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.