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Monday, April 16, 2007

Viva Las Vegas

My best friend, Amber, and I just returned from our first trip to Las Vegas in celebration of her 30th birthday. We didn't make it to very many casinos -- truly, you just can't do everything in the city that never sleeps -- but we visited the Palms, MGM Grand, Bellagio, Venetian, Caesars, Harrahs, New York New York and Stratosphere.

Some highlights from our trip:

The Bellagio -- High winds over the weekend canceled the fountain show when we were there, but the casino and hotel themselves are sights to behold. As Amber said, "The bathrooms are almost too nice to pee in!" The Bellagio Cafe, which has tables overlooking the breath-taking conservatory (garden and gazebo design changes four times a year with the seasons), had the best food I've ever eaten. I had a salad with grilled prawns, spinach, feta cheese, artichoke hearts (fresh, not oily and marinated) and kalamata olives tossed in a chickpea vinaigrette that was amazing. The flavors blended perfectly without losing their character. Amber's mom, Merry, ordered the chicken penne pasta and raved about it the entire trip. Amber had the Thai lettuce wraps, which featured tender chopped marinated chicken breast, a spicy peanut sauce and a spicy sesame sauce, bibb lettuce, carrots, and soft asian noodles. The food was so good that not a single one of us had entree envy.

New York New York -- The interior design is awesome, making me feel like I was actually in the Big Apple. The shops and eateries are piled on top of one another, giving the crowded feeling of a major city, and an indoor waterway and trees are reminiscent of Central Park in the spring. We ate at Il Fornaio, which overlooks the waterway. I wasn't impressed with my meal, but Merry said the cheese pizza she ordered was delicious. Unfortunately, the piano bar (which had come highly recommended) wasn't open when we there so we didn't get to experience the dueling pianos.

Caesars Palace -- The first casino we visited, it was difficult not to be overwhelmed by the Forum shops. I touched a horrendously ugly pair of Jimmy Choo boots that were $1,200. Amber and I giggled that we would not have paid $12 for them but it was fun to touch.

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