27 March 2012

Vegas, baby!

For George's 42nd birthday, I surprised him with a trip to Vegas.  We had a great time & he was truly surprised!  We had delicious food, went to an amazing show, did some shopping and soaked up the "atmosphere."  We did a little gambling, too!  Here are some pics...

The show was Love at The Mirage.  It was my first Cirque de Soleil show and it was all set to Beatles music.  I can't even begin to describe it.  The actors, the stunts, the costumes, the music, the sets, the stories... just magical. 

We had lots of great meals!  We started off with lunch at one of our hotel's, The Paris, restaurants - the Eiffel Tower Restaurant.  We were floating above the strip right across from the Bellagio water show.  We definitely had the best table in the house, right in the corner of two giant windows!  I had just finished reading Julia Child's My Time in France and was determined to have the Sole Muniere (the first meal she had in France) - it was delicious!  George had the crab stuffed french toast and I think he enjoyed his meal as well.

We had dinner before the show at Holstein's in the Cosmopolitan.  We both had "grown up milkshakes" and burgers that were phenomenal - mine was topped with avocado tempurazomgyum. 

We started off Sunday morning with brunch at Rick Bayless's Mesa Grill at Caesar's Palace.  I had the chilequiles and George had pancakes and we both enjoyed delicious margaritas. YUM!

The food highlight of the trip was dinner at Mario Batali's B and B Ristorante in The Venetian.  We each had a 7-course tasting menu and shared all our dishes with each other.  It was amazing!  Here's a quick description:

George's Veneto Tasting Menu
Baccala Mentecato with fried polenta and radicchio - This was a tender white fish cake partnered up with a fried polenta patty that just melted in your mouth despite the crispy crunchy exterior. The raddicchio was also fried til crisp and gave a nice bitter counter to the sweet polenta.
Seppie Nero with risi bisi - this was a coconutty risotto-type rice (actually a Venetian rice called Cannoroli) with green peas and little squids that turned the whole dish black as you ate.  There were also little bits of crunchy pancetta and onions. One of my favorites!
Bigoli with smoked duck breast and foie gras - I'm not a big fan of foie gras and this didn't earn any more of my favor. It started with a bed of whole wheat pasta noodles, then topped with shredded duck and a rich rich butter sauce.  The waiter then grated foie gras over everything.
Squab al Mattone with truffled crema fritta and black trumpet ragu - A ridiculously flavored bird (marinating for 2 days in salt/sugar/thyme will do that...) with a mushroom gravy, caramelized onions and a cheesey/creamy brick that was slightly sweet and crunchy on the outside but oozy gooey in the middle. 
Ubriaco Fonduta with saba - a semi-melted cheese, super strong with a sweet brown sauce (not sure what it was made of?)
Cara Cara Spuma with citrus segments - Spuma is an early version of gelato and this one was flavored with vanilla bean and served with blood orange pieces in a syrup and topped with almond brittle. YUM.
Tiramisu with espresso gelato - a deconstructed tiramisu!  It was a very light espresso gelato, then a little cake with a dark coffee/chocolate sludge on the bottom, a slice of sponge soaked in coffee and all topped with cocoa meringue puffs.

Laura's Whole Hog Pasta Tasting Menu
Fazzoletti with herbed lardo and black truffle - this was a "handkerchief" pasta with herbs rolled into the pasta sheet with crunchy truffle slices and a zesty lemony sauce
Pork Trotter Ravioli with melted leeks - this was pretty basic but delish - shredded pork in raviolis with a sauce made from cooking leeks allllll the way down
Pappardelle with milk braised pork shoulder and olio nuovo - fatty fat pappardelle (almost lasagna width!) with creamy shredded pork that had just the perfect touch of brown caramelization and lots of fennel flavor
Fettuccine with norcino ragu - again, wider than what I would call fettuccine paired with crunchy pork bits, fresh parsley, carrots and a salty salty olivey gravy.
Black Spaghetti with 'nduja and sicillian pesto - this one was rough. Delicious noodles with ground-up salami and scallions. What made it rough is that the 8-lb salami recipe calls for 1-lb cayenne. Ouch!
Parmigiano Reggiano with aceot manodori - a 28mo aged parm with old balsamic drizzled on top. Perfection!
Honey Budino with honey-orange vanilla syrup - this was easily my favorite!  A mini honey souffle with a complex syrup drizzled on top tableside.

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