting for over six months for this show. We were originally scheduled to see The Gaslight Anthem at The Varsity Theater, but they had to cancel due to lead singer Brian Fallon’s abscessed tooth, after he fought his way through the show the night before. I can’t blame them at all, though. It just stretched out the anticipation.

The Cabooze is a narrow venue, with the stage near one end. Sight lines can be tricky, so we got there fairly early for a spot where we had a good view of the stage.

We were very impressed with Frank Turner, who opened the show with an acoustic set. He played passionate yet catchy songs that were a good blend of punk and folk. We also enjoyed The Loved Ones, who had a fun set of punk-influenced songs.

Going to the bathroom was quite an adventure. Because we had placed ourselves on the opposite end of the bathrooms, I had to weave through a mass of people wedged in a narrow space to get there. It was like running a gauntlet. But I accomplished my mission before the main set began.

I tried to take some cell phone pictures of The Gaslight Anthem, but how do you take a picture of joy? And how do you capture the enormity of the moment? The wait had definitely paid off. They opened with “High Lonesome,” then launched into “Casanova, Baby!” which is one of my favorite songs ever. The band looked like they were enjoying themselves, and the crowd was completely into it. One guy turned to the group around him and thanked all of us for singing along. We all were pumping our fists and raising our glasses in the air and singing as loudly as we could. I, too, was thankful to be surrounded by a fun group of people.

The band played all of the songs from “The ’59 Sound,” a couple from the “Senor and the Queen” EP, along with a few from their first album, “Sink or Swim.” During the encore, they performed a cover of “Trusty Chords” by Hot Water Music.

I still get completely giddy when I think about this show. It was such a great, energetic performance. As much as I love their studio work, the power of their live show made me appreciate them even more.

Kings Wine Bar

October 15, 2009

Kings Wine Bar is a small restaurant in the Kingfield neighborhood of Minneapolis (hence the name). I’d been meaning to try it since it’s been open, but my dinner partner Dave and I weren’t able to coordinate our schedules until a couple weeks ago.

The space is well-decorated. It’s modern, but cozy, and the staff makes you feel extremely welcome. The room just has a great vibe, and I can’t wait to go there again.

Dave and I were in a wine mood (and it is a wine bar, although they have a good beer selection as well), so we split a bottle of shiraz. We were debating between two bottles priced at $18 and $33 each, but the bartender steered us toward the less expensive bottle. It was priced that way because they got a great deal on it, not because of the quality, and we were extremely pleased with the wine.

Instead of ordering entrees, we ordered three appetizers: the Beet Napoleon, the Goat Cheese Fritter, and the Seared Sea Scallops. The napoleon was beautifully presented and tasty. The fritter was a ball of soft, creamy goat cheese with a flaky outside, and it melted in my mouth.

The scallops really deserve their own paragraph. We each took a bite of the scallops and immediately exclaimed, “Wow!” I found out from the bartender that they are flown in from Coastal Seafoods daily (so get there early before they run out). I’ve had scallops on the coast before, and I didn’t think that I’d ever have fresher, more tasty scallops, but this dish proved me wrong. They were perfectly seared and bursting with flavor. If you want a dish that will change your life (assuming you like seafood, of course), order the scallops. I’m still salivating as I think about them.

For dessert, the bartender (who had been a great food/drink guide for the evening) recommended the cream puffs. They were light and delicious, and a perfect way to end the meal.