Mezzogiorno and Plenty of Mozzarella

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Welcome back! Chef Anthony has designed a popular, mouth-watering menu to welcome everyone back to campus.

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On Tuesday, March 25th The Valley Café will explore southern Italy. Although as a whole the country is filled with an abundance of delicious meals, Italian cuisine differs from region to region. Southern Italy (or Mezzogiorno) is the end of the peninsula encompassing the regions of  Abruzzo, Basilicata, Campania, Calabria, Puglia, Molise, Sicily and Sardinia, with Lazio also considered a member by some. Tomatoes, peppers, olives and olive oil, garlic, artichokes, oranges, ricotta cheese, eggplants, zucchini, capers and fish are common ingredients in the south. These flavors will be found at The Valley Café in a variety of dishes including a Caprese salad from the island of Capri and one of the most popular Sicilian recipes, Pasta alla Norma.

The shining star of the Mezzogiorno, however, is fresh mozzarella cheese. This semi-soft cheese traditionally made from buffalo milk is known for originating in Southern Italy. Eaten best on pizza and in a caprese sandwich with tomatoes and basil (my personal favorite), the cheese is a wonderful treat. Home made mozzarella will be found in the dishes at The Valley Café on Tuesday…and also in an added feature.

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For the first time ever, The Valley Café will be offering a live cooking lesson during your meal. Chef Anthony will bring his culinary and Italian background together to do a demo on making fresh mozzarella from fresh curd. DON’T MISS IT!

Looking forward to seeing everyone again on Tuesday from 11:30-1:30!

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(Photos courtesy of The Lonely Planet and walksofitaly.com)

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Hudson River Fruit Distributors

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Apples were in abundance at this week’s Valley Café inspired by the Victorian household knowledge of Mrs. Isabella Mary Beaton. The apple soup, apples and rice, and butter apples were not only delicious, but also fresh from the local area.

Hudson River Fruit Distributors grows its apples less than 10 miles from campus across the Hudson River in Milton, New York and also just east of Poughkeepsie in Pleasant Valley. They are a vertically integrated company, meaning they do everything–grow, package, sell, ship and store the apples in order to ensure their produce is the highest quality possible. The Valley Café only sources from the best.

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The business was started in July of 1963 by Isadore “Izzy” Albinder who immigrated from Russia in the 1930s. When he arrived in New York City he bought a pushcart to sell apples in the neighborhoods around Brooklyn. After some time Izzy became frustrated by the low quality of apples, so he traveled north to the Hudson Valley and formed relations with the apple growers. Eventually, Izzy and his son Harold purchased land and a packing house that has since developed into Hudson River Fruit Distributors. Izzy’s grandson, Dan, and Dan’s daughter, Alisha, have since helped run the business which has expanded to over 400 acres of apple farms in New York and southern Vermont.

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The hard work and crisp local taste of Hudson River Fruit Distributors were apparent in Tuesday’s Valley Café meal. My friend and I were chatting with one of the workers at the event on Tuesday about how delicious the dessert was and she was very proud about how fresh the apples were, having been peeled and chopped and baked in the kitchen rather than defrosted. It is farmers like Hudson River Fruit Distributors that allow The Valley Café to keep the passion for fresh, healthy ingredients alive. And we are proud to support the local community in return.

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See everyone after spring break for more locally sourced lunches at The Valley Café!

(Photos courtesy of Hudson River Fruit Distributors and from the Valley Cafe Luncheon)

Dining with the Brits

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Confession: I’m obsessed with Downton Abbey.

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The fictional British series follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants as major historical events like the sinking of the Titantic and the outbreak of the World War I shift British social hierarchy away from large estates like Downton, reflecting the timeless battle between tradition and progression. The series has been popular in the United Kingdom, Ireland and the United States and has received critical acclaim from the film industry and Golden Globe and Emmy awards.

Some may question how thrilling a drama about a British estate can be…but it’s full of twists and turns and characters you fall in love with, hence my obsession. My semester abroad in England also probably makes me somewhat biased.

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Theoretically, the members of the Downton staff would have relied heavily on a book called Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management for all types of tasks on the estate. The book was written by an Isabella Mary Mason who began by writing articles on cooking and household management for her husband, Mr. Beeton’s, popular British magazine. In 1861, the supplements were published as a single volume book adding charming insight into Victorian domestic management and instantly becoming a bestseller. The 21-year-old provided incredible knowledge on running a household, but died young at 28 before she could barely run a home of her own. However, her book would live on to help people like the staff at Downton Abbey and it also became increasingly important as traditionally aristocratic women evolved to manage a home on their own. The Crawley girls, particularly Edith, develop independence through the series that could eventually lead them to Mrs. Beeton.

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This week The Valley Café is focused on the classic Victorian British dishes inspired by the cooking tips of Mrs. Beeton. Taste the English dishes served at Downton tomorrow from 11:30-1:30 in the Cabaret!

