Wednesday, September 5, 2007


No, the CIA does not stand for the Central Intelligence Agency for me.

One of the pleasures of visiting my daughter just outside New York city is that we usually drive up to the Culinary Institute of America or the CIA, for lunch. According to Paul Bocuse, renowned French chef, it is the best culinary school in the world.

Their beautiful campus is located at Hyde Park, which is perhaps better known as the home of the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, which I have also visited on a previous occasion. The CIA offers food in five restaurants on site, with another in St Helena, Ca, in the Napa Valley wine region. On this occasion we had a booking in the St Andrew's Cafe, which is described as offering flavorful fare in a family friendly setting.

I think it's actually a bit better than that. The interior is comfortable, although it has a wonderful outdoor patio as well. The service is very good, although it is provided by rather gauche students who all rotate through the serving process as well as the culinary service. We had a very lovely young Japanese male server who obviously did not speak English very well, but he carefully described all the specials in his best formal manner. I, of course, embarrassed my family by taking photos of all the food, although I don't think anyone else even noticed.

So please join me for lunch at the Culinary Institute of America, virtually at least.

A very delicious Spinach Salad. Most of the starters were soups but the day was too hot for soup, to my mind.

My second course was Pork Tenderloin Medallions served with a mushroom sauce and what looks to be a couscous side dish. Delicious, of course. My notetaking was negligent at this point. No, I was not drinking wine. Teetotal remember. Just enjoying the food.

For dessert we ordered the Dessert Sampler for Two for myself and my daughter, while my husband ordered the cheesecake of the day. For some reason there was a very long wait, almost three quarters of an hour. Various waiters came by and offers apologies but still no desserts. Finally they appeared and we enjoyed them thoroughly.

When the server brought the bill, we noticed that they had omitted the desserts. We were not sure if they had "comped" the desserts due to the wait, but we told them anyway. Then followed the strangest course of events. One by one, the story moved up the chain of command till it finally came to the maƮtre d. Finally one server came back and said they were not going to charge us, because of the delay. But no bill and they still had my credit card. Eventually the bill and charge receipt, including the dessert charges by this time, were presented by the poor student, who had first said we were not being charged. He said if it was up to him they would not be included, but his teacher insisted. So this spoiled the occasion a little, although we were quite happy to pay. The desserts were delicious after all, but the mix-up with the bill was unnecessary if they had added them in the first place. Still it is a learning situation and the diners have to remember that. We will certainly go there again, as we have often done in the past.

The downside of the whole delay was that we no longer had time to visit Eleanor Roosevelt's house, which is also a National Historic Site. I guess we'll just have to go back there again. Too bad, so sad. Not.


Janice Thomson said... all looks so good Jmb. Those poor waiters/waitresses - a real learning experience for them I suppose. Um...what's for supper tonight - I'll be right over ;)

Lee said...

Oh! That all looks so appetizing and so delicious! I'm sure I would love going there,too, jmb. What a wonderful old building...and institution.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

It looks very plush to me! Great pics of the food and the desserts so prettily served. What a pity they spoilt it with the wait and then the mix-up over the bill.
You'll have to go back soon and tell us all about ER's house! Auguri.

RUTH said...

Shame about the mix up but I thouroughly enjoyed sharing a virtual lunch with you....I must admit I did have glass of wine with the main course :o)

Ellee said...

Even I wouldn't be able to resist those puddings, and I don't have a sweet tooth. Yes, they are great pics.

jmb said...

Hi Janice,
It was very good indeed, despite the service problems, which we never mind.
Hi Lee,
We always enjoy visiting this wonderful place
I think it's quite the place myself. I've never eaten at the poshest of the restaurants there but my daughter has.
Hi Ruth,
My daughter had wine with her lunch so feel free to join her.
Hi Ellee,
I enjoy mouthfuls of the different desserts on the sampler plate because I can't choose just one.

Thanks for visiting and commenting and regards to you all

Colin Campbell said...

I used to live in Washington and my wife worked in Arlington. I used to drive past the CIA in McLean very regularly. I always thought that it was odd that they had a public sign on the road. I thought that they were supposed to be secret.

MedStudentWife said...

Wow - you went to the CIA.

One of the things Ive often thought think about doing with my life is becoming a chef or something like that. I've looked into going to the CIA many-a-times (ie what courses they offer, every now and then.) The dream hasn't left yet - just on hold a bit longer *lol*

The food looks lovely (and soo yumy). And yes - the students do have to learn)courses - they s and prices)

jmb said...

You would just love this place. It's huge and beautiful and in the middle of nowhere. But I love going there to have lunch and I have been three or four times.

jmb said...

Hi Colin,
I know the real CIA is in Virginia and I always feel funny when I say the CIA for the Culinary Institute. I guess the CIA feels secure enough to have a sign!

Sienna said...

Oooooooooooooooo my goodness, I will trade you roast lamb for that!!


Mary said...

Hi JMB - long time no contact from me (recovering from op on leg which will take a few more weeks. No gardening or long walks, and my family are spoiling me - I'll have put at least half a stone on by the time I get back to work again) the food looks fabulous - I could just eat it - your pics are great, as usual. It's always a shame when there is a mix up over the bill, it does tend to take the edge off doesn't it?

jmb said...

Hi Sienna, I will trade you for the leg of lamb. I love lamb and have it often. Pork too.

Hi Mary,
I'm sorry to hear that you have had to have surgery. I hope it heals quickly. Your garden is looking beautiful despite your problems.

Thank to both of you for visiting and commenting

lady macleod said...

Oh my that makes me miss Q!

jmb said...

Hi Lady Mac, glad to see you back on deck again. I'm sure you'll see Q in the not too distant future!