Last night, somewhere around 6.30pm, cauliflowers scattered from a cab on West 27th St. Gorgeous, semi-naked mermaids emerged, pushed out of the way by an angry Spaniard wearing a wetsuit and a snorkel mask. Wait, that wasn’t just any Spaniard. That was Salvador Dali, shoving his way through the line into The McKittrick Hotel.
And so began Absurdity at the McKittrick, the official launch of Underground Eats, set in 1939, on the eve of the World’s Fair. For months we had been scheming the ultimate party for our members, of a kind never seen before, with producer Michael Cirino of a razor, a shiny knife, and The Noble Rot‘s Jonny Cigar. An ode to the glory days of New York and to surrealism, our aim was to excite guests at every turn with unique culinary experiences, period cocktails and live theatrics.
Inside, the hotel’s reception desk was covered in a cornucopia of fresh lobsters and shrimp; at its centerpiece, a naked Venus, bequeathed in seaweed and eels. By her side, an oyster shucker opened briny Naked Cowboy oysters for 375 sartorially-perfect guests.
Guests enjoyed small bites prepared by Chef Marc Murphy, such as seared beef cubes with horseradish powder, smoked salmon seaweed blini with caviar, and mushroom and goat cheese profiteroles with burnt sage. Bloody Mary cocktail carts rattled through the crowd, summoning guests for a drink. Some ducked into the charcuterie corner for a nibble of foie gras, head cheese and paté. Others hovered by the Manderley Bar, tapping their toes to the Gelber & Manning band. On the way to explore yet another room, guests helped themselves to jars of pickled vegetables that lined the walls.
Speaking of sartorially perfect, Zac Young stole the show wearing a 1930′s-style bathing suit, complete with beach ball, Johnny Iuzzini looked as dapper as ever, and Rob McCue incorporated an eye patch into his outfit, as only Rob could.
We had been teasing you with hints of suckling pig for weeks. So how else to present them, but with the cardinal of New York ushering in a procession of suckling pigs before blessing them with holy water and inviting guests to enjoy the feast?
Dali welcomed VIP guests into the ballroom by – in true surrealist style – sabering a bottle of Champagne with a samurai sword. And one of our favorite moments: as guests sipped bubbles, Dali assembled naked models into his infamous Dali’s Skull, while Josephine Baker brought to life her sexy banana dance.
We transformed Sleep No More’s ethereal salt/deer room into a private dining room, treating guests to dinner with Einstein, Dali and Baker, with tables covered in offal and slimy eels. Later, we spotted Josh Ozersky shouting on a soap box, before hitting up the dance floor to the jazzy tunes of the Drew Nugent and The Midnight Society - the man sure has some moves. In another corner, a chastised chef peeled carrots, endlessly. Nevertheless, those crudité were delicious.
We sent random VIP guests on secret flashlight tours of the McKittrick Hotel, where they enjoyed two speciality shots on a private floor. And in true celebratory style, one VIP held the keys to the kingdom, in this case, the chest of wonder, revealing a bottle of 18-year-old vintage Glenmorangie and an original program from the 1939 World’s Fair.
Oh, what a night. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who attended our launch. Here’s to many more unique culinary adventures.
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