Hey there! In Part 9 of the Vegas series, I talked about watching both pin up girls and dolphins frolicking around. This post, I'll be talking about our final meal in Las Vegas before leaving steamy, sunny Sin City for the greyness that is Denmark.
If you're a bit lost in the series, and you want to read about my Las Vegas vacation from the beginning, you can start from the beginning here.
Our final day in Las Vegas was mostly a relaxing one with a single goal in mind: Go to M&Ms World and buy custom candies. Yes, that's a thing! M&Ms World is a 4 floor candy heaven with absolutely every m&m-related item you could possibly think of, including candy, blankets, clothing, movies, and even jeweled cufflinks.
On the third floor, we found the custom candy machine. The process is fairly simple. Choose up to 4 m&m to write your own message or choose from a pre-determined set of graphics. Unfortunately, there are only 2 font choices: regular or comic sans. You get a ticket, which you deliver to the cashier to choose your container size and payment. I chose the smallest size, which is about the size of a styrofoam coffee cup and contains about 2 handfuls of candy at $20.
The next step is the fun part. You take your cup to the m&m wall to personally choose the colours you want printed. When your cup is full, you pour the candies into the machine, insert your cup into the holder, and watch the magic as the machine spits out personalized m&ms in all your favourite colours! Voila! Overpriced candies that are 100% you. In fact, I couldn't bring myself to eat them when we got home, and I ended up pouring them into a glass sphere as decoration on our tv stand.
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As a little sweet treat before dinner, we stopped into Hershey's World's "The Chocolate Bar" in New York, New York for some chocolate-themed martinis. I couldn't pass up the opportunity! I went for a "Death by Chocolate" while my husband settled for a "Raspberry Chocolate Martini", complete with Hershey's Kiss "olives". These drinks are not only extremely sweet, but they pack a huge boozey kick!
On to our final dinner in Las Vegas, Nevada. My first choice of the Michelin Star Picasso in Bellagio didn't work out as planned since they were closed on that particular evening, so we instead chose Fiamma Trattoria and Bar in MGM Grand. A trattoria is an italian-style mid-range eating establishment with focus on regional food.
Despite our very casual attire, we were ushered in and given a place by the front of the restaurant, which would be the equivalent to a window seat. Excluding the hostesses, the waitstaff at Fiamma are extremely friendly, down-to-earth people. Our waiter chatted and joked with us, and seemed to have a genuine love for his work, and he was very good at it. As a starter, we ordered a shared antipasti platter, which included an assortment of meats, cheeses and breads, all of which tasted lovely. What I can best recommend, though, is Fiamma's tomato butter which had a deep tomato flavour that added a slight sourness to that oily butter.
Despite having decided on our mains before being seated, our waiter hit us with the specials, which quickly changed both our minds. A creamy bay scallop risotto with freshly shaved Italian white truffle. Now, normally "special" on a restaurant menu means "we have ingredients we need to get used up, so let's make something to use it up". The temptation of truffle, which we actually haven't officially eaten before, won out. We received a beautiful plate with a rich and creamy risotto with a light sprinkling of herbs and perfectly cooked bay scallops that melted on the tongue. The truffle was shaved generously over the top of the large portion of food, giving a delightfully nutty flavour to the dish, a dish I coudln't for the life of me finish eating else I would have burst at the seams.
To drink on the side, I chose a pear cocktail while my husband chose a Riesling wine. Since water tastes so much of chlorine in Las Vegas, we opted for bottled, and were kindly given the option of sparkling or still water, where I chose sparkling and my husband chose still. We received not just ordinary water, but a liter of Pellegrino water for me, and a liter of Fiji water for my husband, complete with its own bottle holder at a whopping $8 a bottle.
While the meal was quite expensive, being nearly the same price as a Michelin Star establishment, the food truly was excellent and prepared with care and passion. The staff were knowledgeable and friendly, making our experience comfortable and fun. The only change I could ever have wanted would be slightly more lighting in the restaurant. The restaurant and decor are lovely, modern, and rich with nuances of cream, brown, orange and gold, but it's a bit hard to see when the lights are so dim.
