Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Las Vegas Vol. 2: The Cosmopolitan makes Italian food that is pretty underground, you've probably never heard of it

The most unfortunate thing about Las Vegas is that it doesn't really seem to have a regional food culture.  It's not close enough to the "real" Southwest for everything to be slathered in green chili.  It's not close enough to California to have it's fresh ingredient obsession.  It's close enough to a theme park to have heinously overpriced chain food everywhere.  It's very easy to get confused.
Our hotel, The Cosmopolitan, is relatively new to the strip. If there were a pair of horn-rimmed glasses big enough, it would wear them with pride while it told the Bellagio about how it liked fountains before they were cool.
Fortunately, it had a number of insanely good restaurants in-house.  Some of them were a little over-the-top hipster.  Chinese/Mexican fusion? I think I'll pass, thanks.  Our last night at the hotel, we decided to try a little wine bar/Italian Bistro called DOCG.
In a bind?  Stuff it with sausage and deep fry it.
After Raed and I didn't order wine, I thought for sure the waiter had lost all hope.  He seemed pretty sad the rest of the meal.  I felt sort of bad for him... but the appetizer helped heal my pain.
While browsing the appetizer menu, I saw olives two ways: warmed with herbs, or stuffed with Italian sausage, lightly breaded and deep friend.  Um, YES. I felt a little bad about ordering it because Raed famously does not like olives.  This works out perfectly for me because we eat a lot of Middle Eastern food that is constantly adorned with olives, and I get to pick them all out for myself guilt-free.  These olives however... well, what's not to like?  They were surprisingly mild for a green olive, primarily because they were just that fresh.  The sausage was light, the breading perfect... just a bit salty. Dangerous, dangerous little balls of joy.
For my main course I had pici (a thick spaghetti) in a duck ragu with black truffles.  It was thick and rich and woodsy.  A lot like a dish my mom used to make when I was a kid.  She called it Gristle and Bones according to family tradition, but as I understand it, it's proper name is Sunday Gravy.  Instead of the spare ribs, beef and pork, however, this sauce was full of chunks of duck meat.  Very good. Honestly, a bit too salty. Also a bit too rich for me to properly pick out the flavor of the truffle, which is still a food I want to put in my mouth with great abandon.  I need a slice of truffle.  I must know exactly what that thing tastes like alone in order to appreciate it.
Food Coma = Cell phone picture
For desert, Raed was too full to pick up his camera.  We did have a tiramisu parfait, which is up there with the best tiramisu I've ever had.  The best, if your interested, is a a quirky little Italian place on the harbor in Kenosha, WI called Stella's Casa Capri, which basically hands you a bowl full of custard which you then consume in whole, and then feel bad for 40 days afterward.  DOCG's version was lighter, only slightly alcoholic, not too sweet, perfect down to the tiny coffee balls that garnished it.
Las Vegas is an overwhelming destination.  4 days of almost constant noise and flashing lights had left me feeling pretty hung-over, even though I didn't end up having a drop to drink. Seriously, there needed to be rest time after this trip. Although, to be fair... some of that rest was due to the awesome spill I took into the black jack pit at Circus Circus (completely sober, FTW), twisting my ankle and doing something pretty painful to the top of my foot. Just call me crash.

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