MOM to CINCY and VEGAS

My mom was turning 75 years old and when asked what she wanted to do to celebrate she replied that she wanted to go to Las Vegas once before she died.

She is a gambler, but not in a self-destructive way. But truth be told, she didn’t gamble much at all. What she and I did do a lot was our favorite pastime. We ate! We went to Las Vegas to see it, experience it, and eat all the good food.

However, she flew to CIncy spent a few days here with me before we ventured out West! Here’s what we did in a flash!

Merry-Go-Round, Exercising with Dulce Kissing Her, ate at Mexicana in KY and at Muzante on Madison Road and Pho Lang Thang (not photographed below).

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Then it was time for the Birthday Bash to begin…

 

I have a very dear, old (not literally old) friend from my UMaine days that I lost touch with and reconnected with him and he is a chef in Phoenix so I wrote to him to get suggestions and then my mom chose what appealed to her.

 

First day, first meal…Lotus of Siam is touted as one of the best Thai restaurants in the US!

I wish we had tried what Brad had told us to try, because what we ate was good, but we were disappointed.

Here’s what we ate:

THUM KA NOON [Pounded & Shredded Young Jack Fruit]

This local dish from the north is unique to the northern part of North Thailand. Made of shredded young jack fruit, ground pork, tomatoes, northern Thai spices and seasoning.

NAM PRIK ONG [Red Chili Dip]

One of the least spiciest of all northern chili dips. A combination of ground pork, tomatoes, dried spices (similar to spaghetti meat sauce). Also eaten with sticky rice and fresh vegetables with fried pork skins.

I wouldn’t let my mom order the Pad Thai and wanted something out of the box and that is where we went wrong to start!

 

That evening, we ate a meal at Bardot Brasserie in Aria that literally brought my mother to tears… it was so divine. She had not shed a tear over food since one evening at Le Bernardin when visiting me in New York over one of his dishes. It has been awhile so I don’t remember which one it was, but it was one of the following.

HAMACHI

Flash Marinated Hamachi; Young Radishes and Amaranth Crisp, Yuzu Vinaigrette

TUNA

Yellowfin Tuna Carpaccio; Iberico Ham “Chutney,” Sea Beans, Lemon-Extra Virgin Olive Oil

But I bet my mom remembers…..

That night at Bardot Brasserie the meal that brought my mom to tears many years later was the….

KING CRAB CRÊPE- buckwheat crepe, black trumpet mushrooms, sunny-side egg, normandy cider beurre blanc

 

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LOBSTER MUSHROOM “THERMIDOR” – pomme puree, royal trumpet mushrooms, bloomsdale spinach, sauce béarnaise

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The waitress was quite pushy, which we felt put a damper on a wonderful meal. We aren’t big eaters. Well, my mother isn’t so an app and an entrée were perfect. It still was a nice sized check, because my mom had a cocktail as well, but the waitress kept saying are you ready to order more and was quite snotty about it. Very unappealing. You are a French brasserie. In Paris, two people would have come in and ordered two cappuchinos and an ashtray and occupied your table for hours and left a 10% tip. She should have been grateful. My mom left 20%, but we talked about her leaving less, and took the high road.

TUES.

The following morning we started at Bouchon Bakery with cappuchinos, croissants and Pain au chocolat for me and a Monkey bread for my mother. I had never tasted monkey bread. It was good.

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Then we picked up the rental car and went to see the Hoover Dam.

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We drove into Arizona so I did knock another state off my list, but I would like to go back and explore that state. Seeing the Grand Canyon out of a plane window at the age of 12 is awesome, but I would like to see it more fully as an adult.

On our way back, we stopped at a place that was recommended to me called FAT CHOY.

We ordered the foods they are most known for and that were seen on Triple D- Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

We literally could not decide which bao we liked better. They both were good.

Pork Belly Bao-pickled mustard greens, cilantro, crusted pickle and pork belly

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Peking Duck Bao- duck with cucumber, scallion, hoisin sauce

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This last entrée below was our least favorite.

Short Rib Grilled Cheese-onion jam, short rib, Provolone and Cheddar cheeses, tomato dip

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The server who could not have been nicer knew we were in Vegas for my mother’s 75th so she brought her a piece of red velvet with a candle in it.

