Thursday, June 26, 2014

It's Vegas Baby, revisited

Well, the difference a week or two makes.

I know it's probably not fair to be comparing William B's to It's Vegas Baby. After all, William B's is essentially as good as it gets. The staff is beyond expectation from top to bottom, the top being Patrick Cullars, the bottom... well, there truly is no bottom. The staff reflects and clearly respects Patrick's vision. There's no discontinuity between portrayal and enactment. Our latest experience was guided by the 17 year veteran Katherine, a consummate professional, whose admission of 17 years of devotion to impeccable service suggested she began her tenure as roughly a 13-year-old, which of course couldn't possibly be. I'm just trying to do the math backwards from her youthful appearance and demeanor.

Anyway, back to It's Vegas Baby.

I'm not sure exactly what happened at the front desk, but despite having made a reservation, others who hadn't made reservations were admitted before us, despite our standing right out front in clear view. Not sure if that sounds like a typical snafu to you, but it felt that way to us. And despite having made that reservation merely 15 minutes in advance, the hostess still needed to ask my name, which is a rather easy name to remember for most people ("Champagne").

After that, we had excellent service from Andrea, who has impressed us before. But it seemed a bit odd to hear that the wine we ordered - a staple on the menu - wasn't available because "it still hasn't been loaded off the truck". Um... really? So we said we'd wait for that unloading to take place. But it wasn't available in the 15 minutes wait time projected, and there was no attempt to coax us into an alternative for the same price, so we bailed on that portion of our order.

As usual, the food was great, and the portions generous. But you know how it is when you feel like the theme from "Twilight Zone" should be playing? That's how the experience played out. Perhaps Rod Serling would have felt at home, but we felt as though we were extras in a B movie.

Music for Good and TeamRissa A Musical Celebration of Love and Life!

Popular Motivation Internet Radio with ArtSees Diner Radio on BlogTalkRadio

A great night of music! A.J. Croce, Gregory Abbott, Shun Kikuta, BoPoMoFo, Tombstone Bullet Band, Leilah, Michelle Qureshi, William Rottman, Matt Williams, Josey Milner, Doug Briney, Jiggley Jones, Xander Demos, T Dawn, Ed Roman, Hicks, Marshall Dane, Amy Rose and Champagne and LaLuna, The music was generously donated by these musicians for this event! Thank you for the healing power of music!

Special Thanks to Michael Stover and Steve Champagne.

Donate and know that every dollar will go to make this journey a little easier on Marissa and her son. Thank you for stopping by!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Doobie Brothers Coming to Four Winds Casino Tickets go on Sale June 25, 2014


NEW BUFFALO, Mich. – June 23, 2014 – The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians’ Four Winds casinos are pleased to announce an upcoming concert by the Doobie Brothers at Four Winds New Buffalo’s Silver Creek Event Center on Friday, August 29, at 9 p.m. Eastern. Tickets for the event can be purchased beginning on Wednesday, June 25 at 10 a.m. Eastern exclusively through the Ticketmaster Web site,, or by calling at (800)745-3000. Ticket prices start at $50 plus applicable fees.

The Doobie Brothers are an American music institution and have sold more than 30 million albums. They are the winners of four Grammy awards and have amassed one diamond, three multi-platinum, seven platinum and 14 gold albums. Throughout their career, the Doobie Brothers have tallied five top 10 singles and 16 top 40 hits including “Black Water,” “What a Fool Believes,” “Rockin’ Down the Highway,” “Take Me In Your Arms,” “Takin’ it to the Streets,” and more. In 2011, the band marked a new chapter by filming a CMT “Crossroads” special with country music superstar Luke Bryan, and appeared for the first time ever at the Grand Ole Opry. They continue to write and record new material, tour the world, boasting one of the most loyal fan bases in music, all while breaking new creative ground in the exploration of their musical connection with Nashville. More information on the Doobie Brothers is available at

Four Winds New Buffalo’s Silver Creek Event Center is a 1,500 seat, multi-use facility that is located next to the casino floor. In addition to hosting concerts, the 17,000 sq. ft. event center can be reconfigured to host a variety of meetings, special events, conferences, and banquets. Details on concerts at Silver Creek Event Center are available at

Reservations and Information

To make a hotel reservation at Four Winds New Buffalo or for more information on Four Winds New Buffalo, Four Winds Hartford, or Four Winds Dowagiac, please call 1 (866)-4WINDS1, (866)494-6371 or visit Additionally, be sure to like Four Winds on Facebook at and follow on Twitter at for information on the latest offers and promotions.

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Media Contacts: Joshua Taustein, Dresner Corporate Services, (312)780-7219, David Gutierrez, Dresner Corporate Services, (312)780-7204,

Saturday, June 21, 2014

South Bend Chocolate Cafe in downtown Mishawaka, Indiana

Mary and I had a wonderful time performing at South Bend Chocolate Cafe in downtown Mishawaka, Indiana last night. The steady stream of customers indicated quality cuisine. The employees where cheerful, responsive, and easy on the optic nerve.

The real icing on the cake of our experience was the carryout food that was part of our compensation, greedily devoured in the car on the way home. I can say without reservation that my ham and cheese sandwich was easily the best I've ever had out. The ham was obviously real ham as opposed to lunch meat ham. It was perfectly balanced by a fine, expertly melted cheese. Though it was too dark in the car to see what I was inhaling, my tongue relished the slightly toasted and buttered bread, which was no ordinary bread at that.

