Marist

Love and Lessons from the Hudson Valley

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My experience with The Valley Café over the last year has only made me fall more in love with the Hudson Valley. This region is full of history, hiking, crisp apples and waterfront views that would go unnoticed unless you were able to explore it for four years. I am grateful for my time to do this while at Marist College.

The Valley Café celebrates new cultures and cuisines with the fresh tastes of the local area. The farmers in the Hudson Valley and tri-state region are the cornerstone of this event and are worthy of praise for their dedication to traditional farming, green space and the community. These amazing local farmers teach us that the food we eat is tied to real hands and histories.

Therefore, The Valley Café is also a celebration of the region many of us have called home. It will always hold a place in my heart.

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I have enjoyed every bite of The Valley Café and exploring each story of the people and places where our food comes from. I am also incredibly thankful for my experience with Marist Dining Services over the past year. Chef Anthony, Ted Alban and the staff do a tremendous job at making personal health and environmental sustainability a priority in each and every meal. It is their dedication that will continue to connect students and faculty with the meals they eat once I graduate in a couple of weeks.

The Valley Café will return in the fall semester without me, but I will take my love for fresh and local ingredients wherever I go.

Happy dining, locavores!

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The Beauty of Tahiti

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Half way between Los Angeles and Sydney lies one of the world’s most stunning destinations: Tahiti.

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The French Polynesian island was formed from volcanic activity that left the land mountainous and surrounded by coral reefs. The crystal clear Pacific ocean nests quaint floating bungalows, hundreds of species of fish and peaceful canoes. The ocean-based culture has a large influence on the food that the Europeans and Chinese residents eat (as well as the many tourists each year). Seafood can be found in practically any meal and pork and fruits are very popular as well. The tropical flavors will be plentiful at tomorrow’s Valley Café with tons of pineapple, mandarin oranges and papaya.

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And as you eat your meal in the cabaret tomorrow (bathing suits optional) I hope that the view magically turns into this….See you then.

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(Photos courtesy of The Care Free Traveler & HQ Wide)

Bacon + Donuts ?

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Today I ate a bacon donut…and it was pretty awesome.

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It initially sounds like an unappetizing pairing, but the salty/sweet combination of the dessert is delightful. And this is coming from the girl who just yesterday admitted to not liking bacon all that much.

Today’s Valley Café was full of the best selection of comfort food from macaroni and cheese to sweet potatoes and crispy bacon. It was the perfect combination of recipes for a rainy afternoon. And that donut was a spectacularly unique ending. 

What did you think of the bacon donut??

Bacon Lovers

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My favorite sandwich at the nearby deli is a delicious combination of breaded chicken cutlet, bacon, melted yellow american cheese, romaine lettuce, tomato and chipotle mayo on a hard roll. I could eat it every day for lunch. Except, whenever I go to order my sandwich, I always have to say, “I’d like a Big Bird please, no bacon”. That’s when I see the judgment in the server’s eyes…What?! No bacon?!? Are you un-American?!?  To which I telepathically communicate back, I just don’t like it. 

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There’s not really much of a reason for my bacon indifference, but I have always been a bit self-conscious of the fact that I don’t share the same bacon enthusiasm as the majority of the American population. Lucky for you bacon lovers, this week’s Valley Café showcases the many ways of cooking with pork which does include plenty of bacon. 

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I am determined to give bacon a try during tomorrow’s lunch from 11:30 to 1:30. Chef Anthony never lets me down…

See you then!

Exploring Korea

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Korea’s most recent claim to fame has been the viral “Gangam Style” video by Psy. Regardless of your opinion on the song, you have to admit that it’s catchy.

But Korea is full of more than fun beats and silly dances. The country in southeast Asia is also known as the land of romance, the host of the next winter Olympics and the theme for this week’s Valley Café! Korean cuisine is a delicious blend of Asian flavors full of spices, vegetables and noodles. Come give the food a try tomorrow from 11:30-1:30!

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The Valley Café is returning the Korean theme after a popular response last semester. You can view my blog post from the past event here

 

Southwestern Spice & Everything Nice (or Breaking Bad)

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The Valley Café explores a lot of international cuisine from around the world; however, here within the United States there are just as many varieties of meals. Chef Anthony decided to design today’s lunch around one of our great states: New Mexico. Although an American territory, the state’s food is heavily influenced by its Mexican neighbors to the south. The southwest region of the country, in general, is a great place to taste authentic Mexican flavors without having to whip out your passport.

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The quintessential Mexico flavors were in abundance this afternoon from avocados to beans and rice…but the tastes of New Mexico wouldn’t be complete without some spicy ingredients. Jalapeno poppers were also found at the buffet as well as some papas con chile (chile potatoes). I’m usually very sensitive to hot ingredients, but this afternoon’s Valley Café was delicious with just enough spicy kick. It was a great way to experience a part of my country that I have never been to before.

Also, let’s not pretend like we aren’t all thinking about Breaking Bad at the New Mexico themed event

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…had to throw that in there.

See you next week for another piping hot, local meal!

 

Cooking Lesson: Fresh Mozzarella

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This week’s Italian Valley Café was a sell-out! The atmosphere was bustling and exciting as everyone enjoyed the tastes of southern Italy.

In addition, Chef Anthony was in the cabaret all afternoon turning fresh curd into a ball of stuffed mozzarella from which he was slicing pieces for customers drizzled in olive oil and garnished with a basil leaf. It was a great opportunity to see the fresh, local ingredients and kitchen’s culinary skills at work!

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But you don’t need to be a Chef to make your own mozzarella…just follow the Valley Café recipe!

1. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid to 1 cup cool water. Stir into 1 gallon of cold milk. Heat slowly to 90 degrees.

2. Remove pot from burner. Dilute a 1/4 tablet or 1/4 teaspoon of rennet in 1/4 cup cool water. Stir diluted rennet into pot for 30 seconds. Cover and leave for 5 minutes.

3. Check the curd. It should look like custard and the whey will be clear. If too soft, let set a few more minutes.

4. Now cut the curd into 1 inch squares with a knife that reaches to the bottom of the pot.

5. Place pot on stove and heat to 105 degrees while stirring slowly. If you will be stretching in water, heat to 110 degrees.

6. Take off the burner and continue stirring slowly for 2-5 minutes. Transfer curd to a colander or bowl using a slotted spoon.

7. Notice how the curd is beginning to get firmer at the whey drains. Continue separating the curd from the whey by gently pressing the curd to encourage the whey runoff.

8. Transfer curd to a microwavable bowl. Microwave for 1 minute on medium heat, then pour off the whey.

9. Knead and reheat for 30 seconds. Repeat if necessary until the curd reaches 135 degrees–almost too hot to handle.

10. Knead the curd as you would bread. If it is hot enough the curd will stretch. If it will not stretch, return it to the microwave as needed. Continue to pull and stretch. This will turn the curd into mozzarella.

11. Once the mozzarella appears smooth, form it into a ball and get ready to add it to your recipe or eat it as is.

Enjoy!

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