Saturday, February 26, 2011

Essen Haus

Food seems to be a big and growing theme of this blog - because what else keeps a body going hour after hour? - so Playitas' buffets deserve some attention.  The resort serves only two meals a day, breakfast and dinner, because most guests are training through the day and with long rides would completely miss any lunch that was offered.  Instead, people take fruit or bread or hard-boiled eggs to tide them over.

Most of the pictures I have are from breakfast, when the dining room isn't as crowded.  People spread out their eating times based on their alarm, morning training, and preferences.

Dinner is a different story entirely.  Imagine 2-3 national triathlon teams - Swedish, Norway, and I think some of Denmark - and 2 national swim teams - England and Norway - plus 4-5 separate triathlon camps, not to mention all of the guests making a sports holiday on their own, descending on a buffet simultaneously between 7 and 8 pm.  Basically you want to imagine a swarm of locusts.  Tall, tan, blond, blue-eyed locusts with rippling muscles and very tight sports-leisure clothing.  The food doesn't stay in one place long enough to capture it with normal photography. 

Costco ain't got nutin' on this bowl of Nutella

The cultural differences in food preferences are most apparent at breakfast.  Europeans eat a lot of savory foods at breakfast, along with the traditional sweeter stuff Americans eat.  Some of the options Americans would recognize: muesli (oats and cereals, some soaked overnight in yogurt to make a soft oatmeal-like food, often with chopped up nuts and fruit, and others un-soaked to put fresh yogurt or milk on) and pastries.

Oats and cereals

Toppings - nuts and fried fruits - for your muesli

The other breakfast options Americans would generally recognize as lunch food: hearty breads, meats, cheeses, tomatoes, beans.

Fresh fruit features at each meal:

There is coffee, but unfortunately, it is not the delicious coffee we hear about being served in quaint European cafes by buxom ladies and strapping men.  It's instant and from a machine and worst of all, I suspect COMPLETELY LACKING IN CAFFEINE:

False advertising

So Starbucks Via.  One has to do what one has to do.  Which includes "borrowing" a beer stein from the bar to use as an acceptable sized coffee mug.  Meet my coffee-stein:

American coffee-stein on the left; European coffee-thimble on the right

The dinner buffet is equally as diverse -  a la carte salad bar, prepared salads, pastas, rices, fish station, land animal station, potatoes, ice cream, dessert, lots of sauces that I'm not too keen to try - and educational when it comes to culture.  The staff puts out something and I think "wow, no one is going near that" and suddenly it is absolutely swarmed, with European adults lining up like kids at Disney Land.  I've seen 20 people stand in line for a fresh batch of brussel sprouts or tuna-wrapped in creamed spinach-wrapped in pastry (which was actually pretty decent, I must admit). 

And I will leave you with the dessert table...which you can approach cautiously and with a small plate only if you have ridden more than 100 km on the day.

WARNING: Illegally delicious chocolate mousse far left

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