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November 26, 2008

Roast Beast on a Mattress of Fries

Roast Beast on a Mattress of Fries

By Elaine Viets

"I’ll have the bison," the man at the next table said.

Two tables away, I heard the same cry. Soon four men were demanding bison. The dining room seemed to glow with ancient camp fires. The air was thick with pounding drums and meat lust.

Before that night, I’d never heard one man order bison, much less four. The men called for their meat in loud, proud voices, as if they expected the chef to lug the beast into The Grill at Canyon Ranch Miami Beach.

Yep, Canyon Ranch, whose outlets in Arizona, Massachusetts, on the Queen Mary 2, and now in Miami Beach, sell healthy living. I went there last week after a tough signing trip and grueling deadlines, and fell in with the bison-eaters.

Did these men know bison was good for them? I wondered that as I nibbled cherrywood-smoked halibut with yellow pepper puree, snow peas and sun chokes.

I read the menu again. It said, "Bison short ribs: red-miso braised short ribs pulled from the bone, with cepes and white sweet potato."

Pulled from the bone? That meat was so tender, those tough guys could have gummed the bison.

The word "short," as in short ribs, never crossed their manly lips. Neither did "red miso," a trendy Asian ingredient. There was no mention of "cepes," a wild mushroom also known as porcini.

Did the Miami Beach cavemen talk about them? Heck no. They were too busy demanding their bison. The name had them buffaloed.

I almost giggled. I wanted to ask the bison lovers, "Did you know that bison is known as nature’s most perfect health food? The FDA allows it to be labeled ‘extra lean,’ ‘low-saturated fat’ and – gasp! – ‘healthy’? "

But I couldn’t do it. They were enjoying their caveman fantasies. It would be cruel to hit them with a plateful of reality. So I never said bison was low-cal or lower in fat than beef, chicken, turkey and swordfish.

That would have spoiled their dinner.

Canyon Ranch had dainty dishes fit for dieting females and foodies: "cauliflower textures roasted with puttanesca sauce, ‘couscous’ style with curry, pureed with chives," "rolled spinach and Napa cabbage" and "lavender-stuffed quail." The quail sounded like it belonged in a linen closet instead of a plate, but people ordered it.

But Canyon Ranch cleverly served food that any man worth his salt could order in front of his poker buddies. At dinner, it was bison and "devils on horseback." The dangerous-sounding devils were really "Turkish dates stuffed with Berkshire bleu cheese, wrapped in veal bacon, served on endive." Healthy delights with a mere 250 calories.

While many women will virtuously order grilled fish served on a bed of seaweed, your average man prefers roast beast on a mattress of fries. Note I said "average." The men of TLC are not average. They are creatures of strong but delicate sensibility who are not frightened by a fern. I also know plenty of women who would kill for a butter-sauteed steak.

But Canyon Ranch has the difficult task of making healthy food sound destructive. Lunch offered a burger and fries, along with the good-for-you seared salmon loin and braised greens. The fine print declared the burger was grass-fed beef and the fries were baked artichokes, but that was easily overlooked.

For breakfast, you could wimp it with a ratatouille frittata. Didn’t the rat in the Disney movie eat that? But fearless patriots could order the All American – "two eggs any style with fruit salad and breakfast potatoes." The New Yorker – "smoked salmon, cream cheese, onion, capers, sprouted grain bagel"– boasted only 370 calories.

Dieting was never easier. Too bad my slender budget won’t let me live at Canyon Ranch year-round. But I have a sensible financial plan to remedy the situation.

I buy lottery tickets.


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I won $3 on Powerball last week and parlayed it into three more tickets. I walked out of the 7-11 with a smile a mile wide, telling my daughter that I was as happy as if I had won the lottery, since, well, I had. Since she snorts when I mention the lottery, she just looked around in her 13-year-old way to make sure that no one she knew was within sight or hearing.

"I'll have the Tatonka, medium rare."

No way. I don't eat red meat (it's not a health thing, it's one of those weird things that happens after a pregnancy things).

Thanks Elaine - the blog did remind me to check and see if one of my favorite movies - "Dances With Wolves" is on blue-ray at Netflix.

Do you know you can get bison at the Publix supermarket? Don bought some for a bison burger last night. I'm trying to get the man to eat healthy and this is the first step.

I love bison. It is a great steak or burger. I have had it at several restaurants and cooked it at home. It is available at Sam's and Trader Joe's. There are a few downsides. It is pricey. About 1/3 more per pound than beef. And being very lean, you need to cook with a little care or steaks will be tough.

