Las Vegas

Died and Gone To Heaven

Sunday morning I slept in and then hit the casino gym for a run. My body was feeling fairly tired after three days of intense walking for hours, but my run was fantastic and fast.

For breakfast we went to some diner in New York New York called America. Nothing special about the place–it was kind of like an upscale IHOP. All I wanted was French toast. And by gods, I got it!

After breakfast we walked around outside because the weather was FINALLY hot and sunny! I wanted to soak up as much as possible. It’s amazing what a little Vitamin D does for me. One of the things on Sunday’s agenda was The Wynn. I had never seen it and so we took a cab there since it’s a ways down the Strip. What an amazing hotel.

Steve Wynn clearly deserves whatever mega-billions he has because the casino is outstanding. I could see a lot of the Bellagio in the Wynn, and I guess he designed both. The atrium at the Wynn was gorgeous and smelled like a spring afternoon.

I wandered around and took a bunch of photos, and then Michael and I sat outside for “lunch” in the Parasol Down patio lounge. Michael insisted we sit down and relax because I “never relax or enjoy vacations and do too much.” Truth. I like to cram in as much as humanly possible on vacations because I want to experience everything. I cannot remember the last time I had a “relaxing” vacation. Hmmm. Maybe never?

Words cannot express just how beautiful and relaxing that outdoor lounge was. We were seated by the “lake” on a couch and enjoyed our drinks in the sunshine while staring at the waterfall. Heaven.

I ordered a totally ridiculous drink that was way too expensive, but it was refreshing and worth it. It was called a “Strawberry and Grapefruit Collins” – Finlandia Grapefruit Fusion Vodka, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, strawberry puree, fresh lemon and club soda. Basically, it tasted like a super sweet daiquiri but it was delicious on a hot day.

After we awhile we were both too hot in the sunshine and walked back to The Strip, this time with some refreshing beers for our trek through the madness that is Vegas.

Ahem…I have no shame:

[blackbirdpie id=”191678331605893123″]

Michael fell in love with the poker room at Caesars, so I plopped down at the Pussycat Dolls roulette table and was ridiculously lucky before taking myself to the Caesar’s Palace pool to relax poolside in the sunshine.

What a fantastic pool! I wished I was in my swimsuit to fully enjoy it.

A few hours later it was time to get cleaned up and dressed up for my FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD.

It’s so easy to say things like “this was the best meal of my life” or “make this recipe! It’s to die for!” But there are very few meals that actually stand out and you remember for the rest of your life. For me, that meal has been at Craftsteak. The first time I ate at Craftsteak was a few years ago when Michael and I went to Vegas for a UFC fight. Top Chef is one of my favorite TV shows and Michael surprised me by making reservations at Tom Collichio’s restaurant in the MGM. That meal has been in the back of my brain for the last four years. Every steak I have in a restaurant is compared to that meal, which in one word would be classified as orgasmic.

This meal was no different than our first time there. The atmosphere is simply amazing. Romantic, dimly lit, with the aromas of fresh lobster and steak dripping in marinade.

We both ordered the New York strip steak. Last time we tried the Wagyu beef, a Japanese steak that is melt-in-your-mouth amazing. We both agreed that was better, but that is not to say the NY Strip wasn’t fantastic.

We split a side of asparagus that had been seasoned with thyme (fascinating taste) and there was a roasted onion bulb soaking in the balsamic reduction around the meat. Holy, effing, cow. Literally. Every amazing bite was followed by another amazing bite that made me feel like all other meals I eat would be cheating on Craftsteak.

The dinner rolls were steaming hot, light and airy and covered in large pieces of salt. My glass of Malbec wine went perfectly with the richness of the steak. And no, there was no Tom Collichio spotting, unfortunately.

For dessert we shared the flourless chocolate cake with blood orange sorbet and tangerines that had to have been soaked in lemon juice. The tartness of the oranges and the sorbet paired so beautifully with the thick, dense chocolate that I wanted to cry. Best. Meal. Of. My. Life. Did I mention that there was like a homemade marshmallow on top of the cake? Lightly and airy, but also thick at the same time–deceptively looking like whipped cream but with the texture of a freshly baked, oozing rice krispie treat.

