Tag Archives: casino

A Marvelous Take On Tradition

I went home to Connecticut this weekend so that I could my dad, sister, and I could head to New York City for our annual holiday trip! But due to some unforeseen circumstances, we never made it there. I’ll explain in a sec but will also share up front that everything ended up turning out marvelous!

Link up with Katie if you’re sharing marvelous today!

I started my weekend with Friday night out in Hartford, because I drove home late that afternoon. Kat and I went to dinner at Front Street’s location of The Capital Grille (more on that in another post next week) followed by the Nutcracker Suite & Spicy after-party at NIXS. As usual I ran into a ton of CT event circuit friends and it was so great to see them all.

Me and the newly-blonde Jonathan!

Me and the newly-blonde Jonathan!

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Marvelously Wiped From The Weekend

In case you missed it, I published my latest Taste of New Haven food tour recap on Friday!

Holyyyy moly. What a weekend. It absolutely wiped me out. To be honest, it was mostly Sunday that wiped me out, because the rest was not that out of the ordinary. Morning workouts and coffee…restaurant dinners…a salad beast…yup, sounds pretty typical. But throw in an all-day pool party at a casino and you have one exhausted me – for all the right, marvelous reasons!

Marvelous is…Katie, this movement’s creator, giving birth to a healthy baby boy! I couldn’t do a MIMM post without mentioning little Rocco…cute name, for a cute baby!

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Mohegan Sun WineFest 2013

Remember friends, the giveaway for a free pair of Oakley sunglasses from Sunglasses Shop ends tonight at 11:59 PM EST! Be sure to enter this fabulous contest!

Last year I went to Mohegan Sun Casino‘s annual Sun WineFest and had so much fun, I needed three posts to share my experience! This year I am going to do it all in one post, but that’s not because I had less fun. Au contraire, I’d say this year was MORE fun because I reunited with old friends I’d met during and since last year’s event, met a blend I LOVE in person, and got to share the experience with my close friend (and namer of this blog), Rachel.

Me and the gorgeous Rachel in our glasses and fancy media badges!

My love for Mohegan Sun is no secret. I visit as often as I can whether I am there as their guest or just ready to have a great time with friends and family. I love entering the casino and feeling like I’m in another world – yes I know they do that on purpose. But I only lost $20 on the craps table this night (unfortunately my lucky streak has ended) because I spent most of my time in the ballroom of the convention center at Saturday’s Grand Tasting!

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Mohegan Sun Restaurant Week Giveaway!

Mohegan Sun is kicking off 2013 by having my favorite kind of event…a Restaurant Week, January 6th-11th! You’re probably only familiar with cities having Restaurant Week deals, not places. But Mohegan seriously IS a city in itself. In her recap of the Blogger Girls Weekend I attended in November, Julie of PB Fingers appropriately compared it to a cruise ship!

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Todd English’s Tuscany at Mohegan Sun

I’m so glad you guys liked my Sprigs Earbags giveaway! Thank you to all who participated. I’m excited to announce that the winner is…

…Ali of Miles With Style!

Thank you for entering Ali – now you can seriously get your style on while piling on those miles. I will contact you for shipping info!

I know that the big Thanksgiving holiday was this past weekend and everyone is back to work and “real life” today. I also know that the blog world is going to be flooded with Thanksgiving food (in fact, it already is). I love reading about what everyone else did for Thanksgiving, but I also still need to finish my Mohegan Sun weekend recap. So my Turkey Day talk will come, but for now, we have some catching up to do!

Shoe shot – but you probably noticed our room’s bathroom’s pretty tile floor.

Now let’s see…where were we? Oh right! Maria and I were in our hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mohegan Sun Casino hotel, pampering ourselves and prepping for an epic tasting dinner with other bloggers at Todd English’s Tuscany!

Got to wear a Forever 21 dress I hadn’t worn in forever!

I could not believe that my hair worked out on my first try!

We went downstairs a little early for craps and Christmas. Yes, Christmas.

