Huh, where to begin with this post? I was going to kick it off with something along the lines of “What Happens In Vegas Stays in Vegas…Unless It Happens in My Mouth.” And then promptly realized that’d be a terrible start for many reasons. I’m already regretting that I even recapped that postulation here. I apologize.
I suppose I should start out by putting some context around my most recent Las Vegas experience. First off: it was a business trip, so it wasn’t a rager or anything. (Read: it was totally a rager.)
It begins like this. A little over a week ago, my colleague Emily (at what point can I just call her Emily and you’ll all know I’m not speaking in the third person?) and I hopped a flight to Las Vegas for one of the largest tradeshows in our industry: the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Expo. I know I don’t talk work a whole lot on this blog, and that’s somewhat intentional, but to understand the sheer cray-factor of this experience, it’s helpful to know why we were there in the first place. The intent: absorb as much as possible about convenience stores, what makes them tick, how they’re marketed, how many pig parts are in a hot dog, etc., so we can walk away with some inspiration for creating a bomb convenience concept of our own, if ever we have the opportunity.
But. BUT. Here’s where it gets interesting. Being the NACS Expo, this show has, under one roof, nearly every vendor for every item you would hope to find in a traditional convenience store. Think every energy drink you’ve ever (and never) heard of. Every pop vendor. Every beer mogul. Every snack.
Every food that can be cooked on a roller, is rolled in shape or roll-inducing. Every frozen novelty, sports beverage or cheap iphone charger. Every lighter.
You can’t turn a single corner in that hall without snapping into a Slim Jim — or smacking face first into a pair of boobies peddling a protein bar. It’s no joke. And then again, it’s completely a joke. At the very least, it’s one heck of a cultural experience.
And, needless as it may be to say, it’s a HAVEN for crappy-albeit-absolutely-delicious convenience fare of which I ate far too much. But that’s not the point of this post! Or at least it wasn’t supposed to be. The point of this post is: somehow, amidst nine-hour days at the Nabiscotech (someone coin that shizz!), Emily and I actually managed to put down some pretty solid Vegas eats, a small selection of which I have documented in poor quality below for your viewing pleasure.
Without further ado, #whatiateinvegas:
$5 Froyo at the Rio Hotel & Casino
I wish I had taken a picture of all the ridiculous loot that we were able to pick up at the tradeshow. It was a supremely hot mess of delightfully sugary, salty, fatty snacks and candies, nutritional supplements and beverages. They even have pizza vendors, fried chicken vendors and roller jockies turning out greasy foods from pretty much dawn till dusk. After a brief stint of exposure to the tradeshow hall the first night, this froyo bar actually looked relatively fresh and refreshing enough to be called dinner. And for a flat $5, you can fill your cup with as much yogurt and toppings as you please, which makes this the cheapest buffet in town. To make sure mine felt like a real meal, I snuck a layer of cereal between my fruit and candy. Now thass finking.
Battista’s Hole-in-the-Wall Cioppino
I’m a spoiled almost-San Franciscan, and I know what great cioppino is made of: tender whitefish, briny shellfish, the freshest sea arachnids — and rich, sumptuous broth with enough body to cling to a fistful of sourdough. Battista’s version fell short on the latter, but then again, it’s just that: a version. They don’t claim to have the best or the most authentic, but they do promise a big bowl of “slow swimmers,” and that’s what I got. Because this is Battista’s, my meal also came with their standard accoutrements: free-flowing decent wine, a house salad, garlic bread and an after-dinner cappuccino. Plus a funky, kitschy atmosphere that’s part Old Vegas and part (new) Bucca di Beppo. Do with that what you will.
Beijing Noodle No. 9 at Caesar’s Palace
If we’re ever traveling together and hand-pulled noodles make it onto the itinerary, you know wass up. I will travel to the ends of the Earth for the right toothsome noodle, preferably swimming in a meaty broth dotted with glistening fat. Somehow, over the past year, my husband has given me one of the best gifts imaginable by suddenly becoming a fellow ramen fan, and now weekly suppers at the local ramen house are not unheard of. Talk about living. Anyway, the noodles at Beijing Noodle No. 9 lack the bounce and chew that I’ve experienced with good hand-pulled Chinese noodles in the past — how to describe them? they’re almost a bit more spaetzley than I was expecting — but the dark, savory broth, tender braised brisket and unctuous, slightly chewy tendon were all pretty tasty. Prior to getting our noodle on, our table also ordered several dim sum dishes to share: vegetarian spring rolls (not pictured), chashu bao and a chive and egg “pillow,” which is basically a wide, flat potsticker cut into wedges. All of these small plates came to the table fresh out of the fryer (or steamer) and piping hot. The spring rolls were super crisp with a substantial amount of filling; the bao was fluffy, but I’m frankly used to a less refined chashu filling (fat is flavor!); the “pillow” was…pillowy? No, not really. As mentioned above, it’s a steam-rolled Ling Ling. I should also note the restaurant’s atmosphere, which is pretty cool, too. It’s kind of pop-arty, all white and goldfish’d up and sort of 3Dish.
Serendipity 3 “Can’t Say No” Sundae at Caesar’s Palace
Believe it or not, we’re already at the end of the food dishes that I actually photographed during the trip — but really, this accounts for almost every meal we consumed outside of the exhibit hall or our hotel room. (The rest of the time we noshed on the aforementioned pizza, chicken and roller food, supplemented with fruit platters from the Starbucks in the hotel lobby.) Good thing, then, that we went out with a bang! The “Can’t Say No” Drugstore Sundae, as Serendipity refers to all their old fashioned, fully-loaded sundaes, is an absolute behemoth. There’s Humble pie — which in itself is peanut butter cream in a graham cracker curst. There’s ice cream: vanilla and coffee, to be exact. And then there’s a banana topped with hot fudge topped with more melty peanut butter topped with whipped cream, chopped nuts and, yes, a cherry. Split four ways, we still had leftovers and aching bellies, but it was the best damn use of a Sugar Day that I can recall.
And that was Vegas, or at least #whatiate while I was there. Oh but wait. Before I go, should I also acknowledge the phenomenal cocktail, Fabulousnessness, that we responsibly consumed while clubbing the night away? Yes, let’s do. I’ll warn you, while it sounds entirely girly, it’s not for sissies. Fabulousnessness is squirrely stuff. Consider yourself advised.
By: Who knows! Someone in New Zealand, supposedly…
Cooking time: Zilch | Serves: 1
- 1 vodka-RedBull cocktail
Mix standard vodka-Redbull cocktail in a pint glass. Top it up with champagne. Fabulousnessness!
And with that, I’m off to swing from the treetops in Costa Rica for a few days. With any luck, I’ll be able to post a bit from the road thanks to the help of a couple of guest bloggers and this nifty thing called wifi. Fancy me!