Iconic Las Vegas Sign Goes Solar; Bellagio Conservatory Goes Fall; 10 Places to Get Great Steak

solar signLas Vegas welcome sign to go solar by New Year’s

A plan to power the original sign located at the gateway to town and dating back to 1959 with solar panels is moving forward. Clark County commissioners approved the solar plan Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013.
(AP) — The famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign will soon light up the night with help from the sun.

On Tuesday, Clark County commissioners approved a plan from nonprofit organization Green Chips to hook up the sign to fake trees equipped with solar panels. Groundbreaking is set for this fall, and the project should be complete by Jan. 1, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal (http://bit.ly/15riXff).

“The Las Vegas Valley is one of the sunniest spots on the planet,” said Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, also a Green Chips board member, in a statement. “We are delighted to harness that sunshine and use it to power such an iconic symbol of our community. The project will forever tie our storied past with the possibility of an exciting future powered by solar energy.”

Commissioners weren’t always enthused about the remake, which initially called for three, 25-foot-tall fake trees painted blue and set just north of the sign.

“It just seems to me when people are going up to take their picture in front of the Las Vegas sign, I don’t think they want solar trees in the line of view looking to the Strip. I just have a huge concern with that,” commissioner Mary Beth Scow said when the board considered the proposal in July.

The revised plan places the trees south of the sign and out of the sightline for tourist-photographers.

Clark County won’t have to pay for the solar apparatus, which is being funded by a private grant from the Virginia-based Consumer Electronics Association and donations from other organizations.

It will also feature an educational plaque explaining how renewable energy and the solar trees work.


Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com


bellagio conservBellagio Conservatory in Las Vegas transforms for fall

by Aleza Freeman
On Friday at promptly 5 p.m. the Bellagio Conservatory’s fall display opens to the public and guests from around the world will meander through a serene, sleepy-hollow inspired autumnal atrium.

Workers lower a tree into place as a scarecrow stands guard. (Photo by Aleza Freeman).

But for the six days leading up to Friday, the scene is one of intense concentration, construction sounds and kinetic motion.

Busy workers lower 25-foot-tall trees, place bricks along an intricate pathway on a walk-through bridge and prepare to fill a 15-foot-tall by 25-foot-long cornucopia. Others assemble two whimsical fantasy trees — each created from 450,000 linear feet of preserved weeping willow bark.

During this process (which takes place five times a year), the Bellagio Conservatory is surrounded by velvet ropes to keep guests from entering the construction zone. A few grumble when the garden isn’t ready for summer, fall, winter, Chinese New Year or spring, but most are excited to witness the transformation, even requesting balcony seats at Cafe Bellagio in order to take photos and get a closer look.

“Some of them book vacations during the changeover because they like it so much,” says Andy Garcia, Bellagio’s executive director of horticulture. Garcia, an animated man whose arms wave with passion as he speaks, adds: ”We are part of the show, we are part of the experience.”

Plants and props housed in an off-site warehouse come into the building through a hallway next to Jean Philippe Pâtisserie. You never know when your crepe and hot chocolate will be enhanced by a passing forklift carrying a tree.

The changeover takes a team of 50 to 75 passionate employees working 24 hours a day for six days straight, but the work really begins six months prior when the horticulture team develops its visual concept.

Every flower, shrub, tree and prop that will be displayed is carefully chosen with special note of what flora will be in bloom during the season. Based on the specifics, Bellagio’s Conservatory Manager Patricia Streeter designs a blueprint with exact layouts and measurements.

“In my wildest dreams I did not expect to find a career that combines my passion for design and horticulture,” admits Streeter. “I receive great pleasure from seeing and hearing our guests when they marvel over the Conservatory Gardens at Bellagio.”

This year’s fall display brings back the infamous talking tree ( a guest favorite from previous years), but now he will be covered in Spanish moss rather than apples. Garcia is particularly proud of the mammoth working water mill, which has been completely refurbished with redwood.

And though the change out for fall is only halfway done, the horticulture team is already thinking three seasons ahead to spring.

“For spring I’m going to have something that nobody has seen,” he says. “It’s going to be fabulous. It’s going to be beautiful. But that’s as much as I’m going to say.”


cut10 places to get a great steak in Las Vegas

by Kristine McKenzie

A good slice of beef is one of America’s favorite meals. Steakhouses are a classic in Las Vegas – you can find one in almost every major hotel. Whether you are looking for an old-school steakhouse that has been in town for years or one that serves more modern fare, chances are you’ll find one that fits your taste. Here are 10 that we recommend:

Gordon Ramsay Steak, Paris Las Vegas:
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay serves traditional steakhouse fare as well as classics like fish and chips at his restaurant at Paris. The prime beef is hand selected by legendary New York butcher Pat LaFrieda and aged for 28 days in a Himalayan salt room. Choices include bone-in New York strip, porterhouse for two, Japanese A5 Kobe and much more. Don’t miss Ramsay’s signature roasted beef Wellington, served with glazed root vegetables, potato puree and red wine demi glace. Steak sauces include béarnaise, peppercorn, bone marrow and café de Paris butter.

