Secret Sauce

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2800 Corby Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95407

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Hello From Montreal: A Gourmet Dinner At Nuances Restaurant, Followed By Amazing Fireworks

My personalized tour of the Casino de Montreal was very interesting and taught me many different things that I had never known about casino operations. My learning experience was followed by an opportunity to sample the Casinoís hospitality first hand. Alexandre took me up to the top floor of the Casino and handed me over to BenoÓt, the restaurant manager at Nuances, the Casinoís gourmet restaurant.

I had a perfect table by the window with a beautiful view overlooking the St. Lawrence River and the downtown Montreal skyline. The sun was just starting to set and the entire scene was bathed in golden hues. BenoÓt even took me out on to a terrace on the top level of the Casino that offered a completely unobstructed 180 degree view of downtown Montreal and the entire island. The vista was absolutely stunning. The Casino de Montreal is definitely one of the best places to view Montrealís skyline.

Nuances is a highly acclaimed fine dining restaurant that has been awarded the coveted CAA-AAA Five Diamond Rating. This 72-seat restaurant has a sophisticated atmosphere and a highly dedicated staff. Once I got comfortable, GÈrard, the waiter for my table, brought an ìamuse-boucheî, a starter plate that featured frozen goat cheese on ice in a reduction of apple cider. The mixture of sweet and tart flavours definitely perked up my taste buds and got them ready for the culinary surprises yet to come.

As an appetizer I enjoyed mixed a vegetable salad and mesclun lettuce with vegetable chips and a sherry vinaigrette. This entrÈe was accompanied by three different types of bread with home-made butter, made from heavy cream. GÈrard explained that the breads were a French baguette, a hazelnut/ honey / raisin bread and a so-called Lodeve bread from the South of France.

I also got a quick peak at Nuances’ three different wine cellars: the wine cellar behind the bar features wines that are organized carefully by region and type of wine. One of the cellars holds extremely rare and expensive wines. I asked for BenoÓtís suggestion to select a main course as well as a wine to match. He recommended that I try the Chilean sea bass. The black rice accompanying the fish is also referred to as ëforbidden riceî since only the Chinese emperor was allowed to consume it. BenoÓt suggested a glass of German Gew¸rztraminer to go with this dish.

Shortly after I received my meal and enjoyed the delicate taste of the sea bass, accompanied by mixed vegetables such as wild asparagus, bok choy and parsnips. The fish was drizzled in a yellow wine sauce, made with wine from Jura in the French Savoie region. Some drops of parsley oil rounded out the medley of complementary flavours.

As I would have to rush off shortly to go to the fireworks which would start at the La Ronde amusement park, BenoÓt ensured the speedy arrival of my dessert: a Muscat wine jello with strawberries combined with a vanilla and Szechuan pepper mousse on a chocolate base with a pistachio sauce, a delicate treat. We even had a chance to visit the kitchen to meet the chefs who had prepared my gourmet meal. As I got back to my table and got myself organized, BenoÓt dropped by with a ìpetit fourî, a ìlittle ovenî of baked goods that included miniature biscotti, fruit jelly, pistachio jelly and American chocolate. I just loved the creative French terms used, “amuse-bouche” and “petit four” are perfect descriptions for these culinary delights.

This multi-course meal combined with the personalized and highly attentive service and the stunning views of Montreal made my evening at Nuances a very special experience and a definite highlight of my trip. When I had to leave BenoÓt took me personally down to the main entrance of the Casino where he flagged down a taxi for me to ensure I would make it on time to the fireworks at La Ronde. The staff at the Casino de Montreal went out of their way to make this evening a memorable experience.

My five-minute taxi ride took me back across the bridge to Ile Sainte-HÈlËne where my driver dropped me off in front of the main entrance at La Ronde. La Ronde is Montreal’s amusement park and first opened in 1967 as part of Expo 67, a world fair that really put Montreal on the map. Today La Ronde is a member of the famous Six Flag family of amusement parks.

My seat provided a perfect view of the soon-to-come spectacle and the huge crowd was filled with anticipation. What seemed like many thousands of people were located inside the La Ronde amusement park in different seating sections and many thousands more were planning to watch the fireworks from the Jacques Cartier Bridge.

