"What I Ate On My Summer Vacation"
Author's note: Feel free to skip this. It's kind of a love-it-or-hate-it tradition for my regular readers, some of whom complain if I don't put it in. Yes, really.
A slow start during a long, hot drive, just a Boca burger and fries at Bob’s Big Boy in Baker. Then almond brioche and apple strudel at Jean Philippe Bellagio. After seven hours in traffic we didn’t want dinner.
Bouchon: chocolate-almond croissant, wild blueberry muffin, strawberry croissant, all served warm. Salmon rillettes with a steady stream of hot crispy baguette toasts. Spinach sautéed in butter butter butter with shallots and whole cloves of garlic. Fluffily moist scrambled eggs. A sliced red juicy tomato.
Fleur kinda sucked. The gazpacho wasn’t helped by the addition of honeydew and cantaloupe, and I never felt the watermelon flavored poprocks. My adored truffled onion veloute is off the menu, in case you were wondering what that Boschian noise in the distance was last Monday afternoon. The ceviche was only fine. The perfect tuna tacos aren’t anymore. Pickled cabbage on top of the fish, when there already is slivered fresh cabbage underneath it, somehow kills the otherwise glorious texture. The interlude was saved by the tiered charred-pumpernickel and smoked salmon sandwich with crème fraiche and fresh dill. Ergo, my former favorite-restaurant-in-the-whole-world has been demoted to a place for snacks in my lexicon. It’s the end of an era. Please don’t tell M. Keller, because I still love him to pieces.
Red Square: “Siberian nachos” = more smoked salmon with crème fraiche, this time with two kinds of caviar. “Tsar’s Salad” = Caesar salad, get it har har, but it was good. Fettucine with heaps of shaved truffle and a mountain of gorgeous fresh lobster. OMG. Seriously. For once I had a chocolate dessert. Don’t be snide, it wasn’t a last gasp of vanishing estrogen, the waitress was super nice and she really wanted me to try it, so I did. No faux-Soviet cutesy name, they just call it “Candy Bar.” It contains toxic levels of chocolate and should come with a warning. ERRATUM: It was indeed called "Rasputin's Magic Chocolate Bar". This is what I get for typing from pix instead of notes. Sorry! c* 9/1/12
Back to Bouchon: Strawberry croissant, chocolate-almond croissant, chocolate croissant. I picked out the chocolate. After last night, I may never eat chocolate again. More spinach, eggs, tomatoes, this time with multigrain toast and fresh pineapple jam. Caramel latte.
Afternoon Tea at the Mandarin Oriental: Lounging each on our own couch, at the window thirty stories up overlooking the Strip. Jasmine Pearl White tea, exquisite delicate tiny sandwiches, yes, more smoked salmon – you say that like it’s possible to eat too much of it – egg salad, cucumber, you know. All arty and pretty. Miniature pastries, Parisian macaroons with raspberries and cream. Rose-infused crispy creamy somethings. Shortbread dipped in chocolate (I left the chocolate part on the plate. See previous.) Mango layered cheesecake-y goodness. But the star is the fresh (emphasize “fresh”) hot scones with house-made cherry and strawberry jam and real O.G. honest to fuck imported Devonshire clotted cream. Bliss.
Jean-Georges Steakhouse: We were just going to say hi to our buddy Juan (Hi Juan!) but we stayed to eat. Creamy tomato soup poured out of the cutest stone kettle, delectable breads. Comte & truffle fritters – stop reading. Click over to your favorite travel site, get a ticket, go and eat the comte and truffle fritters. Cheese and chopped truffles, nothing else, rolled into little balls, fried and served steamy hot. Tastes even better than you can possibly imagine. Hamachi sashimi with olives and olive oil, yum. Tuna four ways, yum yum yum yum. Beautiful fat chunks of lobster, with “gnocchini” in puttanesca. Yummillini. There’s no such thing as too much lobster, either.
Bouchon: Fresh hot beignets with blackberry jam and pineapple jam. I didn’t eat the Nutella. It’s chocolate, and I still haven’t recovered from Monday night’s overdose. More salmon rillettes, more spinach.
Jean-Philippe in Aria with our pal Juan, who was nice enough to visit us on his day off: Raspberry macaroon with rose-infused cream, fresh raspberries and candied rose petal. Bear claw. Some of Robert’s crème brulee gelato milkshake. Oh yeah, happy sigh.
China Poblano with a very pretty but horrible waitress. (Around 4:00 p.m., the place was mostly empty. Three full water pitchers on a shelf not far behind my chair and it took her more than 11 minutes to get Robert the refill he asked for. When I mentioned that I was about to walk over and get it for him myself, she replied, “That’s okay, forget about it.” I haven’t forgotten.) Spicy guacamole, handmade corn tortillas and miraculous tuna ceviche with crispy amaranth.
Dinner was a take-out picnic in the room. Great fun but only tuna sandwich and salad. No, I never had my traditional one alchoholic beverage. The year isn’t over yet, I have time.
Last breakfast at Bouchon: French toast, which is really bread pudding with apples and custard all baked together and topped with slivers of crunchy fresh apples and hot maple syrup. Eggs, spinach, tomatoes. Cranberry toast and sweet butter and blackberry jam. Fresh croissant.
Lunch was fish tacos at Rubio’s. Cookies at Freed’s. A gamble on the Mad Greek in Baker, which had been so awful last year we never went back. It’s good again, phew. One final caffeine infusion to survive the drive, a soy chai latte at Starbucks in Rancho Cucamonga. Say it with me, Cu-ca-mon-ga. It’s fun!
That was Thursday night. I still haven’t eaten chocolate, not even a chocolate protein bar, since Red Square. Just saying.