Mohegan is already decked out for the holidays and Maria and I had to get a photo in front of the tree in our outfits.

We both planned outfits with a pop of color – love it! But I wish I’d taken off my purse for this photo.

I am a conservative craps player so I only ended up winning $10, but I also got a free Jack Daniel’s Manhattan while playing, so I consider this round of gambling a major win!

I love this glass structure in the center of the casino shops!

Our tasting dinner was set up in one of Tuscany’s private dining rooms. Maria and I both arrived hungry and ready to fill our bellies, but Tuscany was more ready than us. We were in for a seriously epic amount of food.

We bloggers also had the pleasure of dining with the woman who brought us all together for the weekend, PR Manager Michelle Williams. We have been working together on events and giveaways for more than half a year now and it was wonderful to finally get the chance to meet in person and talk food, marketing, family, romance…you know, the usual!

The epic menu!

We were first served crusty Italian bread with a seriously awe-inspiring white bean puree and olive tapenade. I’m not sure how I managed to hold off on having a piece until the first glass of wine was poured, but somehow I did.

Our first wine was a white blend of Riesling, Moscato, and Chardonnay. I normally am not a fan of anything Moscato-related but the Riesling and Chardonnay balanced it out. This glass sure went down easily.

The antipasto course of passed appetizers was easily enough food for my dinner. Maria and I looked at each other as the plates were being taken away and said, “How are we going to fit anything else?!”

Antipasta Della Casa

I legitimately would come back to Tuscany and just order this entire platter for myself. It was hard to save room and not kill it.

Calamari Fritti with a Chipotle Cream Sauce

Calamari is often all the same to me because it just all tastes fried. This calamari didn’t stand out too much (the best I’ve ever had is still at J. Gilbert’s because it includes the barely-fried octopus-looking calamari that I adore) but the chipotle sauce – man oh man! Pretty darn good.

Fig, prosciutto, and balsamic flatbread.

Though I prefer my flatbreads to be served on crispier, thinner crusts, the above flatbread’s flavor combo was hard not to love. I’m a prosciutto fanatic!

Tuscan Salad and Trefethen 2010 Chardonnay

I chose the Tuscan Salad of greens, roasted red peppers, artichokes, olives, onions, and lemon vinaigrette for my salad course. Very impressive! I like a restaurant starter salad that doesn’t slack on the ingredients. The Chardonnay went so well with the vinaigrette.

Double-fistin’ – it’s what I do.

Before I knew it I was being poured the next wine – Apothic Red – and hadn’t even finished my Chardonnay yet. Had to double up! The next course, pasta, featured choice of two dishes – clam linguine or ricotta gnocchi. The latter has been on my to-try list for eons, so it was a no-brainer.

Ummm…when can I eat gnocchi again?! The ricotta was to die for but those potato pillows, ahhh. Not surprised I loved this dish since I am a potato fanatic (as well as the previously mentioned prosciutto…me thinks I need to eat a pizza topped with both). That sauce was certainly fabulous and the homemade ricotta, don’t get me started. Wait, I already am.

Me and Anne!

My other seatmate Anne ordered the clam linguine, and she let me take a shot of her dish. I didn’t try any because I could barely fit my food as it was at this point (and we still had the entrees to come…) but I heard great things about it! I’m just not a plain pasta person – my palate craves too much excitement!

Major thanks to Tina for helping me learn more about my camera’s settings before I took this photo.

Then came the entrees. Yes, more food. I didn’t finish my gnocchi and knew I couldn’t finish this dish, but I want to come back to Tuscany so I can order it again and enjoy an entire portion during a normal-sized meal!

Crispy (seriously, so crispy) salmon with bacon Brussels sprouts, clams, and Parmesan polenta.

Maria and I couldn’t get over how crispy this fish was. I want to know Todd English’s secret! Yes obviously Maria and I ordered the same thing for the entire meal.

Insta-twins! Shared our meals one after the other.

