Let me take you back to the UK circa 1979 and and series 2, episode 3 of Fawlty Towers.
Basil Fawlty, proprietor of Fawlty Towers Hotel is playing chef to an American guest who asks:
“Could you make me a Waldorf salad?”
To which Basil, perplexed, tries to disguise his ignorance, responds:
“I think we’re just out of Waldorfs”
Later on, exasperated because he can’t find the ingredients to make the Waldorf salad, Basil Fawlty asks his wife Sybil:
“What is a Waldorf anyway? A walnut that’s gone off?”
She patiently explains to Basil that this salad is named after the Waldorf Hotel in New York.
And that’s where we were last night. I have to confess I didn’t remember this episode of Fawlty Towers, it was R who reminded me and I watched it earlier today on Netflix.
What a place. It is on Park Avenue at 50th Street and it’s huge! When you walk in you are confronted with some grand stairs and then you can’t help but look upwards to the incredibly high ceiling and opulent space. And as you continue walking you go past the Victorian clock, coming in at 2 tonnes, it’s a beast of a thing and so detailed in its decoration, it’s hard to take in.
We were there to check out the bar. Because we could. I couldn’t resist ordering the Waldorf Salad to eat at the bar, a high, smooth and rounded border to the well stocked bar and bar tenders who looked like they had been there forever.
Take a look at my photo below. Yes, it is a pile of apples, neatly cut up into match sticks with a few walnuts and grapes nestled underneath. I think I missed the celery, maybe it was disguised as an apple? Wondering what the circle with a hole is and what is poking through it? It’s dried apple with, I think, a sort of soft biscuit thingy. Technical, I know.
And the verdict? Well, now that I know that the Waldorf no longer uses mayonnaise and that my only experience of Waldorf salads to date is the mayonnaise laden version from Sainsbury’s, it explains why it looks nothing like I expected. But it kind of works, it’s pretty light but there are so many matchsticks (julienne, as they say) that it just takes forever to eat. I’d recommend stealing some steak from the person next to you (maybe introduce yourself first) as it makes a great accompaniment to all that healthy food!
Check out how to make the salad with guidance from a chef at the Waldorf on YouTube. Note how the presentation has changed since that video was made by Popsugar in 2011.