Rishi Sankar: Ah Trini Travelogue

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Archive for the ‘North America’ Category

What to do in PEI #4 : Go find a ridiculous PEI Mailbox!!!

Posted by Rishiray on August 4, 2014

In all our driving here in PEI over the last two summers, it seems that people love putting up strange and unique mailboxes. For instance, on our way to North Cape yesterday, we happened to see this giant PEI mailbox.

It looks like Majo could fit inside the mailbox

I do love Don Murphy’s glamourshot for his ad though!!

Here’s another set of classic mailboxes

This was on our way back from Souris. These people change his clothing with the season!

As we’ve travelled over the island I’ve realized that people take tremendous pride in their lawns. There are houses and farms with very unique and interesting spreads that range from amazing flower displays, hand made bird feeders to lighthouse mailboxes protected by concrete gargoyles.

There are also farms with super creepy scarecrows … especially those in the middle of nowhere. However far you drive in PEI, you’ll always find something great on people’s lawns here.

How many buoys do you count here?

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What to do in PEI #3 : Have Lunch on Spinnakers Landing

Posted by Rishiray on August 4, 2014

[mappress mapid=”114″]

If you’re heading to the North Cape lighthouse, you’re probably going to drive through Kensington and Summerside on the “2” (2 refers to the highway and a lot of Islanders will refer to the highway number rather than the proper name which the Veterans Highway). If you happen to be driving on a Sunday, many restaurants will be closed in Summerside but those at Spinnakers Landing will definitely be open during the summer.

It’s very similar to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco with the layout, accessibility and feel.

Since we were there for lunch, we intended to head over to the Deckhouse Eatery and Pub but I happened to see the Mussel Shack. I really can’t pass up any place that has mussels, especially as finding mussels cooked differently from the traditional “Au Natural” style here will take some finding.

What did catch me initially was the red building itself. I don’t why the red stands out so prominently but it makes the building look very inviting. Of course, the mussel flavors were what made me order …

I had to try the “El Diablo” …

They have a great patio and you can get a nice shot of the other shops in Spinnakers’ Landing. The builders modeled Spinnakers’ Landing after an old fishing village … I don’t know how many fishing villages look like this but the bright pastel colors are definitely a Maritime thing, since you’ll see the same colours in St. Johns, NF or Halifax, NS.

As for the snacks, I was very happy with my “El Diablo” mussels. It wasn’t hot at all but definitely quite nice with the julienned carrots and tons of garlic. Definitely a repeat for me and I’ll have the other flavours next week (sans the butter of course)

After the Mussel Shack, we wandered along the boardwalk and through some of the little shops.

After my initial snack, it was then over to the Deckhouse Eatery and Pub. I’ll have to be honest as I always am, I wasn’t impressed with the food or the service. I’ve come to expect slower service here in PEI, but I have come to also expect very generous portions to compensate for the slower service. This wasn’t the case with the meal.

In all, our party of five had the following

  • Spiced Onion Ring (Decent)
  • Caesar Salad (Decent)
  • Quesadillas  (A very basic chicken quesadilla)
  • Two portions of Fish & Chips (The fish was very overdone and the fries were just poor. I’ve come to expect very good fries in PEI and this was just sad)

As a F’n’C lover, it was hard for me to stomach the overbattered, burnt Fish. They did have a very nice Tartar sauce though, but it definitely wasn’t a Maritime portion

I like my fried fish with fish, not a ton of batter and breading

Overall the meal there was highly, highly average but they did have nice views of Spinnakers’

So the Deckhouse was just another tourist joint. It was packed for lunch time, but I wouldn’t go back immediately. The next time I’m at Spinnakers’, I’ll definitely raid the Mussel Shack.

Twitter :

Posted in Canada, North America, Prince Edward Island | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

What to do in PEI #2 … Go on an epic PEI Fries tour

Posted by Rishiray on August 1, 2014

PEI is known for many things …

  • Anne of Green Gables
  • Rolling hills and pastures right out of an Irish countryside
  • Cows Creamery
  • Malpeque Oysters and ….
  • Potatoes

Here’s a great note from the PEI Potato Board …

Just as connoisseurs of fine wine say they can taste the soil in which the grapes are grown, the Prince Edward Island potato has a flavour that is unique because of the Island’s rich red soil. If you could visualize the perfect place for growing potatoes, it would be Prince Edward Island. The Island’s rich sandy soil, clean air and water, and its long cold winters that naturally cleanse the soil, provide the perfect environment for growing high quality potatoes. In addition, experience and adaptation of the latest growing, storing and shipping techniques have given Prince Edward Island growers the ability to deliver excellent quality potatoes.

Everyone loves Prince Edward Island potatoes and they are in demand around the world. Prince Edward Island is small, but its quality potatoes can hold their own in competition with the world’s best.

P.E.I. farmers have been producing potatoes for the world since 1790. Today, potatoes are P.E.I.’s primary cash crop. Potatoes account for more than one-third of the total farm cash receipts in the province, which is more than the combined value of all other Island crops. Prince Edward Island enjoys the reputation as Canada’s leading potato province, responsible for almost one-third of Canadian production.

In addition to the important Canadian market, seed and table potatoes are shipped to over 20 countries annually. Some customer countries are Venezuela, Italy, Ukraine, Portugal, and Thailand. While markets vary from year to year, over the past few years about 50% of our table potatoes have been sold in Canada, 20% have been marketed in the United States, and approximately 30% are sold to other countries.

When you’re in Charlottetown, there are a number of chip trucks around. Most of these are semi-permanent structures and over the course of the last month, I’ve tried 6-8 of them. I’ve not been disappointed with any of the chip trucks and I’ll definitely say that Charlottetown has some of the best fries/chips I’ve eaten in the world!! However with all the chip trucks I’ve tried so far, Ken’s Island Fries are definitely at the top of my list.

They aren’t kidding!!

