Posts Tagged ‘Tofu’

Carpenter & Main – Norwich, VT

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013 by virginia


Josh and I recently spent our first weekend away from baby J, to attend a wedding in New Hampshire. While Josh has been away before for work, I’ve never spent a night apart from J and I was obviously a bit apprehensive about the situation. Nevertheless, I was looking forward to a responsibility-free weekend and spending some quality time with the hubby. We drove up on Friday and spent a few hours hiking Mount Cardigan in the afternoon, then got ready for what we hoped would be a nice, romantic dinner at Carpenter & Main in Norwich, Vermont.

The view from the top of Mount Cardigan

The view from the top of Mount Cardigan

Norwich is a picturesque, quaint-looking New England town. We didn’t have time to walk around but we drove past a lot of old colonial-style buildings along the way. The restaurant is located on Main St. and, as the name implies, the corner of Carpenter St. We had a reservation and were seated immediately, in a smaller room to the side of the entrance.

Our waitress seemed a little bit harried but stopped by our table to check in while we were looking over our menus, promising to return soon to take our drink order. Josh selected a bottle of Zinfandel that was wonderfully full-bodied and spicy once it opened up. We were served dinner rolls to start, which were warm, fluffy, and soft throughout.

Soft dinner roll

Soft dinner roll

The menu is divided up into three sections – morsels, small plates, and larger plates. We wanted to taste several items and so we decided to mix and match from the morsels and small plates to start, and then finish off with the larger entrees. We asked our waitress to bring the food out in whatever order she thought would be best.

The soup of the day and two morsels showed up first. Since the soup was chilled, it was set in between our plates while we tasted the morsels. I started with the braised short rib bruschetta. It was pulled short rib meat piled on three toasted rounds of bread and topped with horseradish gremolata. The short rib was a tad on the dry side but I really enjoyed the gremolata, which had a nice kick to it from the horseradish and really bumped up the flavor of the bruschetta – I just wished there was more of it.

Braised short rib bruschetta with horseradish gremolata

Braised short rib bruschetta with horseradish gremolata

Josh got the caramelized tofu triangles first, which were served with charred broccoli rabe. He was intrigued by this dish when he saw it on the menu but I was a little wary. Turns out that I was right, as the tofu was mushy and completely drowning in a soy marinade. It must have been sitting in the marinade for a while, as the inside of the tofu was completely brown and it was incredibly salty. It was a bit more balanced when eaten together with the broccoli rabe, but overall, we thought the dish tasted like bad Chinese takeout.

Caramelized tofu triangles with charred broccoli rabe

Caramelized tofu with charred broccoli rabe

In between bites of the morsels, Josh and I both tasted the soup, which was made from three melons – cantaloupe, honeydew, and banana melon. The puree was refreshing and sweet, though not overly so. I thought it was a nice mix of flavors, including a citrus note in the background, but Josh thought it was a bit boring. He was looking for some more acid and perhaps a savory component, like olive oil, to break up the sweetness of the melons.

Soup of the day - cold cantaloupe, honeydew, and banana melon soup

Soup of the day – chilled cantaloupe, honeydew, and banana melon soup

The next course was when the meal picked up a bit. I received the Moroccan lamb meatballs with spicy tomato glaze, which packed a punch of flavor. I was actually expecting something more Mediterranean, like kofte, but the spices actually skewed more Indian in flavor to me. The tomato sauce was creamy with lots of spices, reminiscent of tikka masala, and the lamb was coarsely ground and gamey, which I liked. The meatballs were definitely under-seasoned though, but it was an easy fix with the salt shaker on the table.

Moroccan lamb meatballs with spicy tomato glaze

Moroccan lamb meatballs with spicy tomato glaze

Josh got the vol-au-vent of escargots, which was snails piled in a puff pastry basket. The escargots were plump and tender, and the puff pastry was nicely browned and flaky. The garlic-herb cream sauce on the plate was fantastic. There were visible slices of garlic but it wasn’t overpowering. The garlic flavor was nicely balanced by the taste of fresh herbs, and the sauce was lighter than a traditional garlic butter. However, it also desperately needed more salt, but once I sprinkled some on, the dish really came together and popped.

