October 24, 2009

Blue Hill Stone Barns - Flavors of the Farm

So I'm finally getting around to writing about my trip last Sunday to Blue Hill Stone Barns for the "Flavors of the Farm" event put on by the New York Food and Wine Festival.

At $200 bucks a head, I had buyers remorse right after I purchased the tickets way back in June.  For the next 4 months I debated whether I should sell the tickets, but before you know it October 11 was upon us and I still was holding my tickets.

And boy was I glad I held onto them!  The event included transportation out to Stone Barns (a must-have for this New Yorker who has no car!) and a tour around the farm, plus a wonderful fresh farm lunch with wine pairings and a cameo by none other than Dan Barber himself.

And given the Obamas had just had a very well publicized date night at his NYC restaurant, Blue Hill Stone Barns is quite the destination.

The weather was absolutely beautiful as we pulled into the imposing gates of the Rockefeller estate. We started off with a tour of the greenhouse where vegetables are grown year around in probably the most ideal conditions known to man.

Perfectly timed temperature and humidity readings based on the always changing weather, you've never seen vegetables this perfect looking.  Is it just me, or is there actually something very unnatural about this type of excessive atmospheric control?

Onto the good part.  Animals!  I think we all chose to forget that this is a farm, and that all of these animals were here for consumption.  It felt more like a really nice zoo.  At least I kept telling myself that.  And I tried to ignore the fact that the first stop was looking at the pigs in their "finishing stage."  All I can say is - thank goodness we didn't have pork for lunch.

This was the first time I have seen pigs.  Not so much the "Babe" or "Wilbur" variety - these pigs were hogs.  Big hogs!  Dark brown and huge!!!  But still cute nonetheless.  Super social, snorting galore!  And the highlight was seeing mama pig and her babies.  Not sure if I can ever eat sucking pig again....

Onto the sheep.  So picture perfect - I'm really glad I don't eat lamb!  And what a great sheep herding dog.  No dogs are allowed near the sheep except their protector - this great big white sheep herding dog that proceeded to yelp and bark to death a poor tiny Pomeranian  who had accidentally been brought by its unsuspecting owners.  Not around this neighborhood!

On the other side were the turkeys.  Unfortunately I don't really think turkeys are that cute.  There was a turkey in my hometown neighborhood that used to scare the bejesus out of me....Ever since then I can't be too close to them - or chickens for that matter.

Which brings me to the laying hens!  Free range for sure - they looked to be living in the picture perfect farm.  Wandering around the grass, taking dust baths....this hens had it good. Unlike the poor broiler chickens down the way which our tour guide oh so conveniently forgot to mention.  I guess that's because they were for lunch.

Lunch was beautifully presented in the restaurant.  A bit like a wedding with assigned seating - I was so glad my table companions had great dining chemistry.  Just delightful!

Started off with a beet salad laid on top of the most perfect pine nut butter.  I searched relentlessly for this pine nut butter in the shop to no avail.  Watch out peanut butter - you've got competition!

The next course was my personal favorite.  The farm's morning fresh egg.  Perfectly poached and then fried laid on top of a bed of wild mushrooms - this was so scrumptious to the end.  There's nothing like a perfectly cooked egg that is soft and runny in the inside.  And the yolk had the kind of deep yellow color you can only get from fresh free range hens....

For the main course, we had "relaxed" chicken on top of fresh haricot verts.  The chicken was incredibly tender - almost taking on a spongy type of texture.  I suppose this is after having one of the most "relaxed" lives possible for a chicken...

Finally, dessert - a beautiful fromage blanc sorbet dressed with concord grape and a pear and ginger compote.  A perfectly refreshing end to a wonderful meal.

Paired with seemingly unlimited wines - my $200 bucks seemed like a pretty good deal by the end of it.

For anyone in the city, I recommend taking a day trip out to Stone Barns.  It is a beautiful farm set upon an idyllic backdrop of the farmlands around the Hudson valley.

Educational and delicious - it's always a good thing to know where your food comes from.

Blue Hill Stone Barns
630 Bedford Road
Pocantico Hills, NY 10591

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