Day 3: Spain
Maybe this all turned out exactly how I thought it would. As I woke up this morning, dry mouthed, dehydrated, demystified and depressed, I couldn’t help but think that maybe, subconsciously, it all turned out exactly as I’d hoped. After my first real night in Las Vegas ever, with my wallet strangely light, my notebook lost somewhere in Treasure Island and my self loathing in full swing, I can’t do anything but shake my head and say “At least I’m alive. And at least I got Spain out of the way.” In case you haven’t figured it out yet and you’re wondering how “Day 3: Spain” went— the answer is “horribly.”
What’s that you say? Spain? Out of the way? How dare you! Spain is the epicenter of great cuisine! It’s the home of great wine. Incredible meat and seafood! Basque cuisine! Ferran freakng Adriá! Why the hell would you want to get it out of the way? You want to know why? Because Spain is a God damn behemoth. An albatross. From everything I’ve heard it is, right now, where the best food on the planet is being created. And guess what? From everyone I’ve talked to, every message board and article I’ve read— Los Angeles just doesn’t have any truly spectacular Spanish cuisine. Nothing can even begin to touch what Spain is up to right now. So why not give it a try in Las Vegas? What can go wrong?
Oh yeah. Everything. First I forget the camera. Then I run back, grab it, race to The Strip from our far-away hotel and realize that I forgot to put the compact flash card back after Argentina. Not a good start. At least Car Accidents Bernstein has an iphone. Then we arrive at our destination and Ultimate Manilow gets a look at the gaudy, awful exterior of Cafe Ba Ba Reeba! and is instantly terrified. I’m still cautiously optimistic. After all, everything is gaudy and awful looking in Las Vegas. Then we sit down with a pitcher of perfectly adequate white sangria and start ordering.
But it’s dark in here. Way too dark and the pictures just aren’t coming out. Here comes the food. Seafood salad(poorly executed), spicy potatoes with tomato aioli(crispy but boring), Ibiza style chorizo pizza(waste of time), squid a la plancha(simple, well cooked and far and away the best thing we had), meatballs with sherry tomato sauce(edible), Spanish cheese plate (fine), fried padron peppers and coarse sea salt(decent, but my five year old brother could make them), Spanish white anchovies, avocado and roast pepper(sort of tasty, but didn’t totally come together), tomato bread with serrano ham(barely above average). So, to summarize, I’m eating the food of the culinary capital of the planet Earth and having the most sad, boring and flavorless meal of the blog thus far. By far. And I can’t even take pictures. The one bonus? It was 9 PM on a Saturday night and they were calling it happy hour. So we compensated by doing what any good red blooded American would do in this situation— we drank. A lot.
The rest of the night, and our sole opportunity to actually hit the town while we’re here, unfolded as you can probably guess: I decided to try gambling for the first time in my life, I earmarked ninety dollars, I got a lot of free drinks, I lost ninety dollars, my spiral of self hatred got larger and deeper, Car Accidents Bernstein and Ultimate Manilow walked out a few hundred dollars richer— and the night ended with me staring down at the blue water in the phony lagoon outside of Treasure Island wondering what happened. I got back to the hotel, Car Accidents Bernstein’s compact flashcard-less camera still slung around my neck like a millstone and sat down to type up some notes before I fell asleep. I woke up two hours later to somehow find “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Wings playing on my headphones and only one note written down: “Get me to Spain. Right now.”
Cafe Ba Ba Reeba!
3200 Las Vegas Blvd S # 1144
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Food Breakdown: 2 pitchers of alcohol, 3 alcoholic cocktails, 10 tapas
Price: My soul
Distance From My House: Not far enough