Vegas, Baby: Part 2

Vegas Day 2 started off waaaayyy too early. For some reason, my body thought it would be a great idea to wake up at 5:00 a.m. raring to go.

This is what just before dawn looked like from our hotel room:

Rising dawn from our window
Rising dawn 2

Since it was ridiculously early, we decided not to bother the brother. We went on a little picture taking exploration walk instead.

City Center
The Cs at City Center
City Center
City Center, Mandarin & Aria

City Center is a pretty cool high-end mall, with spectacular versions of pretty much every luxury store you could want.

Planet Hollywood
Planet Hollywood - the sexiest of the hotel/casinos
Planet Hollywood's aptly named halo bar

With its sparkle and hot pink decor scheme, Planet Hollywood was definitely the sexiest hotel/casino/shopping complex we visited. It’s a pretty nice venue as well, with a connected Miracle Mile high-end mall.


Paris had an interesting feel. Not for us, but worth the visit.


The Bellagio was not our favorite. Kinda boring inside, but with pretty skylight adornments. Also, not our favorite smell–kind of like old men.

Perhaps our favorite-looking hotel--Cosmopolitan
The 3-story crystal bar @ Cosmopolitan
4th floor ceiling @ Cosmopolitan
Soon-to-be-opened sushi bar @ Cosmopolitan
Light reflection on a foosball table outside Jose Andres' place, Jaleo
I am completely in love with the classic styling in the seating nooks @ Cosmopolitan
*hee hee

The Cosmopolitan was our favorite hotel/casino on the strip and where we definitely want to stay during our next visit. Not only is it freakin gorgeous inside, the floor security was super friendly and helped point out different vantage points for picture taking.

After coming back to the hotel and taking a little nap, it was time for our vow renewal at A Little White Chapel. We opted for the drive-through ceremony, no Elvis (we just couldn’t go that tacky) and on-site picture taking. The woman that married us this time was great. (our first wedding was fraught with drama and the officiant read the wrong wedding ceremony–our first ceremony was spent talking to each other quietly and calming me down). This ceremony was relaxing and perfect.

This is my favorite picture of the wedding, taken by the brother
I so love this face
Not half bad. I'd say good enough to re-again-some more-marry
Matching Chucks, 'cause we're just that cute
My zippy little hair piece
Goin' to the drive-through. And we're. Gonna' get married...
I'm still short
Only slightly creepy intense eyes 🙂

The photographer wasn’t half bad, either. My DH has creepy eyes in most of the pics, but that’s not the photographer’s fault entirely. That’s just what happens when Chris is forced to smile.

After the ceremony, it was back to the Cosmopolitan for lunch at Holsteins, a totally kick-ass burger & boozy shake joint.

Truffle Popcorn!
Tenderloin Rossini Mini Buns

Tenderloin Rossini: Tiny little perfectly-cooked and super tender beef medallions with foie gras, wild mushroom duxelle, baby arugula and truffle mayo on adorable little buns. This was my DH’s favorite dish of the entire trip. And it has mushrooms. I see a glimmer of hope in my future! Not only did he like the pear on the Fleur burger, he liked the mushrooms on this one. So, what have we learned about vacation, class? That it’s the perfect time to spring foods my DH doesn’t think he likes on him in the guise of gourmet. Bwa-ha-ha.


Bratwurst: Baby braised brats with bacon and potato on pillowy little rolls.

I didn’t get a picture of the Black Cow Bam-Boozled Shake my DH had, but it was awesome and if I could eat that much ice cream without expiring, I would have had 2. Black Cow: Coca-Cola, vanilla ice cream, chocolate-covered Pop Rocks and Three Olives cherry vodka.

After lunch, it was just about time to make our way to Caesar’s Palace for dinner reservations at MESA.

The Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace

Getting semi-lost in the massive Caesar’s Palace Forum Shops complex. Luckily, I was able to pull up a map on my phone.

Bobby Flay's MESA

What we had:

Dry and fairly tasteless cornbread
Venison with sweet sauce, basil oil drizzle and joyless tamale
Perfectly-cooked spice rubbed NY strip with sickly sweet BBQ and nice chipotle sauces and basil oil trickle
Tender lamb stew with decent if sweet flavor

I hate to admit it, but MESA was underwhelming. Maybe it’s because we are fans of Bobby Flay and love watching him battle it out on Iron Chef, but the meal just wasn’t that great. This should serve as a good object lesson, just like Paula Deen’s restaurant: just because they’re on TV and you like their recipes at home doesn’t mean their restaurants are going to be any good. Go by accolades, not air time. Chef Keller’s place was amazing, and he doesn’t spend near as much time in front of the camera (at least not on big budget networks).

What a pair!

My DH (now sporting my garter for luck and still trying to wrap his head around being a "little brother")
And his long lost-now-found older brother sporting an amount of facial hair my DH wishes he could sprout

And then, the time I’d been waiting for. The show. Both the boys were excited about the show we were going to, and I’m happy to say Circ didn’t disappoint. The show was pretty awesome. Unfortunately (or not), no pictures at all whatsoever were allowed. You’ll just have to go check it out for yourself ;p

Beatles Love
The Love Hallway

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped to watch the Bellagio fountain show, which was every bit as amazing in person as it is on TV.

Bellagio Fountain
Bellagio Fountain

Upon returning to the casino, I crashed and the boys played a little blackjack.

