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630 Bedford Road, Pocantico Hills, NY (Hudson Valley)
Fatty Kat Eats: EVERYTHING IN SIGHT
There are so many ways I want to start off this post, but let's just make it easy: Blue Hill at Stone Barns was the BEST MEAL OF MY LIFE! I eat out a lot...ya know, all the time...so that's a big deal in my book. There are so many great restaurants in New York and throughout the country, but of course it's the one on a farm in suburban America that takes the cake (by far).
Our 5-hour long indulgence at Blue Hill elevated humble ingredients in a way that I could never have imagined. Not only was the service flawless, but our captains took the time to share stories and prepare us for the impending sensory overload. It wasn't one of those drawn out dinner marathons where you just want to get the hell out of there. Even after 30+ courses, I was still excited for more, but maybe that's just the fatty in me.
Blue Hill's Field and Pasture Journal gives you an idea of what's in season, and unless you're a fortune teller, you don't know what to expect. The "menu" tells very little: Grazing, Pecking, Rooting for $198. I counted 31 courses in our meal; yes, 31 ways to make use of your stretchy pants. The menu is tailored to every party, so we watched with food envy as various dishes arrived at other tables (and I'm sure they felt the same way about us).
The dining room in itself is a celebration of mother nature. The room is spacious and tastefully designed like any other fine dining restaurant, but when you look above and see those dried herbs and flowers, you know you're somewhere special. There was definitely a sense of formality in the space but not in any annoying way, although I wouldn't cry if they burned the waitstaff's hideous grey suits. The entire experience had all the makings for a stuffy meal, but it didn't feel that way at all.
We started our meal with tons of raw and minimally seasoned Vegetables from the Farm. Normally, I'd equate raw veggies with a mediocre veggie platter or some kind of crazy diet (aka misery), but these were so impossibly fresh and flavorful that I let them slide this time. I don't think I've ever had a carrot quite so carrot-y before...know what I mean? Plus, everything looked so damn beautiful and conceptualized to the very last detail. It was almost hard to eat (and destroy) this artwork. I can name very few restaurants that put as much emphasis on presentation. Muy bueno, Blue Hill!
Same thing with the Pea Shoots and Brussels Sprouts with Tarragon Pesto. Those were fresh to death! I liked the tree themed set up, and hacking my way through this green forest was tons of fun. Yes, I'm sophisticated, and I like to play with my food! The tarragon pesto was incredibly subtle yet flavorful and smooth and silky on the tongue. No matter how you feel about pea shoots or brussels sprouts, you can at least appreciate the presentation and farm friendly mission here.
This dish was actually one of my favorite courses of the night: Ham Sandwiches. It kind of reminds me of green eggs and ham. Don't you think? Who knows what that green, bread-like thing is, but sometimes it's better not to ask. All I can remember is that the ham was luxurious and savory, which was welcome after so many cleansing veggies (girls got to eat).
Yet again, another vegetable course sits among my favorites! Can you believe it? The Bone Charred Cabbage with Scrambled Egg is unassuming at first. I mean, just look at the dirty cabbage below. They told us they cooked the cabbage in a huge pile of dirt, bones and other manure type things at approximately 90 degrees. But really, who even thinks up these ideas? A mad scientist chef? Regardless, the cabbage was phenomenal, particularly after they added a little scrambled egg to the mix. So simple, so complex, so amazing!
I swear I'm not a vegetarian, but here's another veggie that takes the cake. The White Lightning Squash certainly made top 3 of the night. A lot of that had to do with condiments; the crunchy quinoa and pumpkin seeds spiced things up, but the bacon marmalade was a total game changer. The lightning squash itself was bred by the farm to be extra sweet and delicious. That's a little crazy right? The farm naturally designed this squash to be exactly the way they wanted it. I can't even keep my basil plant alive...
Halfway through dinner, we went on a short field trip. Our server took us to a farm house just steps from the dining room and bestowed us with warm blankets and Barber Wheat Brioche with Warm Ricotta! The scene on the left is the magic that ensued.
When you've reached the 25th or so course, you're probably not too hungry anymore, and it takes a little more work to impress you. Well, this is when they pull out the big guns. The Berkshire Pork Jowl was a bazooka. The meat melted in our mouths in a way that's not even humanly possible, while the hazelnuts and syrupy jus added to the overall decadence. From now on, forget pork belly! I'm all about the pork jowl if it tastes like this.
In a perfect world, this picture would not have been taken in a cave (it's dark in there!), but for the sake of sharing... The Fruits and Nuts started us off on our desserts (yes, plural). These little guys arrived stacked. The servers then put on a little show and assembled them into the adorable honeycomb you see here. Could they get anymore creative?! It wasn't just beautiful though; there were a lot of delicious things going on: fruits, nuts, cream and my favorite, carbs!
Our dinner ended with a beautiful platter of sweets, including dolce eggs, baby kiwis (mind blown), puff pastries, and chocolate tarts. I almost took the dolce eggs to be real cracked eggs. I'm gullible :). Everything on this giant platter was delicious, but of course it was the smallest thing that left the biggest impression--the baby kiwis. Yes, they really exist, and they're deathly sweet and juicy!
Now, for the other 20-something courses I didn't describe, here's a lovely photo gallery for your viewing pleasure. It's safe to assume that I loved every course (because I did). Surprisingly, we weren't sick to our stomachs by the end of the meal. The food was so fresh and light (where possible), which made the coma part much more bearable.
It's easy for me to say this with conviction: Blue Hill was the best meal of my life. You guys know I love everything (I'm just a happy gal), but this really was the best of the best for me. You rarely come by a restaurant that has the food, service, scenery, creativity, execution AND modesty down to a tee.
Your biggest takeaway from this post? Just know that Justin Tang is the man! JT, thanks for spending your precious Blue Hill gift certificate on us crazy kids. Our Ultimate Dinner Krew (UDK...yes Krew with a "K") is forever indebted to you for the generous gift. Also, happy birthday, old man. Love you!