Saturday, February 18, 2012

Friday Vegas 3: Eiffel Tower, Michael Mina, Guy Savoy

After breakfasting at the hotel, I walk over to the mini-eiffel tower for lunch at the same place I've only dined at before, Paris's most famous monument.
Great view of the Bellagio as usual, though not as pretty in the daytime as at night. Still, some good reflections off the Cosmopolitan and Aria. I’m served an amuse bouche which tastes a lot like butter, although very good butter. The tea is superb, maybe the best tea I’ve had this trip. Paris black tea with fruit and caramel. Subtle, seductive and inviting. Something about the music. It sounds a lot like George Benson kind of cool commercial jazz. As I eat this crepe, I’m close to bursting into tears. It’s not the magic of the Twist experience but it is very intense. My third taste of the vegetarian crepe which I do love. There is a hint of sadness, but more, a strong feeling of love that floods me as I eat the crepe and drink the tea. Maybe the music is playing a part in manipulating my emotions here and they’re always easy to manipulate around lunch time. Triggers in my brain I have to look into.

At Michael Mina,
at the Bellagio for dinner,I promptly order the
truffled. chicken, which I’ve been lusting after from the online menu and reviews. To drink, I said, "make me a cocktail that goes with the chicken.” The sommelier rose to the challenge and came up with a serious drink. The chicken arrives and I don’t taste the truffles nor the sunchoke but the savoy cabbage, a vegetable I love but eat rarely, pours through the density of other tastes like Patton’s army pouring through the German lines. The cocktail made especially for my pairing, a drink of scotch (totally unknown to me) and a wine called Barolo ("Barolo wine is democratic, or at least it can become so," the slogan of the Libera e benemerita associazione degli amici del Barolo, a precursor to the Slow Food movement) and serious twist of lemon- tastes like medicine on first sip, but when combined with the cabbage, it goes wonderfully well. The sommelier knew what he was doing when he made this drink. The cabbage flashes me back to my Eastern European roots, the wonderful cabbage I ate with my relatives in Saskatchewan. Rice and cabbage with my Ukranian relatives, meat and cabbage with the Germans. Both totally satisfying.
The cocktail began as very medicinal. It worked well with the chicken, after tapping into its marriage with the cabbage. Now, after I’m finished and very full, I’m starting to taste the lemon, and it’s become quite drinkable. My server, a Brazilian guy and cabbage lover, said my drink now works as a digestive. I can feel that too, and I’m going to need a bit of digestive assistance. The cocktail reminds me of some drink I had in Japan, I don’t remember what it was. This is better.
In the grand lobby of Bellagio, I am transported to entering a hotel in NYC in 1964. Don’t think I’ve thought of that before. Maybe seeing kids the same age as I was then, coming into a big city hotel at night, though that hotel was far inferior to the Bellagio, I wouldn’t have appreciated the difference then. I was impressed then. I am impressed again.

At 8:00, over at Caesar's Palace again, I’m led into the dining room where I dined at Guy Savoy last year at this time. The tall waiter remembers I don’t eat avocado. I’m amazed at his memory. I ask about the chestnut dish and am told it’s the wrong season. I say I’m only at Guy Savoy for small portions, so I’m shifted to the Krug room where bubbles and bites are on the menu, not big meals. From the more appropriate menu, I order lobster in cold steam, as well as a mosaic of Poularde which I’m informed is a small chicken, artichoke, fois and black truffle jus. Let’s see if I can finally get a good truffle from somewhere else than Bar Masa. As an amuse, I get a bite of black pepper waffle which is stunningly good. My soup course turns out to be tarragon foam, carrot and lobster essence. The carrot is powerful but doesn’t overpower the other ingredients, thankfully. The tarragon foam is as good as any of the foams at e, which is high praise. The cubes aren’t up to the vodka gelee at Le Cirque or Jose’s cubes, but still quite tasty. An outstanding small meal, along with service by Ilona who I thought stayed at the front desk, but instead served me my superb bites. I compared Guy Savoy's small bites favourably with Jose Andres and she remarked on eating at The Bazaar in LA and Jaleo when it opened here last Jan. Jose has a lot going for him, but Guy's the guy. I told her I was astonished that she’d remembered me when I met her at Uncork’d last May, from my appearance here in Feb. She told me she has a good memory. Her memory matches the quality of this restaurant. It’s hard to believe anything could so consistently taste this good. Hope the customs lady finds out for herself.


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