Thursday, March 21, 2013

Vegas day 1: Food coma!

I'm back, I'm refreshed, and I'm bursting at the seams with excitement to share pictures from my Vegas trip with you.  What is one to do in Vegas when one doesn't drink or gamble?  Turns out, lots!

Like I said last week, I flew from Pittsburgh to LA on Thursday night to meet up with my former college roommate, Rachel.  It had been exactly 1 year and 3 days since we saw each other last -- at her wedding, no less.  Time has flown!

On Friday afternoon, we embarked on a road trip for our very first visit to Las Vegas!

Mandatory (and squinty, ew!) self-portrait.  Our car full of snacks went unpictured but included sweet potato Pop Chips (first time I've tried -- irresistable!), trail mix, Fiber One bars, and apples.  Our last attempt at balance for the weekend. 

If you've ever wondered what the 4 1/2 hour drive from LA to Vegas looks like, let me save you some sleepless nights: it's desert (initially typed "dessert").  Lots and lots of desert and rocks.

Then, almost out of nowhere, numerous billboards, high rise hotels that look like castles, and rollercoasters appear on the landscape.  Welcome to Sin City!  (We missed the trademark welcome sign.  Womp womp.)

Specifically, welcome to the Paris Hotel!  What a delight, let me tell you.  We weren't there but 20 minutes in order to freshen up and change before heading out to the most anticipated dinner of the weekend: Max Brenner's!

This place left such a lasting impression on us when we visited in NYC a few years ago, so it was the first restaurant we picked to frequent in Vegas.  Thankfully, we knew what many options awaited us on the dessert menu, so we took a lighter approach to dinner.

We started by sharing a half order of the white corn croquettes.  Salty Manchego cheese mixed with sweet white corn rolled together in panko and fried.  Un-REAL!  If that were it, I could've eaten approximately 25 more.

For our main meal, we went with a tried and true favorite - the house-made veggie burger.  Rachel loved it so much in NYC that we decided to split it.  Topped with tomato, cilantro avocado mayonnaise, and huge slices of -- yep, you guessed it -- more avocado.  If ever there were a way to convince me to move to the west coast, it would be the never-ending supply of fresh, buttery avocados.  Swoon!

This is the part of the meal where we realized what a gem we had for our waitress.  We'd previously told her we'd be ordering two desserts and sharing the "real" food.  When we hesitated over the pages and pages of sweet endings, we looked to her for guidance.  Not only did she describe the size and composition of each, but she also gave us previous diners opinions and her own.  She even told us we were approaching our entire meal the right way and that she wishes other patrons would do the same.  "This is a no judgement zone because I'd do the same!"

Our first choice was the banana split waffle, which we'd also enjoyed in NYC.  No joke, we'd been talking about this dessert for years.  Years!  Crispy and chewy waffle topped with caramelized bananas, vanilla bean ice cream with chocolate sauce for drizzling and chocolate covered crisped rice.  Out of this WORLD!  I want it again.  Now.  So badly!

Our second choice was up in the air due to one item being unavailable, but we finally chose one: The Spectacular Melting Chocolate S'Mores Sundae.  Sounds like a mouthful and most certainly was one, too!  Three scoops of milk chocolate ice cream, vanilla cream, chocolate fondue, chocolate chunks, a huge dollop of toasted served with white chocolate sauce and fresh whipped cream.

Um, yeah.  You know how this went.

We hated every second of it ;) 

Cue the forced smiles as the food comas took over.

And we finished every last bite (picture taken before last bite was consumed, I swear)! 

And therein that lovely tin was our check.  Between the terrific food, rock star of a waitress, and generally delightful dining experience, we probably would've signed our lives away if there weren't a specific dollar amount on the bill.

We rolled out of there left, blissful and totally content, and made our way to the Bellagio to scope out the lobby.  We both needed to do some walking and remain upright for just a little bit before hitting the sack.  Gorgeous botanical gardens and a butterfly room mesmerized us!

We wandered and chatted and wandered some more before heading outside to enjoy what would eventually become our favorite part of Vegas -- the Bellagio fountains!  Shows occur every 15 minutes and involve the choreography of the fountains to one full song of any genre.  We heard Michael Jackson, one of my favorite Christian church hymns, Josh Groban, and Sheryl Crowe.  Talk about variety!

Between each show, we'd do a (slow) lap around the fountains and set up shop to see the next show from a different angle.  This was from out haunt closest to the Bellagio valet station looking across the street to our faux French hotel. 

Yet another location.  We couldn't find one bad viewing angle, try as we might.  After four shows, we thought it best to head "home" and get a good night's sleep since Saturday was primed to be biz-ay.

If the real Paris is anything like this, I'm reeeeeeeally looking forward to it.  But, for now, Vegas Paris will have to do.

We were weighed down by our indulgent evening exhausted and decided to call it a night around 11:30.  Day 2 of the recap coming next week!  Be sure to check back because there is a food spill of epic (and green!) proportions to share :)

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