New website for Topaz Ranch Estates

I made a website to use as a resource for Nevada Topaz Ranch Estates residents and visitors to find local restaurants, services, and events.

Check it out – www.topazranchestates.com or topazranchlife.com

Ye Olde College Inn, New Orleans Airport

August 2019

Sometimes airport food can be really bad and really expensive.

Once in awhile you find something good.

At the New Orleans Louisiana Airport there are some good restaurants with excellent southern cuisine.

These are kind of places we live to find when traveling. Read on…

Continue reading Ye Olde College Inn, New Orleans Airport

The Munch Box, Chatsworth California

munchbox1

Whenever I work in Simi Valley in Southern California I make at least one trip to this tiny hamburger landmark called The Munch Box located in the city of Chatsworth on Devonshire St. and just past Topanga Canyon and the Chatsworth Metro station, its in a small shopping center that is right next to the Chatsworth Post Office.

Continue reading The Munch Box, Chatsworth California

New site! www.davestravels.net

Hi!

I’m moving this site and several other of my sites and blogs all into a single web blog called DavesTravels.net

Please check it out and sign up for new notifications when you can.

Thank you very much for taking the time to check out my photos and stories.

See you at davestravels.net

Thanks!
Dave

Canteen Brewhouse, Albuquerque

While on a trip working out in the southwest state of New Mexico, I met up with a  co-worker who works remotely and lives in the nearby area, for lunch one day in the city of Albuquerque.

My co-worker had recommended we meet up and for beer and food at a great local watering hole named Canteen Brewhouse, formerly called Il Vicino Brewery.
They’ve been brewing since 1994 and make some pretty good beers including several outstanding seasonals. This was my second visit to this pub in the past three years.

canteen1

The brewhouse has a very nice pub / tasting room attached with a great indoor and outdoor seating setup allowing plenty of elbow room to sit around and enjoy eating and drinking and hanging out with friends. They are located somewhat off the beaten path in a sort of industrial area that’s not too crowded. There is plenty of parking in their lot and also on the nearby streets.

The building looks good, nice ambiance and good volume level,  the food is tasty (interesting menu selections), the service was excellent and always present, and the beers of course were fantastic.

canteen2

I tried a few of their regular beers including their DIPA, then I found the one I really liked.
It was a seasonal beer called Rubi Rojo Grapefruit IPA and it was very tasty! It went down smooth and had a good over all taste and aroma and was 7.5% ABV.

canteen6

After enjoying a tasty Knuckle Sandwich consisting of Italian prosciutto, salami, mozzarella cheese, arugula, roasted red peppers, I got a 32 oz Crowler can  of the Rubi Rojo IPA to go and enjoyed it back at home later that week.  Good times!

Canteen Brewbouse is located at 2381 Aztec Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87107

Website: http://brewery.ilvicino.com/

 Cheers!

Franklin BBQ, Austin Texas

There’s BBQ, then there’s GREAT BBQ.  Franklin BBQ at 900 E 11th Street in Austin Texas is legendary for it’s famous smoked BBQ Brisket and Ribs and they are in the list of top 50 best BBQ’s in the world.

Click below for short clip filmed at the counter.

Aaron Franklin and his mastery of BBQ have an almost cult following.

There have been many travel and food channel shows filmed here showcasing the restaurant. Even the president of the United States, Barack Obama has been to Franklin’s. In fact he’s the only person in history that has ever been allowed to cut in line.
Even Anthony Bourdain had to wait in the line when he did his show there.

Simply put, Franklin BBQ is outstanding. They make an amazing moist brisket that’s been smoked for twelve to eighteen hours. The ribs are very meaty and super tender and the sauce nice and sweet. No bones about it, they make really good BBQ!

From everything I’ve read about visiting Franklin BBQ, you need plan to wait in a very long line and you need to set aside at good amount of time for a visit.

IMG_5370

After working in the local area and having the day off, I decided I must try Franklin BBQ and so I mapped everything out and got an Uber cab ride from my hotel to the restaurant and got in line … at 6am.

Now getting there that early I thought I’d be the only person insane enough to get line at 6am for a BBQ Joint that doesn’t open up until 11am….

I was wrong, there were three more guys ahead of me who had been there since 4am!

IMG_5373

The BBQ crew was steadily working the smokers and they let me peek my head in to check them out and take a picture. These smokers are legendary and have been on many TV shows.

Knowing I had a five hour wait ahead of me I brought a book and my ipad to kill time. I am happy to say I never once opened that book or ipad.

I got to know all the people I was nearby in line with and we all hung out telling stories, drinking beer (that someone went and bought for everyone) and we were all talking about BBQ the entire time.

