My birthday was on June 9th and, thus, I have just turned 24. I haven’t decided how I feel about 24 yet, actually. It’s a year away from being a quarter century old (which, by the way, sounds much older than it actually needs to be. I mean, you’re only 25, after all) but it is too old to justify any sort of excessively moronic mistakes. I’m in my twenties-limbo, people. At least I got to let all of that age nonsense go for my birthday dinner at The Bocuse Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America. It was freaking delicious, so that helped back off all of those weird age-based fears, if only for a few hours.
We drove about an hour up to Hyde Park in New York State, and the drive was surrounded by a smattering of unfortunate strip malls stuffed with Planet Fitness locations and fast food restaurants. At first I was -er- concerned. Upon turning into the CIA campus, however, things changed rather rapidly.
The campus is stunningly beautiful. There are picturesque, almost etherial river views, stately campus buildings and, that fountain isn’t so bad. This is coming from a person who went to undergrad on a lake in Upstate New York. So, to be frank, I know a thing or two about a lovely lake view. This was just as good. Sorry, Hobart.
After taking an excessive amount of photos whilst looking like overly exhilarated tourists we found our way into the Paul Bocuse Restaurant. Did you know, in fact, that the students cook all of the food at the CIA restaurants? That makes this entire episode that much more impressive.
We were met with this most delightful cocktail of framboise, creme de cassis and sparkling wine. It was JUST sweet enough without tasting like a liquid candy bar, and had a clean effervescence from the sparkling wine. I’m going to attempt to replicate it at home, but it’s unlikely that it will be as splendid as this.
My mom and I didn’t split our dinner (I know right, someone probably needs to break out the smelling salts to awake you because you must have passed out from that declaration) and I went with the Citrus Cured Salmon, which was sliced thinly and served with a beet, carrot yogurt, cucumber, and green tea salt.
Well, this salmon was pretty much fantastic. It was obvious that the salmon was of a very high quality (none of that farm-raised nonsense) and all of the accruements settled alongside the salmon in perfect harmony.
My mom decided on the asparagus salad, and my dad on the sweetbreads, which looked (and tasted) pretty fantastic. I tasted some because, hey, I’m greedy.
For my entree I went for the fish of the day, which happened to be one of my very favorites. Halibut.
Besides the fact that the halibut was
perfectly cooked and I almost died from how delicious it was quite lovely, it had some of my favorite elements sprinkled on top of it, which made it even more fantastic. There was a welcome crunch from the Marcona almonds (if you haven’t had them you need to suck it up, open up your wallet, take a deep breath and buy them) a crisp, saltiness from the fried capers, and a bright, smooth, smokiness from the squeeze of grilled lemon. I almost died. Almost. Glad I didn’t, but I probably could have.
My dad ordered the veal, which looked very refined and lovely. Also it came with morel mushrooms, which I consider to be the high priest of the mushroom kingdom. Or possibly the Pope.
I’ll most definitely be back to the CIA. The food is absolutely unreal, the campus is beautiful and they make a ring-dinger of a cocktail. My only regret is that I wasn’t able to visit their bookstore. That’s only because I’m a geek, though. Birthday dinner = success.