Veni, Vidi, Vino (we came, we saw, we drank wine) April 23-May 7, 2016 April 23 - We flew Southwest Airlines nonstop from Bradley (soon to be) International Airport using rapid rewards credits, but first we dropped Brody off at Beaverbrook Animal Hospital where he had reserved the Elvis suite for 2 weeks. Yes, he has decided more space would be required now that there are a pair of resident cats. We continued on to Executive Valet Parking where I tended a $60 fixed rate coupon from LazFly that the office manager agreed to accept. https://www.executivevalet.com/ On arriving at the airport we checked our bags and proceeded to security. I noticed there was no one in the TSA precheck line so I approached the agent and, without even inquiring, she ushered me into the fast lane. Ann was at the end of one of the long security lines completely oblivious to my absence so I waved for her to come hither and lickity split we cleared security with our belts, jackets and shoes in place. Were those boos and hisses I heard emanating from the unruly masses standing in the slow moving security lines? Our flight was largely uneventful save for a bit of turbulence and our arrival was 20 minutes ahead of schedule though most of that was lost waiting for our luggage. We boarded the first shuttle to the remote parking facility and then joined a large group waiting for the Fox shuttle to arrive. We were told only 1 shuttle was currently operating so it took longer than usual. On arriving at the lot, we found a line of 20-25 people in the office and only 2 agents doing their utmost to up sell every customer. I thought take a deep breath, relax, repeat. It took a good 90 minutes before we were able to proceed to the lot with paperwork in hand only to discover several others were waiting for cars. Again, take a deep breath, relax, repeat as necessary. 20 minutes later we drove off in a Toyota Corolla with 46,121 miles on the odometer. The only good news, and it pales in comparison to the time wasted, was my all-in rate for 2 weeks was $267.37. My blood pressure was off the charts and, with the 3 hour time change, we were both bushed, bothered and bewildered so we decided to dine before checking in at the Grandview. I had been craving a gyro for a few weeks so we settled on Stephano's Greek & Mediterranean Grill on Eastern Avenue where we each ordered a lamb and beef gyro plus a soda. http://stephanoslv.com/ This is a fast casual restaurant where orders are placed at the counter. We also tried some complimentary pickled turnip that was nothing if it wasn't colorful. The gyros were pretty good though the pita was from a package and there was a wee bit too much grilled onion and a wee too little tzatziki sauce. ($27.14, 2.5 Forks) After picking up bottled water and a few other items at a Walgreens, we checked in at the Grandview Las Vegas, a timeshare property situated on Las Vegas Blvd, some 7 miles from Mandalay Bay, but only a hop, skip and jump, or, in our case, a shuffle, limp and stumble from the South Point Casino. http://www.vacationvillageresorts.com/VVR/grandview_las_vegas/ We scored a room in the Iris tower and managed to pick-up our parking pass and funbooks without much in the way of a sales pitch after I recognized the agent and told her she caused us enough grief on our last visit which produced a few chuckles from the other agents. She was a good sport though I had to snatch the funbooks out of her paw. It was bedtime for both Bonzo and the Westies. April 24 – 2:30 AM and I was out the door on my way to Green Valley Ranch Resort (GVR) to put in my first session of full pay deuces wild video poker (FPDW VP). Stations was running a promotion where you swipe for prizes after earning 5 points – swipe I did, earning a $5 free bet that I lost on the come out line at a craps table. After playing VP and losing for about 3 full hours, I decided enough was more than enough. I could not find our car on the top level of the parking garage and was about to return to the casino to report it stolen when I realized the number on the key was not the license plate number, but an inventory number. Take a deep breath, relax, repeat as necessary. On my way back I stopped at a Smith's to pick up OJ, milk and a few apples. Prior to waking up Sleeping Beauty, I spent an hour in the computer room at the Grandview. Breakfast was at Baguette Cafe, located in an office park off W Sunset, where much to our disappointment we discovered Oliver's mother, aka the queen of the kitchen, was on holiday in France. Each of us ordered a croissant and egg sandwich – Swiss cheese omelet, spinach, tomato basil sauce on a hot croissant. The thin omelet in a hot, buttery croissant was melt in your mouth delicious. ($13.35, 4.5 Forks) On our return, we stopped by the equestrian center at the South Point where the American Quarter Horse Association was holding a competition. The horses were beautiful, the riders dressed to the nines, but the competition was a big yawner so we departed after a few minutes. We also visited the box office for tickets to Gotta Dance, but realized it was not the Broadway-bound musical starring Stefanie Powers and Georgia Engel. The ticket price was modest after I combined a Las Vegas Advisor (LVA) 2 for 1 coupon with a $25 gift card won last October so we decided to take a flier. Later in the afternoon we attended the show “Best of Kander and Ebb” in Freedom Hall at Sun City Anthem. Who are Kander and Ebb you ask? They were a very successful songwriting team who wrote the score for many musicals and movies including Cabaret, Zorba and Chicago. The show starred Bill Fayne, Reva Rice, Eric Jordan Young, Ashley Fuller and Ron Remke. Ann with Eric Jordan Young Though the production value was minimal, the singers were excellent. ($30, 4 Claps) After going without an adult beverage the previous night, we headed to Ellis Island Casino & Brewery for what proved to be our almost nightly wine fix courtesy of the LVA's 3 rounds of drinks for 2 coupons. Mr. Robert Mondavi (Cabernet) received the call this evening though we are, if nothing else, equal opportunity drinkers. Our modus operandi is to limit ourselves to 2 glasses of wine each evening followed by bottles of water to go though we once tried the reverse and were detained by a security guard. Dinner this evening was at Yonaka Modern Japanese on W Flamingo. http://www.yonakajapaneserestaurant.com/ This highly regarded restaurant did not disappoint. We ordered crispy Brussel sprouts (lemon chili, mint and puffed rice), karaage (fried chicken, jalapeno, basil and onion), crunchy calamari (spinach, mango, cashews, candied ginger, and jalapeno vinaigrette) and tea brined ribs (citrus-honey-tea glaze and sesame seeds). A complimentary plate of Asian pear, apples and lemon oil between courses proved to be refreshing while a pair of white chocolate ganaches concluded the meal. Each dish was skillfully prepared using the freshest of ingredients with a shoutout extended to the Brussel sprouts and calamari for being the best in class. ($40.59, 4.5 Forks) We made our usual lap around the South Point before calling it a night. April 25 – GVR was offering double points on either Mon or Tue so I played on Ann's card this morning. Though I hit numerous 5OAKS (5 of a kind) and a few wild royal flushes, I still lost my shirt on this rainy Monday morning. After enjoying pastries from CraftKitchen on our last trip, we decided to have a sit down breakfast this morning with each of us choosing avocado toast. http://craftkitchenlv.com/ A massive amount of avocado on a grilled baguette, sunflower pesto and a single poached egg proved to be delicious, but hardly worth the sticker price. ($33.12, 3 Forks). Ann had a few questions pertaining to her recently acquired Samsung Galaxy 6 so we stopped in a Verizon store. We also visited Elements Spa to see if they would match their Groupon rate, they would, and to secure an appointment. http://elementsmassage.com/henderson Since we happened to be in the neighborhood, we also stopped by the Green Turtle salon to resolve an issue involving Ann's hair appointment scheduled for later in the trip. Our last stops were at an Albertson's and a CVS. In mid afternoon, Ann played VP at the South Point while I read the most recent Harlan Coben novel. She ended up losing and I ended up napping. We reconvened in the computer room prior to departing for Ellis for our customary rounds of red vino and H2O. Dinner tonight was at Vegenation on Carson Avenue. http://vegenationlv.com/ On Monday nights a promotion is run where diners receive a free adult beverage, in our case, a screwdriver with amaretto. We started with an order of My Little Dumplings that were stuffed with shitake mushrooms and spinach. There were 5 to an order and each was filled with fresh ingredients. Our shared entrees, Out of Africa (a yam stew in a spicy peanut broth) and Casa Blanca (roasted harissa vegetables in tagine) were filling. ($39.36, 3 Forks) Plans to have a dessert (sticky toffee bread pudding) at the Smashed Pig were abandoned because each of us was stuffed. We concluded the night by attending a drawing at the South Point, Ann's name was not called, and walking around the casino floor. April 26 – Twice this morning I was dealt 4 to a natural royal flush and caught a deuce on the draw giving me lots of playing time and a small(er) loss. I also earned double points after swiping my card at a kiosk. I departed the casino around 6AM so I decided to drive to Jean Dry Lake, approximately 7 miles south of the Grandview on Las Vegas Blvd, to view the public art installation known as Seven Magic Mountains by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. There are seven towers of colorful stacked boulders, the largest weighing 40 tons, that rise 7 feet above the dessert floor. Though not officially open until May 11th, these were easily viewed from the roadside. ($0, 2.5 Claps) We enjoyed a light breakfast in the room and spent time on the computer before departing for the Las Vegas Premium Outlets – north. She went to Chico's, I went to Nike. She got a top and shorts, I got socks. Same old, same old. Seeking a light lunch, we drove to Amena Bakery & Cafe for spinach stuffed fatayers, but were disappointed to learn only cheese fatayers were available so we walked over to Mary's Hash House. http://hashouse.com/home.htm Mary must be (more) famous for her breakfasts than her lunches because there were only two other tables