They’re located in the parking lot of Walmart across from the Charlottetown Shopping Center. It’s not the classiest of places, but when you’re looking for good food, you don’t care where it is. A great rule of thumb … when you see old ladies sitting on benches in the sun, eating fries and poutine, you know you’ve come to a good place.

This is not a complicated menu whatsoever … but the fries are awesome!!!!

Pictures can’t really describe the well done, slightly crispy fries … and definitely can’t truly describe the portion size. For 3.50$, you’re getting a heaping hot piles of oil fried spuds. The poutine is also ridiculous … as evidenced below.

This was my large portion with gravy … it’s bigger than my head

See the can of coke on the side … yeah … it dwarfs it!!!

So if you’re looking to start an epic PEI fries tour, Ken’s Island Fries will be a great start, but actually you should end with them or Wicked Fries, since I thought that these two are joint for the best we’ve had so far.

Ken’s Island Fries
1 Buchanan Drive, Charlottetown, PE C1E 2E4
Twitter @KensIslandfries

Posted in Canada, North America, Prince Edward Island | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What to do in PEI #1 … Go for a PEI Lobster Supper

Posted by Rishiray on August 1, 2014

In building our holiday “cottage” here in Prince Edward Island, we’ve had to take visitors around the island. One of the more well known activities here would be going to a traditional PEI Lobster Supper. I’ve been to the New Glasgow Lobster Supper a couple times as I’ve found that it’s consistent, the service is fast and very friendly and the drive to Hunter River allows me to stop at the “By the Bridge” bakery.

They have also have a great view of the Clyde River with the rolling hills that makes for a scenic drive.

In the summer, you’ll get a great view of the Clyde River and a very pretty sunset. Make sure and call to reserve the window tables.

The building itself looks a lot like a small town community hall and the decor reflects this. This is definitely not a fancy type atmosphere, so don’t bring your Sunday best out. While you’re waiting to seated, you can browse through the pictures on the walls showing the original buildings in great B&W perspective. You’ll also learn that lobster suppers have been served there since 1957 when the District Junior Farmers Organization first bought it for their meeting space. The meal for that first supper included hot buttery rolls, potato salad, homemade pie, and tons of fresh lobster.


When you get into the building, you’re greeted in an efficient manner and you pick your entrees. No matter what the entree option, you’ll always have unlimited soup, salad, mussels and pie. For my first time, I had the surf and turf … but at 50$, I thought it was a bit much, especially since I really want to go for the unlimited mussels.

And I really go to town on those mussels …

They bring out the mussels in 2 lb buckets … and I usually will clear out 3 buckets by myself … i.e 6 lbs of mussels!! I’ve learned to make my own mussel marinara by shelling two lbs of mussels into a small bowl of Tomato Basil soup with tons of black pepper and some extra salt. This is PEI, so the majority of the food you’ll have will be plain and barely seasoned with anything.

This was bucket #2 with all my mussels in my Tomato Basil soup. Excellent!!!

It is the food which is the real star at New Glasgow. The lobster is excellent and combined with all the unlimited mussels, dessert, soup and salad, you really cannot go wrong with this meal. In the last two weeks, we’ve been with family and friends twice, the lobster is also precracked for easy eating.

The lobster is definitely the star here

Our Irish waitress Catrina and Majo … the service was excellent … I do recommend having them put the bib on you, just for the camp value of it all.

The family and friends love it, and the kids had a great time as you can see 🙂

They have some great cole slaw there along with Potato Salad … once again … I crushed my plate!! I have no shame in ordering as much as I would like … you shouldn’t either

You can get Lobster Supper at many bars and pubs in PEI, but if you’re looking for the “traditional” Lobster Suppers, here’s a list of the PEI Lobster Suppers

[mappress mapid=”113″]

  • New Glasgow Lobster Suppers
    • This is PEI’s oldest running lobster supper … they’ve been serving lobster suppers since June 24, 1958. They have their own on premise lobster pond. All meals include unlimited rolls, seafood chowder, cultivated mussels, salad, desserts and beverages. Enjoy lobster, scallops, salmon, chicken, roast beef or baked ham. It’s also locally recommended by our friends in Stratford as the best Lobster Supper.
  • Cardigan Lobster Suppers
    • If you’re on the Eastern side of PEI, then Cardigan is your best bet, but they don’t offer the unlimited option that you can get at New Glasgow. For me, this would be a no-go because I love my mussels!!! However, they do have different options from New Glasgow
  • Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Supper
    • This is next on my list, since they proudly proclaim that they have the 60 ft salad bar. Any Lobster Supper where I can get all the mussels I want with Tabouleh and Hummus as sides, I’m going to beating a line to it.

    St Ann’s Church Lobster Supper

    • I’ve got to do more research on this Lobster Supper, but as they don’t claim to have unlimited everything, this isn’t going to be a priority stop along the way for me. The reviews on TripAdvisor are also a bit mixed which doesn’t give me the warm and fuzzies about it either.

When you’re all done with your Lobster Supper, you can stop off at the covered bridge and the Bakery alongside it

Posted in Canada, North America, Prince Edward Island | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

10 Things Every First-Time Visitor To Las Vegas Should Know

Posted by Rishiray on March 17, 2014

A couple years ago, I wrote a post on “9 things that Vegas is not” … it was geared toward to the first timer in Vegas. When you get to Vegas for the first time, when you’ve never walked the Strip, taken a ride on the New York New York roller coaster, or even gambled; it’s a lot to take in. It’s impossible not to have fun in Sin City, but there were quite a few things I didn’t realize about Vegas until I went. Here’s 10 Things Every First-Time Visitor To Las Vegas Should Know:

  1. You can’t walk everywhere … seriously, you can’t!

    Every hotel is much farther apart than appears on TV. Technically, the entire Strip is over four miles long, and it will take you at least a 15-30 minute walk to get to a different hotel than your own. Before the weekend is over, you will end up taking a few cabs. I do recommend spending some time walking the strip but you should be prepared for the ridiculous heat in summer and the cold in winter. Everyone should walk at least part of the Strip once. There are fun elevated walkways and outdoor elevators, not to mention plenty of photo opportunities. Just don’t do it in 4-inch-heels (better yet — leave those heels at home).

