Steve and I jetted down to Vegas for a nice long weekend at the Wynn, which was kind enough to send me a nice birthday offer. The main problem with getting complimentary room, food, and beverage at the Wynn is picking which restaurants to dine at because there isn't time to do them all. We settled on my favorite, SW, for birthday night and had the 2003 Darioush Cabernet after the mandatory birthday Champagne (I prefer Rosé, which is drier and nuttier than the regular). We were joined by my gambling buddy Benjie and his friend. What with it being my birthday and all they gave us the best table in the house, outside on the rail by the Lake of Dreams. Although the 2003 Darioush is not as good as the 2002, it made for great sipping while we ate filet mignon and watched the giant frog sing “Low Rider.”
Saturday night was a VIP drawing, which I didn’t win, and then Steve and I popped into Country Club to see if my buddy Jodie, the sommelier there who used to be our favorite waitress at Craftsteak, could seat us on the terrace even though the place was booked for a private party. She came through for us and we had more pink Champagne and the 2002 Cliff Lede “Poetry” Cabernet from the Stag’s Leap district, another of my favorites.
Sunday Benjie returned the dinner favor at Charlie Palmer’s at the Four Seasons, which is actually part of Mandalay Bay with a separate entrance. That made the fourth steakhouse in a row including Jak’s on Thursday and we saw no reason to deviate from the pink-Champagne-Cabernet plan. This time we tried the 2002 Casa Dalla Valle. I had a feeling that 2002 would be a good year for this exceptionally dry Cabernet and the reviews were universally rave. The fruitiness of the vintage complimented the great structure of Dalla Valle perfectly.
Our final night we had the wonderful tasting menu at Okada, accompanied by “Divine Droplets” sake. Sabrina the teenage sommelier, usually a highlight of the Okada dining experience, unfortunately had the night off. I have to speak to someone about eliminating her nights off. With the departure of Takashi Yagihashi, Okada has two new chefs. Masa Ishizawa is the one whose name is being trumpeted but insiders told Lion Tales that the genius is a young man named Hiro. He has made the tasting menu even better than it was originally, and after the sixth compliment we threw our waitress Hiro-san came out to greet us. We bowed at his feet a few times, chanting “not worthy,” before reluctantly leaving the beautiful room.
Steve and I took a couple cigars out on the show terrace to enjoy our last night in town together. He jetted off in the morning but I drove the Mercury Moron I rented from Hertz all the way to San Diego to catch the Indigo Girls concert with my buddy Alan. They were playing in an unimpressive conference room at Pala casino, but the woman tending the portable bar was anything but unimpressive. She made us a pair of Bloody Marys from scratch, a rarity in any bar let alone a concert venue. Alan had scored front-row seats so we had a great view of Amy and Emily and of opening act Bitch. House security protected us from the screaming crowd of unruly lesbians until the very end, when encore “Galileo” prompted most of the audience to crush towards the stage. We escaped safely and had a nice chat with Bitch on the way out. I tried to get her name but all she would tell me was Bitch. I think she kind of liked me though. I'll probably email her for a coffee date.
After the show we dined in the Oak Room. There are no alcohol comps in California but we shelled out $110 for the 2002 B.V. George Latour, which I correctly figured wouldn’t have as much acid as some vintages. It was a little light bodied for Alan but I enjoyed it. In the morning I drove the Mercury Moron back to Vegas.