We watched the line grow and grow over time, eventually extending down the sidewalk and past the small parking lot. I was fortunate that there were a few chairs provided for the early birds and so I snagged one, that’s my seat in the photo below and yes that’s my beer underneath it too 🙂

IMG_5399

I was glad I got there early. As the minutes until opening time approached, we all grew anxious with BBQ anticipation. This was the most fun I’ve ever had waiting in a line and I’ve honestly never waited in line for anything, not even concert tickets so this was a first for me and I have say, it was very enjoyable.

Soon it was time for some great BBQ …

IMG_5419

 

As the doors finally opened, we moved inside to form a line at the counter where we checked out the short menu and placed our orders as brisket, turkey and ribs were sliced and paper wrapped by the counter guys in front of us. I was fourth in line and I ordered 2lbs of Brisket, 2lbs of Turkey and 1lb of Ribs and I also ordered a Tipsy Texas sandwich which was a little bit of everything and of course I had to get one more beer to wash it down.

I had a wide open choice of places to sit and so I took my seat and checked out my feast and began to dig in.

IMG_0471IMG_0475IMG_5441IMG_5446

It was nice finally tasting and eating the world famous BBQ at Franklin’s, it was really damn good.

I sat there with a smile on my face, eating my monster BBQ sandwich, sipping on my beer and saying farewells to my new friends as they got their orders and made their way out.

This was one dining experience I’ll never forget. Good stuff!

Eventually they sell out of everything so be sure to get there early!

IMG_5382

Cheers!

A Culinary Dream Come True

To start off with, I’m a foodie. I admit it.

I’m a food geek who not only really enjoys cooking all kinds of cuisines at home, I’m also an obsessed eater who goes out of my way to search out great food and drinks every where I go. Since I travel for my job, that has presented a lot of opportunities to dine at many different restaurants all over the United States, Asia, London and Amsterdam (so far).

In addition to food, my other obsession is photography and so I tend to take a lot of food related photos and videos. For this culinary adventure I made a short 4 minute film with a montage of photos summarizing the foods and wine we dined upon. Keep reading below for the details behind all the photos and be sure to check out the truffle shaving presentation included in this video as well.

Read on…

Last night we dined at a great place in my own state that is world famous and located a mere two hour drive from my house in our country’s famously great wine region, Napa Valley.

I’ve been reading all about this restaurant for years, watching food and travel shows about it, hearing stories about it from friends who have gone. Every time this restaurant was brought up, my anticipation grew exponentially year after year – for nearly fifteen years.

Even my foodie heroes Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert and Michael Ruhlman did a really cool show about their experience dining at this restaurant.  (Click this LINK to watch the 20 minute episode about their visit)

I’ll be honest, dining here has always been at the very top of my bucket list. I was really happy about finally getting to go here, I am still excited about it days later.

My good friend John who wrote a book about wine and runs the wine review website www.y9review.com had the idea for getting together and going to this restaurant a couple months ago to celebrate his birthday. Since I had just turned the big five oh a few weeks prior, I figured we’d make a huge celebration out of it… and we did.

He called and made the reservations and we were set.

We all waited with immensely great anticipation for those two months until the day finally arrived. January 16th, 2016.

The French Laundry is a 3 star Michelin rated, James Beard award winning restaurant located at 6640 Washington Street in Yountville California and is owned by Thomas Keller.

This restaurant is consistently in Restaurant Magazine’s Top 50 Best Restaurants List and  has won Best Restaurant in the World several times. Anthony Bourdain, who’s been filmed dining around the entire globe on his shows No Reservations and Parts Unknown said The French Laundry “is the best restaurant in the world, period.”

That works for me, and after last night I can say I wholeheartedly agree.

fullsizerender_31

We had reservations for a 5:30pm seating for our group of six consisting of myself and my wife Ronda, John and his wife Shawn and Michael and his wife Tiffany.

We arrived a few minutes early and checked out the restaurant gardens across the street and then went inside to get started.

fullsizerender_18

Once we were seated we ordered an exclusive bottle of bubbly that is only sold at The French Laundry,  Modicum, “Schramsberg Vineyards,” Extra Brut, Blanc de Blancs, North Coast 2011. We then placed our orders for the Chef’s Tasting Menu with a few of us ordering a couple of the optional upgrade supplements.

My fellow diners John and Michael (who are wine experts) talked to the sommelier and had her do a custom wine pairing leaving the selections in her very capable hands. All she did was ask for a price range and region selection. She did not disappoint us. We enjoyed some very fine local Napa wines along with wines from Burgundy France.

fullsizerender_5

The service at The French Laundry is simply outstanding, and very friendly.

