Tag Archives: Dan Barber

Sooo out of my element…

12 Oct

Every time I hear a Southern accent I cringe slightly. And every time I hear a northern one my ears perk up as I try to locate the source. That’s been my week, in a nutshell.

I know it will get easier. I know it will get better. Transition is hard on everyone, and certainly aggravated with a two year old in tow, who is also feeling a bit displaced and confused. We spent every morning this week with him shrieking, “No like school!! No want to go!! No, mommmmmmmy!!” It was heartbreaking. This is a kid who’s always loved going to daycare. He loved his teachers, he loved his friends. He would race me inside the school every morning, and then practically push me out the door because he was a “big boy” who didn’t need his mama. Talk about disruption to our lives… this isn’t easy on ANY of us.

I spent a lot of this week thinking about the things I took for granted living in New York. Things like:

  • General sophistication that comes with a New York state of mind. Not that people here aren’t “sophisticated” in their own right. It’s just… different. Any New Yorker will know exactly what I mean. Are we elitist? Yup. No question. Are we apologetic for it? Nope.
  • Access to things that other people just don’t have. Like being able to sit in on a taping of “Watch What Happens Live” with Andy Cohen. Or sitting next to Richard Gere in a local restaurant. Or being in the audience for a VH1 Storytellers concert. Or getting to see the inner workings of Dan Barber’s kitchen at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. I know that sounds very “celebutante” of me, but it’s true! Those experiences are SO New York.
  • The narrow, uneven back roads. The Saw Mill Parkway. The Merritt. Seriously, the roads down here are in perfect condition, they are super wide, and it’s a breeze driving anywhere. You could probably do it with your eyes closed. But isn’t there something sort of charming about winding up the Saw Mill? I never thought about it until I wasn’t doing it anymore. And yep, I miss those twists and turns and dangerously narrow lanes.
  • Relatively easy access into creative communities. I clearly need to find my way, and figure out where the creatives hang out and work and play, but for now I’m just a little bit missing my smarty pants peeps who inspire me, make me laugh and teach me new stuff.

Hmmph. Today the North Carolina State Fair opened. This is apparently the biggest deal in the world to North Carolinians. We are thinking about hitting it up this weekend, so be on the lookout for a post about fried soda, pig races and pie contests. In the meantime, go out and enjoy New York… grit, grime, bad attitudes and all. And take me with you in spirit…

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More anything? More everything!

5 Nov

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

The hubby and I decided to finally lose our Blue Hill at Stone Barns virginity, in celebration of our 4th wedding anniversary last week. We’d waited long enough to answer the question, ‘does it live up to the hype?’ We had to know.

We started the evening with a drink at the bar. I ordered “The Ford,” a smooth, velvety Old Tom Gin cocktail with some ingredients I’ve never heard of, and Stone Barns cardamom leaf bitters. Hubby ordered the “Cucalyptus,” a cucumber, eucalyptus and thai long pepper-infused cocktail with gin made on-site. He called it the best cucumber drink he’s ever had. Not sure how many cucumber drinks he’s had in his life, but “score” nonetheless.

On to the good stuff. We were seated at this ridiculously comfortable banquette. The upholstery fell somewhere between felt wool and cashmere — I swear. It was the kind of banquette I could fall asleep in. And you might do just that after this epic meal,  so request a banquette. Although I was slightly jealous of the ladies at the tables throughout the center of the restaurant, who were brought mini-ottomans to place their handbag on so they didn’t have to touch the floor. For real. A purse ottoman. Now that is money.

The Sommelier brought us 2 glasses of Riesling to start the meal off with, before cracking open a bottle of 1998 Bovio Barolo. Because that’s how we roll-o.

Here’s a plate-by-plate summary of the 8-course Farmer’s Feast meal ($149/pp):

No. 01 – baby veggies perched on a fence, tomato soup shot, crispy kale sheets, potato crisps, crispy white beans, beet burgers, root veggie “corn dogs.” The major winner for me? The beet burgers. They were these bite-sized sliders that were the most divine, buttery melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. That’s my very technical culinary description.

No. 02 – Baby lettuce and herb salad. When the plate arrived, I experienced a pang of disappointment. Although plated beautifully, this looked like a single-layer smattering of  baby greens and a few slivers of beets and beans sprinkled on a plate. No dressing? Really? Well slap me silly and call me salad… er, Sally. This was the most insane plate of greens I’ve ever eaten. In my LIFE. Each bite was sweet and flavorful. We were blown away. I definitely am never going to be able to look at grocery lettuce the same again. Damn you, Dan Barber.

Brioche with warm fresh ricotta and veggie puree. 

No. 03 – Soft poached egg with foam. This was my least favorite of the dishes, as the egg was super runny. Even the whites just broke into liquid as soon as I pierced the super-thin skin. Meh.

Onion bread with mushroom salt.

No. 04 – Seared wreckfish in a Manhattan seafood chowder (with mussels, lobster). Oh dear God. We’re only up to the 4th course. At this point I’m wishing I hadn’t worn that super skinny high-waisted belt. It is definitely going to come off. This dish was HEAVEN. Seriously, if heaven were a fish, it would be swimming around shipwrecks (which is how this fish got it’s clever moniker.) It was seared and sliced into perfect rectangular bites and placed atop this sweet chowder with mussels and lobster. I could have just eaten that bare herb salad and this fish and been the happiest chick in the county.

No. 05 – Purple potato and ricotta gnocchi. These looked more like little pasta cannoli’s than gnocchi, but who am I to argue with the Best Chef in America? I loved every bite of these clouds of pasta perfection.

No. 06 – Veal tenderloin and tender baby carrots. Now when we started our meal, we were asked by one of the waiters if we had any allergies or food issues. We both shook our heads no, mainly because the guy scared us a little (he was bald and intimidating in a James Carville kind of way) but also because we were just hungry. When the waiter responded, “so you’re okay with brains and heart?” We both snapped back into reality and coolly replied that no, we weren’t interested in organs. So he named off the next level down of proteins, which included lamb, veal, pork. This we were fine with. Sure. Well little did we know we’d only get one meat course, and it would end up being veal, our least favorite. BUT – that said, this veal was delicious. It was served as two cuts – tenderloin and something else. (The technical name for it, obviously). And it was totally worth it, even if it did make us sad for a minute or so.

No. 07, No. 08 and a surprise No. 09 – dessert. At this point we entered food comas, and I have no idea what these consisted of. None. It’s as if it didn’t happen, but it obviously did happen. I’m sure it was good. It probably was even great. But like I said, I had tapped the mat at that point. The belt had come off, I think I may have even taken my Spanx off right there at the table. Who knows… class goes right out the window when you’ve just eaten an entire farm.
Bottom line: Was Stone Barns worth the hype? It most certainly was. The food was amazing. The service was impeccable, with nearly a staff member for every table in the place, who have each been trained to sneak in and out without disruption to refill glasses, bring fresh plates, replace a napkin…you name it and they are there. I’m sure I could have gotten a backrub from one of them if I had started rubbing my shoulders at some point.

So choose an occasion with a date at least 2 months out (they’re booked solid otherwise) and start saving. Sure, it may cost as much as buying an actual cow, but why get the milk at home when you can get Dan Barber down the street?