Sunday, June 05, 2016

A Gastronomic Adventure

When we decided to take our trip to Hyde Park, in addition to all of the Roosevelt sites, there was another -- totally unrelated -- purpose. We wanted to visit the CIA!

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.

Friday was a cool day with intermittent periods of rain, and after our morning at Springwood, the Library and the Visitors' Center, Joe thought we should go back to the CIA for lunch before our afternoon tour. I didn't argue.

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.

The Bocuse is svelte and modern in appearance with a magnificent 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 . . .

. . . . though with no reservation . . . but that turned out not to be a problem because the American Bounty Tavern found a spot for us right in the middle of things. We shared a single patty version of this burger with garlicky fries and a nice green salad, topped off with a "small plate of cookies" that were served warm and wrapped in a napkin.

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!


Lori said...

I'm hungry reading this post! What a fun place to go! I've been to the Vermont Culinary Institute restaurant and had a blast! And the food was pretty fantastic too,

AnnieO said...

You do have the most interesting travels! What a great excursion topped with a lot of yummy food. I do not blame you for returning to the CI for multiple delicious meals!

Barbara Severski said...

How appropriate to be reading this on D Day, June 6th! My parents use to take picnics up to Hyde Park every year on this date to honor the days and times they were apart during WWII. This is our first year without our father~ we always celebrated this day and we always will!

Janet O. said...

You certainly got my mouth watering! What a delightful excursion!

Barbara Anne said...

Oh, serious YUM! My blueberries and cereal sound woefully humble, tho they were delicious.

Again, I want to travel with you and Joe!


LizA. said...

Ah, you're making me long for a visit to my old stomping grounds. I grew up not to far south of that area and used to visit Hyde Park and Vanderbilt's Mansion every couple of years. I also very fondly remember the view of them as we would sail past on our way to one of our favorite regattas every summer. I miss the Hudson Valley with all it's beauty and history.

Millie said...

The second best thing about visiting my son and DIL in Los Angeles is the places they bring me to eat. OMG. If you ever get out there, go to DOMA in Manhattan Beach.