And with that final, extravagant, yet tasty meal, we said goodbye to Las Vegas. It was exciting, frightening, quirky and charming all at once. It's the city that's always on the go, and where you can find anything your heart desires...if you have the money for it. I loved Las Vegas, and I hope to make it back one day, but I'll definitely be staying in a more centralized hotel for safety reasons. We didn't see everything, and there are new things popping up all the time in Vegas, so there'll be plenty of new things to experience next time.
This is the last post in the Vegas Adventures series, and probably the last big vacation for a while. I hope you enjoyed the experience as much as I did. Remember that you can like me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. Leave a like or a comment to tell me what you thought, or suggest new content for the future.
Until next time, Stay Chefy!
In Part 8 of our Las Vegas Adventures, we ate the trendy Cosmopolitan's Wicked Spoon buffet, which was a bit of a let down in comparison to the hype and price. The night picked up, though, when we watched Pin Up! at the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino. The show features Clare Sinclair, Playboy's 2011 playmate of the year accompanied by a slew of talented singers, dancers and musicians. The show is inspired by classic pin-up girls and calendars from the 40s, 50s, and 60s and took us on a musical adventure through the 12 months of the year. Simply put, the show was flirty, fun and well-done. The singer had an amazing voice and band could rival any big band out there. The only drawback to the show is the sheer amount of star Clare Sinclair. Her costars were clearly professional dancers, musicians and singers, while she hopped around and wiggled her bottom a bit. She twirls nipple tassles like a boss, though! As a final note: the show may be 18+, but there is no real nudity involved, unless you're deeply offended by corsets and strategic placement of flowers, fans and stickers over nipples.
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The following days in Las Vegas took us to several destinations. We had lunch at Harrah's Fulton Street Food Hall where my husband was served melted plastic enchiladas, so avoid the laminated packaging being heated in the back of this establishment. Afterward, we visited the Mirage and the Siegfried and Roy Secret Garden to watch dolphins frolicking and big cats stretching and sleeping. While it was fun watching the dolphins playing with their toys and doing flips (the big cats were just lazy, sleepy fluffballs) the price is quite steep at 20 dollars for a single adult ticket.
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The following days in Las Vegas included a delicious dinner at Umami Burger (you can read about the BurGR vs Umami Burger post here), a helicopter ride high over the city and Hoover Dam, indoor shark reefs, and yet another acrobatic, high-flying Cirque du Soleil show with Ka.
Las Vegas is known for many wonderful things, and one of those is buffets. Paying a fixed price to stuff your face so full of food that you expand 3 pants sizes before waddling off full of buttered crab and regrets. We chose the Cosmopolitan buffet "Wicked Spoon" , due to the high rating and acclaim it scored online, but it is a bit of a walk to get there, hidden at the far end of the hotel away from the retail and bar area.
The line to get in was reasonable, and the price is around $45 per person, with the potential to get bottomless wine or beer for about $51 per person. Mind you, the prices flex from lunch to dinner, and weeknight to weekend. This would be a typical weekend price. They also have the option of bottomless cocktails or mimosas for brunch, but, sadly for me, this is not a dinner option.
The buffet is fairly large and modern looking with lots of warm brown and gold colours, and the stations are laid out horizontally spread out across the dining area, which means there is a lot to choose from. We were seated right beside the dessert station, so I had one eye constantly on all the delectable sweets. Oh, and speaking of large, their forks could choke a horse! The head of the fork stretched across my 4 fingers, it was so long!
The dishes in Wicked Spoon are prepared in small portions in individual dishes, so you don't worry much about taking a huge portion of something you don't like, blending weird flavours together on the same plate, and other diners digging their filthy paws into the food you want to eat. The food is switched out often, and since the hygienic sit time for food is 2-3 hours, this is a plus. The individual portions are a definite bonus, and allows for creative plating and design, which makes the food look much more appealing, in my opinion.
