Sunday, June 05, 2016
A Gastronomic Adventure
The Culinary Institute of America is a very famous school where food professionals study. We had heard that a meal in one of their restaurants was not to be missed. We decided to have dinner our first night in Hyde Park at the CIA and booked a reservation.
Our choice was Ristorante Caterina d'Medici, the Italian site. Our first impression was that there were more waiters than there were diners! But that changed as things went along. The menu was wonderful and it was difficult to choose. Joe began with the marinated trout and I selected the buffalo mozzarella. Both were delicious, and the portions were just the right size. I'd had what I'd been told was buffalo mozzarella before, but this was something very special indeed -- so soft, so flavorful! Next I had the roasted duck and Joe the veal; again, our tastebuds were delighted. For dessert, Himself enjoyed warm chocolate cake and I chose the cheeses. We went home pleasantly satisfied with the meal as well as the experience. We'd engaged our waiter in conversation and he told us that he was close to graduation, had just spent three weeks cooking in this restaurant and would spend his final three weeks as a waiter.
The Apple Pie Bakery and Cafe is informal and doesn't require reservations. One orders at the counter and the food is delivered to the table. The array of gorgeous sweets was mind-boggling; we settled on a gigantic oatmeal cookie and a salted caramel macaron. We both wanted the quiche but it was sold out so we had to make a quick decision: one chicken club sandwich with a salad and one mac and cheese, possibly the best mac and cheese on the face of the earth. While we had our lunch, we discussed dinner. We'd made a reservation at what sounded like a nice place in Poughkeepsie. Munching on that cookie, Joe wondered if it might be possible to return to the CIA instead. While I perused the bookstore (to my credit, I made no purchases though I was tempted), he went to the reception desk and I came out to learn that we were dining at the Institute's French venue, The Bocuse.
menu. Again, it was difficult to choose. We shared the artichoke salad and followed this with salmon for Joe and lamb for me. Everything was scrumptious and we were so glad we had decided to change our plans. A gimmick at this restaurant is table-side preparation of ice-cream with a mixer and some kind of hydrogen, but we chose, instead, mascarpone ice cream and a small assortment of French cheeses. Our waitress was very personable and didn't call us "guys," always a plus in my book. She went out of her way to confer with the chef as to whether the pinot noir I'd chosen was a good match for the lamb (it was).
On Friday morning, after our private tour of Val-Kill, we went up the road where Joe toured the Vanderbilt mansion. By the time he emerged, it was noon and nearly time to start for home. But we'd need lunch . . . and as long as we were still in the area . . .
Alas, the campus bookstore was open as we were leaving, and yielded a couple of cookbooks, some very nifty decorative toothpicks, and a carrot stripper for our use at home.
We headed for home, happily satisfied, and vowing to eat nothing but vegetables for at least a month!
Posted by Nancy Stevens on Sunday, June 05, 2016