One of the things that bums me out most about how the pandemic has pushed the mute button on so many facets of our lives and plunged everything into this kind of extended-play subaquatic unreality is the draining of intrigue and spectacle from everyday public life. (Unless you’re counting as spectacle the burgeoning genre of anti-masker freakout videos, which I most assuredly am not.) And, perhaps just as much as our city’s stellar cuisine and service both on and off the Strip, that sense of social theater has always been a key ingredient of the valley’s dining scene — the stirring stage play of the ordinary that arises from scenes and settings where people are quite simply enjoying themselves. It’s one of the virtues we typically celebrate this time of year with Desert Companion’s annual Restaurant Awards issue. With the dining scene dormant, so are the awards.
Dormant, but certainly not dead! We’re all still eating, just adaptively — hitting drive-throughs, getting curbside, venturing to cook and connect through food a lot more at home. And the fact that our restaurants are adapting, too, is a testament to their resilience and ingenuity — elevating their take-out, experimenting with pantries, meal kits, and cooking classes, even testing out entirely new business models. So, like most celebrations these days, this one is certainly subdued, but I hope our feature highlights how the valley’s culinary scene understands how Las Vegas eats now. But certainly not forever!
Andrew Kiraly, editor
Oh Yeah Also
1. Here’s what we’re cooking at home these days.
Scott Dickensheets: “My pandemic go-to is the same as before — scrambled eggs, literally the only thing I can make — but with a twist. Once I began cooking them two or three times a week, boredom set in. That’s when I made a life-altering discovery: the spice rack. Cumin! Chili powder! Chile flakes! Italian seasoning! Cajun seasoning! Curry powder! OMG, the curry powder! Now I blast my eggs with spontaneous spice combos — and maybe last night’s leftover spag sauce — for a sanity-preserving taste-bud roller coaster. Additional pandemic twist: Spoon the eggs into your facemask and eat on the go!”
Heidi Kyser: “When it’s hot, I eat salad for dinner, and it was a long, hot summer, which meant a lot of salad. I kept it interesting by rotating ingredients through a formula I learned — and have since adapted — from the NY Times cooking section several years ago: Greens (or other base) + sweet/savory + rich/creamy + crunchy. So, for instance, last night I had spinach, pomegranate seeds, feta, and toasted pumpkin seeds.”
Sonja Swanson: “I’ve been making pesto in giant batches and freezing it — then I have pesto for weeks! Pesto pasta, pesto mixed with white beans over zucchini, pesto swirled into soups and dolloped onto pizza. I can’t get enough of that green gold.”
2. Children’s Books for 2020
1. Karenheit 451
2. The Very Hungry Data Broker
3. Oh, the Places You’ll Go Once the Landlord Gets His Way!
4. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, Texting from the Biden Campaign
5. Where the Wild Things Are Holding the Governor
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Baked Covfefe
7. Amy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, but Ultimately Successful Confirmation Hearing
8. Goodnight, Zoom
9. The Little Engine That Could Will Arrive with Your Order in Three Minutes
10. The Cat in the Hat but No Mask Because America
3. Mild winters mean it’s hiking season in Southern Nevada, and what better way to escape the living purgatorial prison of your home than by fleeing to the majesty of nature? At desertcompanion.com (search “recreation”), we’ve got the pandemic-aware lowdown on the region’s national parks and recreation areas. Nature: The original Zoom background!