Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lunch at the Bocuse

It  had to be the snowiest day in a while.  The stuff was gushing out of the sky in big wet drops - and sticking - oh geez - sticking.  But I had a date - a date for lunch at the new Bocuse restaurant, named for the legendary French chef who is considered, among other things to be the creator of novelle cuisine , at the Culinary Institute of America - the CIA in Hyde Park, NY.  Nothing was going to stop me.  Allegra (now why would I schlepp a dog along?) & I took off down slippery route 9 in my Subaru Forester - and true to its publicity -  all its wheels were on the road, working like crazy to keep us from sliding off.

We arrived, miraculously, just a few minutes late.   My dining companion,  CIA graduate, food writer, blogger, Marissa Sertich,  was at the table, with its  stunning view of the snow-blanketed Catskill mountains and the icy Hudson River, waiting with a smile.   Now, before I go any further - you know that the Culinary Institute is a school, and all of its 5 restaurants, from a cafe, The Apple Pie Bakery, that serves sandwiches, soups and salads to the utterly elegant - worthy of competition from any big city 4 star restaurant - Bocuse are student operated - with a little help from their chef/professors.  The waitstaff are students - all eagerness and grins.  

We  ordered a prix fixe meal that included an appetizer, entree and dessert.  We each ordered soup to start.  I couldn't pass up the opportunity to taste one of chef Bocuse's signature dishes, Soupe aux Truffes V.G.E.  The chef created the dish when, in 1975, the French president, Valery Giscard d'Estaing awarded him the Knight of of the National Order of the Legion of Honor.  The soup, beef broth with a tiny dice of vegetables, and slivers of  black truffle was served in its own Bocuse-designed tureen, topped with puff pastry, then baked. Crack open the egg-glazed topping and inhale the unmistakable aroma of truffles.  Marissa had lobster bisque, deconstructed, and served with snowy foam that mirrored the outdoors.

Entree choices were straight out of the classic French kitchen.  I had lemon sole with lemon sauce and steamed vegetables.  Marissa's duck a l'orange was a modern version of everyone's favorite - 1950s-1960s dinner party meal.   They were all well-executed, tasty and attractively presented.


Dessert.  Oh gosh.  Dessert is almost always my preferred course.  I usually ask for the dessert menu at restaurants before I order my entree.  Wouldn't want to spoil my appetite for dessert!     Marissa told me the the pastry chef/instructor was famous, and I can't remember his name.  He's brought the game, in all the CIA's restaurants up to a very high level.    I ordered Mont Blanc - one of my all-time favorite desserts.   I was not disappointed with what I was served - but it wasn't a classic Mont Blanc which is a meringue filled with chestnut puree and topped with whipped cream.   My dessert was a little chestnut-swirled hut, sitting on a pound cake foundation, filled with black currants and decorated with meringue sticks - a scoop of cassis ice cream sat beside it.  Very nice.  Marissa had  cheese cake - details not noted, by me.   Guess from the photo.  Tasted good too.  

I buttered a roll and asked the staff to wrap it up for me to bring to Allegra.  They did and graciously added a few extra rolls to the package.

The whole Bocuse experience was delicious, and a delight.  One that I recommend.

 Allegra's patience was rewarded with a buttered roll, and a chance to dash around the CIA soccer field.  She completely forgot that she had waited for me in the car.  Why did I bring her along?  For the company. 

By the time we drove back to Hudson the only sign of snow was on the ground  - the road was clear.  Mark Twain famously said about the weather in New England, "If you don't like it, just wait a few minutes."  He could have been talking about this part of New York State.


On Saturday, March 16th, Chris Jones and I are hosting a cocktail party, benefit, to give all the children in the Hudson City School district  an opportunity to attend the May 4th Book Festival AND have the means to buy an autographed book from one of their favorite authors.
Come to The Red Barn on route 9H in Ghent, 5 - 7pm for a drink, some really good snacks, and music.  A donation of $25.00 is requested.

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