Vol-au-vent of escargots with a garlic-herb cream

Vol-au-vent of escargots with a garlic-herb cream

For our entrees, we shared the crispy duck confit and trout ala meuniere from the larger plates section of the menu. The duck was a confit leg with tender meat and crispy skin. It was served with warm potato salad and mesclun greens. The meat was slightly under-seasoned, but when eaten with the whole grain mustard vinaigrette, the dish came together nicely. I enjoyed the lightness and brightness of the dish, and it was a good counterpoint to the heavier appetizers that we had been eating.

Crispy duck confit with warm potato salad and mesclun greens with whole grain mustard vinaigrette

Crispy duck confit with warm potato salad and mesclun greens with whole grain mustard vinaigrette

The trout dish was a huge portion of fish, definitely the biggest plate of food we had all night. The fish itself was nicely prepared – lightly dredged with a delicate crust. The sauce was classic – lemon, parsley, and brown butter – which paired nicely with the flaky fish. It was served with wild rice and the vegetable of the day, which happened to be green beans. It was a homey yet refined dish, but once again, I had to make liberal use of the salt shaker.

Trout ala meuniere with lemon parsley brown butter wild rice medley and green beans

Trout ala meuniere with lemon parsley brown butter, wild rice medley and green beans

Overall I really enjoyed our dinner at Carpenter & Main, although I think I liked the food better than Josh did. While the under-seasoning was a problem for both of us, it was easily rectified by adding some salt to finish off the dishes. I thought the flavors were good otherwise, although I would pass on some of the morsel plates next time, like the caramelized tofu (which was surprisingly too salty), and the short rib bruschetta, which was a bit boring compared to some of the either items we tasted. I absolutely loved the escargot vol-au-vent, which was a refreshing take on a classic dish, and both of our entrees, the duck and the trout, were superb as well. Prices are on par with the food, with morsels ranging from $4-$6, small plates from $8-$14, and larger plates from $12-$29. Service was warm and friendly, and the ambiance was casual but subtly polished. The best part though was that Josh and I were able to have a delightfully romantic meal, just the two of us, which is something that we’ve been missing.

Carpenter & Main
326 Main St.

Norwich, VT

Pure Thai Cookhouse

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011 by virginia

Josh and I ate at Pure Thai a little while ago, when it was called Shophouse rather than Cookhouse, but the menu looks the same despite the name change. We were there for lunch, when the portions are slightly smaller but the prices are cheaper as well. I loved the decor of the restaurant, which reminded me of the food stalls in Thailand, Singapore, and Taiwan. It was pretty rustic, with plain tables and low, backless stools. There were assorted condiments on the table so that you could adjust the spiciness and sourness of your dishes accordingly.

We shared a few appetizers from the “snacks” section to start. First was crispy tofu, which we can never resist at Thai restaurants. It wasn’t a huge portion but there were five large pieces of tofu, freshly fried, with crispy outsides and soft, slightly chewy insides. There was a dipping sauce on the side with chopped peanuts, tamarind, and chili sauce mixed together. The sauce was slightly sweet, slightly sour, and paired nicely with the plain, crispy tofu.

Crispy tofu with peanut and tamarind-chili gastrique

Our other appetizer was the steamed fresh roll stuffed with crab meat, pork sausage, cucumber, and smoked tofu. The wrapper was soft and chewy and could barely contain all the ingredients inside. I tried to bite a piece in half and it sort of fell apart, but the flavors melded together pretty well. There were lots of different textures going on, and the sausage was the predominant flavor. There a tamarind reduction underneath the roll that provided some sweetness and moisture to the dish.

