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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Anniversary Lunch at the Culinary Institute of America

On a cloudy Monday in May, we visited the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY's Ristorante Caterina de' Medici for the second time.  Our first visit was for our 20th wedding anniversary and now we were celebrating our 25th. 

In the morning, we visited the historic Vanderbilt Mansion ( 

We had visited the home of President Franklin.D.Roosevelt ( in the past but never made it just a bit farther to the Vanderbilt Mansion grounds, though we believe we have seen it from a number of Hudson River boat rides.

The tour was wonderful, informative, our guide was fun and I was able to take quite a few photographs.  A new tour including "At your Service:  Behind the Scenes," will soon begin and we were happy to be ahead of the crowds.  However, the formal gardens though massive and beautiful were not able to be fully appreciated with limited plants in bloom.

Off to the CIA for a wonderful meal.

I especially love talking with the students.  For this trip, they were all new to the service area (front of the house) and our server was a mere 9 weeks from graduation.  The professor bustled about with limited expression as he corrected, assisted and pointed out errors.  We first enjoyed a "gift" from the chef, a strawberry wrapped in prosciutto and topped with chopped pancetta.  The perfect amuse bouche (though I often divided bite size portions in half to allow longer lasting enjoyment).

For me, a starter of beef carpaccio.  The common joke for beef sliced this thin may be, "It was so thin it only had one side," and it was exquisitely delicate in size while quite flavorful.

For my husband, a starter of more prosciutto.  It is a love we share and so we can't ever really have too much!  The tiny cornichon were not his favorite, but I enjoyed a sample.

Roast quail with sausage stuffing wrapped in bacon on a bed of spring risotto with peas.  For Monsieur or Madame?

The meat was succulent and moist, the stuffing savory, the rice creamy and decadent.

A medium-rare grilled steak with a side dish of....

Rosemary Truffle Fries with a creamy Parmesan dipping sauce.  The fries were perfectly crisp on the outside with a baked potato consistency on the inside.  Heaven in a snappy bite. 

Dessert was a take home order of an assortment of Italian cookies and Profiteroles.  I don't know why, but I expected the shmancy cream puffs to have a dignified coating of chocolate on top.  Though I may have missed it for a second, the pastry were prepared beautifully on demand.

A tasty field trip to remember.

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