Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Once More With Photos

So back in Cambridge, with its relatively lackluster restaurant options (though there are a few gems - more on that later), but made our (now customary) stop at Stone Barns on the (painfully long) drive up. As usual, we wanted to eat more than the menu options (i.e. number of courses) would provide, and as usual, they were very nice about letting us order as much as we wanted (we ended up being charged for the farmer's feast, which was a good deal for us). Our waitress turned out to be a girl with whom Adam had gone to HS (she was, I believe, a year or two younger, but they'd been on yearbook together), which was a random coincidence. The reason I'm writing about this restaurant again is mainly because I finally brought a camera along. Given the candlelit setting, some are rather dim/blurry, but some are lovely.

Amuses first (obvi): the usual beet burgers were replaced w/ mini tomato burgers, which were absolutely wonderful. I would have eaten platesful. The fried green beans were also tasty, but not as good as the Red Cat ones or the burgers. (I've also included the second picture, when I moved the camera, b/c I think it is neat.). The tomato lollypops (I think that was how they were described - just cherry tomatoes) ripely delicious. The shot of cucumber soup was also good, but not nearly as good as a subsequent tomato water "gazpacho" that came later (and which I somehow managed to forget to photograph, probably in my eagerness to drink it - more on that later).

The normal bread (which we have always called bookbread to ourselves, but which the waitress called papillon - French for "butterfly" - when we asked) has been replaced by a long (I'm talking loooong, like five feet - they carry it out and slice it on the center island in the main dining room) loaf. Crusty on the outside and deliciously chewy and soft on the inside, it was very good (better than the papillon for sopping) but we missed the other. Apparently it's so labor intensive to make that they are looking for alternatives, and trying different things. However, she was able to find us some in the kitchen, which was brought out later.

I lovelovelove the BHSB tomato water, which we'd drunk in unbloody marys (and then in virgin ones - just the tomato water) the summer before. This time, the delicious, clear liquid actually tasted like gazpacho, with an appropriate hint of vinegar. The lovely waitress we'd had on our last two trips came over and said hello around the time we received the "gazpacho" (maybe she brought it? have forgotten), and we were lamenting that we'd been told by our waitress that the unbloody maries weren't on the menu this time around. She offered to see if there was enough tomato water in the kitchen that we could have cocktails made, and shortly after they brought us this gorgeous concoction. Tomato water and vodka, with a tomato rim (very similar to the "tomato couscous" at el Bulli), drizzle of olive oil on top, and a skewer of ripe little cherries and pears. Fantastic, apparently made up just for us, and subsequently to be added to the cocktail list later that week. Unfortunately, after we'd had one round and asked for another (virgin), we were told apologetically that they didn't have enough of the water available.

So I saved and never finished this post, and now it's been so long that I am not going to bother with extensive descriptions but just give the dishes, photos, and perhaps brief comments.
GREENHOUSE GREENS AND HERBS . . . summer beans, hazelnuts and this morning’s soft/fried farm egg. Variation on the salad that is always on the menu -- good but probably not my favorite incarnation.

TOMATOES . . . ricotta cheese, basil and tomato sorbet
Salad with fried zucchini blossoms (yay!), fruits (a theme of the salads at this time of year, apparently), etc.

SUMMER . . . combination of summer fruits and vegetables. Cooked fruits and vegis, very good.

CORN SOUP . . . summer corn relish. Mmm.

Dish of crab, zucchini, some sort of green (soy?) broth

WILD STRIPED BASS . . . guanciale, dairy-less corn and clam chowder.

GRILLED GOLDEN TROUT . . . crushed stone barns new potatoes, golden frills, garlic scape sauce - not this sauce...corn, bits of green, etc

GNOCCHI . . . four cheeses, shiitakes, pine nuts and stone barns peas. Their gnocchi are sort of like ravioli made with potato dough, deliciously stuffed with cheese.

CAVATELLI . . . sun gold tomatoes, basil and tomato sauce

Along with dessert, our waitress recommended a grape juice made in the style of dessert wine, so that it was sweet and dessert-appropriate (as well as non-alcoholic). Not exactly like a real dessert wine, but the Navarro Gewürztraminer Grape Juice was a great alternative.
For the desserts, we got a stewed apricot with foam and granita (which I found too crunchy/too big chunks). I preferred the cheesecake with blueberries.
The tea cart was a new addition -- basically just a cart loaded with pots of fresh herbs to select your own combination infusion. The resulting "tea" was subtly flavored, but it's a cool concept and pretty good.
"Petite fours" and c'est fini.
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