The first food stations are salad and seafood. We picked up several shrimp dishes to sample here, such as shrimp ceviche, raw shrimp that marinades in citrus juice and spices, which had a zesty kick and it was well seasoned with the right amount of salt. Sadly, their version of shrimp and grits left a lot to be desired, with lackluster spicing. The grits were rubbery like old oatmeal and had almost no flavour. Neither my husband nor I finished this small bowl of food, and chose to set it aside. The highlights of this section were the goat cheese salad with a fruit compote and roasted nuts, and their sweet beet salad, which you can see in the first picture below. The goat cheese salad was a particular pretty bite, and beautifully balanced with the mild, slightly musky cheese and the sweet, honey-flavoured nuts.
The next station was meats and side dishes. They had a cutting station with juicy prime rib, hulking portions of beef ribs, tender lamb shoulder, and sausages. Not what I would call an exceptional selection of meats, but the portions were generous, and the meats were cooked to pink perfection. Looks can be deceiving, though, as it was all terribly underseasoned and tasteless. Meat needs salt, and my portion had none. Meat station's saving grace, though, is their individual palm-sized portion of seared steak served in a tiny frying pan. It had lovely, tender pink meat cooked medium with a sticky reduced, oniony sauce on top. Very tasty. If you're the type to get excited about mac and cheese at all, prepare to be completely disappointed. The spicy mac and cheese was poorly executed from start to finish. No salt, rubbery texture, and about as spicy as a shoe. My husband's face fell at the first bite, and pushed it sadly away. Mac and cheese shouldn't be dry, but it was, and it tasted of nothing. The potato choices were all fine, and their smooth mash was particularly lovely paired with the lamb. Avoid the brocollini at all costs, though! The lonely veg was found at the end of the counter all alone, and I understand why. No one wants to be its friend. It tasted like concentrated bitter evil with a garlicky aftertaste. It was inedible.
Onward to dessert!!! I'd been waiting for this all meal and was sure to save room for all manner of sweets, puddings and chocolate. Our experience? Disappointing. It's hard to make truly bad desserts, but Wicked Spoon did a fine job of it. Everything just.....LOOKED better than it tasted. I will say that they make a heavenly chocolate chip cookie, though, and I could have eaten a million of them. Even the chocolate-dipped strawberry tasted of fake, waxy chocolate, and the other desserts used far too much sugar to taste the actual ingredients. The mousses were far too soft and runny instead of being light and airy. They were also quite grainy in the mouth. Their mini cheesecake cups didn't taste of cheese and lacked any sort of texture with everything, again, being too bland and soft like baby food. Their plating is absolutely beautiful, and I love the decorative chocolate pieces and flecks of gold and silver, but the taste, for us, just wasn't there. Obviously, I was let down. You can sprinkle gold on crap, but in the end, it will just be glittery crap. Even their gelato was flavourless. I chose a tiramisu gelato that tasted very much like an inexpensive version you'd find in a gas station with stong, fake-tasting coffee flavour lingering in the mouth afterward. I can recommend their mini chocolate cones, cookies, and carrot cake for sure.
To sum up, I believe that Wicked Spoon, at one time, stood at the top of the buffet game with all the bragging rights intact, but things seem to have gone downhill from the overwhelming praise this establishment received. I found the food to be average with ups and downs. Some of the food was good, mind you, but very little was excellent. Nothing stood out as being extraordinary and expertly made by skilled professionals. It was pretty food, but shallow. It's certainly quantity over quality. Perhaps we came on a bad day, but my opinion is that you should save your money and put it into a real restaurant where you will be equally as full, but receive a better quality meal, but be sure to check reviews first.
In Part 6 of our Las Vegas Adventure, we talked about the best darn "tea" in the world at Ku Noodle, but what did we do after that? Well our livers certainly couldn't afford to sit in there all day and sip on tea, so we moved on to the third resort to open on The Strip, and the oldest still in operation, Flamingo Hotel and Casino.
