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Blue Hill (NYC)


Mao
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Did they tell you they were peaches de vigne when you ate there last night? Because they didnt tell me and i was wondering why they were so red. I just assumed it was from being poached in rose.

chop -- Yes, the dining room team member who assisted our table provided the description without my inquiring at all. I might have figured out on my own it was peche de vigne because I had seen a picture of an open peche de vigne in Gourmet magazine and I have been looking to sample peches de vigne. I've had a more regular-variety peach in a predessert at Blue Hill, and definitely prefer the peches de vigne.

Speaking of peaches and their relatives, I sampled a mango/nectarine hybrid recently. It was only average. :hmmm:

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It's not like I don't have the opportunity to go with egullet groups - I'm actually planning on going with ONE PERSON, a non-egulleteer, if such a thing is imagineable.  :biggrin:

Just so you go. We don't need no stinkin' earthquake. :cool:

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if it's up to egullet, blue hill will be the next GT.  :blink:

from what i've heard, i like it just the way it is, please.

cabrales, thanks for your post. makes me want to go tonight before they serve all the peaches de vigne they have.....do you ever have cheese there?

Nesita -- Note the menu, at least sometimes, changes daily. :laugh:

One fascinating question is whether a diner familiar with Blue Hill could tell if Dan or Mike or both are in the kitchen, if she were not advised on a given night. Obviously, I have not visited close to enough times to be positioned to address this question. I have wondered about this question in the context of historically, Albert/Michel Roux in earlier periods of Le Gavroche, the current twins at Montpellier Jacques and Laurent Pourcel (even though Jacques cooks less than Laurent apparently), the period when Pierre and Michel Troisgros were cooking together, Jean/Pierre, Jacques Lameloise/his father, Marc Haeberlin/his father, Jean-Michel Lorain/his father, etc.

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ummm....the food is different? :hmmm:

seriously...two out of the three kids cook beautifully, and similarly to each other, but the third one (one of the sons, i won't say which), is just not as good.

mind you, this is not about the pizza - that's dom and dom alone. this is about the other food, which is also wonderful. just a bit MORE wonderful when it isn't that particular son.

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Cabrales, thanks for answering my question about the difference between the inclusion of citrus here and elsewhere in the tomato salad. We agreed the other night that it was unecessary and maybe better left out in one particular dish, although the slight flavor of the juice was a positive addition to the dish. I'd be the first one to agree that it's almost always a matter of balance rather than one specific ingredient. There are combinations of foods I will rarely order on my own although they've become commonplace in American restaurants, yet I've had those ingredients marry in a dish that was part of a tasting menu in certain places. I'll often order a tasting menu just so I'm not iinfluenced by my prejudices, but that doesn't mean my prejudices aren't reinforced when I get the combination I dislike. Blue Hill and Daniel are two restaurants that I almost absolutely trust to send me food that will thrill without exception, even when the list of ingredients might have deterred me from ordering the dish in question. That's different from saying they're the two best, my two favorites, or even the two most trustworthy restaurants in NY, but it is a testament to my sense of their sense of balance.

Nina, we all love Blue Hill and you've never been there. Has it occurred to you that there's some natural order in this and that you may be challenging the gods by attempting to dine there? Your not eating there is just a small sacrifice we're all prepared to make.

:hmmm::smile::biggrin::laugh:

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Cabrales, thanks for answering my question about the difference between the inclusion of citrus here and elsewhere in the tomato salad.

Yes, it's telling how the same key ingredients of Tim Stark's heirloom tomatoes and citrus produced rather different results.

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Last night, Blue Hill offered a "Celebrating the Tomato" dinner.

ahr, jordyn, stefanyb, Toby and I were on hand to sample the dishes described below. eGulleteers occupied three tables, as Nina W and a friend were present and Bux and his family also dined. Many of us chatted when we visited other tables, or at the end of our meals. The dining room team provided outstanding assistance, particularly Christopher (the dining room manager) in his elucidation of various paired wines. Mike Anthony greeted all of us in his wonderfully welcoming manner at the end of the meal.

