Eating Out: The United Nations

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The filet mignon, or as the menu states “#4: The Boutros-Boutros.”

The really great thing about working for a non-profit organization is the pay.

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Sorry, I was choking on my own laughter and had to take a minute to compose myself. What I meant to say was that the great thing about working for a non-profit are the gala events, with their great speakers and their open bars. And if, for example, you were known to be your particular non-profit’s resident foodie, you might always get to go to the food tastings for said gala events. Ergo: eating out at the United Nations, locale of this year’s event, with food prepared by the delegates’ chef.

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#6: The Happy Kofi

Because I am a noob foodblogger, it did not occur to me to bring my camera to the tasting. Moreover, it did not occur to me until after the appetizers* (heirloom tomatoes with mango, avocado and cumin-lime dressing; and a smoked salmon and fennel napoleon) that I have a cameraphone that actually takes semi-decent pictures. So under the pretense that I needed to photograph the food to be able to fully report back to my colleagues, I whipped it out.

*For those of you planning on purchasing a ticket to this event – it’s one of the most fulfilling ways to spend $1000! I’d do it myself if I weren’t living on a non-profit salary! – you’ll be starting with the heirloom tomato appetizer, which we all agreed was a fresher-tasting, lighter and more appropriate start to an early summer meal as well as the dish with superior presentation. The white wine that accompanies it is a stunner; much better than what one would expect as a house wine.

You’ll be further pleased to hear that your main course will be the filet mignon dish pictured above the jump: filet topped with a round of braised oxtail, a wild mushroom ravioli and microgreens, served with a carrot puree and truffle sauce. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to but braised oxtail on top of beef, but damned if it wasn’t tasty. The ravioli and sauce were lovely, and the carrot puree, while initially unimpressive, ended up being a nice gentle counterpoint to the other strong flavors of the dish. This dish also got +2 for having a garnish (the perfectly-seasoned microgreens) that both looked good and contributed to the overall dish.

Below the fold is our rejected dish, which was unbelievably delicious but deemed too strongly flavored to serve to a crowd of 300 with varied and unknown tastes: braised short ribs with an orange-chipotle glaze over a sweet plantain mash. The ribs were perfectly braised to a meltingly tender texture, and the glaze struck just the right sweet-spicy balance. The broccolini and leek bundle that accompanied the dish seemed a bit like afterthoughts, although they certainly didn’t detract. The plantain mash was to. die. for. and I would like a bathtub full of it.

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#11: Bolton-in-a-Hole

The main shortcoming of the day: dessert. Somehow, I wasn’t really surprised; how many times have you gone out for a wonderful meal, only to discover that the quality and creativity of the pastry isn’t on par with the savory? But it saddened me nonetheless. The best part of this individual chocolate mousse cake – a dark chocolate ganache with hazelnut – was buried inside a shell of bland sponge cake and wan milk chocolate mousse. Sigh.

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Still, I had to finish it to be totally sure I didn’t really love it. I mean, I liked it; I just didn’t like it like it, you know? And chocolate is chocolate

Throughout the meal, we were served by a wonderful server named Rodney with a good sense of humor and some rocking sideburns. Thanks, Rodney! We appreciated the your free-flowing hand with the wine! We got very little work done the rest of the afternoon, and we blame you!

But here’s the best thing about the trip: As we were waiting to go into our private dining room, we spent a few minutes in the larger delegates’ dining room. It was about 15 minutes before lunch, and the UN chefs were setting up an unbelievably gorgeous and lavish buffet spread – beautiful salad station; carving station; 15+ different hot dishes; a meat, cheese and olive station with a full haunch of prosciutto on a carving mount; and a 10 foot long pastry table with an enormous bowl of multicolored macarons that I wanted to surreptitiously pour into my messenger bag (sadly, one does not do anything surreptitiously in the United Nations). It was an astounding spread for the multinational audience it serves.

The best part? You, a non-diplomat schlub off the street, can eat there. The UN delegates’ dining room and its over-the-top buffet is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC every weekday from 11:30 to 2:30. All it takes is a phone call to make a reservation and $25, and all the macarons can be yours. The space is a large, light, completely-windowed room overlooking the East River. It’s a lovely and unconventional space for a business or special occasion lunch, you might get to sit next to Angelina Jolie, and it’s a surprisingly good bang for the buck.

Mmmm, diplomacy. Tastes like chicken.

0 thoughts on “Eating Out: The United Nations

  1. Honey, since you’re new at this, lemme give you a tip. If you go to a restaurant, TELL them you’re a food blogger, and would they mind if you shoot a few snaps? They might let you in the kitchen, and you won’t have to sneak your camera out to your plate. Then as long as you send them a link to your post (and you aren’t a total cunt in your review), they might link you on their own website. I haven’t gotten any free meals out of this yet, but here’s to selling out!

  2. When in a super tony-baloney establishment, I was snapping away at the tower of pretentiousness on my plate and the waiter rushed over to say “no pictures allowed”…so I just said I was from Gourmet and did they want to piss me off?
    Not true, obviously, but I got a free glass of port.
    Love the “Bolton in the Hole”. You are a funny funny non-profiteer!

  3. This sounds like a wonderful meal. I wish you had said you were from Gourmet, like Catherine said.
    The dessert looks so beautiful, I can’t belive it was just ok. Flavor should come before looks!

  4. heather: thank you for sharing the wisdom of your decades as a foodblogger. wait a minute…

    peter: the colin powell always gives me acid reflux. of course, that’s better than the dick cheney, which makes me spontaneously vomit and then buy plane tickets to canada.

    catherine: free port = totally worth it.

    geggie: still the best name ever. also, i think of the same thing, and it still makes me laugh.

    emiline: i know, that made it 2x as disappointing!

  5. Personally, I would have been all over the short rib thing. MMM…have I mentioned lately how much I love short ribs? I love short ribs. BTW, I also really love short ribs.

    But hey, oxtail on beef, meat on meat? That sounds great to me too.

    Since my blog is currently picture-free, I haven’t made any attempts to photograph food in restaurants. I wondered if there were any policies, but how can they tell the difference if you say it’s your birthday and you’re taking pictures of each other for memories of the party and if you’re shooting photos for your blog? I suppose once I get my food-blog camera I will let the fun begin on that one.

  6. rachel: the short ribs were amazing. but you know, many of the people who attend these types of functions have, shall we say, crested the hill, and are on their way down the far side. so the chipotle glaze may have been a bit firey for them. ahem.

    so far, i’ve not had an issue with taking photos in restaurants. sometimes i ask, sometimes i don’t.

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