Steamed fresh roll with crab meat, pork sausage, cucumber, and smoked tofu

For our entrees, we split two noodle dishes, since we had heard that the restaurant was famous for its noodles. First was their signature dish, the ratchaburi crab and pork dry noodles. The thin egg noodles are handmade and have a wonderfully springy texture to them. They’re firm but not overly so, with a nice chewiness that I found pleasing to eat. The noodles are topped with roasted pork, lump crab meat, yu choy (a green leafy vegetable), and scallion. The roast pork was similar to Chinese style roast pork found in fried rice, with pink edges and a slight sweetness to them. The pork was slightly dry but flavorful. The crab meat wasn’t abundant in the bowl of noodles, but the dish was deliciously savory. I don’t know if there was a sauce or what, but it was like a big bowl of umami, and I couldn’t get enough of it.

Ratchaburi crab and pork dry noodles

Everything all mixed together

Our second dish was the pad kee moa, which has replaced pad thai as our standard for testing out new Thai restaurants. The kee moa on the menu features calamari, but we substituted chicken instead. The dish features flat wide noodles with tomato, baby bok choy, snow peas, chili puree, and thai basil. The dish is also known as “drunken noodles” or “spicy basil noodles”. The noodles have a slight kick to them but aren’t too spicy, and basil is the flavor that I find most predominant. Pure Thai’s version was pretty good flavor-wise, but I thought the noodles were a bit too soft for my liking.

Pad kee moa with chicken

Overall Josh and I both really liked Pure Thai. The food seemed more authentic to us in terms of flavor, and they are willing to adjust the spiciness of the dishes upon request. The menu isn’t very extensive but they have some of the more standard Thai dishes available, as well as a choice of protein. We loved the flavors and textures of the ratchaburi crab and pork dry noodles. It was my favorite dish of the meal, hands down, but there are lots of other things on the menu that we didn’t get to try. Pure Thai isn’t the standard hell’s kitchen Thai restaurant, which definitely makes it worth checking out.

Pure Thai Cookhouse
766 9th Ave. between 51st and 52nd
New York, NY

Thai Basil

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 by virginia

In our neck of the woods, there is no lack of Thai restaurants. It seems like there is a Thai restaurant on every block in Hell’s Kitchen. We’ve been partial to Wondee Siam II but I always like to try out different places. Thai Basil is a tiny place that I’ve walked past many times and we decided to try it out with Mike and Melissa one evening. I was a bit worried when I saw the “C” health rating on the door but no one had any major reservations about it, so in we went.

The restaurant was empty except for one other table, which wasn’t really a good sign either. Nevertheless, we pressed on. The menu is pretty straightforward with typical Thai fare. We decided to start out with a few appetizers to share. The curry puffs were filled with ground chicken and potato. The crust was warm and flaky but the filling didn’t have much flavor – they definitely needed a heavier hand with the curry powder. They came with a cucumber sauce for dipping that I thought was a bit unusual, but the crunchy cucumber was actually a nice complement.

Curry puffs

We also split an order of fried tofu. The tofu was nice and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It came with a chili sauce topped with lots of peanuts on the side, which tasted good but was kind of hard to dip into. The chili sauce had a really thick texture to it that didn’t stick well on the tofu. Still, I thought it was a pretty decent rendition of fried tofu, though the portion was a bit small.

Fried tofu

Melissa and I both ordered the pad kee mao, which is flat wide noodles sauteed with onion, bell peppers, and basil. It was a dish that Melissa introduced us to last year and is now one of our favorites. Thai Basil’s version was super flavorful and very spicy – I think it was the best pad kee mao that I’ve had so far. I loved the complexity of the spices, and while it was hot enough to make me sweat a bit, it wasn’t an overpowering burn. I couldn’t stop eating it even when I was full, and ended up cleaning my plate.

Pad kee mao with chicken

Josh ordered the massaman curry with beef. It was mixed with coconut milk, potato, onion, avocado, and cashew nut. The curry was also very flavorful and had a nice, slow burn to it. I found the avocado to be a weird but interesting addition to the dish; its creaminess helped tone down the spice a bit. I actually really enjoyed the massaman curry a lot, and it’s definitely something I would order again.

