Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Grand Food Court at the NCED

The NCED, or the National Center for Employee Development is a hotel in Norman, OK. The hotel is used by Marriott to train their employees, and to ensure that the hotel is always crowded, Marriott made a deal with the Post Office to train the postal workers on the property. A postal worker that I know was going for some training, so I went along for a week long vacation. It cost next to nothing for me to go along, and the minimal price they charged included three buffet meals per day in their restaurant called The Grand Food Court.

Breakfast on my first day consisted of pretty standard breakfast foods. Scrambled eggs, breakfast meats, hash browns, strawberries, and some orange juice. It was way too much food, but that is what happens with breakfast buffets. I took the banana to go as some sustenance for my day of exploring Normon.

I returned for lunch and tried a slice of pizza and a custom made turkey sandwich. The pizza was halfway decent tasting, topped with pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, and black olives. I had no complaints about the sandwich.
Later that night, I returned to the hotel for dinner. Pretty much everything that I tried on this night was horrible. There was fish (flounder if I remember correctly) that was very hard. So much so that I couldn't eat much of the fish. I choose some rice from the buffet and that was a bit crunchy. I also tried some butternut squash, and that too wasn't cooked properly and was really hard. The dinner roll was half decent, but I don't know if that counts. I also tried some freshly made mussels. They were better than the pre-made buffet items, but I still wasn't too impressed with them. The only thing I really had no complaints with was the salad from the salad bar since I picked out everything that went into it.
On the second day I was staying at the hotel, I had some fruit salad, scrambled eggs with jalapenos, and a blueberry waffle for breakfast. It was all good.
I didn't get my money's worth on this day since I was on a whirlwind day of seeing the sights in Oklahoma City and skipped lunch here. When I returned for dinner, it seemed the hotel had a barbecue theme. They had quite a bit of meats covered in barbecue sauce, but not much of it interested me. I took some salad, baked beans, corn, and pasta off of the buffet. I also took one of the featured items of the night, their buffalo chili. It was really tasty, but who knows what kind of meat was actually in the chili. Buffalo is an African ox-like animal. Going by the theme of the night, I would assume that they meant the North American Bison. They also could have used normal cow in the chili and nobody would be able to tell the difference...
For dessert, I had a cup filled with pieces of cake, whipped cream, and berries...
In addition to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the hotel also did late night buffets. I was trying to go to bed pretty early so I could get an early start the next day doing touristy stuff, but on one night I stayed up to check out the buffet, all thanks to a tornado that passed very close to the building and resulted in lots of blaring sirens and everyone sitting in the hotel hallways. The choices were very limited on the late night buffet, but I ended up with a slice of very meaty pizza and a brownie.

The next morning, I ordered an omelet with cheese, onions, green peppers, jalapenos, and black olives. I'm not big on omelets although if you put enough stuff in them they taste okay. I also took a piece of bacon, hash browns, a biscuit and a few of the biggest strawberries I've ever seen. These things were bigger than some apples that I've come across.
After breakfast, I ventured back to Oklahoma City and visited the Art Museum and explored the underground tunnels running under the city, and then made it back to the hotel for lunch. They were serving Cajun themed food and everything was pretty tasty. I tried some Cajun chicken, okra, assorted rices, cheesy potatoes, and an andouille sausage.
For dinner later on that night, I got a sense that there was an Italian theme going on. I had fettuccine Alfredo, fried ravioli (why do they ruin ravioli by deep frying them?), beans, fish stuffed with spinach and cheese, and a salad. I would have to say this was the best tasting dinner of my whole stay.
The next day consisted of my last meals at the hotel. For breakfast, I tried some new stuff such as french toast and corned beef hash. I've heard good things about corned beef hash, but I found that stuff to be disgusting. I imagine that is what dog food tastes like. I made sure to take some more strawberries, but they weren't nearly as large as the previous breakfast.

Because I took a tour of the National Weather Service that took longer than expected, I missed lunch on this day. I got back for dinner pretty close to the cafeteria closing for dinner, so it seemed like everything was sitting out too long. Because of this, I had another freshly made turkey sandwich. I tried a little paella that tasted like it was sitting out too long as well as a slice of really good chocolate cake.

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