Thursday, September 28, 2023

Eating off the Hill: McDonald's, Belgium and CPAC on the reception circuit

Parliament is back besides lots of headline-making news, the reception circuit is back in full force. I attended a few receptions this week and, while I am cutting back what I eat for health reasons, I did sample a few goodies for science and reportage.

A highlight for many staffers was the McDonald's Canada reception on Tuesday, which closed down the Queen Street Fare food court for the event. I added it to my calendar mainly to see if they were catering it or using the food court tenants. And the answer was both.

I say highlight because the line was literally out the door onto the street, and the inside was jam-packed with staffers. And a new MPs, namely the agriculture minister and the critics. Bur I wasn't there for speeches. There were ticketed drinks, a large station with McCafe goods, and a spring roll station at the Asian food court restaurant. But most food was pass appy style.

Including the nugs. I saw empty nugget 4 pack boxes all over the place and couldn't find the station, but learned they were being passed out.

First round I had a spring roll and what I thought at first were suspiciously-shaped nuggets, but were actually deep-friend mac and cheese wedges, Both were fine, but I had come for McDonald's finest. And actually, their reminder invite had hinted at showcasing concept menu items. I think all the staff were hoping for McPizza; sadly, I saw none.

As things were going fast I stationed myself outside the kitchen area, and soon a tray came out of the McDonalds (small) cheese burgers and 4-pack nuggets with sauces. Confirming the burgers had mustard, I passed and grabbed a pack of nuggets but skipped the sauce. They were good, as nuggets (when hot) usually are.

With the nuggets consumed, I wove through the crowd to the doors and headed up to SJAM, where Belgium Night was being hosted by their embassy. It's a bigger venue, so was far less crowded than the McD's shindig. A couple of years ago I got a swanky Stella Artois glass at this shindig; I didn't see any on offer this time thought they were serving the beer at the bar in these proper glasses.

Other than some chacuterie I didn't eat at this reception, but they were appropriately Belgium themed with two food stations. The first was a cone of French Fried drizzled with mayo, in the Belgian style. I overheard a guest ask for one minus the mayo; hopefully the Belgians did not overhear.

And next door were either clams or muscles, I'm not sure. So perhaps recreating the moules en frites Belgian classic.

And rounding it out, tables offered a selection of Belgian chocolates. I went for the white, as it's supposed to be the least sugary of those on offer and I need to stay away from the sweets but not sampling their chocolate would have just been rude.

Finally, the next night I was back in SJAM for the CPAC reception. I again only had a few cheese and cracker combos from the chacuts station, but the highlight for the more adventurous was undoubtedly the raw oyster station.

There are a few interesting receptions next week, so stay tuned...

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