So I’ve dallied long enough without posting this….
The week before Christmas we ventured up to Las Vegas to spend time with Erik’s mom and sister Annette. Originally the entire sibling gaggle was supposed to all go this year, well Karl and Karen bailed, citing differing problems. Whatever. We went, we paid homage, we ate well.

So the 23rd of December we attended the 7pm show of The Phantom of The Opera at The Venetian. The hotel was okay, we didn’t see much of it except the atrociously designed parking garage, the long walk into the hotel through a maze of cement walled corridors, and finally a small part of the shops near the theatre. Normally you have to walk through the casino to get to the showroom. Not here, which was great, but definitely not standard Vegas.
So the show was simply, Awe-inspiring. Outstanding. Amazing. Fantastic. Quite possibly the best show I’ve seen in Las Vegas. No naked men, no Elvis impersonations, no Vegas references. Just Perfection. I mean how can you argue with a production that the chandelier assembles itself in the opening act and then dangles about over your head to it’s final resting place lit in the center of the cavernous theatre. Where dry ice fog rolls off the stage as a ‘gondola’ with the Phantom and Angelique ride through the sewers amid candelabras that rise through the fog from the stage. Hydraulic suspended bridges that allow the illusion of descending into the sewers and provide a ledge that Raoul jumps from and descends *through* the stage into the ‘fog’. I mean holy crap. Not to mention pyrotechnics, impeccable sound, lighting, and oh… the singing. Watching the cast bring to life all of the songs I had memorized years ago from my PotO CD when it debuted on Broadway was just fantastic.
We ate in the cafe I had the Indochine Shrimp which the menu describes as “A Fusion Dish of Chinese and Indian Flavors. Jumbo Shrimp, Chicken, Onions and Sweet Ginger all Sauteed in a Delicious Spicy Sauce of Curry, Plum Wine and a Little Cream Topped with Sun-Dried Cherries and Apricots. Served with White Rice. I’d call it delicious. I also had the Spicy Calamari salad, which they listed under small, it wasn’t. “Crispy Calamari, Mixed Greens, Carrots, Cucumber and Green Onions Tossed with a Delicious Spicy Vinaigrette” came in a 12″ diameter bowl piled into a delicious looking pyramid. Of course I couldn’t finish it all and took it home to eat the rest for breakfast ;)
Christmas Eve (24th) we spent time with his mom & sister then Erik, DeeAnn, and I went to Lawry’s Prime Rib as his mothers choice of places to eat for the trip. Wow, all I have to say is, in a town where you can get $4.99 prime rib I have no idea how this place stays in business. Packed to the rafters. They had strolling carolers singing Christmas songs to each table. The mixed drinks were $12.50 if you ordered top shelf, $8.50 well. Prime rib dinner was $35 of course that didn’t include vegetables which were $8 extra. Salad, potatoes, prime rib, and the loosest interpretation of yorkshire pudding I’ve ever seen. Tasty though. Dessert I had a 3 layer strawberry triffle with cream. DeeAnn had cheesecake. By this time Erik was feeling sick, not good. Of course the food was very rich, and the room was excruciatingly warm. Not a pleasant time. Oh well.
Christmas we ate at the buffet at our hotel all 4 of us got what we wanted. They had all the trimmings, turkey, ham, lamb, chinese, mexican. You name it. :)

