The Cosmopolitan, And Vegas Delish

I’ve only been to Las Vegas three times — once around 1999 for a work convention, once in 2015 with my bestie (both those stays were at the Mandalay) and in 2017, at The Cosmopolitan. By far — by faaaar even though the Mandalay is nice, the Cosmopolitan is my favorite. In fact, they renovated last year, so the rooms have been updated since these ’17 pics. But this was a beyond-fab room:

The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

What’s got me thinking about this is that the boys are asking for a big trip, and this might be fun to do with them — I’d love to take them to some Cirque du Soleil shows (my faves are O and Beatles LOVE). And staying at the Cosmopolitan puts us on the right ‘end’ of the Strip so walking anywhere is a lot easier.

The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

Sidenote: the room had fun wallpaper, including Piero Fornasetti’s Tema e Variazioni design, inspired by the Italian opera singer Lina Cavalieri. Fornasetti’s site is great, btw.

The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

I’m not a wallpaper aficionado but really enjoyed the designs they had in the room — I was wondering if maybe this one with the birds was Cole and Son, but I don’t see it on their site.

The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

and this one below is a more interesting pattern than is immediately obvious — see the girls/women?

The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

Anyway, our balcony room was beyond fab — we spent all kinds of time on it, taking in the Strip and especially the fountain show at the Bellagio.

Bellagio Fountain from our balcony at The Cosmopolitan Bellagio Fountain from our balcony at The Cosmopolitan

Bellagio Fountain from our balcony at The Cosmopolitan

The boys would eat that up. Lots of great restaurants I’d like to take them back to (Le Cirque, Lotus of Siam, Nobu, and Wing Lei are some of our faves). Staying at the Cosmopolitan also makes it crazy easy to go to the in-hotel restaurants we enjoy, like:

Beauty & Essex:

Beauty & Essex, The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas Beauty & Essex, The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

Foie Gras, Beauty & Essex, The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas


Pork Ramen, Momofuku, The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

Rose. Rabbit. Lie.:

Rose Rabbit Lie at the Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas Rose Rabbit Lie at the Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

and Scarpetta:

Scarpetta at The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas Scarpetta at The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

…and just to see the design of some of the other hotels is its own thing.

The Wynn:

Wynn Las Vegas

The Venetian:

The Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas

Anne Patterson Another Sky Sculpture, The Venetian, Las Vegas

The Bellagio:

Bellagio Hotel Flowers, Las Vegas

I’m talking myself into it. Yeah.

Park City

For our Salt Lake City / Park City trip, we stayed at Marriott’s Summit Watch Vacation Club Resort. Since it’s a ski resort rather than a regular hotel, it has different amenities, like the kitchenette in each room and the family activities like crafts for kids. It’s super close to everything, including the ski lift. There was nothing ‘wrong’ with this room or the resort, but I’d like to stay somewhere different next time.

Marriott's Summit Watch Vacation Club Resort, Park City UT Marriott's Summit Watch Vacation Club Resort, Park City UT

Marriott's Summit Watch Vacation Club Resort, Park City UT

The biggest plus of staying here, I think, is the walking trail behind it, which runs along a little creek, and the walkability of the whole town

Marriott's Summit Watch Vacation Club Resort, Park City UT

and the shoe tree is right at the resort too:

Shoe Tree, Marriott's Summit Watch Vacation Club Resort, Park City UT

Even though it was warm out, the ski lift stays in operation. We were just dressed in our regular street clothes and got on. BTW, when they hear that you’ve never done this before, and they warn you that when it’s time to hop off and to keep briskly walking, take that advice because otherwise, the lift is going to just nearrrrrrly knock you over! Hurry! haaaaaa!

