Friday, May 9, 2008

Adventures in Hyde Park, Part 2

When last we saw our intrepid editors, they had just escaped the smelly--if informative--fish class and where proceeding to lunch.
We went to the American Bounty restaurant for lunch. There are a number of options on campus reflecting the various cuisines the students learn. This one focuses on regional American dishes. After being in the classroom, the Deadline Setter and I were like "I'm so not ordering fish," but our handler said he was having the opposite reaction, which was interesting. He got monk fish, the Other AE ordered a black bean crepe dish which turned out to be vegetarian, and the Deadline Setter got a chicken dish that was served over warm coleslaw (I actually debated it, but we eat so much chicken at home that as a general rule I don't order it out). I had lamb chops with blue cheese polenta and succotash. I studiously picked out the Lima beans, which made me feel a little guilty since I had just spent the morning learning what goes into selecting them. But, come on, they're Lima beans. Everything was tasty. Mine was $15, which I thought quite reasonable for a lamb dish. We were told the restaurants aren't a profit venture, the goal is to have them break even. Really their purpose is an outlet for the food the students produce and to give them real life experience serving the public, even if the environment is slightly controlled since there is a professor there grading them.
Actually, our handler sprung the random question of what are you doing after graduation on one of our servers. He took it rather well, although I imagine when he asked if we had any questions he meant about the food. He said he was going to go on to learn about nutrition because his time there made him realize he was interested more in the chemistry of food rather than the preparation.
Of course, I ate like two chops and had to take the rest in a doggy bag. Still, going back is a viable option. Or it was until gas started flirting with $4 a gallon. It was an hour and a half drive, the gas would cost more than the meal!
After lunch we met with the president. The three of us peppered him with hopefully probing questions. It was interesting to see the high level view and nice to remember that college presidents are just normal people, which is a reminder I need sometimes when I have to call them. We also met with the chief financial officer and peppered him with questions too. They are planning to go from a progressive entry system where a new batch of students starts every 3 weeks to a semester based program. It will be interesting to watch that shake down.
Oh, and I never told you about that strange picture in my last Hyde Park post. I totally ripped it off the CIA website. It's a modern art sculpture made out of 800 lbs of CHOCOLATE. Now, as you might remember, I'm not so much into the modern art. But this one really moved me, or maybe it was the chocolate fumes coming off it....anyway, it was in the lobby of the admissions building. One of the professors made it, and it will stay there until it starts to melt. At which point it might get melted down and used in a new sculpture.
We wandered around campus some more and then I had a flurry of phone calls with Hubby because one of my brother-in-laws is a CIA graduate and a big shot in a national food service company so we were trying to figure out if I should name drop. (Later that evening brother chef called again and said that he was actually supposed to be on campus that day, but had to back out. How weird would that have been? And fun, to have him randomly find us. ha!)
Finally we went back to the American Pie Bakery for snacks before we hit the road. The Deadline Setter got a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich that was just massive. The Other AE and I got root beer float Sundaes. They were served in little mason jars and consist of a layer of frozen root beer, then a scoop of vanilla ice cream, more root beer, another scoop of ice cream and a topping of root beer. Very yummy. I've had root bee float Popsicles in the past, so had an expectation, which was happily fulfilled.
We also got a loaf of focaccia bread for Boss Man as a consolation prize for not coming in person. We were dithering over what to get, couldn't remember if he liked sweets and weren't sure if they would travel anyway. Then we remembered he likes to bake bread, so it seemed a reasonable option. And the most likely to survive the night.
All in all it was a fun trip and we even managed to include something about it in the magazine, so it was totally justified in the end.
Our trip was in mid-April. A recent article in the New York Times discussed unrest on campus and a no confidence vote in the president. We all read it and said, "wow, I totally didn't pick up on that." But then, we were escorted around campus and presented with people to talk to. So I don't think it was any real lapse on our part.

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