April 24, 2012

Spring Break

For those of you following along, you know that I have been attending cooking school.  Now that I am back in the academic world (ahem, sort of) I did what any good student would do.  
I went away for spring break.  

Where to?  Where else but one of my favorite hot spots.  A place that is alive 24/7.  

Where world class dining meets a fabulous night life.  

You guessed it, Las Vegas.  

One of the many great things about Vegas is the diversity among the hotels and restaurants.  A quick cab ride can take you from Venice to Paris & New York, then off to a Tropical getaway.  

The entire strip is a study in who can out-do who and impress their visitors with over the top themes, stunning design and spectacular shows.  Probably the most recognizable is the water show at the Bellagio.   

People line up along the sidewalks surrounding the lake to get a front row view of the entertainment. 

We found a better way.  

Olives Restaurant, by Todd English at the Bellagio has an outdoor patio that overlooks the water.  Which means you can dine and take in the show at the same time.  What better reason to indulge in a long lazy lunch?  

These help too...

My favorite is the Tiffany, made with vodka, muddled raspberries and just a touch of champagne.  I think its name comes from the fact that if you have a few too many you feel compelled to go next door and purchase something sparkly in that famous little blue box.  

I admit that my favorite thing about this restaurant is the bread basket. Is that wrong?  It is just so perfect.  It is served with a variety of olives and tapenade, but the star of the show is the flat bread.  

Perfectly thin and crispy and covered in herbs, sea salt and parmesan cheese, this bread speaks to me.  

Another favorite is the Caesar salad.  Simple yet delicious.  

One of Olive's specialties is their flat breads, aka pizza.  Baked in a wood fired oven, they have a rotating menu of gourmet toppings such as smoked salmon, fig & prosciutto and portobello with white truffle .  We decided to be super fancy and get pepperoni.   

Sometimes, pepperoni is all you need.  

After our fill of dancing water, we decided to head on down the strip and check out one of the newest hotels,  The Cosmopolitan.  The tag line is "just the right amount of wrong".  Don't you just love that?

The lobby is incredible, with ever changing digital wall displays and a giant 3 story chandelier that doubles as a lounge.  

Vesper Bar, in the lobby, is an old school James Bond inspired lounge. 

They make all their syrups and flavors in house, displayed in a line beautifully on the bar.  

And it is 007 class all the way by using fresh flowers as a garnish.

It was the perfect spot to hang out and people watch.  

 Once we worked up an apetite, we headed upstairs to Holsteins for some gourmet burgers.

I love the decor of the restaurant, filled with cartoon cows.  

 Even though we didn't spend spring break on a beach, we wanted some fruity tropical drinks.  

And then it arrived.  A burger like no other.  
It is called the The Rising Sun and is a perfect combination of Kobe beef with a teriyaki glaze, nori, crispy yams, spicy wasabi mayo and then all topped with a tempura avocado. 

It was like someone combined all the best flavors from a sushi meal and put it on a burger.  Whoever it is, they are a genius in my books!

Captain McBlack got the Gold Standard, a fancy version of the classic bacon cheeseburger, complete with aged goat cheddar cheese and a tomato confit instead of ketchup.  

I love the way they serve the onion rings, in individual mini buckets.  

It isn't just the burgers that make Holsteins special.  It is the adult milkshakes, cleverly called bam-boozled shakes.  To feed the kid at heart, my big strong man got the Cereal Bowl, made with Captain Crunch and vanilla vodka.  

Captain McBlack drinking a Captain Crunch milkshake.  I knew it was only a matter of time....

Not to exclude the child in me, I got a Campfire Smores milkshake.  
Is this where I mention that I went to sleep-away camp when I was a kid?  This milkshake tasted just like those long nights in front of the bonfire. 

 Looking back, I guess you could say those summers were Spring Break in training.  Staying up way too late, having fun and hanging out with friends was what it was all about.  As an adult in Vegas, not that much has changed.  But this time, my milkshake had vodka in it.  

And now it is time to head back to school.  Is that the bell I hear ringing?  

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