I interrupt my scheduled programming (I know I promised a post about those Lisettes, plus I have other holiday cookies to chronicle for you), but it's that time of year again -- Menu for Hope time. You say you don't know about Menu for Hope, the yearly donation program initiated by Pim Techamuanvivit, doyenne of the blog Chez Pim? Well, the food blogging community has a treat for you. Or actually, a series of treats for you. Or, at the very least, many chances to win all kinds of treats -- for you. And the best part of it, even better than the treats themselves, is that while you take a chance on winning any of a number of sumptuous prizes, you are donating to the UN World Food Programme -- more specifically, this year, to the school
lunch program in Lesotho, Africa -- a cause particularly dear to my heart, since as a public educator, one of my dearest wishes is to see all children get a good lunch in school. Here is where you can find answers to all the questions you suddenly have about Menu For Hope -- information about its history; about this year's giving program; and links to all the regions around the world where food bloggers are offering chances on Menu For Hope prizes.
For the past three years, I've been a player at Menu for Hope. I usually give myself a donation number to play with -- say, $50 dollars, knowing that I'm making a good contribution to a worthy cause. Then I have 5 lovely raffle tickets to play with, to bid on the prizes of my longing. I even won a fabulous Persian Pantry from Fatemeh at Gastronomie one year.
This year, however, I'm offering a prize for the very first time.
And not just any prize. Brought to you through the generosity of Union Square Hospitality Group, A Finger In Every Pie is offering dinner for four at the famed Union Square Cafe (prize code UE23; directions for entering the raffle at the bottom of this post). The first of celebrated restaurateur Danny Meyer's restaurants, Union Square Cafe still remains his flagship, a place where you're always assured a delicious, attentive, comfortable and happy evening in an absolutely lovely setting. Twenty-two years ago, Union Square Cafe started the revolution in East Coast dining, combining innovative and wonderful food with a remarkable degree of friendly, attentive service. One of the first restaurants in New York to have a market-based menu, much of its provender comes from its near neighbor, the Union Square Greenmarket. USC is the restaurant that, more than two decades ago, truly set a new standard for marvelous dining, perfect service and great value. Is it any wonder that it was listed in the Zagat guide as NYC's most popular restaurant for an unprecedented seven years?
So win this prize, and you can go with your honey, and invite your favorite BFF couple to join you. Or maybe Aunt Jean and Uncle Louie are coming for a visit, and you want to give them a night out on the town at a renowned NY restaurant. Then again, it might be that you'd like to live out your long-dormant Sex In The City fantasy and have cocktails and dinner with the girls at a chic NY boîte. Perhaps you don't live here, and need an excuse to plan a trip to the Big Apple. What better reason than having won this fabulous dinner?
In any case, whoever you've invited to join you, imagine that you're now sitting here, at this beautiful bar, having a cocktail while you wait for the rest of your party. The real question is, will you start with the delicate gnocchi, and then go on to an entrée of the crispy lemon-pepper duck? Or do you want the signature grilled filet mignon of tuna with wasabi mashed potatoes? (I really do believe that this was the first restaurant in NYC -- and maybe the world -- to serve wasabi mashed potatoes. I might be wrong, but they're still better here than anywhere else.) And don't forget to check out the specials. I sort of like to go on Wednesday night, when they have porchetta arrosta, USC's own delectable take on roast suckling pig. Or if you go on a Monday, you may run into me. I just realized while re-reading the menu that I've never had their lobster shepherd's pie, which is a Monday special. I'm going to have to remedy THAT problem toute de suite. (Oh, and if you're particular about your vegetable loves, they also have excellent vegetarian options as well as extremely tempting side dishes. But check out the menu for yourself.)
Menu For Hope is offering all kinds of tasty prizes here in the Northeastern U.S. Region and in other parts of the world as well. I urge you to check all of them out, and find the ones that you'd love to win. Adam Kuban of Slice and Serious Eats is our regional coordinator -- and a big job it is, as you'll see. Here's the place where you can check out local prizes, and get thorough directions, complete with visuals, on how to bid for the prize(s) of your dreams. Especially dinner for four at Union Square Cafe. Did I mention that the prize code is UE23?
In the meantime, here's the simple version of how to bid:
1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice at Menu for Hope: http://www.chezpim.com/blogs/2007/12/menu-for-hope-4.html
2. Go to the donation site at Firstgiving: http://www.firstgiving.com/menuforhope4 and make your donation.
3. Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code. Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. For example, 2xUE23 would mean that you're putting 2 chances, or $20, on dinner for four at Union Square Cafe.
A donation of $50 could be 1 ticket for UE05 (an ounce of saffron from Jaden's Steamy Kitchen!), 2 tickets for UE04 (an autographed copy of Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Kitchen to Yours!), and 2 tickets for UE23 (dinner for four at Union Square Cafe! Surprise!). In that case, you'd write 1xUE05, 2xUE04, 2xUE23, just like that, separated by commas, in the 'Personal Message' section of the donation form.
Remember that you can buy tickets for as many different prizes as you like -- and you can buy as many chances as you wish for a prize that appeals particularly to you. Like tickets drawn from a hat, the more chances you buy, the greater the probability that you'll win that prize -- but even if you only have $10 on a prize, you still have a chance to win.
4. If you work for a company that will match your charitable donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we can claim the corporate match.
5. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address, so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.
Check back on Chez Pim on Wednesday, January 9th for the results of the raffle. Good luck!