Explore Las Vegas & the Best Guacamole

Years ago, I was working in a great little office in Northern California. My colleagues were fabulous and one day our fearless leader called me to her office. It was recommended that I attend an upcoming conference…in Las Vegas. Turns out one of my dear friends who also worked in the same office (different department) was also going. Fearless leader looked at me and commented that the two of us would be unleashed on Vegas. I immediately responded, “How late are their public libraries open?” It was funny at the time, but even funnier after we proved just how true it was to our personalities as the good girls.

This post is about all the things you can do in Sin City if you’re not into gambling or drinking. Yes, there is a whole post about the wholesome activities Las Vegas has to offer. Instead of hours of gambling or all-night madness, we found some of the simpler pleasures of Las Vegas. And for those who plan to have more than a few drinks and gamble in Vegas, this article might be of use.

Being the well-behaved ladies that we are, we managed to resist the usual temptations of ‘Sin City’ and actually learned a thing or two to improve our work. However, resisting is not the same as forgoing. We still enjoyed ourselves and looked at tourism information with wide-eyed enthusiasm, but the fun didn’t include finding a tiger in my hotel suite the next morning. Instead, we indulged in dining, artwork, music, and stage performances. Here are my favorites plus a recipe inspired by one of my favorite meals on the trip. And if you just want ideas for places to eat and drink in Las Vegas, here is a custom Las Vegas Google map I created.

Las Vegas

ENTERTAINMENT

Fountains at Bellagio
The fountains “perform” every 15 minutes (I think) during certain hours of the day. The water dances to a different tune sometimes a few tunes in a row will follow a theme. Beautiful at night. Perfect accompaniment for an after dinner stroll while enjoying an ice cream cone or Slurpee (there is a 7-11 across the street and one block up). You may recall this from the final scene in Oceans 11.

Fiori di Como by Dale Chihuly at Bellagio
A window to the sea in the ceiling of the lobby. When I visited this blown glass fixture, I just stared for a minute before I thought to snap a photo. If you know me, you know that doesn’t usually happen. I had previously seen some of Chihuly’s work (and a documentary about him) at Balboa Park, but this was a much larger and more breathtaking installation.

Ballagio Gallery of Fine Art
We enjoyed an exhibit while in town. Though it is a small space, it is peaceful and wasn’t at all crowded. One thing to be aware of is that though we were informed that no education (teacher/student with valid ID) discount is available, there is in fact a price difference. The current exhibit shows a ticket price of $15 general admission, $12 for those over 65 years of age, and $10 for students with valid ID. After we returned from our trip, I did find information online that said that teachers/educators also could get the student discount. Tickets can be purchased online and picked up at the venue box office.

Ka
Good for a special date, this Cirque de Soleil performance is at the MGM Grande. This one has a bit of a plot.

FOOD (big list in this map)

‘Wichcraft (sandwiches) in MGM Grand
Enter the main entrance and walk back through the casino to the restaurant concourse. Vegetarian tomato panini-style is good as is the chicken salad. Large portions so good for a lunch in the middle of a busy day. Good prices.

Wolfgang Puck’s
There is a casual Puck restaurant in the MGM Grande. I have eaten at other ones in that chain and it is good. I heard the duck pasta was delicious.

Mario Batali’s B & B Ristorante
There is a restaurant of Malto Mario’s in The Venetian which is open daily from 5pm to 11pm. (702) 266-9977  There are a total of three of Mr. Batali’s restaurants in Las Vegas.

Café Gelato
Delicious exotic juices and gelato. Seating in the café or along the corridor adjacent to it, with a view.

Gonzales Gonzales (TexMex) in New York New York
Amazing (I’m talking best ever) guacamole made at your table. Large portions. Good soup and fajitas. Delicious tortilla chips. I’ve included my friend Tyler’s recipe for guacamole.

Tyler’s Guacamole

3 ripe Haas avocados (not brown)
3 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 Roma or vine-ripened tomato, diced
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped white onion
1 serano pepper
tortilla chips (for dipping)

1. Cut around the avocado completely, but not cutting through it. Separate the two sides and remove the pit from the center. Set aside the pits on a clean plate. Scoop out the avocado meat, but avoid the bruised or brown spots. Place it in a medium-sized bowl. Continue with all avocados until done.

2. Roll each lime back and forth against the counter or cutting board a few times. Cut in half and squeeze the juice on to the avocado meat. This will keep it from turning brown at its usual speed.

3. Add the cilantro to the bowl.

4. Cut the serano pepper lengthwise in half. Remove the seeds and continue to slice it in strips. Then chop the strips finely. Remember, when cooking with hot peppers, it is important to wash your hands frequently and not to touch your eyes. As spicy as the peppers feel in your mouth, they are even hotter if they come in contact with your eyes.

5. Dice the tomato finely and add it to the bowl. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the ingredients in the bowl.

6. Stir in the chopped onion with a fork. Gently, but decidedly, blend the ingredients. Press the avocado against the side of the bowl to mash some of the pieces. The end result should be smooth, but with a varied texture that includes some avocado chunks. Put the pits back in the mix, this will keep the avocado from turning brown.

7. Serve with tortilla chips.

Guacamole with the Stone

Would you rather have a weekend in Las Vegas or know that for the rest of your life you would have an unlimited supply of fresh guacamole in your fridge? For me, I’d go with the guac.

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