Park City Ski Lift Park City Ski Lift

Park City Ski Lift Park City Ski Lift

It was time to walk around Park City more — they have these commemorative manhole covers from the 2002 Olympic Winter Games

Park City Manhole Cover. Olympic Winter Games 2002. The whole town is so pretty and walkable. No wonder Sundance is so fabulous (this year it’s January 23 – February 2). This is the Egyptian Theatre. Egyptian Theatre, Park City UT

Egyptian Theatre, Park City UT Egyptian Theatre, Park City UT

a Banksy — camera man and flower:

Banksy Camera Man and Flower, Park City UT Banksy Camera Man and Flower, Park City UT

We really liked staying in Park City for the SLC part of our trip, and I know we’d have a fun time again — just different, because of the season — if we went now. We’d definitely need to bring the boys and start on the bunny slopes; PC has the largest ski area in the country so lots of options. I just checked now, and their high today is 25* and the hotel we stayed is almost booked.

Milk Bar’s Compost Cookies

One of the places we went at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas was Milk Bar
Milk Bar at The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas Milk Bar at The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

I’ve checked out founder Christina Tosi’s cookbooks from the library — her All About Cake, Momofuku Milk Bar, and Milk Bar Life.

Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookie, Milk Bar, Las Vegas

Actually, the first thing we had from Milk Bar was from Momofuku next door. After our lunch there, we ordered Milk Bar’s (Christina Tosi started at Momofuku so they stay tight) crack pie off the Momofuku dessert menu:

Crack Pie at Momofuku, Las Vegas

It has an oat-filled crust, and the filling is like it wants to be a really thick custard but is so much more sweet and sticky than that. I’m all about pies so I know my ideas about them can be a little critical, but this wasn’t one of my faves. With a big howEVER, though, a few years ago, crack pie got a crazy amount of attention from the media (think Magnolia Bakery cupcake level), and people were just super enthusiastic about it. I’m sure I’m in the minority. I hope if you try a slice, you’ll be a fan of it. The recipe is available here at BA. Thing is, we decided to run next door to Milk Bar proper and just pick up a couple of cookies for later and see what we thought of those. We weren’t wild about these corn cookies:

Corn Cookie, Milk Bar, Las Vegas

Or these compost cookies. Now, they weren’t bad at all. They just weren’t faaaaabuloussssss.

Compost Cookie, Milk Bar, Las Vegas

Anyway, last week the boys didn’t have a lot of homework one night so I decided to make the batter for the compost cookies from one of her cookbooks (the recipe is on the Milk Bar official site, too) to give the boys an opportunity to get a little creative in the kitchen. Maybe if we did our own thing with it, we could make them more to our liking. No matter what, it would be fun to play around with.

Compost cookies from Milk Bar recipe

If you have a chocolate chip recipe that you like, making it minus the chips will give you an excellent base for the next part.

I made just a half batch of batter from the compost cookie recipe so we didn’t have too many going on (seriously the more we make, the more I’m going to have to think about NOT eating). On the kitchen island, I put out a selection of things the boys could choose from to include — which is why they’re called ‘compost’ cookies — you just put in whatever sounds good. Oats? Choc chips? Pretzels? Leftover Halloween candy? Any or all. That’s the fun part.

Compost cookies from Milk Bar recipe

I made each of them a bowl of half the batter, and a few salty and sweet things put out. Of *course* they thought it was super fun, and the final dough they made didn’t share very much in common. It was a great way to finish off partial bags of chips and a peanut butter jar that was getting low too.

Compost cookies from Milk Bar recipe

Shug was mostly about peanut butter and white chocolate
Compost cookies from Milk Bar recipe

Shugie, a little of everything. Have to say, the salty pretzels MADE it.

Compost cookies from Milk Bar recipe Compost cookies from Milk Bar recipe

The cookies rested in the fridge as dough for 24 hours, then we baked them.

Making Milk Bar's Compost Cookies

Second only to cold raw cookie dough, in my world, is a cookie so hot out of the oven that you have to eat it with a spoon.

Compost cookies from Milk Bar recipe

Compost cookies from Milk Bar recipe

Really, really, really good.

Right now on the Milk Bar site is the recipe for their ‘Really Big Holiday Chocolate Cookie‘ which is one of those giant cookies the diameter of a pie and yeah, that does sound like fun too.

Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate today! Xoxo!