Google maps tells me we're 43.1 miles from 117 S Main St. in Mishawaka, Indiana. My taste buds tell me there ain't no 43.1 miles high enough to keep me from enjoying another fabulous sandwich there.

And to think that we didn't even get to the chocolate itself! Do make haste!

Friday, June 20, 2014

It's Vegas, Baby!

While not literally the deal of the century, one can't help but feel a trip to "It's Vegas, Baby!" (at Blue Chip Casino, Michigan City, Indiana) for their Thursday night "Vegas Italiano" to be a reasonable facsimile. $12.99 fetches you soup, salad, bread, a choice of pasta/sauce, and dessert. Great wine is available for as little as $14.99 a bottle. You can add protein to the pasta for a little more, but there's really no need given the side of the pasta portions. The bolognese sauce I ordered came with plenty of meat to satisfy my Paleolithic urges.

The ambience is pleasantly subdued: lights down, a sense that library level conversation is appropriate. The dining area is surrounded by TV screens displaying a fascinating, long-playing tribute to Las Vegas, which educates even as it entertains.

Last night's staff seemed just a bit beneath the challenge of the above average crowd in attendance. Indeed, we'd grown accustomed to practically having the place to ourselves. But word has apparently gotten out, and those days are over, so you best make a reservation. Given the Boyd Corporation's dedication to excellence, I have every reason to believe last night's service struggles were merely an aberration in the face of unanticipated turn out. Still, the food was easily worth the wait.

We didn't have time to stay for the regular Thursday night "dueling pianos" show, but we've heard it's fantastic.

All in all, this is must try experience. And don't forget the dessert is coming, or like me your lust for the fantastic pasta and sauce will have you filled beyond capacity!

New Zealand Conquers Chicago's Wine Scene With "Complexity"

"Up on the roof" was the song that was swimming through my head as my sister Marissa Rapier and I joined the Complexity crew. It was a glorious Sunday (June 9) at Wrigleyville, Chicago. The NZ sips Chicago wine event was held atop the Brixen Ivy considered one of Wrigley's Rooftop establishments. Imagine walking in to a naturally lit room overlooking Wrigley Field surrounded by winemakers from New Zealand, Kiwi accents filling the room, beautiful wine bottles carefully displayed for our impending pleasure. Imagine the excitement of the first pitch. The streets below quickly filling with Chicago Cub fans. Their excitement rose up to blend with the joy that was filling the room and was only equal to the first pour by Rudi Bauer as he carefully poured Quartz Reef Methode Traditionelle non Vintage, Central Otago into our glasses like a papa handing off his first born!

I invite you to listen to my audio blog, a celebration of New Zealand and the Complexity crew. Then go to your local wine shops, vendors, and restaurants and ask that they begin to offer New Zealand wines. Truly a sensory experience you won't soon forget!

Online Wine Radio at Blog Talk Radio with ArtSees Diner Radio on BlogTalkRadio

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Alambre Is Served Up Right at El Salto, Chesterton

El Salto in Chesterton has done it with style. Thanks to Lupita's food suggestion, Steve and I enjoyed a wonderful dish tonight called, ¨Alambre.¨ Alambre is a traditional dish originating from Mexico and is especially popular in Mexico City and Oaxaca. It is a blend of tender strips of steak, pablano peppers, onions, tomatoes, queso enchilado and melted cheese. Delish!

Along with their delicious dishes are their specialty drinks, which are frequently on special. As you can see in the picture, the 27oz, Margarita made with Petron is a special treat. Like many Mexican restaurants, guests are greeted with fresh tortilla chips, served with homemade salsa, muy delicioso is the best way to describe El Salto's fresh salsa served up in a decanter guaranteeing that you pour out as needed. It is wonderful served this way as it allows you the freedom to pour the salsa on the chips and on your freshly served entree.

If you are driving East on 80/94 from Chicago-land make sure you get off at the Valparaiso/Chesterton exit, and stop in for a very special treat.

757 Indian Boundary Rd. Chesterton, IN 46304 Phone: 219-395-9890

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mikey's Drive In, Bridgman Michigan

One of the favorite things of The Steve and Mary Show, aka, Champagne and LaLuna is to take long drives on the weekends up the Red Arrow Highway. We wind our way through New Buffalo, through Bridgman, sometimes stopping off at St. Joe MI, or travel up to South Holland. (on more adventurous days we go even farther, oooh ah!) We have our favorite places to stop in. For Steve it is ice cream and books. For me, well, I just enjoy being out and about with Steve.

All winter long Steve has waited patiently to make it over to one of his favorite places to get soft serve. Mikey's Drive In, along Red Arrow Highway in Bridgman Michigan. A quaint little ¨Mom and Pop¨ place where they still have car hops, AND homemade pie along with a very fine soft-serve ice cream.

Steve's long awaited treat was delivered in good form. Imagine our added pleasure to pay only $5.32 for a VERY large chocolate ice cream cone and a large hot caramel sundae with whipped cream and nuts! The sweet taste of success was not only well received by our palettes, but also by our wallets.

It is nice to know that you can still go out on a Saturday drive and not work over time for the next week, just to pay for a special treat. We will be back many times this summer and we will grow sad when they close down for the long cold Southwestern Michigan winters.