this could all be yours!
There you are, standing at the end of the line waiting for the beginning of a buffet to start. You might be out to lunch- at a Chinese Restaurant. You might be at a wedding. You might even be at the Fairmount Banff Springs hotel getting ready for their epic brunch. Regardless of where you are, it's about to begin. If you are smart you will embrace this experience and live to tell about it. If you are stupid, you might die or worse... not be able to get up and end up getting sick from pure gluttony.
Generally, I don't do a lot of buffets. They just aren't my thing. All that food just sitting out, waiting for careless fingers and sneezes to contaminate the morsels (I know. It's the OCD) but one I will do is the brunch (not the breakfast-- that's just gross) buffet at the Banff Springs Hotel. I have a technique:
#1) Get a feel for the lay of the land. What appeals to you.. what looks fresh.. Where is the guy standing with the big hat and meat? Is there also a guy with a hat manning a grill for fresh omelets or other custom made treats? How do you plan to eat? How hungry are you?
The #1 mistake that people tend to make before they even start to load up their plate is ordering something to drink. Yes, a sipping a little water is okay (and I can never turn down a mimosas) but do not fill up on it. Save your belly space for the goods not the liquids.
#2) Now grab your plate. Start by taking small little portions of everything that made the first cut. The stuff that looks fresh and tasty. This is the sample part of the experience. It's important to gage on how you want to fill your belly. I'll generally do this twice at a brunch. Once for the breakfast plate and another for the lunch plate (I'll get into this later). It's important to know that this is just an audition, the show plate is up next.
#3) You have the perfect idea of what exactly you want to eat. Go in and get 'er done! At a brunch I like to have two meals. Start with of breakfast foods and then follow that up (after the sampler) with lunch foods. It's not usually appealing to combine the two unless it's under special circumstances. At this point it is vital to keep your eyes and ears open- watch for fresh stuff… when you go back for more be sure to communicate your findings to the others at your table. It’s a group effort mastering a buffet and you are all sure to have a better time if everyone stays aware and involved.
#4) After the savory has been fully experienced the next step is the dessert plate. This I find is usually a good sharing point. Create a Sampler Plate filled with everything that you think looks amazing and share with the table. This way you don’t run the risk of ruining that delicate sweet tooth (too much sugar can be killer on a full tummy and ruin the whole experience). I usually find that a mouthful or two of even the best desserts (Chocolate Mousse exempt- this is all mine) are all that is needed. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing at a buffet.
#5) Your Victory Plate. This is the last plate.. I usually make it a small one, while I am clearing up the bill… my tummy is settling and I have unbuttoned my pants (or, in a perfect world I’m not wearing pants. Dresses for all!). I usually get a final craving for my “Best of the Best Of’s”. So I grab a small plate and take just a final serving of my favorite item. One year it was Sheppard’s Pie, another year it was Rabbit Stew, the year before—banana bread French toast. You have to be careful, being too greedy can change everything. I remember one year I had to walk really slowly from my table out of the restaurant and then lay on the couches outside for about a half hour till things started to move alone. I couldn’t get into the car. I couldn’t walk.. I couldn’t even talk. I could eat my weight in food and my tummy loved every moment of it. I ache to get back to this point (that’s a whole other blog post… actually I think it already has been).
#6) As tempting as it might be, do not guzzle any type of liquid until at least 30 minutes after your last bite. As soon as you add water to the mass in your tummy it instantly expands and you might end up exploding. Give it time and just sip the water. Keep it classy people, keep it classy.
With these tips you can master the art of eating at an all you can eat buffet- nothing but heart burn can stop you now. The world is your bottomless oyster.