Seven Magic Mountains

Ugo Rondinone's Seven Magic Mountains outside Las Vegas

Pics from our visit to Seven Magic Mountains, Ugo Rondinone’s art environment about ten miles south of Las Vegas:

Ugo Rondinone's Seven Magic Mountains outside Las Vegas

From the site:

Comprised of seven towers of colorful, stacked boulders standing more than thirty feet high, Seven Magic Mountains is situated within the Ivanpah Valley adjacent to Sheep Mountain and the McCullough, Bird Spring, and Goodsprings ranges of mountains. A creative expression of human presence in the desert, Seven Magic Mountains punctuates the Mojave with a poetic burst of form and color.

Ugo Rondinone's Seven Magic Mountains outside Las Vegas Ugo Rondinone's Seven Magic Mountains outside Las Vegas

Ugo Rondinone's Seven Magic Mountains outside Las Vegas Ugo Rondinone's Seven Magic Mountains outside Las Vegas

It will be up through the end of 2021.

Ugo Rondinone's Seven Magic Mountains outside Las Vegas Ugo Rondinone's Seven Magic Mountains outside Las Vegas

Ugo Rondinone's Seven Magic Mountains outside Las Vegas Ugo Rondinone's Seven Magic Mountains outside Las Vegas

L O V E.

Ugo Rondinone's Seven Magic Mountains outside Las Vegas Ugo Rondinone's Seven Magic Mountains outside Las Vegas

Ugo Rondinone's Seven Magic Mountains outside Las Vegas

This Week’s Various

S-Town is deservedly getting lots of love in best-of-the-decade podcast lists. Can’t recommend it highly enough — I even re-listen to parts of it every so often (and it came out two years ago).

“…cause you know kids around here have grown up so destitute they don’t have a sense to be ashamed of anything, they just tell everything”

“I have this old crummy Ford truck. You can’t be a redneck and live in Alabama without a damn Ford truck, can you? And I keep thinking, could I put everything that I would put in that truck and drive down that driveway for the last time? But then again, who’d take care of mama, who’d feed the puppies, you know, who’d water the flowers, who’d prune the maze…”

Macon, Georgia now has Mercer Music at Capricorn (Capricorn Sound Studios, where the Allman Brothers and other Southern rock bands recorded) as a music incubator, and the new Museum at Capricorn will open January 2.

Wilmer Wilson's Self Portrait as a Model Citizen, at Lexington KY 21c Museum Hotel
closeup on Wilmer Wilson’s Self Portrait as a Model Citizen, at Lexington KY 21c Museum Hotel, 2016

Lots going on next year for the 2020 Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative.

Old Monroe County Courthouse - To Kill A Mockingbird
Staircase at the Old Monroe County Courthouse, Alabama

From Book Riot: The Best Epigraphs of 2019 includes:

“We are bound by a common anguish.”
—Harper Lee
(From Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep)

Leading the December 11 Magnificent Jewels auction at Christie’s were two lots from the  Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Sold to Benefit Future Acquisitions:

‘The duPont Ruby,’ Burmese ruby, emerald, diamond, and natural pearl brooch of 11.20 carats ($3,500,000-5,500,000); and ‘The duPont Emerald,’ Belle Époque Colombian emerald and diamond ring of 9.11 carats, Tiffany & Co. ($500,000-700,000), both formerly from the collection of Mrs. Alfred I. duPont. 

The duPont Ruby was the top lot and sold for $8,957,750.

Alabama State Capitol, Montgomery AL

Alabama State Capitol, Montgomery

All of the Belles: The Montgomery Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald, published by New South, will be available March 3, 2020.

During his Roaring Twenties heyday, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote three stories about the belles of Tarleton, Georgia, a setting readers recognized as a thinly veiled version of his wife Zelda Sayre’s hometown of Montgomery, Alabama…

The Atlantic interviews Aaron Sorkin and Ed Harris on TKAM since Harris’ taking on the part of Atticus:

Sims: …And then I had forgotten that To Kill a Mockingbird also ends with a crime—the [murder] of Bob Ewell [by Boo Radley, trying to protect Scout]—being covered up!

Sorkin: Isn’t it amazing? I had forgotten about it too, and I couldn’t believe it!