The entree was served with DaVinci Chianti, which I’ve actually had before at Bertucci’s. I adore Chianti! It has such a robust flavor.

Maria, I, and the rest of the girls found our third/fourth/fifth stomachs the moment we caught glimpses of the desserts! First, each of us was served a mini fallen chocolate cake with a scoop of the most delicious, simple Tahitian vanilla ice cream and raspberry puree. It had been forever since I’d just enjoyed a scoop of vanilla ice cream instead of a more “complex” flavor. Though I am all about the complex, it felt so nice to go back to the vanilla days of my childhood and mix the ice cream with the warm, molten syrup center of the chocolate cake. There was no way I wouldn’t finish every last bite.

Do you spy the green sprig below the ice cream? I am not sure what herb it was but it paired quite interestingly with this dish!

Did you really think we were done? NOT A CHANCE. I couldn’t pass up one each of the cannolis and another Italian pastry (I’d call it a croissant with cannoli filling – anyone know what that is called?) on the below tray. EDIT: Thanks to Sara for sharing that the pastry is called a “sfogliatelle”, which means many leaves in Italian. If you look at it you can see why it has that name! I packed up some more of both to bring home to the fam.

The sfogliatelle is next to the cannolis!

AND end meal. Finally, right?! Like I said before, I really want to go back to Tuscany now to enjoy a “normal” sized meal so that I can eat every last bite and not leave with a food baby. But believe me, this food baby was welcomed. I am honestly so proud of myself for enjoying every bite of this meal that I wanted to, knowing I don’t do it all the time, and sleeping quite peacefully that night.

A huge part of that was the fact that I felt so special, appreciated, and in my element during the meal and the entire weekend. I was in the company of good friends who are also bloggers I admire and have read for – in some cases – years! I was the guest of one of my favorite CT destinations and got the chance to try so many authentic Italian dishes at a new-to-me restaurant. And the best part? I didn’t have to do the 45 minute drive back home afterward! 😛

Julie, Me, Tina!

Some of the girls headed out for shopping after the meal wound down (and after we spent a bit more time sitting, digesting, and chatting), but Maria and I were so ready for bedtime.

Pretty sure about ten of these photos were taken.

When we got back to our room, Maria and I had a case of the wine sillies that was sparked by the donning of my matchy-matchy Victoria’s Secret flannel jammies.

Two thumbs up for fancy-pants pajamas!

We decided that the giant…things on our bed looked like foam rollers. Anyone know what they’re called?

What is this thing?!

Sadly, it didn’t function as a foam roller.


Alas, we cheered up and settled in for TV, girl talk, and not too long after, bed. We awoke the next morning like the early birds we are, checked out of the hotel, and checked back into reality. And while reality is always nice to return to, I have to admit that I was texting Maria later that night saying, “I miss Mohegan!”

Thank you to Mohegan Sun, Tuscany, and Michelle for an enchanting evening and Saturday in general!

Though I received accommodations and this meal free of charge, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this post.

Which dish would you have most liked to try?

Have you ever dined with other bloggers?

Have you ever done any gambling?

Rain Can’t Stop BBQ at Mohegan Sun

There’s a great discussion about preferences, use, opinions, and more regarding SOY PROTEIN in the comments of yesterday’s post. Don’t miss it!

Check out my pre-BBQ-fest post here for info on this event and my thoughts before attending!

I woke up on Saturday and was quite bummed to see that the weather was NOT cooperating for the outdoor Mohegan Sun BBQ Fest. I received an email notifying me that the start time was being delayed until 3PM, since the weather was calling for the rain to stop by late afternoon. All day long it kept pouring down, and I have to admit I was doubtful, but I still hit the road for the casino with my foodie-friend Jeff by my side. We planned to get a drink and play a little craps before the festivities began.

Anyone who has ever been to Mohegan Sun Casino is surely familiar with the gorgeous waterfall by Todd English’s Tuscany. We sat at the bar outside the waterfall and ordered unique cocktails from Tuscany’s drink menu, which I was very pleased with because I’d already stalked that menu online and knew it was right up my alley.

