Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In celebration of the Tour de France

Every year a major event takes place in my native country of France. Care to guess what it is? It is one of the most prestigious and physically demanding sporting events, better known as the Tour de France. The annual bicycle race covers more than 3,500 kilometers or 2,200 miles throughout France and usually lasts 23 days attracting cyclists from around the world. Millions of spectators, TV viewers and avid followers tune in year after year not only to watch the race but also get a taste of new places, climates and lifestyles.

We here at Mercy have been thinking and decided to participate in the excitement! It actually makes perfect sense because wine allows us to travel, learn and experience through the pallet. So, starting Monday July 6 until July 26, you will be able to take a personal tour through your taste buds with wines from the various regions and sub regions of the hexagon. Just like the race, your Tour de France celebration at Mercy will begin in the Principality of Monaco and end in Paris on the Champs-Elysées. We put together a calendar on the Mercy website featuring all the stages of the race and the accompanying wines from the related region. These wines will be available “by the flight” and “by the glass”, ranging from $8 to $16 each. Let the tour begin!

Vincent Havard

Monday, June 22, 2009

Las Vegas is alive and well

I am writing to you this time from sunny, hot Las Vegas where I am on my annual pilgrimage with my two teenage boys and 2 of their friends. I thought I'd take a different slant on my blog this month and give you my impressions of the economy from the Las Vegas perspective. I heard how bad it was here and my expectation was to find it nearly dead, based on the press I had heard so far this year. Well, Las Vegas is alive and well. I have tried to conduct my own, personal study while here and talk to as many people as I could about how they see this city now; from cab drivers, who, by the way, are never shy at giving you their opinion; to restaurant managers, dealers, pit bosses, and hotel concierges and finally, my own powers of observation.

First, it is packed here! The people are here. I have taken the the boys to shows every night and they are packed! 2 nights out and 2 sell out shows. One more to go! Every show is discounting its tickets from 20-30% to entice people to go out. And they are.

This being our 5th year going with the boys and we usually end up at at least 1 or 2 five star restaurants. This year, we have decided to scale back a bit and are hitting more of the upper mid-tier restaurants. We have had no problems just walking up and being seated, with no reservations. A year ago, we could have never done this. I was told that the higher end, more fine dining establishments are down, some as much as 30%, while the more casual dining is up. Service has been excellent and the waitstaff, appreciative of the business, are taking extra care in their service. Let's hope this trend stays once the economy rebounds.

It is my experience that the gambling tables bump their minimums up on Friday and Saturday. Usually there are NO $10 tables available and everything is $25 minimum. I have had no problem finding a $10 or $15 minimum table on a Friday or Saturday night. The casino was packed as well. Dealers and pit bosses told me that even the "big whales" are not spending as much gambling.

Hats off to Vegas! They have successfully enticed the public to continue to spend money to travel there. They are offering some great rates at all of the major hotels. Once you are there, they are doing their best to entice you take part in all they have to offer by making it more affordable to "play". While people are not spending as much, they are still going out. Club lines are as long as they have ever been. People still want to go out and enjoy themselves. It is a time for "treading" and keeping your head above water. I have a friend who is a long time Vegas retail shop owner in Ceasars' Palace shops. She indicates that the crowds still flock in but not as many people buying as they use to.

The message has been consistent: spending down a bit, but people are still going out. The good news is that people feel good about going out and are not ready to give up on their entertainment. While times may be tougher than they were a year ago, people still need their entertainment and they value that time. As an owner of 2 retail establishments that is a good thing!

Glen Agritelley

Monday, June 15, 2009

Indie Film Summer Movie Guide

The dog days of summer are upon us, and one of my favorite ways to escape the Texas heat is to retreat into an overly air conditioned movie theater. I'm sure you have all heard the hype over Star Trek, Transformers, and Harry Potter, but I'd like to point out a couple of independent gems that are getting a lot of underground recognition from film festivals across the globe.

