On a recent trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, I knew there was one place that was definitely on my Bucket List: Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Palace along the Las Vegas Strip. If you’re familiar with the reality cooking series, Hell’s Kitchen, I don’t need to tell you Michelle Tribble was the winner of Season 17. She was awarded the position of head chef for this Vegas hotspot by owner, Gordon Ramsey. And this is the second time I’ve met her. No matter how busy the kitchen staff is, on a full-scale stage for all to see, excited patrons as well as Instagram enthusiasts stop by to pose for selfies. Chef Michelle, keeping one eye on the crew as she circles the dining area checking out the food, continuously greets curiosity seekers for feedback and photo ops. She really is down-to-earth, very personable, and pays great attention to detail. No wonder it was a privilege to meet her.
“No one saves us but ourselves.
No one can and no one may.
We ourselves must walk the path.”
“Cuba is such a beautiful country,
and everywhere you go,
there’s music and people dancing,
especially in Havana.”
~ Julia Sawalha
Dining Outside the Home: Hualani’s Restaurant in Lihue, Kauai. Like moths to a flame, people are drawn to a restaurant with an ocean view. Perhaps the sound of the waves lapping on the shoreline is conducive to ultimate freedom and peaceful relaxation. On the horizon you might catch sight of an airliner gliding over the lighthouse. Hualani’s open-air restaurant understands the hypnotic pull of the ocean. It’s one of the reasons their menu features local fresh ingredients from land, sea, and living by the water. I suggest a Yoga Girl Cocktail and Seared Shrimp Quesadilla. Is it any wonder the name Hualani translates to “Fruit of Heaven”? Come and see.
Dining Outside the Home: Dos Reales Mexican Restaurant in Champaign, Illinois! When it gets steamy hot in the Midwest , rest assured you can cool things off at a casual spot for classic Mexican cooking and salt-rimmed margaritas that go down smooth and easy. Order a Taco Salad. It’s served in a fried flour tortilla shell, then cradled with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chunky guacamole, and spicy salsa. Saira can add seasoned ground beef or shredded chicken to suit your taste. Either way, you get a healthy dose of veggies that’ll keep you coming back for more…whenever you pass through town.
Dining Outside the Home: HEXX Kitchen and Bar in Las Vegas, Nevada! Check out the Las Vegas Strip from a vantage point at the Paris Hotel that offers open-air patio dining with a view of the Bellagio fountains. Have you ever tasted Chilaquiles? It’s a perfect brunch option of tortilla chips loaded with roasted chicken, tasty salsa, two eggs cooked your style, avocado chunks, sour cream, and asadero cheese. So what if you have to strap on the Fitbit to exercise a few miles walking it off? This is Vegas, baby. It’s worth it.
Dining Outside the Home: Country Tavern in Nashua, New Hampshire! If you like a dose of haunting history served with a rustic dinner in a circa 1741 farmhouse, Country Tavern is the place to be. Not only is the wait staff eager to share their own personal tales of lights “flickering” and ghosts “bumping” in the night, the tavern even provides a full page newspaper article describing details about the resident apparition, Elizabeth Ford. But back to the meal, I recommend the hand-cut filet mignon with béarnaise sauce. It’s delicious, especially if it ends up being your last meal.
Dining Outside the Home: Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Koloa, Kauai! Just because this restaurant is known for its sizzling, butter-topped beef doesn’t mean you have to order it. Especially if you love seafood. The best-kept secret is Ruth’s Chris has outstanding seafood selections that can make your head spin. Don’t believe me? Order the Chilled Seafood Tower. It has everything from succulent lobster to jumbo shrimp and crab legs. The presentation is incredible! Want to save room for dinner? The Ahi Poke Martini is perfect for two. The fresh Ahi chunks are tossed with soy sauce, onions, and toasted sesame seeds. The kick of chili is amazing! Entrees are served on a 500° platter that keeps food hot until the very last bite. Whether it’s a celebration or not, dining here turns every meal into a special occasion.
Dining Outside the Home: Art Café Hemingway in Kapaa, Kauai. Living life in true island-style comes easy as you step over the threshold into an atmosphere that is both rustic European and casual charm. Choose a cozy table for two on the edge of the room to appreciate the artistic ambience, natural light, and blend of pleasing aromas in the air. Natural ingredients, locally grown, make every dish unique. For breakfast order The Nest, for instance, served in a vintage bowl. Multigrain bread cubes fill the bottom. Then a layer of alfalfa sprouts cradle a poached egg smothered in hollandaise sauce. Appreciate its beauty before gently piercing the egg. Watch the thick yellow yolk ooze forth. Try not to drool. Now enjoy every bite. “Time is the least thing we have of,” said Ernest Hemingway long ago. Perhaps it is the secret of a good life.