Snow globe terrorism (and Las Vegas fancy eating)

I don’t know if I should be starting my Las Vegas narrative at the end like this, but I will anyway since it’s what is on my mind right now:

Annette and I decided to do carry-on luggage for this trip to keep it simple, and it was working great until we tried to go through security here in Las Vegas. I bought a couple snow globes to add to my collection– yes, I collect snow globes– and thought nothing of them crammed into my luggage. Apparently, TSA had other ideas. They told me that snow globes count in the liquids ban for carry-on luggage, and I was given the choice of either checking my bag or mailing my snow globes back home.

I opted for the checked bag route, and I was escorted around back toward the gate by a TSA person, who was perfectly pleasant about it all. “Snow globes,” I said to this woman. “Really?”

“Yeah, I’m sorry about that,” she said. “They tell us we’re supposed to be on the look-out for them, actually.”

“Yes,” I said, “because if we are allowed to pack snow globes in our carry-on luggage, then the terrorists win.” She kinda smiled at that. And a quick google search reveals I’m not the only one who thinks this about the TSA crusade snow globe purge, either.

Happily, that was the biggest hassle of the trip– well, so far, since I am writing this in the Las Vegas airport and not at home. There is that whole “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” spiel, but since I am actually still in Vegas, enjoying the free wifi, and I have some time to kill before the flight, I thought I’d give a run-down of the trip.

I have a set of photos and short video on flickr right here. I’ll probably add a few more sooner than later, along with some more detailed descriptions.

Our flight got in around 11:30 pm Las Vegas time, as it was scheduled. We checked in to Mandalay Bay and we lucked out and got upgraded to a suite– a king-size bed, sitting area, and dining area, along with a jacuzzi tub in the bathroom. Got up and at ’em Tuesday morning and we went down to the pool in the morning. Mandalay Bay has a reputation for having a great pool area, and it is indeed well-deserved. Huge area, with a couple of pools, a giant wave pool, a sandy beach, a lazy river, and other groovy stuff. Of course, we had to go in the morning because it’s 105 or more in the afternoon, but still.

During the day Tuesday, we just kind of wandered around hotels/casinos on that part of the strip. The main theme for the day was fine dining, so I thought I’d offer a couple of my patented restaurant reviews to explain that:

What and Where:

Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill | MGM Grand | Las Vegas, NV

Ratings (1=terrible, 5=mind-blowingly great)

  • Tastiness: 4.25
  • Service: 4
  • Price (1=super cheap, 5=super expensive):3.5
  • Value:4
  • General vibe: 4.25
  • Comments

    • I’ve been to other Puck-like establishments around the country, and I’ve always found them to be pretty good. In Vegas, Puck Inc. must have 30 different places, and this one is in a nice setting in the MGM Grand
    • We went for lunch, sharing what turned out to be a surprisingly large salad and a very tasty pizza with leeks, mushrooms, and goat cheese.
    • Great and prompt service. Actually, all of the service at different places we went was good.

    And then there was the evening’s dining event:

    What and Where:

    Aureole | Mandalay Bay | Las Vegas, NV

    Ratings (1=terrible, 5=mind-blowingly great)

  • Tastiness: 5+++
  • Service: 5+++
  • Price (1=super cheap, 5=super expensive): Oh, this one goes to 11
  • Value:4 (though see justifications below)
  • General vibe: 5+++
  • Comments

    • Aureole is one of the best known restaurants in Las Vegas, which is a town that certainly is known for a lot of great restaurants. You might have seen this place on the food network or something like that; they are known in part for their wine tower and the “wine fairies” or “angels” who ride up on cables to get bottles. We didn’t see any when we were there, actually.
    • In terms of price and food options, there are essentially three ways to go with Aureole: expensive, where you get a choice of items from three different courses; really expensive, which is a seven course tasting menu; and super-freaky/crazy expensive, where you get the seven course tasting menu with each course paired with wine. We decided to go with super-freaky/crazy expensive because the wine list was intimidating and expensive, we like the idea of tastings menus matched with wine, and hey, we only go to Vegas every 7 or 8 years.
    • Just how expensive am I talking about here?  Really expensive- certainly for us, certainly the most expensive meal I’ve ever bought.  Let’s just say that we justified it to ourselves by saying that it was the equivalent of going to see a big-time Vegas show and we weren’t that into gambling anyway. (I think between the two of us, we lost maybe $100).
    • I’m not even going to bother to try to describe the food because it was just freakin’ amazing. And because I’m running out of battery time on my computer. But hands-down, IMO, the best meal I’ve ever had. Was it worth it? Well, again, that depends on where you’re coming from on this sort of thing. If your idea of a good meal/value in a place like Las Vegas is an all-you-can-eat buffet or a $6 tenderloin, then no. If you like really good food, then sure, it was worth it.

    Alright, more than you need to know. But I’ll post this for now and get ready to get on the plane….

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