Flamingo was opened in 1946 by infamous mobster Bugsy Siegel. Today, the hotel and casino has the streamlined moderne style of Miami and South Beach. The resort features a wildlife habitat complete with giant koi fish, Chilean flamingos, and ringed teal ducks. Around the resort is also located exotic bird stands where you can have your picture taken with brightly-coloured parrots and macaws.
It was raining, oddly enough, but we still made our way through the lush gardens to see the variety birds, and ended up in Club Cappucino, a little coffee shop on the other side of the gardens near the casino floors and shopping area. We ordered a Pistachio Cheesecake to split. I decided on a Blended Iced Caramel Latte for myself, while my husband ordered, as usual, Cafe Americano. While the cake didn't have much pistachio punch at all, it was still a tasty little treat with moist layers of super fluffy sponge, cream, tart raspberry and some lovely little chocolate discs adorning the top with just the right amount of snap. My iced latte was extremely sweet and, as usual, far too big for me to finish. It was lovely and creamy, though. I'd order it again, but I wish these drinks came in a size smaller, because I never really want to carry them around.
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Next was the beautiful Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a luxury resort on the Las Vegas Strip that opened in 2010. Called "The Best Hotel in the World" by Gogobot, The Cosmopolitan boasts 2,995 rooms, many of which feature private terraces. The hotel also has 28,000 sq. m (150,000 sq ft) retail area with the Cosmopolitan chandelier lying at its heart. This massive, multi-story spectacle contains glittering strands and curtains of beads to create an art installation and unique cocktail experience all in one. Breathtaking!
My plan was simple. Go into the overpriced shop and look at perfume, since mine ran out. Simple enough, right? WRONG!! I was lured in by the promise of a free sample, and instead of a tiny packet, I was handed off to a flamboyant and extremely aggressive salesman who proceeded to slather expensive cream under my eyes with the promise of ridding me of my dreadful under-eye bags.
During this process, he told me how delicate and perfect my skin was (it's really not) like someone wanting to wear it as a hat. Meanwhile the cream begins to burn my skin like hydrochloric acid. He creepily assured me that my first time was the worst, and that it's the eye cream he himself uses, ignoring my pain. After insisting that my face is burning off, he attempts to sooth my sizzling under eye area with cool cotton balls, but then began slathering my inner arms with a slew of creams and scrubs quoting me hundreds upon hundreds of dollars. At this point, I'm feeling extremely anxious and stressed about the situation, feeling like a frightened animal backed into a corner. Finally, I made some sorry excuse and run out of the shop as if I stole something, dragging my poor, patient husband as far from the shop as physically possible.
I never did get to look at perfume.
We rushed on to get dinner at "Wicked Spoon", Cosmopolitan's highly-acclaimed buffet restaurant. But that will have to wait until the next installment of my Las Vegas adventures.
Until next time, stay Chefy!
If you're new, and a little lost, you can start reading from the beginning of my Las Vegas adventures here.
Surrounding the chandelier is a multitude of shops with everything you could ever want, need or dream. There is a tailor featuring a wall of antique sewing machines, a Dean and Deluca with cocktail and cooking instruments, cigars and gourmet popcorn, and a posh little beauty boutique called Skins 6|2.
Sleep schedules get a bit messed up in Vegas, and today we start the day off with lunch at SLS Las Vegas' Ku Noodle, by chef José Andrés. This restaurant is Andrés' homage to the varied, rich asian cuisine. This casual dining establishment offers homemade noodles, a variety of dumplings, and unique, inventive cocktails.
The restaurant is fairly small and simple. The place is made larger and brighter by lining the walls with mirrors covered in hand-written Asian lettering in red, yellow and black, which gives a unique decorative touch. If you look above the mirrored walls, there are red and white bags of rice lining the shelf by the ceiling. A unique, inexpensive method of decorating that added a really authentic touch. Another nice detail is the ability to sit near the entrance, which affords a view of the chefs creating and hand pulling the noodles before your very eyes. Very cool!
