The Foodie and the Farm Girl feast at RIVEA Las Vegas
Recently, I truly had a ‘WheatFieldsToWonderland’ moment. You see, several months back, I was at a networking event and was the lucky winner of a dinner—a four course tasting menu dinner with wine pairings— in Las Vegas at Alain Ducsasse’s restaurant, Rivea. I am not going to lie, winning always feels good, and having an excuse to escape Los Angeles for a few days and indulge in a little ‘sin city Vegas fun’ seemed like the universe was sending me a clear message that some ’fun in the sun’ was much needed for this girl.
After basking in my ‘I won something’ glow, I started to ponder if a dinner was really worth the expense of a hotel room and the cost of a flight to Vegas. As such, I decided that being that I had a year to use my prize, perhaps I should wait and see if some ‘knight in shining armor’ would show up in my life, so he could take me to Vegas and we could indulge in my prize together. Yep, I was going to wait for ‘love’ to enter my life, and hope that my ‘future love’ would want to foot the bill for the hotel room and flights. I know… such a GIRL MOVE!
Of course, the year flew by quickly and when I received an email reminding me that my prize was expiring in one month—and while I was still ‘knight-in-shining-armor-less’—I had a decision to make. So, I decided to google Alain Ducasse and his restaurant Rivea. I found out that the very famous Alain Ducasse had 24 restaurants in 8 countries, only two of which were located in the United States. The famous French chef, being only one of two chefs in the world to have 21 Michelin Stars, brought his love of Provence and Italy together to inspire his menu for Rivea Las Vegas. The more I read, the more I realized that NOT going to Vegas and experiencing this once in a lifetime win, was going to be ‘my loss.’
But as I was still dateless, I wanted to invite someone to join me who was fun, and also someone who truly was a foodie and appreciated haute-cuisine. My friend Carrie, who has been in my corner as one of my best gal-pals for about 15 years now, loves, and I mean LOVES experiencing the finer things in life. She is a fabulous chef and hostess herself, and I knew she would truly enjoy this foodie experience.
Carrie and Janell’s Foodie Adventure Begins
So, Carrie flew in from Seattle, and I flew in from LA, to partake in what we hoped would be a fabulous dining experience and some Vegas-like fun. As we got dressed to head to our dinner, Carrie (being the Foodie that she is) mentioned to me that she had already perused the menu online, and she said that the ‘duck’ looked amazing. Duck, I don’t eat duck. In fact, I am the last person on the planet who should win a fancy dinner in a foodie restaurant. Why? Well let’s just say the first blog post I ever wrote was called ‘Surviving Sushi’, illuminating the preponderance of raw fish restaurants in LA, and raw fish appetizers that float around on hosted trays at parties and events; and how my utter disdain for the stuff caused me to have dating glitches and overall hunger hindrances since moving to Los Angeles.
Basically, I am a Foodie NOT! I am the polar opposite of Anthony Bourdain; I don’t want parts unknown, rather I want all the parts on my plate to be ‘known’ and to have the life cooked out of them; literally. So, I was getting a little nervous that I was going to have to hit an all-night-Vegas-buffet after dinner, but at least there was wine pairings, and how bad can wine every really be?
We headed down to the dinner a half an hour before our reservation, as we were staying at the Delano hotel (home to Rivea) and the Delano offered its guests a complimentary glass of champagne in the Skyfall Lounge, which is located adjacent to the restaurant. The Skyfall lounge looks over the Las Vegas strip, from the 66th floor, offering the best 180-degree views Las Vegas has to offer. We sipped our champagne, took some silly pictures, and my stomach was nervously rumbling—half hungry, but also half stressed that I was going to be grossed out by my food options.
Finally it was time for our ‘Foodie experience’ to begin. The restaurant was beautiful inside, large glass bubbles hung from the ceiling, and the tables were draped in white linen elegance. However, there was a much more casual outdoor patio, that seemed to have a fun vibe going on, plus the outdoor view from the 66th floor looked to be magical at night. Truly, eating outside, on an outdoor patio, 66th floors above the Vegas strip, seemed like a wait worth for waiting for.
The hostess came up and gave us a glass of champagne to sip on while we waiting for an outdoor table, and the bubbly beverage was definitely taking the edge off of my pangs of hunger. About 15 minutes later, we were seated outside, and the warm air was just as soothing as the bubbly champagne. Our waiter for the evening, Bianca, came up to our table and welcomed us, gently placing the printed ‘May 31st Tasting Menu’ on our plates. As I perused the menu, it appeared to me that the first course looked to be raw fish, EW! Okay, so I am now two glasses of champagne in—on an empty stomach—so I decided to risk having the waiter spit in my food, and bravely chose to speak-up and see if they would perhaps accommodate my food requests.
“So, Bianca, we are so excited to be here. But umm, just so you know, I am Celiac, I can’t eat anything with gluten, and I am sorry to say but I don’t like raw fish or weird meat.” Carrie added, “Don’t worry about me, I like everything.”
Without missing a beat, or giving us annoying glances, Bianca smiled and replied, “Don’t worry girls, I’ve got you.”
