Foodie by April

Local restaurant reviews by an food explorer & enthusiast!

Culinary Institute of America – Hyde Park, NY (Part 4 – Dinner)

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Eggplant__buffalo_mozzarella__caterinaSmoked_tuna__piniolis__caterinaAlmond_raviolis__caterinaSwordfish__caponataCaterina_de_mediciGelati_trio__caterinaChocolate_pudding__caterinaCia_fountain

For dinner that night, we chose Caterina de Medici, which is located inside of the Colavita Center.  Though it’s located inside this Colavita Center, it’s just called that because one of the Colavitas donated money to the college – I thought I could buy some olive oil.  The ambiance of Caterina was warm and laid back…wonder if this is what Italy feels like.  I am going one day.  The decor of this place also was reminiscent of probably a better restaurant in Italy.  I actually felt more at ease in this place vs. American Bounty; not sure why, but I just felt more relaxed and at home. 

For the appetizer, I chose the buffalo mozzarella and fried eggplant.  I don’t know about you, but I had never had buffalo mozzarella before that night, and it’s so silky smooth and buttery.  You’ll feel let down from now on after you try the buffalo version.  My boyfriend had the smoked tuna with broccoli and pine nuts.  The presentation of both of our appetizers was gorgeous and he enjoyed his as well.

For the main entree, I chose the almond ricotta raviolis – OH MY GOD…the absolute best ravioli I ever ate!  Really.  It had some butter and thyme sauce and the combination of the almonds with the ricotta cheese was so different and tasty.  My boyfriend had the swordfish and eggplant caponata (relish).  He was very happy with it.

Dessert – I had the gelato trio, which was chocolate, vanilla and hazelnut – the hazelnut was my favorite.  He had their homemade chocolate pudding, and it was yummy!

Our time up in Hyde Park was very short (only two nights/three days), but it was worth the 100+ miles we drove to get there. Now I know where the great chefs learn to cook and can say I’ve been there, and tried the food from the chefs in training.  Thank god my boyfriend is a good cook, or we would be eating more frozen foods – either that or I’d really have to learn how to cook.  I am thinking about taking some classes locally for fun.

Hope you have an amazing meal soon.

Culinary Institute of America – Hyde Park, NY (Part 3-Lunch)

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For our second day at the CIA, we went to the Apple Pie Bakery for lunch; it’s another restaurant on the campus, but very casual.  We had to wait in line (across from the gift shop in Roth Hall) for a bit, since they don’t take reservations, but it’s THAT good.  My salad (pictured above) was gigantic and I shared a good portion of it with my boyfriend.  We both had the chicken and rice soup, and you could just tell it was made from scratch from the both; the best chicken soup we ever ate.  As you can see, we had to try their apple pie, which was very good.

After lunch we browsed in the gift shop for a bit before our 4 pm tour of their classrooms and partial tour of the campus, which was given by one of the pastry students.  I think her name was Erica.  It was very entertaining, educational and the smell of butter filled the hallways as we got glimpses of their classrooms (kitchens).  The CIA was started in CT after World War II, but they bought the property in Hyde Park in 1972 from a religious order of sorts (wish I listened better to our tour guide’s explanation).  Anyway, they bought the property for a steal back then – think it’s about 150 acres.  The property outside of Roth Hall overlooks the Hudson River, and it’s just beautiful. 

Culinary Institute of America – Hyde Park, NY (Part 2)

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Scallops__chanterelle__abPork_chop__wine_glass_abChocolate_cake__abPanna_cotta__ab

