Blue Hill at Stone Barns, New Year's Eve '06-'07

In was fantastic.

My wife and I had the pleasure of enjoying the second seating with our usual dining partners Sue Anne and Doug. It was a chef's 7-course tasting menu (Dan Barber was in the kitchen). Doug and I went for the wine pairings, which really made the meal complete.

We arrived a little early and enjoyed some cocktails in the lounge by the fireplace. I had a glass of Mont-Ferrant Rose Brut Cava, Danna had the elderberry and cava cocktail, Sue Anne had something called Snowflake (quince juice, elderflower syrup, sake and apple infused vodka), and Doug had a glass of Wandering Poet sake. All were very good.

Amuse Bouche
This was simply called "Caviar".
This was a three piece amuse served on a piece of slate. It included: kumamoto oyster, pomegranate granite and trout caviar; smoked salmon, beets and American stugeon caviar; and something called (appropriately enough) potato cloud with herring caviar. The wine choice was Pierre Gimmonet 'Brut Blanc de Blancs' 1ier Cru, Cuis, Champagne. Fantastic. The smoked salmon was excellent and the potato cloud was really something.

1st Course
We had a choice of two options. Fortunately, the girls ordered one thing and the guys ordered the other, which enabled us to try the entire menu.

"Golden Farm Egg"
This was a mushroom and parmesan broth with herbs and lemon zest. It was incredibly flavorful - with each ingrediant having its moment on one's tongue. I've had some overly salty broths/soups at Blue Hill in the past - but not tonight. This was right on.

"Foie Gras Terrine"
Possibly the best foie gras terrine I've ever had. The presentation was equally terrific. The foie gras was half an inch thick and about 3 inches long with a variety of toppings evenly spaced. The first section was a dried apricot, next was dried capers, the next was a combo of salt chips and walnuts and lastly yellow paddlefish roe. The sides of the foie gras featured chocolate wafers. The dish was plated with a walnut crumble similar to what you might see on a Wylie Dufresne (WD~50) dish. Finishing the plate was a well balanced (savory/sweet) citrus and shallot marmalade. The wine choice for this was Wegeler Riesling Spatlese 'Wehlener Sonnenur' 2005 (Mosel).

2nd Course
The delicate piece of fish was served to look like it had scales - which were purposefully placed slivers of seared scallops. It also came with braised endive and beet juice. Similar to something I've had at Fleur de Sel, but much better.

"Truffled Lasagne"
This was one large strand of housemade lasagne wrapped beautifully , encasing a chesnut confit, leeks and black truffle - which was nicely pronounced. This was very rich (especially when compared to the Turbot) and delicious. It was served with Roger Sabon Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc 'Cuvee Renaissance' 2005 which cut the richness very well.

3rd Course
"Maine Lobster"
This, and the next dishes were clearly prepared sous vide to great effect. There were no options - everyone got lobster. Lobster tail and claw were served with braised red cabbage and horseradish with all flavors being amplified. This was served with a Clairborne & Churchill Pinot Noir 2005 (Edna Valley, CA) - a very earthy and heady wine.

4th Course
"Poached Duck"
Six perfectly evenly cut pieces of seared-then-sous vide pieces of duck were served with braised dumplings with foie gras and a quenelle of something (blended dates and turnips?). The dumpling, which might have been fashioned out of a cabbage leaf, was excellent. One of the best items of the night.

"Loin of Lamb"
Five or six pieces of lamb, also seared and then most likely cooked sous vide to the perfect/even internal temperature, was served with minted spinach (loved it) and chickpeas and chickpea puree. This was served with Chateau La Tour Haut-Brion 1999 (Graves, Bordeaux). Excellent.

Dessert Amuse
Apple gelee, mousse and sorbet. Apple, apple, apple. If you love apples or even just like them...this was amazing. So pronounced. So delicate. So perfect. And as a palate really did the trick.

"Chocolate Cake"
This was a two part dish. The chocolate cake was served with hazelnut mousse and on the side was a quenelle of coffee icecream. This was served with Toro Albala 'PX' Gran Reserva 1971 (Cordoba, Spain) - Doug had this and shared. What a fun pairing.

"Meyer Lemon Gratin"
A warm meyer lemon compote was served alongside a sorbet served wrapped in its braised peel. This was served with Darting Huxelrebe Beerenauslese 'Forster Schepfenflug' 2003 (Pfalz, Germany) - apparently a very rare wine made of two rare grape varieties. It went very well with the dessert.

Right after our Apple dessert amuses and prior to the dessert, our waiters gave us two straw cowboy hats filled with noise makers, feather masks and bull "noses". Glasses of an unknown champagne were also served at the same time.

The civilized group of diners quickly transformed into something you might see in the opening scenes of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was great. Then as the clock struck midnight, the entire back of house staff, led by a pot-banging Dan Barber, paraded around the dining room wearing the same festive costumery (?) and using the noise makers.

They went back to the kitchen and turned out our desserts, coffee and petit fours. The petit fourse were: a white chocolate granola thingy that was amazing, a baba rum cake, a mint chocolate block that was "fluffy" in texture, similar to something you'd get at Wil Goldfarb's Room 4 Dessert, and lastly an apple mille feuille.

I couldn't have asked for a better meal (or company). The atmosphere was also just what we were looking for. Of the five trips I've made to Blue Hill at Stone Barns - this was the best yet. I wish we had photos to share, but the cameras battery crapped out on us when we got there.


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