Monday, May 17, 2010

to be or not to be: blue hill at stone barns

This past weekend found us on the road to one of my favorite places within an hour of NYC. You'd never imagine that just up the Hudson River lies 80 acres of rolling farmland that encourages trespassing. In addition to plump pigs, moo-cows and feisty chickens, Stone Barns is home to one of the most talked about restaurants in the NYC, Blue Hill. A real "foodie's paradise," Blue Hill at Stone Barns embodies the locavore attitude in full, sourcing their ingredients from Stone Barns and surrounding farms in the Hudson Valley. I've only read about the infamous $140 no-menu prix fixe but it seems to rival Napa Valley's French Laundry in mystery.

But what I do know is that the Blue Hill Cafe at Stone Barns is the "everyman" version of the restaurant, with equal deliciousness. We saved our appetites for the drive upstate and feasted on spring quiche with broccoli rabe and goat cheese, a sweet beet salad, a fingerling potato frittata, a cheddar and jalapeno scone and warm cookies straight from the oven. Uh-mazing.

After stuffing our faces we walked off some calories with a tour of the grounds, including face time with some of the farms most charming inhabitants. As we came full circle I almost caved and bought one of Red Barn Bakery's beautiful apple/rhubarb pies that were for sale at the farmers market on the grounds. But, my full belly got the best of me and I shuffled into the car to head back to the city.

I got home and inspired by my time at the farm got to thinking about how to make my baking dreams a reality. So with some encouragement from a few friends, I'd love to hear from you. There are tons of "mail order" bakeries online, but would you consider signing up for a CSA-style bakery that delivers seasonal baked goods (e.g. apple pies and zucchini bread in the fall, rhubarb and strawberry tarts in the spring, etc.) on a bi-weekly or monthly basis? Kind of a surprise goodie basket filled with deliciousness - bringing the neighborhood bakery to you. Let me know your thoughts - ya'lls opinions count!

No real recipe post today - I spent my baking energies on a chocolate chip-walnut banana bread by request for a friend. It's a tried and true recipe (despite the author of it), and you can find it here if you're in the mood for some warmth. Try this toasted with a smear of almond butter, cold for breakfast, or warmed with fresh butter for dessert.

I'll be back later in the week with some sweets but in the meantime, please leave a comment about my business plan concept. It's time to get this thing off the ground!


Emily said...

girl! i CANNOT believe you got jeff to eat that food. nice work!!!

Joanne said...

I think a mail-order bakery is a really great idea, especially for people who love home-baked goods but don't really have time to bake...and I'm SURE NYC is full of people like that (hello UES!). And I bet you would also do a fabulous job catering for parties and such. That bread looks delicious. Tried and true is often the way to go.

Nadine said...

I love the idea of local/seasonal. And while I can't commit to a CSA, I think could better commit to someone baking for me ;)

Pricing of course is key because shipping would be expensive (due to shelf life).

I say go for it!

cmarusic said...

Thanks for the DELICIOUS banana bread. There isn't one morsel left! xoxo

Elizabeth said...

Love the CSA bakery idea - it's the perfect marriage of traditional CSA - meets baker's paradise. Go for it!

heidwella said...

I think the bakery idea is a GREAT idea! I spend days drooling over your blog, but never have the time or th resources to try out the recipes. I'd buy, depending on price (shipping cross country might be expensive)

Heather said...

Great idea. Are you thinking just a local thing (with in-person drop-off), or shipping? Maybe start with the local route, and see how it goes from there?

LOVE Stone Barns. We went to their annual Harvest Fest last October, and it was really fun. Got to feed pigs, watch the sheep run, go on a hayride, etc. For my 30th, we did the no-menu farmers feast at Blue Hill. Heavenly. Worth the splurge for a grand occasion. I think we were there for four hours, and we still talk about it. (It was definitely less than 140--perhaps it's gone up since then.)

Beth said...

Emily- He loved it! Who knew..

Joanne- Thanks for your input, I think there could be a market in NYC, just have to think about what my niche is to capture the right audience

Nadine- Thanks for the support, chica!

Christina- Glad you guys liked it :)

Elizabeth- Yay! Thanks for the props!

Heidwella- Glad to hear you would buy outside of NYC. The pricing will be key but I think it could be done..

Heather- Yes, thinking of starting in NYC and seeing where it takes me. I love Stone Barns too! Definitely want to get to Blue Hill at Stone Barns this year for a special dinner

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