Thursday, December 15, 2011

Four Days in the Desert - Day 2b

Full set of Neon Boneyard shots can be found here.  More added as I get around to it.

The concept of Vegas as being 24/7 nonstop action is a bit of a myth.  Mid-day is a pretty open period as people groan off their buffet indulgences, realize that three hours of sleep wasn't really enough, or just find a nice poker table to sit down to for the next 8 hours. Sure, there are still people at the bar, but the real drunkery doesn't get seen until late at night when 21-year old girls in little black dresses keep trying to hold up the buildings as they stumble around vaguely recalling what hotel they're staying in.

During nearly all my Vegas trips, the afternoon is where I slip in things like ziplining, buying M&Ms, or finding a cheap tournament to flip coins in.  This time I opted to head to my room, unload my memory card to my laptop and maybe catch a couple zzz's before a planned mega-dinner. Except that the sun was setting and my room faced west.

So the tripod and camera got set up by the window and all the lights went out to cut reflections. Now my room looked like I was either a spy or voyeur. Who's to say I'm not both though?  Regardless, the goal was to get some sunset shots. This turned into getting night shots as the sun dropped and I wasn't thrilled with what I was getting of the horizon.  Luckily, even the buildings a short walk off The Strip light up as night approaches, and I was able to get some pics I rather liked of the Vdara, the Bellagio tram terminal, and the various loops of road that is Harmon.

Among them was this one.

View From the A

There are plenty more I'll soon get around to posting.

The whole process of shooting out the back of the Aria took a long time. Enough that plans like "taking a nap" were no longer feasible. I set up the photo dump to the laptop and went about getting ready for a dinner whose sheer size was grossly unplanned for.

There was texting and such to arrange rides, and I eventually met F-Train, Drizz, JoeSpeaker, and Doc Chako in front of the hotel. Raku is a tiny place in a strip mall about 10 minutes away from The Strip. Our group of ten necessitated a fixed price menu, but beyond that, details were unclear. Let's see if I can recall the whole group.  Myself, F-Train, Doc, Drizz, Speaker, GarthSaunter, Grubby, Absinthetics, and Katkin.

The easiest way to convey the meal is by cribbing from Speaker's post about it.

We started with a few pitchers of Sapporo. Then the food started to come. If I don't comment, then take the description as "tasty and fairly self-descriptive".

1.- Tofu with Bonito, scallions, wasabi and green tea salt - tofu was served like a giant ball of soft cheese. the green tea salt was on the side, as was a jar of soy sauce.

2.- Bluefin Sashimi Salad with spinach and crispy onions

3.- Red Snapper sashimi and seared- Delicious two-ways snapper. They then asked about deep-frying the leftovers (ie.- the removed skeleton, head, and skin of the snapper). We said yes.

4.- Seafood soup - Kind of. Eel, chicken, (shrimp?), matsutake mushroom, and some kind of nut for people who weren't me, broth in a teapot. Absolutely AMAZING broth.

5.- Shellfish and broth - An understatement. Clams, mussels, whole shrimp, scallops... piled on top of one another. I dislike most of those things and ate them all.

6.- Fried chicken thighs on spinach with balsamic vinaigrette - The first "meh" dish of the night. Generally low on flavour in the chicken, but the bed of spinach underneath was great, having basically marinated in the balsamic.

7.- Asparagus deep-fried with panko bread crumbs

Around here is when I got a text reminding me of my plans to ride the New York New York roller coaster later that night. Hrmm..

8.- Roasted mackerel

9.- Red Snapper bones and skin redux - The snapper from earlier returns as crispy goodness!

10.-  Tofu in beef broth with Salmon roe - I fail to see the point of tofu as anything other than a base for other flavours. Man, what amazing other flavours. Oh, and the tofu is made in-house.

11.- Bacon-wrapped mushrooms, two ways - They're bacon-wrapped mushrooms, two-ways. Of course they were delicious.

I think it was at this point (although it might have been a couple courses earlier) that we were brought hot wet towels and assumed the meal was over. We all agreed that we had certainly received our money's worth and were well-sated. Full, yet not explosively so.  Then this happened:

12.- Kobe beef with wasabi - Oh, there IS more! And it's delicious meat! [nom] REALLY delicious meat!

13.- Pork cheek - Chew the inside of you cheek. Fell how tender it is? Now imagine it tasting like pig.

At this point I assumed our waitress was fattening us up in order to kill us and feed the next party.

14.- Ground chicken on a stick - Again, the chicken was low on flavour. I took a bite and deemed it not worth exploding over.

15.- Salmon rice with salmon roe - Because we weren't moaning in stuffed agony, a giant bowl of carbs is just what the doctor ordered. I had two delicious bites.

16.- Asian pear and strawberry sorbets - This was truly the last dish. And one that was desperately needed. the excellent sorbets cleansed the palate and fit in the tiny spaces left in my stomach.

On top of all this, the ten of us probably went through seven pitchers of Sapporo. Cost per person? $115 all-in. That's the food, beer, taxes, and tip. Best damned deal in Vegas.

So big thanks to F-Train for putting this one together. Fantastic call.

We rode back to Aria to observe mixed games.  Well, I waddled around the tables a bit to check on roller coaster status.  Yup, even stuffed to the gills and barely able to walk, I was going to ride a 203ft, 67 mph coaster. After a bit more (I assume) winning at the tables, Alan and Caity rose to join Dawn, OhCaptain and myself for our trip into oblivion.

By this point, I was actually feeling better. The food had had about an hour to digest, so I wasn't a bloated mass of groaning anymore. We made our way to the coaster, briefly feared it was shut down (due to some drunk walking past saying "it's shut down!"), and paid our $14. I recall it being $25 on my first trip to Vegas, so now it seemed reasonable. I reminded Dawn about the time we rode the Cyclone at Coney Island and she thought she was going to die, and I did nothing to alleviate those fears.

"How much did that cost?"

"$8. I remember because that's how much your life and dignity were worth."


Good times.

Alan pulled out his phone to tweet something, and was promptly attacked by the ride nazi because phones are loose and have to be stored. Pleas about his jacket having a zippered pocket weren't enough. I was tempted to tweet about it on my phone that was in my totally not-zippered jeans pocket. Instead, I pulled out my equally loose wallet to hand him a quarter for the locker. The irony was completely lost on the attendant.

With that, the coaster took off, we had fun, I didn't puke on anyone (and in fact felt just fine TYVM), and we wandered back through the carney games that don't give you money. Where I believe it was Alan (or was it OhCaptain?) and I who lost $5 each to claw games because Dawn dared us to play.

Walk back to Aria, drinks, jokes, chats, more battle stories about the dinner with the other survivors, and finally I wandered up to bed.  Yah... 2 days, 4 posts, 2 more days to go. So far? Amazing WPBT. Next up? The tournament and games about gladiators.


SirFWALGMan said...

Can I take Dawn's Dignity for $8 too?

Shrike said...

Damn but I'm hungry and I hate missing out on WPBTs.


JK said...

I think I'm still digesting that meal.