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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Office Field Trip to Crowne Plaza

I love field trips or working offsite or whatever the current acceptable phrase is for getting away from the daily routine while still being paid.  However, when I first learned where we were going, I had to laugh at an old memory.

In the late 1980's my first car was the Rustang.  A 1974 Mustang that had been on fire twice, the hood could randomly fly open, the hatch had to be propped open with a stick, the heat didn't work and was simply in a general state of constant disrepair, but it was mine and I loved it.  

My boyfriend and I (he's now been my husband for 25 years) decided to drive it approximately one hour to his aunt's house for Christmas Eve.  Yes, it broke down on the highway.  Yes, we had to walk to a payphone, in the lobby of the "hotel" my office was scheduled to hold their offsite event, to get help (imagine - no cell phones!) and we were stuck in the dark, on the side of an onramp on Christmas Eve.  For whatever reason, I assumed my boyfriend's father was coming to rescue us and was quite nervous when all of a sudden I noticed a very tall man's silhouette running toward us in the dark.  When I grabbed my boyfriend's arm in fear, (ok, I may have even shouted a little) he laughed - it was his sister's boyfriend (they have also been married forever now) who is closer to 7 than 6 feet tall rather than the 5'10" or so, stout, 50ish man I was expecting to see.  The rest is history.

My ride to the Crowne Plaza for this event was uneventful with a fabulous coworker.

We arrive with one of the Vice-President's who thinks it perfectly natural for me to be snapping photos of the frozen fountain with my cell phone.  Or does she?

Inside we are a little surprised to see a newly remodeled and modernized atrium.  Organizers of the event give us maps, agendas and we enter our names for a raffle.

The major disadvantage to taking photos with my camera phone is my camera phone.  After seeing some of the results I am convinced it is beyond time to upgrade.  Either that or we experienced a mild earthquake while I was taking pictures.

Though we did not utilize the restaurant space, one of the raffle prizes later in the day was a gift certificate for lunch for two.  Smart marketing.  Well played.

The Koi pond had a sign advising guests not to throw food or coin into the water.  The Koi made me realize they can be a bit scary themselves - sort of like clowns and mimes. They just seem a bit unnatural.

The back side of the Koi pond and plant wall stayed still long enough for me to get a little better image.

Lunch was already set up on either side of the room.  I wasn't necessarily hungry but wanted to see what we were being offered and take some photos while everything was still full.

The funny thing that happens when I photograph food, either I offer an explanation or someone I am with tells the servers or employees that I have a food blog or that I simply like taking pictures of food.  Is it socially acceptable now?  I love the idea of this large salad with the toppings sort of separated.

Potato salad for some reason screams summer and on this cool fall, almost winter day, it seems like breaking the rules, but I have to admit it made me want to try some and I was quite happy with my choice.

How do you dress up tuna for buffet presentation?  Well, I guess you have to try.  Do they offer hotel 101 classes for this very situation?  How do you think Crowne Plaza plated the tuna?

Honey Pepper Chicken is what I was told this dish was and though it was juicy and well prepared, I hate to admit I did not taste either honey or pepper.

I'm still not sure what the name of this cooled pasta dish could have been - Penne Prima Vera I guess.  I have an aversion to Parmesan cheese and so I was very careful to scoop this gently from the side only.  When I was ready to eat it, the pasta and vegetables were neither hot nor cold so I'm not sure what the intention was for diners.

The culinary star of the luncheon was the Seafood Chowder.  OH MY!  It was creamy, with a hint of silky sweetness, chunks of fish, seafood and potatoes.  The perfect balance of hearty and delicate.  If I could have taken a gallon to go, I certainly would have been willing.

Wraps.  The thing about wraps for our group is they are often offered as part of our cafeteria's regular lunch options and are ordered in when having a working lunch meeting so they may or may not have been a popular choice.

With full bellies we broke off into groups.  We were able to brainstorm with a number of different topics.  Some were led by peer facilitators, others worked independently.  I love again the attention to presentation by having "Mints Under Glass" on the conference room tables.  So cute.

Our next reward...Cocktail Hour.  Platters of cheeses, fruits and grilled vegetables were placed on the buffet.

Our bar included red/white wine, sodas and beer selections.

Winners of the raffles were announced with prizes that also included an overnight stay for 2 at the Crowne Plaza.  Love marketing.

As more of a mixed-drink-kind-of-gal, I always struggle at wine and beer time.  I like Riesling or Moscatto but those are never choices at grown up events.  I ask for a white wine spritzer, heavy on the spritz - sort of the Shirley Temple of wine drinks.

By now, I have a killer headache.  I enjoyed the blend of work, food and social time.  I sit for a moment and observe the large group of coworkers buzzing in the room and realize how lucky I am to be working full time in a job that will never allow me to complain of having too much money, but for the moment I can admit  I feel Fed Well at work.

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