Work Travel

On of the sucky things about work travel is the often crappy food that goes along with it. Some people just don’t know how to host.

When I have visitors for my work they get decent food at a nearby French, Brazilian or Italian restaurant. As I type this as I am enjoying a Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sub and a Diet Coke. Which is a major step up from the gelatinous cream of potato soup I had for lunch yesterday. It jiggled and reminded me strongly of Campbell’s condensed. There were no can lines like you get with the Thanksgiving cranberry sauce, but I would have bet money on that being a canned soup.

On the upside of work travel is the cable. Last night I watched snippets of Dodgeball, Mr. and Mrs Smith, Rachel Maddow and several sitcoms I couldn’t name but could identify by the laugh track. Don’t they ever freshen that laugh track? I swear its the same one they used for Happy Days.

The show I stopped on was a chef competition featuring Micheal Symon. The chefs literally sweat as they race the clock, interspersed with quick cuts to pre-taped interviews with contestants and judges. Its weirdly formulaic and the whole thing signals ahead of time who will be cut and who will win. At least to me. My husband will usually get irritated when I predict the outcome of movies, but I maintain that they always give you signals and clues to read if you pay attention.

This episode Michael Symon was cooking and the judges and fellow contestants were gushing about his skill and cooking genius. I beg to differ. They need to give Symon a basket with no meat in it and see what kinda crap he comes up with.

I have this negative opinion because of a visit to one of his restaurants a while back. My boss, who I think is a fabulous and kind person, always takes our “team” out for an annual dinner to celebrate another year of success. This event is not tied to a holiday or season but is more likely to strike her when we have just finished one of our major annual projects.

2011 was a Micheal Symon restaurant. I am a vegetarian and have been for a very long time. This is not something that necessarily affects the choice of restaurant. Usually its not a big deal, I have a few glasses of nice wine, whatever. This time it mattered. Symon is the king of meat. He puts bacon, or some other flesh, in every freakin’ thing he cooks. I figured I would be having the classic vegetarian a meal of Wine, Bread Basket, Mixed Greens and Dessert. Perfectly fine, done it a million times before at special events.

The first course was just silly.

The apple goat cheese salad I ordered had apples and beets sliced so thinly I could not poke them with the tines of my fork. I had to fold them over twice so I could stab it. Three insanely difficult bites later, I was done with my salad.

The entree will forever stick in my mind as one of the most disgusting meals I have ever eaten.

Steel cut oats cooked in red wine with root vegetables that consisted of one half of a sweet potato and two carrots. However they had cooked it the oats ended up like a slimy quasi-risotto and the whole effect was vaguely dog vomit in the middle of an over sized white bowl. I choked down half of it.

I can’t really say I was disappointed because I didn’t expect much, but I was kind of amazed that anyone would bother to put this nasty mess on a menu. It’s was more like an insult – “get outta my restaurant you stinkin’ vegetarians!” – than food anyone would deliberately choose to eat.

By the time I got home that night my stomach was growling so I had a bowl a cereal. If given the choice in the future I would take Jimmy John’s over Michael Symon.