    This is the view from the walkway. You can see the scale

    Here’s another wide angle night shot to give you some dimensions.

  2. You can take your drinks, walk and drink … anywhere in Vegas

    The drinks are cheap in Vegas, but if you’re you headed to another club or restaurant, but you’re not quite finished with your drink? Ask for a to-go cup! Seriously!! Even classy establishments will let you take your drink outside as long as you use a disposable cup instead of their fancy glassware. Oh, and once outside, you can imbibe with impunity since Vegas lets you drink (most) everywhere.

    Because you can walk and drink, you can order a 64oz alco-slushie with no problem

  3. You can drink for free in any casino …

    … provided you’re willing to pony up 20$ to play at the .25c machines. In Vegas, they’ve done everything in the book to make you keep playing : no clocks, no windows, plenty of lights and sounds. However the trick that works the best is plying customers with free drinks to keep them playing, and playing poorly. All you have to do, is go sit at the bars with the gambling machines built into the counter. You stick in a $20, order a drink, and make minor bets of $.25. You can play forever and they will keep serving you drinks till you drop over. While you’re drinking for free, don’t forget to tip your bartender.

    Drink for free while playing, just tip your bartender. See the machine on the bottom left corner … yeah, that’s your ticket!

    Drinks at the tables .. dancing ladies are optional

    Here’s the walking selection at Fremont Street.

  4. There’s art everywhere in Vegas … for free!

    The vast majority of us go to Vegas to gamble, drink, and party. That being said, take a moment to realize there’s art all around you on the Strip. There are sculptures by famous artists behind the check-in desks, in the hotel lobbies, on the street, not to mention the fact that certain hotels like the Bellagio and The Cosmopolitan have their own galleries that display touring collections from around the world. There’s even the Picasso restaurant in the Bellagio, which is filled with sculptures, drawings, and paintings from the late artist. There’s so much free stuff to do in Vegas, it’s almost criminal. You can even spend an entire day in one hotel roaming around.

    Here’s a gorgeous display at the Wynn.

  5. Smoking sucks but Vegas allows it everywhere …

    Canadians are definitely all against smoking and most Trinidadians don’t care for it either (The ones I know). In Vegas, it’s permissible for people to smoke inside casinos. To try and counteract that, the casinos will attempt to cover up the smell with what they call “signature scents.” For instance, if you head over to Planet Hollywood, it smells like a mixture of jasmine and lavender. While the smell isn’t incredibly offensive, I do hate the cigarette smoke, so if you’re sensitive, you may want to stay somewhere that there is no gambling at.

    I don’t have a smoking picture … but all the neon gives you an idea.

  6. You can find amazing food and never pay full price

    Vegas has definitely been rebranded as a culinary mecca. Almost every single Vegas hotel restaurant on the strip was phenomenal. No one thinks of Vegas as a foodie city, but from sports bars to three-star Michelin establishments, Vegas delivers. Many of these huge hotels have fantastic relationships with seafood and produce providers, and prepare their meat and make their breads in-house. The buffets are always a highlight for me. As a sampler, here’s one post where I compared the Wynn buffet to the Spice Market buffet in 2013.

    yep food …

    more food

    and then some more

    Then even some more

  7. Absolutely go to Fremont Street

    I absolutely love Fremont Street … it feels like the old Vegas. It’s nice to get away from the expensive strip and see a different side of the city. You can also stick around for a couple hours to catch all the Viva vision shows.

    The neon can blind you sometimes …

    look at the ceiling…

     

    again …. 4 seconds later

    and yet another 4 seconds later

  8. Don’t bother with going to the clubs with guys unless …

    You’re absolutely prepared to buying tickets, bottle service, or a table. Period.  Vegas may been branded as bachelor-party central, but no group of guys is going to get into a club by themselves. Personally, I think Vegas is completely overrated as a bachelor party destination; I can think of any 6 cities in Latin America that are easily better and you won’t bankrupt yourself trying to compete with Arab princes for the ladies.
    I’ve seen groups of rejected men begging women to join their group to try and get in for free, but at the bigger clubs like XS, TAO, LAVO, and Marquee, that’s just not going to happen. Either chip in together for bottle/table service, buy a ticket to a DJ show, or don’t try to go to clubs. You’ll just be disappointed.

    Ladies, you probably won’t pay for anything. Enjoy.

  9. Go shoot some guns …

    Americans love their guns … like really love their guns.

    They will ship anywhere for you

    Is that an alien gun on the wall?

    You won’t know which gun to pick!

    In case you want to get your inner Rambo on!

    you too can absolutely murder paper.

  10. Don’t use the ATMs on the Strip unless you love giving away your money

    Clubs and strip clubs charge a lot of money to use their ATMs.  They know that you will need money, so their fees can be up to 10% of what you withdraw.  Make sure you have enough money in your pocket before you go out. Unless you can find your own bank ATM, the standard fee at most Vegas ATMs is a staggering $5.99 — a charge that may not bother the high rollers, but gets really old, really fast for the rest of us. Here’s a list of free ATMs that’s off the Strip. If you’re into gold, you can even withdraw gold from an ATM.

    gold finger?

Posted in North America, USA, Vegas | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Grand Canyon Sunset : A photoblog #missioncurrypenguin

Posted by Rishiray on December 25, 2013

In the 14 hours that it took for the return trip from Vegas to the Grand Canyon, you drive through so many weather conditions, that you think you’re driving through different countries. Once we got to the Grand Canyon, the haze and sunlight at sunset created a completely smokey, dreamy photo effect. Definitely the Grand Canyon Sunset should be on a photographer’s bucket list.



Posted in Arizona, USA, Vegas | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Eating chili and watching murals in the Ghost Town of Chloride, Arizona.

Posted by Rishiray on December 25, 2013

What do you do when you see signs like these? If you’re like most people … you’ll continue driving past.