Foodie First Course on it’s way…
I was glad that I had spoken up, as I was starving, and when the first course came out I was truly happy to see that the marinated sea bass thing was not on my plate. Instead, Bianca brought out a beautiful Burrata Salad, Chick Pea French Fries with a tomato-coulis dip, and Beef Carpaccio. Carrie knew straight up that the ‘Beef Carpaccio’ was all hers, and we split the rest. We hadn’t even had a chance to finish our champagne, or take a bite of our food, when the sommelier—Matthew George—came to our table with his first wine pairing to accompany our first course. He delightfully told us about the first wine we were about to drink, a 2015 Rosé from Provence. Matthew’s knowledge of the specially chosen wines we were about to indulge in—all French wines chosen by Alain Ducasse himself— and his presentation of each pairing, made each of our courses all the more enjoyable.
The Rosé was delicious, and the Burrata melted in your mouth, but the Chickpea French fries… I mean, wow: thick fries, crispy on the outside, but with a buttery soft puree of chickpeas on the inside, were like biting into a crispy heavenly cloud. Carrie said the carpaccio was amazing. I, of course, was happy to take her word on that.
Foodie Second and Foodie Third Courses – the fun continues…
We still had only about half of our Rosé drunk, when Bianca came out with our second course: Asparagus & Morel Risotto, and before we could indulge, Matthew was back at our table with a beautiful white 2014 Cassis. The wine paired perfectly with the risotto and the blend of asparagus and mushrooms had a light, but at the same time, hearty flavor, and the risotto was creamy and delicious. I love carbs, and risotto is truly one of my favorite dishes, and I have to say that this honestly was one of the best risottos I have ever eaten.
We now had three glasses in front of us, as Bianca brought out our third course—an elegant presentation of John Dory, Calamari and Prawns that she poured hot bouillabaisse broth over—so we quickly gulped down our last drops of champagne, to make room on the table for our next wine pairing. This time, Matthew brought out red wine, a Pinot Noir. Red is not often a choice to pair with a fish entry, but Matthew explained how the essence of the red grapes brought out the delicate fish and seafood flavors of the bouillabaisse.
Foodie Fourth Course – the pace slows down…
Somehow, even though we were three courses into our dinner, and definitely had our share of food and wine, we had managed to completely devour every delicious foodie delight that was served to us. It was at this point that we asked Bianca to hold off for a bit on the fourth course, as we needed time to sip our wines, and hope that we could make room for our next course. As we were drinking our wines, the manager of the restaurant, Tracy Warburg, came over to see how we were enjoying our dinner. We both told her that the view was amazing, the food was divine, but mainly how much fun we were having with Bianca and Matthew. They were both so engaging and easy going, even though the experience we were having was definitely a ‘high-brow-shi-shi-oh-la-la’ kind of experience, that their fun personalities and extensive knowledge made the evening truly stress free and delightful. Tracy went on to say that Alain Ducasse had wanted Rivea to have the fun, casual and relaxed vibe of Saint-Tropez, while at the same time capturing the quality of fine dining with fabulous food. I would have to say, that if this was his mission, it was definitely a ‘fait accompli’.
Bianca came to the table to tell us about the fourth course, an Angus Filet Mignon, served with Duck Foie gras in a Black Truffle Sauce. Of course, I immediately piped up said that I wanted my steak well-done, and for there to be no traces of ‘duck foie gras’ anywhere on my plate. Carrie made the ultimate foodie sacrifice and offered to have my share of Foie gras added to her plate.
Do you know how hard it is to cook beef well-done and for it to be tender? Well, let me just say that the steak was so tender that you could practically cut it with your fork; and it was served over mashed potatoes that were so creamy that I believe the first ingredient was butter, and then some potatoes were thrown in to give it some consistency and so it could be truthful to its name. Truly, the entire course was absolutely delectable. The fourth course was a paired with a French Bordeaux—my favorite wine of the evening—but I was so busy licking my plate clean that I forgot to take a picture of the wine. But trust me, it was good.
Foodie deserts are always a ‘happy ending’…
Somehow, we managed to make room for our desert, a beautiful Fresh Strawberry and Rhubarb Compote which was, of course, accompanied with a sweet desert wine. By the time we finished, we noticed that we were the last people in the restaurant. It was 11:30 pm, on a Wednesday night, and other then the light above our table, and the bright lights from the Las Vegas strip below, we had manage to consume all of the food and beverages set before us, and had basically, closed the place down.
We had just enjoyed a five-hour dining experience, in one of the best restaurants in the country. But did we have any energy to gamble or party? No, we were grateful that all we had to do was get into the elevator and push the down button to our room on the 33rd floor.
So, thank you so much Rivea for the wonderful foodie experience; and to Bianca and Matthew for making the evening fun and magical. You know, the next time I am at some restaurant and they say ‘no-substitutions’ I am going to post nasty comments to Twitter. Seriously, I guess you know you are at a top eating establishment when not only is the food superb, but also when the restaurant goes out of its way to accommodate you, and make every minute of your experience enjoyable. Then you know that you truly have had an indulging and pampering ‘foodie food experience.’
All I can say is … the next day, pool side, we had Prosecco for breakfast… as, after all of the alcohol we had consumed the previous night, we needed a little ‘hair of the dog’ in order to lay out and get our tan going.
Well…what can I say? I wish I had more salacious stories to tell you, but umm… ‘What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas’ it ends up on my blog. So, the next time you are in Vegas, and if you want an amazing gastronomic experience, hit up Rivea—every bite is worth the extra spin classes and Stairmaster you will have to do when you get home. Truly!
Kisses y’all! Xo
Audio link below for those who prefer to listen!
YouTube Video from our night! If you like or enjoy this story, please share or like or comments! Kisses!