Candy Bars – Ranked

Ed. note: Little known fact — yours truly is a candy bar connoisseur. A maven of the vending machine; a champion of cheap chocolate. Are candy bars mostly terrible and terrible for you? Of course they are! But when you need a little sugar spike, there’s nothing better. Here’s a buying guide for your Halloween shopping, or the next time you need a quick fix:


Image result for Reese's peanut butter sticks

Reese’s Sticks – not that easy to find but worth it. Gossamer light in the hand and on the palate — the perfect combination of wafer crunch, sweet, savory, peanut and chocolate…with a slightly salty finish. Positively addictive.

Almond Joy – three words: almond, coconut, chocolate.

Mounds – almost as good as with almonds, Mounds always taste fresher than the competition in any candy machine. Same with Almond Joy. (As with AJ, you have to buy into the whole sweetened coconut thing, though.)

100 Grand Bar – sort of an outlier, very dense, with just the right rice crispy crackle, a good long chew, and a solid chocolate finish. Like Reese’s Sticks, something you should grab when you see it. Occasionally, they can be hard and stale, which might (understandably) turn you off to the whole experience. But persevere, and find a packet that hasn’t been sitting around for a year, and you’ll find yourself (occasionally) craving one. If you don’t believe me, ask this candy bar critic!

Reese’s Cups – it’s the sweet/savory/salty thing that sets them apart.

Snickers Almond – in case you haven’t guessed, almonds improve everything. Even a Snickers.

Snickers – some classics never go out of style.

Hershey’s Krackel – so much better than Nestle Crunch (not sickly sweet + crunchier), so much harder to find, too. Don’t believe me? Then trust this blind taste test by people with homemade cat masks over their eyes!

Image result for Twix bar

Twix – I was on the fence about Twix. Something that looks like turd and tastes like a cookie should have no place in the pantheon of purely worthless-yet-craveable candy….but sometimes you just want one.

Nestle Crunch – If I had made this list 25 years ago, Nestle Crunch would have been at the top. But something happened over the years. It became too sweet and blander at the same time. (No doubt because the amount of cocoa butter used these days is practically nil.) Still will grab one occasionally, even though I almost never finish it.


Image result for Japanese kit kat

Kit Kat – Kit Kats made anywhere but America are great. In Japan, they’re a thing (see above). In Europe, they’re wonderful. Here, they taste like sugar on sugar on sugar wrapped with sour chocolate.

Mars – I have no idea what that fluffy white stuff taking up all the room in a Mars bar is, but it’s not sickeningly sweet (at least compared with some fillings), and the almond kick makes it worth it. The retro Mars Bar made by our very own Ethel M Chocolates is a thing of beauty.

Payday – Payday’s are always dry and stale, but there’s no denying the appeal of peanuts on (even stale) caramel.

Baby Ruth – NOT named after the Yankee slugger; WAS named after Grover Cleveland’s daughter!   My issue with Baby Ruth’s is they always shatter into dozens of pieces of cheap chocolate the moment you bite into them. Probably the messiest candy bar this side of a Butterfinger. Never try to eat one anywhere but outdoors or over a sink. The ice cream bar they make, however, is very good, even if it does the same thing.

Hershey’s Almond Bar – they do something to American chocolate that always makes it taste a little sour when compared to the stuff you get in Europe. Hershey’s is the biggest offender, but the almonds (as usual) make up for their shitty recipe.

Mr. Goodbar – Nothing more than a Hershey Bar with peanuts, but I’ll eat peanuts on anything.


Image result for Heath bar

Heath Bar — hard, teeth-cracking toffee and that’s it. A total mess to eat with no big payoff. The best use for a Heath Bar is putting it into ice cream. The only good thing you can say about a Heath Bar is it’s better than a Butterfinger.

Bit-O-Honey – is not a candy bar. It is stale, rancid, ROCK HARD honey wrapped in plastic. When they can’t think of any better use for all that bee vomit they have lying around, they sell it to the Bit-O-Honey factory. The best use for a Bit-O-Honey is patching a tire.

Reese’s Nutrageous – How could something born as the love-child of a peanut butter cup with a Baby Ruth Bar crossed with a Snickers be such a mistake? Totally out of balance, there is too much and not enough going on at the same time.

Image result for Butterfinger candy


Butterfinger – there is no excuse for Butterfingers in the candy bar kingdom. Gertrude Stein was really describing a Butterfinger when she said “there is no there, there.” Just fake chocolate surrounding something that resembles shredded yellow paper soaked in fake fake butter. People who like Butterfingers are not nice human beings. (NO ONE DENIES THIS!) They’re the types that leave stale food in the office refrigerator for weeks, don’t pick up their dog’s shit, and cheat on their taxes. The last time I saw a guy eating a Butterfinger he was beating his wife and urinating on his neighbor’s lawn.

Image result for milky way candy bar

Milky Way – You can’t hate Milky Ways the way you loathe Butterfingers. They’re too innocuous. Just a bunch of tasteless fluff taking up space so not-enough caramel can be covered with fake chocolate. Milky Ways are to candy bars what Kenny G is to jazz.

