I hope you haven't abandoned my blog yet - I was away on a little out of the country trip in an all inclusive resort in Mexico. Don't envy me yet, I paid for that one. But I'll say this much - the food in such resorts, when the target audience is American (caucasian?) tourists, leaves something to be desired. Despite being in Mexico, the Mexican influence is carefully clouded and doled out reluctantly. Salsas and guacamole lack spice, japapeños are kept separate, and there is a strong emphasis on grilled meats. Overcooked grilled meats (requesting things done medium rare was a struggle). Breakfast was amusing - at least half a dozen hangover "remedies" are easily on hand, from a bloody Mary bar, to mixes of celery and beet juice. Oddly enough, the traditional Mexican remedy of posole is relegated to dinner - on a separate counter, with chili oil on the side to spice things up. Not a bad posole...if only it weren't prepared with white chicken meat instead of the traditional pork.
For all of that, I cannot fault the service of the resort - the staff did their best to accommodate my less than stereotypic demands. I requested and got huilacoche with my breakfast omelet (although they didn't seem to have the traditional Mexican crema available), and while they couldn't conjur up horchata, they placated me with a passable agua de Jamaica. But perhaps the best thing I ate there, I requested a few hours in advance: an authentic regional ceviche. Still light on the spicing, it was, however, wonderfully fresh and bracing, and so stark a contrast with the "Gringo-fied" food, other guests were clamoring for it.
I noticed that many of the cooking staff were young, and, perhaps a little afraid of the "ugly American" attitude - the ones who will come with the machismo of claiming to handle spicy food, only to discard it choosing to blame the cook rather than owning up to their own shortcomings. Hence, this strict adherence to middle road cooking - a shame, really, as there were some amazingly quality ingredients being...butchered...in the resort.
This coming weekend, I have an opportunity to visit a resort of a different sort. I was contacted a few weeks ago by PR firm Ogilvy representing Harrah's hotel of New Orleans, and was invited to spend a weekend there. They have asked for nothing in return, other than I write about the experience in my blog, and to share it with my readers. I think this is a future-facing direction in publicity, recognizing the impact that bloggers have on the public image of a restaurant (or hotel). At least one restaurant in LA has set up a mini-food photography studio to permit food bloggers to take pictures of their food. At New Orleans, I'll be joining a few other (perhaps more established) Houston bloggers on this ride, and please stay with us as we document it.
I hope it makes up for the seeming silence of the last week or so. And we'll have fun stuff to share as we go along. I welcome any questions you may have to ask about the staff of Harrah's or about the scene in NOLA - please post them below, and I'll try to find answers.