A night to remember

IMG_0753My daughter and son-in-law had secreted with Dee a birthday card with the inclusion of $100 and the injunction that this was to be taken, converted into chips and be blown at the tables or slots. Neither of us is a gambler so we texted various friends of greater nous in this area for advice. “Put it all on black” was the card-accompanying suggestion; “18 Black” was another but on our wheel 18 was red so what to do? Another said you can’t lose on Keno machines. Chips collected we did a little roulette, a little blackjack and some slots but even with advice from the locals (on reflection they probably wouldn’t tell us how to win would they?) the first fifty had gone in minutes. With a minimum bet of $10 and no hint of a one-off win let alone a streak, we decided we were crap gamblers, nobody playing looked very happy and that we’d be forgiven for investing the remainder in wine and sake to accompany our imminent Nobu meal.

We had eaten at Nobu in London a while ago and knew it still had a few stars around the empire. It would take us back to Japan and so seemed the best place to celebrate. And how! The manager arrived at our table with a trainee waiter in attendance and asked if it was OK. Well I don’t object to medical students in the surgery so if someone can learn proper service I’m all for it. We are given a cocktails menu and select what has become a real favourite for Dee a dirty cucumber martini for her and a whiskey sour for me, followed by a very nice Albariño from Rias Baixas to accompany what we expected to be a fish influenced meal. The first of these arrived and we sipped and campai-ed each other. Then the duo returned and the manager still presented no menu but rather talked to us about the kind of food we had enjoyed in Japan.

IMG_0751Dirty cucumberHe nodded noted and inwardly digested, excuse the pun, and promised us a succession of dishes we would enjoy. The glow of his confidence obviously enveloped us and then it dawned on us that we had no idea what all this was going to cost us. It’s not often in my life that I’ve been in the situation where if you need to ask the price you can’t afford to buy, so we settled back enjoyed our cocktails and waited for the procession.

And that’s what it was – a procession of dishes carefully planned to complement each other and move us through a stunning evening. Presentation was so superb you didn’t really want to spoil the layout but hunger and curiosity overcame us. Sliver-sliced squid with yuzu sauce, sea bream sashimi with ponzu dressing, waygu beef carpaccio with sesame and spring onions, and several others I’ll need the bill to identify.

Finally our dinnertastic duo returned bearing no plates but enquired what we would like for dessert. After protesting that we weren’t really pudding people we agreed to have some ice cream and set them a little test. We thought they would manage green tea and possibly black sesame two of our favourite flavours from our time in Japan. However our absolute favourite was white peach which we’d first discovered in Okayama. We were sure they wouldn’t have that. They trumped us by bringing out three bowls of ice cream with all three flavours offset with a smidgeon of appropriate fruit and chocolate piping on the dish reading “Happy Anniversary”.

Sheer class! As were the delightful hammered silver teapots from which we poured our sake. It’s great when service like that makes it such an occasion that you absolutely know whatever it cost it was worth it.

Untempted by further slots and tables and excited on our anniversary and last night in the US, we took a bottle up to our room and played music and Take Two (a brilliant Scrabble variant for those who haven’t encountered it) until 3 am when we thought we’d better go to bed as we had to pack and get to the airport by one o’clock to check in for our flight back to Gatwick. We’d promised ourselves another Hooter-free visit to the pool but packing got lengthy and we wouldn’t have made it before it was check out time – we’d already negotiated an hour extension beyond the usual 11:00. Returning the car was easier than picking it up and we checked in, did security and headed for the none-too-special lounge The Club at LAS. However it beat sitting out in the general departure lounge by a long way.

The flight back was a bit delayed and we hit Gatwick about half an hour late but otherwise it was fine. Having landed just before midday and had a trusty south east London Data Cars cab to take us home I was at the computer at three checking whether I would be able to manage a deadline of the end of July for some urgent work for the Dutch publishing agency I work for. They’d enquired while we’d been away and I was keen to do the work if I could – these jaunts have to be paid for somehow. So it’s been back to the grindstone (a very pleasant one) ever since for them and the design and branding agency Maverick, hence my sloth in completing our US blogs.

And I felt bad when I wrote that in 2014. Then life, work, sickness and death intervened and here we are with a July 2014 trip finally documented in April 2017. Gentle reader (if any such there be) thanks for your patience.

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