Friday, November 19, 2010

CIA, Day 3 through 5

The week flew by and though I didn't get to post each day, I'm hoping you got a sense of my week. I also thought that you might want to see some pictures of my classmates and some of the food we cooked this week.

To sum it up, I awoke each day at 5:30am to attend lectures on cooking methods and knife skills and to discuss why various techniques work or do not work. This was followed by several hours of slaving over cutting boards, stove tops and ovens while making several mistakes along the way. I loved almost every minute!

On Day 3 I was supposed to make ice cream, but the lecture ran long so I made the base (which was actually super easy) and then helped various teammates. Since we had the "night off" from an official dinner, a few of us went out to a restaurant in Rhinebeck that was widely recommended by various members of the school community. In one of the weirder restaurant moments I've ever had, a classmate found what we determined to be an animal tooth in her dish. Sadly, finding the tooth wasn't the worst experience at the restaurant. The staff's response to our "discovery" was non-chalant at best. Suffice it to say, if you find yourself in the Rhinebeck, NY area, stear clear of Gigi's.

The next day, I went into class looking forward to completing my ice cream and poaching a fish for the first time in my life. Lecture ran long again so I found myself running up an down between our kitchen and a kitchen in a different building that had an ice cream churn. Unfortunately all of the running around pushed me back a good hour. Despite the lack of cooking time, I still managed to slightly overpoach the fish! If it weren't for my teammates, Laura and John, I'm pretty sure I would have ended up with fish mush.

After the day's lunch, we each shared our thoughts on what we felt we did right and what we felt we did wrong. It was a great way to learn and share kitchen tips. We wrapped up with a lecture on plating technique and then it was off to our 3 minutes of free time before our final dinner at Escoffier, the French restaurant on CIA's campus. The food was terrific and the wines they chose for our dinner - a classic, dry, acidic and citrus-y Bordeaux white and a round, full bodied and balanced Cabernet driven red Bordeaux - were quite good. However, the real treat was the 30 year old white port I brought to dinner with me. I was introduced to the Casa de Santa Eufemia white port at an event I attended last year: Deep golden nutty, honey goodness with lovley oak notes to balance the sweetness. Almost everyone in the class enjoyed a little and it was a wonderful way to end our final dinner together.
Today we arrived for our final class consisting of "Culinary Jeopardy" and then our Team Market Basket Project. Earlier in the week each team was given a list of ingredients to put into a meal made up of an appetizer, a protein, a starch and a vegetable side. John, Laura, Wendy and I planned our menu earlier this week but unfortunately due to a family emergency John had to leave early. We should have scaled back our menu, but we were a little cocky after our "Culinary Jeopardy" win (thanks to knowledgable teammates with quick reflexes, I am now the proud owner of a set of beautiful measuring spoons). With some help from the culinary students sent in to aid us each day (long live Super James) and our chef instructor (we heart Chef Ski), we managed to produce: Prosciutto, Asparagus & Mozarella Roulades, Roasted Sirloin with a Red Wine Reduction, Roasted Potatoes and Leeks, Ravioli Stuffed with an Egg and topped with Pesto, Eggplant Gratin made with a scratch Marinara, Sauteed Cipollini Onions and Sauteed or Stewed Artichokes (all of a sudden Laura rolled them out - I have no idea when and how she made them). Some dishes were better than others and I was truly impressed with the dishes our other classmates turned out (I must get the recipe for the White bean hummus and the Waldorf wheatberry salad among other things).

After our final spread (to which I brought an incredible 9 year old Cote Rotie), we took some final pictures, we vowed not to eat any butter, bacon or heavy cream for the next several days and we said our goodbyes. I made one last trip to the book store and the local cafe and then hit the road with Wendy as well as our newfound local foodie friend, Rachel.

This was an incredible vacation. If you are interested in becoming a more confident home cook or just learning some new skills, I highly recommended a CIA Boot Camp. I also recommend you stay at a local hotel that has a workout facility. Though I did not even work off 1/8th of one daily meal, I worked out almost every day of boot camp which helped with some of the guilt!

Until after my food detox is done,


Alli M.

1 comment:

elliej said...

What a handsome group of people -- and good cooks, too! We went to Escoffier during one of our trips to Poughkeepsie. I remember we had to make the reservation about six months in advance, but it was well worth it. I remember having an exquisite meal. Welcome home! See you next week --