New York Detour: The CIA

When we first contemplated New York (the reason we went is in the next post, I promise!) we thought about flying. Then we thought about what a pain flying is. And then we thought about taking the train (awesome! we love trains!) until we realized it turned a 6.5 hour trip into a 14 hour one. So we took the obvious and fun choice - a road trip! In november, when the leaves are still golden and the sun is still shining until *ahem* 5:30 (we smartly escaped before the time change, but returned in the dark). Since we were going to drive, and since all I did all summer was read through my virtual ipad-high stack of culinary biographies and other funny food stories, the first thing that came to mind was not 'ooh...Holland Tunnel!' or 'fall leaves. pretty!', it was more like "We MUST. GO. TO. THE. CIA."

And so we did.

For those who don't read stacks of food books, the CIA is not, in fact, the american intelligence agency. It's better!

It's the Culinary Institute of America! And it's also my new favourite place.

We decided to fit it in our return trip home so that we could (A) avoid disgusting highway food and (B) take our time and not worry about how late we were getting to New York. And it was a perfect plan.

On Monday morning, we woke up in our Park Avenue hotel, grabbed a coffee, spent some time at Kinokuniya perusing japanese craft books and hit the road. Two and a half hours (and some ridiculous Monday morning New Jersey turnpike traffic) later, we took a quick left off the highway onto Chive Street (we also exited on Parsley Lane, cue foodie eyeroll here).

First impressions are everything, and this one definitely left me wanting more time (and $160,000 for tuition for their 8-semester degree program). Breathtaking views of the Hudson, spotless gleaming hallways in gorgeous buildings, chef's jackets everywhere, and even the café looked out over an adorable little courtyard complete with a working fountain.

The campus is really lovely, but that's actually not why we detoured here. It was (no shocker) the food that was our real motivation. I had heard great things about the Apple Pie Bakery Café, the one spot on campus that's nearly always open and doesn't require a reservation. It's also more casual fare, and perfect fuel for the remaining 5 hours of our drive back to Montreal.

We perused the menu and ordered a few small plates so we could get maximum tasting opportunities. First up? Truffled grilled cheese, served with freshly made kale chips and a truffle aioli. It put every grilled cheese I've ever made to shame. Deep, deep shame. And those Kale chips? If we hadn't ordered this, I would have paid any sum of money to take a bag on the road with us (and I'd like some right now, too).

Since we were very hungry when we ordered we paired this dish with a bulghur salad (sorry! so good I forgot the photo!) and a truffled pint of freshly cut fries, sprinkled with parmesan and sea salt. I should state for the record that we couldn't finish ANY of these orders (but almost!), and I refused to leave a single kale chip behind.

We followed our moderately gluttonous meal with the quick purchase of some macarons and other treats for later, and some desperate wishes for a carb-induced nap. After a quick wander around campus and a stop into the campus bookstore, we had to hit the road. I had a hard time leaving and I'm already plotting my way back. Who's up for a 5-day pastry bootcamp?