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  1. that's the most difficult question to date. Most enjoyed eating? Depends on the time of year. Same with cooking. But if you're in soon have something with apricots. There are several dishes. The red jacket apricots this year are incredible.
  2. We're working on a vegetarian tasting now, actually, so your point is well taken. We had one when we first opened but there were issues with being able to sell it, as in we could not sell it. But thanks for the suggestion. Remember this: any time you come in to Blue Hill just ask for a vegetarian chef's menu. We'd be happy to prepare it for you.
  3. I am more bemused than surprised by your "term for this phenomenon", by your association between eating and relieving yourself. Your example has me baffled. Apparently you had to go to the bathroom, and because you were sitting on a corner banquet, table #28--our most requested table-- "the whole row had to reconfigure to allow them to move". But the whole row is 30 yards, and though I didn't witness this I can't imagine your movements disrupted 9 other tables. But your point, that restaurants in New York tend to be tight on space, is quite right. What I am surprised about, being that it appears you are a savvy diner who eats out often, is that you don’t calculate the (relatively) inexpensive food compared with the (relatively) high quality. So your question, "How do you try and balance the financial needs and the determination to offer value and a pleasant dining experience" is difficult to answer because it appears, from your earlier review of Blue Hill after you ate here, that we are not doing a particularly good job at striking that balance. It boils down to real estate. $32 for salmon? No probems getting to the restroom. $23? It will be more of a challenge. May I make a suggestion? You dined at 8PM, crunch time as it's called in the business. If personal space is a high priority (nothing wrong with that), come dine at 6PM. You could drive a tractor trailer through the dining room at that hour. And ask for table #44. It's next to the bathroom.
  4. Mike and I have known each other about 10 years. We have a similar level of training, French inspired, but from different chefs completely. We're still figuring out the process of working together. Some dishes are shared imputs, others are inspired from talking to each other about what's available, still others are inspired by reaching for different things during the rush of preparing an extra course for a regular customer. Because of this, or in spite of it, we're cautious about a ton of imput from other cooks. Too many opinions.
  5. I truly love to cook, that's true, but the love of it gets lost. I can't single out one reason, but the first that comes to mind is the 7 nights a week burden. And it's a burden whether I'm sauting fish or seeing a movie. This business is filled with great highs and tremendous lows, but the constant is--and here it's more a personality trait--the constant fear of failure. That is an everyday feeling one way or another. What brings a tremendous satisfaction to me, and here I wouldn't trade owning a restaurant for anything, is the ability to bring about more awareness of how the food we choose to eat affects the world we live in. I've written about this in several other answers, so I won't enlarge the point further here, but suffice to say I'm intoxicated with the crumb of power I've achieved by the success of Blue Hill. So, my actual love of cooking may be compromised a bit by the realities of owning a restaurant, but it's provided me with the pulpit of sorts to speak about what's important to me.
  6. I agree, there has not been a dramatic shift in the food at Blue Hill and I'm happy you noticed. There's a philosophy, a formula in place, and I think, I hope, that it's bigger than Mike or me. But there have been several improvements, especially in technique, and Mike has been a great help here for sure, as well as introducing me to ingredients that I had not felt comfortable using. I think in the Fall you'll see many more changes and I hope you'll agree we're moving in the right direction. As for tasting menus, your assumption is correct. The kitchen, the front of house, everyone save the dishwasher because of the extra work, respects the table that orders the tasting menu. It changes daily. It's a challenge to produce. It makes life here invigorating. And I think it represents the spirit of what we do more than anything else.
  7. There's a big difference between white Copper river and the red, and yes, I think you could taste the difference blindfolded if you concentrated on fat content--the white salmon is clearly much greater. As for Cabrales, I doubt I would ever want to go after young wild salmon. Besides being a danger to the species, you're paying for the fat, and younger salmon have had less time to develop fat and flavor.
  8. Thank you for the kind words. Is there a danger of over refinement? And if I understand your question correctly, you're wondering if refinement and bold flavors and textures can coexist on one table. This is very difficult to answer because you've touched on my culinary insecurity (one of many). I wonder often if my food is a bit flat, and if I couldn't put a bit more spice and punch in some dishes. The truth is I don't know how, not well anyway, and I admire chefs who can strike with every bite. But are we in danger of over refinement? I doubt that. Blue Hill is a particular cuisine, and the range of tastes are less dramatic than others, but it seems to me there is something to celebrate there as long as you can vary your dining experiences in other restaurants. What I hear you saying is that your experience here has made you appreciate our cooking for it's subtlety, which is a great compliment to me, maybe the greatest, and I guess I would caution against equating that with over refinement.