For each plating, new and unique dishware and silverware were brought out and napkins were replaced frequently as well. It was interesting watching the staff of four change out our tableware so often and it was interesting seeing and dining on the different types of plates. The wine glasses too were all different and very fine for every different wine we had, which made each sip taste all that much better.

fullsizerender_8

To start we were brought out their famous traditional canapes.
The first starter was Gougéres which were savory cheese puffs. The second starter was their famous Salmon Tartar Cornet with sweet red onion créme fraîche.

fullsizerender_110

For the first course we had the upgraded supplement option which was Royal Ossetra Caviar with Maine Lobster “en Gelée”, Horseradish ‘Bavarois”, Fine Herbes and Oyster Crackers. This was paired with Weinbach, Pinot Gris, “Cuvee Laurence,” Alsace 2007.

It was delicious! Such interesting textures and outstanding deep flavors.

fullsizerender_2

The second course was Hawaiian Hearts of Peach Palm with Spice Poached D’Anjou Pears, Sicilian Pistachios and Garden Chicories. This was paired with Arietta, Sauvignon Blanc, “On The White Keys – Artists Reserve,” California 2011.

I actually liked this better then I was expecting, it was very tasty and textural.

fullsizerender_4

The third course was Slow Cooked Fillet of Wild Scottish Sea Trout with Ruby Grapefruit Confit, Caramelized Garden Beets, Wild Sorrel and “Beurre Maltaise”. This was paired with Jean-Philippe Fichet, Mersault, Burgundy 2013.

The trout was cooked perfect and tasted great.

fullsizerender_6

The fourth course was absolutely delicious, Sunflower Seed Crusted Stoning Maine Sea Scallop with Charred Eggplant “Panisse,” Compressed Persian Cucumbers, Globe Artichokes and Brokaw Avocado Yogurt. Paired with Giorgio Rivetti-La Spinetta, Barbaresco, “Starderi,” Piedmont 1998

The crust on the scallop was amazing, really good interesting flavors and the crunch of the crust made a perfect marriage of textures with the soft scallop. We were all amazed with the great tasting eggplant panisse.

fullsizerender_7

In between courses we were given their homemade butters, cheeses and breads to enjoy. The bread were baked up the street at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery.

Everything tasted absolutely delicious. We all loved the tasty cheeses.
Perfection.

fullsizerender_19

We enjoyed many different types of wines, they were all excellent and paired extremely well with each course that we were served.

fullsizerender_11

The fifth course was one of my favorites and was another optional upgrade supplement.

I planned on getting this dish for weeks. This was my first time trying real authentic truffles. Needless to say I was very excited to be watching the truffle presentation taking place before me at The French Laundry.

This dish was Carnaroli Risotto Biologico with “Parmigiano Reggiano” and Shaved Black Winter Truffles from Provence. This was paired with Giorgio Rivetti-La Spinetta, Barbaresco, “Starderi,” Piedmont 1998

The rissotto and truffles tasted really great, very delicate savory flavors.

fullsizerender_13

fullsizerender_15

The sixth course was amazing and another first for me. I got to finally try Japanese Wagyu Beef. This course was another upgrade supplement that I had wanted to try for a long time.

The dish was Charcoal Grilled Japanese Wagyu with Gold Potato and Gruyère “Rösti” with Garden Broccoli “Panade,” Sweet Carrot “Buttons” and Wild Mustard Blossoms. Paired with La Sirena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2006.

This was by far the best beef I’ve ever tasted.

fullsizerender_16

For dessert we had a variety of dishes starting with Andante Dairy “Mélange” with Golden Raisin “Pâte de Fruit,” Marcona Almond Shortbread and Cauliflower Cream. Paired with Philippe Foreau, Vouvray, “Domaine du Clos Naudin,” Demi-Sec, Loire Valley 2003.

I love desserts, I was in heaven.

fullsizerender_21

 

With desert we also drank a Cossart Gordon, Bual, 10 Year, Madeira MV and I had to try a good glass of port so I ordered a Cockburn 1983 Port. We finished things off with a couple glasses of 1953 Hill Vintage Cognac.

fullsizerender_23

Just when we thought the night was over, we all got invited to tour the kitchen and meet the Chef de Cuisine, David Breeden.

This was an amazing way to cap a night of the best fine dining we’ve ever had the opportunity to enjoy. Seeing the kitchen and crew where the “magic” happens was very cool to get to see.

We are truly fortunate people. This was the dining experience of a lifetime.

fullsizerender_32

fullsizerender_29

Cheers!

