Vegas, here we come!

By September 15, 2011 #CatTravels

It’s been four years since I’ve been to Vegas, and I still can’t believe it’s been so long.

There was a time — oh, when the University of Hawaii women’s volleyball team played in the WAC Tournament at the MGM Grand, for example — when I used to go to Las Vegas at least once a year, often twice.

I’m not a big gambler — though I’ll play blackjack, roulette and, of course, the Wheel of Fortune progressive slots — but I enjoyed wandering about the City of Lost Wages, marveling at the larger-than-life hotels and other over-the-top extravagance the desert town is known for.

But after ATA Airlines shut down, I never went back.

Until now.

Apparently, a lot, as we quickly discovered last night at our Vegas planning meeting — yes, we’re getting old — at Panya Bistro. Next weekend my girlfriends and I are heading to Sin City, most of us for the first time in years. A lot has changed — I haven’t seen Encore, for example — so we’re a little lost as to what to do. No sense buying omiyage from Bath & Body Works anymore, since the chain opened up a shop in Ala Moana Center. And by now we’ve all had a Western Bacon Cheeseburger from Carl’s Jr., shopped at Express and bought PJs from Victoria’s Secret.

So what’s left?

There’s still In-N-Out Burger, Trader Joe’s and the awe-inspiring Hoover Dam.

Yes, these are on our list.

So we’re throwing it out there to you: what restaurants, boutiques, hotels and attractions should we put on our four-day itinerary? Got any must-dos in Vegas?

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Postcards: Bavarian-style wrap

By September 14, 2011 Postcards

Today’s lunch in Madison: a crispy buffalo chicken wrap with cheddar cheese and ranch dressing from a Bavarian-style eatery on campus. With chips, just $5.95.

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Homesick for Hawaii — or just its food?

By September 14, 2011 Food

To all you transplants in the Bay Area:

Get those iCals open. In October and November, the Taste Hawaii Tour will bring the flavors of the Islands right to you.

Acclaimed James Beard Award-winning chef Alan Wong and Hawaii food historian Arnold Hiura will headline this tour, which will host six events in San Francisco and San Jose between Oct. 27 and Nov. 2.

There will be cooking demonstrations, book signings and, of course, tastings.

Wong and Hiura, assisted by Hukilau Restaurants, will serve dishes from Wong’s latest cookbook, “The Blue Tomato: The Inspirations Behind the Cuisine of Alan Wong,” and classic fare from Hiura’s book, “Kau Kau: Cuisine & Culture in the Hawaiian Islands.”

The tour coincides with the 20th anniversary of the movement of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine, of which Wong was part.

I might even fly up for this!

For a complete list of events or to purchase tickets, visit Taste Hawaii Tour online.

Photo of Hiura by Vivien Kim Thorp

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High school reunions not for me

By September 14, 2011 Musings, The Daily Dish

The other day I was chatting with a colleague and he mentioned his 20th class reunion was coming up.

“You going?”

He frowned. “Nah,” he said. “I see everyone I want to see from high school. What’s the point?”

Exactly what I was thinking.

Shockingly — at least to me — my 20th class reunion is fast approaching, too, and I’m already getting Facebook notifications about it.

I have nothing against get-togethers of old friends and classmates. But a formal, organized reunion where I’d have to wear a name tag and dredge memories of trigonometry class and run into ex-boyfriends? I can think of other things to do that night.

It’s not that I don’t want to see my classmates. In fact, I enjoy running into familiar faces at the mall, grocery store and, most recently, at Rainbow Drive-In. I like catching up, hearing about their kids, what they’ve been up to, who they wound up marrying. But I’m not sure about an entire evening devoted to doing that with, oh, 125 people, many of whom won’t remember me, anyway.

I used to think high school reunions would be fun, a chance to reconnect with old friends and — isn’t this why we all go? — to see how everyone turned out. Did the prom queen get fat? Does the quarterback still have hair? And will my ex show up — and try to talk to me?

You envision — or hope — it will be a lot like “Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion,” where the two friends pretend they invented Post-Its, perform an elaborate dance number stick it to the popular girls and run away with the rich guy in a helicopter. It’s not a bad scenario.

Why do people go to class reunions, anyway? People — like my colleague — always say if those people really mattered that much, they would have kept in touch all these years. Is it the nostalgia? Is it to reconnect with old friends who don’t have Facebook accounts or email?


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Postcards: Blue skies in Madison

By September 13, 2011 Postcards

Blue skies over Madison, Wisc. today, with temperatures in the 80s. It won’t be like this in a couple of months!

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