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When in Rome

Last weekend was my 29th birthday, and I spent the weekend in Las Vegas. Vegas happens to be one of my least favorite places, actually, the kind of place that makes me understand why the rest of world casts a dim view on America. All that spectacle, in my mind, is more discouraging than magnificent, and as I walk around watching people with those fruity drinks hung around their necks like boozy cowbells, all I can think is waste, waste, waste! I’m waiting, fingers crossed, for the day when the Strip decides to go green—though the odds of that are probably about as good as the odds of me winning big at the quarter slots (the only gambling I allow myself).

Anyway, I was in Vegas, there because my girlfriend had a conference—so it was either join her or spend my birthday weekend alone. To consol myself I arranged a whole roster of good meals since dining there has really take a turn for the better. I had a delectable brunch at Thomas Keller’s outpost of Bouchon, and a pretty good dinner at Mario Batali’s Enoteca San Marco, where the wine list (created by partner Joe Bastianich) reads like A16’s—lots of unusual Italian varietals. If you go, and it’s on the menu, order the salty carbonara. The last night, we left the strip and had a Thai feast at Lotus of Siam on East Sahara. The best Thai in the country, some say, and I’d have to agree.

But I fear I’m beginning to sound a bit snobby. What’s Vegas without the buffets, $2 drinks and…yes, the fried Twinkie. Well, you know—when in Rome, right? Here is photographic evidence. It was gross.