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Hotel bar snack: Nut mix or crispy radishes?

NEW YORK – After walking what felt like miles of vendor-filled aisles at the International Hotel Motel Restaurant Show Monday afternoon, two hotel industry chefs and I walked about a mile to the InterContinental Times Square hotel.

When we arrived, we were even more ready for a pick-me-up than before leaving the Javits convention center. You know the feeling, right?

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The second we grabbed bar stools at Ca Va, celebrity chef Todd English’s brasserie at the InterContinental, we searched for a bowl of peanuts or chips.

But much to our surprise, our bartender walked up to us with bowls of small, farm-fresh radishes chilled on ice. Along with the radishes were small bowls of butter and salt for dipping.

Now, I’m a big radish fan and I like to save calories when I can, so for me, the pretty red, white and green veggies fit the bill.

And because they were young and crispy – and iced, I found them not only tasty, but also refreshing and energizing.

As much as we appreciate a bowl of fresh peanuts or a gourmet nut mix, the radishes were a nice, tasty surprise. The chefs I was with agreed.

I checked with Ca Va via Twitter about English’s choice of radishes, by the way, and they replied “@ChefToddEnglish chose to do this because it’s a classic french tradition to serve radishes w/ beer, butter salt.”

I was curious to see what you’d think about our find, so I posted a photo of the surprising bar snacks on my Facebook page. A sampling of the eight comments:

Fewer hands touching the goods?

Several Facebook friends, including Nan Palmero, gave the radish bowl a thumbs up:

Less people likely stick their hands in to grab radishes, so less chance of dying from a weird bar beer nut disease. Bring on the root veggies!

Radishes: Not for everyone

Of course, these tasty treats aren’t for everyone.

Frequent traveler and Facebook friend Mike Holovacs cracked me up with his remark:

“Radishes and beer” just doesn’t roll off the tongue the right way.

Salty treats and veggies

Facebook friend Marianne Zebedee wrote that she’d like the best of both worlds.

I quite like the idea of thinking outside the box. However, don’t completely take away those salty delights!

By the way, if you go to Ca Va and don’t see the radishes, don’t be too disappointed. Since they’re fresh from the farm, there are days when they’re simply not available – one of the cons of serving locally grown ingredients for any restaurant.

Readers: Radishes or nuts? Also, what other hotel bars have surprised you with really good, interesting or awful bar snack choices?

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