Sims: It’s a story about the greatest lawyer of all time—Atticus—and he’s complicit in this crime!

Sorkin: This novel ends with, as Scout said, “the most honest and decent person in Maycomb” covering up murder with a judge and a sheriff. Why didn’t that ever come up in my eighth-grade class? I saw that and thought, Well, I can tell this exact same story, but can’t that [tension] be part of it from the beginning?

TKAM will perform — for free — to ~18k NYC public school students at the Madison Square Garden on Feb 26.

Breakfast at Beacon Light Tea Room, Bon Aqua TN

above: Beacon Light Tea Room in Bon Aqua included on the list

These 5 Southern cooking restaurants that you won’t find within Nashville’s city limits from The Tennessean is something to keep in mind. Also:

My favorite sign was in the men’s room: “Don’t forget to wash your hands and pray because Jesus and germs are everywhere.”

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum‘s next play will be “Alabama Story,” about censorship and civil rights, inspired by real events.

Fryer Gizzards

fryer gizzards from the meat section of an independent grocery store I shop

Emily Rees Nunn’s An Indie Grocer Is Fighting Back Against the Big-Box Monster — and Winning: Turns out, connecting with a community IRL still makes a difference at Medium’s Heated, on her hometown grocery store:

He now runs the place from the small, messy office that once belonged to Jackie, who died in August at 82. It’s behind the produce station (turnips, sweet potatoes, shelly beans, dried beans, no arugula); just beyond the bakery (where coconut cakes were being built, and takeout banana puddings and party cheese balls were on display); past shelves of canned goods whose brands you’ve never heard of but that I grew up on (like Luck’s) and locally milled cornmeal and buckwheat flour; down the aisle from the wall of country ham, “mountain butter,” and a refrigerator case full of livermush, fatback, ham patties, and other country delicacies; and past the swinging door where giant slabs of fresh meat were being cut.

Scott's Hot Tamales, Greenville MS

above: from a visit to Scott’s in 2005

Tracing Hot Tamales’ Journey From Mexico to the Mississippi Delta at Chowhound

Elizabeth Scott of Scott’s Hot Tamales in Greenville was actually introduced to tamales when she lived in Texas with her husband, who was stationed at an army base there. She opened the shop when they returned to Mississippi and fine-tuned her own signature tamale, which is made with beef brisket. “It’s an anomaly in the Delta but it speaks to how their recipe originated,” says Evans.

Monument 'To Our Confederate Women' at Ouachita County Courthouse, Arkansas

above: a monument ‘To Our Confederate Women’ at Ouachita County Courthouse, Arkansas (these monuments most often only mention the men during this period)

The future for removed CSA monuments is unclear. In this week’s Commercial Appeal, they note that the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Columbia, Tennessee have possession of the statues of Forrest and Davis that were removed from Memphis parks almost two years ago, and Forrest and his wife Mary Ann’s remains may also be moved to the SCV’s new museum (opening May 23) — but the director says “It’s always been our position that we do not want this to be a monument graveyard.”

Lonnie Holley

above: a visit with Lonnie Holley, doing an art demo, from 2009

NY’s upcoming Outsider Art Fair is January 16-19, though the 16th is for those who pay the extra privilege. Its OAF TALK (register here) at the New Museum is Jan 14 with Just Don’t Call it Practice! including Lonnie Holley as one of the panelists. They’ll be focusing on Roberta Smith’s 2007 article, ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Art’ and how:

Market realities, language, and criticism often make artists more professional and less adventurous. Conversely, outsider artists are, for the most part, untethered to art world conventions, not concerned with pleasing the three C’s (Critics, Curators and Collectors). When an artist refers to their own “practice” it indicates they are safe to be around. Smith took issue with the term, which is still commonly used today…

Gulf Shrimp and Grits, Coquette, New Orleans

above: shrimp and grits at Coquette in New Orleans

Shrimp and grits seasoned with Old Bay is one thing. But putting Old Bay on plain grits?


above: I like making ‘good’ fruitcake cupcake style

Remember that fruit cake is only yucky and odd if you put yucky and odd things in it. Put delicious things in and…you know the rest.