The Brothers Bloom (Comedy/Heist)
Release Date: Now
Cast: Rachel Wiez, Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo

Plot Synopsis: The Brothers Bloom are the best con men in the world, swindling millionaires with complex scenarios of lust and intrigue. Now they've decided to take on one last job - showing a beautiful and eccentric heiress the time of her life with a romantic adventure that takes them around the world.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HPXfmqIy-4

Moon (Sci Fi/Thriller)
Release Date: July 3rd
Cast: Sam Rockwell

Plot Synopsis: Astronaut Sam Bell has a quintessentially personal encounter toward the end of his three-year stint on the Moon, where he, working alongside his computer, GERTY, sends back to Earth parcels of a resource that has helped diminish our planet's power problems.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhIB0mqbPiE

It Might Get Loud (Rockumentary)
Release Date: August TBA
Cast: The Edge, Jimmy Page, Jack White

Plot Synopsis: A documentary on the electric guitar from the point of view of three significant rock musicians: the Edge (U2), Jimmy Page (Led Zepplin)and Jack White (The White Stripes).

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rl9iS2egnC0

Liz Williams

Monday, June 8, 2009

Eating simple food

By way of an introduction,my name is Mike Castagne,Operations Manager at Mercy.I have been with Mercy since its inception,yet I am probably the least known of Mercy's management team.

My normal work day comprises different duties at Mercy. Front of the House ~ guest relations, Back of the House ~ kitchen supervision, Computer Point of Sale, Special Events and Party Planning and finally,
E-mail response and delivery.

The idea for this week's Mercy blog entry came from an e-mail that I received from a guest concerning one of Mercy's newest menu selections;our Grilled Swordfish with Pappardelle Pasta and Puttanesca Sauce.

Pappardelle pasta is an Italian flat pasta cut into a broad ribbon shape.In width,the pasta is between tagliatelle and lasagna.This pasta is traditionally served with very rich, heavy sauces. This pasta's name comes from the Italian pappare, a verb which means “to gobble up.”

Our pasta sauce is comprised of: anchovies, Roma tomato, capers, basil, olive oil, red wine, Kalamata olives, minced garlic, dried crushed red pepper, salt and pepper.

As I was researching, I found this interesting fact. Puttanesca Sauce is famously named for the fact that Italy's "ladies of the evening" were able to quickly make it between clients. It is a fast and easy sauce and requires nothing more than some everyday items you probably have in your pantry already.

Our swordfish steaks are grilled, then baked and served atop the flavorful pasta and sauce, a mouth watering dish, which is sure to satisfy your tummy.

Eating simple food, what some called "Peasant Foods" are often equated with subsistence living. These are however, the simplest of recipes. Hearty, healthy and tasty meals made from grains, flavored with vegetables, and maybe seasoned with a bit of meat.

Mangiare !

Mike Castagne

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

“A HOT Red for the Summer”

Finally, summer is almost here! But does the scorching Texas heat mean that we all have to temporarily give up on red wine? Of course NOT! Like most of our guests, I’m more of a red wine drinker. There’s nothing like a good light body red or a rose to help me and my wife unwind after a long work day. Well,…….we found it! The perfect light body red to help keep you cool during the upcoming summer months.

This diamond in the rough comes out of Germany from the Valley of “Hex of Dasenstein”. Now try to repeat that ten times in a row. It is the “Amour” 2007 Pinot Noir. As its name suggests, you will definitely fall in love. As soon as the elixir kisses you, be prepared to discover the romantic charm of its deep color and sensuous sweetness. It will seduce you with a rich dense fruit bouquet and bring to mind memories of sweet cherries, elderberries and cassis.

“Amour” 2007 Pinot Noir, a sweet red wine full of passion for romantic moments in the hot summer nights. Best served slightly chilled, you can experience it at Mercy for $15/glass or $45/bottle.

Vincent Havard