Monday, July 1, 2013

What I've Been Eating -- Foodie Weekend in NY

I met Marissa when I joined Hall Council my first year of college. My goal was to become an RA, and Hall Council would look good on my student resume when submitting my application. Marissa was the president of HC, and a senior, so I only really knew her for one year. We'd become Facebook friends and kind of stayed on the peripheral of each other's friend lists for years and probably didn't really think about each other at all during that time. Then, after another Facebook format change, she started popping up on my newsfeed with pictures of delicious looking pastries and links to her blog, Dessertation. I discovered that, upon graduating our artsy-fartsy alma mater, she dropped out of law school and became a pastry chef, taking classes at the Culinary Institute of America. This was around the same time I'd begun blogging about my kitchen adventures, my passion for cooking growing every day.

Basically, she became my personal hero, and I told her such.

Pretending to be a chef while Marissa frosts a cake.
Not pictured: my white shorts, making it look like I have no pants on...

In the past couple of years following, we became Internet Foodie Friends. And this past weekend she invited me down to her home in Beacon, NY, to show me the CIA and all of the wonderful foodie places around the Hudson Valley. I was super impressed with everything we ate and I am now fantasizing about running away to Culinary School (or at least returning to some college for Food Studies) and following in her footsteps.

View from The Roundhouse

I arrived at about 8:30 on Friday, and after a quick change we went over to The Roundhouse for cocktails and snacks. The Roundhouse was where Marissa worked when she first moved to Beacon, as a pastry chef. She currently stays on as a freelance wedding cake maker, and is still friendly with the staff. Brandon, the head chef, brought us an extra little treat (in addition to the olives and french fries with truffle aioli we ordered, which were delicious)--Sour Patch Kid Sorbet. It was amazing! I am going to try to re-create it myself sometime, because I was so in awe of how much it tasted like the favorite candy.

Next up, Marissa and I were up early (well, 9am, early for a weekend) to go back to the Roundhouse to decorate a wedding cake. First, we stopped at The Beacon Bagel for breakfast. I love local little cafes like this, and the Lucy's Lox bagel was a great start to the morning, I could barely finish it! It was an amped up version of a traditional lox bagel, with jalapeno cream cheese and avocado on a garlic bagel. Messy, but amazing. Not pictured: a rich mocha that took me at least an hour to sip.

 I was too scared to offer too much help in regards to cake decorating--I compared it to my fear of holding babies, I'm too afraid of dropping them, so I'd be too afraid to ruin her wedding cake!--and we used the time to chat and catch up while Marissa explained what she was doing. I now know how to make Swiss Buttercream (which I snuck tastes of by the spoonful), and that I need to invest in a few basic cake tools to help my cake decorating skills improve.

Next, we explored the Culinary Institute of America campus. It's gorgeous. The endless kitchens and Hogwarts-esque hallways made me fall in love immediately and start fantasizing about enrolling there. I bought a book in the gift shop and ooh-ed and ahh-ed over just about everything. We wanted to grab lunch at Bocuse, a student-run restaurant, but we discovered that our shorts-clad legs would not pass the dress code, so we took a drive to Poughkeepsie with her finance, Howie (in his convertible), and her fellow CIA alum friend, Matt, to have lunch at The Brasserie.

Marissa and Howie made it their mission to make sure I didn't leave NY without sampling two things on my Foodie Bucket List: Steak Tartare and Raw Oysters. We had both at Brasserie! And the verdict? I loved them both!


I can see where they could be offputting to people--raw meat and live shellfish don't sound so appetizing on their own. But the oysters were perfectly briny and the suggested condiments just brought out the lovely seafood flavor.

I think the deciding factor on me enjoying the steak tartare so much was that it was served with little toasts to spread it on. Raw, mushy meat via spoon probably would have distracted me too much with texture. But, on the toast, the perfectly seasoned meat was amazing, like a really good pate. I didn't even register that I was eating raw meat.

We also had a wonderful beet salad with a tangy vinagrette and some large shrimp with cocktail sauce. It was a lovely, light lunch and a perfect stop mid-day that didn't leave us too full for dinner later.

A quick stop at The Hop for an appetizer and a few beers. I got a local cider (Doc's) and Matt was very excited about a beer he got that smelled like pomegranate.

