Las Vegas Correspondence – August 2019

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Diamond Jack is rejoicing as Frites Las Vegas, the first-ever French fry concept on The Strip, has brought back the richness of beef tallow for ultimate fry perfection. A great deal of research went into creating this perfect fry, from the type of potato to the cut (they are triangular). But the most important factor was the frying component: 100% beef tallow that brings back the way French fries were made when rendered beef fat was a staple of nearly every kitchen in America. The menu features Original Frites with house pumps of Frites Fry Sauce, Buttermilk Ranch, Thai Chili, Deviled Egg, and Nacho Cheese.

There is a vegetarian option using peanut oil. The sweet side allows guests to crunch into Churro-style Crinkle Cut Sweet Potato Fries with Whipped Malted Nutella Cream. Frites Las Vegas is inside Excalibur Hotel’s Castle Walk Food Court. It opens daily at 10:30 a.m. www.friteslasvegas.com.

The Basement is a live escape room experience at 3440 Polaris Ave., and it has a discount for state residents. Nevada residents with a state ID receive $7 off by using discount code “LOCALS2019” when booking online at www.escaperoomvegas.com. One of the only escape rooms to offer live actors, The Basement offers two escape rooms. In each one, teams must navigate through escape rooms with specific time limits and must escape before time runs out. The rooms contain clues, trap doors, codes, locks, puzzles, live actors, and hidden items.

There is “The Basement,” a convoluted game devised by Edward Tandy, a cannibalistic serial killer, whose plans involve weeding out those who are “worthy of escaping” and eating those who are not. “The Study” is a twisted game located in the upper quarters of the Tandy family home where players are pressured to explore the killer’s obsessive mind by overcoming various theatrical puzzles. Tickets start at $40 per person. Participants must be at least 13 years old, and children 13 to 17 must be accompanied by an adult.

Dr. Bloom, who was known for miraculous cures for arthritis, had a waiting room full of people when a little old lady, completely bent over in half, shuffled in, leaning on her cane. When her turn came, she went into the doctor’s office and emerged within half an hour walking erect, her head held high.

A woman in the waiting room, who had seen all this, walked up to the lady and said, “It’s a miracle! You walked in bent over and now you’re walking erect. What did that doctor do?”

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She answered: “He gave me a longer cane.”

— Diamond Jack Bulavsky

 

Las Vegas conventions are anything but typical

Las Vegas is definitely out there when it comes to new experiences, whether you stay up 24 hours for the first time, get married with Elvis present in a wedding chapel or dangle over the edge of The Strat when you ride Insanity. August, this year, is filled with unusual activities and conferences for you to try to get a different perspective on the unreal and real world.

Have you ever been to a Star Trek Convention?  If not, you can attend the 18th annual event hosted by the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino from July 31st through August 4th.  Even if you are not and never have been into the Star Trek series or movies, the convention is another world altogether.  Besides the usual fan panels and meet and greet celebrity booths that you find at entertainment conventions, there will be competitions in trivia and costumes (cosplay), auctions, vendors selling Star Trek and non-Star Trek items, and other entertainment.

Guest appearances by William Shatner, Kate Mulgrew, Nichelle Nichols (Uhura), Walter Koenig (Chekov), and hundreds of other celebrities from the Star Trek Original, Discovery, The Next Generation, Enterprise, Deep Space Nine, and other series will be there for autographs and photo ops.  Autograph seekers will be charged by the celebrities for this benefit.

The general admission 5-day pass is $330.  This does not include photo op sessions.  The Single-day Preferred Seating is $75 for Friday or Sunday and $90 for Saturday.  If you want to be there for one of the first two days, the single-day ticket is $70.  Children 6 and under receive free admission; however, they will have to sit on your lap at staged events; they will not receive a seat.  Those 7 years of age or older will have to have an admission ticket.

The convention is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Wednesday (7/31) through Friday (8/2).  It is open Saturday (8/3) and Sunday (8/4) from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., respectively.  Depending on the attendance they can keep the convention open longer to cover those providing autographs.

The Rio Hotel is also hosting the Tejano Music National Convention from Thursday, August 22 through Sunday, August 25.  The Tex-Mex music, which was birthed in Texas, has been around for decades and became more popular with the beautiful artist Selena.  The convention’s 16 annual event has 3 daily price categories for admission.

$25 will get you into the Expo only which opens at 11 a.m. Friday and Saturday and closes at 5 p.m.  It is open from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. on Sunday.  The Standard entry is $100, and the VIP is $130, both of which include admission to the Expo.  The VIP pass includes the Gran Baile Post Party.

Dozens of bands will be highlighted during the weekend with dance instruction, meetings with the artists, vendors, food and the Expo.  And you will even see some comedians!

The world of esports has been hitting Las Vegas pretty hard this year.  At Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino their Events Center and Convention Center are the heart and soul of the EVO Championship Series from August 2nd through August 4th.  The convention center will hold the games on Friday and Saturday.  On Sunday, the game finals move to the events center, which holds 12,000+.

