Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Vegan Vegas Vaycay

Ahhh Vegas. The land of crazy happenings. Where Michael Buble gets his food quicker than me and not betting max on a Wizard of Oz slot machine means the difference between winning $500.00 and $353,000.00.

But I'd rather not think about that. Moving right along...

Rob the Husband and I were thrilled to spend Weekend 24.0 in Vegas celebrating the bff's birthday. We knew eating Kind in Vegas was going to be a challenge, as practically all of the nicer restaurants there serve foie gras...even the ones that boast stellar vegan options.

Here comes the foie gras rant...ready...GO!

Foie gras is such an unnecessary, pointless, cruel product. There is just no humane way to force feed a duck with the intention of engorging its liver to ten times the normal size, and I can't fathom why any restaurant would feel the need to have it on their menu as a delicacy. Any talented chef shouldn't need to have such a controversial product blemishing his or her menu.

Rob and I have been boycotting foie gras for years now, avoiding eating at any restaurants that serve it. Unfortunately, it seems as though Every. Friggen. Restaurant. in Vegas serves it.

This was at Julian Serrano at Aria where we stayed. Some good looking vegetarian options on the menu, but come on, foie gras CREAM?


Lucky for us, Wolfgang Puck does not serve foie gras (yay!), and he has restaurants a plenty in Vegas. On our first night there (Friday 24.0), we met up with the bff and her husband at Lupo at Mandalay Bay. Rob had made resos earlier that day while we were waiting in a 90 minute border line up. He had inquired about vegan options when he called, and I guess they made a note of this, because our server was prepared with vegan suggestions that weren't on the menu.

Even the breadsticks guy advised us to stay away from the white bean dip for the breadsticks, as it was made with bacon fat. Lucky for us, the olive tapenade was animal product free, and the breadsticks were just goodtimes.

We have the same picture from her birthday in Whistler the year before.

We like breadsticks.

It was at this point that we realized Rob had left the sd card for our camera at home, so I didn't get a pic of my delicious beet salad (minus the cheese), but borrowed the bff's camera for my delicious pasta pic...

It was a lot prettier when they put it down in front of me before I ate half of it. Not a whole lot of selection when it came to vegan options here, but they were very helpful and knowledgeable and happy to oblige. And this pasta was seriously delicious.

Saturday 24.0

Rob was never a big buffet guy to begin with. He is a grazer, and doesn't eat much in one sitting, so buffets were never a smart option for him. They make even less sense for us now, considering we can't eat the majority of the food they set out, so we had totally written off the idea of buffet dining in Vegas. However, upon checking into Aria we were informed that we had two free buffet breakfast/lunches, and you can't beat free, so we gave it a go. 

The Aria buffet was a bit of a let down in the vegan option department, but like I said, it was free, and you can't beat free. The sushi was nice and the asian noodles were really good. We deliberately came for brunch instead of breakfast, because we knew we'd be screwed for vegan breakfast options. Oatmeal anyone?

This was our first buffet experience since crossing over to the vegan side, and it was hilarious watching people load up their plates with craploads of meat, totally disproportionate to what you would see at a sit down meal, just because they could eat as much of it as they wanted (and meat's the most expensive thing after all, so let's cram as much of it into our systems as we can...screw the salad).

I never used to gorge on meat when it came to buffets, but I'd definitely score an extra piece or two (or five...or eight) of bacon. It's just so weird seeing it now...makes me want to hand out a copy of Skinny Bitch with chapter 4 (The Dead, Rotting, Decomposing Flesh Diet) bookmarked to everyone with half a foot of meat piled up on their plates. Ahhh, the crazy vegan perspective.

We spent a lovely day shopping (hellooo Anthro)...

...went back to our room to soak my sore feet

(oh hello Anthro bag full of sale items)

...and met the bff and her husband J at Craftsteak for her birthday dinner.

Craftsteak is restaurant that I would normally avoid because of the foie gras, but it wasn't my choice and I wasn't going to miss my bff's b-day dinner,

so I saw eating there as an opportunity to be super nice and tip super well and then leave a pleasant suggestion about removing the FG from the menu.

It turned out that I had nothing to worry about, however, as I was very pleasantly surprised upon receiving the menu to see that the foie gras was nowhere to be found.

