Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Vegas Baby! - Tuesday

Once or twice a year Beth and I make a run out to Las Vegas. We're not big time gamblers or anything like that but we like good food and enjoy the occasional Cirque du Soliel show.  Las Vegas is packed with both. We try to schedule our trips in the "down times"since Beth is a nurse and has to work around holidays. This year Thanksgiving weekend met her criteria, and also happened to include "The Game". So without further ado...


On time, completely full flight from Philly to Vegas - pretty much as usual. Grabbed a shuttle to our hotel (the super cheap Imperial Palace, soon to be known as "The Quad"). Check in took about 15 minutes. Caesars joints still hand out a "Fun Book". These days it's a sheet of coupons that looks like this:

After a shower to wash off the airplane funk we wandered down to the casino for some not terrible but not great video poker. (the best low roller VP in Caesars joints is 8/5 JoB).

By about 4:30 (7:30 Philly time) we're getting hungry so we wandered across LVB to Caesars to check out their new buffet. Everything you've read about Bacchanal is true. It is, hands down, the best buffet in Las Vegas. It's also expensive. $42.99 per person for dinner. We got there at 5:00 and there were only a couple people in line ahead of us.

So what's so great about it? Here are some starters:

Dim Sum
Healthy Shit
 And of course there's lots of other goodies like pasta, and meatball sliders:

And of course meat:

Obviously they have loads of Italian and Asian stuff. They also have a more interesting than usual Mexican area that incorporates a big rotating comal (yeah, it's the same gadget they use in those "Mongolian" grills):

Mongol "Comal"
 Now everyone always wants seafood - specifically shrimp and crab legs:

They also have regular boiled shrimp
Chilled here - just ask and they'll heat 'em up...
And finally desserts... This is where Bacchanal really steps up:

By far the best desserts in a Las Vegas buffet. If you're a first timer to Las Vegas and want to do the buffet thing, Caesars is the buffet to hit.

More tomorrow...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Nautilus - Building a Mutron III Clone

One of my geek hobbies is building guitar effects. It doesn't cost a lot, it's not too difficult, and at the end of the day you have a new gadget to play with. Over the last few days I've put together a clone of the Mutron III envelope filter. This project is based on the newly released Nautilus PCB from Mad Bean Pedals.

The first step in any build is gathering the parts. For the Nautilus build I had almost all the parts required. I only needed  the two Vactrols that are the heart of the effect, a couple switches and an enclosure to house the electronics.

The build itself is pretty straightforward:

Start with the 27 resistors and 3 diodes - all stuff that lies flat on the PCB.
Then the 14 capacitors, the IC sockets, vactrols and the trim pot.
Switches and Pots

Wiring is always sort of a PITA. The Nautilus PCB is designed to use board mount pots, but since I happened to have all three in stock I decided to just wire 'em up and save a couple bucks.

The Nautilus documentation comes with a drilling template so preparing the enclosure is pretty straightforward. It does generate a lot of aluminum shrapnel so it's best done in a box to contain the mess.

Mark the holes with a center punch

Drill pilot holes

Drill the finished holes with a step bit

Foot Switch Wiring

It's Alive!

Finishing the enclosure is a job for the future. I've built 3 other late seventies effects (Distortion+, Mutron Octave Divider, and a Phase 100) and want to finish them in some sort of uniform/complimentary scheme with matching knobs and so forth.  When I come up with something I'll do a post on etching the enclosures.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Complete Bocuse: An Autumn Dinner

Just last Thursday our copy of the long awaited "The Complete Bocuse" arrived. For foodies of a certain age it's a rather nostalgic look back to the 70s. The layout and photography immediately reminded me of the days when I eagerly awaited the arrival of each month's Gourmet magazine. It's a massive collection of famous and obscure recipes (500 according to the advertising) the "Chef of the Century" still serves throughout his restaurant empire.

