May 18, 2009

Birthday-Palooza: Encore Edition!

Thought you'd seen the last of Birthday-Palooza, just because a month has passed since my actual birthday? Think again! Yesterday the boyf drove us north into New York State, near Tarrytown, for a brunch at Blue Hill.

We found ourselves on the grounds of a working not-for-profit farm, where the produce and livestock is used in the kitchen of their very elegant restaurant. Rather than choose what you want from the menu, you're given a list of what happens to be in season that very moment. Below is what we were shown, which tells you what may or may not show up on your plate. You may not be able to read it, but the categories cover their greenhouse, their fields, livestock, river, ocean, and so forth. There were more than a few items on this list I'd never heard of, I'm ashamed to admit. For example, deer tongue? Neither deer nor tongue. Discuss.

Each guest is served a tasting of three savory courses, plus dessert. The list above is your opportunity to either request an ingredient in particular or to let the server know of any allergies or dislikes. We decided to give the chef free reign, though we opted out of organs, figuring it was too special a meal to risk not enjoying.

This is the face of a happy camper who's glad she won't be eating liver (or lobster or scallops - shh!).

Behind the boyf is the buffet where loaf after loaf of fresh bread landed throughout our meal. I'm pretty sure they had one guy whose only job was to slice the bread.

Some of aforementioned bread landed in front of us in short order. Along with freshly churned butter as well, of course. So fresh, I think it was still mooing.

Honestly, I think it might have been the most delicious warm bread and butter I've ever had. Land O'Lakes this ain't. What a difference local and organic makes!

But let's not neglect the booze. The specialty cocktails of the day don't escape seasonal ingredients either, as shown below by exhibits A and B: the boyf's sorrel margarita and my rhubarb cosmopolitan, respectively.

A little too good. We nursed our one drink a piece through the entire meal, and a good thing too! I would have been truly sorry if I had diminished the impact of what was to come.

First taste: carrot soup. We had three little "tastes" before the actual "tasting" even began!

A far cry from soup in a box. I think this may have had a hint of rosemary...

Second taste: mini beet sliders with goat cheese on tiny muffins.

I can't stop thinking about these!

Third taste: asparagus wrapped in prosciutto with sesame seeds.

Everything tastes better on a stick! The boyf and I agreed we could easily exist on this alone.

And NOW, the first course: seared wahoo (best name for a fish ever!) with pea shoots.

I'm doing my darndest to remember the descriptions of these dishes as best I can, but due to the amount of ingredients unfamiliar to me, take this as general descriptions (and take my word for it that everything was mind-blowing).

Second course: creamy ricotta ravioli with stinging nettles, fiddlehead ferns and asparagus.

Probably my favorite of the three courses! But I hardly need pick a favorite in the face of such good food.

Third course: lamb with spring vegetables and horseradish.

I managed to have lamb twice in two weeks! This is new culinary territory for me! I maintain that I would never buy lamb to prepare myself, but I have to say, in the hands of a master chef, it ain't half bad.

Hold on a second. Waiter? There's a bug on my plate.

I thought this was a classy joint.

Still, even after all those glorious dishes, we couldn't resist sharing a plate of the cheese course for the day.

They featured two cheeses from California whose names I vowed to remember and have now forgotten. However, I do know that the left cheese was made of cow's milk, and the one on the right from goat's milk. Both aged about two weeks. The cheese was served with pickled fennel, an apple gel of sorts, and toast.

And finally, we have dessert, which by my standards might as well be the entree. :)

Left: flourless chocolate cake with chocolate-caramel ice cream. Right: unidentified cake with asparagus ice cream (!), pickled fiddlehead ferns and foam. I really liked the asparagus ice cream! Though it was the pairing with the other ingredients that really set it off. Somehow, it works!

A perfect cappuccino "capp-ed" off a perfect meal.

