Wednesday, September 2, 2009


One of my favorite excursions this summer was the trip I took to Blue Hill Farm at Stone Barn Center near Tarrytown, NY with my friend, Deborah (one of the authors of "Grapes and Greens" food and wine blog) and her friend, Ilene. It's only about an hour north of New York City, but feels miles from the skyscrapers, noise, and traffic.

We had a blast spending the day poking around the huge, beautiful kitchen garden outside the restaurant near the outdoor dining space and strolling through the fields of organic, heirloom, and varietal produce. There were adorable hand-painted signs at the end of some rows and some of the most beautiful grape vines I have ever seen. There were rows upon rows of culinary crops in the field, being carefully tended by the friendly farm-hands. There were kitchen staff and prep cooks in white coats out picking what they needed to prep for that evening's dinner service. We even saw the famous owner and chef, Dan Barber, ride by on a cart wearing his white kitchen coat with his arms full of vegetables. Yes, this is a hands-on operation. When they say "farm-to-table", this place isn't joking.

Touring this working farm doesn't just involve some rows of veggies and greenhouses. They have heirloom variety pigs that were so cute I couldn't stand it. The pens had tons of space for the happy piggies to wallow and trot around. We saw a big family of piglets that frollicked like kittens, while their big waddling mama stared us down and chased them.

The farm also had goats, sheep, and a ton of gorgeous rust-brown heritage chickens! (Did I just call the chickens gorgeous?)

Unfortunately, we missed the farmer's market, which does not take place on Thursdays. We were a little disappointed, but the day was fantastic nonetheless.

If you are in the area and want to visit the farm, I would highly recommend it! If farming isn't your thing, but you enjoy fine foods, there are two Blue Hill restaurants that serve up beautiful, delicious, an
d, of course, seasonal nouveau American dishes. There is the location on the actual farm near Tarrytown and there is also one in Greenwich Village in New York City.

This farm to table stuff isn't just for hippies either--not even close. This is delicious, gourmet stuff. When I dined at the one in NYC, we sat next to Tyra Banks and just two weeks later President and Mrs. Obama went there on their New York City date night. Way to go Obama's (and you too, Tyra) for setting an example and helping improve our food system!

In honor of the excellent bruschetta lunch we had at the cafe, here is a similar recipe. Of course, they also used the sweetest baby zucchini, fresh off of the vine and chevre made on premises from their own goats, but do your best. I found greenmarket tomatoes and basil and used Trader Joe's chevre and baguette.

Red Tomato and Yellow Pepper Bruschetta with Chevre

extra-virgin olive oil (use your favorite fruity one!)
1 very large or 2 medium ripe summer tomatoes, diced very small
1 t minced garlic
1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, sliced thinly into 1" matchsticks
sea salt and black pepper

1 fresh multi-grain baguette
about 3 oz chevre (herbed or plain--I like herbed in this recipe)
1/2 c fresh basil leaves, washed and dried and cut into a chiffonade (stack the leaves, roll, and cut into very thin shreds)

In a saute pan, heat about 3 Tbsp olive oil until warm. Add tomatoes, garlic, and yellow pepper. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring a few times. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

Place a wire strainer over a bowl and transfer tomato mixture. Drain here until you are ready to top the bread.

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Cut baguette in half the long way, as if you were making a big sandwich.

With the whole thing still together, cut into approximately 3" pieces. You should get 12-14 similar pieces. Distribute them, open side up, on baking sheet.

Pour a bit of olive oil in a small bowl. Brush tops and bottoms of each piece of bread with a little olive oil and place back on sheet with cut side up. Bake 10 minutes, or until they just barely begin to toast. Watch them closely and remove them as soon as they are ready.

With a spoon, evenly distribute tomato-pepper mixture over the top of each piece and try to spread it out. Dot each piece with 2 or 3 half teaspoonsful of chevre.

Bake for another 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are toasting a little and chevre feels a little melty, if you touch it.

Remove from oven and top each piece with about 1 Tbsp of basil chiffonade. Bon Appetit!


Anonymous said...

Our trip to Stone barns was indeed an amazing day. You have captured it perfectly!


Catherine Barker Hoffman said...

I'm glad you think I captured it. I had so much fun that day, that I feel like I missed lots in the description. Maybe we should go again, with dinner reservations!