In 1971, Alice Waters co-founded Chez Panisse and in the process, thoroughly revolutionized the face of American cuisine from that point forward. Drawing from her experiences in southern France, Ms. Waters was heavily influenced by la cuisine du marché (market cooking), which relies on improvisation and experimentation and puts shopping on an equal footing with technique.
Shopping for the best ingredients demands that the ingredients that a chef procures from a farmer or a provender supplier be the best it can possibly be. Seasonality is an important component. Our modern-day technology enables us to buy tomatoes in the dead of winter, but are they a desirable end product? Are the means in which these out-of-season foods produced environmentally sound?
Blue Hill at Stone Barns opened in 2004 and is the second incarnation of Dan Barber’s restaurant, Blue Hill. Together with the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, this partnership’s mission is to demonstrate, teach and promote sustainable, community-based food production, values that seem endangered in modern times.
Left to right: heirloom tomatoes seasoned with fleur de sel and a touch of olive oil, tomato “burger” and tomato water
House made Genoa salami paired with cantaloupe soup
Pork tenderloin, pickled cucumber, Meyer lemon. I didn’t post a pic as the one that I took turned out a little blurry.
Left to right: butter made on the premises at Blue Hill, house-made ricotta cheese, smoky eggplant dip, dehydrated arugula, dehyrated carrot powder; served with toast points.
Potato chip and sage
Summer fruits — grilled apricot, plum, heirloom tomatoes, watercress, tomato foam, tomato sorbet
2005 Herman J. Weimer Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York
Green beans, chives, nasturtium flowers, green gazpacho viniagrette, pecans
Braised hake, dairy-less corn chowder, herbs
Celtuce, yogurt foam, yogurt cloud, pine nut butter
Berkshire pork belly, Cape Cod matsutake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, black chantrelles, celtuce
2001 Antonin Guyon, Gevery-Chambertin Burgundy, France
Blue Hill Stone Barns lamb, chickpeas, green beans, tarragon, lamb jus
Vanilla sorbet, Concord grapes, Concord grape soup
Raspberry cheesecake, raspberries, walnut cracker crust, raspberry sorbet
Out of 10? A solid 9. Chef Barber’s culinary philosophy is to let his ingredients speak for themselves, that the flavor of what you’re eating be allowed to shine through. A tomato at the peak of ripeness should taste essentially of itself. Food, from pasture and garden to kitchen to table is pristine; its purity left intact. BHSB isn’t for everyone. In fact, a criticism of the restaurant [and indeed of Chef Barber’s style] is that the food is underseasoned. A little more salt couldn’t hurt. I wouldn’t worry though. Mr. Barber is a master at educating his diners in primary flavors. I look forward to more lessons.
Blue Hill Stone Barns is located at 630 Bedford Road, in Pocantico Hills, Westchester County, New York.