The New Democratic Party was of course hosting its own fest, with food and booze and attempts at humour. This year we were at 200 West Block, a very spacious room where this party has been held before. The other location has been the Hall of Honour in Centre Block, but not this year.
For those who have been around the Hill a long time, they know what to expect: a buffet of salads – caesar, coleslaw, mushrooms, squash, garden, and carrots and raisins. There are lots of different opinions about the selection – I personnally think it is not bad, everything being pretty fresh if not overly tasty. The squash salad is a definite signature item – cube of cold orange squash, which should make New Democrats happy, but somehow, NDP Christmas party veterans such as Kevin and Sonja hate it.
As you can see below, the scene was a little scary by the time I got to the main buffet. For some unexplained reason, the pasta dish on offer, a penne with a boring tomato-based sauce with soggy veggies, was pretty popular. They brought more later, don’t worry – yet I still avoided it.
For my main course, I decided to go with a holiday classic: a couple of slices of roast beef (they were medium – not a bad piece of meat, fairly juicy and tender) accompanied by a spoonful of commercial horseradish; steamed vegetables which were fair but not great; roasted red potatoes with herbs – a little dry which made the small ones crunchy, which I didn’t mind; and a good helping of the aforementioned mushroom salad, a simple but effective compliment to my plate.
I didn’t go for the turkey this year. Although the gravy and/or the cranberry sauce that goes with it is usually pretty solid, the meat is fairly flavourless. The slices are so thin and cardboard-like that you get bored of it very quickly.
Now for all of those out there who think that Parliament Hill’s caterers are a perk for political employees let me be very clear, this meal, while decent and on par with caterers off Hill, still cost party-goers 40$ a pop. I believe that none could argue that this is not on par with market value for what we got, especially that this was a buffet and not table service. And before you ask the bar was a cash bar, no free boozing for New Democrats.