Tag Archives: Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

The Perennial Plate: Episode 81

I skipped a couple of The Perennial Plate episodes (number 79 and 80) in my plan to cover their Real Food Road Trip from Season Two since Daniel Klein and Mirra were on a bit of a hiatus. So here’s Episode 81, which covers two of my favorite topics: growing food and New York City. And, one of my favorite places on the East Coast: Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.

It’s a Farming State of Mind.

A Farmer’s Feast: Blue Hill at Stone Barns

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.

Yearning for a Garden?

Teusink Neighborhood Garden, Holland, Michigan

Gardens have been popping up all over the country, partly due to the Great Recession, and partly due to the food revolution that’s occurring. From the White House to rooftops to local neighborhood garden plots, everyone seems to be getting their hands dirty these days. 

If you live in New York City, there are several opportunities in the area for gardening, according to The New York Times. These farms are “attracting locavores, green-minded students and urbanites suffering from nature-deficit disorder who yearn to raise produce and livestock for a day, a week or longer.” 

Farms that welcome volunteers in the New York metro area include: Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island; Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett; and Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills. In New Jersey, try Honey Brook Organic Farm. And if you want to venture farther afield, try Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont. 

If you want to grow your own plot of produce but don’t have space where you live, see what’s available in your community. For example, in Holland, Michigan, members of the Teusink Neighborhood Garden invite residents who live within a two-mile radius to rent a 4′ x 10′ plot for $15 from April 17 through October 16, 2010. 

To find a community garden in your community, check out the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA), whose mission is to build community by increasing and enhancing community gardening and greening across the United States and Canada. Explore the ACGA’s database of community gardens using their interactive map.

Happy Sheep at Stone Barns

This past week, the sheep at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture (in Pocantico Hills‎, New York) were moved from their winter barn to green pastures, where they will be moved daily to enjoy fresh grass as part of a diverse, pastured livestock rotation. At Stone Barns, they overwinter their adult sheep and then send them back out to pasture once the grass is tall enough for them to graze in the spring. They always eat a grass-based diet, so when they aren’t on grass, they are eating hay or alfalfa.

Stone Barns is a non-profit farm and educational center. Its mission is to celebrate, teach and advance community-based food production and enjoyment, from farm to classroom to table.

I just love this video because–in one minute–it shows the essence of raising animals humanely and happily. Watch how the sheep practically run to the fresh green grass!

I’m looking forward to my visit there in June! Keep an eye out for my upcoming blog post documenting my experience.