Slightly skeptical, and not overly hungry, we ordered a sharing plate of dumplings called Lucky 12 ($20.88), which is a combination of the three steamed dumpling (Siu Mai) flavours offered by the restaurant. The three variations are as follows:
The dumplings were lovingly prepared and delivered to us in a steamer basket. They were adorable little morsels, and the shrimp variety were even flecked with gold leaf! Oh, Vegas! You're so extravagant! The dumplings were served with a black vinegar for dipping, and my oh my are they mouth watering. They are super delicate in both texture and flavour, and pork didn't overpower the light taste of the seafood at all. The chicken dumplings, however, remain our favourite, and we could have eaten about a million of them. They were so good, in fact, that we ordered one more item from the menu before leaving. The alcohol was certainly working its magic!
Our server was very thorough and sweet, and was sure to keep us topped up on water, and kept us well informed about everything we chose. Ku Noodle was a wonderful taste experience. So wonderful, in fact, that we returned the day before our departure, but unfortunately, they were closed that day. Sad face. We have many great reasons to go back, though, and so many things we have yet to sink our teeth into! If you're a fan of Asian flavours, then you should definitely give this place a shot if you ever find yourself in Sin City.
It's ok. This secret can definitely leave Las Vegas!
Lots of walking on vacation means the need for hydration, though, and we stopped in for a little break in Luxor's Aurora bar. This bar is located in the lobby near the front desk, and has a unique lighting feature that is based on the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. I can highly suggest the Green Wave, a blend of Malibu rum, Captain Morgan spiced rum, Blue Curacao, pineapple juice, orange juice and Sweet & Sour). It's a bit pricey at $11, but it's a very tasty beverage indeed!
After eating lunch at Gordon Ramsay's BurGR, we waddled on our way to the Luxor, an Egyptian-themed black glass pyramid complete with giant sphinx in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. This hotel is known for the light that shines at the tip of the pyramid at night, called the "sky beam". While the rumour that you can see the Sky Beam from space is a myth, it's still an impressive, and expensive, piece of technology, with each of the 39 7,000 watt bulbs in the fixture costing $1,200!
After our relaxing break in the lobby bar, we moved on to the Bodies exhibit, which offers visitors a unique view on the intimate workings of the human body by using meticulously preserved and dissected corpses that were donated to science. As morbid as this may seem, the bodies are treated with the utmost respect and displayed tastefully so that others can learn from the process. There is no photography allowed during the exhibit, so I used a few pictures from the Bodies website, which you can find here.
After a fabulous and magical show, we took one more hop over to Cafe Gelato for a night cap, indulging in another tasty sphere and coffee, this time choosing the raspberry cheesecake. It was amazingly creamy and wonderfully balanced between rich and tart. To sum up indulgence in Las Vegas in a nutshell, this is a place where gold is not only purchased and worn, but eaten as a garnish on elaborate sweets, as you can see in the photo.
After so many sights, sounds and sweets, we headed back to our hotel for a very long, much-needed sleep.
Our final activity for the night was to see the wonderful aquatic O by Cirque du Soleil, which has permanent residence at the Bellagio. Unfortunately, there is no photography allowed in this show, either, for the safety of the performers. People learned this lesson the hard way, however, by receiving fines for trying. O takes place in and around a 1.5 million gallon (5,700 cubic meter) pool of water with moving platforms, and every member of the cast is scuba certified. The story isn't so much a storyline as it is a theme that pays tribute to the beauty of the theater, and it focuses on a young man, Philemon, who is transported to a magical land. Acts you can expect to see are aerial hoops and trapeze, contortion, clowns, high diving, synchronized swimming, Russian swing, fire acts, and much more. You can see the official trailer for the show below.
Who has the better burger? Michelin golden boy Gordon Ramsay, or fusion favourite Umami Burger? I'm about to find out and let you know all the gritty details. Get ready for battle of BurGR vs. Burger!
