Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Dealins Done

Good morning, blogosphere. I have returned from the land of hopes and dreams and sequins and tequila and I am really not ready to be back. 

Sure, I loved coming home to my boys, but now I'd like to pack them up and fly back out to Sin City -- even though I normally do not endorse Las Vegas as a kid-friendly destination -- because I just need a few more days of fun and sun while I recover from the plague or whatever this weight is that's been sitting on my chest since Tuesday morning.

So, the trip...the trip was great. I flew in Sunday night and the hubby and I rushed off to dinner at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill.
That's my tuna steak with pine nut cous-cous. My husband had the 16-spice duck breast with chorizo-goat cheese tamale. Yes, it was as incredible as it sounds. And for dessert, Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake. I think I was already in a food coma because I didn't take any photos of it, but in case the name doesn't sound amazing enough by itself, here's the menu description: "Espresso butter cream with Kahlua toffee pieces + espresso toffee sauce." Uh-huh. I almost cried when I realized I couldn't finish it or I would vomit all over the nice white tablecloth. (and that is why I am not a food writer)

After dinner, we hit the Planet Hollywood Casino, where I proceeded to win, win, win on the slots. More importantly, I got to play lots of the games within the games, like the lucky case game on Deal or No Deal and, of course, the Super Grand Hotel bonus on Monopoly. Those games are the reason I like the slot machines so much. I mean, winning is fun, but even if I walk away empty handed, I'm happy as long as I get to play the games.

As a side note, I'd like to give props to the designers of the new Monopoly slots. They are far and away the most entertaining slot machines out there. (no offense, The Price is Right, I'll get to you in a minute) Most of the time, you have no idea what's happening, but it's still fun to watch.

After all the winning, we walked back to the MGM (one of the nicest hotels I've ever stayed at on the Strip!). There, I was elated to discover a brand new The Price is Right slot game, thus reassuring me that TPIR really is making a comeback (thank you, Wii). 

It was a 6-machine bank of slots with a gigantic Cliffhanger game on top. The slots were pretty basic, but if you hit the Cliffhanger bonus, you got to move the gigantic yodeler up the mountain for all to see...or rather, try to avoid moving him up the mountain by stopping the flashing board in the right spot. Now, I hate to detract from the glory of any sort of TPIR resurrection, but the game itself was a little lame. I much prefer to old-school TPIR slots (with Rod Roddy). Still, any homage to TPIR is okay with me.

After that, we went to our room and collapsed, as back in Minneapolis it was about 2 a.m., which is WAAAAY past my bedtime and my husband had to work in the morning. 

Monday we got our (RED) Starbucks drinks for World AIDS Day (but really, I drink Peppermint Mochas every chance I get) and then the hubby was off to work while I was off to the MGM spa for my "double shot" mani/pedi. For real, their winter special was a peppermint mocha mani/pedi...it was like they knew I was coming. 

So, I show up to the spa and find out that my appointment has granted me access to the entire sanctuary they keep hidden under the hotel. They asked me to change into a fabulous robe and explained that the jacuzzi and sauna were "bathing suit optional." Thinking I was just getting my hands and feet rubbed and polished, I hadn't brought a bathing suit, so I considered this information for a moment and concluded there was no way in hell...so I went and laid down on one of their dozens of couches and just relaxed until my name was called.

The tiny Latino grandmother who called my name, led me down a long hallway to her own private room where she performs her manis and pedis. It was a little weird, I have to admit, and yet, I became so relaxed that I almost fell asleep. It being Xmas time, I chose a bright red polish that I would never really wear in real life. Turns out it doesn't matter because I f*ed up the manicure within 24 hours...all that button pushing is a bitch on nails. But my toes still look lovely! Next time, I'm bringing a friend and a bathing suit.

Once I emerged from the spa, it was time for a 99 cent cheeseburger and then onto the slots. After winning some money at the Monopoly Big Event slots in the MGM, I walked across the street to New York-New York, where I discovered a bank of old-school TPIR machines (Cliffhangers, Dice Game and Plinko!). I also managed to win more than 3000 credits on a Monopoly game...and even though those were 3000 pennies, I was happy. I spent most of the afternoon winning just enough to keep me playing and then when I got tired, I took my Corona and my custard-filled Krispy Creme donut back to my room and napped. What a day. 

When my husband got done working, we went out for some mediocre sushi at the Grand Wok & Sushi Bar, then we ventured over to the Luxor, which has undergone a total transformation in the last year. Someone must have told them that the King Tut theme was lame, so they've remodeled the whole thing and added a bunch of well-reviewed restaurants and bars...none of which have anything to do with the Egyptian theme, so I guess you're just supposed to pretend the building is no longer shaped like a pyramid (but it totally is). 

I had done a little research before our trip and learned that there was a new bar at the Luxor that serves crazy $25 martinis that come in flavors such as peanut butter and jelly (and yes, they are rumored to be good). I was sure this was a place I needed to visit, however, when we arrived, we couldn't find the place. But while wandering around, we did discover another old bank of TPIR machines that had been trotted back out. This one included Punch-a-Bunch. Woohoo! 