  9. Hi Steve, "New techniques" depends on how you define them, but I suppose the short answer to your question is that I don't see anything on the culinary horizon. It seems to me that cuisine has evolved to the point that any "new technique" will be one that's been done before but never hit mainstream or was captured by the food media, or by egulllet. I'd look to Spain for possibilities. There's a tremendous amount of creative cuisine happening in that country.
  10. A favorite dish to make? Depends entirely on the time of year, but asuming you mean right now, I'll go with pasta and tomato sauce. I remember finishing a summer job in Provence, an incredibly abusive job that made me question what exactly I was doing with my life. I took the TGV to Monoco to have lunch at Alain Ducasse. This was 1994, and Chef Ducasse was recognized with 3 stars but was not quite the international sensation he is today. My lunch lasted 4 hours and in many ways I have not been the same since. But in answer to your question, I was served a pasta with tomato sauce and tomato confit and that's it. I'll never forget it, but less for the taste and much more for the boldness of the dish. He was saying, I think in essence, there isn't anything much better than that in the middle of the summer. And he was right. So it's what I'll be making tonight, now that you've reminded me of it.
  11. cabrales, For the foie gras dish at Blue Hill we use a grade A liver that comes from a farm in the Hudson Valley called, Bobo. The foie is portioned into thick slabs and seasoned generously with cracked black pepper, fleur de sel and Aleppo pepper. It is placed on the rack of the stove top-steamer, set at a very low steam. There is, in fact, some rendering of the foie but surprisingly not all that much. The little fat that drips into the steamer can be saved by allowing the water to cool, the fat solidifies and you can remove it for other uses. This rendered fat can be used in finishing sauces, sauteing vegetables or adding a extra layer of flavor in broths. We make a rich duck consomme and infuse maitake mushrooms to accompany the foie. I am fond of the small japanese turnips and use them to garnish this dish. Thanks for the question. Mike
  12. Bux, Again, I think that as an "American" restaurant we are less bound by tradition and able to explore many interesting directions with food and beverage pairing and yes, we do pair sake and beer with appropriate items on our tasting menu at Blue Hill. The importation of premium sake in the United States has increased dramatically in both volume and quality. We now have better access to amazing sake from small producers; unpasturized, unfiltered and best of all, seasonal! Keep in mind these products are very fragile and have to be transported and stored under specific conditions in order to preserve their unique and complex characteristics. Dark ales and blond wheat beers have been on our mind recently as well. Some outstanding beers are brewed locally! Here some examples of recent pairings that I am particularly excited about: Harushika - "shiboribana" with Maine crab salad Beamish - irish stout with hanger steak and braised romaine Gueze - by Lindeman's with the Apple-fed Berkshire Pork and corn cakes Ramstein - blond bavarian style wheat beer ( brewed in Butler, N.J.) with steamed foie gras Thanks for asking such an interesting question. We do plan to continue to explore oustanding food and beverage marriages. Mike
  13. I'll try to answer both Nina and Jordyn together. We offer a tasting menu that includes three savory courses and two dessert courses for $ 65.00. You can choose to have wines paired with the each course for an additional $ 30.00. Yes, we will accomodate all dietary restrictions and try to be as flexible as possible when considering guests personal requests and tastes. Our approach is to personalize the customers' dining experience as much as we possibly can. We change the tasting menu daily and I find that is one of the most exciting sources of inspiration for us. Hope you will give it a try. Mike
  14. chopjwu12, I agree that regular maintenance using a waterstone is the best approach to keeping your knives in great shape. I use a traditional approach to sharpening my knives. The knife stays at a 20 degree angle to the stone at all times. I use my right hand to guide the knife and my left hand to apply light pressure at different points on the back of the cutting edge. I am sure you know this technique but for those of you who are unfamiliar with using a waterstone, I highly recommend a visit to Korin, at 57 Warren Street for a demonstration. Mike