occupied when we sat down at a little past noon. We ordered cups of soup, Ann = potato, me = spicy chicken. The potato soup was curiously thin and my soup, though spicy as advertised, was light on flavor with a few pieces of chicken that likely were added immediately prior to serving. ($10.25, 2.5 Spoons) At around 5:30PM we found ourselves seated at the center bar at Ellis Island where we somehow managed to deplete their inventory of both Mondavi Cabernet and BV merlot before departing for dinner at Niu-Gu Restaurant on Jones Blvd. For starters we chose a lightly dressed East Asian sesame cucumber salad and lotus leaf sweet rice stuffed with pork. Our server suggested we each order the sweet rice, but I am glad we didn't because the dish was too sweet and very heavy without providing much in the taste department. For entrees we shared a ½ rack of lamb and shrimp fried rice. The lamb has received positive comments by a couple of restaurant critics, but we found the dish to be pretty ordinary. We fared better with the shrimp fried rice that was outstanding. Overall Niu-Gu proved to be a mixed bag. ($46.50, 2.5 Forks) April 27 – GVR was offering double points for seniors today, but non locals have to go to the slot booth to earn the extra credit. I managed to hit my #1 quad deuces ($250), but effectively broke even. I stopped at an Einstein's Bakery for a toasted cinnamon bagel, but their inventory had been depleted so I substituted a blueberry with a smear of cream cheese that we shared for breakfast. One of the benefits of staying at the Grandview is the in-room washer/dryer combo that allows us to pack more lightly than we would otherwise be able. Three days of accumulated clothing were treated to a wash and dry prior to our departure this morning. I dropped Ann off at Elements Massage for a massage ($75, 4 Hands) and returned to GVR to get my double points credited and enter the weekly senior slot tournament. http://elementsmassage.com/henderson In 5 sessions, I finished #3, #11, #8, #14 and #16 with the latter during a sessions with only 16 participants. I next stopped at the Sprouts Market on Green Valley Pkwy for some fruit and cashews before retrieving Ann. Lunch was at Taco y Taco on Eastern Ave where we each ordered a pair of al pastor street tacos and a soda. http://tacoytacolv.com/ These tacos were generously filled and there is a nice salsa bar that includes roasted peppers and onions, a variety of salsas, pickled carrots, beans and more. ($12.17, 4 Forks) It was a short drive to the German Bread Bakery where I noticed a sign advertising for a sign spinner that I might consider applying for if our gambling does not improve. http://www.germanbreadbakerylasvegas.com/ The rum balls have sustained a price increase from 99 cents to $1.15 since our last visit, but it appears so has the size. We ordered a pair to go and told the clerk there was no need to bag them as they were not traveling very far. ($2.30, 4.5 Smiles) On our return to the Grandview we discovered the room had not been made up even though we requested service by noon. Ann went off to play VP while I killed time on the computer only to discover my Facebook account was blocked due to malware though I signed into Ann's account without encountering a problem. I will have to address this problem when we get home. Our personal happy hour coincided with the happy hour at Hard Rock Casino's Center Bar though price was not consideration since we were using LVA coupons good for 2 signature cocktails. On the first round Ann ordered a Painted Woman martini (Ciroc red berry, X-rated fusion liqueur, prickly pear and lime juices, and orange blossom water) while I settled on an All Nighter Espresso martini (Stoli vanil vodka, Kahlua, and espresso. These were good, but the second round of drinks proved even better with Ann taking the Train to Georgia (Ciroc peach, Contreau, OJ and cranberry and pineapple juices) while I was being dealt a Pear of Aces (Grey Goose La Poire, amaretto, St. Germain and fresh lime juice). ($5, LVA, 4 Sips) We were under the influence so plans to dine at Briggs Oyster Co. were nixed in favor of the shorter drive to Glutton. http://www.gluttonlv.com/ We tried to park in the adjacent lot but had a problem using the meter so we inquired about parking on entering the restaurant and were told to move our car to the street where parking was free. I was a concerned about incurring a fine so I paid at the meter. We shared 3 dishes, starting off with an order of pickled tomatoes with whipped ricotta and basil that were spread on slices of grilled bread. Next came Japanese street corn kissed by miso butter and chives. The last was a pasta dish, garganelli, that featured smoked chicken, caramelized onion, ancho garlic cream and Parmesan cheese. Each dish was beautifully plated and delicious. ($43.76, 4.5 Forks) On exiting, we walked around the Container Park and purchased a pair of chocolate truffles at JinJu Chocolates that melted in our mouths. http://www.jinjuchocolates.com/ ($3.25, 4 Forks) On the drive back lightening lit up the sky several times, the likes of which we have never encountered. It began to pour buckets so we skipped our nightly ritual of walking around the casino floor.