Thursday, October 20, 2011

Golden Trail Salad (aka Freakshow Salad) - Eden Prairie, MN

I got a salad a few weeks back from our office cafeteria. I got it because of the name and it turned out to be delicious. The first time I ordered it, I read on the little card in front of it, “Spicy Thai Peanut with Rice Fruit Salad.” Yes, all of those things. Then, I asked the guy behind the counter to tell me which was better: the Quinoa salad I was pointing at or the first thing I said. He said, “I’m not much for spicy food, but for my money, I’d go with the (and then he sounded out every word deliberately and slowly as if it were a required script from headquarters) Spicy Thai Peanut with Rice Fruit Salad.” I’m glad I did. It was delicious. It was so delicious that I wrote an email to the corporate chef and told him it was the best thing I’d ever had in the work cafeteria and the next time I saw it, I would be buying a larger portion and forcing coworkers to eat it. Again, I’m NOT kidding.

I emailed my friend Trash and she couldn’t believe the ingredients I rattled off. She thought I was joking, especially when I said how delicious it was. I wasn’t joking.

A few days later, I mentioned the salad was amazing to the regular guy behind the counter and he let me in on a little secret – the salads are on a three-week rotation. They do three salads a day and rotate them every 15 days – seriously, they do 45 different salads. Amazing. I backtracked the date I originally got the salad (thankfully, my sent-mail still had my note to the chef), and figured out the next day it would be in the cafeteria. In fact, I put an Outlook reminder on my calendar to remind me to go get it every third week.

That third week rolled around today. DING! DING! DING!

I already told you it was delicious. And, based on the original descriptive name of the salad, you might be able to guess about a tenth of the ingredients they had in there. But today, it was different. And better. They had changed the name of the salad to “Golden Trail Salad”. Well played, Aramark! MUCH more user-friendly and much less scary sounding. That’s customer insight in action. I ordered up a double portion and headed back to my desk with a smile.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…. The ingredients in said salad:

golden and purple raisins
red peppers
marinated cucumbers
asian cabbage/slaw
wild rice
tortilla strips
mandarin oranges
almond slivers
unidentifiable something orange (possibly mango)
something that gives it spice - I'm assuming the dressing-type thing that its covered in
...and, it is covered in tortilla strips for some crunch

This thing looks like a culinary monstrosity, but is honestly one of the best salads I’ve ever had. So many flavors, so many textures. If I could figure out the dressing/sauce they put on the whole thing, I’d make this thing at home. I know – you never thought I would be raving about a salad on this meat-iful blog, but I am.

This is a game-changing salad.

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