Cooking with the Culinary Institute of America

by Joanne on March 11, 2012

A 9.3 mile run was a good start to a day filled with food, food, and more food.  I ran from the hotel down the main road back toward Napa. The traffic was getting heavier as time passed and the road was rolling and winding.  It was a good workout run followed by a wonderful breakfast. 

The Garden Omelet made with egg whites at the Palisades Deli Café.


After breakfast, the California Raisin Bread winners were on the road again to the Culinary Institute of America at the Greystone campus.


It was graduation day for one of the classes so the institute was alive with activity.  We took a tour of the campus which included the organic gardens.   A wealth of information was offered by Dianne Martinez, Garden & Vineyard Manager at Greystone. 


Edible flowers.


A seminar on Baking Trends for 2012 by Robert Jorin, CMB, CEPC, CHE.


2012 Trends:

  • Local meat & seafood
  • Local produce
  • Healthy kids meals
  • Hyper local sourcing ( eg Restaurant gardens)
  • Sustainability (there’s that word again!)
  • Children’s nutrition
  • Food allergy consciousness
  • Local beers and wines
  • Sustainable seafood
  • Whole grain items for kids

Running a little late, our tour guide Courtney, hustled us up to the third floor for a truly grand buffet.  There was as much, if not more food than seen on a cruise ship buffet.  To be quite honest, it was a lot better.


Professional plating presentations were offered for easy picking.  If you didn’t like the choice of pairings, you made up your own plate sampling everything and anything that could possibly appeal to your sense of taste.

I had found my paradise, being able to sample much more food than my belly could/should be able to hold.


I even made a killing at the dessert table.  Truly spectacular!

After putting on at least 5 lbs in one sitting, we made our way back downstairs for a culinary demonstration. Ah yes, breathing heavy, MORE FOOD!


Beginning with taste sampling of an assortment of freshly made jams.  At 12 o’clock and continuing clockwise:

  • Blackberry Balsamic Jam with California Raisins
  • Spicy peach –chile and Golden Raisin Jam
  • Strawberry-Rhubarb and Golden Raisin Jam
  • *Tasting the difference as well as noting any texture differences between the California golden and dark raisins.  Noting how you might use them differently for a variety of recipes.
  • Cinnamon apple raisin jam (*Guess who is going to make jar…no BUCKET loads of this one!)

From the jam discussion, our chef instructor, Rebecca Peizer took us through a culinary demonstration of three recipes.


Crispy Pork Carnitas Lettuce cups with spicy peach chile golden raisin jam


The next recipe, Pan Seared Scallop with golden raisin and caper beurre blanc, Cauliflower Raisin “Couscous”.  *The cauliflower is grated and par boiled to reflect the same texture as the traditional semolina couscous.  This dish was completely gluten free.


The final recipe, breathing a sigh of relief (no more eating – PLEASE!), Seared Tuna and golden raisin eggplant caponata with natural raisin puree.


Everything was pure 100% perfection.  Our chef presenter and her assistant Jeanna, both have blogs: (*culinary student Jeanna will receive her chef’s degree and pursue her career in food writing).

Chef Rebecca:

We moved on from Greystone to visit Rhine House at Beringer’s winery for a reserve wine tasting.  Our host, Dean, was terrific in his knowledge of wines and pairings as well as being most entertaining.


The wines were some of the best of Beringer.  Did you realize that with a good Cabernet Sauvignon, you can pair it with sour, salty but never sweet?  Interesting. Do the taste test on your own the next time you open a good Cab.  Use a lemon for sour, a little salt for salty, and big juicy sweet grape for sweet.  You’ll be surprised at the result.

From Beringer we made our way back to Greystone for dinner at Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant.  A special menu was prepared for us.

More wine:  Mumm Napa Brut Prestige.  Gallo Family Chardonnay.  Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chef’s choice of small bites to share.  It seemed out of the 4 dishes presented, everyone’s favorite was the red pepper basil shooter.  It was approximately 2 oz of soup.  We all would have loved a full bowl!


Choice of main course:  Strip Sirloin.  Sonoma Duck.  Finally, most of us chose the Seared Pacific Coast Ling cod.


Over fed and over wined, we left for the hotel where some continued the festivities downtown and others were content to call it a night.

This was turning out to be one of our most memorable, enjoyable, truly spectacular experiences, all thanks to the California Raisin Board

Are you tempted yet?  Are you working on your entry in the 2012 contest?  Here is the link for the application to professional, commercial, and student bakers. Get your aprons on.  Get creative.  Get baking!  Use raisins, golden or dark, currents, paste, or puree. Just use raisins.

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  • At 2012.03.11 20:50, Kathy Rutherford said:

    Wow Joanne!! What an amazing experience! My mouth was watering! The pictures were awesome! I am going to add raisins to all my dishes now. What is your next endeavor?

    • At 2012.03.11 22:33, Pam said:

      What an amazing time, looks like so much fun! A lot of the foods looks pretty healthy too 🙂

      • At 2012.03.12 12:27, Dana @ Cooking at Cafe D said:

        Thanks for the wonderful tour!

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