-- Amuses: Tiny tomato stuffed with crabmeat and its "lid" on top; shotglass of tomato consome

-- Tomato Terrine, with a Confit of Heirlooms and Tomato Sorbet (for 1/2 the diners)

-- Tomatoes! (for the other diners)

-- Chatham Halibut, Crusted with Tomato, Mussel and Ginger Broth

-- Loin of Lamb, Tomato, Zucchini and Eggplant "Tart"

-- "Peches au Vin", Macerated Peaches in a Light Rose Wine Syrup, Peach Granite and Tomato Gelee

-- Plums and Tomatoes, in Phyllo Dough with Plum Sorbet

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I had a grand time. I was delighted with the service - everyone could not possibly have been nicer. I was so glad to meet Stefany, Toby, Jordyn, and Bux in person. My companion and I ordered steamed foie gras in addition to the menu, and Mike ignored the request and made a special foie gras dish - slices of white nectarine, pistachios, port (I think) reduction sauce, sauteed foie gras - it was marvelous. And they gave us glasses of madeira to accompany it.

This morning I visited Toby and bought glorious tomatoes, and lo and behold, Dan and Mike were there - nice to be able to thank them again. Toby pointed out somebody buying for Lupa, where I'm dining next week, so that was a kick, too.

Apparently I missed both Liza and Cabby this morning...

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I wondered whether the tomato menu might be forced and it wasn't. Tomatoes took a central role in the terrine and appeared in a major supporting supporting role in the fish and a minor supporting role in the dessert, where one might have expected them to make a forced statement, and finally they took a back seat in the lamb dish. The stuffed grape tomato amuse was not very creative but packed a great deal of flavor into that tiny green tomato stuffed with crab meat. The shotglass of tomato consomme--really clear tomato water with (I think--lemon thyme) and a bit of tomato sorbet was quite contemporary. It was however, the only amuse soup I've had there I wouldn't have wanted to have as a full bowl. That's not really a negative criticism as I don't believe it was offered as a full course and worked as a shot. It did remind me a bit of a recipe of Steve Klc's for gazpacho based on a tomato water base. I suspect there are a lot of tomato water recipes floating around the restaurants that I just haven't tried.

I find halibut a difficult fish to prepare in terms of proper cooking as well as garnishing and seasoning. My halibut last night was among the best I've had and that opinion was shared by the chef at our table who had prepared most of the other halibut dishes that would be in contention for the honor of best I've ever had. The tomato bread crumb crust was almost "crustless" and vaguely transparent, yet increcibly effective. The broth and the stuff in it were powerfully subtle. That sort of contradiction is how I can best describe the strength of the kitchen. This is not a fresser's restaurant. I think it's best enjoyed by tasters and savorers who come to food in slow deliberate bites.

The predessert, rose wine based "soup" if I'm not mistaken, was typical of the very fine light and refreshing predessert treats I've head at Blue Hill.

The highlight of the dinner, for me (for others at my table it was the fish) was the tomato terrine and Tim Stark whose Pennsylvania farm supplies the heirloom tomatoes to Blue Hill and many of the better and best restaurants in NYC has to share the spotlight. His stand is where you'll find Toby on most Mondays and Wednesdays. Wednesday is reputedly the big day to find chefs shopping in the market although I've run into Mike and Dan on a Saturday and seen other chefs on a Monday. When I first saw heirlooms for sale in the market I was as skeptical as I usually am about the quality to price ratio of any "premium product" and have to say I was not an early purchaser. It took a tasting or two elsewhere to convince us to try them at home. It's not that one can say they are twice as good as a beefsteak or plum tomato as much as it's easier to say they are almost an entirely diferent set of species. From variety to variety I may see greater differences than between all the commercial tomatoes I've ever had in my life.

