Jean-Philippe Patisserie, Las Vegas

I was wrong; I have one more Vegas post. I forgot about these photos that I took inside the Bellagio, over at the Jean-Philippe Patisserie. This is the place with the fancy chocolate fountain. I was not able to taste any of the food (due to fullness from other meals), but they all looked fabulous. They even had a few sugar-free selections available!

Bellagio at night

Bellagio at night

Jean-Philippe Patisserie - entrance

Jean-Philippe Patisserie - entrance

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Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery, Las Vegas

When we decided to take a trip to Las Vegas, I knew immediately that I wanted to put a stop at Bouchon, Thomas Keller’s French bistro, at the top of my to-do list. I’ve been dreaming of The French Laundry for years — way before I started this blog, and before Ratatouille (which used his kitchen and food as inspiration) — and this would be my first chance to try any food by Thomas Keller.

Both Bouchon and the Bouchon Bakery are located in the Venetian hotel, but are in two totally different locations.

Just getting to the restaurant is an adventure in itself. Instead of being located in the main part of the hotel itself, the restaurant is actually in the middle of the Venezia Tower and I had to get permission from a security guard to take the hotel guest tower up to the correct floor.

The decor inside the restaurant is amazing; as soon as you step inside you forget you are in a hotel tower and are transported to a French bistro. Tall windows let in plenty of light, the patterned floor draws your eye, and the wood warms the room. Menus are printed on brown paper and wrapped around your napkin.

Bouchon - table settings

Bouchon - table settings

Daily specials are written on a couple of chalkboards – one posted near the entrance and one near the windows.

Bouchon - daily specials

Bouchon - daily specials

Service was warm and efficient, and along with our server we had water service from someone else who I think was the sommelier (but I never asked). Continue reading

What I missed in Las Vegas

This post is more of a note for me for future trip planning than a post for you. But you get to enjoy it anyway.

I was only able to eat so much food while in Las Vegas. And I only had so much money to spend. These are the places that I had on my to-do list, but was not able to visit for various reasons.

Hot N Juicy Crawfish
Aburiya Raku
Bar Charlie
Lindo Michoacan
Alex

Coming up next, my last Las Vegas report. Get ready for some Thomas Keller!

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Does your food taste better when you eat it with a great view?

During our trip we took a bus and walking tour of the Grand Canyon with Grand-Adventures.com. Yes, it’s better to drive there yourself and stay overnight, but with limited time and a desire not to spend 10+ hours driving all day, I was pleased to find this tour. Each group is small and you travel in a large van instead of a big tour bus. You get a personal experience and a guide, with stops at the Hoover Dam overlook, Route 66 (Seligman, Arizona – the town that inspired the one in the movie Cars), and a 3 hour walking tour in the Grand Canyon. And food is included – breakfast is at McDonald’s, where I tried out a McCafé sweet tea, and lunch is fruit, cheese, crackers, cookies and an Arby’s Market Fresh sandwich.

So tell me, does life get any better when you eat this:

Arbys Market Fresh sandwich

Arby's Market Fresh sandwich

while sitting on rocks and looking at this:

The Grand Canyon, south rim

The Grand Canyon, south rim

Thanks for a fabulous day Darryl!

Sweet tooth in Vegas

Many years ago, someone gave me a piece of Ferrara Pan‘s Atomic FireBall candy. They’re blazing hot cinnamon jawbreakers, and they’re incredibly hard to find here (and if you do they’re not cheap).

The first full day in Vegas, we took a quick trip to a Smart & Final store, a warehouse Costco-style store that doesn’t require a membership. Along with drinks and a giant box of granola bars, I excitedly grabbed a giant 200 count countain of Atomic FireBalls for about $13 US. It took up a huge chunk of space in my suitcase, but the case is going to last me forever.

Atomic FireBalls

Atomic FireBalls

They also had jars of Lemonheads, but I didn’t want to buy quite that much of a candy that I hadn’t tried before. Instead, at a candy store in the airport, I picked up a few different candies to nibble on while waiting for my flight home.

