ANNIE B'S GOURMET CARAMELS
By Vegas Food Nerd
For over 30 years, family-owned caramel company, Annie B’s, has been handcrafting their treats. Each caramel is individually wrapped and is made using simple, local ingredients, like brown sugar, water, cornstarch, butter, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, inverted sugar, and natural flavors.
There are a few perks that go into being a food nerd, because when I humbly asked Annie B’s for a taste test, they sent me five different flavors to try in the mail—much to the delight of all those that live with me.
These caramels were simply over-the-top. They were smooth, creamy, and just plain delightful. The dark chocolate sea salt was the resounding favorite, but there wasn’t one flavor found to be anything but amazing. For the fall season, they appropriately have a pumpkin spice flavor, which they executed to perfection. They made the list for “Oprah’s Favorite Things” last year, and make amazing gifts to send over the holidays. Order on their website at: AnnieBs.com.
MARKET GRILLE CAFE
By Vegas Food Nerd
You take an Italian guy from Buffalo, NY, who comes to our town to study hospitality at UNLV, and that same guy falls in love with a nice Greek girl—and a great family is born. The guy I am speaking of is Joey Pierro, and his family is the heart behind Market Grill Café. He and his wife, Rhonda, along with their two children and Joe’s mom, Rose, are very active at their two restaurant locations in Vegas. Joey had always dreamed of opening up a restaurant and he and his family made that come true in 2009 when Market Grill first opened. They decided to take family recipes from both the Greek side and the Italian side, making it a nice Mediterranean mash-up of a menu.
I had tried their food back when they first opened and it was more of a fast, casual type of eatery. I remembered liking it then, but was very excited to go back after they opened in a bigger space where your food is served to you. The atmosphere when you walk in feels like a nice garden villa that exists in Europe, somewhere probably owned by Johnny Depp. In the center of the restaurant, you can see some of the desserts being prepared, already tempting you into trying some.
Our group was quickly seated and then we waited. I overheard that one of the other servers had called in sick. This made for a little less than stellar service that day, but having waited tables myself, I understood this dilemma all too well and took it in stride.
First, we tried their take on Lentil Soup. It was made with red and brown lentils, potatoes, onion and tomatoes, and topped with feta cheese and fresh parsley, and it was very good. After happily munching on their crisp, fresh Greek salad, we moved onto the main dishes. At our servers urging, my friend ordered the Pomegranate Chicken with a Spinach Salad. This was an amazing dish. Generally, at a restaurant, the last thing you want to order is the chicken, but this entrée was tender and covered in a sweet pomegranate glaze and topped off with crunchy, salty pecans. We also sampled their Greek Trio, which gave us samplings of their Spanakopita, Pastitsio, and Mousaka. All three were tasty, but the Mousaka was the favorite on the plate, bathed in a rich, creamy béchamel sauce. This is true Greek comfort food, my friends. You must try it. My other friend at the table opted to go Italian and tried their Meatball Pizza. I didn’t get a bite, but I did hear him groan and say, “Oh, my God.” So I’m guessing that was pretty high on the tasty scale, as well.
We were pretty full at this point, but as you recall, those desserts were very tempting to look at, so we tried a couple of their Cannolis, which were a perfect combination of the crispy shell and the creamy filling.
The love that this family shares seems to come across in their food. I loved how the menu had “Their Story” in it, so I could learn about them before enjoying their food. This is a great place for the family, but with an atmosphere that would make for a nice date night, too. Now that you’ve learned a bit about them, I hope you will venture there for a taste. I know I will be back soon.
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