Meals between meals, that’s the way I meal my way through life.
Caves and hidden hideouts are not what come to mind when you think of the adult playground and Alice in Wonderland style stimuli that attack your every sense on the Las Vegas strip. Having dined and fashionably graced several icons on this slice of a rather familiar desert oasis, I came across one place which prided itself in being a hideaway. Tucked into the center of the Wynn a luscious spot called Bartolotta, noted to be a wine and food hideaway. Formal with a fish chandelier brimming in the center, I perched myself at the bar with a simple gin and simple syrup drink, for you see I had probably just dined at La Cave next door, and was heading for another meal shortly after! What, you don’t squeeze bites in between meals?
Making it very clear that I wanted a simple two course meal of tasty morsels, I was thrilled that there was a separate vegetarian menu altogether. After all, since Wynn had been vegan himself, there were vegetarian options aplenty at any of his restaurants.
I started with a traditional farinata all Liguere, a chick pea cake with shaved fennel and arugula. Petite portioned and reminding me rather of a Middle Eastern pizza rather than an Italian staple, it served my favorite new spice: fennel, who’s aroma was alluring to the core. The thing with chickpea meals are that they are fairly fibrous, and crumble easily, which when in the hands of Italian chefs, meant they melted in my mouth. With fried lentils paying homage to my Indian roots, this crunchy, spicy and flavorful dish could easily pass as a substitute for pita or chips at any party.
With nothing less than a glass of wine under a mermaid lagoon chandelier, the chef insisted that I stay for at least the cookie plate. Which indeed, did arrive. Complete with soft, sugary, almond and nut covered shortbread and Italian cookies, looking like they had been whisked out of grandma’s own kitchen.
However, my personal heart went out melting with the olive oil cake. Olive oil and desserts and I have a long, long history, and this petite, gourmet, Italian cake was literally soaked in the goodness. Topped with sage ice cream, the aroma itself had me floating in the mermaid themed air like Peter Pan waltzing through the wrong fairy tale. And with a hint of balsamic sauce on the side, the flavors were complete. An ethereally spongy cake, it qualified as yet another reason why olive oil should be a staple in cake desserts.
Things obviously concluded with a chocolate tasting of Italian truffles, each richer and darker and denser than the previous, giving me a sugar and champagne high in the goldest ambiances of all in this ethereal desert.
And thus culminated a meal-between-a-meal in one of the most hypnotic cities on the planet.