Loveless Cafe, Nashville TN

above: from a visit to Biscuit Love

Karl Worley’s (Nashville, Biscuit Love) biscuit recipe

Turkey and the Wolf, New Orleans

above: a visit to Turkey and the Wolf in New Orleans

Robert Moss calls Food & Wine out on their characterization of Rodney Scott’s history, bbq evolution.

His barbecue restaurant is included in F&W’s Most Important Restaurants of the Decade list. Among those 13 chosen:

Husk, Charleston
Rodney Scott’s BBQ, Charleston
Bad Saint, DC
The Grey, Savannah
Turkey and the Wolf, New Orleans

Cicada Shell

above: Shugie just happened to bring me a cicada shell to have on my desk this week, and I put it on a post-it for this post…voila

These words together: cicadas, magnolia buds, hairy monkeys.

Peas and Beans, Farmer's Market, Birmingham AL

peas at the farmer’s market on Finley Blvd in Bham

At Tennessee Farm Table: Ronni Lundy on Why We All Eat Pinto Beans on the Mountain South

Just found out that there was a custom during this season years ago of “dry sitting” or “mummering” — people coming by in masks to members of the community, being welcomed in, those in masks not saying anything, and members of the household trying to guess who they were — the masked guests would sometimes serenade the members of the household with Christmas carols and receive treats. Anyone who is familiar with this custom (anywhere), please contact me. Thanks! xoxo!

Pikeville Road Store, Scottsboro AL Pikeville Road Store, Scottsboro AL

Pikeville Road Store, Scottsboro AL

Had great lunch at Pikeville Store and Grill in Scottsboro, Alabama today. They keep popcorn salt on the table to season the crinkle fries, and the hamburgers are delish (and kinda salty, so I’m wondering if the popcorn salt makes it to the grill too?). Gotta love a store with a porch dog. They gave him a fresh Cool Whip container of water as we were walking in.

Got me thinking of the dog at the Causeyville General Store — I understand that the store is finally closed, that the owner retired.

Causeyville General Store, Causeyville MS

or the shoe store in West Helena, Arkansas with all the cats.
The world needs more stores with animals.

Read part of Kaye Gibbons’ ‘The First Grade, Jesus, and the Hollyberry Family’ in Southern Selves this week, recalling visits to her school of a New Life Ministries preacher who would come in three or four times a year to do religious instruction.

Then, he would move on to What Hell Looks Like. He spoke with the conviction of one who had, quite literally, been there and back. This was a true waste of his time because everybody in the auditorium was Baptist. We had a very clear understanding of Hell. The children who attended the crazed, renegade Baptist churches that had splintered off from similarly outrageous evangelical congregations could’ve gone to the bathroom in Hell in the dark.

PS: at my high school, we were offered the opportunity to go to the library (which just almost no one did, mostly the ‘poor kids’ prob, and you know walking the wrong direction to an assembly had to be just an incredible walk of shame) OR attend assemblies by groups like The Power Team (Vice’s The Power Team Was the Bloody, Evangelical Freakshow That Ruled the 80s).

Graceland Too, June 2014

above: the actual Graceland Too in 2014 

Lee Harper of History Bones made a piece for my friend Amy Evans (who’s quoted above in the tamale article) and ohmygoshhhhh it is so good. Lee takes commissions and has ready-to-ship pieces here on her Etsy. Amy’s new book, A Good Meal is Hard to Find, is coming out late April and available for preorder now. Her art available here.

Mrs Wright’s Cocoons  Mrs Wright’s Cocoons

Shugie and I made Mrs. Wright’s Cocoons (think Mexican wedding cookies), one of Eudora Welty’s favorite treats, included in the Symphony League’s The Jackson Cookbook. Welty: “To make a friend’s fine recipe is to celebrate her once more.” 

Our only change was that we thought the dough needed a little salt, so we added that. They were fab. The recipe is available here at the Welty site.

It’s a big week upcoming for many of us. No matter what you’re up to, may it bring you incredible joy. Love! xoxo!