Oh Oh Omaha: Oysters, Steak, Charm and Dressage

Sat, 04/01/2017 - 15:59
2017 World Cup Finals

The 2017 World Cup Finals are flying by and I'm pleasantly surprised by the fantastic organization as well as the cuteness and hospitality of the city. Omaha is a wonderful mix between the old and the new. Big corporate buildings are planted in between old brick warehouses that have been turned into charming little shops and restaurants to create instant atmosphere.

I'm staying at the Doubletree hotel and while everything is smoothly organized with a top shuttle service to the CenturyLink exhibition centre, I have been a little cold in this hotel. The weather here is not so co-operative. It's been chilly and grey all weekend, which is unusual for the time of the year. The hotel has turned off the heating system and if you tamper with the air-conditioning, nothing happens but cold air streaming out of the vent. I ended up using towels, the blanket of the second queen size bed as well four pillows to create a big enough duvet to keep me warm at night. The bed is very comfortable. There is also a constant metal tapping noise coming from outside, but I mentally block that out. While I'm outspoken about pretty much everything, I don't want to be one of those front-desk-complainers. The television, which usually keeps me company while I work on my articles, only had the Weather channel and the remote refuses to switch to another station. I'm totally up to date with all the thunderstorms and tornadoes happening in Texas and the South of the USA at the moment. If you need a forecast, just ask me. 

There are two photo pockets to shoot from and for Thursday's Grand Prix I decided to stand near F. The spot was ok, not ideal, but as Tim Gunn would say, "I made it work." The press room is huge, the staff friendly and helpful, and there is plenty of food to keep the journo's from getting hangry and negative in their articles (with the exceptions of the Germans who always seem to be in a foul mood). After the class and press conference I went straight to the hotel to write my article. 

Friday was a lull day for dressage so I decided to explore downtown Omaha which can easily be done on foot. I was very surprized about the cleanliness of the city, and the beautiful infrastructure with huge corporate buildings (Union Pacific headquarters are here), parks, ponds, trees with christmas lights still in it and then my favourite, those old warehouse buildings with advertisement painted on and the black iron fire escapes on the outside. Such buildings expose that there is a tradition and history in this town that has not yet been wiped out by commerce. Old Market is definitely the place to be with the cutest stores, art galleries and restaurants. You immediately noticed that horse people were shopping and you spotted them everywhere. A good sign that the World Cup Finals bring business to town! I bumped into Danish/American Grand Prix rider Bent Jensen in the street and had a quick chat.

At a clothes' store which sold furs and leather jackets, I really had the feeling that I was at a frontier town where the pelt industry and fur trade had been the driving economic force back in the 19th century. The shop was a remnant of that history, although remnant might be the wrong word because it was the busiest store in town. While I walked through the shop I felt the dichotomy banging in my head: how pretty and soft versus "fur is murder". I believe it's totally unnecessary to have fur shawls, jackets, boots, and gloves with all the alternatives out there on the market which don't result from animal abuse and torture. 

I had a quick lunch at Le Bouillon, a French restaurant. I would normally never pick a European style restaurant while I'm in America. Why eat Italian when I have access to the best Italian food in Italy; same with French. The restaurant, however, served fresh oysters and it looked the most welcoming and stylish of the ones I passed. I love oysters and am very eager to taste the difference between European and American ones. I had a platter of six, three from the East Coast and three smaller oysters from the West coast. The latter ones were the best by far, to my taste. I further indulged in a salad to keep the calories down and half an hour later threw the diet overboard by ordering a lemon tart. The lemon curd was wonderful, but instead of the whipped cream (which I gently pushed to the side of the plate and did not touch), the tart would have even been better with some meringue on top. 

I went back to the hotel to pick up my camera and then headed to CenturyLink for the dressage showcase on Friday afternoon. The quality of riding was not the most impressive, most likely because several of the riders and horses got intimidated by the big stadium and atmosphere, but the Isabell Werth masterclass was fantastic. Read all about it here.  I hopped back to the hotel to write my report and then decided that I couldn't leave Omaha without a good steak. I had also mentally decided that Friday would be my food splurge day. I walked over to Sullivan's which was two blocks down the road from Doubltetree and ordered a small Filet Duxelle with mushrooms and a kale salad, no sides. The steak arrived a bit more rare than I had hoped for, but I told myself not to be such a wuss. I eat beef carpaccio without cringing and now I would have an issue with pink steak. Down it went and it tasted great! So I don't want to wear fur, but I have UGGS (sheep skin), and I gladly eat a dead cow. The paradox!

Saturday afternoon is the freestyle finals. Let's see what the day brings, but first I'm off to check out the collection at the Joslyn Museum.

by Astrid Appels

Related Link
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2017 World Cup Finals