Jeff’s Black & Blue Mojito and my Pisco Pumelo

The cinnamon sea salt rim on the Pisco Pumelo called to me! I ordered it sans grapefruit juice, so it was just Pisco Porton, lime juice, and ginger-spiced syrup (which I sadly couldn’t taste at all). It was essentially like a margarita with a cinnamon kick. I loved it, so refreshing!

Jeff’s loved his Black & Blue Mojito: Malibu Black and Passion Fruit, Absolut Berry Acai, pomegranate juice, lime, and a TON of mint and blueberries. Seriously, there were so many left after he’d finished it, and we transferred them to my drink and “muddled” them into it with a straw, which gave it a nice addition!

After winning $15 on the craps table ($10 of which I turned over to Jeff to pay him back for my beverage), we went to get my media pass and Jeff’s will-call ticket. (Un)fortunately I found out Jeff didn’t need to buy a ticket in the first place because I got a guest pass too, but since I didn’t know that initially, and he’d already paid for his ticket, we just decided to see the silver lining – which was that we did get 8 extra food tickets out of it!

Ready to hit the fest with our passes!

As you can see I was proudly using my Oakley Women bag from the Tone It Up Meet ‘n Greet to carry my event-coverage-essentials!

Despite the rain, the crowds were lined up at the booths, both those from Mohegan Sun restaurants and those from outside vendors, to get in some tasty BBQ eats. Jeff and I wanted to peruse everything first before deciding where to spend our food tickets. We started out at the farmers’ market.

The nuts we sampled from The Nut Lady were super tasty, but we wanted to save room for BBQ and I wanted to save my money for another farmers’ market trip I had coming up!

Some of the market booths weren’t open yet because we arrived right at the 3PM start. That included this extremely sad-looking Italian ice cart…I thought the Porta-Potties made it look extra lonely, ha!

Around this time we received word that members of the media had a tent they could go to for eats, and some custom-mixed drinks (in exchange for some tickets). Yes, please! Especially nice since it was still drizzling off and on and the benches outside were slightly damp.

Seriously nearly died over how smooth and delicious our drinks turned out – made with a little ginger ale and Spiced Cinnamon Red Stag Whiskey by Jim Beam.

The food spread in the tent was pretty impressive!

Cheddar biscuits and cornbread.

Macaroni salad and potato salad.


Vinaigrette coleslaw.

RIBS – what we came for!

We felt pretty smug when we set up our plates and cups and chowed down in the media tent. It’s fun to be a media member 🙂

Me on the left, Jeff on the right.

The verdict? The biscuits were OK, but could have been crispier and warmer. I had the kinda-crunchy exterior but left the rest. Jeff said the cornbread was northern-style – sweet and soft. NOT a fan, glad I didn’t waste stomach space on that, I needed all I could get (you’ll see). My mom’s cornbread is perfect, so savory and I have it burnt to a crisp.

Obviously I loved the veggies, but I have to mention the vinaigrette coleslaw because it really stood out to me, especially since I had expected every booth’s coleslaw offering to be mayo-smothered. This coleslaw was light, fresh, and different than any other kind offered at the BBQ Fest. I legit could’ve had a whole plate of it!

Jeff and I agreed that the ribs were tasty, but not fall-off-the-bone impressive. I liked the sauce on them! But we had some more booths to attack…we surveyed the outside vendors and searched for the one with the cheapest sampler platter, which we ended up saving for last. I love the fun carnival vibe the outside vendor displays gave to the BBQ Fest!

I was psyched to see Tennessee BBQ represented at the event, complete with UT decor. GO VOLS!

You can barely see me! Even though I’m labeled “big”? Ha!

Eek – vegetarians/vegans may want to look away now! Jeff and I were jealous of those with access to the VIP tent, who were apparently the only ones who got the chance to sample the BBQ fresh off this roasted pig!