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That restaurant is tucked into a casino off the beaten path and is worth the drive. It is a fun little place and the food is good. The hospitality is the whipped cream and cherry on top!

After lunch, we went to the NEON Museum for an interesting and fun tour. A definite must see!!!

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Then we went to the MOB Museum. That was fun as well, but not as necessary as NEON, but fun for me, since I lived in Manhattan in Little Italy. One of my cross-streets was Mulberry Street, which was photographed and viewed a few times in the museum.

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Sharply contrasted to our lunch, we went to Rivea at the Delano. My chef friend Brad had arranged for his friend the manager of that place to come talk with my mother. He was a lovely Frenchman. Very kind. Attractive. Out of all the places we ate, everyone brought my mom a little something for her birthday. The ONE and ONLY place we had a connection…he did nothing. I thought that was rather odd. But as the French say, “C’est la vie!”

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He did however, recommend some wonderful dishes. The pictures are a bit dark and don’t do the dishes justice.

We shared a sea bass that was marinated in

orange, lemon, grapefruit, olive oil and sea salt.

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Then we shared the Roasted duck breast with turnips, nougat, bigarade sauce. The sauce has an orange flavor to it.

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Tall bread sticks and a room/seat with a view…..

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Everything was delicious.

For dessert, I ordered the Tiramisu, which was good.

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Glad we went. I loved the sea bass dish. It was fun to meet the manager and speak with him, but I wouldn’t go back. I would go back to Bardot Brasserie and hope for another server.

After dinner, we went to a show called Las Vegas Show, which was a fun show that was a compilation of old time Vegas shows. So, there was a Sinatra, Dean and Sammy Davis Jr. skit, a Siegfried & Roy skit, a Vegas show girls skit, and so much more. It is the only show of that kind left in Vegas. It is fun to take a step back into old Vegas.

The following morning was my mother’s true birthday! I had heard there was a Mexican restaurant there that was really good. I had no idea it shared a common wall with a strip joint. So, we weren’t finding it at first because we kept saying…”Well, it can’t be here! THIS is a strip club! To which, her smart-ass daughter said, “If it were men striping we would forego the breakfast and do that for your 75th!”

We finally found it, the place was kinda dark and opened 24-hours a day. Apparently, you watch the striping and go next door for an order of nachos, watch more striping coming back for an order of enchiladas or flan. Strange place. The bartender was the waitress at that hour and she couldn’t have been nicer. Dr. Oz was on a very large television suggesting a morning wake-up regime, which the rotating the shoulders front and back every morning has become my daily ritual. Really helps loosen the shoulders and the neck. I highly recommend it.

I told the gal it was my mom’s 75th. I told my mom the connoisseur of Mexican food and the birthday gal to order, which was pretty much the standard on this trip. Her trip, her birthday…she orders. It’s a foodies dream come true! The wiatress placed a very large sombrero on my mom’s head and we ate the following. Everything was good. Not stellar but good. Coffee sucked the big one, but everything else was good, but then again my first cup of coffee was from Bouchon Bakery. Need I say more!

EL DORADO CANTINA

Chips & Salsa – Gluten Free & Vegan
House corn tortilla chips served with roasted tomato red salsa, roasted tomatillo green salsa & spicy habanero salsa upon request.

Huevos Divorciados – Gluten Free
Two fried eggs over fried corn tortillas with fresh Hass avocados & your choice of refried or black beans, topped with queso fresco & roasted green and red salsa.

Chilaquiles – Gluten Free
Fried egg & sliced carne asada over fried corn tortillas with your choice of refried or black beans, topped with queso fresco, diced onions, sour cream & green or red tomatillo sauce.

I followed the gluten-free part of the diet. I bombed out on the no corn and every other part of the diet, but my mom’s birthday and this is a diet free week.

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After breakfast we went to the infamous Fremont Street and we ziplined.

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My 75 year-old mom ziplining!!!

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We went to a Container Park.

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Then we went in the ferris wheel thingy called HIGH ROLLER.

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I accidentally got us a ticket with a free full bar. Look at the smile on the birthday girl with the other birthday girl in the car.

