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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Lunch at the Poolside Grill at the Ritz-Carlton and the Michelin Rating System

I met with our Naples Sunset Chapter of the American Wine Society member master sommelier (MS) for lunch. We met at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort

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and had lunch at their Poolside Grill (Poolside Grill). Ritz-Carlton is owned by Marriott International and has 81 hotels in 26 countries to date (Ritz-Carlton).

I had intended to talk about all things food with MS and really did not know where the conversation would lead.

Poolside Grill has a very nice dining area

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and as we sat to dine at a pleasantly appointed table

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we talked about many things. MS and I started to talk about the Michelin rating system and what it is. As this was terra incognita (Terra Incognita) to me, I decided to do some research on this.

I must tell you, MS has become a sort of "deep throat" (Deep Throat) of the food world for me. The Michelin rating process is steeped in secrecy. However, it was suggested I research the training of Michelin Inspectors to gain more insight into the process. These are the foot soldiers that go into the restaurants, eat and evaluate. 

There was an article in The New Yorker from 2009 that interviewed an inspector,  was quite interesting (Lunch with M.) and provided a window into the evaluation process. They go to great lengths to protect their anonymity, and are well-heeled with knowledge of all things food.

The Michelin guide was first published in 1900. Automobiles were in their infancy and pneumatic tires, pioneered by Michelin, were a novelty. At that point it gave information as to the distances between towns in France and places to refuel.

In 1933 it introduced the star system for restaurants. One star was a good restaurant in it's class. Two stars were excellent cooking worth taking a detour. Three meant exceptional cuisine worth a journey. Besides the stars, there are also the couverts, or crossed knifes and spoons used as ratings. These denote the ambiance, comfort and service of a restaurant. Red ink here denotes it being exceptional.

In 2001 Via Michelin (Via Michelin) was introduced. This is really a digital travel assistant. It is a database of Michelin Guide content and traffic and weather updates. If you are interested in this at all, I would suggest you poke around on this website. There is some really good video content of these starred restaurants globally and they are amazing.

For lunch, I ordered the market salad, which had roasted turkey, tomato, egg, avocado and blue cheese.

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MS had a classic burger, with Swiss, American and Cheddar cheeses with a small salad.

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Not bad but the dining space and conversation surpassed the food that day. Sometimes that's just how it is.

The pool area is nice

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and who knows, during the slow months they even may let you go for a swim.

One of the best kept secrets in Naples is in the hotel. Should you grab a beverage at the lobby bar

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you can play billiards down the hall in their game room at no charge.
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Again, that's that. Another meal on forks.

The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort
2600 Tiburon Dr.
Naples, FL 34109
Poolside Grill on Urbanspoon

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