Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Bakery Review: Jean Philippe Patisserie - Las Vegas

Jean Philippe Patisserie - visited June 21-23, 2017 at the Aria in Las Vegas, Nevada

This will be one of those heavy food porn posts. I’d rather let the pictures speak for themselves but I’ll throw in my random commentary. I had a teambuilding offsite in Vegas (awesome perk, yeah?) and as luck and my baking-magnet universe would have it, we stayed at the Aria. Where, upon checking in and as I headed towards the elevator bank to go to my room, I discovered, right at the foot of the elevators, that there was a Jean Philippe Patisserie.

You can bet I had done my homework before leaving for Vegas with “homework” being looking up which bakeries I can walk to on the Strip. I’ve been to Vegas multiple times so I wasn’t unfamiliar with the bakery landscape. I knew about Carlo’s and Bouchon and had gone to both before. But it was my first time staying at the Aria and having Jean Philippe Patisserie right there was like getting instant nourishment for my foodie soul.

They’re open 24 hours – hey, it’s Vegas – and although I had arrived later at night and had already had dinner before my flight, that didn’t stop me from visiting the patisserie within minutes of dumping my carry-on in my room. It was on the edge of the casino and was doing a brisk business. I had to take a ton of pictures since I was on sensory overload and capturing the images to enjoy later was my way of handling all that sugary input.

Well, sort of. I also had to queue up, drool over the display cases and narrow my choices to an agonizing list of 1. For the first visit anyway. I selected the Snickers Cake and almost didn’t blink at the outrageous $10 price tag for a mini cake. True, it was beautiful, they did box it up and give me one of the classiest carrier bags I’ve ever seen to transport it the short distance of 24 flights back up to my room. Reminder to self: it’s Vegas and Vegas is expensive.

Snickers Cake
The cake was freaking delicious. It was layers of chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, ganache, something crunchy, a thin layer of caramel and just bites of perfection. And I’m not even big on peanut stuff. If I had to pay $10 for a little cake, it was worth every bite and calorie I consumed at almost midnight. Goodbye, diet. See you after Vegas.

That first trip did set me up for some “long-range” planning. In my-speak, that means I planned ahead to what I wanted to try for my remaining brief time in Vegas. We had team dinners I had to work around so I couldn’t actually camp out at the patisserie during my entire stay. Not that I didn’t briefly toy with the idea. Plus I had to work the calories in somehow. Which turned out to be easier than I thought since the Aria conveniently offered a nice gym which I utilized the next morning by banging out 7 miles on the treadmill. It was triple digit temps outside so no way was I running outdoors in that desert heat.

But the 7-mile run emboldened me to choose the Nutella Beignet for my breakfast that morning. Here’s the funny thing about running. I can’t eat before I run; my stomach can’t handle it. And even though I burn a ton of calories during the run, I can’t eat right after a run either. I’m just not hungry. An hour later though, I’m ready to chew off my right leg. The Nutella beignet went down easy after that hour although I have to correct the name and call it a doughnut rather than a beignet. I’ve had beignets at no less an august venue than CafĂ© du Monde and this wasn’t a beignet. It was a doughnut. It was delicious but a doughnut nonetheless.
Nutella Beignet
I had aspirations to sample more delicious goodness from Jean Philippe Patisserie but alas, I hadn’t factored in how much heat really does suppress the appetite, even mine, and a day spent outside at the pool cabana where the team was pretty much killed my sweet tooth. So effectively that, despite my 7-mile run, I wasn’t even hungry for lunch and didn’t eat again until 4 pm that day.

At that point, our team dinner wasn’t for another couple of hours so I did indulge in another Jean Philippe purchase to tide me over. This time was an almond brioche. I’ve had brioche before too but this one they did a little differently. Instead of a whole brioche roll, this seemed more like a round brioche loaf that was cut into a slice, layered with almond paste and sliced almonds. Whatever they did to it, it was also freaking delicious. Soft bread, sweet almond paste, crunchy sliced almonds – amazing. It also had the benefit of being cheaper than the Snickers Cake. This one clocked in at $5.
Almond Brioche

There’s also a Jean Philippe Patisserie at the Bellagio which is where some of my coworkers and I did end up as part of the scavenger hunt after dinner that night. We were supposed to hunt for the “world’s largest chocolate fountain”. Took us awhile to find it, even with the help of google and our iphones, but mostly because the Bellagio is so Vegas-Strip huge that we had to cover a lot of ground to end up in that part of the Bellagio.

I don’t know what I was visualizing when I thought of the world’s large chocolate fountain but it wasn’t what I expected. Maybe I had been hoping more for a pure waterfall of chocolate a la Niagara Falls in gushing streams of liquid warm chocolate. Hey, I can dream. Instead, it was a bunch of small pools of various types of chocolate in an elaborate structure that connected to each other but the chocolate flowed quite sedately. Huh. Oh well, at least I can say I got to see it.
I had good intentions of making one final stop at Jean Philippe Patisserie on my last morning before leaving for the airport since it was literally on my way to checkout at the lobby. I wanted to try the Nutella Brioche. Or the sticky bun. Or a scrumptious-looking muffin. Even perhaps get something for breakfast there then a snack later at the airport. Alas, when the time came, I just wasn’t hungry. I know, who am I, right? But the triple digit heat was still doing a fine job of suppressing my appetite plus I’d had a big dinner the night before (next post). So I missed a third opportunity to indulge in Jean Philippe’s offerings. Bummer. Next time, Vegas, next time.

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