I went down to Steve Wynn's next extravagance, Encore (a huge casine, resort combo). I really think the Wynn is fabulous - although they don't do it up for spring like the Bellagio. Encore is aptly named - after all, the encore is nothing but a shadow of the main performance. It's a lovely, elegant place, but it didn't blow me away. I prefer the Wynn. Now the Bellagio is just unparalleled. I'm saving the shots of the chocolate fountain - these are just shots of their conservatory decorated for spring. I got up early one morning so I could shoot it when it wasn't packed full of people.
Getting up early also let me see the army of people out there replacing wilted flowers, redoing designs - it was impressive. And they weren't just in the conservatory. The Bellagio had fresh flower arrangements everywhere. Gorgeous, elegant, of the highest standard - and Vegas has fantastic deals right now. If you want to stay in a place of the utmost elegance for a steal, I say go to the Bellagio. And see Cirque's Show "O" while you are there. Cirque du Soleil is something everyone should see before they die. It is am expression of the best in man. Every time I see one of their shows I am so moved by the beauty, the imagination, and the skill of the performers. Please don't miss Cirque.
Here are some shots from the conservatory:
Yes, this cute guy is made out of fresh flowers:
This is the area behind the check-in desk:
How beautiful is that? Can you just feel spring? They change this display regularly and it is breathtaking every time. I think one of the best ways to keep motivated is to get a big dose of beauty. The Bellagio provides that everywhere you look.
Spring is a time of rebirth, of new beginnings - of spring cleaning!! Time to get rid of clutter and dirt and anything else that has been junking up your life! One of the pagan and Christian symbols of the season is the egg. And, my friends, Motivation by Chocolate is having an Eggstravanganza! We are going to be reviewing all kinds of chocolate eggs! Whee!! What could be more fun that that?
And we're starting with my favorite - peanut butter! (Okay, my show isn't quite like Cirque's - unless you find poetry in melting chocolate - but the tickets are much cheaper. And the performers are sooo low maintenance.)
Since I stopped at Vosges in Vegas, let's quickly review their organic peanut butter bonbon:
Gorgeous packaging - Vosges has the most beautiful and elegant packaging anywhere. Nine bonbons for $27.00 - oh yes - that's $3.00 a bonbon. I should keep this box and have my ashes placed in it when I die. Here's the description of these apparently magical chocolates:
Two types of rare sea salt are speckled throughout this bonbon, adding a subtle crunch and remineralizing the body with calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. Pink Himalayan salt is hand-mined from deep inside the Himalayan Mountains where it was deposited from the sea over 250 million years ago. Each bonbon is topped with Maldon salt sourced from Southeastern England. Maldon salt is made from the water of the Blackwater River estuary in Essex county, collected via natural methods, boiled and gradually evaporated. As the water slowly boils off, beautiful pyramid-shaped crystals remain that sparkle in the sun. Maldon salt has a mellow, soft flavor with none of the bitterness characteristic of grey salt.
Somebody call the FDA! Remineralizing the body? Hand-mined? Sparkling in the sun? You have got to be kidding! I'm thinking some peanuts were involved, but what the hell do I know?
If any of this high-falutin' stuff is true, I guess $3.00 a pop is cheap. I mean it must be expensive to do all that hand mining and have all those English people standing around watching salt dry.
Here's one brutally hacked open:
And the taste? Well, you know I am pretty ruthless when it comes to peanut butter. The more peanut buttery the better. This was too far to the chocolate side of the house for me. Not bad, mind you - the salt is a nice touch. But in the category - I'd rather have Reese's. And you can fill the trunk of your car with $27.oo worth of Reese's. Guess that puts me in food critic hell. Or maybe the food critic ghetto.
But on to Easter!
The heavy hitter in the peanut butter category is Reese's. I don't care what anyone says, when it comes to peanut butter and chocolate, Reese's owns it. Other companies all use orange to signify peanut butter - why? Because orange was the color of the Reese's wrapper since back in the 1920's. (I am only guessing at this, but unless someone gives me a better reason this makes the most sense to me.) Marketers have always tried to benefit from the success of the strongest product in a category.
Here are the peanut butter egg offerings I've found so far from Reese's this season:
Same thing, different package:
These are like regular Reese's Pieces except they are shaped like eggs. Which means - more peanut butter!!! YAY!!! These rock! I love them.
Now these are all the different sizes of chocolate and peanut butter eggs:
Here they are naked:
The smallest is my favorite only because it's such a good edible size. Each has 85 calories - and you can pop the whole thing in your mouth. YUM! They aren't sold individually only in a big bag. Next to that is the standard Reese's Egg - 180 calories. Then the double sized egg - 340 calories and good God - this thing is really huge - the giant molded egg. It has 840 calories. If I had gotten this as a kid I would have started an Easter Bunny cult. (Hell, I still might.)
What can I say? These are all awesome. The only complaint is the same one I have with all of the giant Reese's molded things (remember the snowman at Christmas, the heart at Valentine's Day) the base is too thick. Too much chocolate. I know they have to do this or all that peanut butter will seep out - I learned this by looking at all the grease and the back of the double sized egg. All that peanut butter kind of oozes through the thin layer of chocolate. I, of course, like this.
See the thick base here?
The next up is See's Egg Quartet. I'm just pulling out the peanut butter egg for this entry. We'll review the rest soon. Keegan Hurd, in See's Marketing Department contacted me and asked if I would review some of their Easter treats. And you know I said YES! (Keegan is my Easter Bunny this year.) He liked the Eggstravaganza idea and was kind enough to send me a bunch of See's eggs.Check out See's Easter candy yourself. They have some great stuff.
See's Peanut Butter Egg is a good size - here it is compared to the Reese's Eggs:
See what a good size it is? It's actually somewhere between the standard Reese's Egg and the double one. And look how delish it looks when autopsied:
I had pretty great expectations when I bit into it. But it was a little on the sweet side for me. Close to Reese's, but needed a little more of that salty kick. However, the texture of the peanut butter was much better - smoother and creamier. Definitely worth a try. The PB to chocolate ratio was perfect. Maybe they should get some of that estuary salt from England.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Lake Champlain chocolates. My ex husband (God, it seems hard to believe I was ever married!) and I visited their factory about a million years ago. Sometime around when that salt was being deposited in those Himalayan Mountains.
They have a cute bag of assorted eggs:
See - peanut butter is orange! Love the logo design on the egg - classy, nice touch, beautiful attention to detail. The autopsy photo (that's not caramel, just melting milk chocolate):
Now - if you have been paying attention to my many reviews of peanut butter and chocolate you will know right away what I'm going to complain about. Yep - too much chocolate. While I do think that, I have to say that the quality of LCC's peanut butter is hands down the best. And their chocolate is to die for. I can't wait to review the other flavors in this gorgeous assortment.
LCC has a lot of oh so cute Easter items:
And last but not least:
A cute assortment from Lindt - they really have some creative items this year. Again, peanut butter is orange. This one was lovely - smooth creamy milk chocolate and nice peanut butter. You can't really complain about it. The highest quality chocolate, but I actually like Reese's better. More of that awesome salty peanut butter. Hey, I'm in the ghetto - what can I say?
Here's my ranking of peanut butter eggs:
3.) Lake Champlain
Now as far as the quality of the chocolate, reverse the list. But I'm all about the peanut butter.
Oh - and you'll notice I did not include Russell Stover. As you all know, I am trying to learn from my mistakes and make better choices. Russell Stover has broken my heart one too many times.
And now for their encore:
Here's the whole cast!! A standing ovulation!!!