Monday, March 30, 2009

Parma Restaurant

What passes for Italian food in this country is usually cheaply made slop too heavy for anyone with a waist size smaller than my own (and if you know me you know mine is none too small). There are some spectacular exceptions to this rule right here in Las Vegas, but I still prefer one, back in my hometown of Fresno, called Parma. This authentic little place has yet to disappoint, and I'll keep going back until it does.

No restaurant is perfect. A few come very close, but even the best make mistakes. At Parma, almost everything I have sampled has been at least delicious and sometimes nearly divine. On my most recent visit the gnocchi was a little over done, but still tasty. Another place I believe them to be lacking is in the service department. This is not a knock on the servers they have or the management, as the servers they have all do an excellent job, and the owner is rarely, if ever, absent and always a joy to converse with. I simply believe that the service would be improved by one more order taking body.

In case you hadn't noticed, I have very little to complain about when it comes to Parma. From the antipasti platter, to the house made pasta, and finally to the house made desserts, everything here exhibits the passion of the entire Parma Restaurant family. And you will always feel like part of that family when you step inside this cozy place in my home town.

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.


Parma on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Slow Food Doesn't Move Me

The Slow Food Movement started in the late 1980's in Italy in response to the growth of fast food chains. Today it is a "worldwide" movement with its own website and everything. If that seems a little glib it's because the movement is not earth moving (pun intended) in the restaurant world in the way that foodies wish it were.

Slow food restaurant efforts fall flat in all but the most ecologically diverse areas. The problem is that true slow food requires the food be made from ingredients regularly found in that particular ecoregion. Our Las Vegas Valley is part of an ecoregion which naturally yields only jack rabbits, coyotes, cactus, and Ken's Dressing. A slow food restaurant in our town would be a joke to say the least. Ecologically rich locales such as the San Francisco Bay area (included in an ecoregion that stretches down much of the California coast) can throw together a slow food restaurant with a very diverse and exciting menu with little effort. (I didn't choose the San Joaquin Valley because most of that farmland feeds the whole world rather than its own citizens and has no seafood options, although it can certainly be done there without much ado.)

Getting excited about this movement is for those people who live in areas that produce things. Las Vegas is an area of consumption, and as many world class restaurants as we have, we cannot do this whole slow food thing because we have no local crops to reap. I wish we did. I wish I could live in the city that is Las Vegas, but have it surrounded by farmland and vineyards. It just isn't so, and won't be barring a major ecological shift. What's worse, we don't even get the best produce we could, in grocery stores especially, given our relative proximity to California, as the best stuff (aka longest shelf life) gets shipped further across the country and we get stuck with the stuff Californians turn their nose up at (I should know, I do it all the time). It's okay though, their state is bankrupt and ours is... oh, right, only headed there.

I believe wholly in eating local, but here in the desert that opportunity does not exist. I envy the restauranteurs who have the option to buy local, and the consumers who get to enjoy the bounty of the soil they walk on every day.

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Bar Round 2

I can't help but be skeptical about the food at bars in this valley. Most are suspect at best and many only survive on being close to the neighborhoods where gamblers live (allowing them to stumble home in their free-well-drink stupor). Even the better, more consistent places are joints I rarely frequent before 11:00 pm, and then only because of a good deal on a late night menu. The Bar at Bermuda & St. Rose has a few things I would actually go in for during normal dining hours.

The biggest draws are their beer (especially the bottled list) and wine lists which each hold some real gems without price gouging. That being said, they do have some good solid bar and comfort food with some twists thrown in. Their mini-corn dogs are silly but tasty, and their Angry Mac & Cheese (a breaded, deep fried cube of macaroni in a jalapeno spiked cheese sauce) is a fun and delicious way to clog your arteries. In the entree column, the Meatloaf and the Philly Cheese Steak were both pleasant surprises to my taste buds. Since my last visit they have cut some of the more adventurous, outside the box (read: disaster on a plate) items from their menu.

The best news is that this place was doing well before, and now that M Resort has opened just down the street they are doing even better.

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.


Bar on Urbanspoon