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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Best of The Best


Fifth Avenue, meets Sunset Blvd. is how I’d describe Vanguard Lounge in Las Vegas. I’ve been a subscriber of the Robbreport magazine ‘For the Affluent Lifestyle” for more than fifteen years and every year they tour the globe in search of “The Best of the Best” from five star hotels and automobiles that have a base price higher than the median US home mortgage, to timepieces such as Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe! They are as detailed as to include writing instruments and of course fine dining and haute couture. So what’s missing?

Vanguard Lounge of course! Defined, Vanguard means either; the foremost position in an army or fleet advancing into battle or the foremost or leading position in a trend or movement. I’d bet my next of “His Majesty’s Reserve” cigars that the proprietor of this lounge was leaning more in the direction of the latter and rightfully so as I recently discovered upon a detour of the beginning of my evening out in Las Vegas, on a Monday no less.

As I entered I was impressed by the essence of East coast sheek combined with West Coast cool; of the not underdressed nor pretentiously overdressed lounge goers (with the exception of myself, tongue I cheek) averaging in their twenties and thirties. This is a cozy, but spacious in appearance and well appointed lounge that also has a DJ spinning house on the weekends. The bar stools are comfortable! I know, I just threw that in simply put, but I had to mention it. This is not to say that the white reptilian print leather stools are only comfortable….Vanguard has found a way to make their lounge both comfortable and quite posh. With all of the contemporary design, cool and happy people (did I mention this was a Monday?) and the low glow of snow white candles lining the bar back I was sure to believe that the price of my glass of Vina Echeverria Cabernet, from Molina Chile was going to require that I dip into the equity of my home and as I would attempt to sooth my nerves after signing said check by lighting one of my beloved cigars I would be promptly escorted out onto my arse for SMOKING!

HA! No such luck, the vanguard is not only smoker friendly, and houses a selection of locally rolled Imperial Connericut (not Connecticut) and Churchill Connericut cigars that it turned out I’d smoked for years and find quite pleasant for a daily smoke, but Vanguard is well ventilated and also has a small sidewalk lounge area for those who enjoy people watching on the famed Fremont Street, just a stones throw from the “Freemont Street Experience” and next door to other trendy and hip establishments.

The prices on all of their drinks are reasonable and the place is ventilated so that I didn’t notice any smoke even as I enjoyed my cigar without guilt. Another look at their menu and you can enjoy a non-alcoholic selection of house made sodas in such flavors as Lavender and Hibiscus. Oh yes, if you find that your quick stop here before “going out” turns into being out and staying at the Vanguard as it turned out for me…good news, they have an ATM machine so you don’t have to pause for the cause of going back to that safe of yours in your hotel for more cash!
“Lead follow or get out of the way” was the saying of Thomas Paine the English born American Writer and political pamphleteer, whose ‘Common Sense and ‘Crisis’ papers were important influences on the American Revolution. I don’t think the Vanguard will be spearheading any revolutions, but they as their namesake implies have definitely chosen to take the lead, as what I will vote, the Best of the Best in Las Vegas lounges for locals and tourists alike!

Vanguard Lounge
516 Fremont Street
Las Vegas, Nevada 89101


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dont' be a snob!

In days long gone, "Chin up old chap" might be what was said to a sobbing child, ballroom dancer and even equestrian. A child should lift her head and not be sad, a dancer should keep great form and the same goes for an equestrian, in most cases especially when learning to ride a horse, if you lower you head/chin the horse would be inclined to just stop dead in its tracks! This can cause quite a disturbance if your not prepared.

Actually, the term snob has been attributed to those of upper class whom seemed to lift their noses as those of us in the lower echelons, but in fact this wasnt the case, I being quite the fan of ballroom dance, and English riding learned that keeping your chin up or nose up was a formality in dancing and riding both of which were known (then and know)  to be activities of the upper crust which caused them to form a habit of raising their heads while walking and conducting everyday business. It was not and intentional stance nor was it to be rude. 
I digress, Your chin should be down slightly while runway modeling. The reason for this is because every one will be sitting, looking up at you.
There will be many photographers taking pictures aimed up at you. So for your exposure aspect, you want to have good pictures taken of you so that they can be reused in magazines. You can then take these and add them to your portfolio.

So for modeling and runways reasons, forget about dancing the hours away or the country ride on horseback and for goodness sake lower that chin a bit!

Friday, August 19, 2011

A grape by any other name....

Over the years I've often had a taste for spirits and wines and even the occasional beer now and again, that now and again came more often when in Germany, as I found that that is the place for all connoisseurs of beer to begin if in fact there are connoisseurs of beer. Before you jump all over me for that little snipe, I know there are those who take to their beer like a Sommelier to wine. With that, this is why I have done my research to find for you a little fun filled learning to be had in that art of wine tasting because a grape by any other name could be a merlot.

