Monday, March 7, 2011

Blue Hill at Stone Barns Part 2

The five-course tasting menu at Blue Hill was truly the perfect amount of food. We got to try all sorts of different flavors and farm-fresh offerings without stretching the limits of our stomachs too much. And while five courses might sound underwhelming, it really meant six amuses, three savory courses, a bread course, another savory course, then we added on a cheese course before dessert #1 and then the dessert amuse. It sounds like a lot, but most everything was just a bite or two of something fresh and unique. It was exactly what I was hoping for.

They pour a mean cocktail at Blue Hill. Much of the drink menu was house-infused, and I was intrigued. I had a perfectly balanced sparkling drink with beet infused vodka, Rob had some kind of herbal elixir. Thanks to this drink menu there are all sorts of science-y looking Mason jars of vegetables floating in vodka in our kitchen now.

And now, the food!

Amuse 1: Veggies on nails. Carrots, watermelon radish, cauliflour, and something leafy and green. I should mention right here that they didn't really do a great job of explaining any of the ingredients in the dishes... kind of disappointing. Anyway, I thought this presentation was really cute and fun, the veggies were insanely fresh and crunchy.

Amuse 2: Carrot juice shooters served in dirt. Kind of like a high-class V8.

Amuse 3: Dried veggie chip tree. There was sweet potato, and regular potato, but none touched the salty perfection of the green kale chip.

Amuse 4: Mini beet sliders served in a glass of seeds. Beety perfection. Unsurprisingly, it went very well with my drink.

Amuse 5: "Potato and leek." I don't know how they got it to taste like perfect melty tofu that dissolved into something that tasted like onion dip, but wow.

Amuse 6: Just a taste of charcuterie from the farm.

Course 1: Veggie pizza. Wood fired dough with cottage cheese and all sorts of farm vegetables. The mix of textures here was the most interesting to me: chewy, creamy, crunchy.

Course 2: Hake with seafood salad. We were instructed to scrape the seafood salad (lobster, shoots, octopus maybe?) into the hake and mix it up with the green sauce. This wasn't my favorite (it was pretty fishy, and parts of the salad were a little chewy) but I really did like the green sauce. Wish I knew what was in it. This really is a terrible food blog.

Course 3: This morning's soft poached egg in winter vegetables. I didn't know it at the time, but this was the dish I'd dream about. It's weird, because at first I was a little put off by the practically raw egg. Something about the way the eggy, watery texture mixed in with the herbalized oaty stuff below was really appealing. It's like poetry, right? I'm really regretting trying to write this without having any clue what I'm talking about.

Mid-course of bread. Hot, crusy onion bread from Balthazar Bakery served with butter from Ronnybrook farms and two kinds of infused salts -- celery and arugula. Finally, something I know! I should also mention that I had to listen in when they told the people next to us what it was and how they did it. The salts were a little overpowering, but a good idea. Honestly the hot bread with the melted butter just by itself was pretty perfect.

Course 4: Meat plate. (Clockwise from top left) Pork belly, polenta cake, pork loin, pork leg. Served with swiss chard and sweet onions. The leg was easily my favorite, followed by the loin. Very clean tasting pieces of meat, cooked to perfection. Swiss chard worked really well here.

Cheese Course: I added this on in a moment of weakness. It's not part of the traditional five-course farmer's feast. I don't care. It was good. The one on the left is a sharp cheddar, served with a sweet quince.... (he was hesitant to say "paste") to balance it out. The one on the right was creamy, I forget exactly what it was, served with bitter greens that enhanced its pastoral flavor. Beneath that was something we never quite figured out. Candied orange peel? It was sweet, gingery, citrus and tangy.

Dessert course: Maple ice cream with chocolate brioche. I need to learn to make molten cakes like this. I really liked the flour-y oats that were sprinkled on the plate. Made me think of tasting the raw ingredients left behind when you're baking. What, no one else does that?

Final dessert course, aka the Go The Hell Home Already course: little bites of chocolate with tiny chocolate milkshakes. The icey drinks were barely sweet, tasted like freshly melted, maybe 80% bitter chocolate and heavy cream. OK by me.

Aside from not really knowing anything about what I ate (I suppose the farm tour is supposed to be self-explanatory?), this was truly a top-notch meal. Two days later my mind still sleepily wanders back to that fresh morning egg. I'd love to come back here in the summertime to see how the menu has changed. At $105 for five courses, its really pretty reasonable. The trick would be the transportation and maybe lodging... I'll have to crunch some numbers.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns
630 Bedford Rd

Pocantico Hills, NY 10591
(914) 366-9600

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Blue Hill at Stone Barns Part 1

We really needed to get away this weekend, so I planned an impromtu weekend trip to Tarrytown so we could check out Blue Hill! We visited pigs, chickens, sheep and the greenhouse before heading up to snag bar seats for a 5-course tasting meal.

More to come...

Ice Wine + Flowers