For me, going to Blue Hill at Stone Barns was like a pilgrimage. I’ve been reading about Dan Barber and his farm to table philosophy for about a year and planned to visit this locavore destination the next time I took a trip to my old stomping grounds of North Jersey.
Last weekend, I made the pilgrimage. Located outside of Tarrytown, New York, it’s a short drive from my friend Cathy’s house. She accompanied me to the “farmer’s feast” as they call it at Stone Barns.
But first, we took a walk around the grounds at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, a working four-season farm and educational center, where the restaurant is located. This is where the restaurant sources some of its seasonal ingredients, in addition to other local farms in the Hudson Valley. (I really wish I lived closer to this place. When we went to the visitors’ center, I picked up a flyer that listed all the programs happening in June and July–from tours to egg collecting to writers’ workshops!)
After exploring, it was time for dinner. Here’s the entrance to the restaurant.
There are no menus at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Instead, you have the option for a five-course or eight-course tasting menu–the farmer’s feast–which is derived from over a hundred ingredients and updated daily.
Cathy and I chose the eight-course tasting menu. But first, we started with a glass of champagne to celebrate our vacation time together. (Our bottle of Cristom Pinot Noir is breathing patiently in the foreground.)
From then on, it was pure locavore heaven. Although we took photos of everything we ate, there were so many tastes it’s impossible to include everything in this blog post. Here’s a sampling of what we ate that night. (To the staff at Blue Hill at Stone Barns: I did my best to name them from what Cathy and I could recall the next day!)
Grilled Fava Beans with Saffron Salt
Vegetables on a Fence
Mini Pea Burgers with Goat Cheese
Prosciutto, Asparagus, and Sesame on a Stick
Frittata with Capicola
Bologna, Pancetta, and Capicola from the Stone Barns Charcuterie
American Sturgeon Caviar and Veal Marrow
Red Fife Bread with Marmalade of Fresh Greens and Ricotta
Salad of Fresh Greens with Yoghurt
Fresh Bread and Butter with Variety of Vegetable Infused Salts
Blowfish and Sweet Peas with Mint
Baked Eggs with Herbs in Rice Paper
Pasta with Embryonic Egg Yolk Truffle
Pork Tenderloin with Salt Fat in Mustard Sauce
We didn’t end it there with a savory course; we moved on to the sweets, but it was getting pretty dark for photography by then. Our feast was rounded out with:
New Blueberries in a Cup
Raspberries and Cream
Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Bar
Honey Truffles with Honeycomb
Cathy and I had an enjoyable evening, leisurely eating our way through the farmer’s feast, and sampling myriad ingredients assembled with so much creativity–all in the presence of a very attentive wait staff.
During the feast, we observed Dan Barber mingling with guests in the dining room. At the end of our meal we were pleasantly surprised to be invited by Yates, our lead server, into the kitchen where we had the privilege to be introduced to Dan and have a peek at what goes on behind the scenes. This was the icing on the cake for me–to meet one of the people in this country who, I believe, is taking the right approach to growing, cooking, and eating happy food.
On top of that, he’s instrumental in his education and awareness efforts to help others learn how to make conscious decisions about everyday food choices by bringing the principles of good farming directly to the table.
Thanks to everyone at Blue Hill at Stone Barns who brought the farm to the table for Cathy and me, giving us an authentic tasting experience.