Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The stars lined up (under a piece of meatloaf)

As long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with all things American Indian. From the first piece of jewelry my mother brought home from one of her trips to my obsessive collecting of parrot jewelry, the American Indians have always been on my mind.

As soon as the weather in South Florida drops into the 80’s, some of our weekends take us to the Miccosukee Indian reservation, where we happily camp in the parking lot of their casino resort, watch the sunsets across the Florida Everglades, and feast on the offerings in their four restaurants. 

It doesn’t hurt that my husband loves his toys in the casino. So far he’s ahead and he never risks very much so the angel on his shoulder hasn’t turned into the devil. Ever at the ready, my Kindle keeps me company because I hate to gamble. When forced, I always win. Every time my husband hands me money and tells me to place a bet, I win, because I walk out with my original money.

The best part of camping at the casino is that I don’t have to pack the refrigerator with food. When we spend the weekends on the beach in the Keys, the ingredients for our dinners come with us because I can’t bear to leave the seashore. And who can pay Keys prices for inferior food when the alternative is a seafood dinner at the Miccosukee resort, complete with unlimited oysters and scallops on the half shell, mountains of smoked salmon (lox) and crab claws and shrimp, paella (I like theirs and no one else's)…I could go on and on, but I’ll wait until later….for $12.95.

Sunday morning we were ready to go inside for breakfast, but, as is our malady on the weekends, the clocks in our heads were broken, and by the time we looked up, breakfast was over. One alternative was their incredible Sunday brunch. The problem with the brunch is that I have to start with dessert because there’s nothing more frustrating than looking at their desserts and not having any room.

On our what used to be frequent cruises on Carnival, the waiters got used to my silly eating habits: I had to eat the what I called “chocolate mushy thing” first or I never had room for it. Their melting chocolate cake, is so unbelievable, that when they gave me the recipe, it wasn’t hard to figure out why: Heavy cream, butter, chocolate, sugar, eggs.

We’ve had to give up the melting chocolate cake in favor of the food at the Miccosukee resort because we adopted Wesley. Wesley, our first what we think is a Tibetan Spaniel, is an escape artist, and we can’t leave home without him. So, whereas we used to leave our menagerie in the hands of our friend, I couldn’t trust Wesley. He’s the reason we spend every weekend in a motor home, but we love it, so I’m not complaining.

Nor should I complain about the remarkable food and desserts at the Sunday brunch at the Miccosukee resort. It just makes me crazy when I can’t eat enough at a buffet to make it worthwhile. Who can eat all the seafood in the ocean, along with lamb, rib roast, pasta as you watch it prepared, and on and on. Whatever you can think of that belongs on the best brunch you can remember is there. 

So we skipped the Sunday brunch and ate at the lunch buffet set out for the plebeians, all of us who are just hungry and want food. We’d eaten there many times, were never able to try it all, and were never disappointed. The salad offerings included everything that is too costly for most salad bars. The egg salad, pasta salads, and the like are all worthy of the gourmet shop on the Upper East Side that shall remain nameless. But, as always is my problem, I can’t have it all.

I took some macaroni and cheese, my favorite comfort food, passed up the fresh carved roast, chicken Florentine, mahi, and barbecued ribs, fresh vegetables, potatoes, and tried the meatloaf. But I hate meatloaf. 

I think they called it “Home Style” or “Southern,” but it didn’t taste like any meatloaf I’d ever been coerced to eat. The first thing I could pick out was pine nuts, not toasted to within an inch of their lives, but still white. I’m guessing there were capers and caramelized onions and garlic and cumin or something else to make it taste like sausage, and for the rest, I give up.

When I looked around the room I realized that not many people understood that they were dining, not just eating. I even asked the manager of the buffet, someone whom we had spoken to many times, if he had tried the meatloaf, and he looked at me like I was from another planet. So now my challenge is to figure out how to share our discovery with the rest of the general world.

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