Massaman curry with beef

Overall I was pretty impressed with the food at Thai Basil. Melissa, who is from Malaysia and is definitely well versed in Thai food, thought the flavors were more authentic than at Wondee. I really liked all the spices in the entrees we ordered, though if you don’t like spicy foods, I’d suggest asking them to tone it down a bit. As with most Thai restaurants in this neighborhood, prices are extremely reasonable. I’m not sure why this place gets a low health rating (and I don’t really want to know) but I didn’t see anything out of place in the dining room. I would definitely go back, and I’m glad that we have another go-to Thai restaurant in the neighborhood.

Thai Basil
860 9th Ave. between 55th and 56th St.
New York, NY

King 5 Noodle House

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011 by virginia

Ever since our fun Flushing food run, way back in July, I’ve been itching to make a return trip. But the fact of the matter is, Josh and I are lazy. It’s one thing to walk 15-20 blocks for a meal, it’s another thing to take a subway ride for almost and hour and have to switch trains along the way as well. But to be honest, the trip really isn’t that bad, and we really should try to do it more often. The best part about Flushing, for me at least, is the access to some of my favorite Taiwanese treats. I was craving Taiwanese breakfast foods and read on a few different blogs that the place to go was King 5 Noodle House in Flushing. So one nice Saturday afternoon, after Josh and I went to the gym, we hopped on the train and made the journey out.

Our first stop in Flushing, before King 5 Noodle House, was the peking duck window at Corner 28 where they sell peking duck buns for $1. We showed a bit of restraint and ordered just one bun each. The meat was a bit chewy and the skin wasn’t so crispy, but there were lots of scallions in the bun and plenty of hoisin sauce. It’s not the best peking duck, but for $1, it’s not bad. I enjoyed eating it while we walked over to the restaurant, and it definitely whet my appetite.

$1 peking duck buns

When we got to the restaurant, we only had to wait a few minutes for a table to open up. It was early afternoon though, and I was worried they had run out of soy milk by then, but we were in luck and everything was still available. We kind of went a bit crazy with our ordering. There were just so many things I wanted to eat, and I knew we wouldn’t be able to finish it all, but I also knew that it will probably be months again before we come back, so I indulged all of my cravings.

We started off with a big bowl of soy milk and an order of fried cruller (yeoh tiao, or “oil stick”) with a Taiwanese sesame pancake. Basically what you do is split open the sesame pancake lengthwise and stuff the cruller inside. Yes, you’re basically stuffing a carb inside of a carb. Then you dip the “sandwich” into soy milk (I prefer sweet soy milk, rather than salty), and eat. The cruller at King 5 Noodle House was light and crispy, and despite its name, it wasn’t the least bit greasy. The sesame pancake was flaky, and I like the combination of the savory carbs with the sweet milk.

Sesame pancake and fried cruller

To be honest, I don’t love drinking soy milk. I really only order it so that I can dip the cruller into it. The milk is served warm, and just so that you’re warned, in case you’ve never had homemade soy milk before, you have to drink it fast, otherwise it develops a weird skin that I find pretty unpleasant. It’s sort of like drinking milk that’s curdled, and has little bits in it. I mean, the skin really is perfectly safe, but that’s the impression I get, and just the thought kind of grosses me out. So drink up quickly! Or just do what I do, just use the soy milk as a dip.

Dipping the sesame pancake and cruller sandwich into sweet soy milk

Another one of my favorite Taiwanese breakfast food is a dan bing, or an egg pancake. Basically it’s a scallion pancake rolled around a layer of scrambled egg. In Taiwan, the pancake is usually pretty thin, almost like a crepe. Here it was thicker, like the scallion pancake you usually get as an appetizer. I wish the pancake was flakier, but I guess the heat and moisture from the eggs made it a bit soggy and chewy. Still, I like to dip slices of dan bing in some soy sauce and the combination of the sweet egg, savory pancake, and salty soy sauce is just heavenly. If you’ve never tried eating your eggs with a bit of soy sauce doused over the top, you’re missing out!

