To finish up our stretch of co-birthday celebrations last month, the misses and I rented a car and headed north out of the city and up to Blue Hill at Stone Barns for Rocky’s big birthday bash. Since our two-a-day there last summer, Rocky has been calling BHSB her favorite restaurant in the states and has been eager to go back. So I thought a night in a castle, a day at the spa, and dinner on the farm would be a perfect present for her.
Arriving on the grounds was certainly an amusing contrast between our bright, sunny, lushly green, borderline-scorching visit in July and our brisk, stark, snow-covered wintertime return.
Making our way into the restaurant, we said hello to some familiar faces and took our seats at the same corner table where we finished up last time.
We got the party started with some bubbles(it was a remarkably bubbly meal) as our guy rolled up and showed off a guéridon boasting an attractive spread of pickled and fermented goodies, dried mushrooms, house made paprika, molasses, speck, and bresaola. Then began an impressive onslaught of snacks and small bites.
Vegetables from the garden. A colorful, flavorful lineup of fresh veggies.
Ice lettuce. Tender, fleshy leaved succulent.
Fighter spinach with root vegetable powder. Lightly earthy with some sweetness from the powder. Delightful leaves.
Pig heart pastrami, last year’s asparagus, cured egg yolk. The acidic asparagus with the rich yolk complemented the salty heart nicely.
Squash blossoms. From special seeds from a seed program at Cornell.
Beet jerky. Dried, sweet, chewy. Good stuff.
Crackers: Carrot with curry and seeds. And phytoplankton with tiny shrimp.
Jerusalem artichoke with curry. Soft, sweet, and lightly starchy inside with rich, thick skin.
Beet ‘sushi’ with sprouted grains.
A potato trio.
Yeasted potato. Crispy potato shell with smooth potato puree and chewy cubes of beets.
Marbled potato with creme fraiche and caviar. Sweet, salty, almost heavenly. A superb bite.
Tart with mussel, beer, and seaweed.
Kale & Cabbage. Delicately crisp and perfectly salted.
Boar sausage with some kick ass pickles.
Whelks and lardo. Sweet, meaty sea snails.
Beetfurter. A playful sausage of beets and pork. With preserved tomato.
Tiny beet burgers. Complete with bacon and a grilled sesame crown.
Pork liver and chocolate. Hard-hitting with a rich lingering chocolate finish.
Our guy rolled up again with another guéridon. This one decked out with a variety of ingredients and service ware. He gave us a spiel about how much they love beets at Blue Hill and how they sometimes go overboard with them. As he stood at his cart mixing up a beet tartare, a few other beet items arrived.
A large, meaty cut of scallop with caviar and borscht. The salinity of the caviar struck a good balance between the scallop and the beet. The best plate of the beet series.
Beet tartare with quail egg yolk. Despite all the added spices and condiments, this was still very sweet and a burden to finish.
Beet ‘bolognese’. Polenta with a meaty beet and bacon sauce.
We were presented with examples of Blue Hill’s biochar process. Then a few items prepared with the biochar. First a pretty effing delicious, dense, dark mix of squid, celery root, and charcoal. Then a badass wedge of cabbage cooked over biochar and topped with speck alongside an uninspired quince puree.
In-house ricotta. Whole wheat brioche. Kale and green vegetable marmalade. Black pepper. A welcome repeat from our last visit and a wonderful combination. Rich, fatty ricotta with sweet, vegetal marmalade, spicy black pepper, and toasty, buttery brioche.
Broccoli & Cheddar. A perfectly tender yet firm broccoli stem with cheddar foam, seeds, and sprouts.
A marvelous little bowl of fighter spinach and seaweed along with a salty, meaty cod head. Rocky didn’t do so well with this fish, so I got the majority here. It had some glutinously gelatinous highlights. The eyes were particularly chewy and tasty.
Bordelais – parsnip ‘steak’ topped with bone marrow, fried egg, and bordelais sauce with accompaniments of creamed spinach, caramelized onion, and cabbage ketchup. The parsnip was nice at first but got tiresome. The egg and onions were nice. The spinach was fairly bland.
Bread service: potato onion bread, local butter, corn salt, beet salt.
Halloran Farms venison with brussels sprouts, cabbage, and caraway. Some quality cuts of gamey venison. The sprouts were amazing – nutty, almost sweet – the best part of the plate.
Another service cart rolls up. This time with a giant wheel of Rupert, an aged raw cow milk cheese from Consider Bardwell Farm in Vermont. Our guy shaved several strips off the wheel and served them up with quince, pumpkin seeds, and rye sourdough pretzels.
Parsnip sorbet with lemon and charcoal. The tart lemon rind set off the sweet parsnip.
A vanilla caramel birthday cake for Rocky!
Honey expressions. Three textures of honey from three seasons. Spring honey with carrot and tarragon. Summer honey with Carolina Gold Rice. Fall honey with pistachio. Quite a tasting. The summer and fall were dynamite. Presented handsomely in stacking dishes resembling honeycomb cells.
A fairly serious spread of sweet treats. Sourdough biscuits with berry jam. Apple. Dried honeycomb with chocolate, stunning. Quince pate de fruits. Crispy, sweet dried carrots. Honey truffles. Blue Hill Oreos. Arugula meringue resembling needles in a haystack.
White chocolate eggs with candy cap mushroom. These sounded interesting but were overly sugary and fairly awful.
Hazelnut ‘puppy chow’. Wheat clusters. Dehydrated slices of apple. Light, melt-away carrot chips. Cookie tuiles.
As I mentioned at the top of the post, it was a remarkably bubbly meal.
My buddy Charles greeted us with some Michel Rocourt Blanc de Blancs.
We followed up with La Closerie.
And then Vouette & Sorbée fidèle.
Chardonnay into Pinot Meunier into Pinot Noir. The sharp, crisp Rocourt was a nice treat to begin. Then two amazing bottles from my two favorite producers of the moment. What Jérôme Prévost does with Pinot Meunier on his tiny two hectare vineyard Les Béguines in Gueux is magical. And Bertrand Gautherot’s Vouette & Sorbée wines are consistently compelling show stoppers. Some damn sexy grape juice to celebrate my little lady’s birthday.
Date of visit: March 2, 2014
Blue Hill at Stone Barns. 630 Bedford Road. Pocantico Hills, NY 914 366 9600