The first time I visited Las Vegas nearly 10 years ago, I hit the buffets without any rules. I just hurled myself into it headlong, attacking every section with as much gusto as the previous one, until the tightening grip of intestinal overload started to bite.
I recall valiantly battling with the Chinese station, knowing it was the only thing left between me and dessert. I felt like Rocky in the final rounds of an epic fight, my speech slurred, my chewing increasingly laboured as, across the table, 'Adrian' (my buffet wing man), developed a light sweat on his brow.
Then, the schoolboy error, as I launched into the dessert section with scarcely a rest and went straight for the money shot, a huge bowl of apple crumble with custard. Only grim determination got me through the rest of the bowl. But then it was all over - the towel was in the ring and the belly factory had already blown the whistle. A difficult night ensued.
But that was then. On this trip, now a seasoned pro, I hit the Luxor buffet with confidence, with no intention of going anywhere near the desserts.
Buffet master rule #3: skip dessert
I'd done a gym session that morning and was hankering for a big protein hit, so my opening gambit was a trio of pork, chicken and prime rib. The Luxor buffet was light on seafood, but after the LA Hilton I was ready for a break from that. Next, some cod with an unnamed meat. Finally, muscles and shredded pork.
On the way out, I breezed nonchalantly past the substantial cake section.
The next morning, I decide to be more targeted about buffet selection. Mrs M was flying in to meet me that day, and I wanted to make sure we picked a good buffet that night. I found a list of the top 10 Vegas buffets.
I know what you're thinking, and you're right - she's a very lucky lady. While other men would be hunting round for some dimly lit, small-portion-serving Italian restaurant where the waiter presents a rose to women diners... I was instead doing the decent thing and finding somewhere serving plenty of food with efficient, business-like staff and lighting good enough to do justice to the 3D glory of a plate loaded with food.
While I waited for Mrs M, I busied myself with a trip to Wholefoods. Say what you like about their vegetarian agenda and curious belief that using raw organic cane sugar somehow makes any product healthy, they do stock an impressive array of nuts.
Another weapon of the master buffet tactician is the dessert substitute. I often use unsweetened cocoa powder at home to quench chocolate cravings, but it's not always that easy to consume as a powder. At Wholefoods I founds bars of solid cocoa. Perfect. These, and a wide selection of raw, unsalted nuts formed the basis of my dessert shield.
Buffet mastery rule #4: obtain strategic dessert substitutes
When Mrs M arrived, she opted for the Planet Hollywood spice market buffet, where a new challenge emerged. In part 3 - alcohol control, a crucial component of buffet mastery.
The Great Buffet Abuse Tour - Part 1
The Great Buffet Abuse Tour - Part 2: Boston and LA
The Great Buffet Abuse Tour - Part 4: The Weakening
The Great Buffet Abuse Tour - Part 5: The Collapse
Sunday, 31 October 2010
The Great Buffet Abuse Tour - Part 3: Vegas Begins