Egg pancake (dan bing)

Autopsy shot

The next item is sort of debatable as to whether or not it’s a breakfast food. But in Taiwan, we eat soup dumplings for breakfast. Yes, that’s right. Soup dumplings for breakfast! How awesome is that? The version we got at King 5 Noodle House was just ok; the ones we get in Taiwan are much better. I think they had been steamed earlier and reheated, so the skins were slightly tough and chewy. There just wasn’t enough soup, and they seemed slightly dried out in general. Too bad, because I liked the thinness of the skins, and the pork filling was tasty. We just doused them with a lot of black vinegar sauce.

Steamed soup dumplings

Moving on to lunch items, I realized that Josh had never eaten beef noodle soup (niu ro miem) during any of the trips we took to Taiwan. Beef noodle soup is almost like the Taiwanese national dish. There are so many hole in the wall places and food stalls in Taiwan that serve amazing beef noodle soup for incredibly cheap prices. Josh is a big fan of the beef brisket noodle soup that we get at Lan Zhou Hand Pulled Noodles, and I told him that while the noodles might not be as good, the Taiwanese version of beef broth would knock his socks off. King 5 Noodle House’s beef broth did not disappoint. It was rich and savory with a great aroma and lots of different spices that give it such depth of flavor.

Beef noodle soup

The noodles in the soup were pretty good as well, thick and chewy, though not as springy as hand pulled noodles. The bowl we got was such a huge serving that we ended up taking most of it home.

Thick and chewy noodles

On every table, there are containers of pickled greens. Put a spoonful into the soup, and the crunchy, slightly sour vegetables add even more flavor to the soup.

Chopped pickled greens

Lastly, we got an order of deep fried bean curd. I originally wanted to order deep fried smelly bean curd (stinky tofu) but Josh saw this on the menu and thought it would be the same style of deep fried tofu, just not the stinky version. We had amazing fried soft tofu in Taiwan that he absolutely fell in love with, so we were hoping this would be similar. Unfortunately, what they brought us was yeoh tofu, or “oil tofu”. Unlike the cruller, this was actually really very oily. It was fried tofu that was soaked in an oily mixture that had mushrooms in it. While flavorful, it wasn’t what we were craving. I regretted not getting the fried stinky tofu because when we saw an order go by, it was the crispy cubes that we had been looking for. It didn’t smell very stinky though, but I guess it’s hard to get truly stinky tofu around here. Nevertheless, we probably wouldn’t order this dish again.

Fried bean curd

We were really full by the end of our meal and probably didn’t need to order the noodle soup or the tofu, but like I said, I wanted to indulge all of my cravings. The Taiwanese breakfast foods at King 5 Noodle House didn’t disappoint. I’m not much of a breakfast person in general, preferring to order lunch foods whenever we go out for brunch, but Taiwanese breakfast is different. Most of the foods are savory, not sweet, and it’s very carb heavy, which always makes me a happy girl. Eating all these things again really brought back fond memories for me of being in Taiwan. It’s been a few years since we were last there, and we don’t know the next time we can make a trip back. So even though we find the subway ride to Flushing to be a bit long, it’s still shorter than a 17 hour plane ride to Taiwan. The next time I have a craving for Taiwanese food, I’ll happily hop on the train and return to King 5 Noodle House.

King 5 Noodle House
3907 Prince St.
Flushing, NY

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 by virginia

To give you an idea of just how back-logged I am with posting, this meal took place in March. For Josh’s aunt’s birthday, we landed a coveted reservation at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, NY. The restaurant is located within the Stone Barn Center for Food and Agriculture, and it is surrounded by an actual working farm that produces much of the ingredients for the menu, giving even more meaning to “locally sourced”.