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(Photos courtesy of PBS and Vintagecobweb.com)

 

Buns and Bursting

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The season of Lent arrives this week for the Christian community and is celebrated in many ways around the world. I bet you’ve heard of Mardi Gras as a common festival of Lent, but do you know anything about Bun and Bursting Day?

This holiday in Iceland follows  similar ideas as Mardi Gras–indulging in delicious food before the ritual fasting of Lent. Bun Day is a 100 year old tradition in which the population enjoys warm, fresh-baked buns stuffed with cream or jelly and topped with chocolate. Children wake up early to enjoy buns for breakfast and also bring them to school for lunch. Adults enjoy buns provided by their company to add a bit of sweetness to the work day.  Bakeries all over Iceland usually make about 1 million buns for this day and many families make home-made buns as well. In the end, each Icelander eats, on average, 3 buns a day.

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After Ash Wednesday is Bursting Day (also known as sprengidagur). This day is celebrated by eating salted meat with peas until the point of near bursting. This is considered Iceland’s last proper meal before Lent, so the “bursting” is highly encouraged.  The meal traditionally consists of salted lamb with a side of pea soup.

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Tomorrow, The Valley Café joins in on the Icelandic celebration with a menu featuring the best of Bun Day and Bursting Day. There will be split peas with salted meat as well as potato salad and cauliflower…and you bet there will be plenty of buns.

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Join us from 11:30-1:30 in the Cabaret and get ready to Burst.

(Photos courtesy of reykjavik.com)

Prepare for Spring Break: Tips from Chef

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This week’s menu was packed with healthy dishes by Marist’s own Chef Anthony. Chef’s idea for the menu was to focus it around identifiable, local and relatively easy to prepare dishes. He was also focused on not making the meal itself scream HEALTHY, joking that then no one would want to eat it!

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But spring break is approaching and for many people that means bathing suit season after a long winter, so fitness seems to be on everyone’s mind…

When designing a well-balanced and nutritious meal, Chef Anthony adheres to general guidelines that can be applied to daily eating:

Eat a variety of nutrient-rich foodsNo single food supplies all the nutrients you need, so mix and match.

Enjoy plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetablesAnd don’t be afraid to get creative in how you incorporate them into your diet!

Control your portions Did you know the recommended serving of cooked meat is 3 ounces, similar in size to a deck of playing cards?

Eat regular mealsSkipping meals can lead to out-of-control hunger, which can result in overeating. So don’t be afraid to snack, just keep portions reasonable.

Reduce, don’t eliminate certain foodsYou don’t have to give up your favorite food if it’s high in fat, salt or sugar. Just moderate portions and how often you eat it.

Foods are not good or badSo don’t feel guilty for liking potato chips, apple pie or milkshakes.

Balance your food choices over timeMake sure you get all the foods you need in a reasonable a period of time.

The Valley Café always works to maintain its customer’s health, but enjoying healthy meals every day best starts with your habits!

What other successful healthy eating tips do you have??

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Eating Healthy for Spring

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Over the winter months we find ourselves snowed in and avoiding the harsh temperatures to sit in bed wrapped up in blankets, munching on cookies dunked in hot chocolate and awaiting the blossoms of spring. Winter is the ultimate couch potato month. In some ways that is the beauty of the cold, but it also can also encourage a more sedimentary lifestyle that may not always come with the best eating habits. By the time spring comes many people are not only eager for the warm weather, but also to burn off the winter calories and eat the fresh produce that is back in season.

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This week The Valley Café has designed an exceptionally healthy menu to help beat the winter blues junk food. Vegetables like cauliflower, zucchini, kale and spinach will be paired with classic favorites like chicken, potatoes and rice for a well-balanced and delicious lunch. And there will be dessert as well, of course. All made by Chef Anthony with your health in mind.

The Valley Café prides itself in the local farms that the food comes from, which is also an added health benefit. Local farmers grow their produce more naturally and the food is not exposed to heavy pesticides and other chemicals that are used in industrial farming practices. In addition, local produce arrives more fresh and full of ripe nutrients, unlike the items have that sat in the back of a truck for a couple of days.

Come celebrate the near end of winter with a change in your diet! Between a hearty menu and local ingredients, this week’s Valley Café will be the perfect kick off to a healthy spring. Join us for lunch on Tuesday from 11:30-1:30!

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Returning to Asia

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The past couple of meals at The Valley Café have returned back to crowd favorites from last semester, back by popular demand.

Indian cuisine on February 11th featured lots of spices–chili powder, cumin, cinnamon and plenty of curry. The tastes of Asia continued the following week with the eclectic Burmese menu from the country of Myanmar, featuring briyani, cabbage and noodles.

Asia offers ingredients and tastes that are very unique to our American culture. Giving them a try at The Valley Café is a great way to learn to love them!

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For more information, you can also read about India and the Festival of Lights and the cuisine of Myanmar in my past posts.

More meals to come!