Something exactly like this is actually what I eat on Christmas Eve every year.

Proud lovers of all meat.

There was a special rib-cooking demo going on around this time!

We hit up the Mohegan Sun food and drink booths and their affordable offerings.

I just thought this packaging was kinda hilarious…and that is seriously a TON of munchkins.

Belvedere “skinny” iced tea and lemonade cocktails!

A healthy looking slider and nice display from Margaritaville.

Our first Mohegan munchie (Meg, do you love that alliteration?) came in the form of two fabulously flaky BBQ Spring Rolls from Michael Jordan’s 23 Sport Cafe. Only 1 ticket for 2 rolls, and there were 2 foodies present…perfect! And that green aioli they were served with? TO DIE FOR.

My drink co-modeling with the food.

The offerings at the below booth from the Mohegan Sun Banquet & Catering Team were so low-priced and so delicious looking. We simply could not pass up 2 of the 3…the Grilled Chilled Jumbo Shrimp and CT Oyster Poboy with Cucumber Slaw and Herb Aioli! I LOVE AIOLI (*cough* mayo *cough*)

My kind of prices!

This shrimp was lookin’ satisfying even in a plastic bag!

That is one gorgeous poboy!

Despite the fact that our tickets purchased three shrimp, the vendors noticed we were two people sharing them, and gave us four. Jeff was the one who pointed that out, and it really impressed me. All it takes is a little something like that to feel true appreciation! And it’s true that I had been wondering how splitting that third shrimpie would go for us #foodieproblems

1 shrimp, 2 shrimp, 3 shrimp, 4! Can you tell I was super enthusiastic about my drink? It keeps showing up.

The shrimp were really good! The cocktail sauce was…well, it was cocktail sauce. I preferred eating the shrimp on its own and enjoying the flavor.

De-tailing my shrimp.

Story behind the above photo…the first time I ever ordered shrimp at a restaurant (yes, I remember), I was at Catsup and Mustard with my boyfriend at the time as well as Jeff, who was there on his inaugural Corey Wry restaurant visit after I insisted that any real Hartford area foodie couldn’t be called a foodie until trying Catsup and Mustard (which has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives). Anyway, Jeff had to get a burger since that’s what they’re famous for, but I’d already tried them and ordered shrimp after recently discovering that I liked some seafood (I was still branching out). I proceeded to eat my first two shrimps off the skewer – including the tails. Joe and Jeff realized I was, well, crunching my shrimp and asked what the HECK I was doing. I was quite embarrassed when I found out I was supposed to remove the tail before eating it.

The Oakley Women bag and hairtie are honestly complete coincidences! Haha

But I knew what I was doing this time – see how psyched I look? I also realize that it took me way longer than it should have to tell that story above, but I was enjoying my path down memory lane 🙂

Jeff looking smug to be at Catsup and Mustard that day, I just realized he looks so different! Can’t believe this was over two years ago.

I’d just turned 21 and insisted ordering a margarita at every meal.

I’m also notorious for raising my eyebrows hardcore when I bite into anything. It’s a weird reflex, as if I think it’ll help get my mouth open wider (that’s what she said).

Not on purpose.

Other evidence of this habit…

Chillin’ with a wing at a Chops ‘n Catch beer dinner.

Apparently I even think raising my eyebrows will make me drink faster!

Clearly the habit was contagious to Jeff.

Raised brows or not, the poboy didn’t stand a chance. The oyster was so well fried, but not too much so that I couldn’t taste the seafood. The cucumber slaw added such a satisfying crunch to the fried exterior and the aioli was, again, dynamite.

Damage, done. Finally the drinks make their exit.

Next up, Jeff and I decided to split a brisket slider from Big Bubba’s BBQ and a spicy pork slider from Geno’s Fast Break. The brisket slider had some tasty meat but the bun was plain, white, and big, which is my usual beef (hardy-har) with sliders. I enjoyed the spicy pork slider much more because it was served on a nice flatbread with a soft, pita-like texture and also contained some crunchy, fresh veggie action.

