First, a brief discussion of our cowboy overload at the Cowboy Marketplace which is now showing at Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Little did we know when we booked for this weekend, that it was the Rodeo Finals and the place would be crawling with cowboys. It’s definitely not Dean Martin Vegas here. It’s more like Tombstone Vegas or Rawhide Vegas or Big Valley Vegas. Or maybe all three simultaneously.
After a good long morning of contemplating all the thousands of things we could buy for a cowboy lifestyle — from boots to hats to horse trailers and fencing — we decided we had to stop. Ever heard the expression “All hat and no cattle”? That would be us if we bought any more cowboy accouterments before we got a single head of livestock at Two Terrier Vineyards (besides terriers). So Andy contented himself with buying a cowboy vest and I just gathered cards with website numbers so that, when I earn the right to have more cowboy gear, I know where to buy it.
The complete change of pace we went for was the Shark Reef Experience. Sometimes kitsch is a good thing. Sometimes it is a VERY good thing. The Shark Reef Experience is very, very, very good. They say it’s the largest “all predator” aquarium. But because this is Vegas, they can’t just put the animals and fish on display and call it a day. Nope, they’ve got a theme. And the theme is: What if a Sumatran temple complex submerged completely and sea life took over. So you wander “under water” through this temple complex looking at Kommodo Dragons, sharks, jellyfish, pirhana, stingrays, etc. Absolutely wonderful.
Which brings me back to Mix, the Alain Ducasse restaurant. In case you aren’t an obnoxious foodie, I’ll let you know that Alain Ducasse is the chef who has been awarded more Michelin stars than any other chef in the world. So, in the culinary world, it’s a bit like going to Jesus’s restaurant.
Since I’m in such bad shape for this marathon, my back has been spasming all day and it’s doubtful I’ll even make it across the Mandalay Bay lobby, we thought, what the heck, let’s order the tasting menu.
Absolutely fantastic, and actually quite restrained. There were basically small tasty bits of everything instead of huge courses. It especially seemed restrained when we heard our waiter describe one of the specials to the table beside us: Kobe Beef filet mignon, sliced and filled with foie gras then topped with black truffles. You would have to eat that and just die right then because you would never in your life ever eat anything better.
We were completely focused on the food, as far as driving our waiter crazy with our interrogation about how everything was cooked (as if we are ever going to go home and duplicate an Alain Ducasse dish!) But we weren’t so focused, we couldn’t get in a little great people watching.
First of all, we noticed there were dozens of men in black suits with earpieces running around the floor. That usually means some head of state is lurking nearby, but we didn’t see them hovering over anyone in particular and we didn’t see anyone obvious like Henry Kissinger or Bill Clinton or Dick Cheney (who probably would have ordered the Bison tenderloin.) We finally asked our waiter, and it turns out Alain Ducasse himself was at the restaurant reviewing the new menu. The great man himself. Apparently he didn’t actually stir our Bearnaise sauce, but he must certainly have directed his cooking Mojo toward it.
Still, there was a celebrity of some sort dining directly across from us. We just aren’t exactly sure who he was. But he was definitely someone big in the Cowboy World. We didn’t actually see too many cowboys in Mix. It’s not really a cowboy type of place. But this distinguished older gentleman and his wife were commanding a lot of attention from the few cowboys in the place. Attention to the point of genuflection and ring kissing. (Or maybe they were air kissing his bolo tie.) We figured he might be the guy who owned Ariat or Justin Boot Company or maybe Tony Lama himself. Or maybe he was the greatest still living rodeo rider. We’ll never know, but we definitely felt the celebrity vibe. And much more fun to have a cowboy celebrity than some garden variety Lindsay Lohan or TV actor.
Now about that marathon. . .about five hours away.
Bonus pic. Ever wondered what ever happened to Wu Tang Clan? Here they are at the House of Blues, Vegas: