Foodies at Blue Hill at Stone Barns My wife and I, forced to postpone our two year wedding anniversary meal because of my spotty health, finally got to celebrate, almost two months late. We went to the restaurant where I proposed to her, back in 2012: Blue Hill at Stone Barns, up in the Hudson Valley near Sleepy Hollow. We have eaten there a couple of times before, and find it a magical place. A working farm in addition to a restaurant, you can wander the grounds and meet your meals wandering around. We've encountered chickens roaming free (not intentionally--they slip out through gaps in the chicken wire from time to time), and walked the herb gardens. We are very fond of the place and probably would have gotten married there if we'd had exponentially more money to spend on our wedding.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns has always been an acclaimed restaurant since it opened back in 2004, but if my difficulty getting a reservation is any indication--redialing 119 times the moment the reservation line opened to get a 10pm reservation--the restaurants has really blown up in popularity since the Netflix documentary show Chef's Table featured them. Deservedly so: the food is fantastic, and the documentary will make you definitely want to get a reservation there as soon as you possibly can.
My wife and I don't have many vices these days. Sure, I definitely drink more than I should from time to time, but most of my hobbies these days seem to be food related. New York is a good town for that vice, as long as you pace yourself so you can pay rent more or less on time. I used to be so dubious of foodies: why go so crazy and spend so much money on something you're just going to shit out the next day?
But they say that you should buy experiences, not things, to use your money to create happiness, and that's really what buying a meal is--a thing that quickly becomes a smell and a taste and then only a memory (and, as previously noted, a trip to the bathroom where it transforms back into an experience and then a completely different thing). Memory is by nature totally ephemeral, which is one of the benefits of repeated meals with someone you love: you can continue to remind each other of your shared memories, like a backup drive of sense memory.
A fancy hours long meal with my wife is not only hours spent with the one that I love, but six years of enjoyed meals with her. The transcendental ricotta at Blue Hill reminds us of the first time we had ricotta there and realized that ricotta could be something to consider transcendent, and leads us to talking about my eventually-successful attempts to make ricotta at home. The drink pairing reminds us of more successful drink pairings at Ko, and a less successful sommelier at Del Posto who in the middle of a meal tells a long maudlin story of a vintner motivated by the tragic death of his son to make the wine that we had been up to that moment enjoying: Memento vino mori.
We're sharing a meal at the time, of course which makes us happy on its own, but we're also sharing happy memories, reminding each other that we love each other than we have loved each other for this time.
That's necessary and good. My recent illnesses have not been great. I've been cranky and in pain. I don't like feeling helpless, and I take that badly. For far too long I was fatigued, which left me feeling hazy, like I was trying to think through a hangover that would never fade for a party that I didn't remember going to and enjoying.
That life can be good, that our senses bring us joy in addition to discomfort, is a great and wonderful thing.