However the day after Christmas was the grand finale. Starving myself all day, we were picked up by limo and taken to the MGM Grand hotel, The Mansion. Which I have to point out, I didn’t even know existed till that night. It is BEAUTIFUL. It’s a small enclave in the center of the MGM that wraps around it on all sides. Private gated entrance, marble and more marble. We were met by a hostess who escorted us through the catacomb like maze of corridors out into a 5 story atrium around a fountain back into more corridors to finally come out of a black wrought iron gate into the hotel around the corner from Joël Robuchon. I have to tell you being escorted to dinner was pretty cool, but if I thought that was amazing walking into the restaurant was superb. A 12 table restaurant. Purple velvet couches. Silver and black and lavender decor everywhere just opulent to the nth degree. We were escorted to the end table at the front of the restaurant. I sat on the couch and place my purse on it’s purse stool, I love it. I have pillows to lounge on Roman Style. Just amazing. Of course we have 12 waiters and they’re all everywhere at once.
The food, the patisserie cart with 5 kinds of brioche alone! Not to mention baguettes, rustic loaves, and the most amazing wheat sheaf inspired creation. Bread, wrapped around a piece of bacon. And it all joined to look like a treasure, but tasted doubly so. Oh the fresh salted butter. Dear god. We drank 2 bottles of wine of Pacherenc du Vic just divine. Perfectly how I like it, sweet, a little sparkling, fruit flavors and I swear I could taste apricots.
I ordered the 16 course tasting menu (I’ve included the scan of the menu below) and Erik ordered from the Menu Prestige choosing the La Chataigne chestnut cream velouté with lardons foam (that’s bacon foam people…merde), Beef cheeks which were so incredibly tender it was like eating beef mousse, the of course undeniably butter enrobed specialty of Pommes puree. Pow. Kiss your arteries goodbye.
So the starter was an unbelievably fresh tasting caviar, I believe Osetra, which danced like pearls of fish inflected love as they popped delicately on my tongue. Mixed with the fennel cream in a mille feuille stacked style inside a small round tin. Just an amazing amuse bouche.
Then the food started and I had already blissed out with the caviar. But of course next up was Pommes with black truffles and the *thinnest* shavings of foie gras as a carpaccio. So. Fricking. Umami. Divine. I mean the truffles alone could have made me cry, but with the velvet of the foie gras and the jolt of the potato, zam. Mouthgasam. And this was the first course? Merde.
The next course the cepes were lovely, and I think I lost my mind about this point. Erik would talk to me but I’d be tasting the million intricacies of the food, mashing it slowly against the roof of my mouth, the food too precious to actually chew and then I’d realize he was trying to talk to me and I’d feel bad because I just wanted to savor the moment of epicurean bliss. I mean. Yeah.
The seared scallops blew me away. It was like eating classic Thai green curry shrimp but with the most juicy and perfectly cooked diver scallop.
I had never had sea urchin until now. It is so smooth and divine it is a complete juxtaposition with it’s hard spiky exterior. The roe was left on top and it spoke faintly and deliciously of the sea. The langoustine was delicious but a complete disaster to eat. Enrobed in a delicate noodle-esque basket made of choux flour one bite sent an explosion of choux crumbs *everywhere*. And it was too big to eat in one bite thus avoiding the crumbling. Messy. The lobster with green curry sauce made up for the mess however.
My frog legs experience previously consisted of batter and a lot of hot oil. But this, this was la grenouille magnifique. Deliciously braised (fricassee’d) frog legs atop a flavorful rice garnished with none other than THE most sought after truffle, the tartuffi di Alba or white truffle.
So.worth.every.inconvenience.and.price.Yum.yum.yum.yum.
Now I am still torn from the chestnut velouté. On the one hand it was divine. How can you not love all that cream and butter with the flavor of roasted chestnuts. I mean really. But as if your carotid was not blocked enough by this point, to top it off with an amazing and unbelievable amount of lardon foam. Just. Overkill. I mean I love bacon. Bacon, bacon, bacon. Everything is better with bacon. But that soup was already fantastically rich and the foam just became enrobing. Cloying. I felt like it was coating everything in my mouth and throat with bacon. It was all encompassing. The thing is, it was just so damn good it was too much I think.
The sea-bass was a good palate cleanser from all that richness. Simple. Delicious.
Followed with the king of unctuosity a beautifully sauteed veal chop so tender and flavorful I would have sworn it was from a full grown steer. The herb gelee brought out the flavor of the veal so much you could imagine the calf eating the grass.
Risotto inégalé. Perfectly creamy with the ‘pop’ of the soybean sprouts with a fantastic green flavor. Again clearing away the bacon foam.
The fruit sorbet was delicious and fresh and so sweet. I can’t even remember what flavors came out it was just. Delicious.
But I have to say the final straw, the deal topper of the meal was indeed the poached Fuji apple confit with Calvados granite and the most rich sweet cream. Served in this half moon globe resting in it’s little habitat it was just beautiful. The apple so sweet, so bright, so tender. The granite wow. Double apple flavor all alone. Eaten with the fuji it was apple power. Tempered with the soft sweet cream made it seem to float. A miniature apple charlotte without the crust.

Of course the patisserie for Joël I’ve already decided by this point never sleeps. I mean the bread cart alone would take you 8 hours to make everything. Then the finale of the meal is a cart of confections labeled ‘escortés de mignardises’ or escorted preciousnesses. I mean they were. It’s the perfect description. Plate upon plate upon item upon item of chocolates, truffles, caramels, fruits enrobed with confections. How does one decide when presented with such a melange. And I do use melange as the unparalleled life changing drug in Dune the series by Frank Herbert. The Spice Must Flow. Seriously the chocolates flowed from the cart, the flavors like mini punches of intensity swaddled with care into my mouth. The winner? A tie between the yuzu ‘Liqueur Praliné’ or liquid center chocolate and the hand made salted caramels. The yuzu was extraordinary, but I have a thing for caramel.

Needless to say topped off with a fantastic espresso and a ‘goody’ bag of the menu of my meal and a box of the chocolates. I couldn’t have imagined a meal this good. I thank you Mr. Robuchon for having the gastronomic fortitude to craft such a meal. Bravo.

Escorted back through the hotel, and into the limo to take the ride back to the hotel I could not have asked for a better night, that my husband Erik got to share it with me was all the better. Thank you darling. Jé T’aime.

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