HVRW Fall 2014: The Bocuse Restaurant Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park

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Rolling up to this magnificent property still gives me chills. As a teen I wanted to become a pastry chef and this is the school to attend for those big dreams to become a reality. This restaurant along with the others on the property are run by the students and their master chef professors. Every few weeks the rotation of stations occur for the students and their final destination for the semester is the dining room service. Many are nervous as they are used to being behind the scenes.

P1030605Hi! Donna Monaco Olsen here, coordinator for the Taste of Westchester Continuing Education program for WCC to share with you from a wonderful meal during HVRW 2014. Being a food writer in Westchester, I have many favorite restaurants and chefs but it is always special to visit the place where so many of our local chefs have honed their talents. There is a strong possibility that a fabulous class may take place this fall at the CIA so stay tuned for the announcement.P1030566P1030578On our visits over the years to the CIA we have met wonderful young faces eager to please. On this occasion our student server Macarena from Mexico was superb. It turned out that this was the students’ second day serving and all seemed calm and thoughtful trying to remember each step. Our student was both personable and professional ending in giving us a copy of her recipes. She thought we might be interested as we had asked about the flavors and ingredients in each and every dish. She noted that although her passion was cooking she “loved getting to see the look on people’s faces as the food arrives.” That first look is so exciting as you discover each element thoughtfully placed on the plate. She can be seen here making ice cream table side which is a special highlight at Bocuse. It is served as Table-Side Ice Cream & Classic Treats Vanilla Ice Cream in a Waffle Cone, Butternut Squash Clafouti, Canelé de Bordeaux, Green Tea-Red Bean and Jasmine Rice Pudding Gâteaux, Date Cake with Pecan-Butterscotch Sauce. The ice cream is made with a hand crank using dry ice and served artfully in hand rolled cones. On this day we did not opt for the show but watched as so many other diners partook while video taping and snapping photos of the special presentation. Here I go again starting with dessert as I have always loved the fabulous presentation of an artful dessert.P1030571Here you can see the immaculate kitchen and student chefs through the dining room window, which we requested to be near. We were told that this semester has a small class enrollment. There were 14 student chefs and 5 student pastry chefs plus helpers in the kitchen for the lunch shift. They have the same menu for dinner and there are many choices. We will share those that we dined on. The dishes stated in bold type face were from the HVRW Fall 2014 Bocuse Lunch menu. We did order a fourth course consisting of two extra appetizers as we could not decide from the many options, hence needing a lot of extra dining utensils to accommodate.IMG_5184P1030573Citrus-Cured Big Eye Tuna ~Thon Mariné aux Argumes, Hearts of Palm, Haricots Verts, Hon-Shimeji Mushrooms, Chilled Basque Tomato Purée was the most succulent tuna we ever tasted, with a slight silky mouth feel accentuated by the Wasabi infused caviar, turning it a lovely green hue, and presented floating on a raft of vegetables. The tiniest white mushrooms had a sweet tart pickled flavor popping in your mouth. Slightly overpowering our lovely tuna was the tomato puree which was hand poured at the table to release the beautiful aroma.P1030577Jonah Crab ~ Crabe Dormeur, Compressed Summer Melon, Parisian Cucumber, Spicy Radish, Lemon Aïoli had a crumb that we had to identify. Our lovely waitress explained the process of turning brown butter to dust with the use of milk powder. While the crab was sublime the cucumber foam somewhat overpowered its sea taste. The tiniest cubes of melon offered us a glimpse of the level of knife skills coupled with the attention to every detail needed to graduate this culinary school.P1030588Torchon of Foie Gras ~ Torchon de Foie Gras, Apricot Compote, Black Plum, Muscat Gel, Candied Marcona Almonds, Brioche is beautifully presented. The plum sphere atop the Foie Gras is acheived by adding Agar (a gelatinous substance derived from algae and used as a vegetarian gelatin substitute for thickening) to the pureed plums holding in the sauce beautifully until it is pierced much like an egg yolk.IMG_5187Butter-Poached Lobster ~ Homard Pochée au Beurre, Sweet Corn Purée, Smoked Butter, Chanterelles, Chorizo-infused Broth  with a milk foam was the most delicious claw and tail meat experienced to date. The mushrooms were somewhat dehydrated to intensify the flavor. This was our favorite plate of the meal.P1030590Breast of Long Island Duck ~ Suprême de Canard, Hazelnut Purée, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Gold Beets, Balsamic Cherry Infusion had a familiar pairing of cherries with succulent duck breast. The skin could have been rendered a bit more for a crisper exterior but it was cooked to the perfect temperature. The sauce velvety and smooth can only be acheived by a highly skilled French trained chef. Simply delicious. One of us loved the hazelnut puree and the other did not. All in all a wonderful dish.P1030593Arctic Char ~ Omble Chevalier, Bi-color Corn, Garlic Scapes, Lima Beans, Pomme Lyonnaise Terrine, Shishito Pepper Vinaigrette which was hand poured by our wait staff allowing the aroma of the mild yet somewhat spicy peppers to waft. A well composed dish of slightly undercooked fish (as it should be), and a spectacular potato and onion rendition of the famous dish Pomme Lyonnaise all complimented by the “succotash”. This was our second favorite plate.P1030596The Mocha ~ Le Petit Déjeuner au Dessert, Mocha and Toasted Baguette Gâteaux, Sweet Butter Brioche and Concord Grape Confiture had a magnificent punch. Very chocolatey with a surprise coffee mousse center.P1030597Modernist Lemon Bar ~ Gâteau Crème Fraîche et Crème Citron, Crème Fraîche Cake, Lemon Curd Coconut Ice Cream, Tamarind Sauce was not loved. The rice cake cubes were a gummy texture made from Japanese rice called Mochi. It was however a light tasting cake and beautifully presented.IMG_5193We ended our meal with a treat of hand crafted sweets and French pressed coffee which were wonderful. Each time we experience this grand place we are thrilled by the combinations and overwhelmed by the attention to detail within each component on the dish! Congratulations to a job well done by both instructors and the students they teach each and every day!P1030602After lunch we walked the halls of the school where they were getting ready for a special graduation dinner ceremony. Here you can see through the viewing window what they were working on for the meal of their peers. On previous visits we have requested a tour of the kitchen and the school which are highly recommended.P1030603 P1030604 There is still time to get a reservation for HVRW Fall 2014. We are lucky to have the most amazing culinary school in our backyard producing creative and well trained chefs to support our ever growing hunger for fabulous food!

Go to: The Bocuse Restaurant at The Culinary Institute of America, Located inside Roth Hall, 1946 Campus Drive (Route 9), Hyde Park, NY 12538-1499  845-471-6608

Open: Tuesday through Saturday, Lunch: 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m., Dinner: 6–8:30 p.m.

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About Author

As a contributing blogger and the author of "Chef’s Tip", Donna Monaco Olsen recaps great cooking demonstrations from local restaurants. As the the coordinator for Westchester Community College’s Continuing Education program, named “A Taste of Westchester,” she writes the program, which offers more than 35 cooking classes each semester, and recruits chefs to do cooking demonstrations in their restaurants. She holds a full time position in the education field, and in her off time develops and contributes recipes for cookbooks. She is an avid baker and a former cake decorator who created many custom designed specialty cakes. Along with her husband, she reviews restaurants on Small Bites during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week.

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