I had to privilege of ringing in my birthday at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a beautiful farm to table restaurant outside of New York City.
This place isn’t about the newest modern dining or any crazy flavors, but all about the freshness of the ingredients. The estate has special farm-related activities, but this night, we were here to eat. On the way from the drop-off area to the restaurant, we did get to see some squash along the fence.
I found out later that this is some kind of mutant squash bred at Cornell with a super thick shell and super light and crisp seeds so that the chefs can throw it directly into the fire, and then just split it open and eat everything inside.
The store was closed by the time we arrived for dinner, but that didn’t stop me from peering in.
I also spied on the kitchen from outside the window. What a creeper…
At first I thought the bouquets and vases were rather excessive for an outdoor bathroom, but I realized that’s the entrance to the lounge and bar area. I’m just used to being a dark park-like places where the only light is by the bathroom.
Ah drinks to tie us over to dinner… I wanted to drink by the fire place, but it had no fire!
The dining room has a giant barn shaped ceiling with dried plants hanging from a lattice. I spent the rest of dinner waiting for a frond to drop, but alas it never did. Some of the wait staff did brush against the leaves though.
Before I go on to food, I would like to apologize for the poor state of my photos. The lighting was not ideal, and I was too lazy to edit so many photos.
Vegetables from the garden: Lettuce, radish, tomato (?), squash (?), tomato 8/10: Freshly picked fruit have a different crunchier, brighter, juicier, more vibrant flavor. These bites were lightly dressed with balsamic and salt, and it was perfection.
Corn soup with beer foam 9/10: love corn. I don’t even drink beer, but it tasted great. I normally think beer tastes like piss, but I’m glad that this didn’t taste like someone pissed on my beautiful corn soup. The slight bitterness and grain flavor brought out the slight starchiness of the corn, and the bubbles trapped some lingering flavor on my palate.
Pig heart pastrami 9/10: It tasted incredibly lean and clean. The flavors were great.
Pesto, pea shoots, and leaves 7/10: The pesto with tarragon was amazing. The creamy texture and bold flavor went well with the roughness of the raw leaves. I love pea shoots so much that I grow them on my windowsill. the ones at Blue Hill taste the same, but that’s not a bad thing. This just means that everyone should enjoy fresh pea shoots at home. The leaves that seemingly came from a random forest… I’m not such a big fan of. There was a particularly large one on the bottom of the arch that was quite bitter.
Yeasted potato with egg, and vichyssoise with pumpkin seeds 10/10: In case you were not aware, as I wasn’t, vichyssoise is a soup. The cube on the right is a solid. Was it a soup when I ate it? the answer is a resounding yes. The delicate cube, that was softer than the softest of turkish delights, gave way to a burst of green veggie cloud as I bit into it. It wasn’t firm like gelatin or heavy like cream – it was more like foam that held its form. Amazing. The potato and egg was good too. but come on… solid soup!
We joked that perhaps the flowers on the table were also edible… but I guess they weren’t since they weren’t served with shears!
Ham sandwich: 5/10 possibly my least favorite dish of the night. I didn’t even know it was going to be, but I did make a comment that the cracker like thing looked like a tree bark with blood splatter. The waitress was rather taken aback. the ham was dry.
Liver and chocolate 10/10: I don’t necessarily think this dish deserves to be the most famous from this restaurant, but it is, and it is amazing. Perfect liver mouse, impossibly thin chocolate wafers.
V9 5/10: “Excuse me, what’s that?” That was my response. I don’t drink V8 often. Apparently people who drink V8 think this is great. I’m just wondering why I’m drinking uncooked pasta sauce.
Mutant indigo tomatoes and goat cheese 6.5/10: If you look carefully in my blurry photo, you can see the purplish ends of the tomatoes. They were actually especially created/bred for some purpose that got washed out of my brain with the next swig of wine, but this dish was good but nothing special …other than the mutants.
