penguin chick pictureHI EVERYBODY!!

At the South Pole, we usually eat fish Fortunately, Phil and Angie have not only more choices of what to eat, but really cool places to do it at!

See you later!

An "Intimate" anniversary dinner for four!

On our last night in Las Vegas (September 4th 2009),
we celebrated a combined 50 years of marriage!
10 for Angie and I, as well as 40 years for Angie's folks, Sue and Ed Schweikert.

Since this was a very special celebration, it was only fitting that it be held in very special surroundings.

I found a very unique restaurant located in a suburb of Las Vegas called Henderson.
The restaurant, as you might guess is called Intimate. What makes it so unique is a number of things, starting with our host, Chef Don Espaniola. He met us at the door of his very unassuming restaurant, tucked away in a quiet little office park, and ushered us into a world of attention and food that would rival anything in Chicago! The restaurant is very small, with only 8 tables total, and believe me when the advertisements say "Reservations Required"! If you aren't expected, you don't get in. It is THAT exclusive.

Like I said before, Chef Don met us at the door, more like an old friend then the proprietor of a business establishment. He was gracious, outgoing and has a slightly quirky sense of humor, which worked well for us! Once we were inside, we were taken to our table and he told us what to expect, and more importantly, what NOT to expect. The what NOT to expect is a pre-determined menu. Some things he had planned to serve us in advance, but when it came right down to it, we got the impression that everything we were going to experience was done on the fly!

To start with, Chef Don told us our meal would be accompanied by a paired 6 glass wine flight for each of us, one glass of a different wine from a different area of the world to go with each of the 6 courses we would experience! If you are really into wine, this is a very cool thing! We aren't but enjoyed it nonetheless.

Dinner began with a freshly baked Focaccia Bread, with a sort of Hawaiian butter to go with it.

The first course was a shrimp and carrot soup appetizer, on a bed of fried onions.
(Don't wrinkle your nose at the carrot would NEVER know if you hadn't been told!)

Second course was a lobster and vanilla cream creation served on wonton crisps,
garnished with chives.

Our third course was a DUCK foie gras, sesame and quince salad.
(Even in Henderson, Nevada, they heard about Chicago's little tiff at trying to outlaw foie gras. Go figure.)

Fourth course consisted of smoked duck with onion and orange marmalade.
(Since we had the duck liver, might as well have the rest of it!)
The duck was served with a pesto and sweet chile sauce, which Angie LOVED!

It should be noted that each course was introduced in advance so we could prepare ourselves for it,
along with more then a smattering of Chef Don's aforementioned humor!

Much like a long, intense movie, we were offered an intermezzo or intermission.
Ours was a pomegranate and cream shooter.

After our palates returned from their short break, it was time for the main course.
Here, we were offered a choice of either:
venison (deer) tenderloin,
lamb and teriyaki sauce,
both with twice-baked havarti potatoes and broccoli "trees". (inside joke)

Between the four of us, we had both, and it was a delicious experience!

I had talked with Chef Don earlier in the year about Angie and her dad being diabetic, so he assured me that he would prepare a special dessert for us. What we didn't expect was a custom-made cake that he had commissioned for us with a baker friend of his!

Just as he did when he welcomed us in, he welcomed us out as friends leaving a delightful party,
and left us wanting to return again.

I realize that one can only go so far to describe such an elegant and extravagant experience with words. Perhaps I have given you an appetite to make the effort to venture out to Henderson on your next trip to Vegas, and experience Chef Don in an Intimate way!


Updated information.
Shortly after we returned to Chicago, Angie and I learned that Intimate had closed and Chef Don (his native Hawaiian name was Don Petronello Kekamawiwo`olemaikalanimai Espaniola Jr) began private catering again. A couple years later he returned to his native Maui, Hawai'i, where sadly he passed away on March 26, 2011. His culinary talents and one-of-a-kind personality will be missed.

Mahalo Nui Loa Chef Don.

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*Emperor penguin chick photo courtesy of Guillaume Dargaud