By today's standard the recipes seem rather simple - just a few straightforward ingredients, carefully prepared. Indeed, Bocuse himself has described his cuisine as "grandmother's cooking" (you'll find her waffles on page 659). Whether or not Bocuse is still relevant in a world where once exotic ingredients are available at the click of a mouse and even home cooks can indulge in the complex artistry of Ferran AdriĆ  can be left to the professionals.  I'll happily cook these recipes for another 40 years.

So... why these two recipes? It being November, all sorts of winter squash are readily available, they're horrifyingly good for you, and Beth loves 'em. So the soup was an easy choice. I decided on the Turbot with Mixed Vegetables because it can be assembled in the "down time" while the squash and potatoes are boiling and then baked while eating the soup. Both recipes are easy - the hardest part is peeling the darn squash.

Winter Squash Soup
Recipe by Paul Bocuse

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

  • 1.5 pound Winter Squash
  • 2 medium Potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium Leeks
  • 6 cups Water
  • 1.5 Tsp Kosher Salt
  • 4 Tbs. plus more for the croutons Butter
  • 12 slices French bread
  • 6 Tbs Cream
  • Nutmeg
Cooking Directions
  1. Peel and seed the squash, rinse, and cut into 1 inch cubes. Peel, rinse and dice the potatoes. Clean and slice the leeks.
  2. Place the squash and potatoes in a large sauce pan with the water and salt. Bring to boil.
  3. Melt the butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat until they "melt". Add them to the squash and potato mixture.
  4. Boil the soup over medium heat until the squash and potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
  5. Puree the mixture in a blender, food processor or food mill.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer over low heat another 5 minutes.
  7. Brown the bread in the additional butter and place the croutons on a plate, covered, to keep warm.
  8. Pour the cream into a serving bowl and stir in the soup.
  9. Dust with nutmeg and serve with the croutons on the side.
  • You can use whatever kind of winter squash is on sale. Don't get a huge one - you want to have about equal amounts of squash and potatoes.
  • The leeks will be ready in about the same time as it takes for the squash and potatoes to come to a boil.
  • Chances are your blender won't hold everything in one batch. Don't over fill - boiling hot soup easily makes a painful mess.
  • While the soup is boiling you'll have plenty of time to prepare the fish.

Turbot with Mixed Vegetables
Recipe by Paul Bocuse

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
  • 2 lb. Turbot or other flatfish
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1/4 Celeriac
  • 1 Leek
  •    Butter
  • 1 Boquet Garni made with:
    • 2 Sprigs Thyme
    • 1/4 Bay Leaf
    • 2 Sprigs Parsley
  • 1 cup White wine
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Clean the fish and cut into 4 serving pieces.
  3. Peel and wash the vegetables. Cut into fine julienne.
  4. Bring a medium sauce pan of lightly salted water to a boil and cook the vegetables for 7 to 8 minutes, drain and cool under cold running water. Pat dry.
  5. Butter a baking dish large enough to hold the fish in one layer.
  6. Spread the vegetables in the dish and place the fish on top.
  7. Season with salt and pepper and place the bouquet garni in the dish.
  8. Add the white wine.
  9. Bake for about 10 minutes until the fish is cooked through.
  10. Carefully remove the bouquet garni and serve from the dish.
  • Bocuse calls for a 3.5 pound turbot, cleaned and divided into 4 pieces (true flatfish yield 4 fillets, the topside being substantially larger). The 2 pounds I show is just a semi-educated guess at the total "ready to cook" weight. 
  • Chances are even a well stocked fish market is not going to have whole turbot. You can use any type of fish that has thin fillets - I used lemon sole.
  • 2 lbs of fish makes 4 very large servings. I used 1 pound (i.e. about 4 oz. per person) and we found the serving size perfect.
  • You'll end up with 3/4 of a celery root. It makes a nice addition to plain mashed potatoes or a rather tasty cream soup.
  • Bocuse suggests serving the fish with rice or fresh pasta. We made neither and didn't miss it at all.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...