Viva Las Vegas

There’s something about the juxtaposition of jarring bells and whistles, perverse attire, flashing lights, bounding fountains, plastic surgery gone wild, and a baby stroller with a wide-eyed 11 month old. Somehow, in Vegas, everything just works.
A town that raises caricature to an art form while praising lust and desire as noble causes is usually not the place for me. I went along for the ride, however, on my husband’s recent excursion for a business meeting.

The last time I was in Vegas was over 10 years ago. My husband had promised to take me to Italy, but secondary to a series of unforeseen circumstances, we had no more than an extra long weekend to go somewhere. Although not quite the same, we stayed at the Venetian, ate pizza and hand made pasta, and watched the gondoliers while being serenaded to Vivaldi (which sounded pretty good in the mall echo chamber acoustically enhanced by multiple glasses of cheap wine).

This time, my top chef guidebook in hand, I wanted to do the foodie tour. Every chef, of any stature (and probably any willing to sellout for mega-millions) has an eponymous restaurant in Las Vegas. Joél Robuchon, Michael Mina, Wolfgang Puck, Todd English, Thomas Keller, Hubert Keller and more. Priced to blow your recent winnings – yes; fantastic, unfortunately no. You can have “wine angels” deliver your favorite vintage, view the neon-lit strip through floor to ceiling windows, have ocean fresh seafood (odd in the middle of the desert), marvel at the priceless ubiquitous art work, but the pervasive superficiality adds a distinctive aftertaste. I would rather pull up a worn chair, in a tiny dining room in Umbria, watch the crumpled chef maneuvering through a cramped kitchen to finally produce a culinary masterpiece. Las Vegas, all pomp and circumstance, fluff, then ploof – you’re broke and have heartburn.

Don’t get me wrong, Las Vegas is a great place to spend the weekend – a whole week however, is a bit much. So after one too many Cirque du Soleil’s, one too many hedonistic meals, one too many unforgiving slot machines, we headed back to Savannah more fully appreciating our unique serenity.

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