It’s a hokey looking sign, but then you realize that the town is called Choride, you have to take a peek. On our road trip to the Grand Canyon, I had to pull an executive decision and overrule 50% of the car to head into this town. The Ghost Town of Chloride, Arizona is a mining ghost town that never really died, hence you get the abandoned buildings and mining equipment. It also has the oldest continuously operating post office in Arizona, Roy Purcell’s murals and people who aren’t afraid to shoot you in the face. There’s something about that danger that’s a little exciting. Chloride lies under the Cerbat Mountains and is one of oldest miner communities in Arizona. Chloride was established in 1860 when silver were founded and the town become silver mine center. It’s still some mine activities. Chloride is today a peaceful town with one restaurant, 3 cafeterias, one store, two saloons and 400 people.

What does it say, when you’re GPS is telling you to go back and that there is nothing going forward?

Chloride was established in 1860 when silver were founded and the town become silver mine center, while there are still some mining activities, Chloride is now a quiet town with one restaurant, 3 cafeterias, one store, two saloons and 400 people.

 

 Chloride post office founded in 1871 is the oldest active post office in Arizona.

The other thing about Chloride is that there is a lot of “Folk” art or recycled junk … you can interpret these pieces anyway you would like to. Art is all relative based on who is looking at it …

This gas station is actually someone’s home. It is definitely more of a piece of art, than those other “pieces” we saw

However, the highlight of our visit to the town was actually chatting over Chili and beer at Digger Dave’s. This bar is definitely not your run of the mill type bar … and you’ll never see a more original decorating style. It was so visually busy in the bar, that it took me a couple minutes to refocus.


You also sign in on the rafters 🙂 Definitely had to put our stamp on the place.

After grabbing a siesta and some good chili, it was then off to Roy Purcell’s murals. The colors Purcell used to paint his murals are remarkably vivid and have withstood harsh desert weather for more than 40 years. Stone carvings and etchings from earlier Indian artists can also be seen in the immediate area.

The carvings and glyphs have also withstood the harsh elements!

Directions to Chloride, Arizona, and the Purcell Murals:
Chloride is about two hours from Las Vegas. From Las Vegas: Follow US Hwy-93 about 72 miles to the turn-off to Chloride. Turn left on County Road 125 and proceed 3.7 miles to the town. Proceed through the town until you see the signs for the murals. Turn right and follow a dirt road about 1.5 miles. There are a number of signs and arrows painted on rocks to keep you headed in the right direction. There is a wide spot in the trail that serves a parking area for the murals.

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The Fremont Street Experience is always that … an experience!

Posted by Rishiray on December 23, 2013

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that Fremont Street is my favorite part of Vegas. It’s completely tacky and campy … and has that old school feel to it. The Vegas Strip is completely sanitized and all corporate … while nothing is wrong with that, sometimes you want something different. The “Fremont Street Experience” is exactly that … an experience.

The lights go out and the show starts!

The creation of the Fremont Street experience has always been a case study in urban renewal for me. The installation of the show was definitely ambitious display of creative genius. The technical and logistical wizardry that enabled the lighting of the entire block along with the coordination of traffic lights to enable people to enjoy the show is also just awesome.
httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8UH_QX-P-U

You can’t help but love the lights and glitz

Now this is old school!!

Here’s Christian Delpech doing his thing at D Bar. Nothing like having your drink chilled and stirred by a world champion bartender.
httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AqQYj06NZc

He’s a world champion bartender! http://www.christiandelpech.com/post.php?id=29

Tons of flavours of sugary nonsense .. but yet so good with alcohol!

More sugary concoctions at the D Bar!

After drinking more sugary concoctions at D Bar … btw NEVER buy extra shot at this bar. It’s 5$ a shot … I almost shit myself when the server told me this … so I promptly went 30 ft down the street to buy a 750ml bottle of Smirnoff for $19.00. Save yourself some cash … the extra shot should always be $1 else walk and buy your own extra shots via a bottle.

Walk down the street to get your bottle!

 

Finally some drinks!

Who doesn’t love loose slots?

 

Posted in USA, Vegas | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Wynn Buffet Brunch vs Spice Market Dinner buffet.

Posted by Rishiray on December 22, 2013

Buffets in Vegas are somewhat legendary. Personally, I think the hype is more North American, because the best breakfast buffet I’ve ever seen was the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv, Israel and the best dinner buffer was definitely at one of the super buffets in Makati, Manila. The Filipinos definitely know how to make a ridiculous, over the top buffet … it’s truly astounding to the technical and logistic competence of seeing one of those buffets in action. However, I digress … today the #missioncurrypenguin crew did two buffets in one day! We started the day at the Wynn Buffet and finished the day the Spice Market Buffet in Planet Hollywood. These two buffet epitomize the difference between standards and execution. Comparing a brunch and dinner isn’t too hard … in the end, I’m comparing the execution of buffets … and it’s sad to say that the Spice Market buffet is just poorly executed compared to the Wynn’s technical excellence.

Wynn Buffet Brunch

This is one of Vegas’ best buffets and their brunch spread definitely shows well. Not only are you treated to the visual splendour of walking through the Wynn and Encore hotels, but you’re served up an excellent buffet.

This is in the lobby!!

Winter Wonderland

Just a beautiful piece of art at the Wynn Theater!

Even walking around seems like an exceptional experience in the Wynn! Those shops that you see along the way … well one handbag would probably be half your house!

Finally after a nice walk through the hotel, you end up at the Buffet. It’s pretty simple (for the Wynn) but I like the way that things are laid out and the fact that you can see the line to determine if the wait is worth it.

This is the lineup … not much at all but still well laid out for you.

You see the level of detail placed into everything from the atrium right down to this epic gingerbread house model of the Wynn
hotel.

After the whole visual feast that you’ve walked through just to get to the Buffet, you’re primed for something great and the food doesn’t disappoint. With any buffet, there are going to be some hits and misses, but for the most part … the culinary execution at the Buffet is excellent … it’s almost “Filipino like”. With the huge, clean spaces … and loads of selection and excellent visual presentation of the food, you really can’t miss here.


