On Friday night, Luis took me out for my birthday to Blue Hill at Stone Barns. While we have had many wonderful, great, fantastic meals in NYC, most of them I don’t blog about, because that’s what Bruni is for. But this dinner was special. Very special. Blue Hill is a restaurant in Greenwich Village (and also family farm of the chef Dan Barber). Stone Barns is a non-profit sustainable farm with an educational mission. Blue Hill at Stone Barns is pretty much what you’d guess, a fantastic restaurant located on an amazing farm.
I’ve known about Blue Hill’s country version for a while now, have heard great things about it, have even had the privilege of a guided tour of Stone Barns farm (we greatly enjoyed this particular benefit of working in NYC’s food community – thank you Gabrielle and Craig). I have not however made it to the NYC version or even considered indulging in a trip out to Stone Barns. Luis’s revelation a few weeks ago that he had planned this dinner for my birthday left plenty of time for anticipation. Despite all my colleagues at work asking if I was excited, saying how excited they were for me, I could not have imagined the amazing dinner that we had. So, with no further adieu, an homage to my stunning 30th birthday dinner.
We were seated side by side on a long cushioned bench at the edge of the dinning hall – so we could watch the action while whispering sweet nothings to each other. We opened with glasses of sparkling wine from Long Island, tasty and very bubbly, and were told that the chef was excited to have us and would love to put together a tasting menu for us. We didn’t even look at a menu. Then began the procession of food.
- Carrots and bok choy on a fence with apple-celery slushy shooters
- Beet-burger sliders (the size of a quarter)
- Stone Barns raised pork charcuterie with breaded salsify on a stick
- Toast with Blue Hill Farm butter and ricotta plus dehydrated carrot and arugula salts
- Stone Barns egg with baby collard greens and beluga lentils
- Wrapped carrot with carrot puree/foam and fantastic butter sauce
- Poached hake in a puddle of shellfish soup
- Winter root and fruit salad
- Lamb belly with carrots
- Palate cleanser – bay leaf sorbet over diced pineapple
- Banana fritters with Stone Barns honey and peanut butter ice cream with pork cracklings
So, that’s the list. No description of mine can capture the freshness of the first carrot, the melting tenderness of the hake, the incredible richness of the lamb belly, the inspiration of peanut butter ice cream with pork cracklings, so I won’t waste space waxing rhapsodic about every item (since practically every item deserves it). I think what really caught me, aside from the incredible quality of the food, was that this was a truly American meal. No hint of ginger, no trace of curry was to be found anywhere. This tasted like the northeast, like the Hudson Valley, like Cape Cod, like the the pastures and woodlands just outside the window where the lamb and pork came from. This meal was not just beautiful and flavorful, it had a sense of place.
Of course, this particularly extravagant food experience was also ridiculously expensive – prohibitively expensive for most – and I feel quite lucky to have been able to share this special dinner with my best friend and partner. This was definitely a celebration dinner – the kind of experience you look forward to and talk about afterwards, a gift on its own. A celebration dinner worth celebrating.