Fun Friday

Secrets from the Wynn Hotel:

Olive-Oil Urns in Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare

“Because  olive oil is the foundation of Italian cooking, honoring olive oil was  my inspiration for the design of Bartolotta. The first thing we did was collect these really huge examples of olive-oil urns; we found them all
over, from San Francisco to Florence to London and Rome and Paris, to  Athens and a couple of smaller Greek islands. It took us a little over  a year to assemble the collection, and I believe we ended up with nine  heroically scaled urns, and then several smaller ones; and they’re all anywhere from 100 to 300 years old.

The three largest are located in the stairwell; the whole restaurant was centered around  this grand staircase and it was quite the acrobatic feat to install  them there. As we were installing the largest one it had to be tilted upside down, and when that happened, much to our surprise, a two-page letter fluttered out of it. It was written during World War II, from an Italian woman to her husband. The first page explains how much she and her children love and miss him, while the second page is an account of the household expenses and a request for money. It was like a message in a bottle for us, a lovely kismet moment; we framed the letter and still have it today.”


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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