As for all the food porn … well it speaks for itself.

Dark chocolate rice crispy squares

Candy Apples

Lost track of how much sweet stuff was here …

Roasted Poblano peppers, Chipotle Meatload, Cranberry Salmon, Honey Glazed Pork with a Grain mustard sauce … all excellent!

Can’t beat a Candy Cane chocolate cupcake!

How about 10 types of sausage .. yeah I said it!

No … Thank You Stevo for your buffet

I don’t know the team of designers, but I’m sure they make a LOT of money!

 … I would pay full price just for the desserts in this buffet.

Spice Market Dinner Buffet

I like the Planet Hollywood hotel … they’ve taken the Hard Rock concept and just upscaled it. This being said, if you’re taking kids to the Spice Market dinner buffet … just don’t! Unless you’re prepared to describe and explain “daddy issues” to your young daughter and “stripper education” to your son. Walking through the Casino with kids would just be terrible …

Who doesn’t like strippers with their Blackjack … hmmm most women! This is “Pleasure Pit” in Planet Hollywood

You know who likes strippers with their Blackjack and poker? Most straight men! This was at the Hard Rock Cafe!

As for getting to the buffet … because of the promotions and Groupon provided, we were faced with the three levels of Hell in the form of the buffet line up

  • Level 1 : Line up to get down the escalator to actually line up for the buffet
  • Level 2 : Once you get down the escalator, you’re faced with the actual ridiculous lineup
  • Level 3 : You have a line up to wait for a server to take you to your table

Level One : Hell Line, just to get into the door down the escalators

Level Two : Lining up to pay for the buffet!

Level Three ” Lining up after you paid, to get a hostess to seat you! Fucking unbelievable!

All told, we started lining upstairs at 8:20pm, we were not seated and started eating till about 9:35pm. This completely set the mood off for the night and annoyed everyone. The lesson learned here is that one should not be doing dinner buffets … however the lineups aren’t unique to Planet Hollywood, but the way that it was handled was completely preposterous, especially in the days of hand held check in, line servers treating you while you’re in the line and other customer service improvements. Who ever is running the Spice Market buffet should be taken to the back and shot … it’s too old school in the way that they handle the customers in the line up. I’ll never recommend this buffet because of this.

… we started lining upstairs at 8:20pm, we were not seated and started eating till about 9:35pm #WTF?!?!?!?

As for the food … it’s not bad at all – but I would never pay full price for this, given the other standards that you see from hotels like the Wynn or Bellagio. Using coupons will get people through your doors, but once you get people through those doors … how you treat them and the food quality is what will stick with them. If you’re looking for a very diverse selection of food or you’re looking to treat the foodie neophyte in your life … then this is not a bad buffet at all.


The unlimited alcohol option for 14.99$ extra was pretty decent … since after a 50% Groupon, it lands you at $35 per person. This is not a bad price point at all for dinner, especially if you won dinner money at the Casino! However the picture below epitomizes all that is wrong with this place.

Don’t you love when your bottle of Champagne is put into a Miller Lite bucket of Ice!??! So f’n classless on their part! Totally devalues your upgrade!

As mentioned, the food isn’t the problem here though … I thoroughly enjoyed some of the food there.  The Tabouleh, BBQ Pork Ribs and Char Sue Pork were definitely favorites of mine. They were very well done.

Tabouleh, BBQ Pork Shank, Char Sue Pork and BBQ Ribs!

Mexican Variety plate … some stuff was very well done!

At this point, even Diane tried to force a smile … but 90 minute line up will take the best out of a person!

… it’s too old school in the way that they handle the customers in the line up. I’ll never recommend this buffet because of this.

Overall Conclusion:

[box type=”success” ]If you only have one buffet in a day to do … then go with the Wynn Buffet. Save yourself from the heartache and pain of the Spice Market line up tragedy[/box]

Posted in USA, Vegas | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The fountain show at the Bellagio

Posted by Rishiray on December 21, 2013

When in Vegas, I do love the night photography. Three mandatory stops along the way would the following:

  • Fountain Show at the Bellagio
  • Volcano eruption at the Mirage
  • Sirens wailing at Treasure Island

Seeing the fountains of the Bellagio is the easiest attraction to see, especially when it’s colder in the Vegas winter. There will be no one jostling you for position, blocking your shots or pushing you out of the way. The show is on every 15 minutes, and if different from the feature fountain show at noon. Here’s also what to do in 5 hours at the Bellagio.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7pN90bSyuk

Getting setup for my shots

The Paris at night … these shots were taken with my Lumix GF-5 on a 10mm lens

Fountains dancing at the Bellagio

#Bellagio Boom

After the fountains, we thought that we had time to catch the Volcano eruption at the Mirage and Sirens of Treasure Island. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be … since it was 11:45pm

Damn timings … I thought the last one would be at midnight!

So at that point, there was only two things to do

  • Wander around taking more night shots
  • Getting alcoholic slushies at Fat Tuesday
  • Making some money at Blackjack



After all that walking around, one is going to get thirsty and no other way to quench that thirst than by heading over to Fat Tuesday some ridiculously sweet sugary drinks filled with overproof alcohol.  You have a bunch of daiquiri flavors offered at Fat Tuesday are 190 Octane (pace yourself), Cat 5 Hurricane, Mango, Margarita, Pina Colada, Strawberry and Raging Bull. Extra shots of your favorite hooch are just another $1.  They even have the 100-ounce “Super Mug.” I wouldn’t attempt to drink this in all one shot … it’s just not worth it.

There are 7 locations throughout the Vegas strip, but we chose to head to the one at the Quad (or the old Imperial Palace).

I miss the old, tacky Imperial Palace … no one seems to like the updated version of this place

Boom! Diabetes … meet your parents!

Not only does this place have tons of flavours, but you can mix them and create your own concoctions and mashups.

This the strawberry pina colada with some shots of Everclear!!

