The Buttery Blog

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Travel Blog: Las Vegas July 26, 2009

Filed under: Travel-USA — butteryblog @ 11:03 am
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When Lord Butterbuns said he was attending a conference in Las Vegas, he asked if I wanted to come for a few days. I hadn’t been to Las Vegas in many years and we hadn’t been on a trip together since last November, so it seemed like a fine idea. After all, think of the food!

In case you didn’t know, it’s effing HOT in Vegas in July. Over 110°. Very little desire to leave the hotel for any reason. We stayed at the Bellagio, which is quite nice. The lobby is beautiful — Dale Chihuly sculpture overhead and gorgeous flower arrangements throughout — but it’s hard to see it all amongst the throng of tourists (of which, make no mistake, I include myself).

We went to see Lance Burton’s magic show at the Monte Carlo. Sure, it’s cheesy and overly produced, but magic is fun. Here’s an unscripted exchange that happened toward the end of the show:

Lance: Any questions?

(pause)

Man in Audience: How’d you do that?

Lance: I could tell you but I’d have to kill you.

(pause)

Man in Audience: Could you tell my wife?

(audience erupts into laughter)

As for food, we had a pre-show snack at Andre’s (the only meal we ate outside of the Bellagio). It was a little too fancy for my idea of “bar food,” but was tasty nonetheless. We both had a spinach salad with quail egg and duck confit. The confit was delicious but quite small. I almost wish they hadn’t mentioned it on the menu. Then it would have been a duck-confit surprise instead of a duck-confit disappointment. The warm kalamata olive bread they served was chewy and delicious.

Tuna tartare and tater tots. Who knew?

Tuna tartare and tater tots. Who knew?

After the show we went back to the Bellagio and ate at Sensi. We had duck egg rolls, tuna tartare bites and red curry scallops. All were good, but the tuna tartare bites were excellent. Tuna tartare stacked on a crispy tater tot, topped with a quail egg (consumed absurd quantity of quail eggs today) and crème fraiche. So novel and delicious. After dinner, we went to Jean-Philippe’s for cappuccino gelato. It was quite good — creamy, airy and full of flavor.

Cappuccino gelato at Jean Philippe's.

Cappuccino gelato at Jean Philippe's.

Las Vegas sucks the water out of your body as fast as it sucks the money out of your pockets. I woke up in the middle of the night gasping for air, my mouth dry as cotton. I can’t imagine living in this kind of heat.

The next morning, we woke up and ordered a little room service: coffee, OJ and a fruit plate. We had to wait an hour for it, but weren’t doing much other than watching a string of crime procedurals on USA (In Plain Sight is pretty good, FYI).

After Lord B did some work, we walked to Noodles for dim sum. There was the usual variety of shiu mai and

Dim sum yum yum.

Dim sum yum yum.

dumplings. Lord B ordered some truly unappetizing steamed ribs, sight unseen. Whatever you think of when you hear “spare ribs,” I guarantee these are not the ribs you are thinking of. I only ate a small piece, but I think Lord B felt compelled to eat the whole thing. The buns were the best: steamed pork (very good), BBQ pork (amazing) and custard (tasty).

After window shopping at Caesar’s Palace, we stopped at Café Pallio for a snack (iced coffee and a stale cinnamon roll) and are now set up poolside (it is finally, at 6:00p, “cool” enough to stay outside for more than 10 minutes). I’m alternating between sipping water and an iced solè (spiced rum with various frozen fruit juices). Ahh…

We didn’t really have any big plans for the evening. We laid around and watched No Reservations on the Travel Channel. I like Anthony Bourdain for the most part. The only thing I don’t like is his reverse snobbery. He affects this persona as a “man of the people” eating street food and offal, thumbing his nose up at foodies (admittedly, not a term I much like myself) and artfully constructed meals, but he runs Les Halles, his buddy Eric Ripert runs Le Bernadin and Bourdain eats at French Laundry and el bulli just as all those chic foodies do. And who goes to Les Halles, if not the foodies? Who else watches your show? Alls I’m saying, Tony, is call a spade a spade.

That being said, he’s funny and presents an honest portrait of the less glamorous, but still beautiful, parts of the world. Yesterday he was in Crete. They showed a cuddly little sheep, which Tony affectionately dubbed “Socks.” His commentary, of course, was that Socks was destined for the spit fire. People may watch this and bristle at the barbaric way these Cretans (literally!) kill their livestock, but it really is a much purer way to eat meat: you kill it yourself and you eat it all. They even shaved the wool first, so maybe he will become … a pair of socks. I think, in the end, it’s much better for the psyche to live this way.

I want to eat spaghetti bolognese and not feel bad about it for days and days.

I want to eat spaghetti bolognese and not feel bad about it for days and days.

We finally got dressed for dinner, at which point it was already a quarter to 10. We ate at Circo. I have to say, “Most Unusual Food” award goes to my Caprese Martini: tomato-infused vodka, balsamic, cracked pepper, basil and mozzarella. The cheese wasn’t the greatest garnish, but the drink itself was pretty darn good. I heart basil big time. For dinner I had a Caesar salad with bagna cauda dressing and homemade spaghetti Bolognese. The pasta was so good. Thick, chewy spaghetti and just enough sauce to coat, not drown. We had a nice view of the fountains outside (as well as neon adverts for Holly Madison’s Peepshow).

Overall, a fun, short trip. It was definitely nice to spend some time alone with Lord B, but I missed my puppy!