We decided to have a drink at Cat House, which is made to look like a brothel and bills itself as having "intimate dining and seductive nightlife." You can't see in from the outside, so we had to take a peek, expecting the waitresses to double as burlesque dancers or something. I was also intrigued by the news that "celebrity chef Kerry Simon" was at the helm...intrigued, but I didn't really know who he was and I kind of thought celebrity chefs didn't refer to themselves that way (and can someone tell me if he was once a guest judge on Top Chef?).

So we entered. Luckily, it was still early, so our shlumpy jeans and tennis shoes were allowed. The place is really cozy and definitely a cool lounge, but there is really nothing risque or particularly seductive about it. Still, my XXX cocktail was quite delicious. And as I was sipping it, the celebrity chef himself walked through the bar. A minute later, he returned, with Robin Leach in tow! 
(Note: This is a photo from Google. I did not get a chance to snap one)

Maybe it was just the total randomness of seeing the former host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous inside a pseudo-brothel bar wearing a leather jacket, but I got a little giddy. And since this man has some sort of affiliation with the Food Network and was there to eat the celebrity chef's food, it made me want to have dinner there...but we didn't. Maybe next time. 

After our brush with fame, we met up with my husband's co-workers at Diablo's Cantina, one of the few establishments on the Strip that does not force you to enter through a casino. All was well until a crazy drunk guy took an inexplicable interest in one of my husband's coworkers and came very close to punching him in the face before being thrown out (literally) by the staff. That was enough excitement for everyone, so we all went back to the hotel.

Then it was Tuesday. I awoke with a sore throat, but it just felt dry and I figured I'd slept with my mouth open due to my chronic sinus issues. (too much information?) I continued my denial even after feeling slightly winded from simply walking to the bathroom. I told myself I would get some cold medicine, eat something, and I would be fine. I tested this theory by walking back over the New York-New York and propping myself up at a slot machine. 

I was not fine. Alternating between hot and cold, my knees felt so weak that I wondered if I'd really make it back to my hotel room. Instead of attempting that walk, I found a little deli in the casino that served Matzo Ball soup. Yum. Surely this would cure me. It did not. In fact, I think I almost fell asleep while eating. Admitting defeat, I staggered back to my hotel room, where I alternately slept and watched Jerry Springer for what seemed like 8 years. 

Despite my illness, I continued to be hungry, so at one point I did wobble downstairs and get a sandwich from Tom Colicchio's 'wichcraft. From what I could taste, it was good, but even Tom Colicchio could not cure me. Being sick sucks, but being stuck in my hotel room while all of Las Vegas was outside my window was torturous.

Shortly before my husband got done working his 12-hour day, I got ambitious enough to go get some hot tea and see how I felt walking around. I made my way to the Monopoly Big Event slots again and won $60. That made me feel a little better. 

That night, the group decided to hit the Hard Rock Casino, which I like, so I went along. We had a very mediocre meal at Mr. Lucky's and then we left without any gambling. Strange, but I was too busy wiping my nose to argue. After that, we decided to venture to the Double Down Saloon, one of the off-Strip locations Anthony Bourdain visited on his Las Vegas episode of No Reservations. They serve a mysterious concoction called "ass juice." I was happy to learn that my husband's co-workers are fans of Anthony Bourdain. I was skeptical of the ass juice.

The Double Down is a local hang out. It's similar to the 7th Street Entry, except with a strange hick-meets-punk vibe and some pool tables. I liked it. I would have liked it more had I not been sick. I ordered my husband a bacon martini. I knew it was a specialty because there was a large, hand-printed poster board sign on the back wall telling me so (another sign offered "puke insurance" for $20).  I did not try the bacon martini, but everyone else gave it two thumbs up.  I have a feeling that I will soon be learning to infuse vodka with bacon...that just can't be healthy. 

Having run out of Kleenex and verging on unconsciousness, I suggested we head back to the hotel. There, I half-slept, while propped up with 3 pillows. Blech.

This brings us to Wednesday (yesterday). Still sick, I decided I couldn't spend my last remaining hours in Vegas in my hotel room, so I got on the monorail and headed up to the Flamingo. I was shivering and sweating and didn't really know where I was going, but these things do not faze the wonderful people of Las Vegas. I fit right in. 

The next couple of hours included a lot of walking and trying to find souvenirs for the boys and some slot playing. After winning $45 on some weird Monopoly machine I'd never seen before (Reel Riches?), I decided my trip would be incomplete without a margarita from Margaritaville, so I meandered through the breakfast crowds (it was almost 10 a.m.) and got a Pink Cadillac to go...ah, I love Vegas. 

Then it was back to the hotel, a quick lunch with the hubby and off to the airport. I was sad to go, but distracted by my fear that my eardrum would explode during take off. It didn't. Lucky me.

1 comment:

Butch Roy said...

I have to think that "wondering if I'd really make it back to my hotel room" is exactly the normal state they expect their customers to be in all the time.

and it should be noted that the (while small sounding) amount of money you won out of these machines adds up to a mind-blowing statistical anomoly.