NYC: Blue Hill at Stone Barns (Apr. 2013)
Authors: Victor, Monte, and Simon
Exec Chef: Dan Barber
Date: April 25, 2013
We’ve wanted to try Blue Hill for a while now, and I finally made the reservation back in May. It’s located at Stone Barns around Tarrytown. It’s really easy to get there from Manhattan; you just take a train from Grand Central to Tarrytown on the Metro-North line, and then you just take a short 5- to 1-minute taxi ride from the train station.
We got there early, so they said we could just walk around the farm and check the different areas out. It’s pretty neat to be able to walk around and see different (and delicious) animals.
Look at these adorable, living lambs! (We had some DELICIOUS lamb later hahaha.)
Anyway, there are several tasting menus for dinner (with the max number of courses at 12), and we went with the 12-course “Farmer’s Feast”. We had been waiting quite a bit to eat here, so we wanted to try everything they had to offer for spring!
We started off with cocktails!
Front and right: Peanut Butter Flip (bourbon, p.s. cherry, porter, peanut butter, and whole Stone Barns egg)
Left: Blue Hill Horchata (scotch, winter wheat, almond, and cinnamon)
Back: Farmer’s Folly (“agricole rum”, dark rum, pastis, house-made falernum, and Granny Smith apple)
Monte: I really liked the lightness of the farmer’s folly. I’d normally go for whiskey, but this tart floral cocktail went great with the whole spring feeling of being at stone barns.
Birch whoopie pie.
Monte: The flavor is kind of woody, and the denser texture reminded me more of a carrot cake than normal cake.
Vichyssoise with root vegetables.
Monte: Someone at the table mentioned that this tasted like a nacho cheese dorito and I definitely had to agree that the aftertaste just reminded me of doritos! But the dish has “root vegetable” in its name so it must be healthier than a dorito…right?
Simon: It was extremely tasty. Texture was extremely soft, and had a nice cheesy flavor. Steven mentioned that it tasted like Doritos.
Root vegetables of the day.
From left to right:
Victor: I thought the cauliflower was amazing; I do LOVE cauliflower, though. Everything else was meh—this part felt kind of unnecessary, but I can see how it’s in line with the philosophy of the restaurant.
Monte: Definitely veggies overkill. Some of the plants tasted like they were ever so slightly pickled. The veggies were all very crisp, but I didn’t think they were the most amazing raw vegetables I’ve had. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I was kind of hoping they’d transform my conception of vegetables in a way that fruit from japan has redefined my conception of fruits. This is digressing, but fruit from japan is too darn expensive! You definitely get quality, but trading in hours of wages for a handful of strawberries is too pricey.
-Red: Carrot mustard sauce.
-Orange: Paprika sauce.
-Green: Phytoplankton sauce.
-Beige: Sauerkraut sauce.
Monte: The chicharrones were pretty crispy, and had a great hint of pork flavor. I especially liked the carrot mustard – it reminded me of a the flavors of great barbecue: smokey, sweet, and spicy. Ironically, I didn’t think the paprika sauce had that much flavor, much less the barbecue like you think it would.
Simon: We used the chicharrón like chips. The horseradish was not what any of us expected, very not spicy. The highlight was definitely the phytoplankton (dark green). It pretty much tasted like liquified/saucified seaweed.
Chilled lettuce soup with fresh farmer’s cheese and arugula.
Monte: This was quite the refreshing spring soup!
Simon: Tastes just like a Caesar salad.
Victor: This was one of my favorite beet-based foods that I’ve ever had. The texture and taste were just like beef—it didn’t taste beety! It’s sweet, rich, and juicy. The aftertaste continues to be sweet and rich, too. The one major flaw I can see this having is that it didn’t really accentuate the great taste of beets; instead, it made beets taste like amazing beef—this is arguably bad in that it doesn’t quite accentuate the great “vegetable” aspect.
Monte: Not my favorite beet dish ever, but pretty good. I have to agree with (steven? tad?) that it had the smokey sweet flavors of a sloppy joe. The texture was quite different, as the spongy buns made for a dense bite.
Simon: One of the highlights of the evening. Tasted almost like a sloppy joe. Amazing flavor and texture.
Grass-fed veal bone marrow with ramps, pancetta, and preserved lemon.
Simon: The lemon cuts through the richness of the marrow, while the pancetta provides a crunchy texture. Great course, but we all felt that there wasn’t much difference to a cow’s bone marrow.
Monte: I need more of these in my life. The fatty buttery marrow is my kryptonite, and I succumb to its presence. The ramps, lemon, and pancetta really enhanced the flavors too, making it even richer and lighter at the same time.
Victor: Do you think it’s important that it’s a veal bone? As supposed to a full-grown cow?
Monte: No, actually, I probably prefer the full grown cow since there’s just so much more marrow. I don’t think the sweetness of the marrow is affected by it being a young cow.
Butter lettuce with capocollo (or coppa) from Stone Barns’ Berkshire pigs.
Served with almond-and-saffron sauce.
Monte: I don’t really know how to describe fresh lettuce, other than saying it tasted clean and fresh. It’s not grassy, bitter, or anything else. Just clean, like a breeze at the ocean, but without the saltiness. The copa was amazingly velvety and fatty, and the saffron-sauce added a pleasant floralnness to the dish.
Simon: This was a pretty hands-on course. Scissors were provided to each of us. You cut some lettuce from the bunch, and have it with some of the coppa. We also could dip it in the dressing, which we finished every last bite of.