Old Homestead, Caesars Palace:
This Las Vegas outpost of the famous New York restaurant features choice cuts of beef with classic sides and appetizers. Start out with oysters Rockefeller or Maryland crab cakes. Steaks here are hand selected from Pat LaFrieda and are USDA prime and dry aged for a minimum of 30 days. The restaurant’s signature is a 16-ounce filet mignon on the bone. Other options include a 32-ounce “lollipop” ribeye cooked and served on the bone, a 32-ounce porterhouse and a smaller “ladies cut” 8-ounce filet mignon. Extras like sauces, crab legs, pan seared foie gras and truffle butter can be added.

The Steakhouse at Circus Circus:
The Steakhouse at Circus Circus is an old school Vegas institution that has served steak for more than 30 years. The steak is cooked on a charcoal grill, giving it a tasty flavor you won’t find at other places. Great service, quality and value complete your experience. Meals come with a choice of potato, soup or salad and fresh vegetable. Steaks are quality Midwestern beef aged 21 days in a glass-enclosed aging room. Choices include New York strip, porterhouse, prime rib and filet mignon.

Golden Steer, 308 W. Sahara Ave.:
This classic steakhouse has been in business in Las Vegas since 1958 and some staff members have been with the restaurant for more than 40 years. Members of the Rat Pack were regular customers and other famous guests have included Elvis Presley, Joe DiMaggio, Tony Spilotro and more. The beef is USDA Prime aged and corn-fed. Options include bone-in ribeye, top sirloin, prime rib and an 18-ounce porterhouse with Calvados apple brandy sauce.

STK, The Cosmopolitan:
This popular restaurant already in New York, Miami and Los Angeles, has made its way to Las Vegas. STK is a fusion of trendy hotspot and innovative fare. It offers an upscale, modern vibe with a classic American steakhouse menu. Steak choices include skirt steak, filet medallions, cowboy rib steak, Wagyu selections and more. Toppings include foie gras, jalapeno onions and truffle butter. Accompany your steak with sides like spiced maple carrots, mushroom pot pie and sweet corn pudding.

Brand, Monte Carlo:
This stylish steakhouse offers just about any cut of steak you could wish for including a 24-ounce tomahawk ribeye, a Brooklyn filet, New York sirloin and the chef’s nightly Wagyu selection. If you’re here with a group, go for the whopping 120-ounce Ultimate Steak, which can feed six people.

Carnevino, Palazzo:
Celebrity chef Mario Batali and winemaker Joe Bastianich team up to serve house-aged beef to perfection at this Italian steakhouse. The beef is all natural and hormone and antibiotic-free. The beef is rubbed with sea salt, black pepper and fresh rosemary and served with a slightly charred crust. Cuts include dry-aged bone-in ribeye, Florentine porterhouse, filet mignon and more. Not only can you get a great steak and a great glass of wine at Carnevino but you can also enjoy Batali’s mouthwatering pastas.

Craftsteak, MGM Grand:
James Beard Award-winning chef Tom Colicchio serves grain and grass-fed prime beef at Craftsteak. His signature dishes include braised short ribs and grilled Kobe skirt steak. Other options include grilled flat iron steak, a 32-ounce roasted porterhouse and braised veal breast. Three-course menus for parties of two or more are available and include options like angus beef, domestic Wagyu and Japanese A5 Wagyu.

Stripsteak, Mandalay Bay:
Chef Michael Mina offers modern steakhouse fare at Stripsteak. If you’re looking for beef, the 12-foot wood-burning grills can sear your steak to perfection, using different types of wood that create a unique, charred crust. Six circulation machines allow chefs to utilize low cooking temperatures for slow poaching. This allows dishes to cook in oils, butter and juices for eight hours, infusing the meat with flavor and tenderness before it is finished in the wood-burning oven.

CUT, Palazzo:
Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck’s CUT is a classic steakhouse featuring USDA Prime Nebraska corn-fed, 35-day dry-aged steaks and Japanese Wagyu beef. The steaks are grilled over hard wood and charcoal and then finished under a 1,200-degree broiler. Cuts include a 34-ounce porterhouse, New York sirloin, bone-in filet mignon and more. Choose from a variety of signature house made sauces to top your meat.





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