Food Miles: Las Vegas

Las Vegas is mostly about gambling and drinking and then you eat when you have the time! When you are eventually  peeled off of the Blackjack table, there are a ton of restaurants to choose from no matter how much you have to play with.

Las Vegas caters for every taste too – the themed hotels have similarly themed restaurants and scattered along the strip you’ll find steakhouses, burger joints, Mexican and Oriental restaurants. As far as I know, there’s no typically Nevadan cuisine… Nevada is simply better known for gambling, drive-thru nuptials and quickie divorces (usually in that order!)

Eating in Las Vegas
There are plenty of world-renowned chefs with restaurants in Las Vegas, but for me Vegas is all about THE BUFFET. A tactical meal out, the trick is to try a bit of everything before deciding what you actually want to eat. Do not eat any bread and do not drink too much liquid – these are rookie errors! It’s great value for money too, so your drinking and gambling fund remains untouched :-). Most hotels on the strip have a buffet, though The Bellagio and The Wynn are considered the best. Lunch is generally better value; some hotels will offer a higher priced gourmet buffet at the weekends as well as a brunch buffet too. Expect to queue for a while at peak times, but it’s so worth it!

We revisited The Bellagio Buffet and I was pleased to see that they are still serving up their spider crab claws. I helped myself to 4 or 5 though some diners had mountains of them. With a little salt and lemon, they got my appetite going for my sushi course :-). The Bellagio sushi bar serves sashimi, nigiri and California rolls so I helped myself to everything that didn’t contain avocado (see the about me section). And when I was finished with that, I was well and truly ready for my starter. This sounds bad, but this is how to do a buffet! And frankly, if it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right!

Starter options are different prepared salads, a DIY salad bar, Mediterranean vegetables, and ceviche. My lifelong love of grilled Mediterranean vegetables is still going strong so I went for aubergines, “zucchini” and peppers along with some of the ceviche and a tomato, mozzarella and pesto salad.

Whilst still able to breathe and talk, it’s time for the main course just as an impatient Mr. B. was finishing his (don’t worry, he had another). I skipped the Beef Wellington and Pizza and loaded up on some Italian-American Manicotti and Tortellini along with a dollop of creamed spinach, a couple of lamb cutlets and some spicy sausage and paella for good measure. Whew. I think I need new jeans.

The dessert bar looks like a work of art and as such cannot be ignored!! At this point, I managed an amazing mini crème brûlée loaded with vanilla seeds, a chocolate macaroon and a mini custard tart. Oh my.

This buffet will basically be all you need during a weekend stay! But if you do need something else here are a couple of suggestions.

Mon Ami Gabi – http://www.monamigabi.com/ charming French themed bistro in Paris with good steak and accompanying sauces. Try the mussels for a tasty starter too.

Roy’s – http://www.roysrestaurant.com/locations/NV/las_vegas.asp excellent service and great fusion food for when you fancy a break from the strip.

Finally, a bit of advice from our flight departure board (of all places)…

Luxury Mac and Cheese
Serves 2

Inspired by the menu at The Fix, Bellagio, I thought I’d try my take at a decadent mac ‘n’ cheese. Perfect for big wins but not too much of a belly buster :-).

Ingredients
– 200g macaroni
– 15g salted butter
– 15g plain flour
– 350ml whole milk
– Pinch of English mustard powder
– 40g extra mature Cheddar
– 20g Gruyere cheese
– 20g Parmesan cheese
– Drizzle of olive oil
– 100g pancetta cubes
– A couple of drops of truffle oil
– A couple of thyme sprigs, leaves picked
– A knob of butter (for greasing an oven proof dish)
– 15g breadcrumbs

Method
1. Start cooking the pasta according to the pack instructions and preheat your oven to 200°/Gas Mark 6.

2. Whilst the pasta is boiling, make a roux by melting the butter in a saucepan on a medium heat. Once it’s melted, stir in the flour using a wooden spoon and cook until its turned to a biscuit colour. Now whisk in half of the milk and once incorporated, you can add the other half with the mustard powder. Continue to heat this white sauce for 5 minutes or so until it’s smooth. Now take off of the heat and add all of your cheddar and half of the Gruyere and half of the Parmesan and then season well.

3. Fry the pancetta cubes in a drizzle of oil until crispy.

4. Drain your pasta and run it under some cold water before adding it to the sauce. When your pancetta is ready, drain it on some kitchen towel and add to the sauce as well. Give it a good mix and add a couple of drops of truffle oil along with some thyme leaves.

5. Grease your oven proof dish and transfer the macaroni cheese into it. Top with the breadcrumbs and the leftover cheeses before baking for 35-40 minutes. When it’s browned on top and looking delicious, take it out and serve soon as!

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