Vegas or Bust!
by Paul Singer - MD, London Fine Dining Group
If your idea of a traditional Christmas celebration involves stuffing a turkey, a tree with twinkly lights and poppers, prepare yourself for what follows - Christmas "Las Vegas" style.
The closest we got to the Queen's Speech this year was a speech by Roger the camp Virgin flight attendant about where we might find our parachute or the exits in the event of an emergency. And even poppers didn't help his mood when the lady in 34B insisted on her constitutional right to purchase 50ml of Beyoncé fragrance after they had parked the duty-free trolley. Even I, with my limited Bravissimo waiting-area experience, could tell she should wasn't a 34B kinda gal - more like a 34F. But that's another whole blog in itself.
Thankfully, the spirit of Christmas had not been totally overlooked by those thoughtful Virgin people. Oh no. "Turkey with all the trimmings" promised the festive menu - although mine consisted of a microwaved grey piece of protein covered in a gloopy slop, accompanied by one dried up carrot, a soggy brussel sprout and a dollop of mash. Maybe the "trimmings" were the red socks, a headset designed for people whose left ear is attached to their head higher up than their right ear, and an eye-mask (handy to wear if you would rather not see what you are eating).
US Immigration has always fascinated me. The old double-sided I-94 form which curiously asked you to declare whether you were or had at any previous time been a drug dealer has been replaced with an on-line ESTA and a new form which has moved the emphasis onto snails. Yes. You did read that correctly. Snails. The yanks have obviously had quite enough of the French and have decided that the best way to keep them out is to ban the importation of snails. Drug dealers are now ok, apparently, as the new form makes no mention of that, although you do still have to be photographed and fingerprinted like a scene from CSI Miami before entry is permitted, which is all very welcoming.
But not for the man in front of me who had no right arm. As the line of people in front of us grew shorter, his face grew longer as he mentally rehearsed what he might say when his turn finally came to place his right hand on the scanner - as he had no right hand. Luckily, there was a form for it, as you would imagine, and in a while he was on his merry way having had his left hand scanned, instead.
Soon we would all be in Sin City - and I don't mean Basildon.
There now follows a Wealth Warning. If you are coming to Las Vegas in the hope of getting 3 lemons, the safest bet is to go to directly to Waitrose. The latest slot machines are daunting and complex and, according to the helpful guide book, the best way to be guaranteed to win is to purchase a casino, which was slightly beyond our budget.
For the Brits, Vegas represents a step back in time as far as smoking, drinking and eating are concerned.
You can smoke inside the Casinos (they have scantily clad ladies selling cigars and cigarettes to positively encourage you to do so). Alcohol is free to players. And food portions are humungous - as are most of the natives.
The ubiquitous Vegas buffets threatened to completely derail my pre-Christmas diet by offering roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for breakfast, alongside toffee apples, candy floss, sushi, pancakes, maple syrup, fillet steak, waffles, bacon, ice cream, M&Ms, and practically anything else you could think of. No wonder Elvis put on weight.
On Fremont Street, a burger joint called the Heart Attack Grill, with the catch phrase "Taste Worth Dying For" promised to kill you with all the stuff you ever thought was bad for you.
Full sugar coke, full butterfat milk shakes, fries cooked in pure lard and burgers with names like "Double Bypass", "Triple Bypass" and "Quadruple Bypass" - and even cigarettes with no filter.
Heart Attack Grill - you'll eat so much, you'll have to lie down!
Each burger is half a pound in weight so a quadruple bypass has 2 pounds of meat, not to mention 8 slices of cheese and 20 slices of bacon!
The place is set up like a hospital where the diners wear hospital gowns, the menu lists "the procedures", and the waitresses are dressed as sexy nurses.
And if you do manage to consume a quadruple bypass burger in one sitting (and survive its staggering 8,000 calories) you are treated to a wheelchair ride out of the place accompanied by a bevy of sexy nurses.
good news, for fat people, is that if you weigh in at over 350 pounds (that's
25 stone to us in the UK), you get to eat for free!
Finally, a useful offer for customers weighing
over 25 stone
... apart from free Weight-Watchers Membership!
And it's all served up in a light-hearted and guilt-free environment without so much as a calorie warning in sight.
there is a disclaimer that Dr. Jon (the owner) is not licensed to practise
medicine in the State of Nevada and that the nurses are not real nurses (in
case you wondered why we don't have nurses who look like supermodels in the
Bupa have now withdrawn cover for this procedure!
Opportunities for exercise are strictly limited in Las Vegas. Apart from Stripping, as it is called, which consists of walking up and down The Strip and not, as you smutty readers might have imagined, taking your clothes off to music in a club in Soho, the only other physical exertion to be had is shopping. In a town which has no real history, The Forum at Caesars Palace is comparatively ancient having been constructed in 63 BC (Before Chanel).
One thing which did raise my resting heart rate were the croupiers in Planet Hollywood who appeared to be playing Blackjack or controlling the Roulette wheel wearing nothing more than their bra and panties, so I suppose that might count as exercise.
In the old days, they used to say "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" but that might now need updating to read "What happens in Vegas, stays on Facebook". You have been warned!