After lunch at the Crew in Poughkeepsie, we took an afternoon siesta to gear up for dinner up in Hyde Park, which is only 5 miles or so up rte. 9 north. We headed back to the CIA for dinner (for our first night) and got there a few minutes before 6:30 to make our way over to American Bounty.  This is one of the four upscale restaurants available at the CIA, but one is currently closed for renovations until 2013.  I looked at the menu way in advance because I’m picky and sometimes it’s hard for me to decide (takes too much time and I get confused with all the choices available).  As soon as I saw the scallops with the chanterelle mushrooms and wide noodles, I knew that’s what I’d be ordering. These were pretty huge and you would think that they wouldn’t have much flavor, since the smaller scallops are usually more pronounced, but these were sweet!  The combination with the mushrooms and the creamy, buttery sauce made this dish one of the more flavorful scallops I’ve had in a long time.  My boyfriend had the grilled center cut pork chop – probably weighed close to 12 oz. or more – it was gigantic looking, and he told me that he couldn’t eat the whole thing.  He ended up eating practically all of it, except for one or two bites.  

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the restaurant is housed inside of one of the buildings on the CIA campus, but when you walk inside it appears as you would expect a fine restaurant to look.  Towards the end of the students’ training, they spend three weeks in the kitchen and three weeks serving the restaurant’s guests.  By the way, the service was impeccable.  These students are not only learning to cook, but they are also learning discipline, respect and manners.  The food was served very quickly and our server came by to check on us, but not in a constant or intrusive manner.

As far as desserts for our first dinner at American Bounty, I had the chocolate volcano cake, and my boyfriend had the panna cotta.  The chocolate volcano was moist and oozed with dark volcanic chocolate that anyone would love – how can you not like chocolate?   

Being all dressed up and having dinner at this restaurant at the CIA had me thinking, wow, this is the ultimate in foodie experiences!  We both ate almost everything that was served to us for the first night’s dinner, and loved it all.  My clothes now fit a little tighter, but it was worth it.

Stay tuned to Part 3 of our CIA mini-vacation.  Here’s the link to their site, if you’d like to check them out:  http://www.ciachef.edu/visitors/hp/.  If you want to check out the menus, click on the restaurants tab.

End of Summer Road Trip to the Culinary Institute of America – Hyde Park, NY (Part 1)

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Blackened_chicken__crew_in_poughkeepsieChicken_club__crew_in_poughkeepsie

With limited time off from our jobs, we wanted to do something different for our end of summer mini-vacation.  Since we’re both “foodies” and constantly watch the Food Network, visiting the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) was a natural choice for our little getaway. Also, he’s Italian and comes from a family of very good cooks.  It was a three hour drive to get there from our place in Suffolk County, but the Hudson Valley was definitely worth the ride – and I got a break from the driving this time anyway.  You might be wondering why I’d want to go to the CIA.  Am I looking to go back to school for a career change and become a chef?  No.  Visiting the CIA was part of our food evolution, and we’re always looking for unchartered food territories.  This was quite an education and a delicious experience!

En route to Hyde Park, our hotel was in Poughkeepsie, but in doing some preliminary research, I found some “Alumni restaurants” listed on the CIA’s website.  These were restaurants that were run by CIA graduates, or I guess that the chefs are graduates of the CIA.  From this list, we chose the Crew Restaurant and Bar, which is located right on the main route in Poughkeepsie (Rte. 9, or South Rd) leading to the Hyde Park campus (about 5 miles north).  The link to the Crew is http://www.crewrestaurant.com/.  I had the Chicken Club sandwich wrap with a gigantic salad – the dressing was so yummy that I almost ate the whole thing, but shared a little with my boyfriend.  He had the Blackened Chicken Breast sandwich on brioche roll with homemade coleslaw – and it really tasted fresh!  My wrap was very generously sized, and after stuffing my face with the giant salad, I only ate half of it; saved the other half for the car ride home two days later.  The club was packed with tasty grilled chicken, egg, crispy bacon and a honey mustard dressing – just the right balance of everything.

The main event that day was dinner of one of the five restaurants at the CIA.  There are four upscale restaurants on the campus, but one is closed for renovations until at some point in 2013. They also have a more casual place called the Apple Pie Bakery. We were only staying in the area for two nights, so we chose carefully, and reserved our table for both nights at least a week in advance. Stay tuned for Part II of my End of Summer Road Trip to the CIA, and I’ll show you what we ate for our first night there.