For an appetizer, we shared an order of Pork Rillettes, which tasted like the classiest ham salad ever, served with crusty bread, a sherry vinagrette mustard, tiny pickles, and this amazing block of cheese that I ended up nibbling off the rind. The Hop was a very cool hangout, though I do wish they'd had a bit more seating. It was a bar and snack place but also a full beer store. Kind of a liquor store crossed with a bar. Very interesting, and I was tempted to grab a souvenir t-shirt to commemorate the occasion but decided to not. There's always next time!

Back to The Roadhouse for dinner on their gorgeous patio. I got lobster mac and cheese, which I'd never had before. It was lovely and so filling, but I do wish it had some sort of buttery crust, or was served in a crock hot from the oven. This seemed a bit more like stovetop mac and cheese (with fanicer cheese, of course) with bits of lobster mixed in. Great, and filling, but I was a little underwhelmed.

The rest of the table enjoyed their meals, and I found myself wishing I'd gotten the steak frites, as it had been my second choice. Howie let me have a bite and the marinade was just delicious. I would have asked for a side of that truffle aioli from the night before, had I gotten that dish.

Marissa got the ceasar salad and roasted brussels sprouts, and Matt got a falafel. Everyone seemed to enjoy their meals. The accompanying aioli on the brussels sprouts was really good. My drink of choice was another Doc's cider, but I found myself wishing I'd gotten a dark and stormy like the night before--they were very tasty and pretty boozy. Always a good combo! A sip of Matt's Pimm's with cucumber made me start mixing cucumber drinks in my head--my book will have a recipe for cucumber-infused gin and now I want to make a batch of cucumber lemonade... This weekend really got my mind on food and inspired me to try to recreate recipes at home!

Then we walked to Dogwood. At this point the amount of gluten/dairy in the mac and cheese was getting to me--as some of you may know, I have been trying to reduce these two things in a somewhat half-assed elimination diet, which I chose to ignore this weekend--and I was a little uncomfortable but welcomed the incredibly boozy margaritas they had. Note to self: drink enough booze, and you don't care that you have weird indigestion and are making secret farts all over the place... TMI?

Two spicy margaritas, and I was plenty tipsy for the remainder of the evening. I chose not to indulge in the snacks we got for the table, deviled eggs and "dog bones" aka hot dogs wrapped in puff pastry, but Marissa, Howie, and Matt all assured me they were delicious. They also sang the praises of smoked tabasco, which I now need to add to my arsenal of hot sauces if I can get my hands on some.

After another beer back at Marissa and Howie's house, I was fast asleep. The next morning we met up with some CIA students from Singapore, and had a great diner breakfast at the Yankee Clipper. I was stuck between the Copenhagen (eggs benedict with corn beef hash) or the breakfast burrito and I ended up with the latter. The diner was gorgeous and very clean--so shiny, it almost hurt your eyes when the sun hit it! The food was great, I can see why it's a favorite brunch spot. It reminded me of my favorite diner out in Western Mass, the Blue Bonnet, but how the Bonnet used to be, before the renovations made it more "modern." Le sigh.

Overall, it was an amazing weekend full of great food and even better friends. I was happy to finally hang out with my foodie hero, and both she and Howie were incredibly wonderful hosts. I hope we can meet up again soon!

Saving up my pennies so that I can take a class at CIA's Bootcamp... but with everything else I need to pay for, not looking likely so far. Times like these I wish I could make Kickstarter work for me, heh...

...P.S: Hey guys, just a reminder that Google Reader is shutting down TODAY :( I'm sad, because I use Google sites for a lot of online doings (blogging, email, picture storage), and it's nice to have everything organized and in one place. However, Bloglovin easily imports your Google feed, and so far I'm loving the fun interface and easy-to-use features! Some people are saying good things about feedly, but I'll stick with Bloglovin for now. If you also are looking for a new reader, and want to follow me, click the button below!
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  1. Jealous of all your noms, especially truffle aioli! I had triple truffle fries once, and truffles basically haunt me 24/7 now with their tastiness. Looks like a great weekend

  2. awwww!!! So much fun!

    omg truffle aoili!!!

  3. YUM! So much good looking food!

  4. Omg so much foood, so delicious looking! I'm so jealous!

  5. THat is an insanely crazy delicious weekend! I've been meaning to get over to where the CIA is to eat a meal of these days!