Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Vegas Ate: Thursday and Friday


Back to Veranda to see if it's frittata Bianca is as good as it was 2 days ago. Well, not quite, but it's still a splendid way to break one's fast. I decline the toast this time, and instead, I'm brought a small plate of fruit. Exactly what I wanted, but hadn't known possible. Veranda is the kind of place that, when you wake up, you're ecstatic knowing you'd be going there and plunging into its divine food soon. Not many places like that.
It is pissing outside. Great waves of water pummel the strip. Thankfully, not much outdoorsing in planned today. Instead, I have the first lunch at Eataly, specifically their sit down restaurant where I order the seafood Misti after bringing over a limoncello-based cocktail (not as good as it should have been. Maybe soda instead of
Proseco? Had an unpleasant bitter edge which did not help it pair with the seafood.) Barely above food-court food and drink. I had such high hopes for Eataly. Alas. I make my way over to the Aria for Julian Serrano's apricots and scallops that so delighted me last year. This time, the delight factor had vanished. It was like eating a picture of food. The wonders that Partage explored with its scallop dish, the fine contribution apricots made to recent cocktails and a lifetime of fruit love fail to appear. In the 6 (or more?) times I've dined on Serrano's cuisine, it has been hit and miss. Sometimes, amazing. Sometimes, downright terrible. Maybe Julian should leave the restaurant business entirely, and make a living doing something more predictable, or at least something where lack of predictability is not so sorely felt. Gambling, perhaps. That's two bad lunches in a row. Even Julian's sangria was subpar, compared to previous sangrias I've enjoyed enthusiastically at this restaurant. Last year, the server here told me how much the local hockey team had helped the city heal from its recent horrific massacre. This time, with the team not doing as well, maybe the sangria too has drifted from its glory. 

Thankfully, Jennifer's great Tiki-type beverage retains it excellence. Sitting in the Vesper bar on a rain-soaked afternoon, with no commitments or plans until the evening at Michael Mina, I bask in contentment. And then a strange thing happens. A young woman sits down next to me and asks what I'm drinking. I tell her it doesn't have a name but Jennifer could make her one. She demands a sip, and I extract the straw and allow her to sip from the rim. She is blown away by how good the drink is. She wants more. I tell her to order one for herself. She asks me to buy her one. I tell her to get her own drink and she complains she's lost all her money gambling. Then what is she doing in a bar? I soon discover. Her breasts advance on me like an army of cantankerous cantaloupes. “Would you like to party?” she invites, in a strangely druggy voice. “No,” I reply, feeling both disgust and pity for her plight. What wrong decisions in her life have led her to this occupation? Can she find something less destructive? Immediately, Miss Hooker is seized by Security and escorted from the premises, Mr Security asks if I wish to press charges, but I tell him I'm just glad to be alone again. Jennifer tells me it happens all the time here, but the first time for me. General Cantaloupe must have been really desperate.

So Michael Mina has returned to his fishy roots, I read. Greatly look forward to seeing what he can do with John Dory. His Lion-fish at his far too short-lived American Fish was one of the best things I've eaten in Vegas. What can he do with Sir John? Well, I guess I'll never know. Valentine's Day has pre-empted the menu. The less said about the food the better. Being bitten by a rat and getting the plague would be a step up. I felt I had suddenly fallen into another, more evil universe.
I retreat to Le Cirque to practice my long-vanished Nihongo with Nomura-san and drink champagne courtesy Ivo. It is a perfect antidote to Mina's nihilistic food void. Le Cirque is worth going to Vegas for. Not many places can say that. Guy Savoy? I had ventured over to his place at Caesar's Palace on Sunday after the Le Cirque meal to inquire about his pea dish, which had vanished mysteriously between December and January's menu postings on their website. Peas were used magnificently in my two dinners at Guy's sister restaurant Les Bouquenistes 2 years ago, and I wanted to see what the Vegas chapter of Guy's culinary brain could do with this small but mighty tasty vegetable. The person in charge was horrified. Peas are only served IN Season, which is spring, not February! Come back in March or April. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. But avoiding this weather hostility does make later months more attractive, were I to return to this city, sometime in an unknown future.
Dinner reservations at Zuma at 9. Wanted to try their lime crab. It was on par with the other great crab dishes I've consumed this trip, at Partage and Mordeo. Crab has dominated the list of things I've enjoyed this trip, but it's a rather insubstantial meat. Doing things with crab is a slight skill at best. It's like being skilled at fencing. Uh huh, and?


Back to Veranda for the last time. No fruit this time, and the Italian omelet, though still outstanding, does not stand out far enough. The neural pathways have been established, and the pleasure is no longer new. That can be said with almost everything I've consumed here. The purpose of Great Things Happening To Us is that we can use them into the future. Their resonance brings us a staircase of evolving pleasure, against the chaos of random slings and arrows. But bad things too have their resonances, their echoes tearing at our ears deep into our nightmares. A good thing is a flight back home. My wife awaits me at the airport with my winter coat worthy of the weather; only slightly colder than Vegas, but still. No greater pleasure exists than being home. 

audio:  https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/autobkiography/Vegas+Ate%2CThursday+and+Friday.mp3


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