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I'm still waiting for Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, or really anyone who works at the $60 billion company, to take me up on my offer of a lunch swap between the Food & Wine test kitchen and the Google cafeteria. But recently, two of my awesome colleagues, Emery van Hook and Kelly Snowden, did get a chance to lunch at Google's New York City offices. Apparently it's everything I've ever dreamed of and more. Here are their notes:
*As you enter there's a Chef Wall of Fame: signed head shots of all the chefs who have done guest appearances at the Google cafeteria, including, recently, Barbecue Nation author Fred Thompson. On the opposite wall, there are coolers packed with drinks. We left with Gus Dry Meyer Lemon Soda, Smart Water, Cosmic Cranberry Synergy tea (an organic, raw Kombucha—a handmade Chinese tea that's cultured for 30 days, and that we're told Madonna drinks!) in our purses; the drinks are all free to Google employees, and to interlopers like us.
*The cafeteria includes the following stations: The Chelsea Grill, a Raw Bar, a Ceviche Station, Antipasti, a Salad Bar, a Soup Station, a Spa Cuisine bar and one for Dessert. The only one we didn't hit was a Home Cooking station. Our plates were full. Nearly 50 local farms, seafood purveyors and sources of general yumminess are handwritten on a board near the Earth & Water station (where they serve a different fresh fish every day). There are also baskets of fresh fruit everywhere: yellow kiwis, prickly pears, apples and peaches.
From the Raw bar:
Shredded carrot and jicama with peanuts, ginger and grapes (one of the chefs told us she'd created the recipe that morning).
Zucchini "pasta" with sweet peas and a creamy pine nut sauce.
From the Ceviche Station:
Sesame soy tuna with rice noodles (large chunks of raw tuna—more of a tartare than a ceviche, but delicious).
From Earth & Water:
Pan-seared salmon with forestiere [wild mushroom] sauce and sauteed spinach with chive oil and garlic.
Pulled pork sandwich with raw cabbage slaw (Fred Thompson allegedly said it was some of the best barbecue he had in NYC).
Fresh prickly pear, beet and plum/apricot waters (pitchers filled with fresh sliced fruit and vegetables; the beet water was a gorgeous hot pink).
We eyed the lavender and honey whipped cream with fresh blackberries, blueberries and strawberries, but opted for Google It's Its (a natural, locally sourced, trans-fat-free version of the iconic San Francisco ice cream sandwich: vanilla ice cream between two oatmeal cookies, dipped in chocolate). There was also cinnamon angel-food cake, green tea madeleines and fresh peach and agave smoothies. We enjoyed (read: inhaled) our It's Its on the terrace, which overlooks the city skyline and has amazing views of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings.
And that's not all... Between lunch and dinner service, employees can snack from free mini-convenience stores filled with everything from organic gummy bears to cereal, yogurt, health bars, pretzels, bottled water and even some seemingly contraband sodas.