This is billed as the largest and longest-running fighting game tournament in the world.  Think of it as advanced computer, PS4, controllers, arcade sticks gamers out to win some nice prize money.

While the registration for this event officially closed in July, you can still purchase admission tickets (spectator) on site for $50 per day for Friday or Saturday.  The tournaments begin on Friday at 10 a.m. and run until 11 p.m.  For the Sunday finals, a separate entry fee is required.

The Las Vegas Convention Center will host Magic The Gathering Grand Prix for 3 days from August 22nd through the 25th.  This is another out there gaming tournament of a different caliber which uses Magic collectible cards.  This is a role-playing event along the lines of Dungeons & Dragons and has been in existence since, at least, 2008.  It is amazing to see people that are not in the casino actually playing a card game in such a large group!

While Magic The Gathering is held around the world, and includes an esport version, the event in Las Vegas will be strictly card playing.  There are numerous price points on the different tournaments taking place, with thousands of people attending to try to win their share of the prizes.  The 4 days cover several price points, from tournament entry fees of $25 to a 4-day pass for $79.  If you are interested in attending or participating, you can find all the pricing through this link https://my.cfbevents.com/event/74

— Pauline Cimoch

Hofbräuhaus Offers Käsespätzle Dish Food Challenge

Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas, a true Bavarian beer hall experience, is taking its käsespätzle, a “spätz”-tacular German noodle dish to a new level launching a four-and-a-half-pound version of the specialty dish. With the jumbo dish comes the challenge, making it complimentary to guests who by themselves can finish the supersized version of the German classic dish in less than one hour.

If the family-style platter is not finished within the time limit, the courageous contender will have to pay. If it is consumed, the victor will receive a free stein, a photo mention on social media, and the monster plate of cheese-soaked noodles “on the Haus.”

The over-the-top version of käsespätzle includes three pounds of spätzle smothered in one pound of melted Swiss cheese and peppered with a half a pound of crispy fried onions.

Hofbräuhaus is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays until midnight.

Valencian Gold Brings Paella Fast Food Concept to the Valley

Valencian Gold, the first-of-its-kind Spanish fast-casual dining concept, opened in July in the southwest part of the valley at 7960 S. Rainbow Blvd. Two American Chefs, Paras Shah and Jeffrey Weiss, trained in Spain and returned to the the states with a vision to bring paella, a Spanish dish of rice, saffron, chicken, seafood, etc., cooked and served in a large shallow pan, to the people. They are serving four different paellas as the base rice.

Shah came to Las Vegas via Philadelphia, where he opened the Spanish tapas restaurant Barcelona in 2017. Weiss is the author of “Charcutería: The Soul of Spain.” Shah met Weiss when they were the only two Americans awarded an Institute of Culinary Education scholarship to train in Spain.

There’s a learning curve when you go into order. You can go through five steps and create your own meal. Steps include starting with rice and greens, choosing the main ingredient, picking a dip, adding more elements and ending with a dressing.  Another option is to order one of six already planned bowls. Have fun because you can’t go wrong and for vegans, there are plenty of options. It wouldn’t hurt to look up online and get familiar with the menu. The restaurant may very well be a staple for the future especially knowing the food is healthy and tastes good. Oh yes, affordable prices will make you happy too.

Happy Place Will Present Photo Fun at Mandalay Bay

Happy Place is an interactive, immersive pop-up exhibit with larger-than-life installations and multi-sensory themed rooms, which will debut a Las Vegas residency at Mandalay Bay starting Friday, Aug. 23. The pop-up phenomenon has had runs in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Toronto.

Happy Place will feature 15,000 square feet of playful memorable spaces. Some photo-friendly fantasy room examples include: Upside Down room bending reality and defying gravity; signature Rubber Ducky Bathtub; Cookie Room; indoor Confetti Dome; Giant Rainbow; life-size unicorn Cornelius; Super Bloom with 40,000 handmade gold flowers; and more. Las Vegas’ Happy Place will also add special features and art specific to the town.

Another feature will be the charity Lemonade Stand, with net proceeds benefitting local charities. To date, Happy Place has donated more than $100,000 to local groups in the four cities visited so far.

This whimsical family-friendly experience will also be available for groups and parties of all sizes; think birthday, bachelorette, etc.

General admission tickets start at $30 and go on sale to the public starting Saturday, Aug. 3. Hours will be Monday through Sunday 10 a.m.–11 p.m

 Restored Ugly Duckling Sign Returns to Neon Museum Boneyard   

The whimsical Ugly Duckling sign, which was originally at Ugly Duckling Car Sales on East Fremont Street dating back to the 1990s, has returned home to the Neon Museum’s Boneyard after receiving extensive restoration and refurbishment.

The popular, double-sided sign has been re-electrified for the public to enjoy during boneyard admission hours. The Ugly Duckling has been present at the Boneyard since the Neon Museum’s grand opening in October 2012 and is now located close to the entrance of the boneyard next to the La Concha motel sign.
The restoration took approximately 136-man hours to complete.

— Jackie Brett
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