Here’s the full range of mashups!

 

More flavours

Personally, I wouldn’t spend the extra money on “Premium”, you’ll never taste in your drink.

I always get the one on the left side. The trick is to keep track of it.

Posted in USA, Vegas | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

There is lots of free stuff to do in Vegas … if you lost your all money

Posted by Rishiray on December 17, 2013

Las Vegas has reinvented itself as an adult and family playground all at the same time. This has been achieved through a never ending blitz of promotion through movies, ads and TV Shows.

  • Where else can you find a 25$ USD luxury buffet to take the 25,000 prostitutes on offer by those Latino flyer guys? In Vegas of course!
  • Where else can you stay in a 25$ a night hotel, so that you can blow 1000’s of dollars on the Blackjack tables? In Vegas of course!
  • Where can you claim to visit The Pyramids of Egypt, Eiffel Tower in Paris, Canals of Venice thena circus, a zoo with partridge in pear tree? In Vegas of course!

Every time I go to Vegas, I get sucked into the Strip … I never want to leave, and the days and nights at the blackjack table go by very quickly and before I know it, it’s time to go home. It’s easy to lose track of time with all the eating, shows, bars and people watching one can do on the strip. Speaking of losing time … here’s 9 things that Vegas is not!

That being said, from all the times I’ve visited, I always promise to see more of Vegas than just the strip and I’ve done better over the years where I do manage to break away from the glitz and see something different.

If you are thinking about heading to Vegas and the idea of sitting around a casino’s pool doesn’t appeal to you, here are some options that prove there is lots of free stuff to do in Vegas, if you lose all your money at the Blackjack table

  1. Take your picture at the Las Vegas sign

    Nuff Said … this is self explanatory!

  2. Go see the Grand Canyon
    Seriously … just go rent a cheap car and head out down there.
  3. Before you hit the Grand Canyon, you can see the Hoover Dam
    Dubbed one of the seven wonders of modern engineering and ranked as the second-highest dam in the United States, Hoover Dam is located about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Las Vegas on the Nevada-Arizona border and worth the 30-minute drive. Parking on the Arizona side of the structure is free, and you can walk across during daylight hours. Tours inside the power plant cost extra, but there is no charge to stop by the visitors center, which is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

  4. Dance to the fountains at the Bellagio or see the lobby of glass.

    The Bellagio lobby with all the glass flowers is among the most famous in the World … then …you head to the fountains

    The Bellagio Fountains are one of the most commonly recognized sites in Sin City. Every ½ Hour in the afternoon you can witness thousands of gallons of water spout hundreds of feet in the air, complete with music and visual accompaniments at nighttime. Then you can spend the next 5 hours wandering around inside the Bellagio Hotel.

    1. Monday – Friday
      3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Show every 1/2 hour)
      7:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. (Show every 15 minutes)
    2. Saturdays, Sundays* and Holidays
      12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Show every 1/2 hour)
      7:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. (Show every 15 minutes)
      *On Sundays Fountain show times begin at 11 a.m. and run every 15 minutes (Bellagio Fountains)
      httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbbQJvr4ILI
  5. Watch the Fall of Atlantis at Caesar’s Palace
    Caesars Palace’s version of the water show uses lifelike animatronic figures to act out the myth of Atlantis in the Fall of Atlantis Fountain Show. The shows take place every hour from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and until midnight. on Friday and Saturday. After the show, check out the 50,000-gallon saltwater aquarium behind the fountains that is home to more than 100 species of fish.
    httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bk_ltCePzeg
  6. Get the Fremont Street Experience
    Fremont Street used to be the old Vegas with some of the older Casinos and where you can find some great deals and the VIVA Vision.

    I think that the Fremont Street experience is now a “must-do” when in Vegas and it’s free!
    httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnGQkGYaVZc
  7. Go watch a Volcano explode at the Mirage
    Probably the closest you are going to ever get to the real thing, the Volcano at the Mirage has been around for decades, no exaggeration! Featuring the most widely viewed visual fire-display on LV Boulevard, this free attraction brings hundreds, if not thousands of visitors to the front of the Mirage every evening to witness one of the coolest free shows on the Strip!

    Eruption Schedule: Begins at 7:00 p.m. and runs every hour on the hour until 11:00 p.m. (nightly) Volcano at The Mirage

    httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8TnY-4TsVE

  8. The Talking Statues at Caesars Palace
    Ever wondered what it would be like to see Atlantis fall and Roman Gods banter in the mortal world via the inhabitation of man-made statues? Well head to the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace to experience one of the most innocent free attractions in Las Vegas. Perfect for kids, the statues are located atop one of the most glorious fish tanks in Las Vegas and offer a chance for families to beat the heat and still have a good time that only Vegas could dish up!

    Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. and Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to midnight. Holiday hours vary.
  9. Mermaids at the Silverton
    The tank is one of the best in Vegas, and the Silverton also has Bass Pro Shops attached, it may sounds like “just” a store but the “Outdoor World” at the Silverton is Bass Pro Shops flagship location. Complete with out-door decorations, lakes and “would-be” animal life and displays, this place is as much fun to explore as it is to shop!
    httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7i0ufEdY8X4
  10. Watch the Sirens of Treasure Island
    It’s best to find a spot in the audience to view the 10.00 pm performance or find the view from a restaurant around. The audience gets pretty thick when the show starts but it’s worth the wait. The show is a 45 minute mix of music, acting, dancing and pyrotechnics.
    httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zGbi7zcsGo
  11. Gondolier March at the Venetian
    The Gondolier March takes place daily at 9:45 a.m. and 4:15 p.m., and the street performers entertain daily from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  12. Watching the Free circus at Circus Circus
    When you head to Circus Circus, you can experience the world’s largest permanent circus, highlighting the center stage of the Carnival Midway daily. See performances starting at 11 a.m. daily.

