01 February 2011

Weekend Getaway: CIA Part II

So many choices! There are four restaurants at the CIA- American Bounty, L'Escoffier, Caterina d'Medici, and St. Andrews Cafe. We finally decided to make reservations at American Bounty after much deliberation. A word to the wise- if you're planning to go, be sure to get online and make reservations early. The Saturday night seatings fill up fast, and we had to wait several weeks before we could go.

Everything on the menu at American Bounty sounded devine. For starters, I tried the cage-free Foie Gras from the Hudson Valley, while the Sailor ordered the carpaccio of lamb. As for salads...never has rabbit food tasted so delicious! I ordered the Warm Almond Coated Goat Cheese Salad of Frisée, which could have been a healthy option. But the dressing was lardon vinaigrette. The French cube salt-cured pork fat and saute or brown resulting a flavor like ham only richer. And, yes, although it was sinfully good, I did feel guilty about it and scheduled extra workouts later that week.

All of the food at the CIA is prepared with fresh, local ingredients, and is not only prepared by but also served by the culinary students. Students spend a portion of time in the kitchen and also a few weeks in the front of the house, interacting with the public and learning the ins-and-outs of the hospitality industry.

Some of the main course options included:

Slowly Simmered Beef Short Ribs served with Soft Polenta, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Mascarpone
Sautéed Skate Wing  with Fennel Confit, Anchovy Tapenade
Maine Lobster "Burgoo" - Maine Lobster Claws, Chanterelles, Carrot Froth
Roasted Berkshire Pork Chop served with Manila Clams, Chorizo, Citrus Gremolata
House Smoked Long Island Duck  prepared in Curried Onions, Spinach, Preserved Mango
Seared Sea Scallops and Wide Noodlesm Chanterelles, Melted Leeks, Meyer Lemon Broth
Creamy Butternut Farro, Roasted Pumpkin, Cippolini Onions, Arugula
Dry Aged New York Steak served with a Risotto Cake, Spinach, Maytag Blue Cheese

As a seafood lover, I couldn't pass up the lobster burgoo with the light sweet buttery carrot saucem while the Sailor had fork-tender shortribs. We were stuffed by the time the dessert course rolled around, but we couldn't possibly pass up the chance to try some of the concoctions prepared by the CIA's skilled pastry chefs, so we shared warm chocolate cake filled with rich dark chocolate liquid, served with pistachio ice cream. The whole experience was palate pleasure!

via Debra Argen

Upcoming classes at the CIA include Sweets for your Sweetie, Cooking for Romance, and Cuisine Aphrodesiac, in honor of Valentine's Day.

Can't wait to try making the chocolate mousse recipe from the Bistros and Brasseries cookbook. Looks easy, right?

Chocolate Mousse
      Makes 5 to 6 servings in 5-ounce glasses
5 large egg yolks
2 shots hot espresso coffee
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces dark chocolate, melted
4 large egg whites
¼ cup sugar
¾ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
Whipped cream for garnish

1.Beat the yolks with the espresso, sugar, and vanilla until a mousse-like foam is achieved, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the melted chocolate. Set aside while preparing the meringue.
2.In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites to a thick foam (you can do this with a whisk or in a mixing machine) and add the sugar gradually while still beating. Continue to whip after all the sugar is added until you have a soft, glossy meringue, about 5 minutes. Fold the meringue into the chocolate mixture in two or three additions, just until it is evenly blended. (The meringue will deflate a little as you work, but adding it in parts helps keep it as light as possible.) Fold in the ¾ cup of whipped cream.
3.Immediately spoon or pipe the mousse mixture into molds (stemmed glasses such as brandy snifters or wine glasses, custard cups, or soufflé dishes are all good options). Chill the mousse at least 3 hours before serving. Spoon or pipe a dollop or rosette of the whipped cream on top of each mousse.

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