Steak n Shake Restaurant

While in Las Vegas on a recent vacation, my family and I dined in our casino/resort at a restaurant called Steak n Shake.  I hear they are famous?  This was the first time we had heard of the place and since we were in the mood for burgers we decided to try out them out.

For our orders we went with what they were famous for, steak burgers and shakes.  The ambiance was retro 50’s diner and the service was fast, but best of all the food was delicious! The burgers were nice and juicy and full of flavor. Topping it all off with a vanilla shake was perfection.  It’s not exactly good for you food but it is food that is really good!

If you ever see a Steak n Shake restaurant during your travels, stop and give the a try.  http://www.steaknshake.com/

Folsom Tap House

FolsomTapHouse

There’s a new beer place in Folsom.

Brought to you by a local restaurant owner who we already know knows how to build and run a great place – Jeff Back of Back Wine Bar & Bistro.

Folsom Tap House is located in the old Sports Bar building is in the same business area as Back Wine Bar & Bistro. The site of the new Tap House had also housed several other restaurants before including an old French Bistro run by a couple from England.

Needless to say, Jeff has done it again.  It took a few weeks to iron out the new opening bugs but the place is running very well and we have enjoyed visiting, dining and enjoy some very good beers at Folsom Tap House.

To summarize, Folsom Tap House is a very nice place. The ambiance was good, the service outstanding and the food and beer were excellent.

As soon as we walked in, we were immediately greeted and seated. Waters arrived right away and beers were ordered and served quickly. It took us a while to pick what we wanted to eat (great selections) and every few minutes someone would stop by and ask if we needed help or were ready to order – I could not ask for better service then that.

We tried a couple of the beer samplers which happened to be 50% off that day – nice! The beers were great, we enjoyed them all and it was nice how all the styles and brands were explained in detail.

The draft beer list AND the bottled beer list are fantastic! This place has a lot of great beers available.

For food we ordered the salmon sliders and chicken wings and wow they were good!
I’m not even a fan of chicken wings but theirs were great and I already looking forward to going back and having them again.

Through out our evening we were checked in on often by staff which was great. The beers we ordered never sat empty and overall we had a very enjoyable time at Folsom Tap House. We plan to be frequent flyers at this place – it’s that good! and well worth it.

Folsom Tap House
http://folsomtaphouse.com/
25005 Blue Ravine Rd #140
Folsom, CA  95630

L’Orecchietta, London UK

Yes more pizza.

I stopped by this bar/restaurant a few times for lunch while working down the street in London.

At first appearance it did not look like they would have good food here, it was a dark, subdued bar, but they had plenty of table seats and a menu so…

After finally figuring out I needed to order at the bar, I walked up and placed my order.

I was pleasantly surprised by the great quality of the pizza that I ordered and enjoyed it very much.

Lesson learned, never go by appearances only….this one was a hidden gem – if you like pizza that is…

This pizza is parma ham with mascarpone cheese – I love wood fired pizza’s!

L’Orecchietta is located at 29-30 Wakley St, Islington, Greater London

Yard Pizzeria, London UK

Yard Pizzeria London

After work, on another hunt for a local restaurant in London, I went searching for a few highly rated places to have dinner.  Unfortunately the first one was so crowded there was a line out the door and down the block – damn they must have really good food there!  It was time to revert to plan B which was a pizzeria that was down the road another block.

When I found the restaurant, I was surprised to see it was in a former fire engine house.  The decor was top notch and interesting, but instead of sitting inside I opted to sit at the outdoor seats and enjoy the warm night air and watch life go by in London.

Service was quick and efficient, the menu selection very good, and the food tasted excellent!

I had their Rocket & Prosciutto pizza which had black olives, mozzarella and tomato sauce, topped with prosciutto, fresh peppery rocket (arugula) and shaved Grana Padano.

This pizza paired nicely with a local brew called Camden Hells.

Having very much enjoyed the quality fresh pizza I had to also try their desserts and picked out their Vanilla Pannacotta that came with a mixed berry fruit compote.

I was really amazed how great a pizza could taste – this place wowed me on all levels.

Yard Pizza can be found at 140 Tabernacle St,Shoreditch, London, EC2A 4F
Website: http://www.yardrestaurants.co.uk/

From their website:

The Yard, Shoreditch is set in a converted fire station and retains many of its original features. Inside; The Yard has a unique warehouse feel – whilst outside you will find a great seating area, but we’re not just famous for our location and atmosphere – we are renowned for serving up a diverse selection of pizza toppings and our unbelievable ‘Yard of Pizza’ which is perfect for sharing.