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.

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.

#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.

#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.


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.