Three Musketeers – Remember when you’re a kid and you came home from trick or treating with a big pillowcase full of goodies and you dumped them on your living room floor to behold your ill-gotten booty. Chunky was a big thing back then and you were fascinated by its tiny brick of hard chocolate (but turned off by the nuts and raisins inside). Snickers were prized and Almond Joys were the Holy Grail. And Three Musketeers….? Well, they were the flotsam and jetsam of your haul. The first thing to be jettisoned. The ones always left at the bottom of the sack. Why? Because they SUCKED! “Fluffy whipped nougat” my ass. They sucked in 1964 and they suck today. You know a candy bar is shit when even an eight year old can’t be talked into eating it.


The Scariest Thing in Las Vegas


Happy All Hallow’s Eve!

We at ELV hope you enjoy your horrors on this night of terrors.

Which got us to thinking (and no, it didn’t hurt): What is the scariest thing to most people?




Clowns under your bed? (see above)

We looked up “phobias” and the list was so long we instantaneously developed pinaciphobia – a fear of lists.

Then we got to thinking a little harder (and yes, it began to hurt, a little), and then we realized what scares us more than anything in Las Vegas: wine lists with lots of commas.

And then we realized, without thinking hard at all, what was the scariest thing in Las Vegas restaurants, and the answer was easy. Behold if you can, ladies and gentlemen, the most terrifying thing in Las Vegas, the wine list at Carnevino:

As you can see, it is not for the timid. It is huge: it is massive; it is intimidating; it can be hard to read, and it is also stocked with only a single bottle for under $100 — a mediocre, overpriced prosecco in the upper left hand corner for $85. The cheapest Italian white wine on the list is $150. (Ed. note: there isn’t an Italian white wine on earth worth $150/btl.)

The last thing it is for (as you’ll read below) is selling wine to the average, well-heeled restaurant consumer who has a healthy interest in drinking Italian wines.

It is a list so overpriced as to make a mockery of every other tourist-soaking, conventioneer-gouging, fuck-you wine list on the Strip.

It is a list so ridiculous it will make you run to Joël Robuchon, Guy Savoy, or Twist by Pierre Gagnaire for relief.

It is wine pricing so outrageous that it should embarrass co-owner Joe Bastianich, who, in the foreward to his 2010 book Grandi Vini – An Opinionated Tour of Italy’s 89 Finest Wines (2010)  wrote that wines on restaurant wine list should never be priced at “over 2 1/2 times over their wholesale cost.”

This is the same Joe B. who wrote in his book Restaurant Man (2012): “We’re in the business of of taking people’s money, but we’re not in the business of ripping people off.” He also claims in the same book that he sometimes “can’t sleep at night” thinking about the size of the checks in his restaurants.

To which I call horseshit.

So what is it Joe? Are you interested in people appreciating wine, or just bending over high rollers? Or are you and Mario Batali too busy being TV stars to care anymore?

Bastianich also says that the price of wine is “…more like art than cars — the subjectivity is what drives its price, but the quantitative costs quickly dissociate themselves from the price when the product reaches the consumer.”

To which I would ask him: What subjectivity makes a $60 bottle of Jermann Tunina (that cost you $30) worth $210 on your wine list? Is it really your appreciation of the “art” in the bottle that has you selling your entire wine list for 4-5xs the wholesale price of these wines?

Wine most definitely is not like clothing, or furniture, or cars. It is the only consumer product I know of where a certain type of retailer (restaurants) unblinkingly, unapologetically, charge double or triple the retail price of something you can buy much cheaper just down the street. Because, atmosphere.

To which I am finally forced to call bullshit.

But there is a reason for this rapacity, oh yes, there is.

As one general manager of another Strip restaurant told me, “Carnevino has a partnership with the Venetian, so all it (the wine list) is there for is to soak up comps.”

Another local wine purveyor of great repute calls the list a “rape job,” and that about gets it right.

None of this will endear me to the folks at Carnevino, but someone has to say it out loud, because enough is enough.

I love you Carnevino, I love your food, and I love your atmosphere, and I love what you’ve done for the Las Vegas food community and restaurant scene. And I used to love your wine list, like five years ago when it was merely expensive.

But I know a clip joint when I see one, and I will drink wine no more in your establishment.

Your list has given me a bad case of oenopinaciphobia (fear of wine lists), and the only cure I know for it is to do my Italian wine drinking in Italy. Or Ferraro’s.

I am divorcing the “vino” from Carnevino, until some sanity is restored. Until then, enjoy counting your money Mario and Joe, and stop slinging the bull about sleepless nights and your “love” of Italian wine.


ELV update: Last night at dinner we received this tweet from Mario Batali:

 Mario Batali Retweeted John Curtas

hey jc for tonite we have 29 wines under $80 16 wines under $60 2 wines under $50 and that’s just the start! thanks bud!

Mario Batali added,

ELV’s Staff Missed Halloween by a Day

ELV’s hardworking staff:

…was working so hard yesterday they plum forgot it was All Hallow’s Eve.

Which, BTW, also happens to be Nevada Day.

Sort of appropriate, huh?

Anyway, we wuz so bizy, we forgots ta dress up and wish everyone a Happy Halloween/Nevada Day.

So Happy Whatever….and we hope the slutty nurse costumes were out in force.

On the adults…not the eight year olds.

Which leads us to the question: When did adults hijack Halloween? And why?

And when will they learn that anyone over the age of twelve looks absurd in a costume?