Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Real Beverage Symposium

By student blogger Stephanie Kirkland…

The bank and wealth of knowledge that I was able to walk away with from The Beverage Symposium held by The Culinary Institute of America is something that I have not yet experienced near to the end of my education. Being able to pick the brains of some of the actual leaders in our beverage and service industry was not something I could have had a chance to compete in a day, in any other venue.

In the first lecture, about Trends in Beverages, I was surprised to find such a variety of careers that were represented on stage - an ode to what can possibly be pursued in the beverage field. Just in hearing about each of the speaker’s stories and backgrounds is always nothing short of inspiring, just as this lecture had been. From it being “fated” that general manager Eric Ottoway was to end up creating craft beers, to struggling actor Brian Van Flandern supporting himself through that dead end career with stints in bars throughout New York City before finding his true passion. If there has been anything I have learned from those speakers or any that I have ever been fortunate enough to get to know, it is that no career has been what they expected or set out to be. Being at the right place at the right time, and with a stroke of luck had been their lucky breaks; it’s something that I need to continue telling myself as graduation quickly approaches.

As they continued to talk about what they saw in trends from consumers, how to purchase, and how media plays into all of these ever changing fields, I was left with the impression that not only were these people easily relatable, but they were learning as much from each other as we were from them.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Original Greenwich Village Food Tour

by student blogger Emilio

An important aspect of The Culinary Institute of America and one that attracted me greatly to this school is its proximity to New York City. My first time ever being in The City was actually a few weeks after arriving here to Hyde Park and I was blown away. Ever since, I have taken the train down as often as possible and each time there is an endless amount of excitement and adventures to fulfill. Because of the close proximity, there are regularly scheduled trips to New York City organized by the school and are always a good deal in terms of cost.  A few weeks ago I signed up for one these trips – an Original Greenwich Village Food Tour. What an awesome combination of words, “Food Tour” and “Greenwich Village,” I mean what else do you need to be happy?

After what seemed like a very short trip (leaving at 9 am on a Sunday equals sleeping on the bus) I arrived along with the 13 other tour-goers to Greenwich Village and were dropped off on Bleecker Street in front of Amy’s Bread. We proceeded to meet our lovely tour guide Sephrah. I won’t bore you with all the details of what we did and ate but I will give you a run down of my favorites.

Pizza @ Joe’s Pizza (7 Carmine St.)

Outside of Joe's Pizza eating a slice of pie
It's hard to go wrong with pizza but Joe’s Pizza is notch above most, which might partially be attributed to the fact that this was our first tasting and I was quite hungry. Apparently it was voted “best slice” in the city by some publication.  She made a point to emphasize slice since apparently there are better pizzerias that sell only whole pies, but that’s for another day. The crust was absolutely crispy on the very outside but still soft and doughy on interior. A lot of times a crispy crust translates to an overly thin and stale tasting crust that’s more like a cracker, but this was not the case for Joe’s Pizza. Although we tried a rather simple cheese pizza, it was honestly probably one of the best slices I have ever had which is understandable since they have been in business for over 40 years in what has to be a very competitive market. This was also the pizza shop that Peter Parker worked at as a delivery person during the Spider Man 2 movie!

Arancini @ Faicco’s – Italian Specialty Shop (260 Bleecker St.)

Faicco's - Italian Specialties
Arancini are Italian fried rice balls coated with breadcrumbs and are typically filled with ragĂș, tomato sauce, mozzarella, or peas. They are made at Faicco’s the traditional way using risotto as the base. We had ones that were made with parmigiano-reggiano and where absolutely delicious. Having been around for over 100 years, you can say that they know what they are doing. You can find everything from a basic pork sausage to fresh cut meats as well as eggplant parmigiana and other Italian foods. They also had interesting dried pastas and canned tomatoes and such.

Chocolate Chip Cookie @ Milk and Cookies Bakery (19 Commerce St.)

As you could probably guess, Milk and Cookies Bakery focuses mainly on serving delicious cookies that are made with high quality ingredients but they also have other treats available such as brownies and cupcakes.
The chocolate chip cookie we had was not only warm and delicious, but was made with rolled oats. According to Sephrah, this is done in order to help retain more butter in the cookie. You could say I am a bit of a chocolate chip cookie purists so at first I wasn’t quite fond of the idea of having oats in my cookie but it was actually quite delicious. Both the texture and flavor were excellent. It was crunchy while still soft in the center and wasn’t too sweet, but rather just perfect. Next time I’ll have to get some milk to go with it. 

We also visited the first farm-to-table restaurant in NYC (Home Restaurant – 20 Cornelia St.). It has an outdoor garden for dining in the back, which is apparently rather rare and unique to Greenwich Village as well as seeing the narrowest house in Manhattan and a few other fun sights.

Food tours are fun. New York City food tours are even better and going to a school that organizes such field trips for you and gives them to you at a more than reasonable price is best of all. I had a lot of fun and you will definitely see me on the next school trip to New York City.

Here is a list of the rest of the places we visited and what we had along with some additional pictures:
Olive oil tasting on bread and truffled popcorn @ O & Co.–Olive Oil Shop (249 Bleecker St.)
 Beef meatball with marinara sauce @ Pesce Pasta (262 Bleecker St.)
 Eggplant rollatini @ Rafele Ristorante (29 7th Ave. South)

Cheese tasting @ Murray’s – Cheese & Gourmet Foods

Cannoli @ Rocco’s – Italian Pastry Shop (243 Bleecker St.)
(sorry, no photo!)