Mean Greens at Turnberry Isle

Chef Buss picks his herbs and garnishes for the day's repasts.

If there was one complaint about business travel or taking well-deserved vacation time, it would probably be the battle to avoid putting on those extra pounds we all hate.  Experienced travelers love the journey but dread the after-effects of radical changes in diet that often accompany road trips or business travel.  Too many stops at fast-food joints or the consumption of ubiquitous hotel and banquet meals consisting of chicken dinners covered in mystery sauces or buffets with enough selections to feed a small country can stop the digestive track cold.   Aside from refusing to eat mass-produced food or ordering special meals as if you were a picky poohbah, dining out on the road presents some major issues to those who have discovered better ways to eat than what is typically known as the Standard American Diet (SAD).

Mention ‘organic’ and people turn their noses up thinking the word identifies eating Grape Nuts or Euell Gibbons-style food with the taste and texture of sawdust.  Those who know better are aware the term ‘organic’ is simply another name for food as it was raised, grown, and farmed 30 years ago…..without chemicals, additives, insecticides, or that has not been genetically altered (GMO);  foods that our parents or grandparents would recognize and enjoy.  These lucky souls are also familiar with the pure flavors of fresh foods in season, and will rejoice when they discover what’s going on at Turnberry Isle,  a Fairmont property in Aventura, just north of Miami, Florida.

Chef Daniel Buss oversees an extensive ¼ acre organic Chef’s Garden complete with wide varieties of fruits, vegetables, and herbs incorporated into everyday menus along with homemade jams, marmalades, and sauces labeled ‘From Our Chef’s Garden’ that are always available at the amply-stocked buffet.  Mid-garden sits a compost mixer, awaiting scraps from the kitchens to recycle back into the nutrient-rich soil.  This serves a dual purpose: 1) nothing is wasted, and 2) the leftover food is pure and natural so no chemicals find their way into the soil.

A tour of the garden is yours for the asking along with samplings of multiple varieties of herbs like basil, sage, and cilantro.  Exotic fruits such as plantains, Caribbean papaya, sapodilla, longans, Karambola, Barbados cherries, guava, kumquats, sour-but-sweet ‘miracle fruit’, pigeon peas, and persimmons are also grown.  A separate greenhouse holds microgreens, eggplant, bok choy, and other herbs.  Hiding on the south side of the main pool courtyard is a Medjool date palm, discovered by accident and now being carefully nurtured.

Catch Chef Buss on a day when he is harvesting Meyer lemons, Persian limes and other mysterious fruits for his super-secret ‘Garden Cocktail’ and you may get a taste.  Chef grows his own sugar cane, limes, and mint for use in the resort’s Classic Cuban Mojito.   Dine at any of the resort restaurants and you’ll find condiments and sauces utilizing what has been cultivated by Chef Buss’ own hands.

If organic food isn’t enough, Fairmont’s Lifestyle Cuisine Plus specialty menus offer additional solutions to any guest’s dietary needs, including gluten-free, vegan, raw, heart-healthy, or diabetic….just ask.  It gives great comfort to know that you can consume anything on the menu and not suffer the guilt of ‘why-oh-why-did-I-ever-eat-THAT????’  Even better is knowing you will still have these superb dining options – with local flair –  no matter which Fairmont resort you visit.

When your group’s time for lunch is short, inquire about Chef’s luncheon sampler.  One busy golf day, lunch was not in the plans.  But alas, faced with an offering of sliced organic tenderloin, ripe tomato with fresh Buffalo Mozzarella, garden basil, and Balsamic, a single delicate crab cake with chile sweet-n-sour sauce, one gigantic Gulf prawn dipped in fresh horseradish cocktail sauce and a miniature Key Lime Pie atop homemade cookie crust with a dollop of real whipped cream….and well, I’m only human…..albeit an organically well-fed one.

I do believe I played rather well that day.

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