Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Into The Heart of Darkness - Again

God I hate this state. I mean I really hate it. It would be so easy to just cut it off, call it a third world country and get on with life.

Yet normal Americans from every corner of the country flock here for reasons that escape my ability to understand. Some come here for Disney World, some for spring break. Others just don't know any better, and most incredibly, some actually decide to spend the final years of their life on this planet in this God forsaken wasteland.

In Florida.

The mind reels.

Still, here I am once again. In had no way to avoid this sojourn to America's cultural back water. Some of the greatest brains in my business are here for the next two days, and I need to be here to glean whatever bits of wisdom I can. Happily, I'm staying here, and I must say for a hotel located in a squalid hellhole of a state, this baby ain't bad.

Tonight after I arrived I dined in the courtyard restaurant and had a delightful meal. Shrimp cocktail, Austrialian Barramundi roasted in a wood burning oven, goat cheese polenta and a couple glasses of white burgundy certainly eased the pain of being in Jethroville.

While the shrimp disappointed, the Barramundi in particular was a real delight. It was butterflied, roasted and served with a pickled corn chowder relish type thingy that worked well together. Now one must ask the question, "why, if you're in Florida would you order a fish from Australia?" Well, the truth is that as much as this violates my basic principles of eating local, my waitress was quite insistant that I go with the Barramundi. Ussually I reject such suggestions as just another lame attempt to move something that ain't movin' well on the menu, but tonight seemed different.

The thing is that when I'm on business trips I often find myself dining alone and I've learned a couple things. The primary of these lessons is that when you go into a restaurant alone, the service staff tends to bond a little bit with you. Now don't get me wrong because I do not like the whole, "My name is Chuck and I'll be your server tonight" thing and generally you wouldn't catch me in such an establishment unless I was stranded in a town where TGI Friday's was considered fine dining. I expect my wait staff to be professional, efficient and most of all properly solicitous. Still, when you dine alone, a good waiter will go a little extra mile to take care of you.

Tonight was no different. As a result I trusted my waitress' opinion and was well served as a result. My only mistake? This weekend the hotel is hosting the Wine Spectators' Food and Wine weekend. What's wrong with that you ask?

I leave Friday afternoon.

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