    FLYING VARGAS : Grace and daring on the Trapeze from Mexico
    ZOE: An Argentina Aerialist performing with balletic grace on the Aerial Silk
    ZUMA-ZUMA : As seen on “America’s Got Talent” a joyous celebration of acrobatics from Kenya
    DUO RESONANCE : A scintillating duo of acrobatic excellence from Russia as seen on “America’s got Talent”
    FLYING ANGELS : Grace and daring on the Flying Trapeze featuring three female flyers and a male catcher
    APRIL : An American tour de force of spectacular aerial artistry on the Cloud Swing
    EVGENY VASILENKO : Slack Wire sensation from Russia

  13. Tour Paris in America.
    See re-creations of some of Paris’s greatest landmarks right on the Las Vegas Strip. Replicas of Parisian landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Paris Opera House, and Hotel de Ville are all at Paris casino. Mimes and other performers also wander the grounds offering free performances.
  14. Go see the Flamingos … at the Flamingo
    The Flamingo is home to no shortage of its namesake birds. Walk along the streams of Flamingo’s Wildlife Habitat to see flamingoes, swans, and other animals not native to desert Nevada.
  15. Walk around with a 2 -3 ft long drink!

    Prepare for dietary and pancreatic destruction with these drinks. Also prepare for hardcore drunkeness … even though it’s not free … it could be!

  16. Do some spectacular night photography

  17. Go spin a giant slot machine!

    Nuff Said!!!

[box type=”success” ]Are there other free things that you can think of doing in Vegas?[/box]

Posted in North America, USA, Vegas | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

7 reasons I love Niagara Falls in the Winter

Posted by Rishiray on November 30, 2013

Niagara Falls is one of my favorite places in the world to relax. This sounds counter intuitive because it’s so busy, but I love it because of all the “newness” and energy around. As cliche as it is … any of the great 5 waterfalls in the world, will create excitement. There is something about the power of the water that just draws you to it. Obviously, there are a lot of people who are drawn to the water, because in summer … Niagara Falls is simply terrible.

It’s a cluster bomb of nonsense, traffic and humanity. Oh … the humanity! Every cultural cliche and stereotype can be found in Niagara Falls in the summer. However in winter, it’s an semi-abandoned paradise. Here’s 7 reasons I love Niagara Falls in the Winter:

  1. I can always get one of the best room in Niagara Falls for a song. The Sheraton on the Falls is my favorite because of the views. The rooms are so heavily discounted and you can always get an amazing upgrade if you have status with the hotels.

    Shaky night exposure of Niagara Falls

    Another shaky night exposure without tripod

    This 2 floor penthouse suite cost me $75 a night! In summer, this room goes for about 600$

     

    The morning glory view

  2. There is no one there … seriously. In the early mornings, you could walk into the building, unimpeded by anyone. Everyone is so polite, I feel bad sometimes that I walk into random buildings.

    No one around at 9am … in Summer… you can’t move here

    Ah love it!

    Even the streets are empty by the American Falls view

  3. The photography is gorgeous … have the pictures so far given you any ideas?

  4. You can get up close and personal with the falls … so close that you could fall in.

    I was 6 ft away from the water’s edge

    Make sure and protect your gear from the spray

    Yep!

    Damn that solar flare!!

  5. There are so many promotions … we booked a promotion night that offer 300$ worth of stuff for $168.
  6. Winter lights … there are so many lighting exhibits going on. I’ll have to take some pictures … I spend too much time enjoying it!
  7. It’s one of the greatest waterfalls on the planet … I mention I love waterfalls … in Iceland, tiny ones in Trinidad, hiking to one in Costa Rica, blown away by Iguazu Falls in Argentina/Brazil, rafting into one in the Philippines, multi-staging in Misol-ha, Mexico. I’m pretty you get the idea.

As for you … where is your favorite waterfall? How many have you been to? Feel free to let me know or drop a comment! For now … I’ll part with the power of Niagara Falls via my crappy video

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P76QsuxQDM4

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Wednesday Photo Nights #23 : East Coastal Drive – Prince Edward Island

Posted by Rishiray on September 11, 2013

One of best things about Prince Edward Island is that you can take off for a super scenic drive at any point, while the weather is warm.
[mappress mapid=”103″]
Doing the Eastern Bays Discovery Drive (Cardigan to Rollo Bay) as part of the East Coastal drive from Charlottetown to Souris was about 2 hours, when considering the photo stops along the way. The Souris, Fortune and Boughton Rivers have created a series of bays separating woodlands, farms and coastlines.

Definitely can’t get better with the bales of hay close to the water at Midgell

St. Peter’s Bay United Church … The United Church in the Village of St. Peter’s Bay stands prominently on the St. Peter’s Road and overlooks the picturesque bay. The Gothic Revival style white church has a gable roof, a series of five pointed arch windows on each of its sides, and a unique three staged entrance tower designed in the New England style which culminates in a Wren-like circular spire. The registration includes the footprint of the building in 1886

Snow peas growing by the seashore …

The houses all reminded me of the classic TV series : Little House on the Prairie

At low tide, you can walk along the shores, hop on to the sandbars and go seashell hunting.

How about making some new friends with the Sandpipers … we definitely don’t have those in Trinidad.

Built in 1880, Souris East Lighthouse is a wood-constructed tower on Knight Point overlooking the town of Souris. Visitors can climb to the lantern room, walk out to the balcony, and discover the panoramic seascape views of the harbour and town of Souris. The lighthouse also houses an interpretive centre with the history of sea glass, the lighthouse, the port, and the Town of Souris.

St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church is a large Gothic Revival church built in cruciform shape with a medium pitched roof. The exterior walls are constructed almost entirely of Prince Edward Island sandstone – hence the red colour. The church is located on the north side of the Town of Souris overlooking the Souris River and was originally built in 1902 and rebuilt in 1930.

Who needs a plane, when you can go to New Zealand right here in Canada?

Super clear river water, pine trees and some very good light for photos … 😀

For some reason I never notice pine cones in Toronto, yet I loved seeing them in PEI!

I can’t even think about how much work this must me … even with machines

Closer ….