More Vegas vacay pics

Vegas, Baby: Part 1

You may have noticed my excitement last week about going to Vegas. No? You missed that? Well, here’s a peek. This past Thursday, my DH and I left for a much-needed and well-deserved vacation/second wedding and/or honeymoon. And, if that wasn’t enough, a brother meeting-stravaganza.

Sound like a lot? It felt like it by yesterday morning, I can tell you. Many stories short, we had a great vacation, an awesome brother meeting, and a decent second wedding. The vacation turned out so well, my previous dislike of/being freaked out by Vegas has been changed and we’ve decided we want to visit for at least a long weekend every year or so. And we’d like to see the brother more than never, so that’s a plus 🙂

Vegas, Day 1

Up way too early at the crack before dawn to catch the first flight out to Vegas. The flight went fine; we landed and headed over to the huge rental car parking deck. They of course didn’t have the car we reserved available immediately, but everyone there really bent over backward to get the convertible we ordered or upgrade us to a muscle car. If we didn’t need the convertible for the drive-thru wedding we were doing the next day, we would have jumped on a Mustang or Camero. I forgot just how nice customer service people in Vegas are. Like go out of their way nice. Comparatively, Miami sucks in this department.

Got the car, a POS silver Chrysler Sebring, and headed out to scope the layout of the land before picking the long lost brother up. I’d seen the strip before, but not terribly well, and my DH has never been to Vegas. It’s surreal and impressive and has only gotten bigger since the last time I was there.

After swinging back to collect the brother, we hit up our first hotel/casino/shopping complex and meal- ‘Wichcraft at the MGM Grand.

It's 'Wichcraft

I’d heard buzz about this being a great sandwich place and a good way to experience Tom Collichio’s food in a non-threatening, low-key setting, and boy was the buzz dead-on. The sandwiches we got were freakin fantastic.

Steak n Egg Sandwich @ 'Wichcraft

I had the Skirt steak sandwich with a fried egg and oyster mushrooms on a roll.


My DH had the Meatloaf with cheddar, bacon and tomato relish on a roll. It was also excellent.

I don’t remember what Mr. Brother had and I didn’t want to inflict my obsessive food picture taking on him right after meeting him. Suffice it to say, we all enjoyed our meals and left stuffed after our bags of chips and bananas.

It’s always nice to eat a meal at a chef you admires’ restaurant and have it be as good as you imagined. I doubt Collichio is stopping by on even a monthly basis, but I’m sure he would be happy to know the guys at his Vegas sandwich counter are holding down the fort properly.


We explored the MGM a bit, but were mostly happy to finally eat (Southwest no longer feeds you more than really light snacks on flights) and check into our hotels so I could visit the concierge to make dinner reservations and reserve tickets for the surprise show I had been planning on taking my DH to since it opened 5 years ago. For those of you that know me, you will know that it’s almost impossible for me to keep something I’m planning a secret, let alone for 5 long years. I’m quite proud I pulled it off. It took a lot of misdirecting, tongue biting and not thinking about it really hard, but I managed.

After regrouping at our respective hotels, we headed out for dinner at Hubert Keller’s Fleur and to see what Mandalay Bay had to offer.

For some reason, I decided it would be a good idea to wear cute heels. I was wrong and ended up limping and being in pain shortly after leaving the hotel. Pain be damned, we still had a good time.

Jellyfish Attack!

We checked out the Shark Reef, where we marveled at the jellyfish and watched the sharks do laps with the other fish in the sunken reef tank. Pretty cool stuff. I could have watched the jellyfish for hours.

Dinner was fantabulous and my favorite of the whole trip. And, wonder of all wonders, Chef Keller was actually there in the dining room filming some sort of something and greeting customers. Regrettably, I was too shy to go say hi because I was pretty sure I’d do nothing but giggle and drool, so I geeked out from afar.

Fleur’s menu is tapas-style, and we split a variety of dishes between the three of us. I also had the best pear martini I’ve ever had.

What we had:

Tarte Flambee

Tarte Flambee – A thin and delicate crispy flat bread with onion, bacon, truffle, asparagus, creme fraiche and mache salad

"In the Shower" Mac & Cheese

“In the Shower” Mac & Cheese – Possibly my favorite dish of the night and the one must-have on my list. A light cheesy pasta with brunoise vegetables and perfectly-cooked lobster chunks. Why “in the shower”? When Chef Keller was on Top Chef Masters, he made this dish during a challenge–cooking in a dorm–and the only place large enough to drain his macaroni was the shower. Hence the name.

Sliders 2

Angus Sliders – Perfect little burgers with blue cheese, onion, bacon and pear. Surprise of all surprises, my DH actually liked the pear in the sandwich. Open door for experimentation 🙂

Artichoke Barigoule

Artichoke Barigoule – Tender artichoke hearts with slivers of asparagus and baby carrots in a delicate stocky sauce, topped with basil slivers

Creme Brulee Trio – Earl Grey (interesting), honey lavender (my favorite) and cookie dough (the boys’ favorite) dense but not too sweet shots of creamy, custardy goodness

After dinner, none of us were up for much more than sacking out, so we crashed early.

Aria - From the front doors looking out

Aria - The Lobby
Aria - Elvis Show Lobby
Aria - Elvis (& Circ de Soleil) are in the building

April 22, 2011

Wedding #2. It was today, five years ago, that I said ‘I do’ to my best friend. That worked so well, we decided to do it again in a drive-thru in Vegas. Happy Anniversary, my love.


Since the picture above was not taken by me and would therefore be cheating, here is a shot of the other happy event during our trip to Vegas: meeting my DH’s long-lost brother 🙂