If those who took the wine pairings remember and would care to share the names or even types selected, I'd be interested in hearing. Having arrived after toasting my daughter's birthday with bubbly, we opted for a bottle of NZ sauvignon blanc and a St. Chinian. I kind of enjoyed the segue from white to red during the halibut--so much for those who place faith in the "perfect" wine for each and every food and I clearly have no comprehension of how someone could profess to enjoy just white wine or just red. The sauvignon blanc was a pretty unanimous choice at our table. The St. Chinian was a suggestion from the waiter who seemed to know what he was talking about in response to my questions about the Rhone wines on the list. Interestingly, he chose to suggest a downscale Languedoc and an upscale Italian wine.

We enjoyed meeting the other members and were sorry not to get a chance to dine and talk with them and particularly with those we had not met before--or at least we were sorry to some small degree as we were with our two favorite dining companions.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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egullet is getting so exlusionary.

Dan noted there were three tables of members. I can only presume there were a couple of tables of lurkers. :biggrin:

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Last night's dinner at Blue Hill was great fun. Having never before met Nina, Jordyn, Toby or Bux, for me the food would have had to be pure ambrosia to beat out the crowd. I have to say, it didn't.

The Tomatoes! course was truly exceptional. I could have eaten a bowl of it and been perfectly happy to then conclude with the predessert and the dessert.

Upon mentally reviewing the whole menu, I realize that there were no starches in any of the dishes. The lamb had no cous cous or potatoes (one chunk in the eggplant tart that I failed to notice) and the halibut was on a bed of tomatoes (appropriately, of course). In retrospect, I think I liked the lightness of all the courses but that's probably why Bux said that this is not a place for fressers and I agree.

Considering that it was a Tuesday night and we didn't get up from the table until 12:30, the lightness of the meal was actually welcome, by me at least. I think Cabby was still hungry, though (I guess it was too late for Pommes Frites for post-dessert).

Summary: Great experience, good food, excellent company

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I realize that there were no starches in any of the dishes.  The lamb had no cous cous or potatoes (one chunk in the eggplant tart that I failed to notice) and the halibut was on a bed of tomatoes

What about the bread crumbs on the halibut? :hmmm:

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I realize that there were no starches in any of the dishes.  The lamb had no cous cous or potatoes (one chunk in the eggplant tart that I failed to notice) and the halibut was on a bed of tomatoes

What about the bread crumbs on the halibut? :hmmm:

You've got me there! Actually, though, didn't that topping on the halibut really function as vegetable. After all, it was not crispy or even bready. We had a long debate about the ingredients it contained and it took quite a few minutes before anyone suggestesd bread. We all were puzzling over whether or not there were carrots or squash in there. Actually, I think it was the combination of the tomatoes and the butter with the bread that fooled our tastebuds and our eyes. (butter in tomato sauce always seems to turn the color orangey).

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I loved the halibut, and the crust was good.  Wouldn't it have been interesting if they had used tomato seeds as a crust?

That is a knockout idea. I wonder if anyone has ever actually done it. Bring the toothpicks for that one.

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I was subjectively ever-so-slightly disappointed by the tomato dinner at Blue Hill, although my extremely high expectations (resulting from prior wonderful meals at the restaurant) brought into the meal were a major cause for that. As Bux noted, the tomato ingredient was not the dominant ingredient in the halibut or the lamb. For me, the meal would have been aided by according greater prominence to the tomatoes in such dishes, so that tomatoes would have been the principal ingredient of every dish. That goes to the question of expectations too – as to how a meal in celebration of an ingredient unfolds. (I can appreciate the counterargument that diners generally expect a fish and meat dish in a tasting menu, and would be less receptive to tomato-based entree-type dishes) While the meal was not as wonderful to me as other recent meals at BH, it was still good.

