As the holiday hustle winds down, and we finally get to catch our breaths after seemingly endless weeks of planning and shopping and wrapping and housecleaning and cooking, a funny thing starts to happen to some of us: a sense of deflation, of loss of purpose. The kids have all that new stuff to play with; but what about us grownups? We need something new to look forward to over the next few cold months. What to do?
Luckily for foodies, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park always has at least a partial answer: the Winter Dining Series. January through March is the time of year when folks who can adjust their schedules to allow a memorable meal out on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday can enjoy the CIA’s world-renowned culinary expertise for much less than the usual going rate. Lunches cost $35 and dinners typically $55 to $65 per person, beverages included – with the exception of the American Bounty Restaurant’s 30th anniversary celebration on Leap Day, which offers dinner at the ridiculously low price of $19.82, sans drinks.
Besides relative affordability, what make the Winter Dining events really special are their unifying themes. Each lunch or dinner offers a tantalizing taste of the educational experience of being a CIA student, without all that hands-on mess.
Sometimes a lunch or dinner in the Series revolves around a particular ingredient, illustrating how it can be used in a soup, appetizer, entrée and dessert. Some examples would be radicchio, at dinner on February 2; game, at lunch on February 16; maple, at dinner on February 23; and coffee, at lunch on March 21. Vegetarians get their own Italian gourmet dinner on January 18. Then there are the mouthwatering regional repasts, including a lunch of Mexican food Mexico City-style on January 19; the cuisine of Alsace for dinner on February 21; an early St. Patrick’s Day Irish luncheon on March 15; and a Provençal feast for dinner on March 21.
Another popular organizing principle for the dinners consists of recommended pairings of food with wine or beer – or both, at February 1’s “Battle of the Barrels.” Southern Italian wines get the spotlight on January 31, South African wines on February 22, wines from Oregon on March 15 and the microbrews of Dogfish Head Brewery on March 28. These are just samplings of the CIA’s very diverse offerings, so checking out the full mouthwatering Winter Dining Series brochure at https://ciarestaurants.com/diningatthecia/seasonal-events/cia-dining-series/ is highly recommended.
These lunches and dinners are spread out among the CIA’s four on-campus eateries: the American Bounty Restaurant, St. Andrew’s Café, Ristorante Caterina de’ Medici and the Escoffier Restaurant. Also featured from January through March are the “Two-for-Tuesday” lunches, which start off with wine and appetizers at St. Andrew’s, then meander over to the American Bounty for more wine, the entrée and dessert. A centrally located, covered parking lot provides handy access to all these dining venues.
Many of these special meal events sell out early, so make your reservations now by visiting www.ciachef.edu/diningseries. Or call (845) 471-6608 on Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.