Vegas candy

Vegas candy

(Sorry about the dry hands! )

The Lemonhead was definitely sour, but I think I prefer the Japanese Nobel Super Lemon candy as that one is much more mouth puckering. Atkinson’s Peanut Butter Bar was like sucking on a piece of peanut butter if it came in a hard form. The Bit-O-Honey is a honey flavoured taffy that has teeny tiny bits of almond embedded in it. It was okay but not as good as the other two candies.

It was interesting to try some new candy (well, new to me at any rate), but I’m more than satisfied with my giant jar of Atomic FireBalls and do not regret refraining from buying large quantities of any other candy.

Bellagio Buffet and Wynn Buffet, Las Vegas

Love them or hate them, Las Vegas just isn’t the same without the buffets. On this trip I went to two – the Bellagio, which I ate at many years ago, and the Wynn, which was still being built when I was last in Vegas.

If you want to maximize your buffet dollars, the key is to show up about 30-45 minutes before the meal changes over and the prices go up. For instance, we arrived at the Bellagio at 10:20 a.m., waited 20 minutes in line, paid the breakfast price, and got to enjoy the tail end of breakfast as well as the beginning of the lunch service which started at 11 a.m. without having to pay the higher lunch fee. We used a similar strategy at the Wynn.

Also, I find that if you balance the amount you want to eat with the size of your stomach, you can comfortably eat enough to fill you up for the whole day and maybe add a snack later in the evening. Just be careful not to over do it.

I highly recommend you be careful of which buffet you choose, however. One couple missed a tour we were on because of food poisoning at a buffet. Just because there’s a deal, doesn’t mean the food is worth it. Generally, the higher quality buffets (which are also the more expensive ones) include the ones at the Bellagio, the Wynn, Planet Hollywood and Paris.

At buffets I tend to grab a tiny bit of items that catch my attention, and go back for seconds if I like them enough.

The Bellagio Buffet

The decor hasn’t changed and, while everything looks like it is in good shape, could probably use a bit of redecorating to freshen up the look. Service is still relatively consistent. Had some orange juice with this meal.

Plate 1:
Scottish smoked salmon, cocktail shrimp, African bluenose (a thick fish similar in texture to sea bass, tasted ok, covered with some sort of sweet sauce and slightly overcooked), curried duck with bamboo shoots, scrambled eggs, cheese blintz (soggy probably because it has sat out for a while), bok choy, cheese and walnuts, and miso mushroom soup (too salty, had this dish years ago and it was fantastic then).

Bellagio Buffet, plate 1

Bellagio Buffet, plate 1

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Williams-Sonoma Marketplace, Tea Zone and Café Koraku, Primm

About a 40 minute drive south on the I-15 from the strip, over on Exit 1, is the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas. This place is a shopping mecca of discounted clothes, purses and shoes. It’s large, air-conditioned and relatively crowd-free (unlike another good, but very crowded and outdoor Las Vegas outlet mall that I went to).

And bonus, it has a Williams-Sonoma outlet. Just look at this pretty, pretty photo!

Williams-Sonoma Marketplace - Le Creuset sale

Williams-Sonoma Marketplace - Le Creuset sale

Too bad I made a promise not to try to fit one of those in my luggage. They had quite a few deals in there, and in particular I was looking for a set of round cookie cutters with scalloped edges that I had seen in their Calgary store, but unfortunately they were sold out already.

And then I saw this.

Williams-Sonoma Marketplace - vanilla

Williams-Sonoma Marketplace - vanilla

At half price, each box contained 3 different 2 fl oz bottles of vanilla extract, and the following description:

Like fine wine, premium vanilla springs from a combination of soil, climate and expert processing – an art practiced by Nielsen-Massey since 1907. Our special set combines three of the world’s finest single-origin vanillas: intense Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, a favorite for ice cream and chocolate; floral Tahitian vanilla, which brings out the best in fruit-based desserts; and earthy, sensual Mexican vanilla, the original vanilla sent home to Spain by the explorer Cortez and a perfect complement to cinnamon and spicy, savory dishes like chili.

Even better – the bottles were small enough to fall under the liquid amounts that you could carry on the plane, so they travelled in my purse with my lip balm. I have no idea what I’m going to do with them just yet, so please let me know if you have ideas. Continue reading