Check out the dents left by the two sugar cubes I dropped in! Actually, they sat on top of the foam for a few seconds before sinking. That's how rich it was! I'm telling you, this farm's cows must be eating their Wheaties.

After a glorious and leisurely brunch, we decided to walk the grounds a bit. Hey look, it's the Vesicare mascot!

Lest you think we could manage to stay prim and classy for more than a couple hours, let me show you evidence to the contrary:

Changing back into comfies in the car.

Playing with the toys in the gift shop.

We are nothing if not true to ourselves. :)

And now for a few more gratuitous photos from the farm itself...

As if it isn't enough that organic food tastes better (we oughta know, after that meal!), we learned that buying from local, organic farmers supports the community, the economy and the environment.

And that's happy for all of us!

If you are in the New York area at all (or even New England), I would encourage you to visit Stone Barns! It's stunning, and you needn't feel like you have to go all out by eating at the Blue Hill restaurant; there's a cafe as well, which sells baked goods and sandwiches, as well as house-made granola and fresh-grown teas. Also, there are plants and seeds for sale, along with their meat and eggs, which feature prominently on the menu. We didn't have any in our particular meal, but we saw a waiter actually grating embryonic egg over a neighboring diner's dish! Count that among things I would NOT think to add to an entree.

Still not sold? Ok, fine, then listen up, New York City dwellers and would-be visitors: word on the street is that the original Blue Hill restaurant may or may not actually be in Greenwich Village. ;)

Thanks for bearing with me while I got this post online. And this was only about half of the pictures I took! I couldn't bear to take photos with just my cell phone for this occasion, so I wanted to take the time to upload the high-res versions. I hope you were able to at least catch a glimpse of how beautiful and delicious everything was! Thank you to my boyf for a truly blogworthy treat.

Have you ever eaten something that you dreamed of for days afterward? Visions of beet sliders dance in my head...


Anonymous said...

diana, this is a genius dining experience! i knew i was in trouble when my jaw started dropping at the sight of that bread. the boyf must be very proud of himself. he did so well!

visions of your beet sliders are now dancing in my head :-)

ChickPea said...

So much creative & delicious food! Can I have some of that soup and a beet slider, please?

Anonymous said...

SO JEALOUS! I have wanted to go for so long, my parents have been and loved it. Have to convince the BF to take me :)

Dori said...

Wow! That looks so, so, so wonderful and delicious! That bread! The ravioli!

Sweta said...

Can't get the beet sliders out of my head!! Such a great place-lucky you :)

Erica said...

WOW what a meal! Beet sliders? How interesting/unique! I want to eat at this place. The cappuccino looks awesome- cannot beat a restaurant cap!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a great meal! Totally jealous - and it is perfectly appropriate to stretch out your birthday for as long as you like!

Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) said...

Blue Hill sounds amazing. That butter looked so yellow, and the beet sliders...genius!!!! What an amazing meal.

I love that you guys changed into comfy clothes. So something I would do! Oh, and might I add that I love your arms. Ya look good my friend! I also heard you can bust into a full on split. I'm totally jealous. :)

Megan said...

oh man. what a meal!! i can't even pick one thing that i'm not dangerously jealous of!! yummy yummy yummy!

boyfriend+stuffed sheep=effing ADORABLE.

domifc said...

My dad makes an awesome beet salad. I will have to ask him to try to make me beet sliders. I'll let you know how it turns out.

The best meal I've ever had was at Kinki, a Japanese restaurant in Ottawa, Canada. That meal was more than two years ago and I still think of it fondly. BF and I ordered so much amazing food but the standouts were the Sunrise and Black Pearl maki. The former contains eggplant which I don't normally eat because it gave me the hives when I was younger but BF assured me this was a bite not to miss. He was right. My mouth salivates when I think about. Even now, as I write about it. Sigh.

healthy ashley said...

First, you look amazing! Was that a dress in the first picture?

Second, I need to go to this restaurant. It looks amazing!