In the Red Corner
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay sets up shop in Planet Hollywood just off the Miracle Mile to offer tasty bites after a long day of shopping. The restaurant's most impressive feature, other than the hostesses in tiny dresses, is their giant flaming BurGR sign at the front entrance which is both visible from the outside and inside of the restaurant (and very hot to stand beside in line to get in). The scottish chef owns 25 restaurants globally, and boasts an impressive 7 Michelin stars between them! The restaurant focuses on traditional burgers, fries and shakes with a twist. His burgers use prime cuts of beef and are grilled over an open flame fueled by hard woods. He also offers a large selection of cocktails and craft beers.
In the Blue Corner
After coming down from the glorious tower, we then looked around Paris, Las Vegas a short bit, and made our way to Planet Hollywood to eat at celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay's burger restaurant, BurGR. We had to wait a half hour to even get in the door, and the decor is lots of fiery colours with Gordon's face on everything, complete with a flaming sign. As a starter, we ordered Roasted Jalapeno Poppers, which are deep-fried treats of jalapeno peppers stuffed with cheddar bacon and breaded. They came with cheddar ranch dip. The first popper was mild and flavourful and the perfect-tasting treat, but the following poppers were so hot I could barely eat them, and jalapenos just aren't that hot. I had nothing to drink but chlorinated water and a cocktail, so there was no helping the burn, which ruined the taste a bit for me. The dip was very nice and had a slight cooling effect, though, and the breading was super thick and crunchy, and stayed crunchy while eating.
”Damn, it’s hot” is what my husband heard plenty of in Las Vegas, and with good reason. I’ve never experienced anything much over 30 degrees, and it’s minimum 35 degrees on a cool day. Day one in Las Vegas, and we decided to walk from Stratosphere down the strip to the other hotels. Yeah, we’re apparently insane, but that sort of thing fits in around here.
After a bit of hotel hopping from Treasure Island to the Palazzo, we ended up in the Venetian, an Italian-themed hotel. These Las Vegas hotels are incredibly huge that it’s hard to believe that you’re in a hotel at all. The Venetian contains a shopping mall, indoor canals where you can hitch a ride on a gondola and be serenaded by a man in a striped shirt, and a magnificent vaulted ceiling painted to look like the sky to give guests the feeling of being outdoors. We were suckered into a tea shop called Teavana by free samples that tasted amazing. So amazing that we bought $25 worth of tea and a to-go drink. In case you’re wondering, raspberry lemonade tea sweetened with German rock sugar. It was so good that we had to fight over the cup, and it was gone in about 5 minutes. Yes, it was that good.
After wandering around for a while, we ended in Caesar’s Palace, which has the same painted ceiling design. We decided to have dinner under the beautiful false sky beside the Fountain of the Gods under Pegasus at restaurant Trevi by chef Peter Scaturro. We went directly for a main course of Linguine al Frutti di Mare, a pasta dish with lobster, scallops, and shrimp with linguine in a cream sauce. We also received a basket of bread and olive oil for dipping. We paired our pasta with a delicious little glass of German Riesling white wine. Unfortunately, the wine was the only delicious thing about our meal. The pasta we chose was not only the most expensive pasta on the menu at $30, but it was their signature dish. It lacked any taste whatsoever with no seasoning and the scallops were undercooked. The shrimp and lobster were cooked well enough with more seasoning than the rest of the dish. I expected an experienced chef to at least know how to use salt, but alas, no. The cream sauce was bland. If I were served a glass of warm cream, it would still contain more flavour than the sauce this restaurant produced. The side bread was dry like it had sat for a half day before serving it to customers, but at least it had a fine flavour of sage, so there’s that. Don’t waste your money, folks. There are plenty of better Italian restaurants out there and they’re better value for your money. The experience wasn’t even romantic. It was just loud, but at least it was pretty.
Now as much as I hate to leave a post on a low note, let me remind you that this is still day one of our Las Vegas adventure! There are plenty of great things to come, so keep an eye our for new posts, pictures, and reviews of things we've eaten along the way.
Hey there! My name is Lea, and I'm a Canadian Culinary student trying to survive chef life in Denmark. I want to share my journey, and some great food and experiences with others. I believe that anyone can be quite chefy!