On a warm Sunday morning out here near Natalia, we can walk out into the front yard with a cup of coffee and let the dogs investigate the many sounds of birds and animals and things moving in the dry brush on the other side of the fence.
There is no sound of traffic or music blaring or crowds of people trying to navigate the sidewalks avoiding the creepy guys dealing decks of calling cards adorned with nearly nude ladies or homeless people asking for a few bucks. What I don't hear out here is what I really enjoy about being here. Not that we should avoid Las Vegas at all costs.
My visit was strictly business - there for Blackhat and DefCon, two conferences that exceed my technical skills for sure, but entertaining and informative nonetheless.
I didn't wear my standard slacks and collared shirt with tie; in fact I was dressed down to the point of shorts and a polo shirt but apparently my idea of casual is a little dated. But never judge a book by its cover. These are some seriously smart people, most of whom are able to earn a great living and still wear whatever they want to the office, even if their bosses are somewhat put off by the appearance. These days, no amount of tattoos and piercings shock me. I used to think that might take some of the fun out of it, but in reality, I don't think many of these folks do it for shock value.
Enough about culture, the important thing is the food.
I was with some people who were extremely hungry and couldn't wait for the free food that was about to come, so we stopped in to a place in Caesar's Palace called Beijing Noodle No. 9. My selection (sorry, no pictures) was a plate of six pan fried dumplings and a glass of water. Besides being crappy, it was a quick $15.00 that I could have just as easily surrendered to a slot machine and gotten a lot more enjoyment out of.
Gold fish seem dirty to me. But this was a cool looking tank. It had a sign on it (sorry, again no picture) that said these fish were not for human consumption. That made me feel better. I'm the fat guy in the mirror.
Later that evening, a large group of colleagues attended one of the many awesome parties hosted by vendors trying to get business. I think the business model is that you ply potential clients with loads of food and free drinks and hope that you will remember what a great time you had when they call you the following week.
All I can say is that the the suite we were in was awesome, the food was incredible and the bar was open! The company name escapes me, but I'm sure they'll remind me when they call on Monday.
One of the companies I work with took a small group of us to dinner at a place in the Bellagio called Fix. All I can say is, wow! This is the kind of place where service is outstanding and the food is awesome. Be prepared to pay for both.
A guy sitting next to me ordered lobster and steak. Simply magnificent. And about $60.00.
I was trying to be a bit more thrifty with other folks money so I settled on the 14oz NYC sirloin at only $46.00. This steak was so perfectly cooked (medium-rare, of course) that I had to resist the urge to simply pick it up and gnaw on the bone, lest any of it make back to the kitchen clinging to the bone. The little things on top are fried potato chips. I know, it takes away from the picture, but they were good. I added a side of "Very Adult Mac & Cheese" which was incredible. When it came out, I thought they were fish sticks. Somehow, they deep fried macaroni into little squares and served it with some great dipping cheese. I have never paid $12.00 for mac & cheese. Still haven't.
Another place I had lunch at was in the Rio where DefCon was being held. We stopped into a place called All American Bar & Grill for a quick burger. By Vegas standards, I'd say it was pretty reasonable price wise. Think Chili's or Applebee's.
I had the jalapeno cheddar cheese burger that was about $12.00. I thought the bread was too big, but the burger itself was very nicely done.
There was other food - lots of it, but I really wasn't there to chronicle my dietary habits (though I tried). This time in Las Vegas, I stayed at Paris. The room was comfortable and there was plenty to see and do, but I really hate that they jack up the prices so outrageously for necessities like bottled water and coffee. I paid $2.95 for a bottle of Gatorade and $2.95 for a bottle of water. There is something wrong with that.
This was my $10 breakfast Saturday morning. The coffee was only okay but the cinnamon roll was really excellent. So soft and delicious.
If you have never been to Las Vegas, it is a must see place. You do not have to be a gambler to enjoy it because there is simply so much to do and see, even if you hate crowds. You just have to go knowing that everything you want to eat or buy as a souvenir will be way overpriced. Once you accept that, you'll be fine and you'll be sure to have more than a few Tasty Treats during your stay!