If I lived near the CIA (as in Culinary Institute of America) in Hyde Park, I'd go there every day for coffee and pastry, lunch or dinner. On a recent visit (I was in Poughkeepsie for my son's wedding), I only had time to wander through those hallowed cooking halls and visit the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe (it was too short notice to make reservations for a meal at the restaurants there). The cabinets in the hallway displayed antique sets of heart cookie cutters, carved wooden biscuit (cookie) molds, a collection of Twelfth Night charms found in the the traditional Twelfth Night cake, metal molds for sugar flowers, and more. And more. I fell into almost a sugar swoon. It's a wonderful place.
I was in heaven and I hadn't even walked into the bakery. The Bakery! Every item in the display case was sweeter and cuter than the next. I took a few photos before I was gently informed: NO PHOTOS. But the pot de creme baked in the egg shell and topped with cocoa nibs I had to have. I also bought the steamed gingerbread (served in a tiny bamboo steamer!), the apple butter cheesecake topped with candied Hudson Valley apples, and a pastry with Mexican chocolate and a homemade marshmallow on top. I passed on the 61 per cent dark chocolate tasting because I had to. All the desserts were in these sweet darling doll size portions though--and no, I did not eat them all at once. It was at least 24 hours before they were all gone.
They also sold jars of jam and caramel with fleur de sel (I bought two jars), various sea salts, and lollipops in exotic flavors! When we left (I was slumped in the front seat and a little sleepy but still excited) I also noticed that all the streets on the campus of the CIA are named for herbs. Parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme. I want to go back to a college where I can learn things like how to bake pot de creme in an egg shell, and how to make lollipops and my own caramel with fleur de sel. Useful delicious studies.
Check out http://www.ciachef.edu/ for more information on visiting.