The path leading up to the restaurant

We arrived at the restaurant around dusk so we didn’t have much time to explore the grounds, unfortunately, but we did watch them drive a whole herd of cattle up the road, which was pretty interesting. We settled down at our table and looked around in awe at the gorgeous setting. The ceiling was high and vaulted, with beams running across the top, and there was an island in the middle of the room with a huge vase of blossom-filled branches. The room had a tranquil feel to it, and was both rustic and elegant at the same time.

Beautiful blossoms

There is no real menu at the restaurant, just a long list of over a hundred ingredients that are in season and can be used for your meal. There is a choice between a five course dinner and an eight course dinner but you don’t know exactly what is included in each course. The wait staff will ask if there are any foods you can’t or don’t eat, and what some of your preferences may be. Once you decide on how many courses you would like, the kitchen takes care of the rest. We opted for the eight course meal, with the accompanying wine pairings, and our table’s only request was not to have offal during any of the courses. This was the only downside for me and Josh, because we like offal and would have liked to taste farm fresh organ meats, but everyone at the table receives the same dishes so we were outvoted 4-2.

Once everything was settled, our farmer’s feast began. And what a feast it was, with multiple rounds of amuse bouches to start. First was an assortment of “chips” made from farro, beets, and celery root. The beet chip was my favorite, as the dehydration process intensified the flavor and the sweetness of the beets.

Farro, beet, and celery root "chips"

Next was a carrot soup served in shot glasses. The soup was absolutely fabulous, packing intense carrot flavor in that tiny little glass. I would have happily eaten an entire bowlful of this soup.

Shots of carrot soup

We were also given baby carrots and super tiny heads of romaine lettuce presented on a spiked board. The vegetables, which were served raw and just lightly seasoned with salt and a little lemon juice, were incredibly fresh and shockingly tasty. If only all vegetables tasted like that!

Fresh baby carrots and romaine

Next we had thin slices of house cured coppa on top of potato and eggs…

Slice of coppa over potato and egg

Followed by a little beet burger in an almond flour bun. The burgers were really cute but I made the mistake of trying to bite one in half and the beet filling fell out, leaving a red stain on the pristine tablecloth. Oops!

Beet burgers with almond flour buns

Then we had salsify wrapped with pancetta and buckwheat…

Salsify wrapped in pancetta and buckwheat

And last, but not least, we had a charcuterie platter with bologna and lanzo (pork loin). Phew! That was a lot of food, and we hadn’t even started on our farmer’s feast courses yet!

Bologna and lanzo (pork loin) charcuterie

After the parade of amuse bouches finally ended, we were served a basket of potato onion bread with various accompaniments. The bread had a thick, crackly crust and a fluffy yet chewy interior.

Potato onion bread

Even after all the amuses, we couldn’t stop eating the bread because of the spreads they gave us to go with it. There was a whipped lard cottage cheese, Ronnybrook butter, and dehydrated beet salt. It was fun to smear on some butter or cottage cheese and sprinkle on the magenta colored salt. Everything was just so rich and flavorful.

Ronnybrook butter, whipped lard cottage cheese, dehydrated beet salt

Finally, our farmer’s feast started off with a piece of sea bass served with whole grain mustard and citrus. The sea bass was perfectly cooked, and it was a light, refreshing way to begin the main part of our meal.

Sea bass with whole grain mustard and citrus

Our next course had a very interesting presentation. It was a rutabaga wrapped in hay and cooked in a salt crust. They showed us what it looked like during the cooking process before giving us the finished dishes.

Rutabaga wrapped in hay and baked in a salt crust

The finished dish featured a slice of rutabaga with sauerkraut and a date puree. I’ve never had rutabaga before, and it tasted a bit like a sweet potato. It was sweet and a little smoky, but the dish lacked pizazz and was a bit one note.

