Vegas! Elvis!! Other almost forgotten pleasures.

Desert Kings

Somebody else is always getting married in Las Vegas. As good a reason as any to visit this forsaken cultural desert in a desert. There used to be two primary distractions in Vegas: gambling, aka gaming, and S-E-X. From a distance we observed that both industries are still alive and thriving. We could have used more distance at the poker table where we learned our game is more rusty than the Minnow on Gilligans Island. In fact, I channeled the doofus deck hand for hours as sharper minds ran roughshod over my pathetic attempts at winning hands. No matter. Once Internet poker is legal again I will be able to play at a table with similarly unskilled altacockers.

There is a new distraction in Sin City. It is the Civic Center with its high end hotels and stoopid beyond glitzy three story open air shopping mall. Rick Caruso must be pea-green with envy.

next bus to Hades leaves in 30 minutes

As dopey over-the-top as the whole enterprise is, the City Center is a welcome oasis in the City of Death. Once you find a parking spot which occurs shortly after you find the entrance to a City Center parking lot, you will walk a mere 200 yards to the mall that never sleeps. It is all there. The hotels – we like Aria, the restaurants – we tried American Fish, and the casino – Aria wins again with its super comfy sports book, acres of slots for the gaming impaired, and plenty of NICE quick dining with a thousand TVs so you can check your football parlay between bites and sips.

American Fish is a Michael Mina restaurant. You know Vegas. Everything is a [ed. fill in BIG name] something [ed. fill in resort, restaurant, bar, strip club]. However, you will not find a Michael Mina Strip Joint. American Fish is adjacent to the Cirque du Soleil production of Viva Elvis. Aside from Blue Man Crew every other show is Cirque du Soleil. Vegas LIKES easy to remember shit. You can drink more that way. American Fish is very attractive with a modern blonde wood casual dining room that can seem formal. Plenty of glass accents. Cool ceiling sculpture that suggests a school of fish. It accomplishes the most important task. We feel like we are no longer on the Strip. This has become vital in Vegas.

The food was very good. Fish. tBoW had flounder which took me right back to the Florida coast above Daytona where I last enjoyed the dish about 25 years ago. Now that is a well prepared meal when it can produce a Proustian memory. The sommelier was also a pleasant surprise. Robert Gamble painstakingly went over the wine list with tBoW who was having more fun than a hillbilly with a roll of 20s in a Tampa titty bar. The list was outstanding. The requisite five digits bottles were on the list; first growths from great vintages, and big ticket DRC burgs. How could this be a laudatory list you ask? Because it included many wines from non-fashionable regions featuring unfashionable varietals. We ordered a 2009 Navarro Gewurtztraminer. It was an excellent choice for Mrs. tBow’s trout and my pan-fried flounder. The list also included half a dozen Spanish Albarinos, selections from the Willamette Valley and Austria, and a 2007 Beaujolais. Plenty of wines under $70 and more than a handful under $50. The Navarro was under $40. We would dine at American Fish again in a heartbeat. It was reasonable by any front-line dining spot standard and better than 90% of the “name” establishments.

2009 Navarro Gewurtztraminer $19: A bit of a legend in Mendocino and NoCal. Perennial state fair gold medal winner. The fruity nose gives way to a dry, unctuous slightly spicy white wine that would be a perfect pair for many dishes and everything fishy. Major U20 value.

2010 Tatomer Kick-On Ranch and Vandenberg Riesling $20: Graham Tatomer is a man on a mission; to make the best Riesling that can be made in Santa Barbara. For that matter he probably aspires to making the best Riesling in California. This is actually not out of reach since not many producers make a Riesling any longer. In fact, most of the plantings that used to exist in the state in the 70s and 80s were pulled up to plant more popular varietals, e.g., Merlot, Cabernet, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir. These examples lack the acidity we love in German and Austrian styles. The Kick-On is more dry which is not to say it has more acid. Just less fruity than the Vandenberg. Adam Tolmach began producing a Riesling the past few years. He says the 2009 vintage did not produce high acid fruit but these vineyards can do it. So we will check it all out while we suck up all those Rudi Wiest and Terry Thiese wines we bought last month. And we will reserve judgement on Graham Tatomer’s wines until we have tasted a few more. Deal? Good. He also make a Gruner. Now that would be interesting.

2006 Tenute Detorri Renosu Romangia $20: Southern Italy wine that is usually three to four times the price except the vintner allegedly was so displeased with this vintage he slashed the price! Hot-blooded vintners! We need more of them. This is rich and red and spicy like we would expect from a Southern climate Italian wine. At five years it seems to be drinking just about perfectly.

1999 Williams Selyem Allen Vineyard
$??: Dotoré surprised the tBoW tasting team A by bringing this to a casual week night out din din. Paired it with the 2009 Anne Gros Hauts Cotes de Nuit which needed to be aerated it was so full of stuffing. Reported on last post. Quite a contrast with this WS old guard stalwart. The Allen vineyard was the top of the labels back in the day. Only the Rochioli West and East Block could compete in trophy stature. This wine was past its peak but not past its ability to give vinous pleasure. Exotic is not a term one associates with domestic Pinot Noir, unlike French Pinots. This is no exception. Although the flavors (uniform red brown color) showed Bourbon and caramel. The alcohol was not unusually high. WS wines lean to the sweet side and this is the case that proves the rule. A lovely wine that was lucky to be consumed in such esteemed company of hazzers. 13.5%

1993 Araujo Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon $175: Another Dotoré drink-it-up-now bottle. The veteran tBoW taster would be upset if I failed to note this is highly collectible. One of the earliest vintages of a very high-end bottling. One of the first super premium Napa Cabs. Forerunner to Screaming Pigeon and Harlot Estate. Cedar nose. Complicated. Cabernet that stands up easily to the best of Bordeaux. Plenty of fruit left. Classic Napa wine. Powerful, rich, a great mouthful of red. Proof of how these wines are capable of aging superbly. Of course you gotta love Cab! Old days alcohol level at 13.5%

I’m gone tell you what…when you start lookin for Elvis videos on youtube…well you got a lotta choices son. Here is his 1956 Paramount screen test!

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