There is a bison restaurant on the Kentucky/Tennessee border. It is on I-24. The food is great, or at least was ten years ago when we were there. Several people ordered the bison and loved it, at least at first. Across the road is the restaurant's bison ranch. Next months burgers are still on the hoof in the pasture. Not everyone was ready to look their food in the eye.

If God was fair, instead of having a sense of humor, a carrot stick would have two zillion calories while a medium dry martini would only have two....

What a way to launch a Holiday! Thanks to Elaine and all the folks here and may you all enjoy a wonderful holiday week-end.

Me? It's bagel's and Macy's parade with the annual Miracle on 34th Street and then three days of what we hope will be a bookselling and gift buying filled weekend at www.mysterylovers.com (free shipping as our thanks). See you there.
Books are a great gift......a scented candle never changed anyone's life.

Back in my single days when I had extra money and no responsibilities, my best friend Tara dragged me to Canyon Ranch, Tucson branch. As soon as I could afford it again, I dragged her back there.

And now, I dream of it. One day, when I hit the NYT bestseller list.

And you will hit the NYT list, Harley. You deserve.
Alan, I'm not sure I'd want to see my dinner still alive. I don't even like picking out live lobsters in their "death row" tanks.
Mary Alice, hope you are swamped in orders for free shipping -- books are the best and classiest way to celebrate the holidays.

Oops. I mean "you deserve it." And William deserves that two-calorie martini.

Our Weight Watchers at work group declared that wine should count as a fruit and beer as a bread. We couldn't figure out a vegetable category for drinks, but we tried; vegetables were unlimited! Other Weight Watchers groups were told of our "creative" efforts as a "don't do this" warning, but they just didn't understand that there are days when teachers NEED a happy hour.
My favorite produce stand sells frozen bison steaks and ground bison. It's good!

I am taking time out (from cleaning, cooking-it is my turn this year) to send all of you a Happy Thanksgiving! This place is one of the many things I am thankful for this year. May everyone have a great Turkey Day and a safe (and for our retail friends) and prosperous Black Friday!

This is what's so damn great about TLC; ya learns summat ever' day. I mean, who in hell even knew salmon HAD loins? Besides other salmon?

When we lived in ABQ, our favorite fast-foodery was The Bosque Bull, where the burgers were either bison or ostrich, raised on a neighboring ranch along the Rio Grande. I pretty much stuck with the bird side of the menu, out of mammalian sympathies.

But "delicate sensibilities?" I've been told I'm a cross between a high-rez microscope and a brick. Maybe I'll wear the ruffled shirt today.

I would LOVE to spend a week (months) at the Canyon Ranch. I've never had Bison but it sounds "so manly"!

William - 2 calorie Martini YEP I begged the tarts to let me take Monday's post. It's for all us Martini lovers!

Harley - You WILL be NYT list because you're good, not because you "deserve it". You do deserve it, but it's your talent that will get you there.

Happy Thanksgiving to the TLC crew.

Everyone having bison tomorrow raise your hand.

Huh. I've been eating bison for years; we keep a stash of it in the freezer. I've never had the impulse to scratch my balls and pretend I'm a manly man while eating it. Including the week in Yellowstone last year where I ate it for lunch AND dinner.

Health benefits aside, it just tastes better than cow.

I went to Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass. There was no bison there, but come to think of it, there were no men, either. Out of maybe 400 guests, I think I saw two or three. It was actually very relaxing to be in an all-female environment.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Never had bison - the opportunity has yet to arise. But now you have me all mighty curious.

I do, however, have a Thanksgiving Turkey Stuffing recipe to share with everyone. I just found it and it sounds like it's right up my ally.

Turkey Stuffing Recipe

Here is a turkey recipe that also includes the use of popcorn as a
stuffing -- imagine that. When I found this recipe, I thought it
was perfect for people like me, who just are not sure how to tell
when poultry is thoroughly cooked, but not dried out. Give this a try.

8 - 15 lb. turkey
1 cup melted butter
1 cup stuffing (Pepperidge Farm is Good.)
1 cup uncooked popcorn (ORVILLE REDENBACHER'S LOW FAT)
Salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush turkey well with melted butter
salt, and pepper. Fill cavity with stuffing and popcorn. Place in
baking pan with the neck end toward the back of the oven.

Listen for the popping sounds. When the turkey's ass blows the
oven door open and the bird flies across the room, it's done.

