Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner at the Barn in Ligonier

by Carson's Premier Catering; Scottdale, PA  (Premier?  Seriously?)

     I went with a group to celebrate Thanksgiving at the Barn in Ligonier with Carson's "Premier" Catering.  Unfortunately, Carson's failed the most important requirement for a buffet:  The items on the buffet line should have a nodding acquaintance with heat ... at least warmth.  The only reason I make any reference to the word 'warmth' is that the room temperature was so cool that indeed anything with a modicum of heat would seem 'warm.'
       I asked for coffee and was served what I can best describe as a tea cup of coffee - I had no idea they made coffee cups so small - in fact, so small that one creamer was almost too much for the cup.  However, I didn't feel so bad when I saw my friends with, for instance, a rocks glass with iced tea in it - not the alcoholic beverage 'iced tea' but just plain ordinary iced tea!
      Back to the buffet line: NO buffet line should EVER be permitted to get that cold if for no other reason than health safety.  Back at the table, I placed some of the linguine against my wrist to see if I was being unreasonable.  I would be surprised if any part of the buffet was over 100º F.  To save time, let me say the entire line was dry where no additional liquid was involved.  That included stuffed breast, white meat turkey, baked fish, dark meat turkey - which I thought was ham from the color, and Brussels sprouts baked within an inch of their life.
       I had taken some linguine noodles - in a white sauce - which I found out later was actually 'clam' sauce - apparently ONE half naked clam dragged through a bucket of cream sauce!  The stuffing came out of the pan like a dry slice, but like the mashed potatoes, was much improved after you added a ladle of gravy. The corn was obviously from a restaurant sized can of corn which was then cooked in a huge amount of butter.
       I went back to try a small serving of the fish and just a taste of the filet mignon.  The fish was cod near as I could tell, and it was very flaky - anything that dry couldn't help but be flaky!  For the filet I asked for a very small taste and I was not disappointed, it was indeed a small taste.  I expected a nice rush of beef flavor, but instead, since the filet had been marinated apparently with Italian Dressing, I experienced nothing that I enjoyed.  You should never have to marinate a choice piece of tenderloin. Especially filet mignon. It is the most tender part of the cow.
       On the plus side, the desserts were outstanding  - particularly the pumpkin cheesecake.  Amazingly, there were two perhaps ten gallon size containers of ice cream with a slotted spoon for your serving convenience sitting on the table - good luck trying to dislodge any ice cream from the solidly frozen bucket with a slotted spoon while trying to hold onto a plate!
       One final note:  I was surprised to see guys in shorts and tee shirts, or dirty, worn and / or torn blue jeans in the mix of customers.   That suggests to me that many who sing the praises of this caterer are not necessarily given to knowledgeable and honest assessment of their product.  Many locals swear by this local caterer.  However, 'local' is not in any way an indication of quality, only a potential recommendation of community support - quality not withstanding.  

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