Oh my god.

Are you drooling yet? You should be!

After a leisurely and romantic dinner at my favorite place on earth, Michael went back to Caesar’s to play poker and I went to New York New York to clean up at roulette.

Oh yeah!

QUESTION: Describe the best meal you’ve ever had in your entire life…the meal you think about even years later!

Beatles Love, Wolfgang Puck, ‘Wichcraft

On Saturday morning I woke up at an ungodly hour for Las Vegas–like 8 a.m. But I was rested and excited to start my day. Michael, the poor boy having crawled into bed at 4 a.m., was still asleep so I snuck out and went to the gym in the Monte Carlo. The gym was small and crowded when I got there. My plan was to run on the treadmill or use the elliptical but they were all full so I hopped on the exercise bike instead. It was that new fancy Tour de France spin bike and it was super nice.

I got in a fantastic bike workout in about an hour and then headed back to the room to get cleaned up.

Michael was becoming one of the living around that time and we showered and went downstairs to the Cafe in the Monte Carlo. I’d eaten there once before with my friend Robyn but we split a huge piece of chocolate cake, so I had no idea if the meals were actually decent. 😉 I ordered a boring breakfast–two fried eggs with bacon, sourdough toast and hashbrowns (I ate a few bites only of those) and lots and lots of coffee.

The food turned out to be really good at the Cafe. After breakfast we played tourist. This is the fourth vacation to Vegas so I’ve seen most of the touristy things but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy doing them every time! Vegas is seriously what you make it. You can have a blast–AND save money–or you can live decadently and indulge. Either way, you can have fun.

So tourists! We walked around the Strip for most of the day. It was pretty overcast but muggy and warm. Neither Michael nor I had ever been to Aria or City Center (they were still building it last time) so that was first on the list. It looked like a really nice place but nothing really stood out as amazing to either of us. But, if you want, you can buy a humongous dragon made entirely out of chocolate.

Next, Michael wanted to check out the poker room at Caesar’s Palace and then I wanted to see the Bellagio atriums because there are always cool flowers and art there.

Finally, it was lunch time. We’d ended up at the MGM so we got sandwiches at Tom Collichio’s ‘Wichcraft restaurant. I ordered the gruyere and caramelized onion panini on rye bread and it was delicious. The rye bread was a bit overpowering; I felt like a sourdough bread would have been better, but I was famished and starting to feel cranky from low blood sugar and fatigue.

Michael says this picture says “Lisa’s cranky, feed her.” And I concur.

After lunch we split up and Michael played poker while I did some shopping and gambling on my own. He had a surprise for me for that evening, but I didn’t know what it was yet. After a few hours, we met up at the hotel room to get changed for dinner and the surprise!

For dinner we went to Wolfgang Puck’s at the MGM. We split an order of the cheeseburger and it was to die for–one of the best burgers I’ve ever had–far surpassing anything that I thought was great in Portland. It had a caramelized onion JAM on it and avocado. Every messy bite was totally worth every single calorie I ate. LOVED it.

We also split the mac n’ cheese, which was just ok (not as good as Martha’s) and the Brussels sprouts.

We ordered too much food. Period. There was no way we could have eaten all of that, which was a shame because it was all delicious. The Brussels sprouts were cooked in oil, garlic and I think the juice of a lemon or orange. I definitely saw orange zest on them.

I had a hard time stopping eating, they were so good. After dinner we went to The Mirage to see the Beatles Love show! That was Michael’s surprise and it was a fantastic one! I’ve never seen a Cirque show in Vegas and that was the one I really wanted to see. We had some time to kill before the show started so I played some roulette (and quadrupled my money).

The show was absolutely amazing. I can’t believe how much I am gushing over my weekend in Vegas, but truly it was one great time after another. We were seated in the 5th row of the theatre and every single moment of Love was mesmerizing and exciting. The music was great and there were too many moments to count that I had tears in my eyes. What an amazing, wonderful, spellbinding evening.

Needless to say, we both collapsed into bed as soon as we got back to the Monte Carlo and I wasn’t conscious until 10 a.m. the next day!

QUESTION: Have you seen any Cirque shows? What was your favorite?