If you want to see the food chain in operation, head out to the nonprofit Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, in the tony town of Pocantico Hills, New York. Located on land that once belonged to the Rockefellers, the center comprises a working organic farm and an educational facility dedicated to the promotion of sustainable agriculture. But visitors don't just get to look at and learn about food they also get to taste it at the on-site Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant, set up by Manhattan restaurateur Dan Barber, his brother David and sister-in-law Laureen. It's there to help fulfill the center's mission of showcasing the importance of natural farming methods and also to take advantage of the proximity of all that first-rate produce. Cows and sheep roam freely. Pigs loll in the shade. And yes, they will be the evening meal. Barber has built a slaughterhouse on the grounds so that animals raised humanely die humanely and transport costs can be saved.
As you would expect, dishes at Blue Hill are all about seasonality. In fact, the menu is simply a list of foods in season. Even the aperitifs have a garden-fresh quality (try the purple-basil mojito or the cucumber martini). On the night we went, dinner included miniature beet burgers, homemade gnocchi with corn-ravioli stuffing, and Berkshire pork with carrots. Almost everything was produced on the spot and tasted like it.
A five-course menu at Blue Hill costs $95. For reservations, call (1-914) 366 9600.
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