The fireworks today were part of a competition series called ìLíInternational des Feux Loto-QuÈbecî which features a schedule of 10 pyro-musical events between June 17 and July 29, 2006. Countries participating in this competition include Switzerland, Italy, Argentina, South Africa, Portugal, Canada, the United States, France and Australia with a special finale on July 29.

Our presentation tonight was put on by the Cienfuegos Fireworks company from Argentina, which is a key player in the field of pyrotechnics due to its unique know-how. Tonightís program was anchored around the personalities of Evita Peron and Che Guevara and enchanted with classic Argentian melodies and music from Central America. The stunning fireworks displays were choreographed in perfect harmony with the music and lit up the sky with stunning multi-coloured displays of light and sound.

This fireworks presentation provided a dramatic artistic ending to three and a half wonderful days of Canada Day festivities in Montreal. As I sat in the subway on the way back from Jean Drapeau Park I realized that I would only have a few more hours in this beautiful city before my train was going to leave tomorrow just before noon. But I was determined to take advantage of every minute here to discover yet another facet of this fascinating city and sneak in one final walking tour of the city before my departure.

Discover Mijares Mexican Restaurant In Pasadena California

Mijares Mexican Restaurant in Pasadena, California is extremely well known for two things, their margaritas and their all you can eat Sunday champaign buffet brunch, both of which are excellent. This restaurant has been around for what seems like forever and has developed a crowd of very loyal patrons.

Although it is justly well known for it’s Sunday buffet, this is a good place to dine in at any time. Their food is always fresh and well prepared and their service is usually above average. The atmosphere is casual, relaxed and friendly and their prices are very reasonable.

Every once in a while someone will tell me that the food here is not authentic Mexican cuisine (most of these people, by the way, are not Mexican or Hispanic and have never been to Mexico). When I ask them why they feel that the food is not authentic, they say that the food is not spicy or hot enough. They say that Mexican food is very hot because of all the chili that is added during cooking. Well, I have news for those people, not all Mexicans like their food extra spicy and many that do enjoy it hot like to add their chili while they are eating. Every Mexican that I know who has eaten here likes the way the food is prepared and likes the chilis and salses that are served with the food. My son, who is one half Mexican, likes his food hot, the hotter the better, yet this is one of his favorite Mexican restaurants. He says that neither the food nor the salsas can compare with those prepared by his mother or grandmother but they are better those served in most Mexican restaurants that he has been to.
I have been a fan of Mexican cuisine since I met my wife in 1966. I do not like hot or very spicey food but I do like well prepared food with good flavor. I do not think that anyone can cook better than my wife, however we both like to go out to eat and we both enjoy good Mexican restaurants. While there are some Mexican restaurants that I prefer over Mijares, none of them are in Pasadena.

The Sunday brunch at Mijares is very good and at $16.95 per person is very cheap. Some people I know drink that much in free champaign and mimosas. If you are not that much into Mexican food the buffet also has eggs, hash browns, bacon, ham and delicious ribs. Their omelet chef makes excellent omelets and definitely doesn’t stint on the ingredients. If you are into Mexican food they serve menudo, fajitas, various types of tacos, enchiladas, carnitas, rice, beans and more. They have a nice variety of desserts including flan and plenty of fruit.

Mijares has a fairly small but well stocked bar. It seems, however that almost everyone goes there for the margaritas which are inexpensive, generously proportioned and made with good quality tequila. The bartenders are friendly and the patrons at the bar always seem to be part of one big party.

Mijares Mexican Restaurant is a family owned restaurant and is located in it’s own hacienda style building at 145 Palmetto Drive, Pasadena, California. It has plenty of free and valet parking except on Friday and Saturday nights when it seems as if almost everybody in the San Gabriel Valley is there partying, eating, drinking margaritas and listening to mariachi music.

Reservations are not required but they are a good idea. The telephone number for Mijares is 626-792-2763.

For a directory of restaurants and restaurant reviews in the city of Pasadena, California see http://pasadena.usacitydirectories.com/restaurants.html, a directory listing Pasadena restaurants alphabetically and by category or type with reviews written by restaurant customers.