Home | Restaurants by City | Food Photography | Archive | Philosophy |




12:10 AM





A Week at the Culinary Institute of America (continued) - Conclusion, Hyde Park, NY, tasted on December 19-22, 2005  Well, our week at Culinary Institute of America Bootcamp for food enthusiasts (food nerds) is officially over. We;ve had posts introducing the week, as well as discussing the facilities, student life, the lectures, cooking, the food we made, and eating at the restaurants on campus. Here are the photo albums from the week:

06 cia main building.jpg11 grand buffet.jpg06 john fischer.jpg

21 mozarella prosciutto and roasted tomato terrine.jpg06 bruschetta with oven roasted tomatoes and fontina cheese.jpg08 flan.jpg

I tried to describe our week really honestly and in a balanced fashion. There were definitely ups and downs. Aside from the restaurant though most  of the inconsistencies stemmed from the issue of what level of expertise we had going into the class, and what our expectations were of the class.

Participants in the class ranged from a relative novice who had an interest in cooking in their own kitchen and trying recipes from magazines, to some folks who really enjoyed cooking and made a habit of taking on more adventurous projects like difficult baking or barbecuing, all the way to us who have made a habit not only of trying difficult cooking projects, but were mostly there to understand more about how the food we've eaten across the planet is prepared and what really goes into making it great.

I think the first two groups were pretty happy with the class. Those of us in the third group had mixed feelings about the class. We were glad we took it, and thought it was a great introduction to the environment. But I think all of us would prefer to take a pro class going forward. Ultimately it was about the quality bar for the food. The C.I.A. materials say that you need professional experience to take the Pro level classes. And to a certain extent I think for some offerings we have the equivalent of professional experience. The amount of eating and cooking we've done across the planet has just given us a different perspective. That said, that advanced chocolate class that was happening on the other side of the kitchen from us would clearly have been a stretch for any of us even with all out "experience". If we hadn't had some decent experience working with chocolate the class would have been a waste for us.

My take is as follows. The C.I.A. is simply an unparalleled experience when it comes to getting educated about cooking and food in North America. I think that everyone who loves food and professional cooking should visit the school. The facilities and environment alone will keep you entertained for hours at a time. Unless you're really confident in where you're at and what you'll encounter in their Pro classes, I think everyone should start with a bootcamp class. Go in with open eyes and recognize that the class will ultimately be what you make it. We asked to cook extra dishes and looked at the class as a way to get our feet wet and understand what the school could offer us beyond this one class. And besides, going with friends made it even more fun.

The folks at the Institute were a pleasure to deal with, genuinely interested in our feedback, and trying hard to make the program as positive as possible for as broad an audience as they could. Given the unbelievable success and growth they're obviously having at the school with the renewed interest in culinary education, this humility was surprising and nice. Frankly, I can't wait to go back. This time I'm going to try a Pro class. Don't be surprised if I come back after that class and tell you how hard it was and how unable I was to keep up. But we'll save that harsh reality for later. In the meantime, I'll fantasize that in that advanced kitchen, my latent cooking talent (as yet undiscovered) will emerge and shine. Please don't burst my bubble for now.











Tastingmenu is focused on superlative restaurant experiences from two perspectives: behind the plate and behind the stove. Tastingmenu is written by Hillel (professional eater) and Dana (up-and-coming professional chef) in Seattle, Washington.

Search tastingmenu





























  Garlic has long been credited with providing and prolonging physical strength and was fed to Egyptian slaves building the giant pyramids. Throughout the centuries, its medicinal claims have included cures for toothaches, consumption, open wounds and evil demons. A member of the lily family, garlic is a cousin to leeks, chives, onions and shallots. The edible bulb or "head" grows beneath the ground. This bulb is made up of sections called cloves, each encased in its own parchmentlike membrane. Today's major garlic suppliers include the United States (mainly California, Texas and Louisiana), France, Spain, Italy and Mexico. There are three major types of garlic available in the United States: the white-skinned, strongly flavored American garlic; the Mexican and Italian garlic, both of which have mauve-colored skins and a somewhat milder flavor; and the Paul Bunyanesque, white-skinned elephant garlic (which is not a true garlic, but a relative of the leek), the most mildly flavored of the three. Depending on the variety, cloves of American, Mexican and Italian garlic can range from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches in length. Elephant garlic (grown mainly in California) has bulbs the size of a small grapefruit, with huge cloves averaging 1 ounce each. It can be purchased through mail order and in some gourmet markets. Green garlic, available occasionally in specialty produce markets, is young garlic before it begins to form cloves. It resembles a baby leek, with a long green top and white bulb, sometimes tinged with pink. The flavor of a baby plant is much softer than that of mature garlic. Fresh garlic is available year-round. Purchase firm, plump bulbs with dry skins. Avoid heads with soft or shriveled cloves, and those stored in the refrigerated section of the produce department. Store fresh garlic in an open container (away from other foods) in a cool, dark place. Properly stored, unbroken bulbs can be kept up to 8 weeks, though they will begin to dry out toward the end of that time. Once broken from the bulb, individual cloves will keep from 3 to 10 days. Garlic is usually peeled before use in recipes. Among the exceptions are roasted garlic bulbs and the famous dish, "chicken with 40 cloves of garlic," in which unpeeled garlic cloves are baked with chicken in a broth until they become sweet and butter-soft. Crushing, chopping, pressing or pureeing garlic releases more of its essential oils and provides a sharper, more assertive flavor than slicing or leaving it whole. Garlic is readily available in forms other than fresh. Dehydrated garlic flakes (sometimes referred to as instant garlic) are slices or bits of garlic that must be reconstituted before using (unless added to a liquid-based dish, such as soup or stew). When dehydrated garlic flakes are ground, the result is garlic powder. Garlic salt is garlic powder blended with salt and a moisture-absorbing agent. Garlic extract and garlic juice are derived from pressed garlic cloves. Though all of these products are convenient, they're a poor flavor substitute for the less expensive, readily available and easy-to-store fresh garlic. One unfortunate side effect of garlic is that, because its essential oils permeate the lung tissue, it remains with the body long after it's been consumed, affecting breath and even skin odor. Chewing chlorophyll tablets or fresh parsley is helpful but, unfortunately, modern-day science has yet to find the perfect antidote for residual garlic odor.  

Browse tastingmenu


Home | Restaurants by City X | Food Photography | Archive | Philosophy |
Free eBooks: All About Apples | Autumn Omakase

More: Discussion | Cool Food T-Shirts | Ingredients | Markets | Recipes
Search | Blog FAQ | Other Blogs

Best of tastingmenu



City View
June 9, 2006
San Francisco, California

05-har gow.jpg


Entry: July 6, 2006

Blue Plate
June 8, 2006
San Francisco, California

11 macaroni and drunken spanish goat cheese.jpg


Entry: June 19, 2006 

L'Atelier de Jol Robuchon
March 31, 2006
Las Vegas, Nevada

07 roquette salad gaspacho and tofu.jpg


Entry: July 18, 2006



Browse by City


Boston | Chicago | Houston | Las Vegas | Los Angeles | Maui | New York | Philadelphia | Portland | San Francisco | Seattle | Toronto | Utah | Vancouver | Washington D.C.

Bangkok | Beijing | Hong Kong | Seoul | Tokyo

Amsterdam | Berlin | Italy | London | Madrid | Paris | Vienna


Browse by Month











A  S O N D





Comments, questions, or feedback: info / at / tastingmenu / dot / com
All pages Copyright (c) 2001-2007 tastingmenu.com

Last modified 12/14/07.