Paris on the Hudson

When a nephew’s wedding in June brought us north to Poughkeepsie for a weekend of festivities, we thought it the perfect time to squeeze in a visit to the CIA–not to the Central Intelligence Agency, but to the legendary Culinary Institute of America. So it was we arrived on a Saturday morning at the campus in Hyde Park, not knowing exactly what to expect, but having been forewarned by a desk clerk at the hotel that reservations for the dining rooms, be it for lunch or dinner, were hard to come by.

Arriving slightly after 10 in the morning, the campus was blissfully quiet, with only a handful of students in their buttoned-up white jackets and checkered pants up and about. Magnificently sited overlooking the Hudson River, the campus gives the impression of being well-cared for with good signage for visitors, broad esplanades and handsome buildings, both old and new.  

We head for the main building housing the specialty restaurants. Opening the front door, the sight of the long corridors, the magnificent woodwork and the shimmering tiled floors is enough to take one's breath away. This place is well-loved, no doubt about it.

Moseying down one corridor, we pass the Apple Pie bakery which is closed this morning before coming to the American Bounty restaurant where—lucky us!—we meet an engaging CIA student who, having graduated that week with an Associate’s degree, will be heading home to Chicago for the summer, before returning in the fall to work on his Bachelor’s degree. For the Associate degree, you either major in culinary arts or in baking and pastry arts. 

The other CIA campuses in St. Helena, California, San Antonio, Texas, and Singapore offer the two-year Associate's degree, but only the Hyde Park campus offers the four-year Bachelor's degree. Not only does he explain the intricacies of the programs offered at CIA, but insists that his professor, Dwayne LiPuma, who is busy monitoring students preparing the lunch menu, would love to meet us. Really? He insists.

And so it is we get the backstage tour of a professional kitchen—an industrial beauty with white tiles, stainless steel and a dozen red bonnets overhead as seen above. When offered a chance to have lunch at American Bounty, we reluctantly turn it down, owing to a late breakfast. Asking for a rain check, we promise to come back another time.

Wandering the campus we explore various dining facilities before discovering that soupçon of French style, the restaurant Bocuse, designated by Open Tables as one of the top 100 restaurants in the country for “foodies.”  In other words, as the Guide Michelin would say: It's worth the trip. Everything about the restaurant is gorgeous, see for yourself. Notice the classic roosters? I once has a pair in my own kitchen.

A notice says there will be a special three-course lunch served with French rosé wines on July 14th, Bastille Day. Now that's worth the trip. What do you say?

Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you next Sunday, when I'll have the coffee ready. Until then, may life treat you well. Remember, sharing is caring, so will you click on that little button below? I'd like to see if it's working. And wherever you go or whatever you do, have a happy Fourth of July!