Wednesday, September 11, 2013

review: blue hill at stone barns.

I’ve spent the better part of the last 72 hours trying to figure out how to describe the meal the boy and I had at Blue Hill at Stone Barns this past Sunday.  I’ve struggled with the words because all I have are words and a couple of pictures to use to try and evoke the feelings that I had about that meal. 

The meal was nothing short of extraordinary. 

I have visited Stone Barns several times.  There is something magical about walking through the farms, watching cows graze on actual grass, the pigs lying in puddles of mud, the vegetables nestled in the greenhouses.  Watching the sun set there is breathtakingly beautiful.  The kind of scene a photograph can never provide justice to.   I’ve wanted to eat at Blue Hill for a while (and get married there for even longer but that's another story) now partially because Dan Barber is always spoken so highly of but mostly because Blue Hill is a restaurant that shares my feelings on food.  Food should be local, seasonal, and sustainable because food grown in that manner always tastes better. 

I won’t describe each of the 12 courses because I simply can't, it would be an impossible task.  Each course was composed of layers of flavors and textures.  Nothing tasted as it looked, instead flavors were pronounced and pure.  Bold and utterly beautiful.  Each plate came out looking like a piece of art work with droplets of vinegar that looked reminiscent of Jackson Pollack.  We were both blown away by the care and attention to detail that went into every component.  Presentation was the furthest thing from a second thought, presentation was of the utmost importance to these chefs since one eats with their eyes before they ever eat with their mouths.  I was in awe of everything.  

The meal was centered around tomatoes since we are currently in the throws of tomato season.  I ate tomatoes in every form - raw, roasted, smoked, and in a compote.  I forgot how much one can do with a single ingredient. How many ways it can be transformed.  How many ways it can taste.  I took notes under the table - dishes I wanted to try and recreate, flavors I wanted to bring into my own kitchen.  I was reminded of the importance crunchy components can bring to a dish.  (Rye breadcrumbs are my new favorite thing.)  I discovered that other people share my belief that meat does not need to be the center of a meal, instead a dish of smoky, slow cooked eggplant can take center stage.  

The moment that blew me away was when our darling waiter invited us to eat our last savory course in a different location.  I expected we were going to be taken to eat to the patio, but instead we were invited to the kitchen (the kitchen!) where I sat with my mouth agape watching Dan Barber and his team cook.  Watching a team of professionals, some of the best chefs in the industry creating beautiful food left me literally speechless.  It was truly the most special dinning experience I have ever had.  

A lot of people may question my sanity about spending so much money on a meal (heck, I think my parents do most days).  But for me it’s not a meal, it’s a 3 hour long performance art piece.  The quality and care that went into this meal cost more then what they charged us, and I wouldn't hesitate to spend it again (but not for another several months since I have yet to find a money tree).  

Blue Hill thank you for the most incredible meal.  

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