Last night, Marieta and I had the great pleasure of dining out with Gary Thompson and his lovely wife, Gina. We attended the quarterly wine dinner at Carrabba’s Italian Grill, on West Charleston. This was about the tenth or so wine dinner we’ve enjoyed which was hosted at Carrabba’s. They’re always unique, offering good drinkable wines, at a reasonable price.
The highlight for us was visiting with Gary and Gina for almost three hours. Gary used to be my boss at the World Series of Poker. Now, he’s the spokesman for Caesar’s Entertainment, which has been in the news a lot lately. He’s what you would call a big shot. Before working in casino public relations, Gary was the managing editor for the Las Vegas Sun newspaper. He has quite a story, dating back to working for many years in New York City, and serving in Pakistan while in the Air Force during the 1960s. Gary is not only a fascinating man. He’s become a sort of mentor for me, although judging by my behavior, I didn’t exactly follow in his hallowed footsteps.
Loosely defined as Lebanese, Greek, Turkish, Armenian, Moroccan, Israeli, and Persian (Iranian) cooking, Mediterranean cuisine is relatively new to most American tastes, exploding in popularity only within the past 20 years or so. Now, different varieties of Mediterranean-themed restaurants can be found in most major cities, including Las Vegas.
I’m partial to Mediterranean cooking because the most common reactions to it are either very good or great. It’s also very healthy. I’ve experienced relatively few disappointments in the hundreds of meals enjoyed over the years, not only here in Las Vegas, but throughout the world. The only other two varieties of food where I can make this claim are: (1) Italian restaurants and (2) Thai cuisine. See my list of TOP TEN THAI RESTAURANTS IN LAS VEGAS here.
[Writer’s Note: See more photos of “The Lakes, Nevada” below]
When people ask me where I live — I answer “Las Vegas.”
However, when asked this same question by someone local, that calls for a more specific answer. My reply is that I live in a section of Las Vegas called “The Lakes.”
The Lakes seems like an odd name for a residential community anchored in the middle of the desert. I can’t blame people when they get confused, hearing about “lakes.” Some misunderstand the reference and think I live way out near Lake Mead. Others associate the name with “Lake Las Vegas” — a ritzy golf course development with million-dollar homes located on the eastern edge of the city.
Actually, The Lakes is located right smack in the middle of town on the west side. It’s about seven miles away from the Las Vegas Strip (a.k.a. Las Vegas Blvd.). It’s bordered by Durango to the east, and Hualapai to the west — then Sahara to the north, and Desert Inn to the south. If you keep on heading west from where I live, the next development towards the mountains is called Summerlin, which most people have at least heard of. Not so, with The Lakes.
The Lakes has an interesting history. In today’s column, I’m going to tell you more about The Lakes and convey its uniqueness as a desert paradise, and a really nice place to live.
Of all impersonations, Frank Sinatra’s might be the toughest to pull off convincingly.
The baritone voice, the tuxedoed savoir faire, the quirky and often comical mannerisms, the working-class New York accent — all these classic Sinatra trademarks are relatively straightforward to copycat with some practice combined with the proper flair.
What isn’t so easy to incorporate is the epochal stage presence and the personal charisma. More like impossible. Like all of our most celebrated musical icons — Elvis Presley, Judy Garland, Louis Armstrong, The Beatles — the tribute shows might look and sound like the real deal, but they never quite spark the same electrifying voltage of atmospheric energy. We’re never quite able to shake the awareness that we’re consuming Spam from a can instead of real meat.
Note: This is the third of three posts today about the upcoming 2015 World Series of Poker, which takes place at the Rio Las Vegas — May 27 to July 14.
Photo (L to R): Nolan Dalla, Gregory Grivas, Joel Garcia (who presented me with an outstanding bottle of Duet Zinfandel from Temecula Valley), and Poker Room Manager Christopher Gawlik — posing on the second floor of Planet Hollywood, where the second best tournament series in Las Vegas will be held this summer.
Can we talk straight?
Many of you who are reading this will be coming to the 2015 World Series of Poker, which takes place at the Rio. It’s basically my job to promote the hell out of the WSOP and everything happening on location, and I’m thrilled to do it for no other reason than that’s where the action is. Poker players love action, which makes cheerleading the WSOP an easy assignment.