Every now and then, I eat in a restaurant where I have an absolutely perfect meal. Recently, it was at Lyle’s where James Lowe cooks beautiful dishes that are light, elegant and totally exquisite. A year or so ago, I finally ate at Faviken and Nilsson’s food was just as light and elegant and possibly even more pure than Lowe’s. In between, I went to Blue Hill at Stone Barns where I have been wanting to go for years but never got round to it until, that is, my new wonderful agent, Nicole, took me there to celebrate my joining her agency. Our meal there was also memorable, for the setting, the company and of course the food which was delightful, starting with this lovely arrangement of freshly picked radishes, each individually spiked onto a long wooden log. They were served alongside the crunchiest and most delicious ice lettuce (or ficoïde glaciale) which I was tasting for the first time, tiny baby carrots with their tender stalks and leaves on, asparagus, greens spiked into edible earth, a delightful drink and various delicate sauces to dip this incredibly fresh bounty into. Below, you can see some of the selection arranged on my plate — the dark blob is beetroot jerky — and I have to say vegetables never tasted so good, nor looked so pretty!
Another unusual vegetable that came later was tender fiddlehead ferns prettily arranged on an exquisite seed cracker and garnished with mustard flowers (I think). I remember eating similar ferns in Kamchatcka together with mushrooms when we stopped at a roadside cafe and ordered what the locals were eating. It was the only decent meat I ate while there.
Because I have waited so long before posting about the meal, I don’t remember all what we ate despite the photographs but I remember how exquisite each dish was and how varied, and in some cases how intriguing, so, I thought I would post the photographs and the menu at the bottom for you to enjoy and be inspired to go if you haven’t been! The photos are arranged in the same order as the handwritten dishes in the menu although I have not posted all of them.
The succession of dishes, mostly vegetarian with an accent on crisp herbs and greens kind of reminded me of our mezze even if none of the dishes bore any resemblance to ours. It was more the style of eating and the freshness of everything as well as the variety not to mention the sense of aesthetics which of course is a lot more sophisticated at Blue Hill.
And like in Lebanon, where the waiter moves you to another pristine table for the sweets and fruit course, we were taken to the most beautiful outbuilding for our desserts, each of which was just exquisite. When I left, I asked if they could email me the menu so that I could remember everything we ate and not only did I receive one, but it was also kindly signed by Dan Barber inviting us to return for the tomatoes. I hope there will still be tomatoes in September when I return to New York and I hope that I will be able to go back to Blue Hill, perhaps again with Nicole and John. Until then, I am sending my brother and his wife, both gourmets. I am sure they will absolutely adore their meal there like we did!