I had the bison nachos at Schafly's (with all the crap they put on them, couldn't tell the difference from beef LOL)
With everything I've gone thru to get a smoked turkey this year, the damn thing better be good!!

I've eaten bison burgers several times, and the only thing I've found is that they can, indeed, be drier than regular beef. Good tasting, though. Know what else is good? Smoked elk brisket. Yum.

We took my daughter and friends to a fancy restaurant for her 21st birthday, and the menu included a "game" selection. I flummoxed the poor waiter when, upon being told that the game selection was antelope, I asked what species.

I vote for a post-holiday TLC road trip to any Canyon Ranch that lives in a warm place . . .

Venison is another meat that is low in fat and calories (and cholesterol). It's because the animals eat what they're supposed to eat--grass and other plants--and not grain. Hello. It's ridiculous to feed grain to cows. They can't digest it properly so they need antibiotics to counteract the illnesses they get from eating grain. Does that make sense to you? The beef in most of Europe and in Australia tastes so different because they're grass fed.

I had kangaroo in Sydney. My husband, the chicken, wouldn't even try it, but it was very good.

I agree with Susan, bison just tastes better than cow. I love using it to make spaghetti sauce or cut up a steak for stir fry.

I did eat alligator once . . . didn't taste like chicken.

Apparently once when I was a kid I ate cougar at a Rod 'N Gun Club dinner and loved it! Eep.

Cougar? You win the prize for exotic eating, Gaylin. My wild meat experience includes smoked bear (caught by a bow hunter). The bear was tough as an old boot. I've also had squirrel, but I had to eat that carefully. It was riddled with buckshot. Give me a nice chicken any old day -- or loin of salmon. I guess those were fish with legs, Tom.

I am astounded by the cougar.

I had alligator once. Didn't care for it. Remember it as "chewy"

Don't like venison either. Don't tell you KNOW how to cook venison so that I would LOVE it. That's what everyone says but yet, no go.

I heard someone interviewed on TV this week about how tasty HORSE is. I'll never know.

Chicken, Beef, Pork, Turkey, some fish (but not all). That's my meat products.

I've had squirrel, moose, bear, caribou, bison, aligator, and venison. I enjoyed them all but the squirrel. The moose was the best and the squirrel the worst.

Gun season for deer started here last weekend, so I SHOULD get at least one roast from the great hunters that live behind me.
Married to ex#1, we always had venison in the freezer. If the deer is hung & the blood allowed to drain out, it doesn't have that 'wild' taste, just fix it like beef.
Did you hear what happened to Palin?? After she pardoned the Alaska turkey, the press was asking her questions and she didn't realize that the 'unpardoned' birds were getting their heads chopped off behind her! LMAO!

Thanks, TLC readers, for a fascinating back blog discussion. I had no idea we had so many exotic meat eaters.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

**Music alert**
Oprah has free downloads of Christmas music

Wow. I was browsing at the library and ended up with a nutrition book by a doctor from *that* Ranch....just the book alone has me tempted to try out the Ranch at least once...maybe you could have an authors/books/fans thingie there sometime...

Cyndi, if the venison you've had was shot by trophy hunters, the reason you didn't like it was because the meat was riddled with testosterone. The does don't have that taste. My husband is a meat hunter, so we only have sweet, tender does in our freezer.

On the exotic meat front, I've also had alligator. To me, it tasted metallic, and the bear was also pretty gross. That mystified me for years until a friend explained that meat eaters don't taste good! Animals like any of the ungulates (cows, deer, elk, moose, caribou, antelope, goat, sheep, aka hooved critters) are plant eaters, so they taste much better to us.

Two pies down, one to go, and fruitcake before I sleep tonight. Somehow, I have ended up babysitting my adorable grandson while the kids are all out playing. How did that happen, and when did I stop being one of the ones out playing? Sigh.

We had beaver stew at Ren. Faire once. It's not legal to sell the meat (a waste, since they are being trapped for fur), but since this was only for crew, not the public, it was legal.
When you are in St. Louis, try Cafe Osage in the West End. They have bison burgers and use fresh produce from their lovely greenhouse next door. From the home page, you can click on the Cafe Osage and on a bison page.

So, Karen, testosterone-riddled meat-eaters don't taste good?

This could explain so very, very much. We should ask Her, Margie for anecdotal supporting evidence.

Yea, I just had my usual Thanksgiving steak today. Yummy.

Hopefully, I'll run into you and Don at your favorite spot someday.

Buy 4ft mattress with free 24 hr delivery.

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