As Bux noted, the amuse of a tiny tomato with crabmeat inside was nice. The crabmeat was appropriately salted and flavorful, and the bit of tomato “lid” sitting on top of the crabmeat was cute in appearance. I liked the shot of tomato consome – there were subtle flowery notes (to be clear, not resulting from the utilization of flowers).

The tomato terrine was the best dish of the evening, although the Tomatoes! dish rivaled it. The tomatoes utilized in the terrine were fleshy and dense – meaty, and likely included plum tomato-like heirloom varieties. In addition, the terrine was an exploration of the sweetness of such tomatoes. A well-conceived dish. This was matched with a Timarasso produced in the Piedmont region by a producer called Massa, which ahr and I discussed and considered a good match for the dishes. The Timarasso grape was described to us by Christopher as being to some extent similar to Arneis, which I had sampled by the quartino at Esca.

The halibut was well-prepared, upon reflection. The skinless top portion of the filet was covered by a layer of soft, orange-colored material that included tomatoes. However, that layer was a bit more complex than that – it also had butter, some type of citrus juice and possibly (??) a puree of perhaps carrot or pumpkin or squash or alternatively super-softened breadcrumbs. As Bux described, the tomatoes occupied only a major supporting role in this dish – I would have hoped for the utilization of tomatoes in a more “unimpeded” manner. The mussels were nice in the saucing. This dish was served with an Italian white – Felluga.

The lamb part of the main was alright – a bit salty for my tastes. Some of my dining companions provided the counterargument that the “gros sel” utilization was intended to be salty; however, I still considered the lamb oversalted. Also, a bit too heavy a hand with white pepper in places. The lamb seemed disconnected within the composition of the dish from the wonderful tomato/eggplant/crisp zucchini/soft onion tart that accompanied it. The tart was enhanced by the inclusion of mushrooms, and its surprisingly attractive hot temperature (it was quite hot!). There was also, within the tart, a little patch of fingerling potatoes with walnut butter that was appealing. Overall, a good dish because of the tomato-based tart. This was served with a plummy, cherry-noted Caparoso from California.

Then, a pre-dessert about which I had mixed reactions. I considered the yellow-colored peaches and the syrup in this item to be alright, but the little soft cubes of tomato gelee incorporated into the syrup were special. Slightly salty, and expressive of tomato flavors. The dessert – tomatoes were not sufficiently pronounced in it relative to my unusual subjective expectations. :wink:

And kudos to jordyn for organizing the get-together :laugh:

_____________

Separately and as mentioned by other members, BH’s chefs participated in the Cooking Game organized by Adam Gopnik, as described in an article in The New Yorker’s Food Issue. There is quite a bit of information on Dan in particular:

“A year ago, I wandered into Blue Hill, which he [Dan] oversees with his fellow-chef Michael Anthony, expecting the kind of well-meaning meal you get from a young guy who has cooked for a couple of years in France, and instead ate as good a meal as any I have had outside the three-star places in Paris. Describing food is difficult, not because we can’t capture in words things that are sensual . . . but because memorable description depends on startling metaphors, and startling metaphors depend on a willingness to be startled. . . . . If someone wrote, for instance, that Dan Barber’s foie gras with ground coffee beans is at once as inevitable as a tide and as astonishing as a wave, the reader’s first response would be to think, quite rightly, that it is not, at all. (And yet it is.) . . . . ‘Dan has this whole right-brain, left-brain thing going, which is rare for one of us,’ another cook said. . . . the way he . . . talks (acerbic, observant, self-critical) . . . . I was drawn to Dan Barber, though, because, alone among the cooks, he had what every doctrine ought to inspire, and that is doubts, and not just doubts but Doubts. . . . [H]e still wasn’t sure he wanted to spend the rest of his life cooking. He is in the position of a trombone virtuoso who never exactly intended to be a trombone player. ‘I mean, do I really want to spend my life doing this?’ he said one morning. . . .”

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