While I was at the Culinary Institute in New York, I had the absolute privilege of staying in Rhinecliff, at the Rhinecliff Hotel. It’s a newly restored historic hotel right on the edge of the Hudson River, and my suite had a balcony that captured that view. I would like to tell you I spent lots of time gazing at the view, but honestly – I was leaving each morning before 6, running back long enough in the afternoon for a quick shower, and then heading back to campus for dinner. By the time I returned after our evening meal, the sun had disappeared and there was nothing to see…but I knew it was there.
That’s okay – my suite was fantastic. As was the hotel restaurant, and it’s chef, Brian Kaywork. Chef Brian is so passionate about the food he prepares, and it truly comes across in each and every dish he creates. On Sunday night, Brandy from Nutmeg Nanny joined me for a wonderful tasting menu prepared just for us at the restaurant. We had everything from a cheese course, to salad, to soup, venison, pasta, entrees, and dessert. While all of it was amazing, I think Brandy would agree – that pasta was phenomenal. It was so fresh, it screamed of spring. Chef Brian called it Trofie di Puglia al Prosciutto e Piselli – which translates as Spiral Pasta with Prosciutto and Pea. He was also kind enough to pass me the recipe he used. I had the ambition to make it myself, as is – but I’ll be completely honest – I just couldn’t. For one, the recipe confused the bejeezus out of me. I’m not sure I can even read it properly. Perhaps there is some secret chef code – but – I just couldn’t figure it out. However, I took his recipe and created a wonderful adaptation, minus the prosciutto, as my husband isn’t a fan of it, and it’s also pretty difficult to come by here in town. What resulted was a very flavorful, fresh pasta dish. Unusual flavors, especially when compared to the typical tomato based pasta dishes we tend to have around here. Seven has asked for it repeatedly…so moms, take note. If MY kid will eat it, I bet yours will, too. Give it a go!
Fusilli Pasta with Peas
makes 6 servings
- 1 pound fusilli pasta, cooked to al dente
- 6 ounces frozen peas, cooked in butter
- 12 pearl onions, caramelized
- Pea Puree (recipe to follow)
- 1 cup Fontina Cheese, grated
- 1 stick butter, melted
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- 4 ounces softened cream cheese or mascarpone
While pasta is still hot, toss with the pea puree, melted butter, Fontina, salt and pepper. Add in warm pasta water as needed to make into a creamy sauce. Once combined, add in cooked peas and pearl onions. Season with more salt and pepper as needed. Top with softened cream cheese or Mascarpone.
- 1 ounce olive oil
- 1 teaspoon truffle oil
- 1/2 sweet onion, minced
- 6 ounces frozen peas
- 1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- pinch of salt
Sautee the onion in the oils. Once lightly browned, add in the peas until they are fully warmed. Remove from heat, and add, along with all remaining ingredients, to a food processor. Puree until smooth, but be careful not to allow mixture to puree to brown.
Since you’re here, I thought I’d share a little more about the Rhinecliff. Like I said – some kind of great. It’s an unusual property, and takes a little getting used to. Being housed in a historic building is one thing, but being only steps away from the railroad tracks and station is another! Trains still stop here throughout the day, and you do notice when they pass by! Was it unbearable? Nope. I thought it was pretty neat! I was never woken from sleep – even in the middle of the day, though I know trains must have gone by while I napped. You may recall that Jon surprised me by showing up unexpectedly – he took the train and it pulled up right outside. Did I hear it? No. Not until he knocked on the door and woke me up from my nap! So – that should tell you something.
The attention to detail in the hotel’s restoration is astounding. Old mixes with new in a fun and functional way. My room was a sunny yellow with crisp white bedding, a large screen plasma TV (that I may have had on for about an hour the entire week), and a bathroom that was out of this world. My tub was a GEM. It was this giant vessel of a thing, and if that weren’t enough, it was equipped with a rainshower. Heaven. Pure, luxurious heaven.
I already mentioned how great the restaurant was, but beyond the actual food, the people were what made it even better. Our waiter was on top of things, and Chef Brian made his way out to chat with us throughout the dinner, which was a lot of fun. He’s a true food lover, and has such a great personality. I could have listened to him for hours! (And did – Brandy and I were at dinner for nearly 5 hours. No joke!) Another great person on staff was the young lady at the front desk. Only having a small handful of rooms keeps everything quaint and personal, and I really enjoyed talking with her each day. She always had a question about my class, or about me – and was ever constant in trying to keep me headed in the right direction. When you find service like that – keep going back! I fully intend to stay here again if ever in the area – and I do hope to be again. I want to head back to the CIA as soon as possible!
Well, here’s hoping you had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend, and are looking forward to an equally great week!