Thanks to Mimi, I have decided that it was time for a food field trip. I suppose that strawberry picking sort of was a field trip, but this was different. This was a lot further, for one, and a lot more out of the ordinary. And it was a belated birthday present, and a ton of fun. Thanks Mimi!
Mimi and I left on Sunday night for an adventure to the CIA -- but not that CIA. When she first said she wanted me to go with her to the CIA, my first though was the Central Intelligence Agency. However, she was talking about the Culinary Institute of America. It was pretty much the coolest place ever.
First of all, this is a college where people learn about food. And making food. And anything to do with food. Having just graduated from college myself, it was strange to be in such a familiar, but yet foreign atmosphere. Even their math and history classes revolve around food. Their lecture halls even seem to have food as the focus.
Second, it was just a beautiful place. The buildings are amazingly beautiful, and it's right on the Hudson River.
Third, we got to go on a tour. It was amazing to look through the windows into these kitchens were students where stirring, measuring, testing, and listening to their professors -- amazing chefs themselves. Even their lecture halls seemed to have food as their focus. Unfortunately, I couldn't take pictures during the tours, but it was fascinating. Especially when we got to the kitchens where the food was going out into the bakery -- it was really like seeing what goes on behind the scenes in a restaurant.
Finally, we got to eat there. We ate at the Caterina de Medici Restaurant, which is obviously focused on Italian cuisine. It was also obvious that the students serving us were in their first day on a a new job; our meal took an hour and a half, and our waiter was very tentative. He brought us small slices of tomatoes and watermelon with basil and balsamic vinegar to start, then sesame bread. One of the specials was a pizza with provolone, zucchini, mushrooms and red sauce. I may have to play with this, because it sounds wonderful. I probably would have tried it, but it was an appetizer. We didn't do a full three course meal, so we got just a main course. Mimi got salmon with sweet and sour zucchini. I wanted to try something daring (which is not actually a typically me trait) and decided to get spaghetti. Now how is spaghetti daring? This spaghetti had balsamic strawberries mixed in with the chunky tomato sauce. And it sounds weird, but it was really good.
We both finished off our meals with chocolate lava cakes with vanilla gelato. Yum.
An hour and a half later, we left, completely satisfied and very enlightened. It was a wonderful day. I don't feel like I learned a lot about cooking, but I feel like I learned a lot about what it takes to be a trained chef or baker. Part of me wishes I could try this out for a while, but I have grad school to look forward to. I guess cooking and baking will remain a hobby. That's ok with me.
P.S. Look what I found!