Monday, March 15, 2010

Farm To Table

My family and I were supposed to visit Blue Hill at Stone Barns on Saturday night for my sister's birthday, but inclement weather relegated us to a pot-luck dinner in my bedroom instead. Luckily, the incredibly generous and accommodating staff of BHSB allowed us to switch our reservation to Sunday instead, and even pretended not to hate us when we showed up a half-hour late (we literally got stuck behind a bulldozer).

Blue Hill at Stone Barns can probably be credited for bringing California "farm-to-table" cuisine to metropolitan New York, even though the restaurant is in Westchester. Their sister restaurant, in the west village, sources most of its food from the Westchester working farm, and both spots have been doing so for some years now, starting well before local restauranteurs touted the virtues of heirloom tomatoes. So there.

As is customary at Stone Barns, we began the evening with a bit of local produce. Winter may be ending, but root vegetables still abound. Our amuse bouche began with baby carrots and bok-choy, both lightly salted. Next came deep-fried salsify and proscuitto, a tiny shredded vegetable tart, caramelized onion bread with whipped lardo and cottage cheese and butter and carrot salt, roasted beet sliders, chilled carrot soup, and a plate of coppa and speck. We opted for the five course menu rather than the eight course ordeal, the first of which was a lovely beet salad--red and golden--atop pine nut butter and served with greenhouse greens.

To underscore how much Stone Barns caters to the whims and wishes of its guests, I point to our wine selection. My father no longer drinks, which left only two adults, one of whom was driving. We didn't want to invest in a bottle and we don't really share similar wine tastes. My stepmother told Thomas, the Stone Barns Wine Director, that she prefers buttery chardonnays, like Kistler's "Les Noistieres." Presto: a bottle of the wine appeared at her side, with the friendly invitation to drink as much as she liked. That hundred-dollar bottle of wine cost us a mere $25.

As for me, I allowed Thomas to serve whatever he saw fit. That meant a 1989 Ehrhard riesling from the Rheingau, followed by a ribolla from Movia (a Slovenian cult wine), and a 1998 Brunello di Montalcino. With dessert? A 1979 Pedro Ximenez Sherry. All this for--you guessed it--another $25.

But back to the food. Beets gone, waiters arrived with round glass pyrex dishes containing one large Maine sea scallop and a cream broth with fennel, celery, octopus, mussel, and rock shrimp, a superior take on chowder. Our egg course, enjoyed by four of us, was an egg-circulator egg in a broth of mushroom and broccoli. One stab to the egg yielded orange runny yolk. Before the course, our server had brought to us a glass basket of different colored eggs from the farm's hens, some of which gleamed green and blue, the color specific to breed.

My father hates eggs, so he had salt-baked rutabaga instead, kind of like the best sweet potato you've ever had. Entrees were slabs of pink Berkshire pork, brined in something sweet, like cider, and served with more of that tender baby bok-choy.

Dessert arrived in waves. First, honey with tofu and bergamot; next, chocolate mousse with apricot jam and frozen raspberry cream; finally, moist carrot cake with fromage foam, cream cheese, and vanilla ice-cream. They put a candle in my sister's cake and brought petit fours of chocolate, yogurt marshmallow, and sesame candy. Stone Barns remains one of the most worthwhile meals in New York.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns
630 Bedford Road
Pocantico Hills, NY 10591

1 comment:

ramster said...

Ive had stone barns' website shortcut at my browser top since last fall. Ive been wanting to plan a long and hilly bike ride around a tour. probably couldn't dine there in sweaty cycling gear, right? maybe a drive up to reconnoiter...