Iâ€™m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Corning, California.
Greetings from Corning, California
N 39Â° 52.4549â€™ W 122Â° 12.1464â€™ Elev. 289 feet
When I wrote about the Rolling Hills Casino buffet recently I noted that on Tuesdays and Thursdays the over 50 set get 50% off, and that they serve great prime rib every night. Well, I finally made it on a Tuesday. It was great as expected â€¦ and absurdly cheap. Almost Virgin River cheap!
The dinner buffet is regularly priced at $16.95. But there is a catch to getting 50% off for simply being upright and over age 50 â€” you have to have a Shasta Card, the card the house uses to track your gambling habits.
Iâ€™d gone in shortly after the buffet opened at 4 p.m. and stood in a long line for about 20 minutes or so. It was almost as if I was not the only person over 50 within a reasonable driving distance who was aware of this spectacular deal. Figure that!
It wasn’t until I got to the register that I learned you also had to have a Shasta Card. Starving and slightly miffed, I begrudgingly steeled myself for the inevitable ordeal of getting a card, but not before asking: Am I going to have to stand in line again? â€œNo,â€ the nice lady said. â€œGo get the card and then just come back to the front of the line.â€ So I trudged over to the Shasta Club Card International Card Service Center Desk and signed up. It turned out to be pretty quick and painless. When I returned to the buffet they let me â€œjump the lineâ€ as promised.
They had all kinds of really great stuff besides prime rib that night. Unfortunately, Iâ€™d left the camera on the yacht.
One of the real standouts was Mediterranean Swordfish. Iâ€™m not sure what made it Mediterranean but the baked swordfish was quite good. In addition to the nightly offering of fried shrimp, they also had an Artichoke Encrusted Cod. It seemed a bit heavy-handed creamy sauce-wise, yet the fillets were still a little too crunchy for my taste. Cod is such a great fish that, well, it really needs to be beer-battered, deep-fried and served on a piece of newspaper with some malt vinegar and a snappy tarter sauce.
Another great delight was Stuffed Cabbage. I think RHâ€™s stuffed cabbage is better than Chompieâ€™s. Then again, Chompieâ€™s serves sweet-and-sour cabbage rolls and thatâ€™s a whole â€˜nother creature. Rolling Hillsâ€™ had a more traditional Italian sauce, a marinara basically. The cabbage was super tender and the meat-rice filling was exceptional.
Other unusual offerings that night were Deep Fried Zucchini (very good) and Deep Fried String Beans (stringy and rubbery).
Hoping to take advantage of my newfound find, I visited again late on a Sunday morning. It was disastrous. I went in and the throngs of people wanted to endlessly queue, like sheeple. I could almost hear the Seinfeld Soup Nazi exclaim: â€œNo Eggs Benedict for you!â€ Curiously, there was no line for the omelette station. I got a spinach, bacon, mushroom and cheese omelette that was, well, sadly executed, flat.
The secret to making a great omelette is water. Water! Scramble the eggs with water, keep your pan at medium heat, pull the coagulating egg to the middle, then either cover it or flip and fold it. The water will evaporate. This makes for fluffy scrambles eggs too. Trust me.
I was there again the next Saturday. This time I had the camera but the battery failed after two pictures. Dâ€™oh!
I paid full price for the buffet minus the $1 off for being old and in the way. It was Mexican night that night, which was kind of disappointing. Not because it was bad but because I didnâ€™t want Mexican food. They did, however, have Chili Rellenos which surprised the hell out of me. They were decent but, well, once youâ€™ve had the good fortune to eat truly great rellenos from Lisaâ€™s or Mariscos Uruapan all all other chili rellenos have a very high bar to reach.
To my delight they also had Pumpkin Pie â€” my favorite â€” that night. Unfortunately, they didnâ€™t have real whipped cream, just that phony Cool Whip psuedo-whipped psuedo-topping psuedo-stuff in a giant tray on the strawberry shortcake station. Lord knows what that stuff is. Itâ€™s WRONG regardless. Geez, would it break the casinoâ€™s bank to spring for a can of Reddi-wip?
Pumpkin pie is divine. It shouldn’t be messed with. It doesnâ€™t have to be homemade. A frozen pumpkin pie will do. But you must have real whipped cream. The perfect pumpkin pie is made by my sister, of course. She got the recipe from the back of a can of pumpkin pie filling. And she actually whips the cream. Sheâ€™s a great cook and baker (two separate animals). Sheâ€™s also very generous and very gracious. I think I heard her say â€œAll devout TWEA readers on Californiaâ€™s Central Coast are cordially invited for slice of pumpkin and/or pecan pie on Thanksgiving.â€ With real whipped cream! Seriously.
Last Tuesday I hit the buffet again on half-off senior night with a Shasta Card! Twas $8.47!
The prime rib was better than ever. And I was smart this time. I didn’t overeat and was wise enough to mix the creamed horseradish with the minced horseradish; the creamed is way too mild. Moreover, the prime rib was cooked perfectly rare. It was enough to make a Canadian James Brown scream: â€œGood gawd, yâ€™all! Eh?â€ It was so tender and succulent and the au jus was perfect (not salty).
They also had scalloped potatoes. I thought they looked kind of suspicious in the chafing dish. They turned out to be really, really good. Rolling Hills also has mashed spuds and gravy daily which are really good, too.
I screwed up though. You see, they have this program where, if you have a commercial driverâ€™s license, they will comp you $10 dollars cash or a ($10) shower credit if you play 100 points. I’ve talked to them a number of times but failed to ask basic questions, like â€œWhat is a point? Is it a penny? A dime?â€ So donâ€™t ask me how it all works. Ask Uncle Russ.
They gave me $10 credit when I got the card. But the card is only good for slot play. I canâ€™t play slots. I donâ€™t like the noise or the mindlessness. More so I hate the people who play slots. They stare at the machines, the flashing lights, the spinning icons. Theyâ€™re the glassy-eyed living brain dead.
I played Blackjack to earn my required play; one hour to earn the credit. Thanks to my prowess as a world-renowned card counter, Iâ€™ve lost $35 so far. If I were smarter Iâ€™d know that the reimbursements are somewhat less than my outlays. But Iâ€™m not that smart.
One day Iâ€™ll hire a mathematician to figure out how much Rolling Hills Casinoâ€™s freebies are costing me.
And so we roll.
Rolling Hills Casino, 2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning, California
Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.