28 (Fri) December 2018
Purée de Pommes de Terre … with Black Truffles
-Las Vegas, Nevada, USA-
with the Family
Winter Vacation in the USA, Day 10.
- Day 1: Seoul, Jinmi Pyeongyang Naeng Myeon (9.348 Mul Naeng Myeon) / 4.0
- Day 2: Los Angeles, Panda Express (9.349 Pea Shoots with Garlic) / 3.5
- Day 3: Los Angeles, El Cholo (9.350 Fish Tacos) / 1.5
- Day 4: Anaheim, Rollin Sushi Café (9.351 Dragon Roll + Nemo Roll) / 3.0
- Day 5: Buena Park, Medieval Times (9.352 Roasted Chicken) / 2.5
- Day 6: Los Angeles, Chosun Korean BBQ (9.353 Chosun Galbee) / 2.5
- Day 7: Anaheim, Aunt H’s home (9.354 Deep-Fried Snapper in Soy Glaze) / 3.5
- Day 8: Las Vegas, Joe’s (9.355 Florida Stone Crab Claws) / 3.5
- Day 9: Las Vegas, Golden Steer Steakhouse (9.356 Longhorn Steak) / 1.5
We’re spending our holiday in the States – first time for the boys – including Los Angeles and Orange County, Las Vegas, and Grand Canyon – the farthest (distance), longest (duration), and most complicated (itinerary) trip that we’ve ever taken.
We are huge fans of Pawn Stars.
What a thrill to see the shop in person, even though none of the guys from the show were there.
While W discounts the show as nothing more than people haggling over junk, I think that Pawn Stars is quite profound in its evaluation of physical things as symbols of American history and in its exploration of the culture of collecting and curating memorabilia – whether relating to war, politics, art, literature, pop music, toys – as a reflection of the American experience – what does it say about Americans that they appreciate presidential election campaign posters from the 1800s?
Case in point: high-end cookbooks – both as instructional guides and also as artistic and expository statements on food – a global phenomenon largely driven by American market forces and American consumer ideals.
Today is my birthday. December 28 is the one day throughout the year when I get to eat something decent.
- 2010 (1.357 Steamed King Crab) / 3.5
- 2011 (2.357 Churrasco) / 3.0
- 2012 (3.358 Crystal Hot Pot) / 3.5
- 2013 (4.357 Pear & Honey Tonic) / 3.0
- 2014 (5.357 Chicago Cowboy Steak) / 3.0
- 2015 (6.357 The World’s Best Tasting Tender Beef) / 3.0
- 2016 (7.358 Chili Lime Shrimp) / 2.5
- 2017 (8.357 Lobster with Mushrooms and Noodles in Truffle Sauce) / 4.0
Bouchon is a French restaurant. Founded by Chef Thomas Keller, originally in Napa Valley in 1998, followed by Las Vegas in 2004. Specializes in casual bistro fare – casual in its origins, but by no means casual in its execution here. Also a boulangerie (bakery). Once held a Michelin star until the guide stopped rating Las Vegas.
Of all the places that I could’ve chosen on my birthday – in Las Vegas, options abound – I chose Bouchon because I wanted to see if reality would live up to the hype. Thomas Keller would seem to be famous as a chef, not as a celebrity chef. Indeed, I’d already bought into the hype by purchasing the cookbook Bouchon by Thomas Keller, which is alarmingly/suspiciously simplistic, as if deliberately leaving out critical secrets. Tonight, I was hoping that this highly acclaimed French bistro would either awaken me to certain French classics that I’d never come to appreciate or affirm that I never will.
Onion Soup. Always disliked it as too salty and unpleasantly mushy. Here, I found it too salty and unpleasantly mushy. And if I didn’t like it here, I probably won’t anywhere. So, in future French bistro situations, that’s one less item that I don’t even need to think about.
Snails. Always disliked it as lacking substance, just little rubbery tidbits that could be anything, tasting only of butter and garlic (see for example 6.239 Escargot). Here, I found it lacking substance, just little rubbery tidbits drowned in butter and garlic, topped with puff pastry that compounded the heaviness. In retrospect, I wonder if they had Tabasco Sauce. Anyway, it’s another item that’s permanently off the table.
Mussels in Broth. Always indifferent to it as okay but unremarkable, too fussy for a minimal pay-off (see for example 7.047 Happy Birthday, Mom!). Here, I found it okay but unremarkable, too fussy for a minimal pay-off, though the saffron added a welcome layer of flavor to the broth. The fries were good. I wouldn’t be missing much if I never ordered it again.
Beef Burgundy. Always liked it as predictably good, just a wine-braised beef with chunky vegetables. Here, I found it predictably good, just a wine-braised beef with chunky vegetables, though I would’ve preferred a touch more sauce. This most iconic of bistro dishes, I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t turn out to be more – good is as good as it gets. I will now have realistic expectations if ever I should order it again.
Roast Chicken. Always loved it, whether good or bad. Here, I found it good. But again, I was disappointed that good, apparently, is as good as it gets. Henceforth, I will always be satisfied with good.
As something of an afterthought – “Oh, by the way…” – our server mentioned that black truffles were in season, in case we were interested. Yes. However, nothing we had ordered seemed readily amenable to truffles. She suggested a side order of pureed potatoes, to which they could shave some truffles on top. Sure.
When the potatoes were served, I took only a single photo, not giving them much thought. Then, I had a taste.
Perfectly smooth and consistent in texture, light and wispy, almost translucent, evanescent.
Intensely rich in buttery and creamy potato flavor, enhanced by the exquisitely delicate yet explosively musky, earthy, woodsy truffle.