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That evening we went to FLEUR- a Chef HUBERT KELLER restaurant. We did “Taste From Around The World- A selection of Chef’s favorite items from around the world”

-USA-Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras

ricotta pancake, rhubarb and strawberry ice cream, strawberry sauce

-FRANCE- tarte flambée

onion, bacon, shaved asparagus, truffle, crème fraiche

-KOREA-pig wings

pig wings, sweet and spicy Koream bbq sauce, green onion, toasted sesame seed

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We could have ordered the $5000 hamburger. No mistake that was not only one extra zero, but two. This is what you eat when you win big.

  • FLEUR BURGER 5000*

wagyu beef, foie gras, truffle, served with a bottle of
1995 Chateau Pétrus 5000

For DESSERTS:

crème brulée duo (with Happy B-day on it in chocolate for my mom)

ancho chili chocolate – kalamansi, chocolate macaroon

brioche beignets

vanilla and cherry anglaise

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My friend Sue had recommended a place called MON AMI GABI-PARIS. You sit in Paris and eat Parisian, but you just happen to be in Las Vegas. Here’s the view from the Parisian cafe.

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My mom ordered large cappuccinos. Who knew they could be SO big. We could have taken baths or gone swimming in those cups and who knew someone could make something so big and it taste so good! SHOCKING!!!

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We shared an egg, bacon, cheese crepe w. béchamel. It was yummy! Where’s the pic? Did we eat it before we took a pic or did we eat the pic because it looked so good??? Hmmmm..

We wandered around and before we knew it, it was lunchtime. We went to YARDBIRD

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and ate the following…..

Fried Green Tomato BLT

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Cheese Grits-Nora Mill Granary cheesy corn grits

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  • Mama’s Chicken Biscuits
  • free range fried chicken, pepper jelly, house pickles,
  • house-made buttermilk biscuit

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Then we chilled out at the pool and got ready for my mom’s final birthday dinner. THESE are the folks that really put out the red carpet for her and celebrated her 75th the way it should have been celebrated. We were impressed!!!

ALIZE- THE PALMS

  • 2 lb Maine Lobster Thermidor
    Mushrooms, Tarragon, Cream, Brandy, Dijon, Hollandaise, Asparagus
  • Veal Wellington
    Smoked Prosciutto, Mushroom Duxelles, Asparagus, Truffle-Shallot Jus

Here we go…what is underneath….

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Then for dessert they handed her a key and placed a box on the table for her to open it and inside she discovered her own personal chocolate cake. It really was such a great touch!

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Then in-between meals we walked around and visited the various casinos. The actual casino part is pretty unappealing to me, and quite frankly depressing to me, but the other parts are interesting to see!

 

Here is all we visited.

VENETIAN      PALAZZO    WYNN   PARIS     COSMOPOLITIAN    CAESAR PALACE

ARIA     MANDALAY    DELANO  LUXOR    NEW YORK

Outside of casino hopping to check out the various decors and themes, we went to the Bellagio Art Gallery, watched the Bellagio Water Show, Mirage Volcano, wandered through a Chihuly Gallery and visited the pool at our hotel. My thing was to get into the pool daily since I couldn’t do that at home.

Here is a mish mash of pics that encompass the rest of the trip…..

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My mom used to love to play the slots in Newport…so we will end that series of pics with that smile on her face as she does it again!

And finally, after many years of hearing about Cirque de Soleil, we went. We saw THE BEATLES.

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But for me…running into Chef Brad Borchardt must first friend at the University of Maine, who I told you gave me the restaurant suggestions for Las Vegas AND San Diego (next stop) and who I had NOT seen since college…ran into him heading to a meeting. We stopped for a selfie…and maybe I can find an old pic of us from college to put it side by side…

Here is Brad and me at U Maine…..

Brad & Erin @ Maine

Here we are in Las Vegas…a “FEW” years later….

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All in all it was a very fun trip to Vegas with my mom. Love you, Mom!!!! Brad…awesome to see you all these years later! Thanks for the great recommendations and having the surprise at my mom’s birthday dinner!!!

To all the rest of you….

Until we meet again…

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….

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