Sunday, May 17, 2015

Bad postcard of the week: Mysteries of the Marco Lodge and Kentucky's magical Top Brown

The Marco Lodge still exists, but I suspect it has changed.
It’s important to have culinary adventures when on the road.

This is only a recent declaration for me. Previously, boldly dining abroad meant finding a Panera Bread eatery and having a different kind of cookie for desert. I can find Panera Bread in just about any town, even in St. Louis, where they are disguised by calling them St. Louis Bread Co.

And I was tempted when I was in Louisville this week, because I found one a few blocks from the hotel.

But first, you’ve no doubt guessed that this week’s bad postcard is about a restaurant.
We’re heading to Florida for the Marco Lodge! The back reads: MARCO LODGE Dining Room. Goodland, on Marco Island, Florida. Home cooked foods – pies – cakes – overlooking The Island Waterways.”

It still exists today, but it’s known as The Old MarcoLodge.

I’m sure it’s fancier today. But back in the days of our postcard, well, it’s not a good sign with the drop ceiling gets such prominent display.

But it’s the stuff on the floor that caught my eye. Note the plant growing from the coconut? Very Florida, and very cool. There are at least two on the floor, which means they get touched by every kid and knocked over all the time.

But what’s over there by the register? Is that a giant bottle of booze? Why is it on the floor? Did someone set it there while paying the bill, then walked away? Actually, where are customers or staff?

There’s just a lot we don’t know.

Just like I didn’t know something on my plate in Louisville. We were in town for a conference and were treated to a buffet by our hosts. It was pretty yummy, with plenty of the things you expect at a buffet: pasta, meatballs, cheese and veggies.
But there was something I didn’t recognize. It was a small white meatball, covered in a white cheese sauce with a slice of a small tomato on top. The whole thing was on a small piece of toast.

I tried to cut it with my fork, and half of the sphere jumped from my plate to my shirt then my lap.  This is why we pack multiple outfits for a short trip.

The bite that actually made it to my mouth was good -- really good! But I couldn’t quite identify the flavor. I asked the others at the table, all from out of state as well, and no one could figure out what this delicacy was.

So I boldly approached the staff, inquiring about the delicious but difficult to cut food item.
We learned some history. The Top Brown is a Louisville treat created back in in 1926 by Fred Schmidt at The Brown Hotel.

The hotel still exists, and its website tells the story:  “In the 1920's, the Brown Hotel drew over 1,200 guests each evening for its dinner dance. By the wee hours of the morning, guests would grow weary of dancing and make their way to the restaurant for a bite to eat. Sensing their desire for something more glamorous than traditional ham and eggs, Chef Fred Schmidt set out to create something new to tempt his guests' palates. His unique dish? An open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and a delicate Mornay sauce. The Hot Brown was born!

Our version mixed the turkey with sausage. Happily educated and ready to embrace a local tradition, most of the table went back to sample some more, careful to use a knife to cut it instead of just the fork.

Bad postcards of the past:

April 13, 2014: Newsflash -- water is wet!

1 comment:

Will said...

St. Louis Bread Co. was the original name of Panera. When Panera went nationwide, it didn't want to use St. Louis Bread because of the local name. (Why didn't California Pizza Kitchen think of that?)