Rutabaga with sauerkraut and date puree

Our third course was Maine shellfish with potatoes and spinach. The shellfish featured shrimp, mussels, and clams, and it was served in a large shot glass with a frothy blend of the potatoes and spinach. I wasn’t a huge fan of the froth, which was mostly airy bubbles, and I wished there was a bit more seafood inside.

Shellfish with potato and spinach

Our next course featured eggs, so they presented us with a “nest” of eggs while they explained the dish.

Nest of eggs

The dish itself was a stew of mushrooms and dehydrated vegetable with an egg in the middle, and lettuce froth. We broke open the egg to reveal a silky, bright orange yolk that ran into the stew, adding a wonderful richness to it. The dish was wonderfully composed and absolutely delicious. I didn’t even mind the lettuce froth, as it lightened the texture of the stew and was appropriate in this instance. This was one of my favorite dishes of the evening.

Farm egg stew with mushrooms, dehydrated vegetables, and lettuce froth

The next course featured cured unlaid eggs, which were dense orange globes that they grated over the dish.

Cured unlaid eggs

The eggs were grated over tortellinis filled with goat shoulder and served in a broth with sunchokes. The tortellinis were wonderfully meaty but not too gamey. The grated eggs looked like parmesan but had a totally different flavor and added some richness to the dish.

Tortellini with goat shoulder and sunchokes

Our last savory course was venison with miso glazed sweet potato and baby bok choy. The venison was prepared sous vide, rendering it melt in our mouths tender. The bok choy was crisp and fresh, and the sweet potato had a Japanese flavor to it thanks to the miso. It was a great combination of flavors, and I ate all of it even though I was stuffed to the gills by this point.

Venison with miso glazed sweet potato and bok choy

Our first dessert featured honey, and they showed us a board with fresh honeycomb.

Fresh honeycomb

The dessert was tofu with honey and meyer lemon. The tofu by itself was bland and kind of bitter, but took on a completely new character when eaten with the honey and lemon. It was sweet and sour and creamy all at the same time. The lemon made it very refreshing, and it was a good palate cleanser after all the savory foods we had.

Tofu with honey and meyer lemon

The last course in our farmer’s feast was a hazelnut crunch with cocoa nib ice cream and caramel. The hazelnut crunch part was kind of like an upscale candy bar, tasting a bit like a Ferrero Rocher. It had thin crunchy layers and a strong hazelnut flavor. It was a pretty rich dessert, good for any chocolate fan, and a strong finish to the feast.

Hazelnut crunch with cocoa nib ice cream and caramel

Finally, we ended with some little sweet and savory treats, featuring a yogurt all spice marshmallow, flax seed caramel, and dark chocolate. Even though I was bursting at the seams by this point, I couldn’t resist. I liked that everything wasn’t overly sweet and sugary, and it was a lovely note on which to finish the meal.

Yogurt all spice marshmallow, flax seed caramel, chocolate

After our meal, we were taken on a tour of the kitchen, which is always a treat. We got to meet Chef Dan Barber and see the action going on in the kitchen. There was definitely lots of cooking on, though it was composed chaos and everything looked pretty orderly. We did ask for Chef Barber’s permission before taking some photos.

Chef Dan Barber in the kitchen (he's the one with the purple dish towel)

Overall I think we had mixed feelings about our meal at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. The setting is really lovely and the service was top notch, but the food was a bit inconsistent. We loved every single amuse bouche (all seven!) and the meal got off to an amazing start. Afterward, however, the courses were up and down. The highlights for me were the egg/mushroom/dehydrated vegetable stew and the venison, but the rest of the courses were just ok. Adequate, but not spectacular. On the bright side, all of the vegetables in each of the dishes were absolute standouts. Farm to table cuisine is really something special, and makes you appreciate the beauty of fresh, seasonal produce. While I don’t think this meal cracks our top 5, it definitely still ranks up there in the top 10, and it was a great overall dining experience.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns
630 Bedford Rd.
Pocantico Hills, NY