January 16, 2010

Blue Hill

One (BIG) Bite

I've died and have gone to Lardo heaven

Fresh scallop sashimi

Creamy rice, chorizo and octopus

Blue Hill's main course on Jan 12th's tasting menu

Meyer Lemon icecream over grapefruit & pomegranate

NY State Wheat "Pudding" and homemade granola and passion fruit icecream

Coconut covered marshmellow and chocolate truffles

I was inspired to celebrate my birthday this year at Blue Hill after being exposed to an issue of national importance. No, the Obamas' date night didn't have anything to do with it. As of late December, I have been immersed in Michael Pollan's book, "The Omnivore's Dilemma" during my routine commutes to work. Prior to opening this book and watching Food Inc., I pathetically had little knowledge about the food industry. To make a long story short, I became captivated by the progressive, yet also ancient practice of sustainable (polyculture) farming and organic (grass-fed) meat production. Driven by the notion of eating with integrity, I felt compelled to seek out somewhere or someone in the city that also shared the same point of view. Luckily, Dan Barber of Blue Hill was well ahead of me. He has been leading the farm-to-table movement for nearly a decade. Upon browsing Blue Hill's understated website, I knew that this was the right place to start the next chapter of my 20-something year old life.

Blue Hill's $72 five-course tasting menu fluctuates depending on what's in season. They titled their tasting "Farmer's Feast," but I thought of it more as a "Farmer's Palette." The size of most courses were as modest as a few dabs of paint and they were presented with equal discretion. Yet each bite that I took was bursting with flavor and had an undeniable air of goodness. If the tastes were to turn into art, they would resemble Rothko paintings (circa 1950's).

I dutifully took tasting notes throughout the dinner, but often found myself searching for appropriate adjectives. The scallop tasted exactly like scallop. The pork sang like pork. Additional descriptors were overkill. Everything was delicious for sure, but more importantly, everything was cultivated with careful consideration. Instead of describing the flavors, it would have been more successful to explain where they all came from.

Unfortunately, that was the biggest lacking thing about the meal. While our primary server was sweet, she failed to explain where any of these amazing ingredients originated (except for the pork that I specifically inquired about). It was like walking through an art exhibit without reading the information plaques. At the time I wasn't too concerned that our meal didn't come with a guided tour. In hindsight, I wish that I were a bit more inquisitive or the server more forthcoming.

The last dessert arrived with a single white candle melted into the side of the glass plate. Thankfully, unlike the older gentleman next to us, I didn't receive a half-assed birthday song. I just blew out the candle, savored the creamy, sweet pudding with the tangy passion fruit ice cream, and thought optimistically about the year ahead.

Farmer's Feast
January 12, 2010

Amuse Bouche
of seasonal vegetables, beet burgers, bacon crisp, fresh-baked bread sticks with three dipping sauces (including lardo)

Marinated Maine Sea Scallops
with pine nuts and American caviar

with creamy rice, chorizo and octopus

Berkshire Pig (from Stone Barns)

with pressed parsnips, braised red cabbage and endive

with grapefruit, honey, and meyer lemon icecream

New York State Wheat "Pudding"
with homemade granola and passion fruit icecream

Chocolate Truffles
with coconut-covered marshmellows

More pics can be found here.


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