Hake, Maine shellfish, and green garlic sauce.
Victor: The hake itself was definitely one of the best pieces of seafood that I’ve had, but the shellfish was unnecessary—as a result, I can’t say that this was one of the best courses as a whole that I’ve had.
Simon: The fish was perfectly cooked, definitely sous vide. The green garlic sauce complimented the fish well, but the shellfish was distracting in this course.
Dan Barber recently started working with wheat, and he just created a brioche bread made from a hybrid of “Aragon” wheat and “LP3” wheat. Apparently, the name of this hybrid wheat is just “Aragon X LP3” haha (See link for info.).
Brioche with kale, Swiss chard marmalade, and black pepper (for seasoning).
The bread is served with freshly-made ricotta cheese from Blue Hill Farm (Barrington, MA) milk (which they of course mentioned came from grass-fed cows).
Monte: This cheese was like pudding. Just a giant glob of cheese pudding.
Simon: We spread the marmalade on the brioche, and then… this amazing fresh Blue Hill farm ricotta is layered on top of the brioche from the previous picture. The ricotta was the highlight for me. It was still warm, and very tasty.
Charred cabbage, crème fraîche, and American sturgeon caviar.
Victor: Apparently, the cabbage is placed in lard and salted pepper first and then placed on a grill with “bone charcoal” after. (Apparently, Dan Barber uses bones first for stock and then for charcoal—this is where the name “bone charcoal” comes from.)
Simon: The charcoal under the cabbage is not just made from the wood from the grounds, but also from bones and lobster bodies already used for stock, as well as corncob.
Monte: I thought the idea of roasting old bones until they turned into charcoal is super creative. But even more pleasant is that the smokiness really permeated through the cabbage, and made it really pleasant. The cabbage was very tender, sweet, and that extra smoke just made it delightful. The saltiness from the caviar was an extra cherry on top.
Simon: The cabbage tasted a little like corn, and the outer layer tasted like roasted sweet potato.
They demonstrated how they salt-baked the rutabaga.
-Outside: Salt, vegetable compost, herbs, and a bit of egg whites.
Monte: I loooove the speck here. This was as good as any jamon iberico I’ve had. Tender, fatty, and just melted on the tongue.
Simon: Visually this reminded me of prosciutto and melon, but flavor-wise was a miss for me.
Left to right: Butter, lardo, carrot salt, and beet salt.
Monte: Pretty great crispy bread, and when paired with the sweet light pillow-lie lard spread, it was heaven.
Simon: The highlight was the lard, by far. It tasted so sweet, and we couldn’t stop putting more on the bread.
Stone Barns egg, yeasted potatoes, and hops.
Monte: Not the most memorable egg I’ve had. The hops were just alright, I expected it to impart a more bitter/beer-like taste, but I must’ve just missed it.
Simon: This was a fun one. The yeasted potatoes tasted just like sweet fermented rice (酒酿).
Grated goose egg pasta with ramps and black trumpet mushrooms.
Topped with shavings from an immature hen egg that was aged and dried.
They chose goose eggs for the pasta because the eggs have the highest concentration of protein in the yolk, translating into greater flavor. The immature egg is extracted from the hen and cured so that the flavor can concentrate. It is then shaven over the pasta like truffles or cheese.
Monte: One of the best pastas I’ve had. Super chewy, rich, eggy, and flavorful. The trumpet mushroom added an extra level of richness that just made the whole experience decadent.
Stone Barns Berkshire pork (frankfurter, belly, blood sausage, and loin), broccoli rabe, spring Allium vegetables, and parsnip puree.
Monte: I kind of felt bad eating this, seeing as how we just saw the pigs in the back barnyard, but this dish truly embodies what it means to respect the animal you’re eating. If we sacrifice life, we should do something high quality with it, right? Every single element on this dish is awesome. Every part was just so porky, rich, salty, tender, and wonderful.
Simon: Each was amazing, favorite being the Berkshire pork and the parsnips.
Hudson Valley grass-fed lamb with leeks, Red Dragon radish, and beet blood.
Monte: Yum lamb. I think the lamb we had must’ve been especially happy – the meat was so delicious.
Simon: Loved this course. The lamb was great, and the beet blood was like a balsamic reduction.
Cow’s milk cheese from Redding, VT, with apricot-and-mango chutney and rye pretzel bread.
Monte: The cheese is a bit nutty and very creamy, and went wonderfully with the chutney and bread. It reminded me of the picnic basket from Eleven Madison, but with different cheese.
Pistachio sorbet, yogurt, and rose hip granite.
Monte: The pistachio was insanely pistachio-y. I dont think pistachios normally have such concentrated flavors, it’s like they just amplified the pistachio flavor times two. Pretty interesting, and the heaviness of the nut flavor really benefitted from the light rose granite.
Simon: The sorbet was extremely rich, though the rose hip did help.
Caramelized apple, white chocolate, and Stone Barns honey.
Monte: The frozen caramel appel cake was pretty great, and the honey bits stuck to your teeth – pleasant in its sticky sweetness and brought me back to my childhood.
Simon: I didn’t take notes from this point onward :(.
-Dehydrated apple slices, pink peppercorns with passion fruit, hazelnuts, rice krispies, and other chocolates.
Monte: These were sweet ways to end the meal, and I thought presenting it on a log was especially appropriate. I’ve never had a meal at a farm, but everything was truly local, organic, and most importantly, thoughtful. Everything about the restaurant really lets you know where your food comes from, and makes us a better diner for that.