Six Coronado women were treated to a weekend of luxury in a stunning 2 bedroom, 2 bath suite at Hotel 32, located on the top floor of the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino. We felt like princesses in our beautifully furnished suite. My favorite amenities included soothing bubble baths in the hydrotherapy soaking tub, long showers with overhead panels that produce a gentle rainfall, gourmet chocolates on my pillow each night...
...and the private Lounge32, which offered evening wine, cocktails, and hors d'œuvres...
Balsamic Mascarpone Strawberries
After arriving Friday afternoon, and relaxing in our suite with a few cocktails and hors d'œuvres, we then dressed for an evening on the town. Three of us boarded the convenient Monte Carlo-Bellagio Monorail to the Bellagio for Cirque du Soleil's "O", an aquatic masterpiece of surrealism and theatrical romance. This was my first Cirque du Soleil experience and it was amazing! Following the show, we set off to MGM Grand for a little gambling and our VIP table at Studio 54, one of Las Vegas' hottest nightclubs. Not really my scene, but very entertaining people-watching. I was the first to retire to the suite, shortly past 2, with plans to get up early and venture out on my own.
I was up early and ready to explore. Since I had already donated enough of my hard-earned cash to the slots and tables, I made the decision to spend my money in some of incredible restaurants that have opened since my last visit.
Thomas Keller's Bouchon
The Venetian Resort & SpaI commenced my culinary journey with brunch at Bouchon. I sat at the French pewter bar, snapped a few photos, chatted with some of the waiters, and savored every bite of the signature Chicken and Waffles...roasted chicken alongside savory bacon and chive waffles, accompanied by Tahitian vanilla bean butter, syrup and Chasseur sauce.
The Bouchon Bakery is downstairs, in the foyer of the Venetian, and offers a larger selection of sweet and savory creations. I was much too stuffed from brunch to sample anything, but stopped by to take a look.
A Michael Mina Restauarnt, Mandalay Bay
Our memorable Saturday evening began at StripSteak. While waiting for our table, I ordered a Cucumber Cocktail...and, after finishing that one, I ordered another. It was so mellow and refreshing. The bartender shared the basic recipe: Honeydew and Cantaloupe Melon-infused Vodka, Cucumber Essence, simple syrup and lime juice.
When we arrived at our table, we were pleasantly surprised to find two bottles of Silver Oak Cabernet waiting.
Shortly thereafter, the Trio of Duck Fat Fries arrived, including the most amazing truffle oil fries with truffle aioli, clearly the favorite out of the three.
Foccacia, fresh from the oven, arrived in a small cast iron gratin pans
For my entrée, I wavered between the Prime Short Rib with Celariac-Horseradish Puree and Glazed Mirepoix, or one of the steaks. Based on our waiter's recommendation, I chose the 8 oz. American Kobe Rib Cap. It was the most incredible piece of meat I've ever tasted. As a vegetable side, I shared the Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Lardon.
Updated sidenote: After returning home, I found this adaptation for Mina's Glazed Brussels Sprouts, published by the Washington Post, here. I modified the quantities to make it for two, and omitted the juniper berries. The dish came out quite delicious. The apple takes out any bitterness and the bacon, well, bacon makes everything better.
Some of the other dishes gracing our table at StripSteak included...
18 Oz Dry-Aged Bone-In Rib Eye
Whole Fried Organic Chicken with Truffled Mac & Cheese, Caramelized Onion Jus
And a special dessert from the Chef (minus one bite before I could snap the photo)....Yes, I irritated everyone by taking photos of everything before we could eat!
After dinner, we were privileged to experience Red Square's exclusive private vodka vault and famous frozen icebar. Our hostess gave us faux fur coats and hats and then escorted us into the chilly vodka vault. She returned intermittently to refill our glasses with Russian Vodka. We drank, laughed, and posed for silly pictures.
Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill
On Sunday, some of our group flew back to San Diego. Four of us packed our bags and moved over to Caesars Palace, to stay another night and watch the Chargers...lose to the Jets. Although the game was disappointing for Charger fans, I was happy to take a break and slip in at Mesa Grill's bar for a late brunch. I love Bobby Flay and wanted to try one of his signature dishes. I went with the Spicy Chicken & Sweet Potato Hash with Poached Eggs and Green Chile Hollandaise. This dish was so wonderful; I can't wait to recreate it at home! I was pleased to find the recipe, here.
The two Italians in the group immediately voted on Rao's for dinner. I was familiar with Rao's after the recent Feast of the Seven Fishes Throwdown between Bobby Flay and the Pellegrino family of Rao's. I ordered Linguine al Vongole Marechiara, New Zealand Cockle Clams Sauteed with Garlic, White Wine and Parsley, topped with a touch of Tomatoes and Spice, and served over linguine.
Kerry ordered Fiocchetti al burro, salvia e amarena, Begger purse raviolis stuffed with pear & ricotta cheese in butter, sage and dried cramberries sauce
And Pammy ordered Le Polpette di Rao’s, Traditional Rao’s Meatballs served in Tomato Sauce. These were the size of baseballs and oh so heavenly (sorry, no photo).
For dessert, we shared Profiteroles with Gelato and Chocolate Sauce, and Cannoli
After dinner, we were off to bed early so we could get up at sunrise and make our exit out of town before the rain storms hit.
With so many new restaurants, I barely made a dent in the three days I was there. Next time, I must make it to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, where you can dine at the counter with a full view of the kitchen, Mario Batali's B & B Ristorante, and several others I could only walk past.
Thank you, Susan, for including me in your special birthday celebration, and thank you to all of my girls for an awesome weekend!
The Birthday Girl!
Bad, bad, birthday girl!