Jho Does the CIA…for Lunch

7 Dec

The Culinary Institute of America, I should first clarify.  Although the people at this CIA also take their stuff very seriously.  Very, very seriously.

CityBoy and I decided to travel up to Hyde Park for a weekend in September, mainly to give CityBoy’s parents free rein at the apartment as they traveled through New York.  CityBoy had always wanted to visit Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s estate and I…well, I was game for anything (as long as it didn’t involve too much walking).

As we researched, we discovered that the famed CIA is right outside of Hyde Park, so we had to make a pit stop.  I knew we were going to eat good that weekend, given the reputation of the school, but I had no idea.


The main building at the CIA is impressively huge, originally serving as a Jesuit novitiate.  The campus spreads out over a meticulously manicured hill, with views of the Hudson River below.

Our plan was to walk the grounds on our own and have lunch in one of the on-campus restaurants that serve as a hands-on learning environment for the budding chefs.  You can watch the food prep just by walking the halls–students cook and chop and bake behind huge glass windows, making the whole scene not unlike a weird zoo for foodies.

CityBoy had to tear me away from the pastry station, where we watched a student roll out thin sheets of green crust using a pasta maker.

We ended up scoring a table at American Bounty, avoiding the long lines at the more casual (and more wallet-friendly) Apple Pie Bakery Cafe.  Luckily, we’ve become desensitized by Manhattan pricing and the menu was downright affordable for the quality and presentation of their food.

We started with starters, tortilla soup for CityBoy and a pear-goat cheese salad for me.

Exquisite!  I think we were so floored by how delicious and beautiful everything was that we forgot to photograph our entrees.

Later that night, we continued the decadence with another fabulous meal at Twist, which is helmed by CIA graduates.  I don’t know what was in these cheese twists, but I would happily mainline them.

CityBoy was a good man (and a smart one).  He let me have the last two.

The rest of our weekend was wonderful, taking in the FDR Library and Home and touring the Vanderbilt Mansion nearby.  I wished we’d had the time to bus up to Eleanor’s mountaintop retreat–it was touted as a pastoral haven.  There’s always next time.

Hope your travels fatten you up with good memories and good food,



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