Of course I cannot take the credit, my help comes in the form of the article below by Stacy Slinkard. Stacy is a certified Sommelier and has her Master's degree in Public Health. Her educational background lends itself to interpreting both the science and the art of wine, from grape to glass.

Learning how to taste wines is a straightforward adventure that will deepen your appreciation for both wines and winemakers. Look, smell, taste - starting with your basic senses and expanding from there you will learn how to taste wines like the pros in no time! Keep in mind that you can smell thousands of unique scents, but your taste perception is limited to salty, sweet, sour and bitter. It is the combination of smell and taste that allows you to discern flavor.

Look: Check out the Color and Clarity.

Pour a glass of wine into a suitable wine glass. Then take a good look at the wine. Tilt the glass away from you and check out the color of the wine from the rim edges to the middle of the glass (it's helpful to have a white background - either paper, napkin or a white tablecloth).

What color is it? Look beyond red, white or blush. If it's a red wine is the color maroon, purple, ruby, garnet, red, brick or even brownish? If it's a white wine is it clear, pale yellow, straw-like, light green, golden, amber or brown in appearance?

Still Looking. Move on to the wine's opacity. Is the wine watery or dark, translucent or opaque, dull or brilliant, cloudy or clear? Can you see sediment? Tilt your glass a bit, give it a little swirl - look again, is there sediment, bits of cork or any other floaters? An older red wine will often have more orange tinges on the edges of color than younger red wines. Older white wines are darker, than younger white wines when comparing the same varietal at different ages.

Our sense of smell is critical in properly analyzing a glass of wine. To get a good impression of your wine's aroma, swirl your glass for a solid 10-12 seconds (this helps vaporize some of the wine's alcohol and release more of its natural aromas) and then take a quick whiff to gain a first impression.

Still Smelling. Now stick your nose down into the glass and take a deep inhale through your nose. What are your second impressions? Do you smell oak, berry, flowers, vanilla or citrus? A wine's aroma is an excellent indicator of its quality and unique characteristics. Swirl the wine and let the aromas mix and mingle, and sniff again.


Finally, take a taste. Start with a small sip and let it roll around your mouth. There are three stages of taste: the Attack phase, the Evolution phase and the Finish.

The Attack Phase, is the initial impression that the wine makes on your palate. The Attack is comprised of four pieces of the wine puzzle: alcohol content, tannin levels, acidity and residual sugar. These four puzzle pieces display initial sensations on the palate. Ideally these components will be well-balanced one piece will not be more prominent than the others. These four pieces do not display a specific flavor per se, they meld together to offer impressions in intensity and complexity, soft or firm, light or heavy, crisp or creamy, sweet or dry, but not necessarily true flavors like fruit or spice.
The Evolution Phase is next, also called the mid-palate or middle range phase, this is the wine’s actual taste on the palate. In this phase you are looking to discern the flavor profile of the wine. If it’s a red wine you may start noting fruit – berry, plum, prune or fig; perhaps some spice – pepper, clove, cinnamon, or maybe a woody flavor like oak, cedar, or a detectable smokiness. If you are in the Evolution Phase of a white wine you may taste apple, pear, tropical or citrus fruits, or the taste may be more floral in nature or consist of honey, butter, herbs or a bit of earthiness.
The Finish is appropriately labeled as the final phase. The wine's finish is how long the flavor impression lasts after it is swallowed. This is where the wine culminates, where the aftertaste comes into play. Did it last several seconds? Was it light-bodied (like the weight of water), medium-bodied (similar in weight to milk) or full-bodied (like the consistency of cream)? Can you taste the remnant of the wine on the back of your mouth and throat? Do you want another sip or was the wine too bitter at the end? What was your last flavor impression – fruit, butter, oak? Does the taste persist or is it short-lived?
After you have taken the time to taste your wine, you might record some of your impressions. Did you like the wine overall? Was it sweet, sour or bitter? How was the wine's acidity? Was it well balanced? Does it taste better with cheese, bread or a heavy meal? Will you buy it again? If so, jot the wine's name, producer and vintage year down for future reference.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Eyes Have it!

Fall is upon us, and with that the fall fashion shows, I'm beginning yet another tour with stops around the globe, but when it comes to the questions and arguments from and about models and wannabes' about everything from the runway look to how to walk, we can all agree and the Eyes have to speak.

Here is the beginning of a series of tips on walking the runway for those aspiring models!

Your eyes should be focused straight ahead of you. Looking off into the distance. Just find something on the back wall and focus on it.

WARNING: There will be bright lights aimed at you! Do not try and focus on a light unless you want to go blind and walk right over the ledge of the runway, because all you can see is the after image of the light bulb.