Cucumber, caviar, and fish foam 8/10: I only tried to get this dish to focus 8 times. My phone thinks that the 2 dollops are eyes and keeps focussing on the condensation at the bottom of the bowl. My frustration aside, it was a surprisingly good dish. the cucumber was poached or something so that it was soft, almost like a blini. The fish foam was artfully done because each dollop of foam came in the same strange shape, and also it didn’t taste too fishy. No the fish flavor isn’t weird. Caviar is also from fish!
Pork and tears of the cantaloupe 8/10: I believe the formal name is “<something> of the pig and tears of the cantaloupe”, but I’m hard of hearing. Great slightly salted salumi that melts in your mouth, and the cantaloupe juice is very concentrated and sweet… like the middle part. Yum!
Bone charred goat cheese 6/10: I liked the vinaigrette around the plate with the dense consistency of the cheese, but I thought this dish was a bit out of place in the middle of the meal.
Warm fresh ricotta and brioche 10/10: Holy Mother of God. I have never had ricotta while it’s still warm. It was served onto a special slotted bowl, and was left to drain while we ate. Forget the weird pickled vegetables in the corner. I dream about this ricotta.
Surf and turf tacos 8/10: Very fun. Notice the sheers. That means the vase is food. I’m not sure if the flowers were food, but after some close examination, I found dill, parsley, and cilantro. The wrappers were thinly sliced turnips, that actually taste quite good as taco shells. The corned beef was overcooked. But I’d eat the lobster, dill, guacamole, and sour cream all day long.
We are headed to the kitchen! There’s a neat little table for 2 set at the edge of the kitchen. The hustle and bustle was fun. I liked looking around trying to identify the stations were our previous courses were made, and also what our future courses might be.
Snap pea sugar, lardo, and butter with bread… ummm I’m too full to wolf down lard on bread no matter how good it is. I did try a little bit. it was good. But shouldn’t this be at the beginning?
Farm egg with fava beans and speck 8/10: It was a great mixture of flavors. Due to the improved lighting, you can see the foods on it. I was paying more attention to the chefs running around honesty.
Annndd we’re back in the dining room for the proteins.
Berkshire pork with pepper marmalade 5/10: It’s very dry and tough! I don’t know if the pigs got too much exercise or it’s a problem with the cooking, but I didn’t like it.
Beef 7/10: It was jam packed with flavor but once again it was very gamey. This time they did explain that the cow got an unusual amount of exercise. the bounciness of the meat turned the whole course into an exercise. The sinews were still in the meat, and it was almost impossible to cut through them, and it was almost just as hard to cut around them. In the end it looked like the meat was torn from several different angles by bluntly toothed piranhas.
So we had just learned about the cows on the farm, and how Annabelle died. So the first thing out of my boyfriend’s mouth when he saw this was “Annabelle!” unfortunately it’s the same waitress who served us the bloody tree bark. She must think we are really sick people. Maybe we are, but that’s not the point. She explained that the females are for milk only. We’re eating baby bulls. Ahhhhh Annabelle’s son!
Birthday squash cake 9/10: Moist, cream cheese frosting, birthday candle.
Milk and honey 9/10: There were three different preparations that involved milk and honey. They were all very good. The honey was fresh from the farm, and I could not get enough even though I am lactose intolerant.
Tea! I got Bai Mu Dan, and my date got Sencha. It’s a nice to have tea with sweet desserts. I think it’s very calming for my stomach.
Dessert 9/10: Incredibly amusing display of foods. There are also petit fours hidden in here somewhere. There were things that were crunchy, creaming, sweet, tangy, all very fun. Just don’t get the edible twigs confused with hay.
At some point a grape ended up in my tea. Haha my boyfriend thinks it’s so funny that I didn’t notice he threw it in there! XD As if the wait staff didn’t think we were crazy enough already.
After a nice walk outside in the end-of-summer air, our pimped out ride arrived!! Thanks honey for an unforgettable birthday dinner!!