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Blue Hill at Stone Barns – – A Farmers Feast

“Know Thy Farmer” is the motto, and you’ll be glad you do!

Stone BarnsIf you’ve never been on the property where Blue Hill at Stone Barns resides, you should. Located approximately 30 miles north of New York City in Pocantico Hills, this spread is full of life.  It is that life that gives itself up for a local and seasonal culinary experience.

Recently, Stone Barns was showcasing the best of what the season is offering at the moment.  If it is served to you, it most likely was raised/grown on the property.   This close-to-the-source dining and traceability dining is a concept that provides a wake-up call for your taste buds and culinary soul.

Chef/Proprietor Dan Barber was just given the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef. This is Chef Barber’s third award in three years.

The feast begins with a Chef’s Amuse which in this case were small glasses of a carrot mousse – – not overly sweet and yet woke up the tongue for more hours of eating to come.

Spring vegetables were served fresh from the greenhouse.  Greens and vegetables glistening just so lightly with vinegars and oils were presented on a “wooden brick” with spikes supporting each individual item.  The experience was so respectful to the leaf that it was necessary to “toast” with my dining partner to the experience, just knowing that it was just harvested for us and never had to travel more than a few feet from the garden to our table. Wine pairing was a delicious Holpzapfel ‘Achielten’ Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Wachau, Austria 2006.  Crisp and ready.

The kitchen is a very busy place and almost as large as the dining area itself. Greens are picked moments before serving.  It alters the experience.

BlueHill Kitchen

Cobia (think coy) arrived on an upright skewer deep fried and looking like the whole fish itself. They were approximately 4 inches long and you devour them head to tail. Not for everyone. It was crisp, not overly flavorful and was paired with rhubarb and what is referred to as a “pig’s ear vinaigrette.” The wine pairing for this course was a Domaine Des Hauts Chassis Crozes Hermitage Rhone, France 2007. This wine is mostly Syrah and has notes of black cherry, smoke and the nicely rounded tannins.

While in seafood mode, the soft shell crab arrived crusted in hazelnuts and served with pickled spring fruits. Again, in the world of eating the whole animal, this was round two. Wine served here was a Lietz “Rudesheimer Berg Schlossbert’ Riesling Spatlese Trocken Rheingau, Germany 2003. Crisp, not overly fruity and a great match with the crab.

The next course was a surprise and it was referred to as, “This Morning’s Farm Egg” paired with red fife, ramps, and a delicious speck. The yolk of a truly fresh egg is shockingly bright and the unctuousness of the fatty center does not want to leave your tongue. No wine pairing here, rather a Cranberry Lambic beer from the Defiant Brewing Company in Pearl River, NY.  The chill and the zing cut through the fatty fresh egg leaving your mouth quite zingy and refreshed.

Lamb neck (yes, lamb neck) arrived looking similar to a set of ribs.  The meat was tender and navigating the bones wasn’t overly difficult but not something most would be used to doing. This was served next to wonderfully al dente farro, freshly harvested asparagus and those short-of-season ramps. Sipping consisted of Faustino Gran Riserva, Rioja, Spain 1996. This blend in intense in color — think bright ruby red.  The nose was quite aromatic with slight notes of glycerine.  What contributes to making this wine so delicious is that it is aged 2 – 3 years in oak casks and then further refined in the bottle for four years before its release. Mostly Tempranillo but also with slight blends of Mazuelo and Graciano. A smooth and velvety wine working well with the lamb neck.

The final savory plate was the Stone Barns Berkshire Pig paired again with fresh asparagus and bordeaux spinach. The pig is so unbelievably tender with hints of smokiness and again, the “freshness” of this locally raised pig was evident in the texture and flavor. Talenti Brunello Di Montalcino Tuscany, Italy 2000 was the wine here. The wine presents ruby red in color, the bouquet is delicate with hints of vanilla and yet red fruit. Warm on the palate. A bigger wine which complemented the pork.

Three desserts were delivered to the table. First was tender rhubarb with an elderflower, cassis and quark cheese sorbet.  Absolutely delicate and delicious.

Second dessert consisted of Asparagus Ice Cream which doesn’t make one generally jump up and down to try, but was perfectly sweetened, the color was gorgeous and was served with a cake of parsnip, pine nuts, and pickled fiddle head ferns. A strange yet magical offering.

Finally, Frozen Mint Marshmallows (hooray!) paired with strawberries and a mint sorbet. A wine completed the meal consisting of a Macari “Block E” Chardonnay Ice Wine, New York 2005. This wine was a fun after dinner sipper. The nose consists of aromas of melon, pear, and even apples. A very “clean” easy drinking wine from Long Island’s North Fork.

Service was completely friendly, distinguished, and attentive. This is the place to go when you have that special moment, an anniversary, a milestone birthday, or you just want to drop a few hundred dollars and be carried away in a magical experience.

In addition, there is a beautiful bar area with wines by the glass, mostly starting at approximately $22 per. Also, they have infused libations such as macerating fruit in various vodkas.

Dining at Stone Barns is truly a unique experience and you pay for it.  The Farmers Feast mentioned above runs $125 per person with an additional $95 per person charge for wine pairing. So you’re in for $450 before tax and tip.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

630 Bedford Road

Pocantico Hills NY 10591

914-366-9600

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