For those who don't know me, I'm the one in the hot pink. That lovely lady next to me? That's my mom. My wonderful, funny, loving, fiercely loyal mom. With whom I spent Thanksgiving week this year in Las Vegas. We both needed a break; we hadn't had any time alone together to regroup in the 14 months since my dad passed away. And with my husband and kids fully occupied with my in-laws in northern California, it was the perfect time for Mom and me to slip away. Lazy mornings, a spa day, the movies, shopping, three shows (Cher, Barry Manilow, and Jersey Boys), and lots of really nice meals.
Mommy: Thanks for a wonderful vacation, the best part of which was your company. For the rest of you, I know what you really want to see - the culinary highlights.
At the luxurious Joel Robuchon, a caviar-and-crab amuse bouche, served in a caviar tin; artistic bread, possibly the best part of the meal; veal cheeks in a Thai broth; duck breast with foie gras; lovely desserts; and me, taking pictures of the lovely desserts:
The next day, lunch at RM Seafood, including creamy trout salad with roasted beets; iceberg salad with blue cheese and buttermilk dressing; lobster rolls with just the right amount of mayonnaise (accompanied by an outstanding chipotle jicama slaw); and a visit from chef Rick Moonen himself, with the inscription he wrote in the book my mom bought me:
For our Thanksgiving dinner at Carnevino, no turkey. Instead, bone-in ribeye for two, aged to perfection; roasted butternut squash with fregola sarde (like Israeli couscous) and pecorino cheese; and hard choices from the dessert menu (we settled on pomegranate sorbet, pear sorbet, and chocolate malt ice cream):
The following evening at Daniel Boulud Brasserie, creamy artichoke soup with foie gras "croutons"; turbot en croute; scallops Sicilian-style, with raisins, capers and cauliflower:
For our final dinner at Bradley Ogden, Caesar salad; the justly famous Bradley Ogden burger, which we split as a less-than-traditional intermezzo; wild mushroom risotto, which, to be honest, was watery and underseasoned, making me wonder if the chef had to stretch the pot or maybe failed to saute the mushrooms enough before adding them to the rice; and a very nice butterscotch pudding:
And there were two breakfasts at Thomas Keller's Bouchon, with the best virgin Mary I've ever tasted; assorted pastries; raspberry beignets; spinach quiche; and smoked salmon terrine:
All in all, a really good week of dining. Now if we could only make Las Vegas a nonsmoking town - I'd be back every year. But I get the sense that's out of reach....