Now, I don't know whether they took it off temporarily or whether their menu changes seasonally or whether I was just stoopid and couldn't find it, but I was Soooo. Very. Happy. to see that it wasn't on there. Score.

J was especially excited to be at Craftsteak because he was going to be breaking his 6 month meat-free streak. And break the streak he did...but that story deserves a blog post all its own :)

With the arrival of our lovely vegan friend Mags and the pescetarian Aquaman, we ended up with a 1:1 vegan ratio at our table.

Was this carnivorous steakhouse up to the challenge? Indeed they were...

Because the menu here is a la carte, we were prepared going in to just order a few sides and try to make it work, but they offered a vegetarian platter (easy to veganize by eliminating the butter), which put together a sampling of a whole bunch of their sides, allowing more variety on each plate. And it was delicious.

The chef himself came out after our meal to say hello, and he mentioned that they get a ton of requests for the vegetarian platter, explaining that everything on it is selected to provide a range of tastes and textures to keep it interesting. Swell.

The sorbet for dessert was swell too.

We also had sorbet at Lupo the night before...seems like sorbet is the default vegan dessert option of choice for most restaurants. Lovely though it may be, it does get redundant.

All in all, 'twas a swell night. Dinner was lovely, David Copperfield was crazy amazing, Gold Lounge was goodtimes, and gambling into the wee hours of the morning was cut off prematurely by the realization that we had to wake up for church in the morning.

Sunday 24.0

Brunch buffet again...this time at Luxor.

They had a few vegan know...hummus, tabbouleh, baba filled us up.

 I was pleased to see bok choy there. Yay greens.
But now confession time. I effed up. Big.

Worse than cheating with the Millenium Falcon. Worse than my Cali roll faux pas.

I ate meat.

See that brown stuff at 1:00, upper right corner, between the rice and salad? I thought it was bean adobo.

No. It wasn't.

Stupid beef and bean starting with the same letter.

Anyhoo, after a day of watching Lion King and shopping (during which I bought a hairshirt to wear as punishment for accidentally eating the beef adobo...until I realized hairshirts aren't vegan), we met up with our troupe for dinner again, this time at La Cave at Wynn. We knew we wanted to eat at Wynn because of its vegan initiative (yay Steve Wynn going vegan!), but a lot of their restaurants still serve foie gras, so Rob sourced one out that did not have it on the menu, and had a variety of creative vegan options.

Salt Roasted Beets, Vegan Cheese, Pistachio

Mushroom Tortellini, Arugula, Tomato "Cream" Sauce (soooo good we ended up ordering two)

Fiery Artichoke, Roasted Red Pepper, Olives, Marinara Flatbread

Gardein with Celery Root Puree, Lemon Caper Sauce

Great food. Huge table.

My only complaint about La Cave is their complete lack of vegan desserts. I mean, if you boast a menu with great vegan options, why the hell wouldn't you offer vegan dessert options? Even Lupo and Craftsteak at least had sorbet. This place had Nothing. 

Wynn dining verdict: Huge Win for dinner. Epic Fail for dessert. Would go back in a heartbeat.

Monday 25.0

Our last day in Vegas...yay cabana rental at Liquid! Our own pool and they bring the food and drinks to us...does it get much better? I think no.

My apple and endive salad...subbed out the cheese and subbed in a lemon vinaigrette. Heaven.

Speaking of heaven...

Yah, I could stay here forever.

Alas, 'twas not to be. We had to say farewell to our friends and head on over to the airport (after Rob surprised me with my Stella Falabella), where we got fb updates about their beautiful, classy, amazing dining experience at Sensi

...while we too had what I'm sure was an equally classy, amazing dining experience at the airport...

Sensi could easily be one of my favourite restaurants in the universe if if wasn't for the stupid Sonoma Foie Gras on their menu. Because my friends are awesomesauce, beautiful people, they thought of the ducks during their dining experience there and took the opportunity to plant a Kind seed...

Love them :) The ducks love them too.

Our Vegan Vegas Vaycay ended off on a pleasant yet unexpected vegan note. Rob went to get some snacks for the plane, and came back with vegan cookies from a smoothie bar. Go figure.

And they had a nice little message to go with them:

I agree with the cookie wholeheartedly.

1 comment:

  1. Brilliantly entertaining...cleverly pieced together...passionately inspiring!!! You. Are. A natural writer! I see a book down the road :) Love the pics! Love the message. I'm making an effort...