Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Las Vegas = Delicious food

Dan and I were excited to go to Vegas. He was excited because he likes to gamble. I was excited because I love food and nearly every website I visited touted Vegas as a "Culinary Destination." Fodor's 2009 Guide to Las Vegas dedicates quite a few pages to listing all the eateries at the various hotels, plus eateries off the strip. I think I had originally tabbed 20 places I wanted to eat at. Unfortunately, it would have been impossible to eat at all of them, so I had to narrow it down. And since I'm indecisive, it that was a tough exercise for me!

Our first drool inducing meal was at B&B Ristorante which is located at the Venetian. We really liked the comfortable and intimate atmosphere of B&B. Everything on the menu sounded delicious, so it was hard to decide what to order. To make life easy, they did offer two different tasting menus. But we decided to chose our own courses instead. I chose Calamari Seppie Fritti as my appetizer, Goat Cheese Tortellini for my first course, and the Whole Grilled Branzino as my second course. Every bite of every course was heavenly. I cleaned my plates. And I was so full at the end I couldn't even consider dessert. If I had room, I would have had the Blueberry Crostata though!

The next memorable eatery was Dos Caminos at the Palazzo. This was not one of the restaurants on our "to eat at list." Earlier in the day, at my interactive luncheon, a woman at my table highly recommended we check out Dos Caminos. And you know how much I love Mexican, so how could I not check it out? This was probably one of my favourite meals. We saw Blue Man Group, and then went to Dos Caminos. I was frickin' starving by the time we arrived. I practically inhaled their guacamole and fresh chips. The guacamole was fantastic! I don't know if it's because the avocados were fresher, or what. But it was the best guacamole I've EVER had. We also had a delicious assortment of salsas that varied in heat. I was having a hard time deciding what to get as everything sounded awesome (do you see a common theme here?). But then I saw it...the Conchita Pibil...slow roasted suckling pig, with sauteed plantains, habanero pickled onions, and achiote sauce. This photo was taken with my point & shoot and doesn't quite do it justice...

The pork was so tender it fell apart at the slightest pressure from my fork. The flavour was unbelievable. Words cannot describe how good it was. Hell, I'm drooling right now thinking about it!

One of our last meals was at Burger Bar which is located at Mandalay Bay. Basically, you make your own burger at this place. You chose the type of roll, the meat (3 different beefs, lamb, turkey, and vegetarian), then you chose your toppings from the garden, the grill, the ocean, the dairy, the farm, etc. Some of the more expensive options were Kobe Beef, Black Truffles, and pan-seared foie gras. Here's my burger...

I went with a more traditional burger consisting of ciabatta bread, Hereford Beef burger, topped with blue cheese, bacon, and sauteed oyster mushrooms. For my side, I got the sweet potato fries. I'm sucker for Sweet Potato fries and these were hands down the best I've had. The burgers were monstrous, cooked perfectly (I wanted mine medium), and absolutely delicious. I left wishing we had a local Burger Bar. I guess 5 Guys will have to do.

The last memorable place, I didn't have an actual meal at, but a snack. It was Jean-Phillipe Chocolates and Patisserie at the Bellagio. The shop features a free standing, floor-to-ceiling chocolate fountain. It's apparently the largest chocolate fountain in the world. You can see a photo of it if you go the above link. Unfortunately, it is enclosed by glass. I really wanted to stick my head in and drink! The shop had fresh made crepes, your normal baked goods like muffins, scones, plus fresh made gelato, and the most beautiful pastries I've ever seen. They were like little edible works of art.

Napoleon Cake (3rd photo, dessert on left) is one my favourite desserts, so when I saw it on the shelf, I knew it had to be in my belly. The pastry cream was light and was pefectly sweet, the puff pastry was flaky, and tender. It was perfect.

We enjoyed eating at quite a few other places, but these were our favourites. I went to Vegas for the food, and I was not disappointed. Next post I'll tell you about the Vegas Uncork'd Interactive Luncheon I attended.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A day late and a dollar short?

I can't believe it. I haven't posted any new content in 31 days. Thirty-one whole days! Forgive me. I have been meaning to post for weeks now, but could never find the time. I know, it's a lousy excuse. But at least I'm being honest. I could have lied and said I had the Swine Flu for the last 3 weeks... Anyways, starting today, I am making it a point to find the time. It's actually easy, all I have to do is not watch 2 hours of TV each and every night (Damn you Tivo! You make it too easy). I apologize for the lack of new content. It won't happen again.

Part of the reason I haven't posted recently is we recently spent 6 nights in Las Vegas. We arrived in Vegas on May 6th a little before noon and headed to New York New York. Check in was a bit of a fiasco. Apparently, Orbitz booked us not one, not two, but three hotel rooms and then canceled ALL of them. Of course, we had no idea this happened. So it was nice surprise when we tried to check in and were informed that we did not have a reservation. This is not the surprise you want when you've been awake since 4:00am EST and just completed an 8 hour flight! We called Orbitz 'Customer Service' and became increasingly frustrated with the situation. Thankfully the hotel manager also called Orbitz and managed to get everything fixed for us.

The rest of our time in Vegas was awesome. The weather was great; sunny with a high of 97*F with 0% humidity. I never realized just how much I disliked humidity until this trip. We gambled (won some, lost some) and I discovered a love for Blazing 777s slot machines! We also saw two shows, Blue Man Group, and Penn & Teller. Both were great! We also took in the free "shows" the hotels offer, like the Pirate Ship battle at Treasure Island, and the Bellagio Fountains.

We also took a day trip to the Grand Canyon. We were picked up from our hotel and driven to a small airport. From there we took a 30 minute flight to the West rim which is located on the Hualapi Indian reservation. It was a clear day, so the view from the sky and ground was absolutely breathtaking! You could see was awe-inspiring. I think I took over 200 pictures in the 4 hours we were there. I just couldn't get over how beautiful it was.

The Hualapi Tribe had displays of different types of housing set up, as well as members on site to answer questions about the tribe and the Grand Canyon.

A family was also present to share some of their tribes different dances and songs.

The Grand Canyon's splendour is breathtaking. Photographs cannot do it's beauty justice. If you've never visited, I suggest you make time to at some point. You won't be disappointed.

Our visit to the Grand Canyon was a highlight of our trip. But it wasn't the only one. We dined at and ate a lot of amazing food. I also had the opportunity to check out a Vegas Uncork'd event. But I'll get into that tomorrow... Oh, and I promise to include a recipe too!