Rising castlelike from the western hills, the CIA in St. Helena, California, is one of the Napa Valley’s most historic and majestic properties—and it’s the site of today’s episode of Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking. Host Pete Evans visits the renowned school to collaborate with father-and-son chefs Larry Forgione, known as the Godfather of American Cuisine, and Marc Forgione, winner of The Next Iron Chef Season 3, who join Scott Samuel, a full-time CIA instructor. After putting their heads together on what can be locally sourced for their meal, the four chefs hit the Bale Grist Mill, built in 1846 and still grinding corn and wheat into meal and flour. Larry and Marc choose the mill’s corn meal for their polenta, which they pair with roasted squab from Payne Farm. Scott and Pete pick strawberries in the CIA’s lush student garden for a spicy-sweet chile-chocolate dessert to top off this pop-up feast.
A word from Pete…
The Culinary Institute of America is famous worldwide, not only for their amazing curriculum and producing world-renowned chefs, but also for growing organic sustainable produce for their students to cook with.
The institute is the location for our moveable feast where we team up with some amazing chefs—father and son team, Marc and Larry Forgione, alongside local teacher and whizz in the kitchen, chef Scott Samuel. Larry and Marc visit an old mill that still grinds cornmeal and ancient grains, which they will use in one of their dishes.
Meanwhile, Scott and I visit the CIA-owned organic farm and pick some leeks, kale, and strawberries for our dishes. Scott makes kale chips, which are basically eaten by all of us before they get to the table (sorry guys), and then he pulls together the most gorgeous beet salad dressing using oranges and vanilla.
Marc goes crazy with some of the local vegetables and cooks them submerged slowly in olive oil and his secret ingredient, lardo—cured pork back fat. His dad, Larry, is such a perfectionist when it comes to cooking his squab (pigeon), and rightly so, as it is one of the trickiest birds to cook just right. You will love his technique, and it is served with the polenta from the mill infused with garlic…yum!
I finish the meal with some strawberries from the garden cooked in local red wine, chocolate, and a pinch of cayenne pepper to kick it up a notch. It’s a stunning menu that gets an A+ in my book.