Brisket on the left, spicy pork on the right.

We decided to take a food break (pacing is required at these kinds of events) and go to the main stage to watch the rib-eating contest!

The contest was headed up by an announcer dressed in his Southern best, including a fancy straw hat, which had its own hat box. We know because we spotted it in the media tent later!

Spotted: hat box.

Jeff liked the crazy high-energy of the announcer and thought he was very charismatic, but I just found him a bit ridiculous and long-winded! Still, it was funny to listen to his out-there intro for each contestant, accompanied by “get your game on” music like “Lose Yourself” by Eminem.

I think it took him about thirty minutes to intro all the contestants.

The judges lined up and then the contestants took the stage, including one randomly-chosen member of the crowd named Mitch.

Interviewing the judges.

Stare-down between contestants.

Game face is on as he unpacks his various liquids.

Most competitors showed up with a ton of different liquids! I would not want to fill up on any of those if I was participating in an eating contest, but I Googled it and I guess they help lubricate the throat. Still, I’m not sure what the purpose was behind all the different liquids this guy had! The article I linked here also only mentions water, but most competitors opted for something different.

Mitch, the contestant from the crowd, is on the far left.

Mitch ended up taking a slow pace in the contest and looked very content the whole time. Jeff and I joked that he was using it as a free dinner and seemed quite smug about it.

The only female in the competition.

When this girl came on stage, there were gasps from the crowd and cries of, “She’s so skinny!!!” But don’t judge a book by its cover – I had a feeling she was going to be tough to keep up with.

A rather hilarious candid of Joey Chestnut.

Of course the famous competitive eater and current Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest champion, Joey Chestnut, came on stage last and received the biggest cheers (and most long-winded, hyped-up intro from Mr. Announcer).

And then they were off! The competition was so graphic that we could NOT look away. And I really mean graphic in some parts…one of the contestants ended up projectile-vomiting on the announcer, who had been standing right in front of him at the time!

The culprit? The guy on the left.

It was also graphic and hard to look away in the sense that these guys were just SO into their rib eating. Joey especially didn’t have a care in the world except getting down as many ribs as possible, no matter how gross he looked doing it or how messy he got!


Had to take a pic of this little girl – blogger in the making?!

In the end, Joey Chestnut was crowned champion of the Sun BBQ Fest Rib-Eating Competition, though the female contestant came in second place and lost by only about 1/4 lb of ribs!

Yeah, I won, so what?

Watching all that rib-eating made Jeff and I not hungry, but also not stuffed any longer, so we decided to get a sampler plate from one of the outside BBQ vendors. My readers know I love my sampler plates!

I think this was called The Panhandler? Only 6 food tickets!

We ended up being completely unable to finish this, but at least Jeff had leftovers to take home. The platter came with pulled pork, ribs, coleslaw, beans, and Texas toast. The mayo-laden coleslaw paled in comparison to that light and fresh vinaigrette coleslaw served in the media tent, and the Texas toast wasn’t toasted at all – but Texas-sized hunks of bread! However, the protein of the platter – the beans, pork, and ribs – was all very good. Definitely better ribs than in the media tent, and a better BBQ sauce. Still, despite how good the meat was, there was a lot left after we filled up!

My napkin pile…

We shared a cup of red wine and a cup of white since it was only 2 tickets per cup, but we didn’t even have room in our stomachs to finish that! Competitive eaters, we are not. The Authentic Red was pretty good but I actually preferred the Pinot Grigio, probably because I just wanted something REALLY light.

We left with fun memories and full bellies – just what we were hoping for. Congrats to Mohegan Sun for putting on a great event despite the rain, and thanks for having us!

What was the best BBQ meal you ever had? How about the best BBQ sauce?

Have you ever had a REALLY good bourbon or whiskey? I’m becoming a big fan lately!

Have you ever watched a competitive eating contest? What do you think of them overall?