Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Hot Food, Hot Sun

Like I wrote in "800," I went to Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. Usually casino grub isn't worth writing about but this one was the exception.

I arrived around midnight and hungry. The great thing about casinos is that they always have a restaurant (or four) open all night long. Mohegan Sun was no different and I went to Fedelia's for a quick bite.

Now, when you go to a late-night eatery, what do you expect? Hot, tasty food served quick? Hardly. You expect cafeteria food at lukewarm temperatures with a long wait. Since it was late but I needed something to carry me through a couple hours gaming, I ordered the Ugly Mug of Roasted Chicken and Corn soup and a side order of french fries.

The food arrived on my table in under five minutes.

Sure, it's soup they keep in a water bath and fries they keep under a heat lamp - how hard could it be? But no, this soup was piping hot. And tasty. The fries were perfect: freshly fried, crisp and hot. Holy smokes, this was PERFECT cafeteria food.

Which made me wonder. Why is it that I can go to a small, supposedly quality-oriented, restaurant and the food is worse? Like the other week at Mama's On The Half Shell in Baltimore - the seafood chowder was tepid at best. Or another trip to Cafe Hon where the gravy fries were limp, lifeless and supposedly covered in a transparent liquid that was supposedly brown gravy.

Here I was, at an institutional monstrosity, in the middle of a weekday night with barely any patrons and the food was just stellar. Exactly the way it was supposed to be and served by a friendly group of staffers.

I wish more restaurants would take their cues from this example.


Between August 2005 and September 2006, I visited Las Vegas no less than five times.

Admittedly, none of these trips were "gaming trips" that were planned with the sole intention of gambling, but none of the trips were concluded without a visit to one of the casinos to keep my "rating."

And while I don't gamble much, there's no game I find more interesting and exciting than craps. That feeling of the dice as it leaves your fingertips, hurtles through the air, bounces on the felt, turning up the point number: it's exhilarating.

Not to mention, a bit addictive.

I'm afraid of addictions because I think I've got an addictive personality. It's the reason why I've never indulged in cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and the like. I don't want to become addicted to these vices. My current addictions of french fries and women are destructive enough without adding more addictions to wipe out my empire.

It's been six months since my last casino visit and I've got to be honest, I've been yearning for the roll of the dice. It's not so bad that I would plan a trip to a casino, but I found out that both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun were on the way from Vermont, so I thought I would check it out. Afterall, Tony Soprano went there and, therefore, so should I.

The guys from the Ferrari group said that I should check out Mohegan Sun over Foxwoods. So, after a five hour journey from Montpelier, I found myself at Mohegan Sun on a relatively quiet Monday night. After a quick meal and a tour of the gaming floor, I settled into a $5 craps table where I lost $140 in about an hour and a half.

So much for a new Ferrari.

That was it. That was my plan. Visit Mohegan Sun and then go home Tuesday after visiting New York.

Sometimes, things don't turn out as planned.

The next morning, after a long slumber, a pie from Mystic Pizza and a 2.5 hour drive into New York to visit Ninth Street Espresso on Thirteenth Street, I decided that I didn't want to spend the evening in the city and wanted to get out and go the hell home.

I rolled out of the Holland Tunnel at 3:30pm.

After a quick calculation, I realized that I would hit the Philadelphia area right around 5pm - the middle of rush hour.

I hate rush hours. And I hate traffic.

After another quick calculation, I figured that I could jump on the Garden State Parkway, hit Atlantic City around 5pm, check out Borgata, wait out rush hour, grab a steak from Pat's and then be home around 9pm.

Game on.

In less than 24 hours, I would hit two casinos in two states, separated by 300 miles. No, I'm not addicted. I'm just avoiding rush hour traffic.

Like Mohegan Sun, this was my first visit to Borgata. After a quick tour of the casino floor and the $5 craps table, I settled in for what I figured would be a quick run of about an hour.

You're on this date with me,
The pickings have been lush,
And yet before the evening is over,
You might give me the brush.

You might forget your manners,
You might begin to stray,
And so the best that I can do is pray.

Three hours later, I walked around the casino holding my first-ever purple chip. It was a glorious evening. The table was warm and toasty, the dice were punching numbers and I was making pretty decent bets. To be sure, there were a few throws when my chip count was down and I on the verge of being knocked out, but Lady Luck stayed with us and I rode her as long as I could.

Three hours of gaming gives one an appetite and I was crushed to find Pat's Steaks on Atlantic Avenue closed. It's what I had been dreaming of. It's what I needed. Hell, it was only about 8:30 - plenty of time for a drive to Philly. So, that's what I did: drive to Philadelphia, grab a steak (whiz with) and hit the road. I got home right around 11pm.

Not bad for a degenerate gambler.

Now, what was that 800 number again?