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Week 12: Sum Ting Great
March 7, 2011
The concept of a buffet supposedly arose in mid 17th century France, when gentleman callers would arrive at the homes of ladies they wanted to “woo” unexpectedly. Their surprise arrival would throw the kitchen staff into a panic and the only food that could be served was a selection of whatever was found in the kitchen. Funny how time changes things. Today, you don’t typically find sluts at the buffet. They’re still busy participating in an “all you can eat” scenario but it’s not the type of scenario you’d bring your children or wife to. There also isn’t any “wooing” going on. The only woo I know of is the tiny Asian chef who keeps stirring the wok faster and faster and faster. Hence “Wooing.”
Ryan and I are lounging at the pool of the infamous Biltmore Hotel, where Al Capone used to do sweet gangster things. We’ve been here all weekend and our wallets are telling us it’s time to go. Instead of partaking in the Biltmore’s $75 per person brunch, we’ve decided to further explore our surroundings. I already had a taste of the Biltmore’s food Saturday morning at 2am when I demanded mac and cheese while under the influence of white wine, PBR and pomegranate vodka. In a panic and afraid of what I might do next, Ryan dialed up room service. He’s a keeper. Only a real man would have the self confidence to order a children’s meal in the wee morning hours. It was amazing, absolutely amazing, but Ryan and I aren’t typically repeat customers. We’re in a different city and thus far have successfully eaten each meal at a different venue the entire weekend. After two hours of tanning and starving ourselves in the hot Miami sun I start hallucinating about Chinese buffets.
Ryan does some quick research on his phone and discovers that there is a buffet called “Port of Call” just two miles away and it’s only $15 per person. The Web site is mobile friendly and has custom photography. My hunger and excitement is now a bit uncontrollable. These are expensive Asians. None of this fried cat bullshit that we get in Tampa (which I do admittedly enjoy). This is going to be a fantastic high end buffet.
We decide to visit Port of Call right before we venture home on our 4 hour drive back to Tampa. On the way out a woman crashes her car by t-boning another car who was attempting to make a turn into the parking lot. Just when I think I should go check out the scene and say ahhh hello lady are you alive, what were you doing texting, I then think of how much that will delay us on our brunch adventure and choose to ignore the situation.
I get in the car and as usual my mind begins to take a stroll down memory lane, mixing thoughts of home alongside past buffet memories. When we were unruly teenagers we always used to trick tourists (“new friends”) on Cape Cod into going to our local Chinese Buffet. Once there, we would then tell them that this place had THE BEST CHINESE ICE CREAM YOU’VE EVER HAD. We’d offer to make them a cone, sneak a crawfish in there, cover it with soft serve vanilla and then just wait for our victim to lick its alien face! Oh the glory days.
Speaking of home, Boston’s great Larry Bird says that a winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals. Charlie Sheen has me thinking about “winning” lately. I say that a winner is someone that recognizes that there is a strategy to an all you can eat buffet. It isn’t about eating everything. It’s about eating the most expensive things you can find in large quantities and spoiling the shit out of yourself. We park the car and I know that if I’m going to beat this buffet it’s going to take a lot of change. The meter is giving us 12 minutes for $0.25. Ryan fills the meter up for an hour’s worth and when he turns his back I quickly empty out my purse to increase the time to an hour and 36 minutes.
Just as we imagined, Port of Call was spotless with respectable waiters everywhere. Ryan thinks that the hostess is a hooker but I inform him that hookers don’t wear white dresses, regardless of whether or not it is backless. Before we even get our waters, we charge the buffet. Oh glorious buffet. Sushi, Traditional Chinese Food, Waffles, Crepes, Omelette Bar, Desserts, Ice Cream and even a Carving Station including delicious churassco and corned beef. Naturally, we filled our plates with everything it could hold without tipping over. Our first plates were entirely sushi. The buffet even included unlimited refills of mimosas except we had a long drive ahead of us and decided against it.
When we took our seats I felt as if we were being watched and ridiculed by our hideous neighbors but the sushi deserved more attention at this time. For sushi being produced in mass quantities I must say that it was unbelievable. I couldn’t get enough of it; I was inhaling it. Our neighbors were clearly only attending the brunch buffet for the booze. It didn’t take long for us to finish our first plate of food and as we went up for seconds I heard one mumble something about us being disgusting. I felt like saying sweetie a few pounds of General Tso can be shed but even plastics won’t fix that face… but I wasn’t 100% sure I had even heard her correctly so I held my breath and my bitch stare. I was all smiles on the way back to the buffet.
Our second round of food included the carving station and Chinese food. Amazing lo mein. Shitty General Tso. But the best part about a buffet is that you can load up on what you like and there are no penalties for ordering wrong. Ryan even got a third plate of desserts; I left that to him though because by that point I was trying to control my urge to vomit in public.
If we could have stayed there all day instead of driving back to Tampa, I would have. There was a feeling of dissatisfaction because I wanted so much more but literally couldn’t fit any more sushi anywhere. If I had pockets and a purse I might have even filled them up. Port of Call of Coral Cables you’re a gem. You get two thumbs up and your sushi chefs are brilliant. I can only hope that some day I end up back in Coral Gables to see what new creations you’ve come up with. Until my Asian explorations take me elsewhere, you stand second to none in my books.