my trip to Blue Hill

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

I feel a little weird writing about my trip to Blue Hill at Stone Barns. For one thing, I can’t really afford to eat there — a kind friend gave me a gift certificate. Otherwise, it’s way out of my budget. Second, how do you review this kind of restaurant? The whole experience was transcendent, a multi-course tasting menu which seemed to never end. Plus we had a “connection,” and I think it’s likely we got a little bit extra during the course of our 3-hour-plus meal. Unrelated to that connection, I met Dan Barber once at a Share Our Strength benefit and instantly took a liking to him. Since then I’ve seen a Blue Hill table at this particular charity event year after year, and the dish they serve is always stunning, so I was biased from the moment I made the reservation. The service Blue Hill is beyond extraordinary, and yes, that’s important to me even though most weekends you can find me at a dive in Chinatown or eating from a food truck or cart. The food presentation is both rustic and artful, all at once. Of course I didn’t bring a camera to this meal, so I’ll leave it to your imagination. Lastly, I know everyone talks about things like sustainability and local food, but Blue Hill at Stone Barns takes it to an entirely different level. Every pork dish comes from one of “our pigs.” I tried butters from cows which were referenced by name. Not the name of the breed, but literally the name they’d given to the cow, to refer to her personally. Speaking of that, the “butter tasting” may have been a little something extra, and all of them were exquisite. The baby, fresh vegetables, of which there were very many, were all grown on the farm itself. So this isn’t a review at all, but I will say that my meal at Blue Hill at Stone Barns was one of the greatest of my life.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

As many of you probably already know, one of the best things about Blue Hill at Stone Barns is that you can visit the farm itself, and that’s what this post is really about. I’d urge anyone with a car to make the drive up. (There’s a small $5 parking charge, but you can recoup that at the cafe or gift shop.) The funny thing about my trip with Jen is that it was the weekend of that strange blizzard right before Halloween. You can probably tell from my photos that it was a little gray out. This was the morning before the storm. What you probably can’t tell is that we were literally freezing because we were so terribly underprepared for the weather (no hats or gloves) and that by the time we left to meet friends for a mind-blowing lunch at The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry, it was starting to snow quite a bit. Once we were heading home that afternoon, the snow was in full force, and I’m still trying to figure out why we didn’t make Margaret and Joe let us stay over their place for the night. The drive home took took over three hours instead of 30 minutes like normal. It was all in the name of great food, so it was worth it.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Once I saw the greenhouses, everything about the meal became clear. These run year round, which is how you can enjoy such young, delicate herbs and vegetables, even when the weather has turned chilly.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Touring the farm made me curious to visit again in the Spring and Summer, to see the different colors, but the turning Fall foliage was beautiful.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

“Our pigs”… I loved hearing that throughout the meal. Meeting the pigs in person was another highlight. Photogenic, aren’t they? I’m surprised I got these cute photos since they seemed to have little interest in anything besides meal time.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

The turkeys kept us laughing, even in the bitter cold and early snow because they (hundreds of them) would follow us along the fence, almost like a swarm of bees, wherever we walked.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

The sheep however were much more stand-offish, maybe even dubious of us. Heck, they  ran from the camera at times, but I was patient. They didn’t seem concerned at all about the coming storm. I tried (without success) capturing photos of the snow when it became quite heavy as we pulled away from the farm, but my images didn’t do it justice. I would have been curious to visit the farm the next day though, because it must have been covered in a beautiful blanket of white.


18 thoughts on “my trip to Blue Hill

  1. This sounds like one of those outings that one never forgets… the meal, the butters, the farm and it’s pigs named… I felt like I travelled there with you… I think a farm is the most logical place for a restaurant to be:) If only they all were!

  2. What a refreshing post about Blue Hill, mostly because you focus on the experience and the farm, not just the food. It’s a dream of mine to go there — to eat, of course, but also to walk the grounds, to feel connected with the food and the earth, and to remember that a great meal nourishes more than just the stomach.

    Also? I kind of want to snuggle those pigs…

  3. That trip looks like so much fun. Paul and I love Blue Hill! I had a stunning birthday there — he surprised me — one of my favorite restaurant experiences ever!

    We’re going back in the spring with Ken & M… you should add it to your budget and come with us!

    XXOOJAX

  4. Great pics. Thanks for the introduction. Also wanted to thank you for the very yummy Homesick Texan’s Chipotle-Cinnamon Spiced Pecans we picked up at the Brooklyn Food Swap. I posted some pics on my blog. Hope you enjoy! p.s. welcome to WordPress. works for me!

  5. I have wanted to go for ages. A few months ago I was all set, and the friend I was going with had to leave town on business suddenly.. ONE DAY….

    sounds fabulous…. the quality and freshness are unparalleled…. have you seen Barber’s TED talks… he’s brilliant too!

  6. Great photos. I love the piggies, they are so cute. I could watch them for hours, so glad you had a nice time. Even though I visit the farm often, I still haven’t eaten at Blue Hill yet, hopefully soon. Btw, I’m shocked that you wanted to drive home. I still wonder why you didn’t stay with us that night.

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