For some reason … these field remind me of the English countryside rather than PEI … go figure!

Posted in Canada, North America, Prince Edward Island, Wednesday Photo Nights | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Charlottetown Farmers Market in PEI

Posted by Rishiray on September 11, 2013

In Trinidad, we don’t have “Farmers’ Markets” … because all farmers sell their produce at the local markets. As a teenage, I wandered the Chaguanas Market and saw the friendliness, hustle and bustle. I was always guided by the list my mother gave me and little did I know, I was getting my first “foodie” experience, in being able to recognize produce, pick fruit and vegetables, be exposed to spices and get to sample all that is Trinidadian flavor. Where else could I sample Kutchela, eat a “Sno Cone” with Guava syrup, have two doubles and then head home for a late breakfast?
It’s because of these stories and experiences, that I have a special affinity for markets in general. In every new city I go to, I always put a market or two along with my list of historic buildings because you’ll always get a sense of a city by its markets. On my last visit to Prince Edward Island [aka PEI], we went to the Charlottetown Farmers Market. This is a year-round market that stays set up on Belvedere Street.
[mappress mapid=”102″]
Atlantic Canada is known for its super fresh produce, but I couldn’t honestly call it a culinary mecca … however the Farmers’ Market is the only place in PEI, where you can find more than half of the stalls selling “ethnic” food you  ranging in diversity from Shawarma, pierogies, Indian and Moroccan food to smoked salmon and freshly baked bread.


There are many local farmers who come out on a Wednesday or Saturday to sell at the Market. One can easily see that the vast majority of the produce isn’t your average chemically laced, inorganic, Monsanto GM type food, but rather honestly grown produce reflective of the real price of cultivation.


Like any market, your mileage will vary … for instance, I had a couple Samosas at the market and they were pretty poor and expensive Samosas …  but then again in the “Maritimes”, all ethnic food will cost you more … I call it the “non-competitive” tax … there isn’t that much diversity in this part of Canada, hence the “ethnics” who came here, get to charge what they want based on the market.

I LOLed at this sign … First time, I heard this! I always thought Beavertails would be a better Canadian snack!

I did have my fill of Canadiana though with some Sweet & Salty kettle corn with Fresh Apple Cider … damn that stuff is good. Along the way … we did have a bite of donair also …



Just like any market … if you’re going to visit on a weekend, prepare for the crowds. The nice thing about PEI is that there are quite a few markets in Summer … if you’re going to visit, I highly suggest you browse this list.

There will be some traffic, but you’ll always find parking though!

[divider]
[box type=”shadow” align=”alignleft” ]Charlottetown Farmers’ Market
100 Belvedere Avenue, Charlottetown PEI
902.626.3373
www.charlottetownfarmersmarket.com [/box]

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Roti in Minnesota … yep it’s true at Harry Singh’s Caribbean Restaurant

Posted by Rishiray on September 6, 2013

There were many thing that were super yummy at the Minnesota State Fair, but the two things I didn’t expect to find were Roti and Doubles. Yet lo and behold, I stumbled into Harry Singh’s Caribbean Restaurant booth in “The Food Building”. I have to say that the last thing I was expecting to find was a Roti …


Of course, find a roti shop, required some investigation as to how Trinis got to Minnesota. For the Trinis, America isn’t one huge parking lot, hence a map to refresh or add to your memory.
[mappress mapid=”101″]
Now that you have your geography lesson … Harry is originally from Princes Town and went to MN in the 80’s. That’s as much as I can remember since it was so busy at the booth. Minnesota is definitely not on your typical Trinidad flight path … since the usual tends to be Toronto, New York or Florida.  I didn’t get a chance to do a full review on the roti etc … since the shop was closed on Monday, so I can forward you over to another blogger review here.
Now I had a roti and doubles … the price was staggering – a tiny Chicken Roti with thigh meat was $7 and a doubles was $4USD!!! To be fair, this was the Fair and no one wants to eat a full meal at any booth at the Fair … hence the size was appropriate for the venue. I even questioned the size and Harry gave me a very sound answer … I’m pretty sure he knew how tiny it was! This was definitely catering the customers … especially when the customers happen to be of Scandinavian extraction … so they have no clue about what the regular size of a Doubles or Roti should actually be.

Here’s my doubles wrapped in foil. You’ll never ever see that in Trinidad

To my point above, here is our friendly blogger’s bottom 5 things about Harry Singh’s which I found completely funny

  1. When super white people come in and order everything mild and without spices of any sort – It must be super tough to keep things authentic, when Minnesotans come and basically ask for a different version of Roti or Doubles. A Roti without pepper or chutney is just not the same … but business is business, you have to cater for your customers and their tastebuds or lack there of.
  2. It’s a little busy (visually) inside the place – a LOT of words to read … she’s never been a Rum shop before … so that’s a fair comment.
  3. IF you don’t like spicy food, you probably shouldn’t go here. See Bottom thing #1 … Disagree, one should always try new things and get educated on different palate types.
  4. Seemed heavy on Cardamom, but what do I know? I’ve never been to the West Indies – maybe it’s perfect! No Doubles ever had Cardamom in it …  She didn’t know the difference between Roasted Geera/Cumin and Cardamom. As her review basically said everything had Cardamom, which is just plain wrong.
  5. There’s a super creepy photo of Fancy Ray – the best lookin man in comedy – that you CAN’T look away from hanging on the wall by our table. (Editor’s note: he isn’t the best looking man in comedy) – Don’t know who that guy is ….

Harry and daughter (or in-law) 🙂

If you’re heading to Harry’s place … it’s on a famous strip called Eat Street! Also if you’re heading to his website … you’ll find more than Doubles on his site – don’t say I didn’t warn you 😀
As for the food overall … I can’t give it a fair rating unlike other Roti Shops using my Roti Ranking scale ... simply because they weren’t open on Monday and judging them on eating a sample at the Fair wouldn’t be right! I’ll obviously have to come back to Minnesota to do the full review.

Posted in Minnesota, North America, USA | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »