With most of the rest of the country sweltering in record temperatures, we’ve yet to see any real sunshine or warmth for more than a couple of days at a time this summer. Although I’m not one to complain too loudly about it, generally content to be in my house or pottering around on the patio regardless of the weather, my husband is quite the opposite. As in past years, he collected our youngest and a favorite cousin to hit the road for a guys-only adventure, first to San Francisco for the expected tourist destinations and a college dorm tour fit in for my son, and then to Sacramento for some wild and crazy white water rafting. I was left with several days of solitude, chick flicks on a whim, and the promise of a few days in Las Vegas upon their return.
It’s been years since we visited Las Vegas in the dead of summer, preferring Fall with its football-betting fan-packed sports books and the more cost effective shopping over feeding slot machines. The 110 degree heat quickly reminded us that our cool temperatures and grey July skies aren’t all that bad unless one enjoys searing, dry heat, especially intense when one is standing on street corners amongst the masses waiting for traffic lights to change. Thank goodness for cool casino breaks, taxis, a cushy hotel room at the Mirage and fabulous food.
We like to try at least one new restaurant when we visit and this time, were able to try one that’s been on my list for a while; Joel Robuchon’s L’Atelier in the MGM Grand. The red and black decor is swanky, and bar seating allows for an on-going view of all the kitchen goings on. We indulged ourselves with the seasonal tasting menu and wine pairings. From the L’Amuse-Bouche of avocado and cilantro grapefruit gelee, to the selection of cheeses and the smoked foie gras terrine layered with caramelized eel, the meal was truly exceptional.
And then there were the potatoes. Saying they were mashed doesn’t quite cut it. I wondered just how much butter had been incorporated into them to make us want to linger over each small spoon full, savoring it much like one would a popsicle on a warm day. Well, maybe not quite like that, but you get the idea, right? The potatoes stayed with us, as in, “Those potatoes…” muttered by one of us in the middle of something completely unrelated, like wound-licking after losing all of the 4,000 penny winnings from the royal flush because that’s what one does in Vegas. “Mmmm…those potatoes…” I vowed to make them once we were home.
But it was banana cream pie that became an unexpected focus of our trip this year, in spite of the potatoes. The banana cream pie seen on a deli menu very late one evening when we shouldn’t have been eating to begin with. Banana cream pie my husband wanted but never ordered, instead of a light dinner with a bit of protein and vegetables. Just banana cream pie and a glass of milk. Joel Robuchon’s perfectly plated assortment of four lovely sorbets and decadent array of luscious tarts weren’t enough to keep banana cream pie out of his head, and that’s saying quite a bit. I swear he asked the waiter if perhaps they had banana cream pie.
Of course I made banana cream pie for him almost as soon as we were home — but not until I’d made the potatoes. “Oh, those potatoes…”